Tag Archives: French onion soup

Unique Steak Experience: Bern’s, Tampa

26 Apr

From the outside, Bern’s Steak House is a plain white building with few windows, marked by a plain sign. However, its size hints at the gastronomic adventure to come. Inside, the many dining rooms of the Steak House are bustling; we sat at the end of the long Rhone Room.

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We kicked off our meal with steak tartare and heart-shaped toasts. The regular portion is large enough for 2-3 people to share.

Bern's Steakhouse: steak tartare

Perfectly grilled butterflied shrimp served with two slices of garlic crostini. DSC01573

Unlike most steakhouses of this caliber, steak entrees at Bern’s come with appetizers and sides: French onion soup and a simple garden salad.Bern's: French onion soup Bern's: salad

I ordered a 7 oz Chateaubriand, which arrived a perfect medium-rare as I had requested. The steak had a great crust and a melt-in-your-mouth red interior. It was accompanied by the best fried onion strings I’ve ever had – delicately battered, and not greasy at all. Shredded carrots and sauteed kale were the vegetables of the day – probably not something I would have chosen on my own, but alright.

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Warm Up With French Onion Soup

21 Feb

It’s still cold in New England…which means it’s time for soup! I’ve always wanted to make French onion soup, but held back because I don’t own broiler-proof soup crocks. As it turns out, a toaster oven’s broiler will do the trick (another reason why toaster ovens rule!)

DSC01876Because a large part of French onion soup is beef broth, it’s important to use high quality broth, preferably low-sodium (otherwise a bowl of soup might leave you feeling parched). I scoured the grocery stores and found these two lower sodium options:

  • Swanson 50% Less Sodium Beef broth, available in large grocery chains (400 mg sodium per cup broth)
  • More Than Gourmet Beef Culinary Stock, available at Russo’s in Watertown, MA, and online (270 mg per cup broth)

If you can find something like More Than Gourmet, I definitely recommend it – the “Gourmet” really makes a difference. Its ingredients include carrot and celery stocks rather than juices, for example, in addition to veal stock, beef stock, and red wine.

This recipe makes 8-10 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts low sodium beef broth
  • 6 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp white sugar
  • ½ cup cooking sherry
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 baguette
  • 1/2 pound Gruyere or Appenzeller cheese, shredded

Appenzeller cheese is a a fondue cheese like Gruyere and Emmental. It’s a raw cow’s milk cheese from the region of Switzerland. I bought black label (“Extra”) Appenzeller cheese, meaning it’s been aged 6 months or more. It has a strong smell, but its flavour goes really well with onion soup. And it’s easy to cut into with a spoon (no one wants to pull all the cheese off the bread when trying to get a spoonful of French onion soup.)

Directions

  1. Cook onions on medium-high heat in butter until translucent, about 10 minutesDSC01879
  2. Sprinkle in sugar
  3. Reduce heat to medium and cook until onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes
  4. Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute
  5. Stir sherry into the onion mixtureDSC01882
  6. Transfer onion mixture into a slow cooker and pour in beef broth. Stir in thyme and bay leaf. Cover cooker, and cook 4 to 5 hours on HIGH.
    ** Alternatively you can bring the soup to a boil on your stovetop, then reduce to a simmer for 2 hours.
  7. About 10 minutes before serving, preheat the toaster oven’s broiler. Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet.
  8. Broil bread slices until toasted, 1 to 2 minutes per side.
  9. Top each bread slice with cheese and broil until cheese is bubbling, about 3 minutes.
  10. Fill bowls 3/4 full with onion soup and top with bread slices.
  11. Enjoy!

French onion soup

Fantastic French Food: Leunig’s Bistro

1 Nov

Leunig’s Bistro in Burlington, Vermont, definitely lives up to its tagline, “the Panache of Paris and the Value of Vermont”. Situated along Burlington’s pedestrian mall, the restaurant feels like a French brasserie, with large windows opening onto Church Street. Its menu lists French classics like French onion soup with the perfect ratio of cheese and bread ($8).

Leunig's Bistro - French Onion Soup

The poutine ($12) – crispy fries with melted cheese and delicious duck gravy – is a nod to Vermont’s northern neighbour.

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At the same time, Leunig’s offers great value by serving up its great food in large portions. My husband ordered the blue corn crusted chicken roulade ($27) stuffed with Serrano ham and peaches and served with queso blanco sauce.  The chicken was very moist, flash fried so that it was crispy but not greasy. The sweet corn mashed potatoes were yummy and unique. DSC00995

I had the Captain Cod ($28) – a perfectly pan seared, delicate cod filet over lemon gnocchi, which I thought was a pretty creative way of incorporating lemon into a fish entree. The filet was topped with roasted tomatoes, and accompanied by mushrooms and broccolini in a honey broth.DSC00993

Everything that passed by our table looked absolutely delicious, including a thick steak served with frites and a giant lava cake topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

There were a few service gaffes during our meal – steak tartare was accidentally delivered to our table, for example. Interestingly, I didn’t find tartare on the dinner menu – I wonder if Leunig’s has a secret menu we weren’t told about?  Still, service was friendly and our dinner was fantastic. It’s no wonder that Leunig’s is busy morning, day and night! I can’t wait to come back.

Food: 5/5 | Atmosphere: 5/5 | Value: 5/5

Info: Leunig’s Bistro, 115 Church Street, Burlington, VT 05455, USA

Leunig's Bistro on Urbanspoon

Trendy, Frenchy brunch at Gaslight

14 Dec

Gaslight BrasserieIn Boston’s South End is Gaslight, perhaps extra trendy because it’s on a stretch with sophisticated artsy stores, and yet it’s a stone’s throw from the eyesore that is I-93. Called Boston’s best brunch in 2012, we arrived with high hopes. The restaurant was quite full when we arrived for our 12:30 PM reservation on a Sunday – Gaslight might be one of the few places that accept Sunday brunch reservations for small parties. We weren’t the only one waiting. After about 15 minutes, we were seated at a small round bistro table for two. It was obvious this is a popular Sunday brunch spot. All around us, booths meant for parties of four were stuffed with five people. Long communal tables seated multiple parties, tastefully separated by candle holders.  Wine bottles adorned the white subway tiled walls. Dark red velvet curtains hung from the ceiling, as if they could potentially divide the restaurant into smaller spaces. They were left open however, allowing the hubbub of gabby diners to fill the restaurant.

I ordered the crepes Parisienne. It was tasty, with ham and lots of cheese, topped with a fried egg and surrounded by a thick mornay sauce. I like my egg yolks more done than most people, and that’s how it was. Having watched many episodes of MasterChef however, I could picture Gordon Ramsay frowning, expecting a “perfect yolk” to be a bit runny, letting it ooze over the crepe.Gaslight - Crepe Parisienne

To accompany my crepe, I also ordered the French onion soup. At first, it was delivered sans spoon. When someone (a busboy? It was certainly not our server) finally gave me a spoon, it was dirty. Finally, after receiving a clean spoon, I was able to enjoy the delightful soup. It had a great soup-to-cheese-and-bread ratio, and  lots of onions, with hints of wine.

Gaslight - French onion soupMy boyfriend’s spinach and feta omelet however, was a huge disappointment. There was not nearly enough feta to balance the spinach. Slices of poached pear seemed out of place beside the very average shoestring fries. Overall, the dish was sorely under-seasoned. My boyfriend had to add a lot of pepper and hot sauce to the omelet, just to make it the least bit palatable. “Would you like to try some?” he asked me. Short answer: “no”. I’d seen enough. We could have executed this dish at home with far more flair.

Luckily, my boyfriend’s vanilla French toast saved his meal from utter failure. Thick, eggy, sweet bread topped with apple caramel was yummy and not too heavy.

Gaslight - French toast and spinach omelette

Service at Gaslight is very much European. After you get your food, don’t expect your server to show up all that much. But, that’s probably true of most busy brunch places. There are some interesting drinks on the menu, but we stuck with coffee – it turned out to be quite dark.

Final Word: Go to Gaslight for the ambiance, not the food. It’s a trendy, bustling place to get together with some friends, and feel like you’re part of the artsy crowd. Like some art, Gaslight’s food is not always well executed.

Info: Gaslight Brasserie du Coin, 560 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA, USA
Gaslight Brasserie du Coin on Urbanspoon

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