October 5 2011 | Leave a Comment
In France, a brasserie is a café doubling as a restaurant and serving single dishes and other meals in a relaxed setting. A bistro is a familiar name for a café serving moderately priced simple meals in an unpretentious setting, especially in Paris; bistros have become increasingly popular with tourists. When used in English, the term bistro usually indicates either a fast casual dining restaurant with a European-influenced menu or a cafés with a larger menu of food.
Regardless of whether it is the more casual bistro or the brasserie, casual French dining used to be a staple of ours before having Charlotte. In our neighborhood we have the amazing Pastis just a couple of blocks away. Even when we do have a babysitter, the long wait at Pastis doesn’t usually fit our schedule. And, while they do deliver, it’s jut not as good.
I love many of their dishes but they have a delicious French onion soup and a wonderful warm goat cheese salad. Last night’s dinner was my attempt to have a little taste of Pastis (and Paris) at our kitchen table.
I was skeptical of this onion soup recipe because it only takes 40 minutes and you saute chopped onions (as opposed to sliced) in a dry non-stick skillet. But the recipe was very tasty! I definitely needed to add some salt and pepper after the soup reduced. I used Applejack brandy and Gruyere cheese. How bad can anything be when topped with a baguette slice and melted cheese! And, I actually forgot to add the butter so perhaps it would have even been better!
For the goat cheese salad I just sliced some goat cheese and then coated the slices in breadcrumbs. The breaded goat cheese cooked in a small frying pan for a couple of minutes per side to brown the breadcrumbs and warm the cheese. The green salad was dressed in a simple vinaigrette of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper.
Our delicious dinner, along with a tasty Côtes du Rhône, gave us a little taste of France right here in apartment 104.
French Onion Soup
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon Calvados, Applejack, or other brandy
- 4 cups low-salt beef stock
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4–8 1/2″-thick slices baguette, cut to fit ramekins
- 1 cup grated Gruyère or raclette cheese
Special equipment: Four 10-ounces ramekins
Preheat oven to 450°F. Cook onions in a 12″ nonstick skillet over high heat, stirring constantly, until soft and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Add butter and toss onions to coat. Remove pan from heat and stir in Calvados. Return pan to heat and continue cooking until Calvados is absorbed, about 30 seconds. Add stock and bring to a simmer. Simmer until soup is reduced to 4 cups, about 5 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Place ramekins on a rimmed baking sheet. Divide soup among ramekins. Top each ramekin with 1-2 slices of bread. Sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese over each. Transfer baking sheet with ramekins to oven and bake until cheese is bubbly and browned in spots, about 4 minutes.