And I Can Cook, Too

Friday, January 26, 2007

July 18, 2006

I Don’t Think She’s Selling Houses

Immediately following Boston, my husband and I were back in D.C. and back at our favorite French spot, Bistrot du Coin. After a delightful dinner of Gratinee de Halles, Casserole de Lapin à la moutarde, and of course a delightful Chateauneuf du Pape, we decided to stop at the bar for a nightcap. Sitting on the other side of me at the bar was a rather strikingly good looking young woman. She said she was a real estate agent, we mentioned that we’d hoped to move to the city earlier in the year, and soon the three of us were actively engaged in a friendly conversation about the merits of D.C., specifically the restaurants, more specifically this restaurant, and even more specifically this restaurants martini’s. One nightcap turned into three, and then an unusual thing happened. She stopped talking to my husband. Rather completely. She continued talking to me. And by “continued talking”, I mean issuing complements complete with subtle touches to my hair and knees. Delighted, my husband immediately ordered another round. The real estate agent continued to flirt and flatter and my husband continued to observe until I realized that I needed to get back to the hotel before I face-planted into the bar. The real estate agent suggested that we get together the following night, and began digging in her purse for a business card. That’s when things got really strange. She didn’t have one. She didn’t have one in her purse. She didn’t have one in her wallet. She didn’t have one in her briefcase. She didn’t have one in her car. She was a real estate agent without a business card. This was when it occurred to my husband that she was perhaps not in the business of selling houses. Completely oblivious to the fact that we were sitting in a bar, and therefore most likely surrounded by bar napkins, and, well, possibly pens, I determined that whatever the “real estate agent” had planned for the following night was not in the cards. With friendly hugs we bade farewell and stumbled off to our hotel. I’d like to say that on the way home we talked about the merits of the Gratinee de Halles, but my husband was too busy still being delighted to talk about food.

At risk of demonstrating poor form by posting two soup recipes in a row:

Gratinee de Halles
(French Onion Soup)

¼ C. Unsalted Butter
8 C. Combination of Yellow Onion, Sweet Onion, and Leeks, all julienned
2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
1 C. Dry Sherry
1 Tbsp. Thyme
1 Bouquet Garni (a cheesecloth bag containing a few bay leaves, 5 or 6 whole peppercorns, and a few sprigs of fresh parsley, tied shut with a string)
½ G. Beef Broth or Stock (home-made is best, but store bought will get the job done)
1 C. Gruyere, grated

In a stockpot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add 1/3 of the onion blend, and sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add another 3rd of the onion blend, and repeat. Add the last 3rd of the onions, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, sauté for two minutes more, than add the sherry. Scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze, and allow the sherry to simmer until it is almost completely reduced. Add the thyme and the bouquet garni and sauté for two minutes. Add the beef stock and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 20 minutes, allowing the broth to reduce a little. Pre-heat your broiler.

Ladle the soup into ovenproof soup crocks. Top each dish with a sprinkling of the cheese. Place the soup crocks on a baking dish, and put it under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly and just starting to brown.

At further risk of demonstrating poor form by continuing to be bossy:

Do NOT put croutons in this soup! Or a big hunk of bread!?! Instead, serve this soup with a lovely baguette.


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