Cooking For Others: An Almost Bistro Dinner
EVENT: Elyssa’s Very Belated Birthday Dinner
PARTY SIZE: 3
VENUE: Cara’s Apartment, Park Slope
TYPE: Weeknight Bistro Meal
MENU: French Onion Soup; Kabocha Risotto; Chocolate Madeleine Cake with Whipped Cream and Caramel Coffee Sauce
French Onion Soup
2 tablespoons butter
1 bay leaf
pinch dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
3 slices good bread
1 clove garlic, halved
4 ounces gruyere or mixed gruyere and jarlsberg, grated
Over very low heat, cook the onions with the butter, thyme, and bay leaf for 45 minutes until very golden. You don’t have to stir constantly, but don’t let the onions burn. Add the salt.
Add the wine and raise the heat to bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes with the lid off, until much of the liquid has reduced and the smell of alcohol boiling off has mellowed. Add 1 cup of beef broth, bring that to a boil, and then lower the heat and cover the pot. Let simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the rest of the broth and the water. Bring to a simmer and cook, partially covered, for another 15 minutes. Taste for salt and maybe add a little pepper. Distribute among 3 oven-safe crocks.
To make the toasts: cut three slices of bread so they’re the right size to fit in your crocks. Brust with olive oil and toast in a 350°F oven for 5-10 minutes per side. You want the bread really crusty. Rub each toast with the halved clove of garlic.
When ready to eat, preheat the oven to broil. Place the crocks in a baking pan that will hold them steady. Put one toast on each soup and evenly distribute the cheese. Cook until the cheese is melted, just a few minutes–and keep an eye so the cheese doesn’t burn. Serve immediately.
(You can make the soup and toasts separately ahead of time. If the soup is cold when you go to cook it, warm the crocks in a 400°F oven for 15 minutes before adding the toasts and cheese and turning to broil.)
Chocolate Madeleine Cake
Makes 1 thin cake
12 tablespoons butter
2 ounces dark chocolate (80-90%)
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
pinch of salt
Melt the butter with the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler until just liquid. Set aside.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a heatproof bowl over boiling water until they are about room temperature. Let a droplet fall onto your wrist: if you don’t feel it, that means you’re at the right temperature.
Remove from the heat. Beat until light, syrupy, and fluffy, about 10 minutes with a whisk or 2-3 minutes with a handheld mixer. Beat in the flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Stir to combine, then pour in the melted butter and chocolate. Fold in. Refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 400°F. Butter a 9-inch cake pan with removable sides. Cut a circle of parchment and lay it on the bottom; butter that too. Press the batter into the pan (you may need to use wet hands to press it in evenly). Bake for about 20 minutes until the top is firm and the sides are starting to crisp up. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully remove the sides. Flip the cake, peel off the parchment, and transfer to a rack or a plate to cool.