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Name: Schmengie
Gender: Male
Hometown: Podunk, FL
Home country: USA
Current location: Various.
Member since: Mon Aug 4, 2003, 03:56 PM
Number of posts: 23,738

Journal Archives

In Sept. of 1967, my family crossed the Atlantic on the SS United States. I saved the menus.

My father worked for the government, and back then employees at his level traveled first class. We were very fortunate to be able to cross the Atlantic from Bremerhaven, Germany to New York on one of the greatest Ocean Liners ever built, the SS United States.

A 6 day crossing which included a stop in Southampton, England during a week covering Saturday and Sunday, September 16th and 17th.

Here is a photo of the cover of the menu for the Gala Dinner, the final night at sea;

And this is the menu;

A breakfast menu, from the next morning, Tuesday, September 19, 1967, the day we arrived in New York.

I thought you folks, out of all the readers on DU, would be the most interested in these. If you'll pardon me just a little while I wax nostalgic, they do harken back to a different era, one which is long past. Transatlantic Jet service had started only a few years before, and the days of the great ocean liners and the elegant meals served on-board was nearing an end.

It was 6 days I remember very clearly, though I was a mere 8 years old.

Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:38 PM (86 replies)

French Onion Soup from scratch, and I mean SCRATCH! (well, almost! lots of pics) (edited)

(The "well, almost"? I didn't actually make the cheese!)

I really enjoy making different types of soups, from Clam Chowder to Italian Wedding to US Senate Bean and many others. French onion is one of those types that takes a bit of time, but is SOOO worth it.

Now I admit here that I went completely overboard with this, (probably with the pictures too, so I'm sorry if there are too many) as it is CERTAINLY not necessary to make your own stock AND bake the bread loaves for the crouton, but what the hell. The downside is that I have been putting off some yardwork and other chores!

So no more entire Sundays spent cooking for a while!

For the French Onion Soup, I pretty much followed Julia Child's recipe found here. If you're like me, you look at numerous recipes and put together what sounds best from each one. The reason I like Julia's is because she used the white wine AND the Cognac. The Cognac or Brandy is PARTICULARLY delicious with this soup.

For the Beef Stock, I again, pretty much (LOL) followed the recipe in my "Joy Of Cooking book, page 40, for "Brown Stock".

OK...the mirepoix for the stock. Celery, Carrots, Onion, all large chop and a 6 Oz can of Tomato Paste. I actually held aside the leaf portion of the celery for the soup.

The meat and bones for the stock. I have a package of Beef neck bones, the grocery stores package of "Soup Bones" and a package of Beef back ribs. I'll only use one of the ribs for the meat. The rest I froze for barbecue later on. VERY light salt and pepper. I really want to control how salty the stock is, because I am going to freeze what I don't use and I can add salt to later dishes and sauces.

I used about 2/3rds of the can of tomato paste and in a small bowl (OK, not a bowl, but my handy dandy little Bass Ale glass I got in England, years ago) , mixed in about 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce. I just can't resist trying to "kick it up a notch"! With my hands, I spread and coated each piece of meat and bone with the Tomato Paste mix.

Into a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes or so. Out of the oven, add the mirepoix, back in for another 10. I don't want the veggies to burn, so out it comes and stir.

After the first stir;

Ten minutes later, and another stir around, browned up and caramelized pretty good;

All done and into the pot, water to cover plus about 4 inches. Maybe a gallon and a half. I added a cleaned and chopped leek after about 20 minutes per the Joy of Cooking recipe.

Now for the bread. For the French Bread I followed the recipe I found on Betty Crocker.com pretty much to the letter. When I make bread I like to mix the wet in my stand mixer using the whisk attachment (I suppose a professional baker might find this method acceptable), then add just enough flour to make a batter. As soon as it is about the consistency of pancake batter, I switch to the dough hook.

Prepping the batter. About 1 1/2 cups of the 3 1/2 the recipe calls for in the mixer.

Mix in the wet, including the yeast, which I used a packet of Fleischmann's "ActiveDry", the kind you mix with 1/4 cup of warm water (120 or so), add a Tsp of sugar to activate and wait till it starts to foam. My packet activated great, and I was off to the races.

I replaced the whisk with the dough hook, started the machine and slowly added the rest of the flour until it all starts pulling away from the bowl. I had to scrape it down once, but that's par for the course.

It came off the hook like a champ! Onto the lightly floured counter top, kneed for 4 or 5 minutes and then into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise. It was a fairly dry dough, not at all as silky feeling as when I've made sandwich bread doughs.

Florida in the Summertime is actually a great time to bake bread, because it is usually so humid and warm outside that you get a fantastic rise out of yeast doughs by setting it on the patio or deck. Well, it ain't Summer and it's cool and rather dry outside, so I have to improvise to find a warm, humid spot. Solution? The cabinet over the oven. I'll heat the oven up with a pie tin of water. That will warm the cabinet up. Into the cabinet goes the dough and I'll put the steaming pan of water next to it to keep the humidity up. 1990's vintage Marlboro/Penske Racing ashtray to keep it company! (yes, of course the ashtray is clean!)

Risen nicely, about double. (Edit) That was about 90 minutes.

On to the lightly floured counter, cut in two.

Now I'm going to roll one of the halves out, to about 14" or so across and about 1/4" thick.

Now to roll it up. Once I've done that I tuck in the ends and place it on my sheet to rise, seam side of the roll down.
Same thing to the other half of the dough. After scoring the tops, I place both of them back into the cupboard above my oven with the same reheated pan of water to rise a second time.

About 25 minutes later and about doubled again. I mixed a single egg white and a tablespoon of water and brushed that over the loaves, then baked in a 375 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. I put the tin of water in as well to keep the oven humid.

Now to start the onions. 2 large Yellow onions, halved and sliced thin.

Into a hot pan that has about 3 tablespoons of butter and a bit of olive oil. As soon as they're in, I turned the heat down to medium low.

About 2 minutes in.

10 minutes later

About 20 minutes now.

After about 40 minutes or so. Came along nicely, about the color of my wooden spoon.

Time to actually make soup! I'm going to use a Bouquet Garni. Sprigs of thyme, the celery leaves, bay leaves and the other items. This is more herbs than Julia's recipe calls for, but others that I have looked at call for some or all of them. I also added about a teaspoon of ground sage to the pot. (BIG EDIT!) Completely forgot this and worked on putting this thread together for 2 days!! TARRAGON! TARRAGON TARRAGON! The leaf at right is fresh Tarragon. I found one recipe a while back that called for this, most DO NOT. But I love the flavor, so I used some. I minced about 5 or 6 leaves and they went into the pot. What you see in this pic went into the garni and and I only left the garni in the soup for about 15 minutes or so. Tarragon can easily overpower a dish, so if you do use it, do so sparingly. It adds a beautiful backnote.

Wrapped in cheesecloth and tied with string.

1/3 of the stock into another pot with the garni in and a small bottle of Chardonnay. Salt and pepper.

Happy cook! I just noticed I don't have enough wires in the background.

Adding the onions to what is now soup.

About a ladle full of the stock to deglaze the pan, then back in the soup. Got to get all the oniony goodness!

Pretty much exactly what I was looking for. Not too much soup, not too much onion. Slow simmer while the loaves bake.

And out they come! Lookin' good!

Slicing one of the loaves for the croutons. This is the first time I used that Betty Crocker recipe and you know what? The bread was a bit bland, actually. Not enough salt. The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups flour, 1 Tsp sugar but only 1 Tsp salt. 2 Teaspoons probably would have made all the difference. Shot of Bourbon in the background for courage!

Under the broiler, lightly toast one side....

Then the other. And YES......those are burnt ones at the top right! These three are try number two! Don't turn your back on bread under a broiler! What a dummy! LOL

I melted a couple tablespoons of butter and added just a small garlic clove. I don't want the croutons too garlicky, so as not to overpower the soup. I coated the 3 slices and put them under the broiler for another 45 seconds or so.

Now to assemble the cups.

Some grated Gruyere to top off the cups. I was actually trying to be snobby and authentic here! But honestly, Gruyere isn't really the best choice for cheese. While it has a great flavor, it loses a lot of fat when heated and becomes fairly chewy. Romano and Parmesan might be a better choice, even a mix with mozzarella. Some recipes call for Swiss cheese, but the bottom line is, like with so many recipes, use what you like. I like that I learned not to use Gruyere again!

A toasted crouton in first.

Ladle in the soup.

Cheese on top.....

And now for the piece de resistance! A splash of Cognac on top.

OK....Don't pour, SPLASH! I just drizzled it over the cheese. I've done this both ways, adding directly to the soup and adding it to the top like this just before the oven. The Cognac really does add a sublime flavor and makes a wonderful difference.

In to the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, and it looked like this.


French Onion Soup.

You can see the fat I mentioned from the cheese. I suppose filling the cups as high as I did worked to my advantage in this regard, as all that fat ran out on to the baking sheet. It really was the wrong choice, but still tasty.

Believe it or not, the first photo I took for this series - the one of the meat - I took at 10:30 AM on Sunday. The last photo above was taken about 8:15 PM!

Once again, I hope you enjoyed this and I hope it inspires you to give it a try. Packaged Beef stock works perfectly well, of course and so does store bought Baguettes or French Bread. You don't have to spend 10 hours making soup! But I enjoy the craft involved, so it was a pleasant way to spend a Sunday.

Enjoy, and eat and be well.

Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Tue Feb 12, 2013, 07:10 AM (99 replies)

Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding and a version of Tyler Florence's Ultimate Potato Gratin. (New Video)

It has been quite a while since I tried this, and never this combination of dishes. I have several strikes against me to start, primarily that I have only a single oven, and all three of the dishes need to bake at different temps. But, what the hell. I gave it a try.

I know most of you are experienced cooks, so please forgive me if I say anything that is obvious or common knowledge. I was always told to write as if your reader does not understand the subject!

The Potato Gratin dish is basically this one by Tyler Florence of the Food Network;


So I started with an herb rub for the meat. Here's the ingredients including fresh Thyme, which I finely minced, about 1/2 to a Tsp of each. I used about a 1/2 Tsp of Rosemary that I ground up in the mortar and pestle;

Mixed together and set aside.

A 2 1/2 Lb Bottom Round Roast. Not really the best choice, but serviceable.

Rubbed into the meat on all sides, then drizzled with a bit of olive oil. It is going in the oven fat side up, but I didn't do it on this cookie sheet - I have a rack and roasting pan.

Set the meat aside while I started on the gratin prep. I have read and heard many times that it is better to begin cooking meat as close to room temp as possible, so I just left this out instead of placing it in the fridge.

First step for the gratin prep - several cloves of garlic. I'm going to finely mince then crush with my knife. I prefer this method to using a garlic press, but that would work just fine. The salt acts as an abrasive making it easier to get the garlic into an almost creamy consistency.

All minced and crushed. Set this aside.

Video of this procedure;

I used regular Yukon Gold potatoes. I like my potatoes with the skin on for almost every potato dish I make, so I just scrub them with my scotchbrite dish cleaner under cold running water.

In a bowl large enough to fit all the potatoes you're doing, put in cream and or milk. I had only about a cup of cream left in the quart, so I added another 1/2 cup of milk. Some of the chopped Thyme is present, salt and ground pepper. Whisk in half the minced garlic.

Slice the potatoes THIN! Thinner the better. Place them in the milk/cream garlic mix.

YAY! BACON! 4 slices (I like bacon, OK? LOL), 1/2 inch dice. Use as little or as much as you like but it adds HUGE flavor, and you'll see why in a bit.

Bacon into the hot pan. Tyler's recipe says cook till crisp, but if you don't like crispy bacon, don't! I know I don't, but you want to render most of the fat out, anyway. When done, take the bacon out with a slotted spoon and drain further on paper towels. You want the bacon grease in the pan.

Now for the cabbage. I used about 1/3 of the head, sliced then diced.

Add a tablespoon or two of butter to the bacon fat, and as soon as it melts, add the rest of the minced garlic. A quick stir and add the cabbage. Stir so all of it is coated with the bacon fat/butter and then cook till it has wilted and starts to smell yummy. Add the bacon back to the pan, salt and pepper to taste, stir and pull off the heat.

Now to assemble the gratin. Using your hands, layer the potato slices around your dish. A casserole works best, but I gave mine away, so all I have is this pie dish. It'll work. After a layer of potatoes, spread with 50/50 mix of Parmesan and Cheddar (or any other cheese you like). One more layer of potatoes then spread the cabbage/bacon mix on top

One more layer of potatoes on top then pour the cream mix onto it so it runs down inside and fills the dish 2/3ds to 3/4 of the way up. Cover with the rest of your cheese mix. Cover in foil and bake in a 450 degree oven for AT LEAST an hour, depending on how large a dish of it you make. After the first hour, remove the foil, check for doneness and put back in the oven for at least another 20 minutes.

I baked it on that cookie sheet as I thought it might run over. It did! Too much food for the dish!

Here's what it looked like when it came out. Frickin YUM!



Now to prep the Yorkshire pudding. This is such a simple dish, it isn't funny. It's also so simple I just took one photo of the prep. 5, Count em' FIVE ingredients! Eggs, milk, flour, salt and fat, either butter or the beef drippings or a combination of both. My and your Joy of Cooking cookbook recipe is as follows; (You DO have a Joy of Cooking, don't you? If not, GET ONE NOW!!! Go! Now. I'll wait.


Go now.

OK...Got it? Good. Page 787

Preheat oven to 450.
Mix together 1 cup less one tablespoon of flour (why the missing tablespoon? I have no idea) and one Tsp salt.

In a larger bowl, whisk two large eggs and one cup of milk. Pour the dry into the wet and whisk thoroughly. No lumps. The traditional way to do this was actually in the pan you are roasting the meat in, but just prep this so it's ready when the meat is done and you can use the roasting pan while the meat rests. Otherwise, just use another pan. I used my other glass pie dish. Preheat the dish (VERY important) completely, pull it out and add 1/4 cup of beef drippings or 4 tablespoon of melted butter or a combination thereof to the dish and roll it around to spread it. Pour all the mix in to the dish at once and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake till puffy and golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes more. Cut and serve immediately, as it will deflate but it is still delicious especially with brown gravy.

Here's the mix;

Here's what it looked like finished;

My mom used to make this for us regularly. If you use a square pan, like a brownie pan or your rectangular roasting pan, it will make all sorts of neat shapes and puffs and look completely different and random each and every time. Using this pie dish, it rose up around the edges! Cool, eh?

The roast out of the oven and resting in its rack;

I was looking for medium rare - about 120 degrees in the center

By the way, those towels under the pan are Australian and English bar towels! I have a bit of a collection. The red one is for Winfield Cigarettes, an Australian brand. The other is from Courage Best Bitter, an English beer. I have about 25 or so. They are unique and you will usually only see them in this country in an English style pub. I collected most of them during my travels with my work in Indy Car racing back in the 1990's.


I overdid it juuuuust a tad, but still fine. Probably by only 6 or 7 minutes.

I just used one of those packets of the Knorrs type sauces of brown gravy - the grocery store brand - instead of making fresh gravy. After all this, it was simpler. I also made a quick spicy mustard using equal parts Grey Poupon and Guldens and half the part horseradish. Yum. Add a tablespoon of Mayo to that for an excellent spread for the leftover roast beef sammies!

I hope these sorts of threads are interesting and a bit entertaining, anyway. As some of you may know (as I've been a DU'er approaching ten years now) I have been an Over-The_road trucker most of my adult life. I eat in restaurants ALL THE DAMNED TIME! So when I get home and I feel like going for it, I'll take 6 hours and cook myself a meal like this. I just moved into a house in November, after pretty much living in hotels and on the road for almost 2 years. It is wonderful to finally have my own kitchen again! Unfortunately, no one to share it with (ah well) but plenty of leftovers that will keep for 6 or 7 days, anyway.

I sure hope you enjoyed this.

Bon Appetit!
Posted by A HERETIC I AM | Mon Feb 4, 2013, 12:34 AM (55 replies)
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