An Evening of Onions!

Another gourmet success! The gourmet girls met on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at Miss Lara's home. (I know, that was just last night - miracles still happen). We arrived to what felt like a French bakery with Lara's "assistant" hard at work on the tourte crust! (The one we ate was already in the oven, but he was making extras). Once the bakery was swept away, we sat down to the beautiful table above! Several of us were excited about our recent purchases of Grace & Amy's "Keeping Up Cookbook" - the sequel to "Favorites" (see our new link to the side). Bridget's appetizer, Avocado Feta Salsa was from "Keeping Up Cookbook" as well as Andrea's side dish of Allison's Fantastic French Onion. Raquel favored us with a delicious Orange Walnut Salad with Sweet-and-Sour Dressing (a Paula Deen recipe). Lynley's sourdough starter did not quite materialize when she realized yesterday morning that not only did she need to let the dough rise two more times, but then it had to chill for 12 more hours! (Lynley always puts literally DAYS into her gourmet dishes)! So, she doctored up some Rhodes rolls, which were yummy! Lara's main was a Spinach Tourte (very french and very good) and our desert by Jodi was ridiculous - Blueberry Bread Pudding! I can taste it just thinking about it!

Several people have recently mentioned to me that our recipes often seem intimidating, so we discussed the difficulty level of our dishes over dinner, and decided to start including a "difficulty rating" on each recipe. Amazingly enough, everyone concluded that tonight's recipes were all easy! (Good thing the sourdough didn't work out). We did conclude at the end of the meal however, that 4 out of the 6 recipes included onions!

This was our view of the kitchen upon arrival.
Lara's assistant is working his magic with the tourte!

Bridget, Lara & Raquel

Bridget, Senorita Jodi & Andrea

The Group!
Bridget, Jodi, Lara, Lynley, Raquel & Andrea

Avocado Feta Salsa
Difficult Rating = Easy
1 avocado, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBS chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 TBS red wine vinegar
4 ounces crumbled feta
Stir together all ingredients. Gently fold the feta in last. Serve with tortilla chips.

Allison's Fantastic French Onion
Difficulty Rating = Easy
1/4 cup butter
2 jumbo yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
2 (14 oz) cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 3/4 (14 oz) cans reduced-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup red wine (or add remaining 1/4 can beef broth)
1 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1 sprig fresh thyme or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 TBS balsamic vinegar
6-8 slices French bread
6-8 slices Swiss or Gruyere cheese (or more)
In a large stock pot, saute onions in butter over medium-high heat. Stir in salt. Continue cooking, stirring often, until onions are golden brown and glistening, about 30 minutes or so. Add broths, wine, Worcestershire, thyme and bay leaf ans simmer uncovered an additional 20 minutes. Discard herbs. Reduce heat and stir in vinegar. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
Broil or toast bread slices on both sides. When ready to serve, place toasted bread on a baking sheet, top with cheese and broil until cheese is brown and bubbly. Ladle soup into bowls, place cheese bread on top and serve. For a more dramatic effect, ladle soup into bowls, add slice of toasted bread, then top each bowl with slices (s) of cheese. Place bowls on a baking sheet and broil in the oven until cheese begins to brown and cascades over the sides of the bowls. Your guests will surely be impressed! (This is what Andrea did). Side note on recipe says this soup gets better with age, so f eel free to make a day or two ahead of time.

Raquel followed Paula Deen's recipe, found on the link above, with the exception of using pecans instead of walnuts and mandarin oranges instead of navel oranges. Difficulty rating = Easy

Spinach Tourte
Lara said the filling is easy; the crust is the hardest part. (Not sure how she knows this since she had an assistant working up the crust).
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cube butter
1 tsp salt
3 eggs, unbeaten
1 glass of water
1 TBS milk
Mix flour with butter and salt, mash together. Make a volcano. Position 2 of the eggs in the middle. SLOWLY mix the dough with the eggs adding water. The dough needs to be very soft. Split in two and set aside (3/5 for the bottom and 2/5 for the top).
1 lbs ground beef
1 lb spinach, frozen
1/2 red onion
1 cove garlic, crushed
1 cup sour cream

Pre-heat oven to 340 degrees. Saute onions in olive oil in a large pan until cooked. Add garlic and ground beef and saute until cooked and drain the meat. Add spinach, salt, and pepper until heated through. Remove from the heat and add sour cream.
Roll dough with a rolling pin on floured surface. (See above picture). Roll in a circle to about 1/8 of an inch. Butter deep pie dish. Place dough in the dish, and keep some over the edge of the plate. Prick with fork. Roll out the top in the same way and prick with fork before placing on platter. Add the filling. Then place the top layer over it. Turn up the edges and squeeze closed. Make a chimney in the middle of the top dough.
In one bowl add 1 egg yolk with one TBS milk and mix. Brush over the top and edges of the tourte to seal the dough. Cook for 35 minutes until crust is golden brown.

Blueberry Bread Pudding
Difficulty rating = Easy
8 large bakery croissants
16 oz bag frozen blueberries
5 cups half and half
12 eggs
3 cups white sugar
3 TBS vanilla extract
3 pinches ground cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
Rinse and drain blueberries and put aside. Beat eggs with vanilla in a very large mixing bowl. Tear croissants into bite-size pieces and add to the mixture. Stir in half and half and sugar. Gently fold in blueberries. Pour into a large baking dish, 9x13 or larger. (Jodi says she used a larger baking dish and it barely fit). Sprinkle with spices. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. (Jodi baked for 1 hour and 10 minutes and she thought she could have baked it a little longer, but we thought it was PERFECT!) Remove from oven and cool. Tastes decadent served hot with a bit of half and half poured over the top or is even great cold. NOTE: (One of the gourmet girls might have eaten this for breakfast the next day).