Festive onion soup
Impress your holiday guests with this delectable, easy-to-make onion soup.
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 white onions, chopped
• 2 yellow onions, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
• 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
• 1 cup red wine
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 2 cups chicken broth
• 6 cups beef broth
• 2 hamburger buns
• 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
• Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the onions, garlic, and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Sauté for 30 minutes over low heat, stirring regularly.
2. Increase the heat and deglaze the pot with red wine. Continue cooking until all the wine has evaporated. Remove the herbs.
3. Sprinkle flour over the onions and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and beef stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Adjust the seasoning if desired.
4. Meanwhile, cut star shapes out of the 4 hamburger bun halves using a cookie cutter. Lightly butter the buns and top with grated cheese. Broil in the oven for about 3 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.
5. In 4 bowls, pour the soup and place a cheese star on top of each one.
How to choose a barbecue
Do you dream of cooking meals on the grill in your backyard or balcony but don’t yet have a barbecue? Here are some tips for choosing the right one.
Propane barbecues are versatile, easy to use, and quick to heat up. Charcoal or wood-burning barbecues impart delicious flavor but are more difficult to light and take longer to reach an optimal temperature. On the other hand, electric barbecues offer even heat distribution, except at low temperatures.
Certain materials, like stainless steel, will ensure your barbecue has a long service life. If the appliance’s firebox is made of enameled cast iron, it should be at least an eighth of an inch thick. Remember that metal- or porcelain-coated steel grates are generally more difficult to clean.
The size of the barbecue and the number of burners you need largely depends on what you’ll be grilling and how much of it. The larger the barbecue, the more energy it needs to reach the desired heat. If you often cook fish or white meat, it’s a good idea to look for a model with at least two independent burners. This gives you the option of not cooking directly over the flame.
Some models come with additional accessories, such as a side burner (similar to a cooker), a sear burner (perfect for blue steaks), and a rotisserie for cooking on a spit.
The many criteria you consider when looking for the perfect barbecue are chiefly about how you plan to use the grill. Other elements to consider include your budget, the number of wheels, the ignition system, and whether it has a built-in thermometer. Happy shopping!
Tangy pasta salad perks up the weekend
This flavorful pasta salad makes an excellent addition to any Memorial Day get-together.
Adjust the vegetables to suit your preferences — try just-cooked chopped asparagus, chopped arugula leaves, fresh basil, or fresh peas to mix it up. For extra vinegary flavor, try doing a quick pickle on the sweet peppers ahead of time.
1 pound short pasta (such as fusilli or farfalle)
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
1 large garlic clove, grated
Ground black pepper to taste
1 cup sweet peppers, chopped
1 large or 2 small broccoli crowns, chopped into small pieces
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional)
Fill a saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Salt the water generously and add pasta. Cook until al dente, then drain well and transfer to a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the mayonnaise, vinegar, and garlic, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the salad, then let cool for at least 30 minutes.
While the pasta is cooling, add butter or olive oil to a frying pan and heat to medium-hot. Pat shrimp dry with a paper towel as needed and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drop into the hot pan and cook until the shrimp turns opaque and firm about four to five minutes. Set aside to cool. Stir cooled shrimp into cooled pasta salad, then add veggies. Garnish with parsley or green onion before serving.
3 Easter menu ideas
Having guests in for Easter and not sure what to serve? Here are three enticing ideas.
1. Sugar shack feast. Enjoy a French-Canadian tradition with ham, hashbrowns, sausages, baked beans, omelets, pancakes, and fried pork rinds called oreilles de crisse, all generously drizzled with maple syrup.
2. Traditional Easter dinner. Delight everyone’s tastebuds with a leg or rack of lamb served with a fresh salad like arugula with berries and a vegetable dish like scalloped potatoes or cauliflower au gratin.
3. Vegetarian brunch. Open-faced sandwiches with avocado and egg, a leek quiche, puff pastry with spinach or mushrooms, pan-fried vegetables, spring salad, pasta, and chickpea soup — with various veggie options, you’re sure to keep everyone delighted.
Visit your local shops to find the ingredients you’ll need. And don’t forget the ideal beverage pairings to accompany your dishes!
Want to eat fresh? Buy from the farmer
Buying meat directly from a farmer has been around as long as farming, but these days, the grocery store is about as close as most people get to the farm.
For omnivores who want to keep their dollars local and don’t mind the upfront investment, buying a share of a cow or pig might be a great and surprisingly accessible option, with potential savings and the convenience of always having protein on hand.
1. Think about what you want and how much. If you’re interested in beef, consider that a whole cow could provide 400-600 pounds of meat, a half cow between 200 and 300, and a quarter cow between 100 and 150. A whole 250-pound hog yields about 120-140 pounds of meat, while a half will provide 60-70.
2. Assess your freezer capacity. You’ll need an additional freezer, especially if you purchase your share on your own and intend to keep all of the meat. For reference, a whole butchered hog might fill between half and two-thirds of a 10-cubic-foot chest freezer.
3. Ask friends or family if they’d like to split the purchase.
4. Set a budget, and keep in mind that you’re purchasing meat for up to a year all at once. Buying pork or beef directly from a farmer isn’t automatically cheaper than going to the grocery store — a lot of factors influence the price. Look online for local farmers who sell shares or ask around at farmer’s markets. If you want to purchase from a 4-H kid at the county fair, plan to spend more, but that extra money helps that kid participate the following year.
5. Find a pork or beef (or lamb or veal) producer who can give you what you want at the price you can afford. Remember that specialty options, like custom butchering or delivery, might add to the price.
6. Once your meat is stowed in your freezer, enjoy! Many people find that the taste alone is worth the extra work — and sometimes the extra cash — over meat from the grocery store or even a butcher.
4 sustainable foods you should be eating
Do you want to eat healthily and do your best for the planet? Here are four sustainable foods you should be eating.
1. Pulses like beans, lentils, and peas are a great source of protein and iron and don’t require much water to grow. They also fortify the soil with nitrogen, making it easier to grow other crops.
2. Molluscs such as oysters, mussels, clams, and scallops are nutrient-dense and remove pollutants such as carbon from seawater.
3. Local and organically grown fruits and vegetables help promote healthy soil and keep harmful pesticides from water sources. Moreover, you aren’t supporting carbon-intensive supply chains when you buy local, in-season fruits and vegetables.
4. Seaweed is highly nutritious and has a low environmental impact. Without fertilizers, it gets everything it needs to grow from the water around it. Seaweed also filters excess nutrients from seawater, such as phosphorus and nitrogen.
Try including some of these foods in your weekly meal plan.
Classic Irish soda bread comforts the soul
Irish soda bread might be one of Ireland’s most famous foods, but the technique — leavening bread with soda instead of yeast — is probably, even more American than apple pie.
Native Americans prepared the first quick bread with pearl ash, a potash-derived natural soda that reacted with mild acids like sour milk or honey to release carbon dioxide bubbles.
Irish soda bread came along much later when commercial production of baking soda made it cheap and widely available. When famine and poverty ravaged Ireland, basic soda bread, which could be prepared with just four ingredients, helped families survive. Eventually, necessity turned into a tradition, and today, just about every Irish family has their own traditions regarding this classic staple. Experiment with this simple recipe, and maybe you can create your own.
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
4-1/4 cups flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for hands and work surface
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a round cake pan or pie dish. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl; then cut in cold butter into flour mixture with a fork, your hands, or a pastry cutter. Whisk buttermilk and one egg together and add to the flour mixture. Bring the dough together with your hands into a circular loaf and score the top with a very sharp knife. Bake in a pie dish or cake pan until golden brown — about 45 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes in the pan before transferring it to a wire rack.
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