As I've mentioned, the onion soup was delicious and P and I enjoyed it very much. We ate it out of coffee mugs, since I have no oven-safe soup bowls and with shredded mozzerella instead of gruyere, since I bought the goat's milk brie and didn't want to buy a second gourmet cheese. So, as promised, here is the recipe + photos.
6-7 onions, cut in half and sliced
2 tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 cups of red wine
2 quarts of beef stock
1 tbsb dried thyme [or bouquet garni]
salt & pepper
Grated cheese, such as Gruyere or Mozzerella
Baguette or some crusty bread
YIELD: 6-8 servings in coffee mugs
Since the grocery's stock of larger onions for choosing looked sad and desolate, I ended up buying packaged Spanish onions. The package's onions were significantly smaller than what I'm used to, which is why I needed 6-7 onions. If your onions are large, you can probably get away with 4-5.
Melt the butter in the bottom of a stockpot at medium heat and add the onions. Stir while they sweat. Once they're sweating, you can let them sit for a bit while you mince the garlic. Stir occasionally. If it looks like they're burning or starting to burn, just stir/turn the heat down. The heat should never be much above medium. Cook them until they're mushy and start to lose their shape. They will also be sort of beer colored. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour, so if it's looking like nothing's happening, don't worry--it will. Add the garlic in as they are finishing off.
When the onions are caramelized and mushy, it's time to add the wine. I say 1 or 2 cups because it's not a specific measurement--just add enough wine to cover the onions. It will look a little bit like oniony-vomit.
Cook this down until most of the wine has evaporated and it's sort of wine-syrupy. Add the beef stock and stir. Add the thyme. Bring to a boil and cover. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, or longer. The longer it simmers, the better it will be. But I probably wouldn't let it go for more than an hour.
Since we had to eat it out of coffee mugs, there was no room for the crusty white bread that you might normally find in an onion soup. Therefore, we used leftover baguette from the grocery, which is significantly skinnier than most breads. I sliced it thinly and then baked it into croutons [350 degrees for about five to seven minutes]. When I served the soup, I put a crouton and a half into the mug and sprinkled a heap of mozzerella on top. The mugs went on a cookie sheet and under the broiler for two or three minutes.
Obviously, the mug in the right corner is the soup. The burnt looking slabs are the monte cristo/croque monsieurs. They were very simple, though I don't think I've quite mastered French toast yet, so they weren't perfect for me.
RECIPE (sort of):
4 slices white bread
Two slices cheese
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup milk
Oil or butter, for the pan
YIELD: two servings
I say 'lunchmeat' with nothing more specific, because both a croque monsieur and a monte cristo are supposed to use ham, but ham's not my favorite and I reeeally hate lunchmeat ham. There's one option, and then I was going to use turkey, so that's another option. But then I ended up using chicken, so that's another. I'm sure roast beef would also be tasty. For cheese, I used provolone. I don't know what would be traditional, but probably swiss or something.
First, cut the crusts of the bread. Spread mayo or something on, if you want, but I didn't. Layer it with the meat and cheese and cover with the other bread. There should be two sandwiches. Cut them in half so that you have four smallish rectangles. In a bowl, whisk together the milk and egg. Heat butter or oil in a pan at medium/medium-high heat. Dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture on both sides. Let drip for a second and then throw onto the pan. Fry until golden. Serve.
I have also been told that dipping the sandwiches in eggnog and then deep frying is a good idea, but as I have not tested this myself, I cannot vouch for it.
Tomorrow: Chocolate meringue cupcakes. Yummm.