Tuesday, November 20, 2012

soup a l'oignon

Well friends, it has been quite some time! I've had to take a quasi-hiatus when it comes to cooking - sadly, a broken foot has put me out of commission for most things.  No running around to my markets as per usual (I can't even carry anything.), no work, no play! Who knew a broken foot would be such a Debbie Downer.  Woe is me.  Fortunately, I have a really cool storm trooper looking boot, and I get to hit people with crutches.  Either way, I've been able to do SOME cooking, but definitely not my usual full blown craziness - standard go to classics in the SST kitchen.  I HAVE created a few sous chefs in the meantime though, which is nice! Now, all I have to do is teach them how to clean properly.  I'll take what I can get!

The following recipe is SO simple it almost hurts my head thinking about it.  It's definitely a go-to winter time recipe, and everyone always raves about it - even though it basically consists of three ingredients.  Onion soup my friends.  You can make it French Onion style and toss in some croutons and melt a ton of cheese on top, or just have it as is - it's that good! I'd say the most difficult part of this recipe is cutting up the onions.  I was crying more than my mom after she watches Marley & Me.  Sidebar: do you know why they make you cry? When you cut an onion, it creates a gas that wafts up to your eyes, and creates SULFURIC ACID.  In your eyes. That is terrifying. So, that being said - help yourselves out by putting the onions in the fridge to minimize the crying situation! Or wear goggles.  Or set up a fan.  Whatever floats your boat.  I still say that chilled onions and fast-as-lightning cutting is the best option though!

Onion Soup
Serves 6-8
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 lbs sweet onions, thinly sliced (about 7 cups)
1 t salt
3 T all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef or chicken stock, preferably homemade

In a large stock pot, melt the butter with the oil over low heat.  When the butter has melted, stir in the onions and salt, coating the slices with the butter/oil mixture.  Keep these bad boys cooking for about 45 minutes (or longer if you have time!), stirring occasionally, until the onions are a rich golden brown and essentially "melted".  The longer and lower you cook, the better!

Sprinkle the flour over the onions, stir, and cook for about 3 minutes, until the flour flavor has cooked out.  Add the stock to the onions and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and allow to simmer, partially covered, for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

 When ready, taste for seasoning and enjoy! I like to finish mine with grated Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper - you can obviously make some croutons to go with it as well! In the past, I've thinly sliced a baguette on the bias, fried the slices in olive oil, and plopped them face down in some grated Parmesan for a good treat to float atop the soup.  The options are endless, but the soup itself is was really steals the show!

The onion flavor is deep and rich, due to the extended cooking period, and is only accentuated by the beef stock.  Yum! You can serve this as a small appetizer in espresso cups/tiny bowls, or have it as a main event. You won't be disappointed!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Word on Sandy

Due to Hurricane Sandy, there's a slight delay in posting for SST.  I urge you all to donate to the Red Cross - providing shelter, food, and simply emotional support to those affected by the storm. To donate, visit www.redcross.org, call 800-Red-Cross or text the word "Redcross" to 90999 to make a $10 donation. 

Sandy rolled in like a bat out of hell on October 29.  Sadly, because of last year's slight bust that was Hurricane Irene, New Yorkers had no faith in what the media was telling them, and didn't believe the East Coast could turn into a disaster area. Some took heed and evacuated, others refused.  A few partook in half-assed preparations for flooding and high winds, but there wasn't much any one could do to prepare in the areas that were hit the hardest.  Some of us were lucky enough to track the storm as it made landfall from the comfort of our own homes, but even periodic updates couldn't hold a candle to what really was happening.  So we tucked into bed Monday night, listening to the wind howl and the rain come pouring down - some even still claimed that Sandy was a bust, just like Irene.  Little did we know.

But come Tuesday morning, we awoke to the worst. Manhattan was eerily silent - no honking, no sounds of construction, no children screaming, nothing.  It was like a ghost town. Parts of the Jersey Shore and Atlantic City were completely demolished, as was the majority of Rockaway Beach - not to mention the gigantic fire, a fire on steroids, that kept crawling and devouring houses and families, being fed by the sheer amount of whipped-about oxygen supplied by Sandy, despite firefighters' best effort, that made Rockaway look as if a bomb went off.  Staten Island was flooded, homes were destroyed, bodies were missing - and there was nothing anyone could do having no access to the island.  A giant transformer at the East River ConEd plant completely exploded, illuminating the sky brighter than fireworks on the 4th of July, visibly cutting out power as it rolled from 40th Street all the way South.  And, we were running out of gas.  Halloween was CANCELLED in NJ. Even still, all the news coming in was just the beginning - most of the hard-hit areas were inaccessible, makeshift rivers, and we wouldn't know what truly happened until at least a week later.

We realized the true devastation of some areas only when Mayor Bloomberg announced that the ING Marathon was still ON - it's unfortunate that this news was what it took to make our country, and even the world realize that Sandy got the best of us.  As soon as this information hit, many were in outrage, but none more than the families on Staten Island.  No one really knew just how bad they got hit.  None of these silent slideshows of devastation, makeshift maps dissecting Sandy's effects on the East Coast, hipster Vimeo's of people riding through the city to tape flooding in the height of the storm, nor governmental addresses could prepare the general public for what was put on the news - families in hysterics, crying for help, food, shelter, and warmth, showing how clearly obvious it was that they were getting none of the aforementioned.  More than half of the deaths resulting from Sandy occurred on SI - with the toll still rising.   

Human emotion - tears, yelling, and even the inability to talk - got the best of us.  We finally realized this was real.  And we were about to parade through all these devastated areas with generators, hot food, tons of water (for runners to throw over their faces), and millions of dollars in sponsorships for a MARATHON. Get it together NYC.  Finally, the marathon was cancelled - better late than never I suppose.  Some of the runners, already in the city, decided to go to areas in Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens to help out.  Restaurants, some already out of business for the week, started donating food once they were back up and running.  Finally, everyone got their acts together, combined strengths, and are doing their best to help out the families that truly lost everything.  We're getting advice from Katrina victims - reminding the East Coast victims to "hang tight", that "material things aren't important" - basically, what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.  Be thankful for what you've got.  Still, a week later, news is still rolling in about what truly happened.

For some, it was just a week off of work and a bit of a party - full power, no spoiled food, an endless supply of hot water.  For those of us in this area, our apartments turned into second homes for friends who ventured out of the Dead Zone (or SoPo - South of Power. You know how Manhatty loves her acronyms.)  For them, power was out with no running water - but they were just a brisk walk away from friends, warm restaurants, and coffee shops Uptown.  Midtown was bustling, bars and restaurants were packed (and running out of supplies), and 2nd Avenue looked like West Broadway on a Saturday.  In Brooklyn and Queens, most were stranded and kept away from the island and their jobs - if their businesses were still operating.  Subways and tunnels were all flooded, and most of the bridges were closed. I've never seen so many people that were previously so proud to be OUTSIDE of Manhattan seem so sad that they couldn't trek back into the city.  But the aforementioned were lucky.  We didn't lose much but a few days of power, maybe a few hundred dollars worth of food, and a fraction of our income, if that.  Nothing is comparable to the families whose homes were swept away or burned to the ground, whose children were washed away in the riptide of Sandy's flooded streets, right out of their arms, those who are left without anything - nothing but each other.  We all thought it could never happen to us...but then it did. Mother Nature could give two shits (pardon my French) about human affairs. That's where Human Nature comes in.  As humans, we're resilient. In the face of destruction, we come together.  It'll take time to rebuild, but eventually everyone will get back up on their feet.  

It's true.  These statistics rarely develop in places like these. But sometimes they do. Stay strong East Coast.