Posts Tagged With: Simple

Summer Reading

strawberries creme fraiche book

Market-Fresh Strawberries & Home-Made Crème Fraîche


In case you’d like a taste of what I’m reading, here are two samples from a book I purchased yesterday.

“I do believe, against all the odds, that cream will be with us for a long time yet, despite its well-known high cholesterol content. After all, who in their heart of hearts would want to be without crème brûlée, the best vanilla ice cream, or clotted cream on a scone with strawberry jam?”

“Crème fraîche The only sort of cream to be found in Europe. It is a shock the first time you try it because of its sharp taste. ‘Oh, it’s off,’ people cry. I have never discovered the reason why this cream has been deliberately soured, but for something so rich, it is curiously refreshing and particularly good with chocolate things. I don’t like cooking with it; it separates more easily than any cream I know.”

Roast Chicken and Other Stories

by Simon Hopkinson with Lindsey Bareham

A newspaper clipping left between the first few pages of the book give a good explanation of the difference between an American cookbook and one you might find in Britain. In addition to pointing out that American cookbooks are big, heavy, and “include several dozen profound-looking photographs”, the review accuses Americans of “glamour, swagger [and] religious uplift”.  In contrast, the British author of Roast Chicken and Other Stories, Simon Hopkinson, shares personal favorites in a simple and pleasant manner.

In his introduction, the author admits that he is not a novelist. You can tell that he isn’t a professional recipe-writer, either. Last night I was chuckling out loud at the way he explained some instructions. His work is fun to read because you can tell that he likes to cook and that he enjoys eating good food.

As I looked at the titles of various chapters listed in the Table of Contents, I see there are more than a few ingredients that will probably not make it into my kitchen: brains, hake, squab, sweetbreads, tripe… but it won’t hurt to store some of the information in my head.

I look forward to dipping into this book from time to time over the next few summer months, and perhaps even trying some of the recipes that don’t require turning on the oven.





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Crockpot French Onion Soup

We had invited a group of friends over to taste apples and cheese. While that combination could be filling, I wanted to make sure that we had something of a complete meal when all was said in done, so I promised soup for anyone who might still be hungry.  Cheese was a source of protein, so a vegetarian soup would round out  things. Toasted cheese sandwiches paired with tomato soup is a classic combination and could have worked well. However, we decided on French Onion Soup.

A traditional recipe will tell you that you need to start off by sauteing your sliced onions.  This would mean standing over a hot stove and stirring the vegetables for 25 to 20 minutes, then adding your liquids and letting the soup simmer to develop the flavors.

With a heat advisory in effect, and only one window air conditioning unit, any action that might increase the temperature of the inside of our apartment was not encouraged. That in mind, I headed to the bookshelf to see if there might be a way to prepare French Onion Soup in a crockpot.

After scanning the table of contents and index pages of several cookbooks, I figured out the basic technique for the slow-cooking part and got some ideas of how to make it taste better by adding bay leaf as well as pouring in some white and Marsala cooking wines in the last few minutes.



3 cups sliced onion + 3 T softened butter

3 T flour

1 T Worcestershire + 1 t sugar + 1/4 t pepper

7 c beef broth

2-3 bay leaves

1 c white cooking wine

2 T Marsala cooking wine


Put the sliced onion and the butter into your crockpot. Toss them together, so that the onion rings separate and the butter coats most of them.  Set the crockpot on high. Place the cover on, and let the onions cook for 30-35 minutes.

Add the flour to the mixture, tossing the onions with a fork so that the flour is distributed somewhat evenly.

In a separate bowl, combine the Worcestershire, sugar, and pepper. Pour this over the onion-flour mixture. Add the beef broth. Place the bay leaves on top. Place the cover back on, and let the soup cook: 3-4 hours on high or 7-8 hours on low.  In the last 10 minutes, add the cup of white cooking wine. In the last 5 minutes, stir in the Marsala cooking wine.

French Onion Soup is tasty with a slice of crusty bread floating on top, which has cheese that has been broiled, but if it is a hot day, just slices of store-bought bread and a bowl of shredded cheese will also work out well.

After Tasting Apples & Cheese





Categories: Food and drink, Soup, Tasting, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coeur à la crème

Baking a dessert for guests in summertime isn’t the best idea. Especially so if you live in a one-bedroom apartment.  You could keep a 1/2-gallon container of ice cream on hand, but that easily disappears into milkshakes, banana splits, or just a snack bowl.

IMG_3179 Something a little bit fancier, but almost as simple to prepare is coeur à la crème. * Basically, it is a no-bake, crustless cheesecake.  Sour cream + cream cheese + powdered sugar + lemon juice and zest + vanilla.  Mix. Press through a fine strainer. Divide into 4 custard dishes that have been lined with damp cheesecloth. Cover them and let them chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Unmold them and plate them in a pool of fruit syrup. Decorate with fruit of your choice.


* I’ve not learned the language, but the word coeur means something like heart in French. They have special, heart-shaped molds that they use to make this dessert. The molds are perforated so that the liquids in the cheese can escape, making the cheese more firm.

Categories: Cheese, Dessert, Desserts, Food and drink, Fruit | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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