Though it’s not a surprise to anyone who knows me, I work a lot. No really; it’s not uncommon for me to work 10 or 12 hours a day, begrudgingly followed by a 45 minute run at the gym and topped off with some quality cuddle time with the kitties while I binge watch Friends on Netflix. And, though I love my job, it doesn’t leave me with much time to cook on the weeknights.
That’s where my trusty slow cooker comes into play.
Though I’ve only had this slow cooker for about a month (my brother gifted it to me for Christmas), it’s quickly become one of my favorite kitchen tools. It makes cooking so darn easy! Before work, all I do is quickly throw together some veggies, a protein and broth, turn the setting on low, and voila, 7-8 hours later I have a meal. And, to make it even better, my mom bought me a recipe book with over 400 recipes dedicated to slow cooking. My friends, I will never go hungry.
Side note: what’s your favorite slow cooker recipe? Though I have a book with 400 of them, I’m always looking for more. 😉
This French onion soup recipe is perfect for those cold, grey winter days when you want something warm to fill your belly … though we rarely have that weather in Southern California. Just remember, the croutes make the soup so don’t skimp on some good cheese and artisan bread! Otherwise, you’ll be left with only onions and broth.
Slow Cooker French Onion Soup (adapted slightly from Best-Ever Slow Cooking)
3 Tbsp of Butter
1 Tsp of Olive Oil
2 1/2 Lbs of Onions (approximately 4), peeled and sliced
1 Tsp of Sugar
1 Tbsp of Flour
1 Tbsp of White Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp of Brandy
1/2 Cup of Unoaked Chardonnay (though any dry white wine will suffice)
4 Cups of Chicken Stock
2 Tsp of Fresh Thyme, plus more for garnish
Salt and Pepper
4 Slices of Artisan bread
1 Garlic Clove
Turn on slow cooker and add the butter and olive oil until butter completely melts (approximately 15 minutes). Add the onions to the slow cooker and toss slightly to ensure all the onions are covered in the butter mixture. Cover with the lid and a dish towel (to prevent escaping heat) and cook on high for at least two hours, stirring occasionally to ensure that the onions remain fully coated by the butter mixture.
Add sugar and stir until fully incorporated. Cover again with the lid and the dish towel and cook for four more hours, stirring occasionally. The onions should appear to be a deep golden brown at the end of the four hours.
Add the flour to the onions and stir. Next add the white wine vinegar and sherry slowly into the onion mixture. Add the rest of the ingredients (wine, chicken stock, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste), mix and cook on high for another 2 hours.
For the croutes, I used a small loaf of artisan bread I bought at Trader Joe’s. Cut the garlic in half and spread across the surface of each piece of bread. Spread with mustard and top with a generous slice of Gruyere cheese. Then, place under the broiler on high for 2-3 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble and the bread starts to brown.
Pour the onion soup into bowls and top with the croutes. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.
I have some breaking news to share with you all. I’m moving to New York City! What does this mean for A La Main, you may ask?
Well, it means a lot of things, good and bad. Bad news first? Here goes.
I will now be nearly 3,000 miles away from my A La Main partner in crime who has become irreplacable in my LA family. I’ll also be 3,000 miles away from Los Angeles, the city I have grown to love after 6 years (and ironically, it probably took about 5 years to start liking it). LA has become my second home and the friends I have here have become my second family. I will miss seeing people wear Ugg boots and North Faces when the temperature drops below 70; I will miss the Brentwood farmers’ market and my long runs along San Vicente to the beach; I will miss being close to the happiest and most magical place on earth (UCLA, not Disneyland, duh); I will miss the long and crazy nights at the Wilshire/Shorebar/Buffalo Club; I will miss First Fridays in Venice; I will miss shopping on Third St with the girls after Zengo brunch; I will miss getting free churros at Churros Calientes from Jacob (just say you know me, NBD); I will miss the ocean view hiking Los Liones in Pacific Palisades; I will miss being labeled as a “West-sider”; I will miss driving through the canyon to a beautiful Malibu sunset…and I will NOT miss the traffic.
That’s a long list of things I’m leaving behind…but there must be good news too!
While it may seem hard (and crazy!) to leave all of this behind, living in NYC is something I’ve wanted to do since the first time my parents brought me there when I was about 10. So here I am, armed and ready to explore (arguably) the most amazing city in the world. Did I mention I will also be eating my way through the city? Well, I will be, which is where A La Main comes into play! We will now officially be a bi-coastal blog; how cool is that?! I am so excited to try new restaurants (and am most excited for French food, one thing the LA food scene lacks) and not only knock the classics off my Bucket List, but find new “hole-in-the-walls” to share with you. But don’t worry, I’ll still be cooking too…as long as I can manage in a tiny NYC kitchen!
While I’m sure my list will continue to grow, I have begun to compile a Bucketlist of restaurants I would like to try, separated into categories, just Manhattan for now. Let’s see if I hit them all! (Good thing there is an Equinox a block from my new apartment…)
Jane, Balthazar, Bagatelle, 230 Fifth, the Butterfly, Friend of a Farmer, Maison Premiere, Tea & Sympathy, Vinegar Factory, Prune, Paradou, Cafe Orlin, Jacob’s Pickles, Alice’s Tea Cup, Beauty & Essex
Fancy Dinners (I call this my “when parents come to visit” list)
Per Se, Bouley, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, Momofoku Ko, ABC Kitchen, Gramercy Tavern (Dining Room), Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, Sushi Nakazawa, Nobu, Boulud
Brasserie Les Halles, La Sirene, Buvette, Co., Forcella, Keste Pizza, Benoit, Beauty & Essex, L’Absinthe, Momofoku Ssam/Noodle Bar, Uncle Boon’s, Red Farm
Minetta Tavern, Shake Shack, The Little Owl, Ngam, The Brindle Room
Dominique Ansel, Levain Bakery, Momofoku Milk Bar, Maialino (Toffee Brioche), Epicerie Boulud, Sullivan St. Bakery, Laduree, Baked by Melissa, Ceci-Cela
Katz, Carnegie, Barney Greengrass, 2nd Avenue Deli
Zabars, Doughnut Plant, Ess-A-Bagel, Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, Dough, Eataly
Hailey and I are really excited and honored to be nominated for the Liebster award by Strictly Delicious! Her blog is sweet and her recipes are appetizing; I’m really glad we “ran” into each other in the food blogging community.
After receiving this award, I did a bit of research on the “Liebster.” Supposedly “liebster” means beloved in German and the award is given to newbie bloggers as a welcome to the community. How kind/sweet/endearing is that?! Here are the questions we were asked:
1. What are you most afraid of in the kitchen?
Hailey: All raw meats. I have no idea how to cook meat, and I’m always terrified I will get some sort of bacteria from undercooking it, so I always end up burning things!
Cathy: Probably roasted/stuffed chicken. I tried to make it once for my Mom’s birthday dinner … 10:30 pm rolls around and the chicken (which had been in the oven for hours by this time) wasn’t done.
2. What inspired you to begin blogging?
Hailey: While I love my job, working in the corporate world (especially at a giant company) can become routine-oriented and stifle creativity and passion. I was so happy to find a creative outlet to express myself outside of work and motivate myself with a new project.
Cathy: I’ve wanted to start a blog for a while. I’ve always really liked baking, but was too lazy/intimidated to start a blog. Then one day Hailey mentioned to me how she also wanted to start a blog … And now I can’t keep my trap shut.
3. What gives you the most joy from blogging?
Hailey: It “forces” Cathy and I to spend a lot of time together :). Not that this was a problem pre-blog, but it’s very rewarding to learn and grow with a friend.
Cathy: I love blogging with my best friend. She has taught me so much about photography and it’s always nice to have someone else in the kitchen to cook or bake with.
4. What does your ideal Saturday look like?
Hailey: A long run to the beach, a stroll at the Brentwood Farmers’ Market to pick up the week’s vegetables and eating any meal outside to absorb some rays!
Cathy: A hike followed by a cute little brunch spot somewhere in Los Angeles … or a day binging on Netflix’s orginials.
5. What pantry staple would you never want to live or cook without?
Hailey: Avocado. It’s pretty much my #1 food staple.
Cathy: Can I choose two? Rice and sugar. Gotta stick to my root: Korean food and baking.
6. Name a place you have never visited, but want to. Why are you drawn there?
Hailey: Peru. I’ve travelled very minimally in South America, and I would love to do a multi-day backpacking trip ending at the breathtaking Machu Picchu.
Cathy: Definitely Ireland! When I was in high school, I created an itinerary for a two week backpacking vacation and have never had the chance to use it. I’d love to discover more about my heritage, and honestly, it’s just so darn gorgeous.
7. What’s the most surprisingly delicious thing you’ve ever eaten?
Hailey: Mac and Cheese Pizza, a late-night staple for University of Wisconsin students (shoutout to my little sister for introducing this to me in Madison).
Cathy: I don’t have a discerning palette so I usually think everything tastes good… but, if I have to choose I would say Pho. As a kid, I refused to eat the stuff, but now I can’t get enough.
8. Who is your favorite “audience” to cook for?
Hailey: My close group of friends here in LA
Cathy: Family and friends … or my roommate because I know she usually wants seconds. 😉
9. What’s your favorite time of day and why?
Hailey: Late morning. Late enough that I am no longer tired, buy early enough that I have the whole day ahead of me.
Cathy: I would love to say the morning, but that would be a lie. This girl loves her sleep. So I’ll say evenings in the summertime. I love when it’s still light out at 7 pm.
10. What are you looking forward to most this year?
Hailey: So many things! My half marathon in DC coming up soon, a trip to Spain with my best friends, summer in Los Angeles, moving to NYC in August and hopefully getting accepted into grad school! 2014 will be a great year.
Cathy: Our upcoming trip to Spain! As I’ve never been, I’m looking most forward to eating at Botin in Madrid (the oldest operating restaurant in the world), taking in the Gaudi architecture in Barcelona and possibly scuba diving some ship wrecks off the coast of Ibiza.
Now time for some of our blog crushes. These are some blogs that Hailey and I follow:
Simple Pairings: We love Lisa’s fresh approach to cooking. Her recipes are always contain a healthy and seasonal twist, yet are so simple and easy to follow.
Ngan Made It: We absolutely love this blog where Ngan not only shares her favorite recipes but books, market experiences and much more. Ngan’s voice comes through in every post, making her blog an absolute pleasure to read.
Tea and Sesame: Sam’s blog is amazing (and the blog name reminds me of these sesame rolls at Bricks & Scones… yum). Her prose makes you want to keep reading post after post and her recipes always leave me hungry. I mean, just look at this! Doesn’t that just make you want to run to your kitchen as start cooking?
Feasting With Friends: Though Nancy’s already been nominated for the award at least once before, we didn’t think that a second nomination would hurt. We love every single one of Nancy’s posts because they look so darn delicious! (I mean, Tenderloin Stuffed Baguette?? Can you say mouth watering?!)
If you choose to participate, here are the questions we would like to ask:
1. If you were told you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
2. If you were any kitchen utensil, what would you be and why?
3. What is the dish on your blog you are most proud of?
4. Outside of blogging, what are some of your favorite things to do for fun?
5. What is your ultimate favorite restaurant, and what city is it in?
6. What dish would you bring to a potluck at the beach?
7. What is your favorite food season and why?
8. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
9. Where do you seek continued inspiration for your blogging endeavors?
10. What are you most passionate about?