Those who enjoy life know that the true spirit of it is found in simple pleasures; waking up to birds and trees outside your window, having a good talk over coffee with a close friend, sunny afternoons on a terrace, silly jokes that make your stomach hurt from laughing, ceviche on hot days, feeling the sea breeze on sunset, going out for a walk after its rained, flowering bushes…you name it. It’s the simple things that keep us content and give meaning to our day to day lives. And one of those excruciatingly delicious simple pleasures is bread. I think very few people can deny it, unless you’re allergic or on a diet…bread, particularly when warm from the oven, will never fail to give you a satisfied smile, even if its just from smelling it and thinking…yuuuum, that looks delicious, and then letting your mind wander with all the possibilities of toppings or accompanying goodness that can go with it. At least I can’t deny it. And for me one of the simplest, but most enjoyable of breads, is rustic bread. There’s just something about the soft and perfect butter-absorbing interior, full of flour flavors and smells, and the crunchy crust combination. There’s no way to eat it that’s not delicious. With butter. With butter and jam. With butter and ham. With mustard. With soup. With nutella. With cheese. With sugar. With olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And the sandwich-ing possibilities are endless..there are no ingredients that can taste bad in between two slices of it right? And if you happen to have a roast turkey breast laying around (because that’s what normal people do) then your life might almost be complete. (Read more for the recipe)
Remember that time when you ate risotto for lunch and dinner and next day lunch? No? You’ve never done such a piggy-like thing before? Hmm. Weird. Maybe that’s because you haven’t made risotto with a nice and old, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, jamon serrano, tons of butter, and avocado. This kind is the second best risotto I’ve ever tried (it was here), the first one being a Black risotto with calamari, which you can enjoy right here in Mexico City, but which I’m not adventurous enough to try and make myself yet. (How do you go about using squid ink? Where do you even buy it?) For this recipe though, I did feel bold enough to try it with a recipe I made up myself, using good ingredients as the secret for good results. I chose jamon serrano, which one could say is the spanish version of prosciutto, but which tastes quite different. And then I did something (if you’re squeamish/vegan/a health nut , I would suggest you stop reading) quite naughty; I toasted the rice in those white slices of fat. I know. I’m terrible. But you can really justify it to other people once you present them with a hot bowl and a spoon. They won’t be complaining once they the get tiny bits of golden, delicious, cheese covered goodness. Read more for the recipe!
Yesterday I came home and popped into my laptop Rossini’s Barbieri di Seviglia (I know, I’m getting stranger by the day) and then set on to search for a classic french onion soup, which I did not have to do for long since Smitten Kitchen, as usual, had the answer for me quite soon. So I grabbed 4 big, shiny, smooth onions and set them on the chopping board. I grabbed the knife, I sliced once, I sliced twice. And then I stopped. What on earth was I thinking???? I’d completely forgotten that onions, or any of their cousins (red onions, shallots, garlic, spring onions, chives, you name it!) will have me in tears within seconds. And I’m not talking about watery eyes or a runaway tear. I’m talking grab-the-tissues-now stuff. I don’t know why so much, but it’s always been that way. I’ve tried super ultra sharp knives. I’ve tried cold onions straight from the fridge. There’s nothing that can help it. In fact, I remembered as I held the onion with great hatred in my hand and cried in between bouts of Figaro Figaro Figaro coming from my computer, when I worked in cooking school and I had to prepare for recipes which included onions, I would always trade with the other assistants for anything else. I’d much prefer to remove the scales from your smelly fish! So why would I subject myself willingly to all that slicing of the stinky critter?? The reason, of course, is that there is nothing quite like french onion soup. Even if I had to eat it with puffy eyes and a red nose. Deb uses Julia Child’s recipe, which she kindly provides with friendly measures. The only thing I changed was the bread, which I changed for American pumpernickel since I didn’t have any other, but it was actually an incredibly good twist. The caraway seeds such a pleasant surprise in the hot, caramelized goodness of the onions.
Recipe here: French Onion Soup at Smitten Kitchen