Thursday, February 14, 2008

Girls Night

Since Bobby and I had our Valentines dinner a day early, and he wasn't going to be home until late, my sister-in-law came by with her good friend for dinner and a movie.

For dinner I made a Sweet Onion Soup, sauteed some green beans and shallots, baked some brined chicken, and warmed up my leftover Baked Orzo Pasta from yesterday.

I found the soup recipe yesterday when I was looking for an Herbes de Provence recipe. My search led me here, and as I scrolled down, the picture of the soup looked so lovely I had to make it - especially now that I have some Herbes de Provence (although that I didn't make - I found some at Whole Foods). The soup came out amazing, and I may have a new favorite.

Sweet Onion Soup for Two
from: French Kitchen in America

Three of the sweetest onions you can find, peeled and sliced
Two tablespoons unsalted butter
One-tablespoon flour
Two cups beef bouillon
Two cups chicken bouillon
¼ cup warm milk
Dash ground pepper
Dash sea salt
Dash herbes de Provence

After you've sliced the onions, brown them slightly in butter in a heavy stockpot or skillet. Add flour and brown, until the onions turn golden.

Add hot beef and chicken bouillon and allow the soup to come to a boil. Lower the heat and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes.

Next, add the milk and allow it to simmer a bit longer. Add pepper, salt and herbes. Optional: Top with cheese, like a blend of Mozzarella and Parmesan.

Oh, it was so tasty. OK, next I wanted a vegetable, but nothing too heavy. So I made some green beans the way my mom makes them.

My Mom's Green Beans
In a medium pan (not a pot, the more surface area the better), melt some butter, throw in some fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper, and added in 3 sliced shallots. Let those sweat a little, and then add in the green beans.

I used the bagged, frozen french green beans I get from Trader Joe's, because they always come out tasting fresh, but if you use fresh, add a little water too so they don't dry out. I only like to cook my beans a little so they are still crisp.

Finally the chicken. I started brining last night after Bobby and I finished dinner. I don't know where my mom got this, but I have it written on a post it.

Brined Chicken
for 32 oz. of chicken. In a medium stockpot, mix together:
1/4 cup course/kosher salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
20 whole peppercorns
1 cup hot water
Mix that around a bit, letting everything dissolve

Add in 3 cups of cold water
1 onion, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
2 cloves garlic
Mix it all up and add in your chicken. Stick it in the refrigerator for 4+ hours.

I doubled that, and used 4 leg quarters. I brushed the top with some butter, and then baked it at 325 for 1 hour 30 minutes or so. I covered it the first 30 minutes, but it probably could have gone without the cover, or cooked longer so the skin could crisp up some more. But the meat was super juicy and flavorful. Props to me.

After our tasty meal we watched Gone Baby Gone. This is the synopsis from
Based on the novel by MYSTIC RIVER author Dennis Lehane, GONE BABY GONE marks the directorial debut of actor Ben Affleck. Featuring a solid cast that includes Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, and Affleck's brother Casey in the lead role as a private detective, GONE BABY GONE centers on the disappearance of a young girl in the working class neighborhood of Dorchester in South Boston. With plenty of twists and turns, the movie works as a solid crime thriller, but it's as a study of a place--and one's ability to either accept and embrace or ultimately break free from it--that the film flowers. Beneath the movie's street-tough justice and cop shop politics sits a very complicated view of the world, which Affleck delves into unflinchingly, thanks in large part to his ability to extract some excellent performances from his cast. Casey Affleck offers a nice mix of both steely resolve and vulnerability, while Harris presents a strong performance as a conflicted, emotionally tortured cop. Of particular note is Amy Ryan as the mother of the abducted girl. Her character's outrageous foul-mouthed demeanor ultimately ends up feeling both tragic and pathetic, with the only appropriate reactions being either pity or rage. It makes for an uncomfortable but affecting dichotomy. GONE BABY GONE signifies a confident and impressive turn behind the camera for one of Hollywood's more contentious stars. A Boston native himself, Affleck takes great care in evoking his city's entirety, from its undeniably ugly underbelly, to what feels like an almost primordial sense of community. It speaks to Affleck's substance as a director, and of good things to come.

Great film. I can't say I would have made the same choice in the end, but I have to agree that Affleck's direction was quite good. Not a feel-good film, but very well made, and a powerful story.

1 comment:

Freida said...

Onion soup for dinner tonight... I'm thinking yes!
It's rainy and cold and that soup would be so yummy today.