Bowlfood Broth

French onion soup + cheesy toast

Comforting. Unchallenging. Easy. Cheese. Thyme. Caramelised onion. This bowlfood broth is delicious, warming and goes back to basics in the kitchen.

The process of making french onion soup: garlic, thyme, onion, wine, bread and beef stock.

It’s the season of sickness. Having a weak immune system and a vast preference for sunlight as opposed to icy winds, homemade soup is something that helps me out in (freezing) times of need.

The perfect bowlfood, French onion soup promises the best of comfort. The immune-boosting benefits of onion and garlic bring everything that is needed for those cold winter nights when I’d much rather be under a thick blanket than padding around on the cold kitchen tiles.

To caramelise the onions, you must make sure that you stand by your pan and stir every now and then and keep it over a low heat as burnt onion is the last thing to be desired in your soup. The addition of a little salt is important as it slows down the cooking of the onion and draws out the water within to prevent them from becoming brown.

Meanwhile, the cheesy toast compliments the soup as it is wonderful for dunking and – sprinkled with fresh thyme – smells and tastes heavenly in it’s companionship.

For the cheesy toasts, or croutons as referred to in the recipe, I used a mixture of grated parmesan and cheddar as it was what I had in the fridge at the time. However, there is something to be said for using the stipulated Gruyere, as it is wonderful for melting and goes well with the soup.

It is also worth noting that while you could just use dried thyme in your French onion soup, thyme is such a gorgeous herb (and definitely my favourite herb, in both aroma and taste) that I feel the dried version doesn’t do it justice here; so, if you please, use the fresh stuff.

Keep warm!

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The Scent of Caramel

How to Make: Caramel Slice

There’s something to be said for caramel slice; not just eating it, but making it too. Standing by the stove and giving in to the scents of my work as the shortbread is baking in the oven cheers me up on a miserable winter’s day. And while making caramel may seem like a difficult task, it really isn’t…

Caramel slice pile…

Believe me, I am the last person in the world who would take pleasure in following a recipe that is complex and mentally sweating (and swearing) over my labours. Therefore, when I say that making caramel is easy it must be true. And the real pleasure here is tasting your slice as you go – not excepting the sweetened condensed milk in the caramel. Yum!

Making caramel is not as complicated as it may appear, however it is important to watch it and keep the temperature consistent as it can burn. I give all the credit for this recipe to Jackie Brooks, the author of the book which I was lucky enough to find on one dreary day…

TIP: To make life easier, bake it in a throwaway BBQ foil tray. This saves on washing up and you can manipulate the bottom and sides to remove the caramel slice with ease!

Caramel Squares

Ingredients:

Shortbread Base

  • 100 g butter
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 60 g cornflour, sifted
  • 3/4 cup plain flour, sifted

Caramel Filling

  • 125 g butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 400 g sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Topping

  • 200 g dark chocolate, melted

Makes 24

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. To make base, place butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in cornflour and flour, turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly, then press into a buttered and lined 20 x 30cm (8 x 12in) shallow cake tin and bake for 25 minutes or until firm.
  2. To make filling, place butter, brown sugar and honey in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until sugar melts and ingredients are combined. Bring to the boil and simmer for 7 minutes. Beat in condensed milk and vanilla extract, pour filling over base and bake for 20 minutes longer. Set aside to cool completely. Spread melted chocolate over filling, set aside until firm, then cut into squares.
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