Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vous êtes cordialement invités au premier dîner du fooDCrave

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We love living and entertaining in DC, but, due to the size of our apartments, we have felt constricted in our ability to throw lavish dinner parties. We know that many of our readers also live in tiny apartments and cook in tiny kitchens. So we've set out on a new project to prove that you can host fabulous dinner parties whether you've got a mansion or a studio apartment. We're calling them 'Tiny Dinner Parties'. 

In her book, My Life In France, Julia Child wrote, "The best way to execute French cooking is to get good and loaded and whack the hell out of a chicken. Bon appétit.” With this quote in mind, Amanda and I decided a French dinner would make for an excellent first Tiny Dinner Party.

We were lucky enough to have a guest photographer, Jason Leavy, do a proper photo shoot of the whole dinner party and (hopefully) leave us with a few photo tips! 

First, we selected a menu:

First Course

French Onion Soup with a Gruyere Crouton

Second Course

Beef Bourguignon

Side Dish

Braised Jewel Fingerling Potato Coins

Wine Pairing

Boujoulais Nouveau

Throughout the week, we will be sharing these recipes with you. First up is the French Onion Soup. 

We used a recipe from 2011 Bon Apetit magazine that received high reviews on Epicurious. We only doctored it up a little this time.  

Here's what you'll need for 4 bowls of French Onion Soup:

3 medium vidalia or yellow onions
2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil 
4 cups of beef stock
1 Tbsp of unsalted butter
1 Tbsp of brandy 
A baguette
1 1/2 cups of Gruyere cheese- grated 
Onion Powder
Kosher Salt
Ground Black Pepper
4 oven safe bowls (Ramekins or Crocks

The first step is to caramelize the onions. Begin by cutting the onions into thin slivers. Then, in a large pot that you plan to use for the soup, coat the bottom of the pan with extra virgin olive oil and the butter. Heat over a medium flame until the butter is melted and the oil is warm. Add the onions and stir to coat. Cook for 10-15 minutes, until the onions are a light brown (caramel) color and are soft.

While the onions are cooking, preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Once the onions are caramelized, add 1 Tbsp of Brandy to the pot and give the onions a good stir. Cook for an additional 30 seconds, or until the brandy is absorbed. 

Then, add the 4 cups of beef stock to the pot and bring to a simmer. Season the broth to taste with salt, pepper, and onion powder. 

Next, place 4 ramekins or crocks onto a baking sheet. Evenly divide the soup among the ramekins. 

Then, grate the gruyere. You can adjust the amount based on how much cheese you like, but we liked our onion soup pretty cheesy so we grated about 1 1/2 cups of cheese. Then cut your baguette into 1/2 inch slices. Place 2 slices of bread on top each ramekin.  This time, we did not toast our bread prior to placing it in the ramekins.  We learned our lesson, and felt the bread would have benefited from a bit of crunch by toasting prior to placing the ramekins in the oven.

Top each with the shredded gruyere cheese. 

Place the tray of ramekins into the oven and bake for 4 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and brown. Then serve the soup as your first course! The rest of the baguette can be served alongside for extra dunking! 

We were a little impatient with the soup and pulled it out before it fully browned. 

Come back tomorrow for the real star of the meal: beef bourguignon! 



  1. Looks great loves. My favourite recipe uses 1/2 cup red wine to deglaze the pan after the onions caramelize. You then add a splash of brandy closer to the end to give an extra punch. Worth a try next time :)


    1. Great idea! Will def try this next time!

  2. Looks great loves. My favourite recipe uses 1/2 cup red wine to deglaze the pan after the onions caramelize. Then you add a splash of brandy near the end just to give it an extra punch. Worth a shot next time ;)

    Can't wait to see the beef bourguignon!


  3. This is brilliant! Totally puts me in the mood as I countdown the days until I am off to Paris for real!

  4. Oh la la! Please bring us back a delicious quiche recipe!


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