French Onion Soup Recipe – Postcards from Paris

When I was a girl growing up in Cincinnati, there was a large department store called Shillito’s.  My family and I traveled to town infrequently, but when we did, we seemed to always end up there.  Once a year, they had an event called “World Bazaar”… and it held me spellbound.  So many different cultures brought together on the top floor of a department store in the Midwest.

A  swirl of color and brass from India, dark mahogany from Africa, but what intrigued me most was the exhibit from France!  Yes, yes, even then! I begged and begged till my mother bought me a little doll dressed in native Breton costume.  I still have that doll, wrapped in tissue at the bottom of an old cedar chest.  I received something else that day as well…my first taste of French food.  At the exhibit, they were serving French onion soup!  At that point in my life, it was the most exotic thing I’d ever tasted.

Years past, I grew up and so did my taste buds, but my love of French onion soup remained constant.   So whether I’m eating it at a bistro in Paris, or at home on Sunday with my family and friends,  I think of that bazaar and my intro to all things French.

Here is a recipe that I have adapted along the way using fresh ingredients combined with a bit of the fruit of the vine, cheese and bread…what could be more French?

Make it special, make it Sunday!


Classic French Onion Soup Recipe

Yield: 6 - servings

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

A savory, traditional French onion soup.


For Soup

3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup Muscadet or dry white wine
1/2 cup medium dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
8 cups of either beef or chicken broth
Note: I have used both chicken and beef broth, but if you prefer the classic presentation use only beef broth, if you would like a lighter taste, use chicken broth or even a combination of the two.

For Croutons

12-18 slices of baguette
2 tablespoons butter
1 large clove garlic
3 cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven that has a lid. Add the onions and sugar, sauté for 5 minutes then stir in the white wine, sherry and pepper. Place in the oven and bake without the lid and stir intermittently for about 1 hour till the onions begin to brown. Put the lid on and cook for about another hour or until the onions are caramelized.

Remove onions from oven and turn oven on to broil.

At this point, tie your fresh thyme and bay leaves together with kitchen twine.

Put the beef and/or chicken stock into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the thyme/bay leaf bundle to the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer and let broth simmer for about 35 minutes.

While the broth is simmering, place the bread on a baking sheet and broil for a few minutes on each side until golden. Remove from oven and take the garlic clove and rub on one side of the bread, then butter the bread.

Now, take the caramelized onions and divide into 6 oven-proof containers. Add the broth to the onion mixture till it almost reaches the top of the container. Place 2 or 3 pieces of bread on top and sprinkle with the Gruyere and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Place the containers in an oven proof pan and place under the broiler for 2 to 5 minutes till the top is golden. Please keep a close eye on this so that it does not burn.

Serve immediately.


Postcards from Paris – Jour de Macaron

March 20th is Jour de Macaron or Day of the Macaron! How can you go to Paris and not indulge (at least once) in these pretty, pastel treats?  Well, I can’t! As I stroll down the winding streets, I’m drawn to the windows filled with an artist’s palette of colors paired with lush flavors…how can I resist…how can I choose?

These beauties are from Ladurée, the inventor of the macaron as we know it today.  No, they didn’t invent the little cakes, but Pierre Desfontaines, the second cousin of  of the founder,  Louis Ernest Ladurée,  did us the great service of putting two cakes together to nestle ganache filling.   They  offer more than just the standard flavors, letting their imagination run  wild and offering a new flavor every season. This season it’s Cherry Blossom in honor of their 150th anniversary.  What could say spring better?

Vive Le Macaron!




Postcards from Paris – Fashion Week

The family was off again on another cookbook adventure, this time to City of Lights, but we unexpectedly began our journey with fashion, not food.   So…if you only read food blogs, please stop back…I’ll be sending French-inspired recipes your way in the coming weeks, but if you’d like a peak into our trip to Paris, please join me!

We arrived early in the morning and wanted to crawl into bed…but we knew from past experience that’s not what you need to do…you need to keeping moving.  So we head out,  scurrying down the street and around the corner…wait, there’s a Starbucks (how un-Parisian is that!).  We sneak inside like cats getting out of the rain to find a whole litter of people in line…how do I order my “usual” in French?  Dana helps out, and soon we’re sipping and walking toward an unassuming building…what have we meandered into…a costume designer’s dream?

I’m utterly fascinated!  Waiting for the Isabel Marant show to begin are cavalier men and tall, lanky ladies in impossibly high heels, looking… well, like colorful cranes, posing and having their pictures taken, or taking pictures.  The invited guests march purposefully toward the roped off entrance, so I know these folks aren’t the buyers, or press…who are they?

I call them the fashion butterflies.  I think that they are trying to begin a  metamorphosis into a role in the fashion world, maybe they are emerging photographers, designers, models or bloggers.

Actually, the celebrity bloggers are in the fashion inner circle…Garance Doré (who’s blog of the same name showcases her photography and illustration) strolled into the show with the editor of French Vogue and later we saw her beau (well-known fashion photographer, Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist ) with the fashion elite.

Of course, not all that are outside are butterflies, some of them are part of fashion’s core.  Do you recognize anyone?

Later, we stumbled upon the John Galliano show while we were splashing  around in the rain at the Tuileries.

There, we find none other than an icon of fashion photography, Bill Cunningham.  At 82, he’s still on the hunt for the best shot of the day.  We followed him around taking pictures of him taking pictures!

Once again, I’m enthralled by the style of those racing into the show and those that are patiently waiting outside in the drizzle.   If you enjoy people watching as I do, this was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.

OK, I’m soaked and feel about as fashionable as a drowned rat, it’s time to trundle back to the hotel in my soggy coat and (thankfully) flat boots encrusted with jewels of gravel from the Tuileries.

That night, I kept thinking of how good it must feel for all of the gals in those stupendous heels to take them off and get into their comfy slippers…at least that’s what I did before we set off to one of the best bistros in Paris, which (thankfully) was right downstairs…more about that in a future post!






Japanese Ginza Chicken Teriyaki Recipe

On this date last year, the tsunami hit Japan.  Homes destroyed, whole communities washed away in minutes… so many families and friends lost. My heart goes out to all of those that were touched by this tragedy in any way and I would like to dedicate this post to them.

It’s a very special post, because the recipe is from Kathy, a dear friend of Japanese heritage.   Kathy is one of Chicago’s foremost food stylists and I was delighted that she wanted to prepare the food that you see here.  The beautiful pottery was collected by her family on their trips to Japan.

Kathy prepares this dish for her family for Sunday supper often, it’s one of their favorite meals…it was even served at her wedding.

Anniversaries like this always remind me of just how important it is to hold your friends and family dear and close to your heart.  This Sunday, let’s take a moment to honor the people of Japan and all they have endured this year.



Japanese Ginza Chicken Teriyaki Recipe

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Delicious and the recipe contains a secret ingredient!


3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup Mogen David wine
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 clove crushed garlic


Add all ingredients in a saucepan, stir and simmer till the sugar is totally dissolved.
Let the mixture cool.
Arrange the chicken in a container and pour the cooled sauce on it and let it marinate overnight.
35 minutes before you want to serve chicken.
Light your grill so that it will be ready in 20 minutes.
Place chicken and sauce in deep pan and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on.
Remove chicken from pan, place on grill and turn frequently and bast with the sauce till done (about 15 minutes).
Serve with soba noodles and rice cakes. Garnish with watercress, if desired.


Easy, Irish Roasted Beets & Carrots Recipe – Great with Corned Beef!

Did you know that the Irish love their root veggies?  Potatoes (of course), parsnips and turnips, but they love beets and carrots, as well.   My mother served these often, and this combo always got rave reviews at our house, so I’d like to share my recipe with you as an idea for your St. Patrick’s Day Sunday supper.

Last year I gave you my recipe for my baked corned beef and cabbage in this post.  This year, I’d like to tell you about the beets and carrots that I serve (which is popular with folks that don’t especially like cabbage as much as I do).   I think cabbage gets a bad rap, and I’ll be giving you more ideas of how to serve it another day, but  right now I’d like to introduce you to this family favorite.

Best of all, this is so easy!  Don’t you love a recipe with just a few ingredients and carefree directions?  If so, this is the one for you.  And…this is perfect as a side with so many main dishes other than corned beef!

The secret to this recipe is to put your balsamic vinegar in a spritzer bottle so that it coats the veggies evenly…also, use smaller beets, the big ones will take much longer than the carrots to roast.  I have to add that my mother didn’t add balsamic vinegar (not very Irish, you know) that’s my addition to the recipe as well as using olive oil instead of butter…feel free to use butter if you’re so inclined…my mother put fresh, unsalted butter on everything…please note…if you use melted butter instead of olive oil, you will need to decrease the oven temperature to 350 and roast 10 – 15 minutes longer.

Make it special, make it Sunday!


Roasted Beets and Carrots Recipe

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 - 35 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

An easy, healthy, tasty way to prepare beets and carrots!


4 red beets, washed, peeled, tops removed
4 golden beets, washed, peeled, tops removed
4 carrots, washed, peeled, tops trimmed
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves removed from stem
Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the beets into 4 wedges each, leave the carrots whole.
Place them on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with the olive oil, making sure that they are totally coated with oil.
Spritz or drizzle them with balsamic vinegar.
Sprinkle with fresh thyme.
Roast in oven for 15 minutes then turn and roast for approximately 15 more minutes (they should be fork tender when done).
Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper.