The whole GC menu for this week was the soup, Potato-Parmesan cakes, and Profiteroles. I'm sad that I never have a chance to make the entire menu (and perhaps, she said hintingly, our Fearless Leader will one day reconsider this idea that we make three new recipes on one day). Although I've cooked from a lot of the menus, I'm way behind.
I'm with Raymond in my evaluation of this cookbook. When I first got it, the recipes seemed overly simplified, and I didn't think anything I cooked would amount to much. This was borne out by some of my first experiences, when Jim started calling it "the bad cookbook." But there have been some real winners from this book--simple, yes; boring, no.
This soup is a good example. Here's the recipe in a nutshell. 1) Caramelize onions. 3) Brown beef. 3) Add spices and beef to onions. 4) Pour in beef broth. 5) Simmer until done.
I do think this would be a hard book to use if you had no experience in cooking. For example, the recipe says to brown the beef "in batches." But it doesn't explain this or tell you that if you try to brown all the beef at one time, you'll end up with steamed, not browned, meat. And it doesn't always tell you whether to use high, medium, or low heat when cooking, or whether to cover the pan or not. A novice cook has no basis for guessing.
In addition to the nicely browned meat and the lovely caramelized onions, the spices (paprika, cayenne, caraway seeds, and cloves) are heavenly after they've had time to meld. Authentic, too, I think.
I just used canned beef stock. (I was reluctant to use canned broth or stock for the French Onion soup from a few weeks ago, so I skipped that. For this recipe, though, with all the other flavors, I thought that packaged broth was a legitimate short-cut, so I did it. It worked out just fine).
I thought I had sour cream in the refrigerator. I didn't, but did have creme fraiche, which turned out to taste so good in the soup that I think that's what I'd use next time.
Jim: "It's really good. I'll give it an 8 1/2."
Me: "8 1/2! If it's so good, why are you giving it an 8 1/2? Do you hate it?"
Jim: "8 1/2 is a perfectly good score. I don't hate it at all. I just gave the gnocchi a 9, and I don't like this quite as well as the gnocchi."
Sarah: "Dad, why are you comparing? Gnocchi is totally different than beef soup."
Me: "Yeah, how can you compare chocolate cake to soup?"
Jim: "You didn't make chocolate cake."
Me: "Well, I'd give it a 9."
Jim: "Well, I gave it an 8 1/2."
Sarah: "I'd give it a 10."