Last of the Garden: French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Puddings

French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding

I am a reluctant gardner, not one for it. I am lazy, I don't like to try my hand at something like that too much. My father-in-law planted a bed of vegetables and each time something sprouted, I would watch it break free of the soil and then wilt a bit. I'd rip it off on my way to to visit the chickens. But it became a responsibility, one that meant we would sometimes walk out the bed and pick some lettuce for a salad for dinner. Or, other times, when the plastic fence would bend from a gust of wind, I would go outside and right the bamboo stick holding it all together.

It's become another part of our lives here. I wrote about that all before and not much has changed in the last 4 months since then. The chickens have grown, we are a little less in debt, but still the garden bed remained the same - sometimes full and sometimes empty.

I have never had a garden to tend, so I thought, when I saw all the green shoots wilt and die, that I would take the fence down for the winter and build the beds somewhere else for the spring. And so I did, keeping the fencing for another use around the farm, storing it in the musty tack room of the barn. Three days later, Elsa dug into the bed, fresh dirt and virgin digging ground probably felt good against her paws. 

On the fourth day, she began to stick her nose in the dirt, sneezing and gnawing at something I couldn't see. Elsa is a hitter, she pets you back. And the next day, I smelled the distinctly allium scent of onion. 

I had forgotten about these, so hidden underground from my eyes. I had forgotten to till the ground and check for anything left. And when I did, in my work clothes, hunched over a muddy bed, I discovered so many left behind. So many pristine, aromatic layers. For an hour I washed them all and the rest of the night I dreamed about what to make. 

And finally I decided on soup. Because it's November now and we need to stay warm.

French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding

French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding

This soup is simple. Really. And delicious. We ate it all in a day. For the Yorkshires, this was my first foray into them, but I loved dunking their airy, crispy bodies into the brothy soup. A little cheese wouldn't hurt this recipe one bit.

Ingredients for French Onion Soup:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 6 medium-sized onions, sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
  • 6 cup quality beef broth
  • 2 cup quality chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar or Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 sprigs thyme (can wrap in cheese cloth for easy removal)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (may require more, depends on your broth)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Ingredients for Yorkshire Pudding:

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 TB canola oil

 

Directions for French Onion Soup:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, melt butter and cook onions on medium-high for ten minutes or until translucent and slightly browned on the edges
  2. Deglaze with wine. Simmer to reduce wine to a half cup
  3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 45 minutes, removing lid after 20 minutes
  4. Remove thyme, serve immediately or store for up to 3 days in the fridge in an airtight container 

Directions for Yorkshire Pudding:

  1. Whisk together eggs, milk, flour, and salt until well-combined
  2. Allow to rest in fridge for 30 minutes
  3. While batter is resting, preheat oven to 400*F and grease a standard sized muffin tin with oil
  4. Place greased tin in oven to get hot 
  5. When batter is done resting, divide evenly into your hot, oiled in
  6. Bake around 15 minutes or until golden and puffed
  7. Eat immediately. They will deflate if left too long.
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding
French Onion Soup and Yorkshire Pudding

Pumpkin Tahini Waffles (featuring my baby girl Elsa!)

All I can think to do this week, all of my wandering thoughts, all of my lazy moments, they center around the bed. It's cold here (finally). Usually in the thirties when I wake up in the night looking for a blanket. Instead, I find an arm to hold me. A dog to cuddle with. A light that pulses through the branches of the trees when a car comes down the hill that our window overlooks.

It's usually grey from 6 until about 9 here. Foggy, sometimes so dense I don't even see the trees. Sometimes the water in the creek is so silent you can hear the squirrels padding along its bank. Sometimes Nolan's smoke and my breath and the coffee's steam all meanders above our heads like thought bubbles in old comics.

And so I think of relaxing in bed, even though we've been too busy to lately. I think of lounging. I think of the ten minutes it takes to put this recipe together and the half hour of waking up, bleary-eyed, while the coffee gets cold. It's my favorite time of day, I think. 

Pumpkin Tahini Waffles

Pumpkin Tahini Waffles

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup flour
  • 3 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 TB white vinegar
  • 1/2 TB pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 TB orange zest
  • 1 TB molasses
  • 2 TB honey

Directions:

  1. Prep and grease your waffle iron
  2. While iron heats, sift together all dry ingredients
  3. In a measuring cup, whisk together all wet ingredients and orange zest until frothy
  4. Create a well in the center of the flour mixture
  5. Slowly pour in your wet mixture, while stirring in the contents (I found that a rubber spatula actually worked great here)
  6. Using a ladle, pour batter into iron
  7. Bake waffles to waffle maker's directions
  8. Repeat with remaining batter
Pumpkin tahini waffles
Pumpkin Tahini Waffles

And here you can see that Elsa enjoyed the waffles, too! (Plus, I threw in a cute one of her because ISN'T SHE BEAUTIFUL!)

Elsa with her waffle
Elsa with her waffle
My dog, Elsa

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes

This is our first Fall in the new house, and I am ready for it. We can keep our windows open again soon, having spent the last month sealed up in a freon cold of our air conditioned house. It's been in the 90's lately. It's been so hot the grass has dried up. Leaves are falling while I'm still in short sleeves. It's confusing, but I'm trying to be patient.

The dogs can't seem to notice the difference. They lay on the deck and catch bugs in their paws. Release them. Curious. They're from California, so they like the heat. We bought them sweaters this year, a size larger than what we think will fit them, so they have room to grow, to get older, to fill it out in five or ten years.

I'm ready for Fall. I'm ready to be reintroduced to the hues of colors I hadn't seen since California. Yes, I was in Pennsylvania last year, too, but I was so caught up in my own self-pity, I was distracted. This year, it will be different. This year, I won't let that happen again. This year, I know how it feels to wait and wait and wait and to appreciate the beauty when it's all around you.

Fall has always been my favorite season and I'm ready to keep the windows open and the oven on and to bake again. Bake more. To create the things I haven't had since I was a kid, because it's time for me to look back and realize it all wasn't so bad.

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes

This recipe is an amalgamation of one from Nolan's mom and a little bit of classic snack cake elements - a bit more oil to keep it moist, and a bit of decoration on top to keep it fun. This is a great recipe that can be done in one bowl (though I broke the recipe up below into two) and can freeze pretty well too!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cup AP flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoon cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup tahini (or peanut butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350*F and line an 18" by 13" baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together all dry ingredients
  3. Whisk together all remaining ingredients until smooth
  4. Fold your wet mixture into your dry ingredients and continue to blend until everything is fully incorporated and there are no lumps
  5. Pour into prepared pan and smooth evenly. Tap a couple times on a tabletop
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean
  7. Allow to cool before decorating (see instructions below)

Decorating Instructions: In a stand mixer, beat two egg whites on high until soft peaks form. Add 1/3 cup white sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Continue to beat until glossy peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with any tip you'd like. Create your pattern on your cake. Bake for 5 minutes in a 300*F oven to set meringues. 

Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes
Pumpkin Tahini Snack Cakes