Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Role of Illusions

Every once in a while, we are called upon to make dishes with constraints in mind. This is truly the mark of a good chef.

Cooking is like magic. Sometimes you need to create an illusion.

The CC was called upon to make a classic French Onion Soup minus the beef.

"Impossible, you say?"

"Hard work," says the CC.

The CC made a traditional beef broth side by side with a mushroom broth more than a few times till even the most discerning audience could not tell the difference. In fact, he served it with impunity to an audience (who loved it,) and then revealed the truth.

The CC presents a mushroom broth quite specifically made for classic French Onion Soup (recipe to follow.)


1 large red onion (diced)
1 lb crimini mushrooms (quartered)
2 large portabella mushrooms (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
1/2 cup celery (diced)
3 bay leaves
1 sprig rosemary
10-12 peppercorns
salt to taste
olive oil
10-12 cups of water (approximate - just fill the pot.)


Saute the onions in olive oil until pale pink/slightly brown. Add the peppercorns, and saute for a bit. Add the carrots and celery and saute for a bit till soft. Add the mushrooms, and saute for a bit. Add the cold water (it's important that it be cold.) and bring to a very low simmer.

Simmer for 70-90 minutes while skimming periodically.

Over a bowl, strain the broth from the vegetables using a sieve lined with several layers of a cheesecloth. Let the vegetables cool for a while. Take the cheesecloth and squeeze the vegetables to extract more of the juice into the bowl until no more comes out. Discard the pulp.

You may freeze this for a long time.

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