Last year I read Ruth Reichl’s first food memoir, Tender at the Bone, and loved it. She’s becoming this summer’s Stieg Larsson for me–as in I close one book and go on to the next. I’ve finished Comfort Me with Apples (2001) and am now diving into Garlic and Sapphires (2005). I can’t stress enough that Reichl’s books make excellent gifts (especially for any Baby Boomer you know who is into food and perhaps used to be a hippie–I gave my mother Tender at the Bone.)
Comfort Me with Apples sees Reichl blossom as a restaurant critic while struggling with her turbulent personal life in her 30s, but it also tracks the rise of California chefs like Alice Waters and Wolfgang Puck. It also–thank you!–comes with recipes. I look forward to making Reichl’s creation, Swiss Pumpkin, this fall. Basically it’s a cheese soufflé baked in a pumpkin.
But this version of French Onion Soup, I’ll pass on here: Melt 1/2 stick butter in an ovenproof pot until the foam subsides. Cook 6 large onions, chopped, and 4 large garlic cloves, chopped, in the butter, adding salt and pepper to taste, until the onion is soft. Stir in 1 tsp flour and cook for 1 minute. Add 2 cups dry white wine, 4 cups chicken broth, and 1 tsp dried thyme and cover at a low boil for 15 minutes. Cover the pot and bake in the oven at 325 degrees for 2 hours. Ladle the soup into 4 ovenproof bowls and whisk an egg into each. Sprinkle the tops with 1/4 lb grated Gruyere and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes. Before serving spoon a tablespoon heavy cream over each bowl.