In this, his debut cookbook, he shares 100 of his absolute favourite recipes—from amazingly tasty toast ideas all the way to some classic but super-simple French dishes. Along the way, he shares ingenious kitchen hacks—six ways with a can of sardines, a cheat’s guide to wine, three knives you need in your kitchen—so that anyone can throw together great food without any fuss.
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A Convenient Onion Soup
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp neutral flavoured oil, such as rapeseed
6 large onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp brown sugar
200ml [scant 1 cup] dry white wine
3 Tbsp any type of cognac (prefer to use rum or vodka? That’s OK, but choose an amber-coloured one)
1 Tbsp flour
2 litres [8 ½ cups] good-quality beef or vegetable stock
½ garlic clove
slices of stale bread
100–150g [1–1 ½ cups] grated hard cheese (Comté, strong Cheddar)
Put a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the butter and oil and then the onions. Season with salt and add the sugar. Leave to cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time—the onions must be golden brown.
Pour in the wine, then the cognac, and flambé (watch out for the flames when doing this). When the flames have died down, scrape the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon to incorporate all the cooking juices sticking to it. Stir in the flour—this will give the soup a rich, syrupy consistency.
Mix well and then add the stock. Turn down the heat as low as it will go and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.
Rub a large gratin dish with the garlic and pour in the soup. Cover the surface with bread slices and top them with a generous layer of grated cheese.
Grill [broil] until the cheese bubbles and turns a nice golden brown before placing the dish triumphantly in the center of the table. The heat and steam are fierce enough to burn the tablecloth, which admittedly would add considerably to the drama, but if you’re attached to the cloth, put a trivet or pot stand on the table first.
I’m giving you a classic, fuss-free version of onion soup here but, if you’re after more complex flavours, add a pinch of mixed spice and a bouquet garni before starting to simmer the soup
Recipe excerpted with permission from Just A French Guy Cooking by Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz, published by Quadrille September 2018.