Planting Garlic, eating Onions

We harvested the two pumpkins and five butternut squash that made it this summer, just in time for Halloween.  I just love this time of year. The summer garden is just about over. I harvested some tomatoes and probably the last of the zucchini today. All the sunflowers are gone. But in there place, we are planting lots of winter goodies. Chard, kale, cabbage, spinach. And my personal favorite, garlic.

We have been growing garlic for years, and I must say, it is super easy to grow. The winter rains do all the work. You plant it now, and in June, dig it up. It has to air dry for a week or two in the garage, then you can cut the roots off, cut the tops off, and you have garlic for the year.

This year we are planting two types of garlic: Chesnok Red and Music Stiffneck. The Chesnok Red has purple stripes on the skin and is a little hotter or spicier than the Music. The Music is my favorite because the cloves are so big. Very nice flavor, when baked it is to die for, spread on a toasted baguette.

The first thing you have to do is peel the outer skin off, and break up the head into individual cloves. Then, get your bed or pot ready by amending the soil with some good compost or potting soil. Garlic likes good drainage. I space then about a foot or more apart. Dig a hole about 2 inches down. Put a tablespoon of bone meal at the bottom of the hole. Put the clove in so the pointy end is up, root side down. Cover with a handful of dirt. Water, and wait. You will get greens in about two weeks. Now forget about it until late spring.

We harvested all the onions a month or two ago. I have a bunch of the red onions, so I decided to make French onion soup. You can make the soup from either yellow or red onions, however the red ones are sweeter. This is such an easy and elegant meal ( or start to a meal).

I consulted no less than 7 cookbooks to find what I thought would be the best recipe. Leave it to Julia Child, she won. I did change it up a bit, I added garlic, and a bay leaf. Also, put a small amount of balsamic vinegar in with the onions as they caramelize, it only enhances them. So here is my recipe based on Julia’s:

5-6 medium Red onions

3 Tablespoons of unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar  (Julia uses sugar)

8 cups beef broth

a bay leaf (my addition)

2 cloves of garlic, minced (my addition)

1/2 cup white wine

salt and pepper

Worcestershire sauce ( my addition)

( I have omitted flour and cognac that are in the original recipe)

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese and a baguette.

First, peel the onions and chop the onions in thin slices. Heat the butter and oil over medium heat in a big covered saucepan. Cook the onions, covered, for about 15 minutes.

When they soften, add some salt and the balsamic vinegar. Stirring often and keeping your eye on them, you are now softening and sweating the onions. You can walk away, but not for long. After about 20-30 minutes, uncovered, they should be done. They will be a nice, rich brown color.

Add the stock, the bay leaf, the garlic, the wine, and a few good dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Bring up to a simmer. Partially cover, and cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, you can cut a few slices of the baguette and toast. Grate the cheese.

Once the soup has cooked, taste and adjust the seasoning. On a sheet pan, have oven safe bowls ready. Ladle soup into bowls, then float a toast on top. Cover with a handful of the grated cheese.

Put in oven under broiler just a few minutes, to melt cheese. Enjoy!