How To Carmelize Onions & French Onion Soup

May 3, 2012

I love being off school.

Having no responsibilities, due dates or assignments is really a huge relief. I also just found out last week I was accepted into the Teaching program – I begin in September, and will officially be a teacher in one year! I always loved ‘playing teacher’ when I was younger, and now my childhood dream is going to come true. I love being in school. Don’t get me wrong, I hate the stress of homework, but I always really enjoyed projects and extracurricular activities, and just being in the classroom. So, I’m going back to school, so I can work in a school, forever, pretty much. I love school, but I also love summer vacation. It’s funny, when you think about what you wanted to be when you ‘grew up,’ and then you realize that you have reached that goal, its surreal. Many young kids who wish to be astronauts may not have reached their dreams, and although a teacher is not quite an astronaut, I think it’s pretty awesome that the young role-playing teacher me, will now be the actual real-life teacher. I am both excited and nervous, but this is just another step in life. As I said, this year is going to be really awesome.  Adam and I became an aunt and uncle to a beautiful little niece, we bought a new house, I am graduating with my Bachelor’s Degree, my family is planning a grad party this summer, I’m in the midst of planning a once in a lifetime trip to Europe for July and August, where I will be meeting up with my Nonna in Italy to explore my family’s heritage and bathing in the Tuscan sun, and I will be starting the PDP program in the Fall to become an Elementary school teacher. Whew! Going to be a whirlwind year!

French Onion has always been one of my favourite soups. I remember whenever we went to a family dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory we would get the french onion soup to start. When my dad worked in the restaurant industry he would make delicious french onion, or, so my mom told me. When I was older he would make it at home for special occasions. Since I found out about my dairy allergy I can’t eat the cheese, and I probably shouldn’t eat the bread either due to my wheat allergy. But my mom really felt like this soup today, so I went over to her house and made it for her.

I didn’t eat the soup itself, but I did eat a large scoop of the caramelized onions before we added them to the broth. It was onion heaven. I could it them plain. And I did. They would also be delicious on burgers and hot dogs. Adam is not a fan of onions, but I would definitely make the soup at home again! He will just have to learn to love them.

It’s funny, as onion soup would have been something that the poor would make and eat back in the earliest centuries, as onions were abundent and easy to grow. Now, however, this modern version of the soup is seen as a classic dish, often found as a delicacy soup as a starter or main course.

French Onion soup is pretty easy to make, I based this recipe off of the Pioneer Woman’s recipe found here 

How to Caramelize onions:

The key to caramelizing onions is butter, and steady heat. You have to be patient, and not crank up the heat. You want them to cook slowly and evenly for a period of time to allow them to break down and caramelize in the butter.

Slice up your onions thinly, toss in 1 stick of butter and cook over medium heat.

After about 10 minutes, they will begin to soften and brown. You want them to become quite fragrant and browned. Keep keeping them at this point! If you think it’s too high heat, you can lower it slightly.

This is about 20 minutes, they are really browned with lots of ‘grit’ from the pan. Turn the heat up to medium-high, but not the highest setting.

At this point you can pour in the white wine. It will sizzle, and steam. Allow the wine to reduce for about 5 minutes.

Slightly reduced, keep stirring until almost all of the liquid evaporates. It can take up to 30 minutes for this large of a pan of onions to caramelize and reduce with the wine. It is worth the wait.

Once almost all of the wine is gone, your onions should be ready. They will smell heavenly. Feel free to taste-test before adding to the broth. You’ll want to scrape up the bits from the pan, they are flavourful and will add to the broth. Scrape onions into your broth, and let simmer for about 30 minutes to an hour on low.

Pour into soup bowls

Top with toast

Top with cheese, and broil.

French Onion Soup


  • 1 stick Butter
  • 4-5 whole Large Yellow Onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 cup (generous) Dry White Wine
  • 4 cups Chicken Broth – low sodium, bought or homemade
  • 4 cups Beef Broth, we had homemade in the freezer that we used.
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2+ Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Port Wine
  • bread
  • cheese of your choice, Havarti, Gruyere, Emmental

Preparation Instructions

In large pot, add both broths, garlic and a dash of Worcestershire sauce over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer while you cook the onions.

Melt butter in a large heavy bottom pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 20-25 minutes. You want the onions to caramelize, and turn a dark brown colour. Using a wooden spoon stir them occasionally, scraping up the browned bits of butter into the onions. When they look like they are caramelized, at the 20 minutes point, add the 1 cup of dry white wine along with the Worcestershire sauce. Allow it to reduce for another few minutes, until the liquid is almost gone.

Once the onions are cooked, add them to the simmering broth, and simmer on low for another 20 minutes or so, or until you wish to eat. The longer it simmers together, the more flavourful it will be. You can leave it on very low for an hour or so if you like.

To make the bread, sprinkle oil over baguette or bread slice, and broil until browned and crisp on both sides.

To serve, use a french onion soup bowl, or small ramekins or other oven safe bowls and fill with the onion soup, top with a piece of crunchy bread, and top with a few slices of cheese. Place under broiler again until cheese is bubbly. Keep your eye on it. 



Last Week

April 29, 2012

A glimpse of what happened last week..

{Adam and I ventured to the pier after viewing our soon-to-be new home in progress}

{I didn’t carve this, but it fits}

{Clouds streaked across the sky, stretched over the horizon}

{Found: quote on the dock, the Notebook}


{Masts at sunset}

{Lainey catching up on her beauty sleep}

{Celebrating my Nonna’s birthday}

{La super Nonna}

{Harvesting Rhubarb for baking next week}

Birthdays, Cakes

Coconut Cloud Cake

April 23, 2012

First, I’d like to wish my Mom a…

Very Happy Birthday!!!

{Vegas in 2009! For my 21st}


She was the youngest girl of 6! She is the baby here, and then my grandparents had their 6th child, a boy! After five girls, I guess my Grandpa wanted a boy! haha.

Last night we celebrated her birthday, which is actually today! We had a lovely family dinner and watched the Canucks game. It’s a good thing we had cake before the game ended, because I don’t think we would have felt like celebrating afterwards ;) Yes, the Canucks are now out of the playoffs unfortunately. But, it was good while it lasted. My mom and I said we weren’t ready for the playoffs to end, as we all like to watch them play. It seems like it was such a long season last year, of course making it to round four,  game seven. And now that’s it. Oh well. Next year!

For dessert, my mom requested a coconut cake. She loved the coconut cream cupcakes I made for the Fundraiser a few weeks ago. I made a simple yellow cake, with Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream, topped with large flakes of coconut from Whole Foods.

Also, I am Officially finished my degree!!!!! As of April 19 I am a graduate! Well, my ceremony will be in June, but I have finished all my final exams and essays and can breath again. At dinner my mom said I was already looking more relaxed, and I definitely feel relaxed. I am planning on going traveling this summer, so I don’t think I’ll be working. After 5 semesters back to back, 20 months of school without a break I am in need of a little down time! I am definitely in summer mode. I have lots planned, including selling out apartment. I’m happy to have lots of free time ahead!

This cake is a perfect party cake, and summer dessert. The buttercream is so light and airy, and the coconut gives it a tropical feel. I melted some chocolate, and froze it in a disk and piped on top of it to lay on the cake.

I had seen this Coconut Cloud Cake from Martha Stewart that looked heavenly, and made my own version of it.

Coconut Cloud Cake

  • 2 Layers baked and cooled Yellow Cake of your choice
  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Recipe to follow)
  • Coconut Extract
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 2 Cups large flaked coconut
For the coconut:
In a pan on medium, place the 1 cup of shredded coconut. Toast coconut, using a wooden spoon stir until it becomes fragrant and begins to brown, about 2 minutes or so. Remove from heat and let cool.
For the Frosting:
Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Sweetapolita
For details and tips on Swiss Meringue read Sweetapolita’s in depth post here
Yield: 5 cups


  1. 5 large egg whites (30g each–total 150g)
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into cubes
  4. 1-2 tsp Coconut Extract


In a bowl of a clean mixing bowl from a mixing stand, combine egg whites and sugar. Place over a simmering pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 160 degrees F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continously, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). Add coconut extract, as little or as much as you desire. I like a really coconut-y flavour, so I add a few drops. Continue to mix until incorporated.


Place four pieces of parchment paper onto cake board that you will use, and place one of the cake layers on top. This will help you keep the cake plate clean. Be sure to place them almost at the edge of the cake, for easy removal. You don’t want it completely under the cake, but enough of an overhang so that it covers the plate.

Once the bottom layer is in place, frost top with 1 cup of buttercream, spread using an offset spatula.

Sprinkle top with the toasted coconut. 

Place second layer of cake on top, using the offset spatula to crumb coat it in a sheer layer of frosting. Then, go back and add a thicker layer of frosting using the spatula to make a smooth finish.

Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the larger coconut flakes, making sure they stick to the frosting and cover completely.

Once you are finished, slowly remove the parchment from underneath the cake, being careful with each piece, tugging gently. You will have a nice clean edge.

To make the chocolate disk, simply melt (stovetop or microwave) about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips or other chocolate, and using a spoon smear onto a piece of parchment on a cutting board in the shape of a circle. Place in freezer until frozen, turning it over to reveal the smooth side. Pipe your greeting on top using some of the leftover icing.

Store at room temperature until ready to eat. Best if eaten the same day.