rockinthemomrole

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‘Grilled’ Onion Soup

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'Grilled' Onion Soup

This is one of my summertime favorites, because in the heat of the summer the last thing I want to do is turn my oven on. In the winter, it is a nice side benefit to have its’ warmth to heat the house. In the summertime, not so much!

We finally had a break in the never-ending snow blizzards and received our first taste of spring this weekend, so I was inspired to break out one of my favorite summertime side dishes. Grilled onion soup!

I’ve made these for so long, I can’t remember where I picked up the idea. I think it was Paula Deen. All I know is that they are easy, gluten free, and tasty. Here is what you do:

*Cut the top off a sweet onion (leave the root end intact) and carefully peel away the outer paper layer.
*Using a melon baller or a sharp spoon, core out a small opening in the center.
*Using your knife, slice down (but all the way through) to create petals. I usually do 4 cuts resulting in 8 leaves. (see photo)
*Stuff a beef boullion cube (I used Better than Boullion; 1 tsp) and about 1 tbsp of unsalted butter in the well you created in the center. (at this point you can grind some pepper on the onion)
*Wrap in tin foil, sealing tightly. Use a heavy duty tin foil, or a double layer of regular weight. You want to not have any juices leak.
*Place on the middle or top rack of your grill, over medium heat. If you don’t have a rack, you can place on the grates. Placing on the upper grate allows you to walk away and leave unattended until done. If placing directly on the grill, be sure to keep an eye out for burning…use an indirect heat or the lowest setting possible.
*Cook for approximately 40-55 mins, depending upon the size of the onion. The onion should give very easily when squeezed with tongs.

I usually do these first and then let sit while I grill the rest of my food. They will stay nice and hot if left in their foil and covered with a tea towel for at least a 1/2hr. (At least they do for me)

When serving, carefully open your foil from the top. Pour the juices in your crock or bowl and place the onion in the middle.

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does. It tastes just like french onion soup, only there is no standing over a hot stove worry about burning onions.

(amount of ‘broth’ will vary depending upon the juiciness of the onion)


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The Chef’s Table

The resort that we stayed in while in Two Harbors had a lovely little restaurant called The Ledge Rock Grill where we enjoyed a magnificent meal prepared for us by Chef Nathan. The executive Chef Uriah Hefter  created a simply wonderful meal for us, along with a perfect wine pairing to go with every course. We sat right there, front and center to the kitchen. Originally my youngest child, the Gluten Free one, was supposed to join us. She ended up staying behind with a friend at home, with grand social plans, and so the original menu of Gluten Free was modified and changed to allow gluten. For those who are gluten free, this restaurant is VERY gluten intolerant friendly! I was told by Chef Nathan they are in the process of creating an entire menu for GF.

Here was our menu for the night:

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And this was our view. My apologies for the blur, Chef Uriah (in the hat) WAS a blur of efficiency and activity!

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The first course (amuse) started the night off on a positive note. Pineapple and pork with an asian sauce, perfectly cooked and reminiscent of Hawaii, was much needed considering the blizzard we battled on our journey up the day prior. Chef Nathan was our personal cook, and he finished it off by steaming it a bit with white wine. Oh, what a stroke of genius! It was prettier on the skewer, but I was a teensy bit excited and my camera was slower than my fork!

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The amuse was followed by our ‘salad’. Chef Uriah and I had a fun exchange on the naming of them as ‘fingers’. I felt it was more like a lettuce wrap, he was just as sure it was a ‘finger’. HA! That is why HE is the executive chef and I am not! (In the back are my husbands, sans anchovies. In front are mine, avec anchovies. Of course, mine was better.)

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The third course I must confess was a bit of a let down. You see, since we were in the unit, enjoying our reading and fireside snuggling, we noshed on local cheeses and smoked fish w/ GF crackers for a light lunch. Still, it WAS tasty and I’m never one to let good locally produced food go to waste!

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I was pleasantly surprised that the ‘Roman’ in the palate cleanser was Italian champagne! The raspberry sorbet was homemade and for a moment, I was transported to a nearby U-pick farm I frequent in the summertime. I have decided, this is on my list of ‘To Do’ for summertime entertaining. (Once again, my utensil made it to the target faster than the camera!)

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Le piece de resistance was the lamb. While lamb is one of my most favorite dishes (Rack of Lamb is tied for me with Fois Gras) it is NOT one of my husbands. I glanced over to take a peek and gauge his reaction to his serving. The plate was beautifully presented and the lamb was perfectly cooked pink. I have had lamb a lot in my many years of dining, but this had to be one of the best presentations I’ve ever tasted. It was perfectly seasoned. The seasonings accented the lamb without overpowering it, and the lamb was fresh and clean without a hint of gaminess. As you can see, it was simply perfect, served with rustic heirloom potatoes and fresh green beans!

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I need not have worried about my sweet hunka love going hungry, as it appeared he felt the same as I did about the lamb. I would like to add that my man never, and I mean NEVER chews a bone. I am the officially designated bone chewer in this family, a duty I enjoy with relish. When it’s pork chops on the menu at home, I get all the bones, they get the loins. I have no reservations either about picking up a bone in public and chomping away.

So, while he is never surprised at my picking up the bone in public, I was pleasantly shocked when he did. I would say he enjoyed it quite tremendously!

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We finished up our meal with dessert. Three different homemade frozen treats: chocolate nib, cinnamon and peach/mango. While each one was very different and tasty on it’s own, the peach-mango was our favorite. It must have been that longing we have had for anything that breathes the breath of summer right now.

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That was our wonderful food adventure up on the north shore of Lake Superior. This little culinary gem is hidden away in a resort called Larsmont Cottages. If you don’t stay at the resort, you MUST make reservations for the Chef’s Table and enjoy the creative passion of Chef Uriah. It is a mere 15 minutes north of Duluth, an easy drive. I highly recommend for those Gluten Intolerant and those who are not, but if you are someone who deals with celiac you’d have to call the restaurant. I can’t speak to that, sorry.

If you do get a chance to visit – Bon Appetite!


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Sanity Break

April 15th. It’s tax day. 

Not only is tax day gloomy enough reason for a day, but the weather is foul too. It is mid-April and we are still knee deep in snow/ice, the temperatures are hovering around 32 degrees and an added misery is a stiff wind, overcast skies and the utter atrocity of having to wear Ugg boots past April 1st not for fashion, but for warmth. 

Considering it has been weeks upon weeks of this torture I should be about on the verge of losing my sanity, suffering from what I’m sure the pioneers felt after months of seemingly endless long cold winters, cabin fever. But my dear sweet husband took me up north for a couple of blessed nights to the North Shore of Lake Superior. 

I’ve mentioned before my trips up north (here), and how they are tonic to my soul. That open water of the lake reminiscent of my beloved pacific NW ocean, the elevated topography that harkens to the summers of my youth in the high desert of Central Oregon, both are a salve to the irritation of being landlocked in a fairly flat part of the state. Sensing I was at my wits end with the winter from Narnia, we drove through a windstorm that gave stiff competition the storm of Dorothy’s. Instead of arriving in Oz, we pulled into Two Harbors, MN to a storm blowing across the lake that made it roar no less forcefully than a true ocean would. We unpacked our things in to our little condo, pulled out our books and settled in to enjoy reading and watching the storm rage. 

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The next day we drove in to the town and walked out to the harbor light house, being treated to a sight like below. Mind you, this is April 15th. By now the ice houses are suppose to be off the lakes, people are putting in their lake house boat docks, the grown thawed and spring plantings are being put in. Ummmm, yeah, not so much this year. 

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We walked past a floating hunk of ice similar to what I envisioned Rudolph the Reindeer and his buddies rode to escape the Abominable beast. As we got to the base of the harbor light house, this is what greeted us:

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Across the way, was an impressive view of the reason this little tiny town exists, barge loading for coal and taconite shipping. 

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The skies cleared not long after I took this photograph. We drove around the sleepy little town, up in to the hills, down along the waterfront, then finally back to the condo to settle in for more reading till dinner. 

We woke the next morning to eye blinding sunshine. The lake was calm and smooth as glass. The geese were milling about on the still snow covered ground, the males preening and caterwauling to the females, obviously enjoying the glorious break in the weather also. I sat in the window, tucked in to a leather chair reading, basking in the warmth of the sun through the window and gazing at that glorious sight. 

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Alas. All fun must come to an end, and after having a light breakfast, we headed home, making a short detour to Canal Park in Duluth. I love Canal Park and my husband loves to check out what is new in the Duluth Trading Company store. We parked down by the shipping entrance, since it’s always fun to see the barges coming and going through the canal, watching the lift bridge rise and fall. To our utter amazement, this is what greeted our eyes!

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Normally that is all water. Where I am standing, there should be a good drop to the lake surface, but instead, the ice was piled in boulder like fashion as high as I am tall and as far as the eye could see. No shipping traffic coming and going through here, but in the far distance one could see the barges anchored, awaiting passage. Our eyes, unaccustomed as they have grown to light this winter, were blinded by the radiance from the sun and snow. It’s obvious that the camera on my phone felt the same way also! I guess all that wind drove all the floating ice from the lake directly to here. I guess that is the power of 50 mph winds!

After enjoying a lovely morning on the northern shore of the lake, it was time to head back to reality, and reality was awaiting us as we drove over the cliff side of Duluth in to the interior of the state. We crossed that natural barrier and drove right back in to snowy-slush mixed with freezing rain. 

As I sit, pecking away at the keyboard, I stare out at the iceberg I call my backyard. Once again I return to the consequences of living at the feet of the North Pole. Once again, I return to muddling through