French Onion Soup with Turkish Cheese & Date Syrup Quesadillas

By • February 13, 2010 • 0 Comments

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Author Notes: I don’t know if I am being spurred on by the lackluster economy, the New York Times article that I read interviewing people who lived through The Depression and the measures they took to survive, or thumbing through a few pages of Julia Child’s biography that inspired me to make this. I think it was a combination of all three. The article made me think of ways to use the food items that I have on hand along with inexpensive items procured at the grocery store. Julia Child always reminds me of onion and potato soups, savory soups that are luxurious while being thrifty at the same time. Root vegetables are the way to go. It’s “shabby chic”. Use whatever kinds of onions you have around. I used onions and leeks because that’s what I had. Who doesn’t want to have a crusty piece of bread or even better, a grilled cheese, savory and sweet to dip in a rich vegetable broth brimming and infused with caramelized onions spiked with bay leaf, pepper, and thyme?
This is also a ménage a trois of the Mediterranean, Middle East, and Latin America in that the onion soup is the sexy lady, the cheese and date syrup a hot guy hailing from Turkey, and the tortilla encasing the cheese and syrup the other participating Latin American female. Whoa, kinky but good, the flavor of course!

Kasseri (the kind of Turkish cheese I used) is a medium hard cheese with a soft texture and a hard rind (think provolone in hardness) made of unpasteurized sheep’s milk with sometimes goat’s milk mixed in. The use of fresh unpasteurized milk is necessary to get the correct flavor/texture and it is aged for at least four months to develop the flavor. Traditionally, this cheese is eaten (I didn’t know this) in sandwiches or in the kasseropita pie (Turkish cheese pie).
testkitchenette

Serves 6

French Onion Soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds onions, peeled and sliced into half moons (I had some leeks on hand and threw some finely chopped ones in as well)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 8 cups stock of your choice (homemade or best quality packaged)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 pinch Herbs de Provence
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large heavy stockpot heat oil over medium high heat and add the onions and garlic (and leeks if using) and stir till coated. Add a pinch of salt and few grinds of pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring every now and again until the onions are soft and caramelized (nice and brown) for about 40 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar, stock, bay leaf, thyme, Herbs de Provence, peppercorns, and mustard. Bring to a boil, cover partially, reduce heat to low, and cook until reduced by about a fourth (about 20-30 minutes) and sort of thick ( there are a lot of onions in relation to the broth). Adjust for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Turkish Cheese and Date Syrup Quesadilla

  • 2 whole wheat tortillas
  • thin slices or grated Turkish cheese to cover 1 tortilla
  • 2-3 teaspoons Date syrup or honey
  1. Cover one tortilla with the slices/gratings of cheese. Dribble the syrup over the cheese and top with the other tortilla. Pan fry in a skillet over medium heat with a bit of olive oil until cheese has melted. Flip once. Cut in wedges and serve along with soup or on its own.
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