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It's a glorious Dec. 1st. We have Thanksgiving feasts behind us, and so much before us.

There is, however, some 2021 business to clear up, before the festivities begin. We are searching for a seafood stew or cioppino with Progresso Manhattan clam chowder as its base. We need a recipe for white lasagna. And finally, you Trader Joe's experts, what are the best products to purchase there and what favorite recipes call for ingredients from Trader Joe's? We need hints as well as recipes and menu combinations.

 

COZY SOUP

As soon as the request for Real French Onion Soup posted, Clifford Burdette replied with this delicacy that would be good to stir up with someone you love on a shivery day, or to stir up FOR that person and two to four others.

French Onion Soup

5 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

6 large red or yellow onions (about 3 pounds), peeled, thinly sliced root to stem, about 10 cups total

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon sugar

Salt

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine

8 cups beef stock, chicken stock or a combination of the two

2 bay leaves

4 teaspoons fresh thyme (can also use a few sprigs of fresh thyme) or 1 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons brandy (optional)

8 each (1-inch thick) slices French bread or baguette

1 1/2 cups grated Swiss Gruyere and a sprinkling of Parmesan

Caramelize the onions:

In a 5- to 6-quart thick-bottomed pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat.

Add the onions, and toss to coat with the olive oil.

Cook the onions, stirring often, until they have softened, 15 to 20 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter, and cook, stirring often, until the onions start to brown, about 15 more minutes.

Then sprinkle with sugar (to help with the caramelization) and 1 teaspoon of salt, and continue to cook until the onions are well browned, 10 to 15 more minutes.

Add the minced garlic, and cook for a minute more.

Deglaze the pot with vermouth:

Add the vermouth to the pot, and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom and sides of the pot, deglazing the pot as you go.

Add stock and seasonings:

Add the stock, bay leaves and thyme.

Bring to a simmer, cover the pot and lower the heat to maintain a low simmer.

Cook for about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Add brandy if using.

Taste the soup, and if it needs more seasoning, don't be afraid to add more.

Toast French bread slices:

While the soup is simmering, line a sheet pan with parchment paper or foil and heat the oven to 450 degrees with a rack in the upper third of the oven.

Brush both sides of the French bread or baguette slices lightly with remaining olive oil (you'll end up using about a tablespoon and a half of olive oil for this).

Put in the oven, and toast until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove from oven.

Turn the toasts over, and sprinkle with the grated Gruyere cheese and Parmesan.

Return to the oven when it's close to serving time, and bake until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.

To serve:

Ladle soup into a bowl, and transfer one cheesy toast onto the top of each bowl of soup.

Alternatively, you can use individual ovenproof bowls or one large casserole dish.

Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast, and sprinkle with cheese.

Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned.

 

EASY COOKIES

Roseann Strazinky's recipe is tried and true, a sandwich cookie.

Melt in Your Mouth Cream Wafers

1 cup butter, at room temperature

1/3 cup whipping cream (unwhipped)

2 cups all-purpose flour

Granulated sugar (for dipping)

Frosting of your choice

Mix thoroughly butter, whipping cream and flour. Cover and chill about 30 minutes.

Heat oven to 375 degrees, depending on your oven. Watch that it's not too hot, then turn down to 350 degrees if necessary.

Place granulated sugar into a small bowl. This will be used for the cutout cookies. Have a fork ready and a 1 1/2-inch cutter, too.

Remove about 1/3 of the dough from the refrigerator, and return the rest, covered. Roll dough about 1/8-inch thick on floured board. Cut with your cookie cutter into 1 -inch circles.

Transfer rounds with a metal spatula to the granulated sugar bowl and carefully turn to cover both sides. Place onto an ungreased baking sheet. Prick rounds with fork about 4 times to prevent the cookie puffing up. Bake 7 to 9 minutes; DO NOT BROWN. They will burn.

Remove quickly and carefully to a cooling tray. Repeat with rest of dough. After all are baked and cool, frost with frosting of your choice and add one on top to make a sandwich cookie.

This recipe makes about 5 dozen single cookies, so 2 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies.

 

SAVORY CASSEROLE

There are many recipes that get passed down the branches of a family tree, as was this one in M.H.V.'s collection, attributed to Mrs. Cowan Rodgers of Knoxville. I note that Pepperidge Farm stuffing is more than stuffing; it appeared in a spinach bites recipe in this column last month, and here it is again, with squash.

Squash Casserole

1 1/2 pounds yellow or zucchini squash or a mixture of both

1/2 stick butter

1 (8-ounce) bag Pepperidge Farm herb stuffing, divided

1 medium onion, sliced

1 can condensed cream of celery soup

1 (8 1/2-ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, slivered

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

The day before serving, steam squash and drain well. Store in the refrigerator overnight, covered or uncovered.

The next morning melt butter. Set aside 1/2 cup of the stuffing, and mix the remaining stuffing with the melted butter. With this mixture line the bottom of a 2-quart casserole.

Combine other ingredients in a bowl: steamed squash, onion, soup, water chestnuts, sour cream and mayonnaise. Pour into a 2-quart casserole. Top with remaining stuffing mix, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

 

REMINDER

Remember, we are in the market for new ideas, easy tips and fancy feasts, so please share with us your best or your request for help FROM the best of the best: our readers.

 

REQUESTS

— Progresso-inspired seafood stew

— White lasagna

— Trader Joe's tips

 

TO REACH US

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750

Email: chattfare@gmail.com

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Jane Henegar
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