French onion soup by Jean-Christophe Novelli
Ingredients: (serves 4)
50g unsalted butter
1tbsp olive oil
1kg red onions, thinly sliced
1 sprig fresh thyme, stalks removed
2 bay leaves
3tsp caster sugar
750ml dry white wine
350ml hot vegetable stock
1tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
For the croutons:
1 garlic clove, peeled
180g Gruyere cheese, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
Melt the butter in a large saucepan with the oil and gently cook the onions for 6-8 minutes or until softened. Add the herbs and seasoning, sprinkle over the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes or until the onions are melting and glossy.
Pour in the wine and raise the heat. Bring back to the boil and simmer to reduce for 10 minutes. Add hot stock, bring back to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes.
When you are ready to serve the soup, preheat the grill. Slice the baguette diagonally and dry-fry in a heavy-based pan without oil or butter. While it’s toasting, rub a clove of garlic on the bottom of the pan to infuse the bread. When the baguette pieces are golden brown, top with the sliced cheese, grind over the pepper, sprinkle with the paprika, and grill for 2-3 minutes until the cheese is bubbling.
Just before serving the soup, add the lemon juice and stir. Ladle into hot bowls and top with cheesy croutons. Serve immediately.
CHOCOLATE FONDANTS BY FELICITY CLOAKE
(Makes 2 puddings)
60g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra to grease
1tbsp cocoa powder
60g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
60g caster sugar
1tbsp plain flour
Pre-heat the oven to 200C and put a baking tray on the middle shelf. Grease the inside of two small ramekins or pudding moulds.
Put the cocoa in one and turn it to coat the inside, holding it over the second mould to catch any that escapes. Do the same with the other mould.
Put the butter and chocolate into a heatproof bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water and stir occasionally until melted.
Allow to cool slightly.
Vigorously whisk together the egg, yolk, sugar and a pinch of salt with a hand mixer, until pale and fluffy. Lower the speed of the hand mixer, add in the melted chocolate and butter, and then the flour. Spoon into the prepared moulds, stopping just shy of the top.
At this point the mixture can be refrigerated until needed, or even frozen, as the puddings will not wait around once cooked.
Put on to a hot baking tray and cook for 12 minutes (14 if from cold, 16 if from frozen) until the tops are set and coming away from the sides of the moulds.
Leave to rest for 30 seconds and then serve in the ramekins or turn out on to plates if you’re feeling confident.
They’re great with clotted cream or vanilla ice cream.