Before I was a budding chef, I was a baby ballerina and a young violinist. I attended a fine arts boarding school where music surrounded my life. The more I trained in dance, the more I discovered the role music played in my everyday life. As a chef today, I incorporate music (and some of my most creative choreography) in the kitchen – selecting different songs and playlists depending on the cuisine I am preparing or the mood I want to infuse in my cooking. And I am moody!
My parents always joked (although I’m convinced they were half serious) that my life’s soundtrack is the bold third movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata (Piano Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, aka Quasi una fantasia) – frenzied, chaotic and passionate. As I write, I’m constantly reminding myself that I have a deadline, otherwise my brain wanders in three-part-harmonies and dance counts of eight.
With February’s romance themes upon us, it’s the perfect time to crank up the heat in the kitchen. To all of you solos, singles, swingers and everyone else, make this Valentine’s Day about your salacious love affair with a titillating meal.
Few things are sexier than a steamy crock of French onion soup. Those sweet onions caramelized in butter until they’re brown and tender, the floating baguette delicately soaking up velvety beef broth, and the hardened Gruyere cheese dramatically braced across the top of the crock, ready for your indulgence… that’s food porn at it’s finest. My suggested musical accompaniment to this soup: Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings. The adagio musically illustrates a sultry romance while the soup provides an umami warmth inside and out. Try them together – the sensory overload is so worth it!
French Onion Soup
Yield: 5 8-ounce bowls
2 ounces butter
3.5 yellow onions, lyonnaise cut
1.5 ounces brandy (optional)
1.5 quart beef stock, unsalted
Salt & pepper to taste
2 ounces dry sherry (optional)
1 loaf French bread
8 ounce Gruyere or Swiss cheese, shredded
Heat butter in stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and coat in the fat; cook until golden brown, approximately 45 minutes. (Note: Cooking the onions slowly allows them to fully caramelize and maximizes their sweet flavor. Don’t rush this process!) Deglaze pan with brandy and reduce mixture until nearly dry. Add beef stock, bring to a boil, and simmer until onions get quite tender, about 20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and sherry. Cook another five minutes. Slice French bread into ⅜-inch pieces and toast. Ladle soup into crocks, arrange bread on top, and cover with shredded Gruyere cheese. Broil until golden brown and serve hot.
Cooking is a culinary art, after all, so spice up your fusion of music and food. Let that merengue melt over that salmon and rub that reggae on that ribeye. Dust your tart with a little Latin funk and slow cook in some soft jazz. You’ll find that your food tastes even more fabulous as it dances over your palate with musical melodies in the background.
Read this online at thegabber.com for Morgan’s Valentine’s Day cooking playlist.
Valentine’s Playlist for Cooking French Onion Soup
“Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song” by Paul Williams
“Your Woman” by White Town
“King of Sorrow” by Sade
“Ghostwriter” by RJD2
“Turn Your Lights Down Low” by Bob Marley (feat. Lauryn Hill)
“Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars” by Queen Latifah
“Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber
“Can’t Help Falling In Love (instrumental)” by The O’Neill Brothers