With the weather dipping under the ordinary these days, one can only think of ways to keep warm. While staying cosy with layers of clothes is a part of it, eating right is equally important. Eating the right food can warm you up from within. During winter our blood pH tends to become more acidic. This is because cold weather lowers, or acidifies blood pH. Typically people with acidic blood pH tend to feel cold all the time. They dislike being outdoors in the winter, and would much rather spend the cooler seasons in warmer places. Well, since that is not possible for most of us, we have to compensate for acidic blood pH by eating foods that will help to raise, or Alkaline, blood pH levels. Doing this will help keep the body chemistry stay in balance and help keep comfortable in winter.
The body requires foods that raise the blood pH, such as protein and fat. Since it is winter, it is best to try foods that raise our blood pH, like meat, fish, eggs, nuts, and high fat dairy. These foods will help an acidic person balance the blood pH and make us feel warmer.
Having given you the scientific reason to why we feel cold and how to stay warm, this is also the season we can actually enjoy certain foods, which we cannot in the summer. Such as a cup of good hot chocolate or adrak wali chai, warm comforting casseroles n soups, seasonal root vegetables and fresh winter produce, spices like cinnamon, pepper, cloves, fennel, til or a lovely dinner by the bon fire, make di roti-sarson da saag, mutton rara, etc. These dishes have a different feel to it during the nippy weather.
Cooking with alcohol is one of my favourite ways to add a little heat to my meals, without necessarily making the food overpowering or spicy. A simple splash while sautéing veggies, or a nice shot of brandy of cognac in your hearty soup or casserole can really warm you up.
There are few things more comforting than having a real French Onion Soup, slowly cooked, caramelized onions that turn mellow and sweet in a broth laced with white wine and Cognac. And to finish it off, crunchy baked croutons of crusty bread topped with melted Swiss cheese… hmm. Hope this keeps you warm.
FRENCH ONION SOUP
For The Soup (Serves 2)
• 2 white onions
• 1 tsp olive oil
• 2 tsp salted butter
• 1 tbsp flour
• 1/2 cup Chardonnay white wine
• 1 tbsp Cognac
• 2 cups beef stock/chicken stock/veg stock
• 1 bay leaf
• Pinch of dried sage/thyme (whatever you like more )
• Salt and pepper to taste
For the Cheese Crouton
• French stick/ Baguette
• Gruyere Cheese
Slice the onions, not too thin and not too thick as you need them to hold shape once they soften . In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat the oil and butter, and add all the onion and fry for about a minute. Then cover the saucepan and cook on very slow flame for about 20- 25 minutes with stirring just once or twice in between. By now the onions would have softened and reduced in quantity. If they’re stuck at the bottom or look burnt don’t worry, as soon as you start stirring them, the lovely dark colour will coat all the onions, giving it that rich brown colour. Add the flour and cook the onions for a further 2 minutes. You could add a few tbsp of water if its too dry and cook it on medium fire now to get a rich dark colour. Pour in the white wine and let it burn off and now add the stock, bay leaf and thyme/sage. I prefer a rich homemade beef stock but a nice chicken stock works equally well. If vegetarian, of course a lovely wholesome veggie stock would be ideal. Season with salt and let the soup simmer for about 10 minutes. The soup is ready, now we need to work on the croutons. Select a baguette, which fits to the rim of your ramekin. You can use anything you have at hand, if you don’t want to get too fancy. Cut them in slices and toast them in the oven till nice n crisp. Ladle the soup equally in the ramekins, filling it till the top. Place the crouton over it and grate the cheese over it. Bake the ramekins in the oven till the cheese has melted all over. Serve hot.