French Onion Barley ~ One More Thin Gypsy Thief
It is no secret that Sister Madly’s lineage is one of bootleggers, barbarians, gamblers and smugglers- and those are just the ladies.
By the age of 15, Sister Madly’s great-grandmother was not only married, but making moonshine; yet tales of these exploits paled by comparison to the ones that emerged during Prohibition (1919 -1933), when she began making bathtub gin. While illness to near blindness was common amongst the clientele in the early days, Sister Madly is still disappointed that the family recipe was not passed down to future generations- seriously, what else is she going to do with her bathtub?
Despite the nomadic blood in their veins, her grandparents had managed to settle into a more conventional lifestyle. Yes, much like your very own household, the Halls of the Elder Madly estate were slick with an electric organ, a fully-stocked cocktail bar, several antique slot machines and good, old-fashioned melancholy. Sure, it was a bit like the Phantom’s Lair meets Voodoo Magic after a mid-1960’s renovation, but that doesn’t mean it was short on charm. Or polka albums. Or false walls. Mysterious drafts and unexplained noises. The sense of never quite being alone. Spiders. And pin-up playing cards.
Never one to be a gregarious little supernova, Sister Madly often spent family holidays in the comfort of the mysterious drafts and the slot machines. Her grandparents took to this antisocialism as though Sister Madly were some sort of child prodigy instead of a wayward little urchin outlining bodies in chalk at the bottom of dimly-lit stairwells. The laundry chute became the clandestine way Tallulah would pass candy to Sister Madly down in the basement on the days Tallulah chose to socialize with the adults- although sometimes, Sister Madly was forced to retrieve the treats herself when elder sis FORGOT ABOUT HER.
Not that she holds a grudge or anything…
It was during one such solo mission that Sister Madly discovered the sliver sleigh bell that she would one day come to inherit. Actually, the sleigh bell had been on the mantle all along, but that was the day she became curious about it- enough to delay the mission to the candy dish and ask certain questions. Yes, she was that curious.
The story is that this sleigh bell was smuggled into America by one of Sister Madly’s great-grandmothers when she emigrated from Finland. It is said that the Finnish Government back in the day frowned upon the natives leaving the country in favor of new adventures, so to discourage the wanderlust, those emigrating were allowed to take with them very little money and absolutely nothing of value. Thus Sister Madly‘s great-grandmother departed Finland with nothing more than a wild aspiration and a silver sleigh bell, which she had hidden inside a ball of yarn.
Why a sleigh bell, you ask. Sister Madly would like you to believe that it was Great-Grandma’s way of giving society the ol’ middle finger- or whatever gesture is the Finnish equivalent. And while Sister Madly finds this to be a most delightful theory, it begs the question of whether border patrol was simply inexperienced in detecting sleigh bells hidden inside balls of yarn, or if this was part of a greater plot to infect America with a lunacy that can only be transmitted by a sweet, sleigh bell trafficking, 19 year-old who did not even pretend to know how to knit.
*At this same age, Sister Madly was living her own dream of joyriding scissor lifts through the mall. Never lose those stars in your eyes, Moppet.
Therein lies the proof that Sister Madly is, without a doubt, of this same bloodline: not because she gets a kick out of transporting knives inside of socks or substituting absinthe for Mountain Dew, but by the way she defiantly buys skeins of yarn without even knowing how to knit.
Blood, you see, is thicker than moonshine.
FRENCH ONION BARLEY
- 5 onions, sliced (used 2 red, 3 yellow)
- 2-3 Tbsp butter/oil
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 8 oz mushrooms (opt)
- 2/3 cup dry barley, rinsed of riffraff
- 4 cups beef or mushroom broth
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp thyme
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1 puff pastry sheet, thawed, rolled-out and cut into squares
- 1 egg, beaten
FRENCH ONION BARLEY
Melt butter/oil in dutch oven
Add onions, stirring to coat
Lower heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally (every 5-8 minutes or so)
Continue until onions are caramelized (45-60 minutes)
Add mushrooms and sauté (5 minutes)
Add red wine to deglaze pan
Add broth, spices and bring to a boil
Add barley and stir
Reduce to a simmer and cover
Simmer for 45 minutes or until barley is tender
Divide soup into oven-proof ramekins
Pull pastry square taut over the top of each bowl
Press pastry against rim of bowl to seal the edges
Brush pastry with the beaten egg
Place bowls on baking sheet and bake @ 400* for 20 min (do not open oven before 15- pastry may fall)
THEME SONG: Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves, Dervish. Or Cher. You choose.