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Slow Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

I Know I said I was going to post a meat dish but….. This was worth putting up first. Of course I added toppers to make it even tastier!
WHAT YOU NEED:
3 Tbls olive oil
2 16 oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes (the best kind you can find)
1 Cup of slow roasted tomatoes (from a previous post or sun dried tomatoes, not in oil)
1 Cup fresh basil leaves torn into large pieces
3 cloves of garlic minced (on a micro-plane if you can)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 Tbls fresh pepper
good pinch of red pepper flakes or Aleppo Pepper
1/4 cup cream or half & half heated (optional)
Toppers:
Fresh ciabatta croutons with parmesan
Panko Parmesan crumbs
chives

WHAT YOU DO:
Heat Oil in stock pot and add the minced garlic, heat on med for just a few minutes to cook out the raw garlic flavor.
add salt, sugar, & pepper and cook for 3 to 5 minutes
Add in the tomatoes (cans)
Add in 2 cans of water making sure to get all the tomato left in the cans
stir in basil and bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and continue to simmer for 1 hour. You really want to cook down and intensify flavors it starts out very plain but really ends up very tasty.
once you have cooked it all down use and immersion blender  and blend the whole tomatoes, trying to leave some of the slow roasted ones in tact. if you can’t that’s ok too.
When you are ready to serve temper cream by adding a ladle of the soup to the cream to keep it from curdling and then mix into pot. this adds a nice smooth taste.

For toppings, cut up some bread drizzle with olive oil, parm cheese, salt & pepper and toast in the oven at 425 till crunchy. Put in a bowl on the table
in a small saute pan put in 1 Tbls butter, 1/4 cup parm cheese & 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs and brown. Also put in a bowl for the table
cut some chives and be sure to add them to the soup for that light onion flavor & bright green contrast of color!

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Grilled Vegetable Antipasto

I know I have not posted a lot of meat dishes lately but I promise I have another chicken winner coming up. I had people over last weekend and had to throw something together and this is what came out! Grilled Veggies and a few olives & mozzarella and it was like I had planned it.
 This sounds like a lot but it is up to you that’s the fun in this dish, what ever you like you can add!!

Save your stumps, peels & ends for stock! Put in a freezer bag for stock making day!
What you need:
2 Onions (any type I did a red & white cut into 1/2 in rounds)
2 zucchini (cut thick on the bias)
2 Summer Squash (cut thick on the bias)
a few Tomatoes any size (I had ones that were about 1 inch a little larger then cherry)
2 bunches Broccolini
1 Bunch Asparagus
3 Lemons
Ciabatta Bread ( cut into bias slices and toasted with a little olive oil)
1 Can white beans (or any beans you want or no beans it’s up to you)
arugula
one head of Romain lettuce grilled

a few store bought mix-in’s
olives all kinds
Stuffed Cherry peppers
Mozzarella cheese small bocconcini or large sliced to fit on bread
Marinated Mushrooms
marinated artichoke hearts

WHAT YOU DO:
First rinse your beans well and let drain. Marinate in 3 Tbls of balsamic vinaigrette for as long as you can
In a roasting pan/dish put in your broccolini & asparagus, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper  roast at 425 for 10 min. Spice them up with a little red pepper flakes or the famous ALEPPO PEPPER I never stop talking about. You want them to cook fast and stay as al-dente as possible
using your grill pan (if not use the regular grill) Grill the veggies (drizzled with olive oil)  try not to crowd the pan so you don’t stem them. I start with the onions and then squashes, Do the tomatoes and lemons last, they leave behind flesh & seeds and you would have to wash the pan between veggies if you use those first (the remnants burn)
lastly grill your romaine lettuce, cut it in 1/2 and drizzle with oil and grill for a few min on each side just to wilt it. Cut it into large chunks for the platter.
while you are grilling toast your bread with just a little olive oil.

ASSEMBLY:
I like to mound something in the middle and then place the veggies in groups around the platter.
Put the Grilled romaine in the middle and top with the fresh arugula, drizzle with the balsamic vinaigrette
Place the broccolini & asparagus at opposite ends and then just group the veggies onto the platter
wait to put the marinated beans on until there are a few things on the platter or they get lost
fill in sparse areas with your store bought olives, cherry peppers, mozzarella.
Drizzle the rest with the balsamic vinaigrette and put a small bowl on the side with a spoon, if you are like me I can never have enough dressing!
Tuck in a few pieces of the bread and put the rest in a bowl, put out a few forks & spoons & plates and let people create what ever they like.

Be sure to have plenty of drinks and napkins this is fun because people interact while eating & it makes it less formal & relaxing
ENJOY-T

Don't forget to save the scraps! I feel a stock coming up!!

Fresh Whipped Cream with secrets

CREAM is the only way to go. Once you make it you will never want store bought again. After dinner chop up some fresh berries and do a dollop of your own whipped cream on top and watch the room. People will eat it and then start talking about it, its like they are eating some new strange creation, “what is this, whipped cream?” “it tastes so different, fresh & creamy”, “Did you try this whipped cream, we should have this at our house” Yep, that good and here is why, lean in, a little closer, closer…….its freshly whipped by you and you can make it taste how ever you want it to taste.

WHAT YOU NEED: (This will be enough for 4 small servings so I do it for my husband & I & its just enough)
1 Cup Whipping cream
1/2 Cup Confectioners sugar or powdered sugar
1 1 /2 tsp Almond extract Yes almond it gives it a unique flavor that will wow the crowd ( vanilla will work here too or you can omit them both but i suggest one or the other)
1 blood orange or 1 regular orange

WHAT YOU DO:
Use a bowl that you can whisk in, like a tall mixing bowl like I show below. Put it in the freezer while you prep the rest.
zest the blood orange (it has a fresh flavor and slight tartness not to mention a beautiful look and juice it when you are do setting aside
take bowl from freezer and put on a dish towel to help with slipping. Place inside a larger bowl with ice in it kind if like a double boiler the cream sets up faster when its cold. (you can do it with out)
Vigorously whisk cream, while whisking add in the confectioners sugar through a sieve so it will not cause any lumps and makes the cream smooth. this takes about 5 to 7 minutes non stop but I have to stop a few time and change hands 🙂 after you notice it is making soft peaks add in the Almond Extract, blood orange juice and the zest and continue whisking until done. You will know its done when it stays in whisk when you scoop it up.  The zest will make it look so pretty and there is only a hint of the flavor coming through & that makes it more complex and dazzling to your friends & guests
Dollop over your favorite fruit or cookies or pies.

Eating this by the spoon full is neither frowned upon or discouraged, in fact we encourage to eat it by the spoon full and often.

Enjoy -T

Shhhhh…..The secret’s in the sauce

Or broth……

This French onion soup was delicious and I am not sure if its because of the cheese it’s self or everything together that made it so good. I think if you just melted a bowl of cheese under the broiler I would like it just as much, hahaha ok maybe that is gross but kind of true. This recipe has a few variations so you can make it which ever way sounds the best for your taste. Hopefully I explain it well, the notes I took while cooking it last night are a little crazy. None-the-less, here we go
French Onion Soup Gratin 

WHAT YOU NEED:
6 large onions sweet onions (you can use red as well I like the Vidalia or Maui onions but this works with plain ol yellow onions too)
3 to 4 large garlic cloves ( if you are a garlic lover add more)
1 tsp Thyme (fresh or dried, we only had dry so I added a little more like a 1 & 1/2)
1 Tsp Fresh Oregano (I had frozen it from the summer so I did have the fresh if not use 1/2 tsp dried the dried tastes different and stronger for some reason)
3 Tbls Olive Oil
1/2 tsp sugar
Pinch red pepper flakes or Aleppo pepper (My favorite spice from Newport Spice Company) OPTIONAL
2 Bay Leaves (dried or fresh)
10 cups stock (recipe below for the different variations) this cooks down so you end up with about 7 or 8 cups
8 slices Ciabatta bread 1/2 inch thick (this holds up best in my opinion french bread or Italian get mushy fast but use what you’ve got)
6 oz Gruyere  cheese (you can use swiss as well but Gruyere is the best or do a combo)
Pepper to taste (there is plenty of salt in this already so don’t put it on the table)

BROTH RECIPES: I’m giving you options here because I like to do a meatless broth but it can be done several ways and be delicious
Vegetarian: My Husband did not know it was vegetarian!!
2 Cups red wine (red helps the color turn rich and deep like a beef broth but white will work as well)
1 1/2 Cups Soy Sauce (it sounds crazy but this gives it the “beefy taste” it needs) go low sodium if you want also.
8 Cups of Water
1 Vegetable bullion cube (optional) I did use it because I like strong flavors in soups
1 Tbls Sweet Spanish Paprika (adds to the rich red color)

BEEF:
6 Cups Beef broth from a carton (canned has a tinny taste and the carton ones are much better)
2 Cups red wine
4 Cups Water
BEEF COMBO:
3 Cups Beef Broth (carton)
3 Cups Chicken Broth (carton)
2 Cups red wine
4 Cups Water

WHAT YOU DO:
Cut the onions in half and peel the skin. Using a mandolin slice the onions about a 1/4 inch thick. No mandolin? just cut them 1/4 in thick. The mandolin just makes it quicker and the slices uniform
I like the onion cut in half so they are not too long if you do them in rings they end up really long and can flop down off the spoon while you are trying to eat them and slap you chin and burn it (happens to me because I like my soup just on the verge of scalding)
Put them in a large stock/soup pot with the olive oil and caramelize them over med-high heat. When you first put them in it looks like a ton of onion but they will cook down. This takes about 20 min just keep an eye on them & stir frequently.
Once they are bout half way caramelized add in the oregano, thyme, bay leaves & sugar.
also add the garlic but use a microplane to “mince” it so there are no chunks
once the onions are cooked/caramelized add in the wine and cook for a few minutes to cook out the raw wine flavor
Add in remaining “stock” and simmer for 1 hour letting the stock reduce and get a little thicker.

Now for the best part!!
toast your 8 pieces of Ciabatta with a little drizzle of olive oil (I like it very crunchy so I toast it to a nice brown color)
use a vegetable peeler and peel the gruyere cheese into long pieces

REMOVE BAY LEAVES.  IT’S A FOODIE FAUX PAS TO GET ONE IN YOUR SPOON.

In an oven proof bowl add the soup to about a 1/4 inch from the top, nice and full
place the tasted bread on top (its ok if it over laps or doesn’t fit in perfectly)
top with plenty of the cheese, do not skimp the more the better in this case
place under broiler until bubbly and turning brown, Keep  a constant eye on it, you want it just right and not burnt.
CAREFULLY remove them from the oven and be sure to put on a plate and warn the people eating it the bowl is hot
(it sounds cliche but people will grab the bowl to steady it because the cheese is baked on and the hard crunchy parts stuck are irresistible )

This one got the “best one yet” remark from my husband and the “better then The Glass Onion” which is a restaurant we went to just for the French onion soup so I am very proud of this one!

Enjoy- T




 

Fennel, Orange & Blue Cheese Salad

 I have returned from California and just in time, my husband was starting to whither away to nothing!! He actually said “I ate once at Jerry’s house” So I need to remember to pre make meals and put them in the fridge.Fennel Orange & Blue Cheese Salad YUM!

WHAT YOU NEED:
1 fennel bulb (if you have more then 2 or 3 people add more)
2 large oranges
zest from one of the oranges
1/2 C Blue Cheese (less or more if you want)
3 Scallions/green onions
2 Tbls Olive oil
salt
fresh ground pepper
2 Tbls Citrus Vinaigrette (optional)
a mandolin or a very sharp knife

WHAT YOU DO:
Using the Mandolin & a safety glove (I don’t care how comfortable you are in the kitchen the Mandolin is scary) slice the Fennel Bulb thinly and put in a bowl KEEP THE FRONDS FOR GARNISH & remember to remove the core of the bulb
zest one orange and add to fennel
Remove the segments from the oranges (see photos, it is important to make sure and not have any pith from the orange it is bitter and ugly) then add to fennel, squeeze any juice left in the orange peel you have cut off and use for dressing
Crumble about a 1/2 cup of blue cheese and add to fennel
Chop 3 scallions and add, most people like red onion in a fennel salad I think it is too strong so you decide
add salt & fresh ground pepper and drizzle with the orange juice, and a few Tbls olive oil & orange juice or drizzle with a few Tbls Citrus Vinaigrette ( I had some made but it is good without too)
 

Taking a cooking break

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In California
The air is sweeter for sure. When we got off the plane in SanDiego the air smelled like flowers. Not like the highways & airports like Honeysuckles! It is the best welcome. As we drove in La Jolla the smell grew to gardenias & roses. We drove with the windows down paying so much attention to the smells we lost track of where we were going….oops! None the less, made It safely

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Papaya Ice Cream

This is another one you will not believe how easy it is & delicious!! Technically it is sherbet I think.  All you need is a blender
add some home made whipped cream and YUM! OK you can go a little lighter on the whipped cream but I love it if you look really closely the papaya is there …..

WHAT YOU NEED:
1 papaya halved, seeded and cut up (skin removed)
1 C half & half or light cream
2/3 C powdered sugar
zest of 1 lime
juice of 2 limes (about 5 tablespoons)

WHAT YOU DO:
put is all in a blender and blend until smooth
pour into freezer safe container and freeze for at least 2 hours

Thats it!! Top with whipped cream and a little zest

Wait until you see the Avocado Ice Cream, I’ll make that one soon, it is the best i’ve ever had & this is a variation in that.

Enjoy-T

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