"I live on good soup, not on fine words. " -Moliere
One of my first blog posts when I started this thing about a year ago, was an ode to farm fresh tomatoes. You can see those recipes here and here. Truly, a fresh tomato off the vine, picked and sold locally, if not harvested from your own garden, is a treat for the senses that no supermarket tomato can come close to approximating. There are variations in juiciness, sweetness and acidity , size and color. The anticipation of getting these fresh tomatoes mounts and mounts as the growing season progresses. Everyone thinks tomatoes are a summer vegetable (well fruit actually), but the truth is it is quite close to summer's end before the best tomatoes appear, and then poof- they are gone.
Recently I was able to get some tomatoes from the local farm I volunteer at and I decided to turn them into Roasted Tomato Soup. This recipe is one I adapted from Tyler Florence. It is so delicious. His original recipe calls for much more fat than I use and also calls for basil. Personally I can't stand basil in tomato soup because it makes me feel like I am eating a bowl of marinara. I grew up on Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup, did you? And I loved it....at the time, with the requisite grilled cheese sandwich on the side. Now the sweetness of the soup really does not appeal to me, but the memory lingers. This soup is a nice grown up version to appease the memory. It's creamy, fresh, beautiful and delicious, with or without the grilled cheese sandwich. So quick, grab some fresh grown tomatoes and make a batch. Better yet, double it (or triple even if you have a soup pot large enough) and place a container in the freezer for another time.
Roasted Tomato Soup- serves 4
2 1/2 pounds of assorted ripe tomatoes (large, small, plum, heirloom...), cored, seeded and halved*
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 small cloves of garlic, peeled
4 cups thinly sliced onions, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
3-4 cups chicken or vegetable stock (low sodium, if canned)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional if vegan)
2 Tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
Parmesan crisps (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 450 Degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil then lay a piece of parchment paper on top.
2. Arrange the tomatoes on top of the paper (don't you just love all that variation?).
3. Place the sliced onions and garlic on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Top with fresh thyme.
4. Place tray in hot oven and roast for 30-40 minutes until cooked down and slightly caramelized.. If making Parmesan crisps, reduce oven to 375 degrees F.
5. Remove the thyme sprigs, leaving some of the leaves only behind with the tomatoes. Transfer the roasted tomato mixture into a soup pot large enough to hold the ingredients. Add in bay leaves, stock and butter, if using. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, until liquid is reduced, about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove the bay leaves and discard.
7. Using an immersion blender (one of my favorite tools), puree soup, right in the pot, until smooth. If an immersion blender is not available, carefully use a stand blender, filling jar no more than half-way full. You may have to puree in batches. Be careful, contents are HOT!
8. Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. Add in additional stock, if desired, for thinner soup. Stir in cream if using. (I personally think it's not needed at all- sometimes more fat muddies the flavor instead of heightening it IMHO).
9. To make Parmesan crisps, line a baking sheet with parchment. For every Parmesan crisp you'd like to make , place 1 Tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese onto the baking sheet and pat down into a circle, leaving 2-3 inches between mounds. Bake for 3-5 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely before removing from tray (they can be a bit fragile).
10. Ladle soup into bowl and float a Parmesan crisp on top. Serve hot!
And it was good to the last drop! ; ) ♥
* Note: To seed the tomatoes, core them first (only needed with the larger tomatoes). Cut the tomatoes in half cross-wise. hold the tomatoes cut side down over a bowl or the sink. Give a gentle squeeze and a little shake and the seeds will fall out, not all of them, but most. Good enough.
PS: If you'd like another great fall soup recipe, please visit this link here.
"Chocolate, I am sure, is the concrete manifestation of love. " -Geneen Roth
Yesterday was International Chocolate Day. I'm not sure who keeps the calendar of such things, but seems I'm always out of the loop until after the fact. Oh well... And anyways, when it comes to chocolate I'm more in the let's celebrate it often camp. Giving just one day to the original "food of the Gods" hardly seems adequate. So in the spirit of all things chocolate and seeing it was a rainy, chilly day around here yesterday, stirring up a pot of chocolate pudding (because it is delicious warm, too) seemed like just the right thing to do.
Divinely Delicious Chocolate Pudding- serves 2-6 (well, yeah)
2 1/4 cups whole or 2% milk*
3/4 cup whole or 2% milk
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cocoa powder**
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons Cornstarch (non-gmo preferably)
3/8 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
6 ounces high-quality chocolate (60-62% cocoa content is my preference), chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the 3/4 cup of milk, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt until smooth. Set aside.
2. In a medium sized saucepan, bring the 2 1/4 cups milk to a simmer over medium heat.
3. Whisk in cocoa mixture and continue to cook, whisking constantly until mixture come to a boil and is thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and vanilla. Whisk until smooth.
5. Immediately pour it into heat safe serving glasses, a serving bowl or even into a large graham cracker crust (it's so very yummy as a chocolate cream pie).
6. Refrigerate to firm up (a must if making a pie)***, or let it cool off a little bit and eat it warm. It's delicious either way.
7. Top with whipped cream and serve!
oh, man, was that ever good!
* I have never tried the recipe with dairy-alternative milks, so can't speak to the success that might have.
** Please seek out a really good cocoa powder. I love Valrhona and Cocoa Barry Extra Brute.
*** I LOVE pudding skin. If that's not for you, once you pour the pudding into its final resting place, press plastic wrap directly on top of pudding, piercing with a knife in a couple places to allow heat to escape, before refrigerating.
“Oh, I adore to cook. It makes me feel so mindless in a worthwhile way.” -Truman Capote
By now you probably know that I am really into simple, fresh food.It's unlikely that I will ever give you a recipe for a really complicated, time-consuming culinary masterpiece. I am all about getting a good, fresh, delicious meal on the table without having to spend my entire life in the kitchen (which is pretty much what I do anyway, but that's beside the point...). So something easy, flavorful , and maybe just a bit out of the ordinary, makes me quite a happy cook. This Taos Turkey Burger is no exception. It is made from super simple ingredients. I use fresh roasted chiles from my farmer's market*, you could roast your own or even use canned roasted chiles if that's what you prefer. In any case, in the time it takes to get your grill hot, you can pretty much have these prepared and ready to cook. Grilled or pan-seared, these are a year-round favorite. If burgers are your thing I have a couple others you might like to try here and here.
Taos Turkey Burgers- serves 5
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup diced roasted chiles, peeled, stemmed and seeds removed (or canned, drained)
1/2 cup shredded cheese (pepper jack, cheddar or colby jack)
2 Tablespoons finely snipped chives
1/4 cup finely crushed salted tortilla chips
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
3 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1-2 teaspoon pureed chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (smoky medium heat flavor)
5 burger buns, grilled-optional
sliced avocado or guacamole-optional
1. If using an outdoor grill, start the fire or preheat it now.
2. Combine the first nine ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Gently, yet thoroughly, combine all ingredients. I like to use my fingertips and avoid compacting the mixture. Keep it loose!
3. Gently form mixture into 5 generous patties. Press a hole in the middle of each burger with your index finger (this helps prevent the middle from puffing up while cooking).
4. Place burgers on hot grill , or if using a heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron is great), heat skillet with 1 tablespoon of oil in it over medium heat. When hot, add burgers.
5. Cook burgers, 5-7 minutes per side, or until done, flipping once.
6. Meanwhile, mix together remaining 3 Tablespoons mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon (or to taste) pureed chipotle chiles. Spread evenly on both sides of buns, if using.
7. Assemble burgers using the optional ingredients of your choice and serve!
*Tip: I buy the roasted chiles at my farmer's market in varying degrees of heat. When I get them home, I peel , stem and seed them. I then lay them flat in a single layer on a parchment covered baking tray(s). I then place chiles in the freezer until frozen firm. Once frozen I remove them and pack like chiles together in freezer bags which I store back in the freezer. They are ready to use in all kinds of dishes, thaw, chop and go! The taste is superior to canned. If you roast your own, you can also store them in this manner.
"How could such sweet and wholesome hours Be reckoned but with herbs and flowers." - Andrew Marvel
How could such simple ingredients yield such delicious results is really the question! This flavor of this Grilled Herb Chicken (also delicious on shrimp and even on salmon, just don't marinate as long), a staple in my house since my meal prep business days, belies the simplicity of the recipe. Just a handful of ingredients, most of which you probably have on hand or could easily grab at the market, transfer otherwise bland and boring boneless, skinless chicken breasts into a deliciously flavorful and moist entree ready to star in the center of your plate! It is in fact, my most favorite summer grilled chicken recipe. I should have shared it sooner, but there still plenty of nice weather ahead. So fire up your grill and let's get cooking (ideally you will have marinated the chicken over-night or for at least 4 hours prior to grilling).
Grilled Herb Chicken- serves 6
6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely minced red onion
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian (flat leaf) Parsley
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1. Gather all your ingredients! Fresh is always best!
2. In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients, except chicken, until well combined (not so pretty, but just wait)...
3. Place chicken in a zip top plastic bag. Pour marinade into bag; seal, squeezing out all the air.
4. Massage marinade into chicken to distribute evenly.
5. Place chicken in refrigerator and marinate over-night or for at least 4 hours.
6. Preheat grill to medium high heat. Clean and oil grates (or use an indoor grill pan).
7. While grill is preheating., remove chicken from fridge. When grill is hot, remove chicken from marinade discarding marinade.
8. Place chicken on grill and cook 5-7 minutes per side, or until done (165 Degrees F internal temp), turning once.
I just know you are going to love it, too! ♥