Friday, February 28, 2014

Tomato Soup

This has been quite a brutal winter for the northeast. Everyone has been stuck inside for long periods of time.  I'm not sure how much more I can take, and I LIKE winter.  With the upcoming new Snowmagedon on Monday, I thought I'd share a recipe with you that takes time but is very worth it.  Ive been experimenting with quite a few new savory recipes, but I truly love this savory soup. This time I made it with canned tomatoes, but would love to remake it during the summer with fresh tomatoes.  

Tomato Soup

·       1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
·       1 cup diced carrots
·       1 cup diced celery
·       1 cup diced onion
·       1 28 oz of whole tomatoes, w/ juice
·       1 Tablespoon dried basil  (You can substitute fresh, I just didn’t have any on hand)
·       1 Tablespoon bay leaves
·       1 Tablespoon thyme
·       4 cups of Chicken Broth or Vegetable
·       2/3 cup of parmesan cheese, divided
·       2 Tablespoons of butter
·       2 Tablespoons of flour
·       1 Cup of 1 percent Milk
·       1 teaspoon of salt

Heat olive oil in a large pot and add the onion, carrots, and celery in to brown for about 5 to 10 minutes.  After they brown, add the tomatoes and the juice and crush up the tomatoes with your hands.  Then add the chicken broth, basil, bay leaves and thyme.

Simmer the soup for an hour and a half.  Stirring occasionally.  

After the veggies are soft and the flavors blend, blend the soup with an immersion blender or in small batches with a blender until smooth.  

In a separate pot, melt butter and add the flour, stirring constantly.  After its combined to make a rue, slowly stir in the milk.  Allow it to thicken and become fluffy.  Then add to the soup pot.

Add 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese along with the milk mixture and allow the soup to simmer for another half hour.  Use some of the leftover Parmesan cheese to dress up the soup when it's served.   Serve with grilled cheese and a small salad.

Stay tuned for next week's blog on another savory winter recipe, Stuffed Cabbage Rolls....

Friday, February 21, 2014

Not a Tough Cookie

The first couple of posts on this blog have been healthy, so this week I wanted to go another direction.  Mostly in the direction of dipping cookies into chocolate.  Because who doesn't love delicious bites of happiness covered in chocolate.
Im kind of a dessert fanatic.  I love most forms of sugar and am willing to try them.  However my husband, the big guy, doesnt like very many desserts.  Occasionally hell enjoy peanut butter cookies or lemon meringue pie.  So when trying to find a dessert recipe I attempt to try one that hell enjoy too.
When I first looked at meringue cookies, they looked terribly complicated, the little flaky sweet clouds of goodness that melt on the tip of your tongue.  I looked up the ingredients and it became much simpler than expected.  I hope you enjoy making them as much as I did.

Chocolate Dipped Meringues
For 2 dozen cookes.
20 minutes prep
60 minutes cooking

·      2 Egg Whites
·      ½ teaspoon of vinegar
·      ½ cup of powdered sugar
·      2/3 cup of bakers chocolate

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cover a cookie sheet with a piece of parchment paper. 

Begin beating your egg whites and the vinegar with a whisk in a bowl.  As the egg whites become white and frothy, slowly add the sugar a little at a time.  Continue to beat the egg whites until they form stiff white peaks.

After the mix is prepped, pull out a bag to fill.  It can be a professional pastry bag or in my case because I had nothing better on hand, a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off, very classy. 

On the cookie sheet, make little dollops of egg white mixture.  Bake cookies in the oven for 40 minutes.  Theyll gently brown, but it just adds to the flavor.  When theyre finished you can start to melt the chocolate. Yum. (The Meringues cool pretty quickly, just be careful when handling them. They won't be hot, but they do crack easily.)

On the stove heat a pot with about two inches of water in it.  Place a bowl on top thats wide enough to be held by the pot and not touch the boiling water.  Add cup of bakers chocolate to the bowl and slowly mix with a spoon as it melts. When chocolate is completely melted, move bowl onto a hot pad near wherever youve placed the finished meringues.  

Carefully loosen each meringue (They can easily crack) off the parchment paper and dip the cookie into the melted chocolate to coat the bottom.  Place back on the parchment paper to dry.  Finish the 2-dozen cookies and place in the refrigerator to cool.  Allow the chocolate to harden in the fridge for about 20 minutes. And Voila! Delicious happiness. 

I brought these to work at the Times Herald and they were gone before the end of my shift.

Stay tuned for next week's post!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

'Doughing' It Right

I’m not a big fan of the so-called homemade pizza dough you can buy from the grocery store. It’s super expensive and doesn’t taste great. Also with the current weather predicaments hitting Montgomery County over the past month, I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time indoors, which has caused cabin fever and major angst. So, here's the down-low on home made pizza dough.  

Prep time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Home Made Pizza Dough

·       1 & ¾ cups flour (may need extra for dusting)

·       2 tsps. olive oil

·       1/2 tsp. of sugar

·       ½ packet of dry active yeast

·       1 cup hot (not boiling) water

·       1 & ½ tsps. of salt

Combine flour, sugar, and yeast in a bowl. You can utilize a mixer (I don’t have the counter space to, so I just do without one). Slowly mix in hot water and oil, take your time for the right consistency. When the dough looks like it’s coming together, slowly sprinkle in the salt and mix it in. 

Keep mixing until the dough becomes a small ball. Remove it from the bowl and knead by hand on a surface that has been dusted with flour. 

Oil another bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a cloth or plastic wrap and allow to rise for 45 to 60 minutes (sometimes I like to warm up the oven for a couple of minutes and then turn it off to give the dough some extra heat).

When your dough has doubled in size, pull it out of the bowl and place on the flour dusted kneading area. Roll it out and it should be just enough for one large pizza. It will be around ¼ to ½ inch in thickness. I try to make it as thin as possible so it gets crunchy. 

Add whatever toppings you like and bake at 400 degress for 15 minutes.

If you're in the mood for a little breakfast at dinner, try out a breakfast pizza.

Breakfast Pizza

·       1 ball of pizza dough recipe from above

·       2/3’s cup of sun-dried tomatoes

·       4 eggs

·       ½ cup of Parmesan Cheese

·       2/3’s cup goat cheese

·       salt and pepper to taste

·       bacon (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Roll out dough and pinch the edges to create a crust.  Dust pizza pan and top with rolled out dough. 
Gently break each egg and add in the four corners of the pizza dough (you can scramble the eggs if you want to but it’s way more fun to have a runny yolk).

Sprinkle on other toppings.

Slide into the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes. Be careful not to over cook the eggs. The yolks are fabulous to soak up with the crust.

This is a wonderful brunch dish or breakfast for dinner dish. It goes great with a salad and mimosas. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Beet It!

I love vegetarian food, but have a hard time finding something both satisfying and healthy for both my husband Tom and I to eat. This little gem was a wonderful find for the both of us. I never really was into beets before trying this soup, and now cannot get enough of them. The texture is super hearty and thick. I guess this could truly be called root vegetable soup, but it gets such a lovely color that you can’t help but call it Beet Soup. This soup is also very economical, low calorie and great for a cold winter night.

Here's what you'll need:
  • 5 to 6 carrots 
  • 1 yam (5 in) 
  • 3 beets (small) 1 medium cooking onion diced 
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock 
  • 1 Tablespoon salt 
  • 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil 
  • Immersion blender

Heat olive oil in a pot and add the onion in to sauté, maybe 5 to 10 minutes. Peel and chop carrots, yams and beets. I like to leave the onions to caramelize for a few extra minutes. It adds extra flavor to the soup.

When onions are translucent, add chopped veggies and sauté for 5 minutes over medium heat.

Add stock and turn heat up so liquid will simmer. Simmer veggies and stock for 40 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Make sure you stir the veggies and liquid in the pot so nothing sticks to the bottom.

Allow soup to cool for a few minutes before using blender to create a puree. Always allow for a little over blending to get the soup into a smooth texture (on another note, chunks of beet or potato drive my husband nuts, so I get pretty anal at constantly checking the puree for chunks).

Feel free to reheat soup for a couple of minutes on the stove and then serve when bubbly.This soup is excellent with a nice hearty bread and red wine. It will make about 6 to 7 servings.

This soup also allows for a ton of different toppings if you so choose. I don't feel like it needs it, but I've had friends and family who have told me they add chili oil, grated ginger or sour cream to the soup.

Stay tuned for my next recipe: breakfast pizzas!