Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Roasted Tomato Soup

The thing is, we didn't grow up with tomato soup. We made soups with tomatoes, but not just tomato soup. It just looked and tasted like passata or tomato sauce to me. I used to think, how weird! Why not just add some orzo or tubetti pasta in there and complete the dish. It just didn't look like a meal.

And then as I got older and started trying roasted tomato soups, it tasted great and made sense to me, especially when served with grilled cheese sandwiches.Yum! Who doesn't like grilled cheese dipped in tomato soup! 

But I have to say, unless the tomatoes are roasted, the soup can still taste like tomato sauce to me, and that's why I always roast my tomatoes... Oooooh, I just thought of something as I'm typing away. Next time, I'm going to try grilling my tomatoes. What do think? Doesn't that sound good?

I used hot house tomatoes that I had sitting on my kitchen counter that I had to use. Tomatoes should never be stored in the refrigerator. It makes them mealy. I cut them in half and placed them cut side down on paper towels just to absorb some of the water that comes out, so when roasting them, they will have a more concentrated flavour. Place them on a baking tray, brush with a little olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper and put them in the oven. You can even do this ahead of time because once that is done, it only takes 20-30 minutes to make the soup.

I didn't serve my soup with grilled cheese but I did make little croutons with some leftover bread that I had. They added a little "something, something" to the soup.

Roasted Tomato Soup

3 pounds tomatoes, cored and cut in half
olive oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper
1/3 cup basil leaves
3 tablespoons cream, optional

Preheat oven to 400F.
Spread the tomato halves on a baking tray. Brush with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and place a couple of sprigs of thyme on each tomato half. Roast for 1 hour, until the tomatoes are caramelized.
In the meantime, in a pot over medium heat, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until the onions are soft. Add the chicken stock and the roasted tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Tear the basil leaves and add to the soup. Take off the heat and puree the soup with an immersion blender. Stir in the cream if you are using. Serve with croutons or even better…a grilled cheese sandwich.

m xo

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Asparagus Frittata

Farmer's markets are just starting to open and sell their fresh produce in my area and I am all over them. I love going to see what they have and then coming home and plan our meals around the wonderful produce that I've bought.

This week I bought a few bunches of asparagus and fresh farm eggs and one of the things I made was this frittata. Growing up, we would have frittata at least once a week because it was a quick meal to make after work and delicious. Of course it always depended on what was in season or what what was in the refrigerator. One of  my favourite frittatas is potato, which I have to say, I make all year round. But I remember my mom making frittata to put in my fathers lunch to change it up from the usual cold cuts. Frittata is such a versatile dish because you can make it for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.  And to this day, when I bring it for lunch, I can never wait for lunch time because I can't wait to have it. Isn't that funny?

I used 8 eggs and made a substantial frittata because not only did we have it for dinner, but John brought it for lunch the next day and I had it for breakfast. (see, I couldn't even wait for lunch) lol.

I used Comte cheese because it was what I happen to have in my refrigerator but you can use parmesan  cheese if you prefer.

I flip my frittata on an inverted plate and slide it back in the skillet and finish cooking but if you don't feel comfortable doing that, just make sure you use an oven proof skillet and finish under the broiler in the oven.

Asparagus Frittata

1 bunch of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/2 cup Comte, freshly grated

In a 10 inch skillet, cook the red onion and the asparagus in the olive oil over medium heat until softened. Season with salt and pepper.
In the meantime, whisk together the eggs, tarragon, chives and cheese in a bowl.
Lower the heat to a medium-low and pour the egg mixture into the pan. Cook and slowly drag the edges to the middle of the pan until the egg mixture is set. It should be lightly brown on the bottom. Place an inverted plate over it and with oven mitts on, quickly flip the frittata on the plate and slide it back in the pan. Cook until the bottom is lightly brown.
Slide onto a plate and cut into wedges to serve.

m xo

Monday, 16 June 2014

Roasted Basil Scented Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

Romeo and Juliet. Peanut butter and jelly. Fred and Ginger. Cheese and crackers. Bert and Ernie. Penny and Leonard. Bacon and eggs…Well, you get the picture. These are a few things that go together, hand and hand. It's hard not to think of one without the other.

And in the spring, strawberries and rhubarb. It's the perfect combination of tart and sweet.

I made a compote and added some basil leaves because everywhere I look these days, there are recipes that combine strawberries and basil. It adds a really nice, subtle flavour.  This compote is a perfect topping for ice cream, yogurt, toast or cake. I think it would be great with grilled pork lion too.  It's been hard not to just eat it straight. I forgot how much I love it!! I put together parfaits with yogurt and a little granola and had it for breakfast. Wouldn't these be great for a brunch? You could definitely put these together ahead of time.

I chose to roast the compote in the oven because I didn't want to stand over the the stove and risk getting distracted and burning it. It would totally be something I would do. So instead I dumped everything in a pan and stuck it in the oven. So easy. The only thing I would recommend is not putting it in a too shallow pan because it creates a lot of juices and could over flow and make a big mess in your oven and then you would have to clean it up and that would TOTALLY piss you off (because it would piss me off!).

Roasted Basil Scented Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

4 cups strawberries, halved + 1/2 cup reserved strawberries, chopped
2 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 basil leaves
1/3 cup honey
2 tablespoons water

Preheat oven to 375F.
Combine the strawberries, rhubarb, basil leaves, honey and water in an oven proof pan. Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly and syrupy or until rhubarb is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from the oven and stir in reserved strawberries. Cool completely.

m xo

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Cauliflower and Celery Salad

I tried to get on the raw food band wagon a few years ago, I really did! My cookbook shelves can prove it. I must have half a dozen of them. Every time I see a new one, I think this one is going to be different. This one will inspire me to go raw…Who am I kidding! There is no way I can go totally raw. I love pizza too much!!! Hahaha!!

But I do love raw salads. Especially crunchy ones like this one. Soooo good! I never thought to make a raw cauliflower salad until I saw this on "Alexandra Cooks" and came up with my own version. Thinly sliced cauliflower and celery, (I used my trusty $10 mandolin  but you can use a food processor or a sharp knife), pumpkin and sesame seeds, feta cheese, lightly dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. This salad really keeps well for a few days in the refrigerator. I had it for lunch the next couple of days.

Cauliflower and Celery Salad

1 medium cauliflower, thinly sliced
4-5 celery stalks, thinly sliced
4-5 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
6 dates, diced
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the rest of the ingredients. Serve or refrigerate if serving later.

m xo