Archive for ‘Tomatoes’

July 24, 2012

Despite the Heat | Tortilla Soup

Eating soup when it’s hot out can strike people as odd.  But think French-inspired Pho in steamy Vietnam, or British-influenced Mulligatawny in India.  There’s a point to eating something hot and spicy when it’s hot out: it makes you sweat (I glow).  And that helps you cool off.  So while it may seem counter-intuitive, now is certainly the season to give some spicy soup a go.

It’s always hot in Texas.  So it’s not surprising that tortilla soup is on just about every menu you peruse in San Antonio.   There’s something about it that San Antonians can’t seem to get enough of, no matter the season.   Perhaps it’s the mix of textures, but like Pho and Mulligatawny, it’s spicy and hot and a treat to eat.  (It also happens to the be the exact thing I was eating when Hades first fell in love with me fifteen years ago.  I even spilled it all over myself and he still loved me.  Magical stuff this is.)  And summertime is when the produce that comprises the bulk of the ingredients for tortilla soup are at their peak.

I like to play around with ingredients: if there’s corn, add some, if there’s not, no worries.  Zucchini and summer squashes work wonderfully, too.  Tomatoes, however are a requirement. 

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October 24, 2011

Final Harvest | Corn Milk Soup

It’s simply the best of the last of the garden.  Eight ears of the last of the sweet corn.  Cobs scraped completely clean, releasing all that sweet corn “milk.”  I think it’s what makes this soup special.

But perhaps, too, it’s that I added in the last few peppers still standing on my counter.  Another handful of tomatoes that were picked green in the back garden, but managed to ripen despite that deep insult.  And green onions picked up at the farmer’s market.  Plus two palmfuls of teeny purple potatoes (that were a growing experiment by me) from a more experienced gardener friend.  Generous pinches of fresh thyme from the terracotta pot on the patio.  Twists of pepper.  A blessing of salt.

Poach a few shrimp in the hot soup to make it more substantial.  Or some smoked haddock would be perfectly at home.  Or if you have leftovers, top bowls of soup with a crumbled a link of andouille and some sauteed shrimp for a take on a gumbo.  That’s what I’m going to do.

Corn Milk Soup, serves 6 to 8

4 strips bacon, sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

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September 22, 2011

Farewell, Summer Garden | Gazpacho

Every so often you run across a recipe that begs to be made just as is, such as Spanish maestro José Andrés’s recipe for gazpacho.  Not a more perfect dish than this can be found to send summer off into its nine month hiatus.  Celebrate all that we are losing before the clock strikes 5:05 a.m. tomorrow.  Well, perhaps this post is a bit late for that, but rustle up some of these ingredients this weekend for a quick, albeit belated, goodbye.

I used some gorgeous, juicy yellow tomatoes from a Green B.E.A.N. Delivery box along with peppers and cucumbers from my back yard.  All gone now.

Don’t cry because it’s over.  Smile because it happened.

Playlist included Quiet Town, by Josh Rouse.

September 3, 2011

Extra Time on Saturday | Pasta and Focaccia

The quick and dirty version of a Saturday dinner:

Because I made a veal stock today (with lovely bones from Bluescreek Farm Meats), it meant that there was quite a bit of tasty meat left on the bones after the stock was all said and done.  It was dropped into the quick tomato sauce, that I seem to make quite a bit here in the summer.  (It’s just now about time for the last of those tasty orbs.  Get them fresh while you still can.)  This was poured over some homemade tagliatelle.

Served alongside for sopping up all the extra tomato-y goodness was a bit of rosemary focaccia: (1 1/4 c all purpose flour, 1 large sprig fresh rosemary finely chopped, 3/4 t salt, 1 package dried yeast, 1/2 c water all dumped into a bread machine for kneading, then allowed to rise in a covered and very generously olive-oiled bowl for about an hour an a half; punched down on a baking tray and allowed to rise once again for about 30 minutes and then drizzled with more olive oil and torn rosemary, salt and grated parm; baked at 400F for about 25 minutes).  A simpler, no knead version is here.

Playlist included Misery, by New Jersey’s Big Troubles.  How is it that My Bloody Valentine is now retro?  Are we that old?  Le sigh.

August 20, 2011

Simplicity from the Farmers’ Market | On the Grill

Honestly in the summer I can’t be bothered with much.  Dinner of a meat and a veg.  Perhaps a second veg.  If it doesn’t require cooking.  And if Cherub loves it.   Only then.

So if you’re like me and don’t feel up to much, stop by the farmers’ market in your town on Saturday morning and pick up two or three things for a Saturday night grilled dinner: some chicken thighs with the bone removed but the tasty skin left on, some fresh sweet corn and some grape or cherry tomatoes.

If you buy your ingredients from reputable and local farmers, you can be assured of freshness and flavor you wouldn’t normally get at the grocery store.  And if you’re a lazy cook in the summer, these are the greatest things you can buy because you have only the slightest work to make something really tasty.

Spiced Chicken Thighs with Grilled Corn and Lime Butter, serves four

6 chicken thighs, bone removed, skin left on

1 garlic clove

1 T chili powder

1 T whole cumin seeds

1 T brown sugar

1 t salt

2 T olive oil

4 ears sweet corn

4 T butter

1 t chili powder

Zest from 1 lime, juice from 1/2

Salt

Prepare grill (I prefer a charcoal).

In a mortar and pestle combine garlic, all spices and olive oil and mash to a consistent paste.  Rub onto chicken and allow to marinate from 15 minutes to two hours.

Grill chicken for 15 to 20 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and juices run clear.

While chicken is cooking, gently peel back husks to remove silk from corn, carefully replacing husks to cover back over the corn.  Mix lime zest with juice and spices along with softened (not melted) butter to create an even mixture.  Place corn in husks over cooler coals after chicken is cooked and resting and cook for approximately 10 minutes, turning frequently.

To serve, eat outside, for God’s sake.

Remove husks from corn and slather with butter mixture.  Serve with chicken.  And perhaps some of those tomatoes that you didn’t bother to cook, merely wash.  And a wine, maybe an A to Z 2009 Pinot Gris.

Playlist included Thursday, the mixtape by The Weeknd.

July 14, 2011

Summer Produce | Short Ribs Braised in Tomato

This is a Saturday meal.  Not because it’s hard.  (It’s not.)  Not because it takes a long time.  (It could.)   But because if you head to a farmer’s market Saturday morning, or happen to run across some really fabulous tomatoes while you’re doing your weekly grocery shopping, this is what you should make.  This time, I used some beautifully imperfect farmstand tomatoes from an unscheduled stop at a roadside market.

This is, without question, the easiest way to make a fresh tomato sauce.  And perhaps one of the tastiest.  What follows is not so much of a recipe, as a way of cooking.  Let your heart (and perhaps your tummy) lead you.

Braised Short Ribs in Tomatoes, Serves 4, inspired by Scott Conant

2 pounds of really lovely ripe tomatoes, cored

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July 12, 2011

Cherub in the Kitchen | Cherry Salsa

Whole Foods recently ran a contest for kid-friendly cherry recipes and honestly I can’t think of a better time for them to have done this.  This house has been overrun with cherries.  And Cherub’s always wanting to help in the kitchen.

Here’s a no-cook cherry salsa that we came up with together, that uses seasonal raspberries and tomatoes, too.  Her favorite task was to pit the cherries: smashing them lightly with a glass and removing the pit.  It was roll-y, juicy, slightly messy fun.  I recommend an apron for this part.

As for the final product, it was, in a word, devoured.  I love that she gets an extra boost of fiber along with a good amount of vitamin C.  She loves to scoop big, delicious mounds into her mouth.   Everybody’s happy.

While this recipe is super kid friendly, don’t let it stop you from serving it next time you’ve got a bar-b-q or a casual family get together.  It’s wonderful.  No chilies means it’s not too spicy and the hint of cumin lends it just a bit of sophistication.  And we all love that.

Firecracker Cherry Salsa, Serves 4

1/2 c. sweet red cherries, pitted and quartered

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