Monday, September 20, 2010

Lunch Date with Paul

Poor Paul worked all weekend from home. He stayed home today to finish some reports, and I've been on my best behavior not to distract him (which is really hard since it's a rare treat to have him to myself all day). I managed to sneak into the kitchen to make him a nice lunch -- grilled tuna and cheese with tomato soup.

I'm going to have to tweak the recipe a bit I think, but my first try was pretty good. The original recipe had a convoluted sequence where you move the half of the soup to the blender, add some oil, and puree, transfer to a bowl, blah,blah,blah (you'll see what I mean in the directions below). I just used all the oil at once to saute the onions/garlic, and used an immersion blender to puree the soup, and then added the stock (I only needed one cup). I think next time I'll use less onion and garlic, and try vegetable stock instead of the chicken.

Paul gobbled it right up, and said it really hit the spot. I'm glad he liked it since we're having the soup again tonight with the leftover vegetable frittata!

Tomato Soup
(from which they adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion (about 1 cup) chopped
2 cloves of garlic (about 2 tsp) minced or crushed
1 bay leaf
2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes packed in juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 slices of large sandwich bread (crusts removed and cut into 1 inch pieces)
2 cups chicken stock

Heat 2 tbsp oil in large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until it's shimmering.
Add the onion, garlic, and bay leaf.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Using potato masher, mash until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain.
Stir in sugar and bread; bring soup to boil.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, about 5 minutes.
Remove and discard bay leaf.
Transfer half of soup to blender.
Add 1 tbsp oil and process until soup is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to large bowl and repeat with remaining soup and oil.
Rinse out the pot you cooked with soup in and return the soup to the pot.
Stir in up to 2 cups of chicken (or vegetable) broth until soup reaches desired thickness.
Return soup to boil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Optional garnishes include chopped parsley, fresh chopped basil or croutons.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Best use of leftovers ever!

I've been in a bit of a cooking slump. We're on a tight budget lately so I've been making dinners with ingredients I already have on hand, rather than finding recipes I'd like to try, and then buying what I need. Poor Paul and Kevin have been dining on lentil soup, vegetable soup, salad, and bean/cheese tortillas for a week now.

Friday I roasted some cauliflower in the oven with garlic and Parmesan cheese. Which I served with some pan roasted zucchini, and a tomato salad with a buttermilk/blue cheese dressing. It was good, but I had about the equivalent of a small zucchini and 1/4 of a head of cauliflower leftover. I was surfing the Internet today trying to come up with an idea to use the leftovers that did NOT involve soup (I think the boys have had enough), and I came across a vegetable frittata from Emeril Lagasse on Now I've never had a frittata. It always looked so dry, and I hate dry eggs. I also had none of the veggies that Emeril called for, but I did have my leftover veggies, and lots of eggs, so what the heck -- I gave it a shot.

Paul and I ate half the frittata before we remembered to save some for Kevin. I served it with an arugula salad with pan roasted red pepper (I used some of the pepper in the frittata), and a lemon/olive oil dressing. Really good stuff! I think I found us a new favorite!

Vegetable Frittata
adapted from Emeril Lagasse,

6 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tbsp butter
1/4 of a small red onion thinly sliced
leftover grilled veggies thinly sliced, or cut into small pieces. Approx.: 1 small zucchini, 1/4 head cauliflower, 1/2 red bell pepper

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs, salt and pepper, and add 1/4 cup cheese. Set aside.

In a large non-stick broiler proof skillet (I used my cast iron skillet) melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and saute about 4 minutes. Add the grilled veggies and cook about two minutes to coat with butter, and warm. Add the egg mixture. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook until the eggs are almost set, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.

Sprinkle the set frittata with the remaining Parmesan. Place the frittata under the broiler and cook until the top is set and starts to brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Place a large serving plate over the pan, and carefully invert to turn out the frittata to serve.

Serves 4

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Before I Grow (too) Old

A friend of mine is working on a list of 36 things to do before she turns 37, and it got me thinking -- I should come up with a list of my own. Now next year I'll turn 50, and while I'm not as ambitious as my friend I did come up with a list of ten things. My own "bucket list" is filled with things that I've always wanted to do but stopped myself from trying because I didn't have time, I couldn't afford it, I didn't think it would look good, I'd make a fool of myself, etc., etc. Well now is as good of a time as any to stop with the excuses so without any further ado (and in no particular order) I give you:

Ann's top ten things to do before turning 50:

1. Cut my hair super short
2. Sing at a Karaoke bar
3. Take piano lessons
4. Learn how to brew beer
5. Visit Sedona and the painted desert (specifically the Palatki Cliff Dwellings)
6. Take a sculpture class
7. Ride the train to San Francisco
8. Learn a foreign language
9. Take Paul to the Redwood Forest
10. Mosaic three pieces with only white tile

And the clocks!