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RoastedTomatoSoup

This time of year, those of us who live in the northern hemisphere are not quite as fortunate as those who live in the southern hemisphere; I’m referring to being able to source the best produce, of course. Personally, I think tomatoes are the greatest disappointment by far (next to strawberries). More often than not, I bite into a tomato and taste nothing. Nadda. Mealy. Pasty. Nothing. This time of year, I tend to gravitate toward the best canned tomatoes, knowing that they were picked and packed at their prime. But somehow, when it comes to using the humble tomato as the main ingredient, the STAR as it were, I feel that canned just wouldn’t cut it and alternative measures must be taken.

Some of you who have been on this journey with kitcheninspirations will recall that I posted a rant and a solution about unseasonal tomatoes a few years ago (4 to be exact) and todays post is about a great use for those oven-dried tomatoes. Oven drying is a long procedure but well worth it, particularly because there is little to no effort involved. Just a few clicks on the hydro metre and you’re almost all the way to a delicious tomato recipe.

Roasted Tomato Soup

Serves 4-5 150-175 mL servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 kg (2.2 lbs) tomatoes ~ this doesn’t have to be precise (I used vine ripened)
  • 500 mL to 1 L chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 6 cloves of garlic, roasted
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or chicken stock stock)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp goats cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tsp unflavoured yogurt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 250° F (121° C).
  2. Remove all loose skin from each garlic clove, leaving the tight skin on. Place the cloves into a small ramekin and add about 2 tbsp olive oil and some sea salt. Cover with foil wrap and tuck into the corner of the oven. If you prefer not to bake the garlic at the same time as the tomatoes, you may roast the garlic in a 350° F (177° C) oven for 40-45 minutes or until soft.
  3. Wash and slice the tomatoes into thirds (believe me, the tomatoes lose a lot of water in the dehydration process so you must leave them THICK). Place cut side down on some paper towel for about a minute.
  4. Rub a cooling rack with a lightly oiled paper towel and place directly over a baking sheet (to catch any drippings).
  5. Arrange the tomatoes cut-side up on the prepared cooling rack and place in the centre of the pre heated oven. “Bake” for 4-5 hours until most of the moisture has been eliminated from the tomato.
  6. Once dehydrated, add all of the tomatoes and the roasted garlic (skin removed), baking soda into a heat-proof bowl and slowly add the stock. Blitz with the immersion (stick) blender until smooth, adding more chicken stock until the desired consistency has been achieved. Season with salt as desired.
  7. Push through a fine sieve and blitz once more for added creaminess.
  8. Combine the goats cheese and the yogurt and whip until fluffy. Set aside for serving.
  9. When ready to serve, heat the soup through and add a dollop of the goats cheese and yogurt into the centre. Serve piping hot.
RoastedTomatoSoup2

This thick, creamy soup is perfect for cold, snowy days. It would also be delicious chilled on a hot summers day.

Notes:

  • The addition of baking soda came from JT, he uses this trick in his delicious Chicken Cacciatore to quell the acidity of the tomatoes. It really brings out the tomatoes’ sweetness — try it instead of adding sugar!
  • I whipped the goats cheese with yogurt to make it easier to melt into the soup, we swirled it in and it was delicious.

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This is an exciting week for me! I’m doing some recipe testing. Yes, that sounds exactly like it is — we test recipes developed by trained chefs (or home economists) to make sure the instructions work, the tastes work and it’s basically fool proof. It’s another skill I want on my resumé and through some lovely and generous connections in the biz, I was hired for this job! How cool is that? I cook, I love to cook, and now I get paid to cook!!! I’m really over the top on this one. Thank you lucky stars!

The holiday season is upon us and like you, I am on the lookout for some very tasty and elegant hors d’œuvres to serve at get-togethers. I posted photos of this deliciously easy hors d’œuvres in 2009 but I thought it was lovely enough to post again. The first time I saw this was on Food Network Canada but I can’t recall the chef or the name of the show (a search turned up neither). The recipe, which really isn’t a recipe, is so easy and so incredibly tasty you and your guests will wonder how you lived without this incredible treat. I know figs can be expensive this time of year in North America, but it’s well worth it; it’s an incredible combo of salty, sweet, tangy, savoury, chewy and creamy all in one.

Fresh Fig Appetizer

A delightful combination of salty, sweet, earthy and tangy.

Fresh Figs with Goats Cheese, Proscuitto and Arugula

Ingredients:

1 large fig will make 4-6 pieces, so count on 1 fig per person. Serves 4

  • 1 large fig, per person
  • 1 tbsp goats cheese, at room temperature
  • 4-6 stems of beautiful specimens of baby arugula
  • 1 slice of prosciutto, sliced into 4 (1 1/2 slices of prosciutto, sliced into 6)

Directions:

  1. Gently clean the figs and slice into 4 or 6 portions (this will depend entirely on the girth of your figs, remember you want them one-bite sized).
  2. Gently spread a thinnish layer of goats cheese over each slice of the prosciutto (that has been sliced into portions already(
  3. Add one beautiful, fresh stem of baby arugula to one end of the goat cheese covered slice of prosciutto, then add a fig wedge and begin to roll up.
  4. Present on a platter or store in an air tight container until ready to serve. I would let them get to room temperature for serving as the goats cheese and figs will be MUCH tastier.
  5. Watch them vanish like magic.
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It’s worth the ridiculous prices of figs off season

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I have a confession to make: I’m in love and it’s not JT. It’s really not as bad as it sounds, my love affair is with a certain Indian. OK. I’ll ‘fess up, it’s Naan. There. I’m in love with Naan. The bread, silly! I’m embarrassed to admit how many times I’ve made this recipe but suffice it to say it’s double digits! About the same time that Maria over at a-boleyn live journal made our delicious naan recipe into a gorgeous pizza, I had the same idea (yes, I blog well in advance!). So on the day the world should have ended (again) I made a naan pizza for dinner. What a way to go!

It’s basically whatever you have in the fridge, our ingredients were goats cheese infused with garlic and EVOO, torn prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes in EVOO and chopped spinach topped with shaved parmesan cheese. What more can you want?

Why Naan? I usually like my pizza crust super thin and crispy, what the naan brought to the table (pardon the pun) is a bit more bite and a lot of chewiness. Delicious chewy goodness. Need. I. Say. More. ?.

A slightly chewy crust made delicious by garlic infused goats cheese

A slightly chewy crust made delicious by garlic infused goats cheese

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This here post is the reason I love blogging and I’m sure most of you will agree. Blogging provides friendship and advice, cooking and sometimes otherwise. Blogging provides support; I haven’t come across a nasty person yet (well, I would delete them anyway ;-)). And last but not least, blogging provides inspiration particularly when you are deathly sick of every recipe you’ve past blogged about and can’t for the life of you come up with an idea for tonight’s dinner.

I have my friend John, From the Bartolini Kitchens to thank for tonight’s dinner: Roasted Loin of Pork stuffed with Fig Preserves and Goats Cheese. Of course, John made his own fig preserves (which I will do next year) but I had to use a store bought version. I find these store bought preserves rather sweet and I certainly didn’t want dessert for dinner so I decided to add some goats cheese to my stuffing to help temper the sweetness. It worked. PLUS it made an incredible jus for the Celeriac Potato Mash I made with it. I only made a few minor changes to John’s incredible recipe. This was definitely a dinner for the recipe books. Thanks John, again, I might add.

Come on pork, it’s your turn to shine. Work it, work it.
(It’s that time of year when the light SUCKS big time. Sigh.)

 

Pork Loin Stuffed with Fig Preserves and Goats Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 400 g Pork Tenderloin, butterflied
  • 100 g goats cheese
  • Fig preserves (home made or store bought)
  • 4-6 slices prosciutto
  • butcher’s twine
  • 2 tbsp high flash point oil, such as canola
  • Sherry for deglazing (I used cooking Sherry, but feel free to use the real thing)

Directions:

  1. Pre heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Spread a thin layer throughout the butterflied pork tenderloin. Crumble the goats cheese evenly throughout.
  3. Roll up the pork and wrap tightly with the prosciutto, wrap tightly with the butcher’s twine.
  4. In an oven proof roasting pan, heat the canola oil until almost smoking. Add the pork and cook the prosciutto until crispy on all sides. Remove pork for a minute and deglaze pan with the Sherry. Return pork and bake in a hot oven for 15-20 minutes or until pork has reached a minimum of 145° F. Allow to rest before cutting into slices.
  5. If the pan has juices from the fig preserves and bits of goats cheese you will want to heat on the stove and press through a fine sieve for serving. Serve with Celeriac Potato Mash.

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We’re still on vacation, and on our last night in Lyon we tool a wonderful cooking class; our chef-host had a beautiful fig tree in the back yard, and we ate fresh figs right from the tree! Although I prepared this post well before we left, I thought it appropriate to post before I return. I do hope you’re all doing well, know that You know that I miss reading about what you’re cooking and that I’ll be back next week with lots of stories!!

One of our dear friends brought us a package of fresh, beautiful figs as a hostess gift (I love my friends!). Coincidentally I had taken out a portion of goats cheese from the deep freeze, so this salad was literally staring me in the face. A quick weeknight meal. There are no directions or quantities, do what your heart dictates, you can even throw in some crispy prosciutto or don’t make it crispy. It’s simple and wonderful. I sautéed the onions until they were soft and then I poured in about 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and cooked it down until it was the consistency of syrup. You can use this to dress the salad…it doesn’t need much.

My salad has fresh figs, quartered, toasted sliced almonds, goats cheese, caramelized onion, balsamic dressing, arugula (rocket) and spinach.

It’s kinda like the kitchen sink salad

Fresh Figs, Goats Cheese, Caramelized Onion and Walnuts on Arugula and Spinach

I’m posting this from our little apartment in Paris in the Le Marais … Correction: Montmatre district. Here is a little peak. Cheers!

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Tomorrow would have been Julia Child’s 100th birthday and this is my post to celebrate this amazing woman. Julia is an American food icon who literally taught American’s how to cook. She was one of the early “foodies” before Food Network was even a thought; even before most of the chefs on Food Network were born! She was the first celebrity chef!

My friend Betsy over at Bits and Breadcrumbs suggested that we post a recipe from a Julia Child cook book to commemorate and celebrate her life and I was all over it! Betsy posted a gorgeous Clafouti recipe that’s been her dear Mother’s favourite. I also wanted to post an authentic Julia Child recipe, but unlike Betsy, I don’t have one of her actual cookbooks. Last Christmas JT gave me Dorie Greenspans Baking with Julia, a wonderful cookbook of mainly sweets, breads and such. But I didn’t want to bake something sweet, so I searched and searched until I came across a gorgeous luncheon dish, a savoury galette. I was sold. Thanks Betsy, this was a lot of fun.

For the galette pastry, you can click here for a very similar recipe, or you can check page 371 in Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. I changed up the filling to suit our tastes and what I had in my pantry. It is an incredible crust, crispy and slightly sweet that can withstand even the wettest filling but it’s also not dry and crumbly. The cornmeal in the pastry recipe adds enough crunch to make it a little more interesting that a standard pasty. It’s really just perfect. In fact, so much so, I’ve had a special request to bake it again, believe it or not. 😉

I divided the pastry into two portions so that I could keep one galette and give the other away. Both were resounding successes. You can keep this very simple or make it a bit more complex as I did. You can serve this room temperature or right out of the oven or even reheated, it is amazing every-which way.

Savoury Oven Roasted Tomatoes, Caramelized Onion and Goats Cheese Galette

Serves 4-6, makes 2, 15 cm galettes

The oven roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions really went well with the goats cheese. The pesto was icing on the cake, I mean galette.

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Prepare the pastry as indicated in the recipe. It needs to be refrigerated for a couple of hours, so you’ll want to plan ahead.
  2. Roll the galette on a piece of parchment into a circle about 10 cm larger than the size you want it to be. Spread the sweet onion confit on the bottom leaving the last 5 cm all the way around clear. Add a layer of tomatoes and dot with 1/2 of the total goats cheese.
  3. Fold up the edges and pleat or do some other fancy design. I wanted my galette rustic looking.
  4. Bake as the recipe indicate (I did our’s for 30 minutes at 176°C or 350°F) just until the crust was starting to get golden.
  5. Serve hot, warm or even at room temperature garnished with fresh basil and a little basil pesto drizzle.

The basil pesto was a nice touch.

That was one tasty galette. Photo by my friend, neighbour and boss, Kim with her iPhone 4Gs.

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I knew I wanted to make a chilled soup for our dinner party last weekend because it’s been so darn hot (not complaining) and I knew I wanted something a little unexpected than the traditional vichyçoissecucumber, avocado or even gazpachio — although all worthy soups in their own right. On top of it all Barb had posted a lovely asparagus soup recipe with a herb crusted goats cheese ball that really intrigued me. What to do, what to do? Off to the internet I went to find an unusual cold soup; my first stop was Epicurious and as luck would have it, there on the summertime meal feature page on my iPhone was a roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Call it kismet, serendipity or fate, this soup and I were meant to be.

The warm goats cheese ball is a nice surprise in the cold soup

The soup is a lovely balance of sweet red peppers and the acidity and sweetness of oven roasted tomatoes (or, in our case, BBQ roasted). There is a little raw green onion and a smidgen of garlic with a delightful earthy undertone of coriander. I also wanted to incorporate Barb’s goats cheese balls but I wanted a little contrast, so I rolled the goats cheese balls in sesame seeds and lightly fried them to brown the sesame seeds but more importantly, to heat up the goats cheese ball. Yup, I did the ole’ switcheroo and made the soup cold and the balls warm. It was a lovely contrast. JTs only comment was that there could have been more soup.

Chilled Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
with Warm Sesame Crusted Goats Cheese Balls

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients:

Serves 8 small bowls (125mL or 1/2 cup) or 4 large dinner sized bowls (250mL or 1 cup)

  • 4 red bell peppers, roasted on the BBQ (or oven), seeded and skinned
  • 3 medium plum tomatoes, cut into 1 cm thick slices and roasted on the BBQ
  • 1/4 red chili pepper, roasted on the BBQ (or oven), seeded and skinned
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • water to achieve desired thickness
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar (check for sweetness, and omit if the soup is sweet enough)

Goats Cheese balls ingredients:

  • 10 g (about 1 1/2 tsps) goats cheese per ball (I did one per serving)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds per ball
  • non-stick cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and blitz with the immersion blender until smooth, adding water until the desired consistency is achieved. You can use chicken stock or vegetable stock, but it’s not necessary as there is a already a plethora of flavours going on.
  2. Strain soup through a fine sieve. Don’t skip this step as it does ensure a very velvety soup without the addition of cream or butter. Refrigerate until serving. (the soup actually gets better if made one day and served the next).
  3. Roll the goats cheese into nice round balls and coat evenly with the sesame seeds (I used black and white). Heat a cast iron pan, spray with non-stick spray and gently fry the balls at medium temperature — you want to brown the sesame seeds and heat the ball through, you don’t want to melt the ball. Brown all sides evenly.
  4. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and carefully place one (or more) balls onto the soup. My soup was thick enough that the balls did not sink. Serve immediately.

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