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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.

Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 10.05.29 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-25 at 10.06.12 AM

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I have three Indian cookbooks from which I can usually find something I want to make, perhaps with some additional guidance from a cooking site or blog. The one cookbook I bought because every single recipe had a lovely photograph! It’s relatively small 12 cm x 15 cm (5″ x 6″) which makes it even more adorable! It came with a ribbon book mark attached to the spine so you can mark the recipe you are making or the next one since it has lay-flat binding. With all these things going for it, you would think I would love this cookbook, but sadly I don’t. In fact, I have not enjoyed one of the recipes I’ve made from this book without significant changes! I should just chuck the thing but I can’t because I really like the way it looks. I know it’s silly but it is what it is.

This is a recipe I altered after having acquired a Meyer Lemon from a shoot in November and I wanted to make something with it. I puréed the soup to a smooth velvety consistency and I dressed it with a cumin yogurt drizzle with green onion slices, you could also drizzle with a flavour olive oil. The Papadams are from our trip to Chicago when Chgo John took us to his favourite ethnic stores.

Lemon Lentil Soup_1334

The earthy lentils burst with fresh, lively flavour with the lemon

Lemon Lentil Soup

Serves 2 generously (1 cup portions or 250 mL each)

Ingredients:

  • 100 g dahl or yellow lentils
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, peel and finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2-4 cups water (depending on how thick you prefer your soup)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • grated rind of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • Shopped green onions as garnish
  • papadums

Directions:

  1. Rinse the lentils and cook with the ginger, garlic, chill and turmeric and 2 cups water until soft.
  2. Add the salt, lemon juice and rind and blend with an immersion blender until smooth, adding water to achieve the consistency you prefer.
  3. Press through a fine sieve and set aside.
  4. In a small frying pan add the cumin and toast until fragrant. Cool. Once cool add to the yogurt and mix well. Salt to taste. Transfer to a small plastic squeeze bottle.
  5. Reheat soup and pour into rimmed soup bowls. Begin piping the yogurt from 12 o’clock to 6 o’clock, then 2 to 7 and finally from 9 to 3. Then using a sharp knife beginning in the centre of the bowl, draw a spiral circle culminating at the outer ring (this will make the pattern). Garnish with the chopped green onions and papadums.

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Lemon Lentil Soup_1337

It’s super creamy and super filling

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There is another Indian Restaurant in Toronto that we really like, and you’ve probably heard of it because it’s in all the major cities around the world, it’s called Bombay Palace on Jarvis Street. We usually go there for lunch and there are two particular things I love, the carrot pickle and the Aloo Papri Chaat (described as a sweet Medley of crispy wafers chickpeas, potatoes with yogurt-mint chutney dressing). I tried to find as close a recipe as possible to this tangy, sweet and crunchy side, and this one was pretty darn close. I had to make a few changes due to unavailable ingredients, but to be honest, the flavour didn’t suffer for it. I must warn you, it does take a lot of steps.

Aloo Papri Chaat

A delicious mix of sweet and tangy flavours with the crunchy texture of the wafers

Serves 4-6 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 7-8 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 dried apricot
  • 1 small cooked potato, cubed
  • 100 g chick peas
  • 1/2 cup low fat yogurt (if using Greek yogurt, you will need to add milk to achieve the right consistency)
  • 1 chopped green chili
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chaat Masala (see spice mix below)
  • Salt
  • 1 cup peanut oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Make a soft dough with the flour and semolina by adding a little bit of water at a time.
  2. Roll the dough out into a rectangle and cut into bite-sized squares.
  3. Heat the oil to fry the squares and fry them until they puff a little and are golden. Drain oil off and set aside.

Directions for the Tamarind Chutney:

  1. In a small heavy bottom sauce pan, add the tamarind paste and the apricot. Add about 1 cup of hot water to it and heat to a boil until the tamarind paste dissolves and the apricot is mushy. Blend well with an immersion blender. Strain out any hard bits from the tamarind paste.
  2. Add the sugar, chili powder and mix well. Boil until all of the water evaporates and you are left with a thick rich paste.

Ingredients for the Chaat Masala:

Note: the original recipe for Chaat Masala called for Mango Powder which I did not have, and therefore I substituted the apricot into the tamarind mix to replicate the sweet and tangy flavour of the mango powder.

  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black salt

Directions for the Chaat Masala:

  1. Put all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. If some of the spices are seeds, you will need to grind them well.

Directions for the Yogurt Sauce and assembly:

  1. Whip the yogurt with a whisk until thin and runny (or if it’s Greek Yogurt, add a little milk),
  2. Add  the cubed potatoes, chopped green chili, the chickpeas and a teaspoon or two of the tamarind and mix well (being careful not to break up the potatoes).
  3. Add the bite sized Papri (wafers) and mix gently to coat.
  4. Garnish with Coriander leaves and finely chopped green onions.

A quick shot of the actual serving dish at the dinner party, the lighting sucks as it was already night

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It’s been blazing hot in Toronto, as I am sure most of my dear readers are experiencing in the northern hemisphere. For our dinner party last week, I decided to make the Armenian Nutmeg Cake (OK, I didn’t make another cake, I simply defrosted the cake I made about a month ago) and I wanted to serve it warm with a cold scoop of hazelnut frozen yogurt. I chose hazelnut because I adore the flavour (no, JT didn’t even save me a bite of the frozen yogurt) and I wanted something nutty to go with the nutmeg cake. I also made a very easy caramel sauce (just used ordinary milk instead of cream, which still worked out but wasn’t as creamy). Now this recipe is not entirely fat-free because hazelnuts contain fat, but it’s about balance, I saved the fat with using fat free Greek Yogurt so I didn’t mind adding the ground hazelnuts. You could leave the ground hazelnuts out entirely opting to use just the extract but then you will need to balance with a bit more sugar, as roasted hazelnuts have a bit of sweetness to them.

All in all the recipe worked out well. The yogurt adds a very nice tanginess to the frozen dessert that I liked. The caramel sauce balanced the tanginess (good call JT). And I adore a contrast of warm and cold; cake: warm, frozen yogurt: cold!

Creamy, nutty, low fat frozen yogurt.

Low Fat Hazelnut Frozen Yogurt

Makes a little more than 500 g of frozen yogurt

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted and peeled (I found this method after I painstakingly peeled mine the old fashioned way!)
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar, or to taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp hazelnut extract
  • 500 g non-fat Greek yogurt

Directions:

  1. In a coffee grinder reserved for this type of thing (i.e. not coffee) grind the hazelnuts, salt and brown sugar until it becomes a paste (like peanut butter). Mine took about 10 minutes, stopping to allow the machine to cool down every so often.
  2. Whisk the hazelnut extract into the non-fat Greek yogurt, and then whisk in the hazelnut mixture. I found the mixture was a bit lumpy so I took my immersion blender and blended it until I no longer saw any lumps. Doing this will make the yogurt a bit more liquidy, but it still works.
  3. Pour into the chilled ice cream bowl and assemble as per instructions. Turn on and allow the machine to work its magic. Mine took about 20 minutes. Scrape into a freezable container and freeze.
  4. Frozen fat free Greek yogurt doesn’t have enough fat to make it creamy straight out of the freezer, so I had to bring it out to sit on the counter for about 10-20 minutes, depending on how cool your house it. Scoop onto prepared plates and drizzle with the easiest caramel sauce ever.

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My friend Barb of Profiteroles and Ponytials made this recipe a few days ago, and I knew I had to have it. Barb and I have been friends a really long time, and I think she blogs to get my taste buds going, in fact, I’m sure that’s what it is. I was doing a vegetarian week last week and when I saw this soup, I thought, perfect. Plus JT made it, so it was super easy for me! We are not big potato eaters in our house so we substituted the potatoes for Chick Peas, and it made it a bit heartier too. Another winner, Mrs. Barbie, thank you!

Fassolada (Barb’s Greek Bean Soup)

Ingredients:

  • 1-½  cups navy beans, dried
  • 6-½ cups water
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced (we had some in the fridge, otherwise I might have omitted this too)
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup chick peas, canned
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-½ cups crushed low sodium tomato sauce (we love the Italian brands, they have an incredibly low sodium rate)
  • 1- ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano (preferably Greek)

Optional Garnish:

  • Greek Yogurt with smoked paprika sprinkled over it.

Directions:

  1. Place the beans in a bowl, cover completely with water, and let them soak overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse beans. Place in a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to boil over high heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain beans in a strainer and return to pot. Add water, carrots, celery, onion, red pepper flakes and bay leaf. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove bay leaf and add tomato sauce, salt and olive oil and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour (until beans are tender). Add the chick peas and heat through.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning, if required.
  6. Serve in bowls with a dollop of Greek Yogurt and smoked paprika.

A hearty and filling soup; a great alternative to meat, but bacon would have gone so well with it...

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Another tip of the hat to Laura Calder’s Soufféed Omelet. We had BBQ’d a couple of gorgeous BC wild salmon fillets late last week but then didn’t have the opportunity to use them as left-overs (we always make two extra servings so we can each take a delicious lunch to work – saves money and allows you to know exactly what you are eating!) Did you know that the pink-ness of Salmon is determined by how much shrimp they eat? The pinker the colour, the more shrimp they ate (one of our clients is a seafood canner)!  So, back to the story. On Saturday as we sat reading the paper at our beautiful Soapstone island, I pondered what to make for breakfast…and then it came to me: Salmon Spinach Souffléed Omlette! I threw in the greens to use them up…they were slowly wilting away. I love this recipe because it makes more than you think it should, using only two eggs! It’s light and airy, and the BBQ’d salmon added such a lovely smoked flavour. (I wasn’t going to post this, but it was so damn tasty, so I took this photo with my lowly iPhone 3GS)

Salmon Spinach Souffléed Omlette

Serves 2

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Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2-3 oz BBQ’d Salmon, flaked
  • 3 shallots finely chopped
  • a handful of greens
  • 1/4 cup non-fat yogurt (for the omlette)
  • 1/4 cup non-fat yogurt (for the sauce; I haven’t had a chance to try PC’s non-fat Greek Yogurt, but I’m certain it would be amazing in this)
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
  • Non-stock cooking spray
  • 2-3 tbsp LS stock (I used chicken)
  • Sea Salt

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F.
  2. Sauté shallots in a small cast iron pan until translucent. I find the cooking spray doesn’t really give you enough moisture to do this, so I usually splash a bit of LS Chicken Stock to help it along).
  3. Add the greens and allow to wilt.
  4. While this is going on, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (not dry).
  5. Then, beat the egg yolks until significantly lighter in colour and thick. Add the yogurt and beat in well.
  6. Mix a little bit of the egg white into the yolk cream. The fold in the rest, carefully so that you don’t deflate it.
  7. Lightly fold in the sautéed greens and shallots, and lastly the flaked salmon. Season to taste.
  8. Carefully pour this mixture into the hot cast iron pan, spreading evenly in the pan so it reaches all sides.
  9. Place into the hot oven for 15-20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  10. In the meantime, mix the yogurt and the chives.
  11. Serve with the yogurt chive sauce and a bit of whole grain toast.

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