Posts tagged ‘Lite Fare’
When I was a boy, I was never a big fan of soup. But as we age, so do our tastes. Now I can say that soup is one of my favorite things. I find myself pining for it in the summer months, and cherishing it throughout the fall and winter. In Michigan, it has been one of the coldest winters I can remember. We’ve had lots of snow and only a few days above freezing, which makes it absolutely perfect to start a weekly series on soup. So I give you round one of Souper Sunday!
For the first Souper Sunday, I’ll go with an awesome Roasted Tomato and Parmesan Soup. It takes a little while to do the roasting, but the payoff in flavor is definitely worth it. I borrowed the roasted tomato soup recipe from Kat over at A Good Appetite and modified it to add in the Parmesan and a little bit of a kick. Here’s how it’s done.
- 2 lbs Roma tomatoes, halved and seeded
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2 yellow onions, quartered
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup red wine
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 3 tablespoons crushed red pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Halve your tomatoes and remove the seeds. You can do this easily with a spoon or a pairing knife.
2. Put the tomatoes, onions and garlic in a large baking pan. Coat with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Try to arrange the tomatoes so the cut sides are up.
3. Roast for 45 – 55 minutes until everything is soft and starting to brown. Allow to cool slightly.
4. Put the tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh herbs and any liquid in the roasting pan into a food processor. Purée until smooth.
5. Put purée into a large soup pot and add remaining ingredients. Add cheese slowly in small batches. If you want a little kick like I did, add the three tablespoons of crushed red pepper. Allow to simmer for about 15 minutes before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 4 big, tasty servings.
If you’re a semi-regular reader of my blog, you no doubt have figured out that olives are truly my favorite ingredient. They’re my guilty pleasure, and something I’d sorely miss if I didn’t have access to them.
According to Greek mythology the Olive tree was Athena’s gift to the people of Attica and it won her patronage of the city of Athens over Poseidon. And if it was, thanks be to Athena – because in my opinion, there is no more perfect food. I love the texture, the complexity, its versatility in a variety of cooking and packing styles, its saltiness, the variety of colors and its ability to totally transform a bland dish into a powerhouse of flavor.
My favorite kinds of Olives are Greek or or the young Italian variety. I find olives grown, cultivated and fermented in these climates to be the most flavorful and that they offer the best consistency for cooking in pastas and eating with antipasto.
I value Kalamata Olives for their saltiness and frequently add them to spicy pastas in lieu of salt or anchovy paste. I also tend to pop small handfuls into my mouth when i pass by the refrigerator (don’t tell Vita!).
Since Vita and I have been talking about one last really great trip before she starts her surgical residency, we’re leaning heavily towards Greece. I think with the availability of fantastic bread, tangy feta cheese, olives and a Mediterranean breeze, I may never come home.
So, with all those thoughts of olives and Greece running through my brain this morning, I made a very simple Greek salad for lunch. I won’t bother posting the recipe, as I’m sure my version is nothing to write home about. But I am curious my dear readers… what food items do you go absolutely crazy for? I plan on compiling some of your thoughts and doing a post at the beginning of October “foodie triggers,” which I’ll explain later. If you want to be included, post a comment and I’ll follow up with you through your blogs or e-mail and give you four or five quick interview questions. They’ll be painless and fun – I promise!
This morning, I was really hungry as I was rushing out the door. And since I had leftover Kaiser Rolls from Greek Buffalo Burgers, I opted to make something that would satisfy my hunger pang that was portable and required no cooking – An Antipasto Sandwich.
I already know what you’re thinking … Antipasto? For Breakfast? I’ve said before that I’m secretly Canadian, but I think my love for cured meats and non-traditional breakfast foods makes me so much more Europian, Mexican or Jamaican. When Vita and I were honeymooning, I made this breakfast sandwhich nearly every morning.
- 1 Whole Wheat Kaiser Roll
- 5-6 slices hard Genoa Salami
- 5 Cherry Tomatoes Cut into thirds (Romas are great as well, just use 1)
- 2 Slices Fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
- Two spoonfulls of Marinated Vegetables (you can find these at most gourmet or specialty markets, just get the Italian blend with the Cauliflower, Carrots, Peppers, and olives – spicy!)
- 1 Teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper to Taste
1. Cut your Kaiser Roll in half and lay down your Genoa as a base, then add the tomatoes, mozzarella and the vegetables.
2. Salt and pepper the Mozzarella lightly and drizzle olive oil across the top of your sandwich filling
3. Wrap it up in a paper towel and run, because if you’re as late as I was this morning, you were eating on the road!
In all seriousness, this is great anytime. I personally enjoy the saltiness of the Genoa (which isn’t all that far off from the smoky flavors of bacon or other smoky meats) as it mingles with the fresh mozzarella. Olive oil is good anytime, and the marinated vegetables really scream Antipasto and give the whole sandwich a nice back heat. You definitely won’t need mustard for this baby.
This would also be great with a nice Chianti or a strong Merlot for an afternoon snack or brunch because it really packs a punch.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’m pining for end of summer and all her bombs of flavor. So, as I wrote yesterday’s post I was already racking my brain as to what to prepare for dinner (Vita and I didn’t quite have the time to meal plan this week due to an office reorganization project that took precedent).
I wanted to make something for my wife that would tickle all the vegetarian atoms left floating around in her body, while playing off my current passion for summer tomatoes. So, with my brain now fully fixed on mushrooms, tomatoes and fresh bread, I was off to Randazzo’s Fresh Market on my lunch break to pick up the freshly baked Kaiser rolls to make Portobello Bruschetta Burgers.
- 2 Kaiser Rolls
- 4 medium to large Portobello Mushroom Caps
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup of Bruschetta (I usually use this recipe, but used pre-made in these photos)
- 4 slices of fresh Buffalo Mozzarella
1. Using a pestle and mortar grind salt, peppercorns, oregano, rosemary and basil together until peppercorns are thoroughly broken up. Once you’ve done this, transfer your herbs and spices to a small bowl and mix in the extra virgin olive oil to create a spice paste.
2. Do NOT rinse the mushrooms. Just brush off any of the excess dirt to preserve the flavor of the caps. Then remove the stems using a pairing knife and the gills from the underside of the caps using a spoon. This will create a better surface area for your Bruschetta filling when you hit the grill.
3. Rub both sides of the mushrooms with the herb mixture, giving each a generous coating of the mixture. The provided amounts should be good for four mushrooms.
4. Place the mushrooms on a pre-heated grill. Be sure you place STEM SIDE DOWN first. You’ll flip only once, and you want the side you removed the gills from to cook first so that you can spoon on Bruschetta to warm as you cook the other side. Cook the stem side for about 4 minutes then flip.
5. After flipping your Portobellos, spoon Bruschetta into your caps, cook for an additional four minutes. Remove from grill and place it on your bun.
6. I like to add fresh mozzarella to the top, but it’s up to you. I think it adds a creamy flavor to the tart Bruschetta and compliments the bold flavor of Portobello in a really great way with all the Italian Herbs.
Don’t they look amazing? I was treated to a double delight last night… a beautiful sunset (I love shooting during the “golden hour” in the evening!) and these powerful little flavor bombs. You can be a true carnivore through-and-through, but I’d be willing to bet even the most die-hard tyrannosauruses would enjoy this burger. I think fresh bread is key, especially a bigger roll like a Kaiser. It’s large enough to hold all the fixins in it, and it soaks up all the Bruschetta goodness.
Today I got home from work fairly late. No wife, just a crazy brown dog and a tummy craving something fresh. I’ve been a little under the weather the past few days as well. So, needless to say, I didn’t want anything too heavy due to my aching stomach and frequent cough and due to arriving home so late, I didn’t want to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. Thankfully, I had skirt steak, a lovely organic salad mix and some fresh organic tomatoes.
So, instead of laboring with pasta, or a long grilling process, I opted to go for a steak salad with a delicious balsamic reduction. Here’s the recipe I came up with.
- 6 oz skirt steak (cut thinly into strips)
- 2 cups organic baby greens
- 1 organic tomato cut into wedges
- 1/8 cup of Danish Blue Cheese
- 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon vegtable oil
- 1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon butter (preferably unsalted, if salted, omit Kosher salt mentioned above)
Coarsely grind peppercorns and basil with a mortar and pestle. Coat both sides of the skirt strips dry and coat with peppercorns, pressing to adhere. Season with salt.
Heat oil with 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet or non stick pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Reduce heat to moderate and cook steaks to preferred temperature. I go about 1 to 1 and a half minutes on each side for medium-rare. (Admittedly, I got away from my pan for a minute prepping my plate and my meat came out medium well as you can see from the photos)
Transfer steak to a platter. Add balsamic vinegar to skillet and deglaze by boiling over high heat, scraping up brown bits. Simmer vinegar until reduced to about 1/8 cup. Remove from heat and whisk in remaining tablespoon butter until melted. Season sauce with salt and drizzle over salad once prepared.
To prep the salad itself, I simply wash and toss the greens, crumble my blue cheese and slice a small tomato into wedges. I salt and pepper my tomatoes and ring them around my greens. Add the steak and drizzle your balsamic reduction over everything. What you’re left with is a really flavorful, yet light meal that you’ll want to make again and again. The bold flavors of the Danish Blue Cheese are complimented by the reduction and the tomatoes make a lovely accompaniment. Happy cooking.