Posts Tagged ‘“comfort food”’


Tomato Soup

I was ecstatic last week when I saw how many ripe, red tomatoes were waiting to be picked in our garden. This year’s harvest is a little late, but not to complain. There are plenty of recipes for fresh tomatoes. And coming from your backyard is as local as you can get.

TomatoesAnatomically, tomatoes should be classified as a fruit. A Supreme Court ruling at the end of the 19th century found that tomatoes are, in fact, a vegetable. At the time, an import tariff existed, that applied only to vegetables. So, when a clever man started bringing in tomatoes under the “fruit” label, the court was quick to put an end to it. Their basis for decision? Linguistic reasoning. Tomatoes were found to be, “usually served at dinner in, with, or after the soup, fish , or meat” (McGee).

McGee, Harold. On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen. New York: Collier, 1984.

I love a good tomato soup, especially once the weather turns cold. Growing up, my mom used to make a “sick day” meal for me that consisted of two simply delicious things; tomato soup and grilled cheese.

This recipe is perfect for summer, however. It was almost like a gazpacho, in that there were little chunks and grains of fresh tomato in it. And rather than a grilled cheese sandwich, I made Parmesan croutons to put on top. Tomato SoupIt comes from Ina Garten’s newest cookbook, Back to Basics. It provided my husband and I with two dinners, and one lunch for myself.


1 1/2 cups chopped red onion

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon freshly minced garlic

4 pounds tomatoes, chopped (5-6  medium/large)

Tomato Soup1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup chopped basil

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

3/4 cup heavy cream


Olive oil

Grated Parmesan (preferably freshly grated)

Salt and Pepper


Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large, deep pot over medium/low heat. Add onions and carrots and cook for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Tomato Soup

Add tomatoes, sugar, basil, tomato paste, stock, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper, and stir to mix.

Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat to low and let simmer, uncovered, for about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette into 1/4 inch slices. You can use however much you’d like, and save the rest by storing it in the freezer and reheating in the oven for later use.

Parmesan CroutonPut slices on baking sheet. Drizzle or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle parmesan on top. You can use a lot here Bake for about 5-10 minutes, until cheese is golden brown on top. Remove from oven.

Once soup has simmered for 3-40 minutes, add the cream and process the entire mixture through a food processor, blender, or food mill.

Reheat once ready to serve. Place Parmesan croutons on top.



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… Ever. I found this recipe in the May/June 2009 issue of Cooks Illustrated. The recipe’s pages in my copy are beginning to stick together from overuse. (Over-spillage of brown sugar and butter). Who doesn’t love a warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookie?? These always come out perfect. Never too thin, too crumbly, or chewy. Just right.

Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

14 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks


Adjust oven rack to the middle and preheat to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour and baking soda together in a bowl.

Heat 10 tablespoons butter in skillet over medium-high heat until melted. Then continue cooking, until butter reveals a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Swirl until melted.

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl and whisk until sugar is fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk for 30 seconds. Let stand for 2-3 minutes, then whisk again for 30 seconds. Repeat this process 2 more times until mixture is smooth and shiny.

Using rubber spatula or spoon, stir in flour until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Cookie Dough

Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons. Arrange 8 balls on each baking sheet.

Bake cookies one tray at a time until golden brown and puffy, about 10 to 14 minutes. (I bake mine for 11 minutes).

Transfer sheet to cooling rack. Cool cookies before serving.


Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This is one of my mother’s Thanksgiving recipes. It provides a very warm, hearty accompaniment in any Fall meal, (not just Thanksgiving). I love the sweet, yet pungent, taste of the brussels combined with the salty crunch of the pancetta.

Brussel Sprouts

Brussels are the red-headed stepchild of the Cabbage family. Their reputation for being something your mom made you eat has been drilled into our heads. It’s too bad, because they are absolutely delicious, and also very good for you. The following recipe serves 10.

Brussel Sprouts


2 tablespoons olive oil

2 pounds brussels, trimmed and halved

8 oz think sliced pancettta

2 garlic cloves, chopped

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste


Brush heavy rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil. Place 1 tablespoon oil in large bowl, mix in brussel sprouts, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 450 degrees until brussels are light brown, stirring often, for about 20 minutes.

PancettaPancettaMeanwhile, saute pancetta in large pan until it is light brown and crisp, like bacon.

Once brussels are done, take them out of the oven. (Can be made 3 hours ahead, stand at room temperature).

Drizzle brussels with balsamic vinegar and stir to coat.

Top with crumbled pancetta and enjoy.

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Clean Rub Chicken

Clean Rub Chicken

This is the easiest meal to make, very affordable (whole chicken costs about $7.00) and always so, so, very delicious. It’s pretty tough to mess anything up because there are only two ingredients. I usually make it once a week and use the leftover chicken for a salad, fried rice, etc.


1 Whole Chicken

Rub (anything you like, I use the Northwoods Rub from Penzey’s, but you can also use salt and pepper as a substitute)

Clean Rub ChickenClean Rub Chicken


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse inside and outside of chicken. Pat dry with paper towel. Try to get out as much moisture as possible.

Generously season outside and inside of chicken with rub, or salt and pepper.

Using kitchen or other ovenproof string wrap together legs and pull wings in towards each other so that they are hugging the breast. By keeping the chicken in as tight of a ball as possible it will help to keep the meat nice and moist.

Place in large baking dish or roasting pan and bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Pull out chicken, and using a brush soak up moisture on bottom of the pan and brush the outside of the chicken. Again, helping to retain natural juices and moisture.

Carve and enjoy!

Clean Rub Chicken

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