Thursday, June 30, 2011

Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup

Photo courtesy of Google Images

I was with the kids at the library and asked Adam if he'd indulge me in coming out of the children's section while I got myself a "Mommy book".  Now, back in the day (aka before kids), a "me book" would've been anything from a cheesy pink book (a book for younger ladies) to a documentary on the fall of societies.  Lately, though, my time and brain power for reading has faltered, so the closest I find myself to reading lately is either snippets on the internet or cookbooks.  So, my eyes lit up a little bit when I saw a copy of Gwyneth Paltrow's new cookbook, My Father's Daughter, on the shelf.   There;'s something about Gwyneth that says "pretty girl who you could be friends with" to me.  Of course, I've never met her and she could be a flaming banshee who shrieks for her butler to fetch her some distilled French water for all I know.  But I still like my fantasy.

I decided to try her tomato soup, mainly because her white bean soup recipe didn't appeal to Abe and he casually mentioned that the tomato one looked good.  This is how dinner is decided a lot in my house.  The soup is delicious and very easy to make.  It's perfect for summer with all of the ripe tomatoes at the farmers' market.  It can also see dining on this in the dead of winter.

The roasted tomatoes part added a lot of nice flavor and texture to the soup, so don't skip it.   They can be made ahead and stored in a Tupperware container with a bit of olive oil to keep from drying out.  They were so yummy and can be added to things like salad and sandwiches too.  They keep in the fridge for about a week, but I doubt they'll last that long.

I served it with green salad and a crusty baguette that I sliced, topped with a bit of olive oil and shredded cheddar cheese and popped into the oven until the cheese was melted.  It was quite the delightful meal.

Slow-Roasted Tomato Soup
Serves 4

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4 fresh large basil leaves
2 14-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
16 pieces (8 whole) slow-roasted tomatoes (recipe below), roughly chopped
1 large pinch of sugar
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.  Add the basil leaves, tomatoes and their juice, and 1 can's worth of water (making sure to swish to get the rest of the tomato juices).  Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer for 40 minutes.  Stir in the slow-roasted tomatoes and season to taste with sugar, salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).  Tear 1/4 cup basil leaves and stir in.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil over top of each portion.

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Vine-ripened tomatoes
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally, rub with a tiny bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt and bake seed side up in a 275 degree oven for 3-5 hours, or until they look nearly sun-dried (the edges will be caramelized and the moisture will be almost entirely evaporated).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Chicken and Dumplings

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Holy heck.  How did so many months pass by without a blog update?  I blame it on work, a vegetarian Lent season and lots and lots of Jimi's baseball games, where Abe is the coach and therefore doesn't come home until well after dinnertime.  I do apologize (well, to the 2 of you who missed me.  Muah!  I love ya).
I got a request from a lady on the parenting message board that I practically live on.  She wanted a homemade and easy chicken and dumpling recipe to replace the store bought she had been using.  I've never made one and was pretty sure that Abe and Jimi hadn't eaten it, so what an adventure for all of us.  So, I went to my mainstay, Food Network (Rachel Ray) and found one that Abe deemed so worthy of company.  Jimi LOVED it.  I mean, loooooved it.  I think he might have licked the plate before putting it in the sink that night.

It's got a cheat- store bought biscuit dough.  I know, real foodies would scoff at using a boxed biscuit mix.  So, for those of you with tons of time on your hands, go knock yourself out your favorite biscuit dough recipe.  The rest of us will do fine with with Jiffy Mix.  It's not like real foodies are reading this blog anyway.

I plan on busting this out for my mom's 80th birthday dinner with the family.  

Chicken and Dumplings

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 russet potato, peeled and diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced or thinly sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 rib celery, diced
1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons flour, a handful
1 quart chicken broth or stock
1 small box biscuit mix
1/2 cup warm water
Handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 cup frozen green peas

Dice tenders into bite size pieces and set aside.

Place a large pot on stove over medium high heat. Add oil, butter, vegetables and bay leaf and cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season mixture with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Add flour to the pan and cook 2 minutes. Stir broth or stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Add chicken to the broth and stir.

Place biscuit mix in a bowl. Combine with 1/2 cup warm water and parsley. Drop tablespoonfuls of prepared mix into the pot, spacing dumplings evenly. Cover pot tightly and reduce heat to medium low. Steam dumplings 8 to 10 minutes. Remove cover and stir chicken and dumplings to thicken sauce a bit. Stir peas into the pan, remove chicken and dumplings from heat and serve in shallow bowls.