Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cream of Tomato Soup

I received a fabulous Christmas gift and have been using it a lot. The New Best Recipe Cookbook is my new favorite toy. It is 1000+ pages of recipe goodness, but it goes beyond the recipe---they do all the testing for you and explain why they use particular methods, which brands worked out best and how to shortcut without sacrificing flavor and texture. It's like Alton Brown in text and without all the goofy themes and gadgets.

This cookbook has become my go-to for anything! You'll be seeing lots of recipes based off this book (I still change things, slightly...it's my nature).

Cream of Tomato Soup
Serves 8

4 (28oz) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice (NOT in puree), drained, 6 cups juice reserved
3 tablespoons brown sugar
8 tablespoon (1 stick) butter
5 large shallots, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
pinch ground allspice
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
salt, to taste

1. Heat oven to 450. Prepare tomatoes for roasting. With your fingers, carefully open the whole tomatoes over a strainer set in a bowl and push out the seeds, allowing juices to fall through the strainer into the bowl. Arrange seeded tomatoes in a single layer on two foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

NOTE: The foil is essential; it keeps the tomatoes from scorching and sticking to the baking sheet.

2. Once seeded tomatoes are on the foil-lined baking sheets, sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off the foil.

3. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat until foaming. Add the shallots, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until shallots are softened, 7-10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Whisking constantly, gradually add chicken broth; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Strain the mixture into a bowl, reserving the liquid and putting solids and about 1 cup of liquid back in the pot. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add remaining strained liquid back to the pot and combine. Add the cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

May be refrigerator for up to 2 days, warm over low hear until hot, do not boil.

Original recipe called for:

(1) 3.5 cups of chicken stock and 6 cups of reserved tomato juice. I happen to have 3 cups of chicken stock on hand and did not want to open another can for only 1/2 cup. So when my tomato juice measured out at 6 3/4 cups I just threw it all in. I would say use 2 (14 oz) cans of chicken stock for ease of use.

(2) dark brown sugar, but I had light brown sugar on hand...no biggie.

(3) cayenne pepper was optional, as you probably know, my family doesn't do spice so I left this out. Kick it up however you'd like. I add fresh ground black pepper to my bowl so that I'm not contaminating the entire pot.

(4) 4 tablespoons Brandy or dry sherry was to be added after adding cream and removing from heat. I don't cook with these so I omitted.

(5) 8 shallots were called for, but after chopping up 5 large shallots, I was done! 5 was more than enough, unless you really enjoy mincing up these little eyeball burners.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread by Jackie Gerland
page 57 What's Cooking In Sisters cookbook

I'm not even going to post the real recipe. It was not a hit for me. It is a yeast bread and involves letting it rise twice. The dough was so sticky I couldn't roll it in sugar so kind of put little parts in the pan and sprinkled the cinnamon sugar on it. Results were not nearly sugary enough.

This is the tried and true recipe I've had a zillion times that is so much easier (compliments of the good folks over at Pillsbury)

2 cans refrigerated biscuits
1/2c sugar
1t cinnamon
1 c brown sugar
3/4 c butter or margarine, melted
1/2 c chopped walnuts and/or raisins if desired

Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease a bundt pan with cooking spray. In large plastic bag mix white sugar and cinnamon. Cut biscuits into quarters, place in bag and shake to coat. Arrange in pan adding raisins and walnuts among biscuit pieces. In small bown, mix brown sugar and butter, pour over all. Bake 28- 32 mintues until golden brown. Cool in pan 10 minutes, turn upside down onto serving plate. Pull apart to serve; serve warm.

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

Ala Julie and Julia I thought it might be kind of fun to cook my way through a cookbook that my husband's grandma had given me a long time ago. It was put together by the Friends of the Library in Sister's Oregon and is kind of kitchy. She died recently, so I thought it would be a good way to remember her and then also my sisters in law are all foodies so thought it would be a fun way to be closer to them, as well.

The What's Cooking in Sisters cookbook has some funny recipes (How to Catch A Cowboy, page 98) and some old classics I already know (Strawberry Pretzel Salad page 31). Some of the recipes have funny comments (in a vegetable soup recipe the instructions include "to make this recipe low fat, add less bacon)

We started last night with the first recipe on the first page. One thing you will find about me is I never follow a recipe exactly. I either don't have all the ingredients or I think I can improve it somehow. I'll put the correct recipe first and then my variations to follow.

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms (Funghi Imbotitti) by Steve Prince
What's Cooking in Sisters page 1

6tsp butter or margarine
1/2 C unseasoned bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 tsp onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. parsley, finely chopped
4 tsp parmesan cheese, grated
olive oil
24 fresh mushroom caps

Melt butter in pan. Add bread crumbs and garlic and mix. Transfer to a bowl. Add onion, parsley and cheese; mix. Fill mushroom caps.

Lightly oil bottom of a glass casserole dish. Put in filled mushroom caps. Bake in preheated 325 oven approx. 30 minutes. IF you have put too much oil in dish and they are oily place on paper towel before serving. Will serve 6 people 4 caps apiece.

Buon appetito!

(Emily's variations- I used Pam instead of olive oil and left out the parsley. I didn't do the transfer to a bowl and ended up with maybe 30 mushrooms since some were real small)

We thought this was pretty good! We served them at the New Year's Eve gathering at Brooks house last night. I do have a photo but my card reader isn't working right now so I'll post it later