Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spicy Tomato Soup

After a few rainy days in Los Angeles it is impossible not to feel that need to make a big fire and curl up with some delicious soup. I was bored with the usual rainy day treat of chicken noodle, so instead I reached for tomato. I had some delicious looking tomatoes that I used to make an upbeat tomato soup. I began with olive oil, garlic, and red chili pepper flakes in a pot. I then added the delectable tomatoes with all of its juices. I simply put in some salt to taste, basil, and a little water to guarantee that the dish would come out as a soup rather than a sauce. It was delicious. With the sweetness from the basil and the tomatoes, the underlying garlic and then the heat kicks in right in the end from the chili flakes. This soup truly brightened up my rainy day.

Here's the recipe...

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
4 cups diced ripe tomatoes
1 cup basil, torn
1/2 cup water
salt to taste

1. In a medium sized pot heat the oil then add the garlic and chili flakes and cook until the garlic is golden.
2. Add in the tomatoes (it might splatter so stand back), stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
3. Add in the water, salt, and basil and stir until incorporated.
4. Simmer for fifteen minutes under medium high heat or until all the ingredients have heated through and are melded together. Enjoy!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Sunday Brunch

I always enjoy brunch and lunch get togethers. There is the excitement of the preparing and getting together with friends, that dinner parties include, but with brunch and lunch, after the get together most of the day still awaits you. It enables you to meet your friends in an informal environment while enjoying lighter, more vibrant food than a traditional dinner party.

After a fun, long night with my friends, we felt the need for some serious midmorning food. So with the appeal of brunch calling at me, I offered to cook. I had some deliciously sweet oranges from the Farmer's Market, so I knew that orange juice was a necessity. I normally do not add ice to fresh squeezed orange juice, but I thought that these oranges were so sweet that some ice was necessary to water it down.

I had also made a wonderful frittata and baked french toast that I had made for mother's day the year before. They were both delicious. I opted out of the dill in the frittata and used slightly less blueberries than recommended for the french toast. I am not very found of dill as an herb so I didn't use it and instead added 3 extra tablespoons of scallions I found the blueberries in the french toast slightly problematic because it caused the dish to be a little watered down. So i would recommend only using half a cup of berries and making sure to use fresh berries. I think that this dish would also work with any other kind of berry that you found appealing. The frittata is an Ina Garten recipe and the french toast is a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis.

Here's the recipe for the frittata...

1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
12 extra-large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 pound smoked salmon, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I did not use dill, so I added extra scallions)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Saute the onions and butter together in a oven-proof pan for about five minutes (until the onions are translucent).
3. In a bowl beat the eggs then add in the cream, goat cheese, salmon, scallions, dill, salt, and pepper.
4. Pour the egg mixture over the onions and put the pan in the oven for 50 minutes.
5. When the frittata is finished it should puff up and when you insert a knife it should come out clean. Enjoy!

Here's the recipe for the baked french toast...

Butter, for greasing
6 eggs
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup maple syrup, plus extra for serving
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 lemon, zested
3 (1-inch thick) slices (8 ounces) day-old challah or sourdough bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups (12 ounces) fresh or frozen, thawed, and drained blueberries (I suggest using 1/2 cup of fresh blueberries)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9 by 13 inch pan.
2. In a large bowl beat the eggs until they are frothy.
3. Add the milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, salt, and lemon zest to the eggs.
4. Add the bread cubes to the mixture and make sure that each cube is coated.
5. Stir in the blueberries and then pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
6. In a small bowl mix together the rest of the cinnamon and sugar and evenly sprinkle it over the egg mixture.
7. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the top is golden and the filling is set.
8. Spoon out servings and drizzle them with maple syrup. Enjoy!