Heirloom Tomato Soup



My wonderful father in-law, one of the two lovely in-laws who’ve inspired this blog, also inspired my garden this year. For Christmas, I was presented with the most thorough catalog of seeds I’ve seen in some time. With not enough space to go pumpkin crazy, I opted for rewarding tomatoes. Six varieties to be precise and would you think that would stop my seed gift? No way, he even planted, sprouted and babied these specimens until they were ready to head to earth.

With a late start to the summer and a bit of a back problem, these little babies soon grew into towering providers. Eight feet of unstretchable plant has blossomed into hoards of tomatoes that now, so close to the first of fall, have finally begun to ripen; all at once.

With the more than occasional rain and cooler nights, I’ve summoned my three year old farm hand, who has no trouble crouching, to help with the over abundant harvest.

The soup, I could handle. It was pretty simple and very delicious.

CREAMLESS CREAM OF TOMATO SOUP
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Small Onion, diced
3 Cloves Garlic, minced, about 1 1/2 teaspoons
2 Lbs Assorted Heirloom Tomatoes, I used Black From Tula, Snow White Cherry, Roma & Riesentraube, diced (or one large 300z can)
1 Bay Leaf
1 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth
1 teaspoon Brown Sugar
1 Slice of Bread, crusts removed, torn
3/4 teaspoon Salt, more or less, to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, optional, to taste
Fresh Basil, chopped, optional for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot.
Dice and add the onion, minced garlic and bay leaf.
Sauté over medium until the onions are soft and translucent but not browned.
Add diced tomatoes and cook for about 10 – 15 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened, released their juices and lost their skins.
Stir in the sugar, bread and broth, then bring the soup to a boil then reduce it to a simmer.
Once the bread is soft and begins to break down, remove the bay leaf.
Using a hand immersion blender, mix the soup until smooth.
In batches if necessary, pass the soup through a mesh strainer and return to a cleaned pot.
Reheat as necessary.
Add salt, and pepper if desired. Seasoning to taste.
Garnish with fresh basil.

Serves 4

Whole Garden Gnocchi


Who knew I could feed myself from a front yard garden alone? Other than the flour, I grew everything for this dish in my small, urban yard; potatoes, garlic, chard, tomatoes and squash.

I may have mentioned my front yard transformation last spring. With the help of a great neighbour, a dumping of dirt, a seed catalogue and some eager kids, we transferred lawn into an edible space.

Less the brussels sprouts and the chard, most of the garden now harvested. There were the three varieties of potatoes; Peruvian Reds, Blue and Russian Fingerlings, Rainbow Swiss Chard, Butternut Squash, sweet Yellow Pear Tomatoes just for this dish alone. (It doesn’t even hint at the edamame, peas, beans, beets, asparagus, blueberries, herbs, okra, cabbages, zucchini, pumpkins… corn… wow!)

After digging up a surplus of potatoes, I needed a few ideas on what to do with them. With BBQ season pretty much a thing of the past, potato salad wasn’t topping my list as much as the gnocchi. Besides, I just had to when I saw the light pinkiness of the potatoes and the great texture that was perfect for such a thing.

Feeding yourself all on your own, that’s local.
Now, that’s something to be thankful for!

PERUVIAN PINK POTATO GNOCCHI

1Lb Potatoes, peeled, boiled and mashed (you can use other starchy potatoes, like Russetts as well)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour, plus more for rolling.
1/4 teaspoon Salt

In a large bowl, finely mash the cooked potatoes so they are lump free.
Add the salt and half of the flour then add 1/4 cup at a time stirring to combine and bring everything together in a smooth dough. You may not need it all.
Depending on your work surface, third or quarter the dough. Take one piece and cover remaining pieces.
Roll the dough into long “snakes” and cut into 1″ pieces.
Roll each piece off the back of a floured fork and repeat finishing all of the dough.
Drop into salted boiling water and cook gnocchi until they float; about 3 – 4 minutes.

While the gnocchi were boiling I made the “sauce” of tomatoes, chard, squash and garlic.
I cubed the peeled, cleaned squash and sautéed it, covered in a large, lightly oiled pan. Once the pieces began to soften, I removed the lid to let the stem escape and pieces brown.
I added two cloves of finely chopped garlic and the chard to cook for another two minutes.
Once the chard had wilted, I added 1 cup of sliced yellow pear tomatoes, salt, pepper and a palmful of chopped basil.
Simple and delicious.

Crispy, Roasted Kale


I’ve heard them called kale chips too. They can be roasted or dehydrated raw to get this crisp, practically preserved autumn leaf.

I grew a few plants in my new garden and now that the season is starting to chill, I couldn’t resist picking the biggest one. I know I was supposed to wait for the first frost, at the very least, but these were so worth the sacrifice. They literally only took minutes to prepare just to simply be left in a low oven.

Since NO ONE in my house would eat them but myself, I carefully dropped them into an oversized bag and brought them to my brother-in-laws birthday party last weekend. They were quickly identified and inhaled by the other guests, which certainly made up for my households curled noses.

Perfect as a snack but I could see these garnishing soup or even getting crushed and stirred into a fresh pot of mashed potatoes.


CRISP, ROASTED KALE CHIPS

1 Large Bunch Kale, stems removed
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zest of ONE Lemon
Sea Salt

Pinch Sea SaltPreheat the oven to 250ºF.
To remove the stems of the kale, hold it up side down, stem side up with one hand and pinch the stem with your other thumb and forefinger to tear it up and away from the leaf.
Toss the leaves with the oil and lemon zest in a large bowl to coat evenly.
Lay the leaves out in a single layer on a baking sheet and lightly sprinkle with salt.
Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until crisp.
Cool on brown or  paper towel to remove any excess oil.

Sheppard’s Pie


Usually I’d be eating something like this in the dead of winter not the first of Spring.
I’ve been doing my best to enjoy a salad every day, plus, just posted about digging up those Sunchokes, for goodness sake!
But it’s snowing!! Not a lot, but too much. It’s cold and dreary and it’s not supposed to be spring again until Thursday.
I’ve had to go back into the storage and dig out the surrendered mittens and while I was there, I couldn’t help but stumble upon the big pot and and idea.
Sweaters = Comfort Food.
If I have to endure this never ending flurry of winter, then I’m getting a few of my favourite things out of it in the process.
…And one of them would certainly be this.

VEGAN SHEPPARD’S PIE

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, finely diced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 340g Package Veggie Ground Round OR 1 1/2 Cups Chopped, Prepared Seitan
1/2 teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crushed
1/4 teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 Cup Button or Crimini Mushrooms, finely chopped (optional)
2 1/2 Cups Vegetable Broth or Water
1 1/2 Tablespoons Arrowroot Powder
Salt & Pepper to taste

About 4 Large (Russet) Potatoes, peeled and diced
Soy milk and vegan butter for mashing

A few big handfuls (1 heaping cup) of Frozen English Green Peas

Heat the oil in a large stock pot and add the chopped onion.
Stir the onion frequently until it is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ground soy, herbs and mushrooms, if using.
Stir to incorporate, then cover everything with the vegetable stock. Heat to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and cook gently for about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle over the arrowroot and stir it in well with a fork. Remove from the heat to thicken.
Taste, adding salt and pepper, if desired. (My ground soy came seasoned, so I completely skipped this part.)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. (If you’re eating now… this can be made in advance and frozen, covered, for later.)
Meanwhile, boil the potatoes, drain and mash (and season as you normally would with soy milk or the like etc.) until you get a smooth consistency.
To assemble, use a deep casserole pot, which preferably has a lid. First add the prepared soy mince, then top evenly with the frozen peas. Finally dot the top with the mashed potatoes and smooth with a spatula.
Cover and heat in the oven for about 20 – 30 minutes. The gravy sides should start to bubble around the edges.
Uncover for the last 10 minutes in the oven if you’d like a browner, crisper top.

Best Vegan Visitor Recipes of 2008


ytd2008

JANUARY

The citrus obsessed that I am decided away with diets and and that pink grapefruits were way underused:
Red Grapefruit Curd Filled Donuts

Every winter likes the cold and every winter I battle it with something extra warm:
Creamless Potato Leek Soup


FEBRUARY

This Chili continued to warm + what would the Superbowl be without it’s tailgate chili?
Superbowl of Chili

And this was just goood:
Cape Gooseberry & Raspberry Clafouti


MARCH

Daring Baker’s sent me the perfect gift. Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for my own birthday cake:
Perfect Party Cake

A March break get-away might have almost gotten me trapped by a snowstorm, but it was Montréal. I was hardly complaining:
Maple Madeleines


APRIL

It’s my daughter’s birthday in April and it just wouldn’t be tradition if she didn’t get her “Favourite Things Dinner”.  She’s six, I’ll give you one guess what her favourite thing is to eat:
Cheeseless Macaroni n’ Cheese

Spring and weeds. If you can’t beat ’em, EAT them:
Warm New Potato & Dandelion Salad

After breaking out the BBQ for the first grill of the season, I discovered one of the best soups ever with the leftovers:
Cedar Smoked Asparagus Soup


MAY

A peanut butter cookie bomb became one of my favourite desserts:
Peanut Butter Caramel Tarts

Mother’s Day brunch wouldn’t be complete without cake. And what better one than this coffee cake developed from my Nana’s own recipe box:
Also Goes Great With Tea Coffee Cake

JUNE

Squeaking it in for the last of the school year. I couldn’t resist buying more snacks for lunches, so I replicated them instead (even though I was made fun of for it):
Chewy Nut-Free Granola Bars

Getting sick of watching countless sandwich crusts go to waste, I came up with a solution. I saved the crusts and made bread pudding. Waste Not:
Chocolate Cherry Bread Pudding
JULY

Summer’s in full swing with heat beaters and last minute evening parties. I took full advantage of the garden’s offerings with these easy recipes:
Rose Infused Strawberry Sorbet
Scape Salsa Verde Potato Salad
AUGUST

This was time consuming, but boy it was good:
Summer Pea Ravioli

The cherries were awesome this year, sweet and almost never ending. When I *almost* became tired of spitting pits, I decided I could finally bake with cherries more instead:
Cherry Streusel Muffins
SEPTEMBER

One of my favourite times of year. You know it, when there are too many tomatoes to eat at once. Never a fan of it as a kid, still I tried my own swing at it and will forever be changing my tune about tomato soup:
Heirloom Tomato Soup

Tree-fruit season YAY:
Gingered Peach Shortbread Bars
OCTOBER
Have I not yet mentioned how much I like autumn and the tree fruit? This was so easy, especially when tearing through a freshly picked bag of apples before our vacation:
Apple Upside-down Cake

Super good, super easy and quick autumn-y gnocchi with one of my most favourite flavour combinations:
Gnocchi with Butternut Squash & Spinach
NOVEMBER

Move over Charlie Brown, I’m the pumpkin patch junky. Never fails, ever November I find myself with, well, enough pumpkins to last me until next Halloween. This year I FINALLY made this:
Maple Pumpkin Butter

Everyone needs a quick go-to recipe to use up those browning bananas, and this one is it for us:
Ultra-Quick Banana Bread
DECEMBER

I took a scoop of that long over due pumpkin butter and added it to my favourite brownie batter. Why didn’t I think of this sooner?:
Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Honestly one of the best gingerbread men I’ve ever bitten the head off of:
Classic Gingerbread Cookies

Wow. What a year! Wishing you and yours the happiest 2009!

Mushroom Barley Soup


Baby it’s cold outside.
We just returned home from a sunny family vacation and were greeted with snowflakes.
Not exactly the homecoming I had in mind.

Needless to say, our cupboards were pretty bare of all things fresh, so the visit to the grocery store filled the cart and this week’s menu with produce filled warmth. Planned soups, stews and stuffed pastas were top of mind.
Those first flickers of snow whipped my memories of the beach to thoughts of cold toes and hearty lunches.
Along with onions, celery and carrots, the mushrooms were on the top of the bag, so they were the first in the pot. An old favourite from a little school on Toronto Island, this I knew was sure to please.

GARTH’S MUSHROOM BARLEY SOUP

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Onions, finely diced
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 Celery Stalk, finely diced
1 pound Mushrooms, white button or crimini, sliced
12 Cups Water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 Cup Pot Barley
3 Tablespoons Tamari

Heat oil in a large stockpot.
Add diced onions to the oil and sweat
Add the diced carrots and celery to the onion and continue to sauté until soft.
Add the sliced mushrooms, water and salt.
When boiling add and tamari.
Reduce heat to a rolling simmer and cook until barley is puffed and soft, at least 30 minutes
Adjust seasoning adding more tamari or freshly ground black pepper, if desired.