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

Pancake Day!!!


Is this an *official* Hoilday yet? If anyone’s counting, it should be judging by the celebrations around this house.

There were stuffed crêpes for breakfast, multigrain blueberry pancakes for lunch and our favourite, savoury pancakes will be headlining dinner. Packed with wild rice, mushrooms and leeks, the pancakes are hardly lacking in flavour. With a few extra mushrooms saved to the side, you’ll never miss your syrup for this quick and savoury (Holiday) dinner.


SAVOURY PANCAKES

1 Leek, white & light parts only, diced & divided
2 Cups Sliced Crimini Mushrooms, divided
2/3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Unsweetened Soy Milk
1/3 Cup Cooked Wild Rice
2 Tablespoons Safflower Oil, plus more for frying

Finely dice the leeks and slice the mushrooms.
In a lightly oiled,  large frying pan, sauté the mushrooms until soft and golden.
Remove mushrooms from the pan and reserve.
Add the leeks to sauté until softened.
Roughly chop 1/2 cup of the mushrooms then add to the leeks.
In a large bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt. To it, add the wild rice and 1/3 of a cup of the mushroom leek mixture stirring to coat with the flour.
Add the milk and oil just mixing until everything is just wet and combined.
In a clean, hot frying pan, add a small amount of oil.
Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the pancake mixture into the frying pan and cook over a medium-high heat.
Once the edges are firm and golden and the batter starts to bubble, flip each pancake to cook the other side until golden.
Serve hot with a spoonful of the remaining mushrooms and leek mixture.

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!

Ultra Quick Vegan Banana Bread


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Even on vacation bananas go brown. Not like I didn’t think it wouldn’t happen, it’s warmer here plus we’ve been too busy playing to eat them right away. Needless to say, I couldn’t store them in the freezer for another time and I certainly didn’t want to throw them away. Thankfully I have a tried and true recipe for this super quick banana bread that’s the go-to with overripe bananas. With a few pantry items, I was back on the beach in no time.

…And yes, I even bake on vacation….

BANANA QUICK BREAD

3 Bananas, mashed
1/4 Cup (vegan) Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Soft Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 teaspoon Salt

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Mash the bananas well and combine them with the butter and the sugars to cream.
Add the salt, baking powder and baking soda to combine.
Stir in each of the flours, mixing until just moistened.
Bake in a slightly greased and flour dusted loaf pan for 35-40 minutes of until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let rest for a few minutes before removing from the pan to cool on a wire rack.

For something a little fancier, drizzle over some cooled caramel and serve it for dessert!

Holiday Leftover Gnocchi


Ok, so nothing was really left over. Having had been lucky enough to serve up two Thanksgiving dinners, I was still looking for more. One scoopful of my butternut squash & spinach casserole wasn’t enough, but not having another lucky table of thirteen tonight, I wasn’t about to serve it again. Besides, I, even me, haven’t been craving over-time in the kitchen, so I wanted something quick.

GNOCCHI WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH & SPINACH

2 Tablespoons Olive OIl
2 Cups Butternut Squash, diced, 1/2″ cube
3/4 Cup Water
2 Cup Baby Spinach Leaves
1Lb (500g) Gnocchi, store bought (I know, but after a weekend of feast creating 75 seconds of cooking can be a very good thing.)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Italian Parsley, finely chopped
1 Sprig Fresh Thyme, stem removed
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced
Salt & Pepper to taste

Peel and cube the squash and add it to a large sauté pan with the 3/4 cups of water.
Over high heat, bring the water to a boil and stir frequently.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Once the water is gone, add about half of the oil and reduce the heat slightly to medium high.
Add the minced garlic and continue to toss often until the butternut squash is golden and tender.
Add the spinach to the squash and sauté until wilted. Add herbs, tossing to combine.
Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook for about 2 minutes or until it begins to float (as per package directions.)
Drain and add to the spinach and squash.
Sprinkle over salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 2-3.

Little Bit of This; Summer Meal Salad


Something wonderful about summer and forgetting about dinner.
An abundance of fresh food everywhere, leftovers from the weekend BBQ and a handful of herbs can create a quick, satisfying and remarkable dinner.

After grilling corn and attempting a sweet chili lime glaze recipe to serve up, I had one cob left over and a recipe that still needs a bit of tweaking for my tastes. I trimmed the cob of the kernels and, since it was already a little seasoned, I had a salad in mind. Dinner also left over a roasted red pepper, which was easy enough to dice, toss in a little handful of the bolting cilantro and I had a flavour direction for something.

For our next days lunch, I still needed a bit of protein and a bit of everything in between, so I grabbed for the quinoa. It’s quick cooking, so it gave me just the right amount of time I needed to toss together a dressing. Tossed together with a couple of handfuls of my favourite baby spinach and this salad was ultra quick, summery and so tasty.

SUMMER CORN & QUINOA SALAD

1 Cob of Corn, preferably grilled, shucked
1 Sweet Red Bell Pepper, roasted with the skin removed
2 Tablespoons Cilantro, packed, finely chopped
1 Cup Quinoa
2 Handfuls Baby Spinach Leaves, about 2 cups

DRESSING

Juice of One Lime
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander Seeds
1/8 teaspoon Salt, or to taste
Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Whisper of Cayenne Pepper (less than a pinch)

Rinse the quinoa well and leave it to soak in a mesh colander for about 3 minutes.
Combine the drained quinoa with 2 cups of boiling water in a medium saucepan.
Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 7 minutes.
Lift the lid and check in on the quinoa. The water should be mostly absorbed and appear fluffy. If not, cover again and continue to cook for a couple of minutes more.
Once the water has been absorbed, fluff with a fork and leave it to cool while you prepare the remainder of the salad.
Skin, seed and dice the red pepper, added it to the shucked corn, in a large bowl.
Rinse, dry and finely chop the cilantro, adding it to the corn and peppers.
In a small bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the lime juice, and oil. Add the cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and cayenne. Mix well.
Measure out 2 cups of the cooked quinoa and add it along with the baby spinach to the corn mixture, stirring to combine.
Pour over the dressing. Toss to coat, but be gentle not to overly bruise the spinach leaves.
Taste and adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.*
Turn out to a platter to serve.

*If going vegetarian, about 1/3 cup of crumbled feta will make the salad sing.