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

What Ever Became of You?


We found ourselves getting a bit carried away, shall we say at the apple orchard last week.
At least, not until we’d discovered an overwhelming tree full of brightest red Mac’s. Our picking was literally done in minutes. With my filled bag, I headed to the scales and the woman running the show was notably impressed by our haul.
I’m greedy, I thought. We leave on vacation in four days, how are we possible going to go through an 18 pound bag of fresh apples?*

As I listed off potential recipes to make a dent, we were invited for a casual afternoon with friends so, this is what we made.
Thrown together, it was a cinch to make and although it only used up two apples, it was pretty delicious and perfect for tea.

APPLE UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE

1/2 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Vegan Butter, divided (vegan, Earth Balance) softened
1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar, divided
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
1 1/4 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Cup Plain Soy Milk
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
2 Medium Apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4″ thick

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Combine the two flours with a fork and set aside.
Cream the butter, less the two tablespoons, with 1/2 cup of the brown sugar and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar.
Pour in the teaspoon of vanilla extract and add the 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon.
Add the baking powder and soda then continue to mix until fluffy.
In a measuring cup, soy milk and lemon juice.
Add half soy milk mixture to the creamed sugar, then half of the flours, mixing until each is combined, repeating with the remainder.
Evenly spread the butter over the bottom of an 8″x8″ baking pan. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon.
Lay out the apple slices over top of the sugar in an even layer.
Add the cake batter to the pan.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 35 – 45 minutes or until a cake tester can be cleanly removed.
Cool in the pan then gently slide a knife around the edges before turning it out to a cooling rack or a serving plate to completely cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

*Oh, and just as an update, after creating and edible centerpiece, a few pints of slow-cooker apple butter and a pot of pumpkin soup, I’m down to four (count ’em 4) apples! I had to restrain myself not to get any more… but I have about 50Lbs of pumpkins… and a whole other story.

Thanksgiving Weekend Eve (Canadian Style)


Here we are, the weekend I lust after for most of the year. Yes, call me crazy but I love Thanksgiving more than lets say, Christmas. Frankly, I’m thankful for Thanksgiving.

This morning’s drive north to the farm was glorious. Enjoying the warmth of an Indian Summer, the leaves were blazing red in the temperate breeze. The corn stalks have turned tan and the green ground cover has been replaced in most parts with a see of orange pumpkins.

It was not a hard decision to go fully local this year. The bounty is tough to argue with.
At the farm, the over-sized broccoli and cauliflower heads were no match for the cabbages which were easily the size of the pumpkins awaiting Halloween.
Genuine Brussel sprouts were proudly displayed, complete with their stalks rendering them hardly recognizable as grocery store produce, were only recently picked and ready for this weekend’s picky eaters.
I could hardly fit this cornucopia of my future feast into the car, when I was seduced by the countryside’s apple orchard markers.

The midday sun was ablaze as we set out to find the perfect tree. Countless gleaming red apples practically jumped into my bag knowing that they would be Sunday’s pie, or next week’s apple butter… Eighteen pounds later, I managed to wedge my sweet spheres into the car and made my trip back into the envious city.

The Menu

Heirloom Tomato Soup
Roasted Cauliflower Soup

Cinnamon Orange Cranberries
“Turkey”
Green Beans
Sautéed brussels sprouts
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Butternut Squash & Spinach Casserole
Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls

Pumpkin Pie
Apple Galette

I will be sure to post all recipes. If you’d like, leave your request for the order in the comments and I’ll get to the most demanded.
In the meantime, this is what I prepared first….

SPICED ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE

3/4Lb Fresh Cranberries, frozen will do
1 Cup Orange Juice
1 Cup Sugar
1 Stick of Cinnamon, 2-3″ piece

Pick over and rinse the cranberries.
Into a large pot, combine the cranberries with the juice and sugar.
Drop in the cinnamon stick and bring everything to a boil for about 5 minutes, or until the cranberries have begun to pop.
Continue to simmer until slightly thickened and reduced.
Remove the cinnamon stick, if desired cover or can.
Cranberries will keep preserved or in the fridge for a week.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Rose Infused Strawberry Sorbet


Surrounded by strawberry season, I over thoughtfully tired my search for something outstanding and creative to present for more than just shortcake post of yesteryear.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, strawberry shortcake is such a classic it’s even got a scented doll named after it — I just wanted more. Unconventional combinations like balsamic, basil and black pepper have been surfacing for some time. and recently, I was confronted with a pastry chef’s attempt at combining all three. Not something I wanted to re-create, unfortunately.

I could have almost come full circle with homage to most people’s Nanas’ Summer Strawberry Pie but let me tell you, it’s been so hot and muggy these past couple of days, just the idea of boiling water made me want to sweat.

Naturally in this heat, only Yours Truly would hit the strawberry patch at high noon. There’s something pretty spectacular about sneaking a warm, so perfectly ripe summer strawberry. Even tasting like the homemade jam it will soon become, I couldn’t help imagining a slip n’ slide ride to get my overheated self back to the stifling car.

I’ve guessed that my designated, appropriately red, strawberry picking bucket can hold about 10 or so pounds of berries. We like the berries, but whatever can’t get consumed by the masses within a couple of days by the periodical snack or stuffed crêpes for breakfast, will end up hulled and frozen on parchment for bagging and later enjoyment.

To my delight, I found that a medium Ziploc bag holds about 1 Lb of frozen berries. Perfect for making one of the tastiest and simplest strawberry treats concocted to sooth the heat. Really. Don’t let the rose syrup be your deal breaker, it’s really quite easy as long as you can get your hand on a rose. It’s a wonderful combination that’s tips this sorbet over the edge of great and frozen berries are everywhere, so you don’t even have to pick and hull them yourself.

ROSE INFUSED STRAWBERRY SORBET

1 Lb Frozen Strawberries
3/4 Cup Rose Syrup

Add strawberries to food processor, pulsing at first to chop. Scrape sides with a spatula.
With the motor running, add the rose syrup through the feed tube, stopping to scrape the sides as necessary, blending until smooth.

If not serving immediately,  transfer sorbet into a low sided container, cover tightly and freeze.

Valentine Twist


I wracked my brain, I wrote recipes out, took the pictures and as the days came the sugar began to make my sweetteeth ache.

I’m glad somebody loves me, since I’m sure I’ve packed on at least another five pounds this week alone with all the cake and truffle attempts. Delectable, yes, but honestly a girl can only take so much. I’ve made sure to love thy neighbour, my kid’s class, my parents, my and otherwise plus, anyone and everyone willing to have me pawn off my sweet kitchen offerings.

So then what was the Valentine’s celebrations here, you ask? Heart shaped pizzas and a French Martini to wash it down, now there’s an aging relationship with glamour.
xx

Red Grapefruit Curd Filled Donuts



Heading out with the intention to create a citrusy tart flecked with the essence of rosemary or cardamom, I started out with a super red grapefruit curd for the filling. Anyone who reads here regularly, might have noticed I’m a bit of a red grapefruit junky. I’ll slip it into dishes where ever it fits. Heck, I even bathe in the stuff.

Being amongst the world’s best doughnut eaters, not that I would necessarily know, of course but what can I say? I’m Canadian. Those little slurps here and a spoonfully nibble there of the grapefruit curd, reminded me of a fresher, livelier version of the sweet lemony filling squeezed out as the best part of a filled doughnut. Petite tarts of fanciness were sent to the back burner as I set out to create a canuck worthy doughnut.

Updating that simple, lemony filling to this, little more grown up, less of a drive-thru flavour was supurb with a little dusting of sugar and a hot morning cup of coffee. It was so sinfully wonderful to have to admit that vegan food isn’t always healthy but certainly scrumptious.

As the January resolutions met their match, I realised I’m not the only one who’s given up a diet for some February grease. Helen from Tartlette and Peabody have teamed up for a donut fry fest; this, my friends should be good.

Continue reading Red Grapefruit Curd Filled Donuts