Saturday, November 19, 2011

Every year I hope and wish that the warm weather will hold into November so I can serve homegrown tomatoes on Thanksgiving.  As the hours of sunlight diminish and night-time  temperatures dip into the chilly range, the quality of tomatoes still on the plants becomes questionable.   Rather than leaving the last Ananas Noire on the plant to possibly succumb to the cold I decided to harvest it. That was a few days ago when it was still green. Even if I wouldn't be able to pick the tomato on the holiday I thought that maybe, just maybe, it would ripen and be as perfect as a homegrown tomato can be on Thanksgiving.  As luck would have it, it ripened quickly and it was delicious in tonight's green salad.  I don't think it would have lasted another 5 days.

Tonight's tomato was a little on the small side but still beautiful and pretty darn in the center with emerald green borders and mild and sweet in flavor. I can't say the same about most of the other tomatoes I pick this time of year.  Eating them uncooked can be less than satisfying, so I find myself roasting them in the oven and using them in sauces and soups.  One of my favorite soups to make is a simple roasted tomato soup.  I am not exaggerating when I say that I have made four batches of it in the past week and that's because my family keeps asking for more! 

Roasted Tomato Soup

1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
½ cup  plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large onions, one finely chopped and the other sliced thin
3 pounds garden fresh tomatoes,  peeled and cored
1 quart chicken stock
¼ cup red wine vinegar
sea salt
additional olive oil and chopped dill for garnish

Preheat  oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the tomatoes in half and place them on a roasting pan, cut sides up. 
Lay the sliced onions on top of the tomatoes.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. 
Place the pan in the oven and roast the tomatoes for 20 – 30 minutes until they begin to carmelize.  Remove tomatoes from oven, set aside.

Place garlic and breadcrumbs in the bowl of a food processor.  Add ½ cup olive oil and process until it becomes a thick paste.

In a heavy saucepan, heat remaining olive oil.  Add chopped onions and cook over low-medium heat for       6 - 8 minutes until translucent.  Add breadcrumb mixture and cook for 2 minutes longer.  Add roasted tomatoes to pan, stir to combine, add chicken stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Allow soup to cool slightly and then process until smooth with an immersion blender or in the food processor.  Stir in red wine vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Reheat soup if necessary, then ladle into individual serving bowls.  If desired, garnish with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with chopped dill.

Important note:  The color of your soup totally depends on the tomatoes that you's equally delicious when it's deep red as it is when it's a pale melon color!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

With Thanksgiving just two weeks away I find myself focusing on food...inviting guests, preparing menus, stocking the pantry and perfecting recipes. Holiday entertaining can be daunting especially when there's also a home to decorate, gifts to buy, cards to send and daily meals to be made. I've created a schedule of classes and events for the season that will help you glide through the season with pleasure and joy. Cooking classes can help with the constant flow of hungry guests; stationery makes a wonderfully personal gift for the person who seems to have everything; a fresh holiday centerpiece is sure to delight you even at your weariest moments; gardening classes provide garden support in an outdoor setting that will clear your mind of the holiday hustle and bustle and, when you still have one more gift to buy, a Gift Certificate for an upcoming class will always do!
The list of classes and events has been updated through Spring 2012...
Let me be a part of your holiday plans!