|Winter Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese Crostini|
Dec 31st, 2007
This delicious recipe comes from The Flexitarian Table, by Peter Berley. The cookbook is based on a fabulous premise ~ convertible recipes that can be prepared easily for either a vegetarian, meat-eating, or mixed group of diners. Unfortunately, for the most part the recipes aren't that appealing to me. Don't get me wrong, it's a great cookbook, I think I just have a different palate than the author. But if you're looking for good mostly-vegetarian recipes or have to cook for both meat-eaters and vegetarians do check this book out. If your palate matches up with Berley's I think you're in for a treat.
One of the recipes that did leap off the page for me was this Winter Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese Crostini, and considering I had to dash through falling snow in my backyard to grab the required sage and thyme I think that a winter soup was definitely called for. The recipe is easy to prepare and just the thing for a cold winter evening in front of the fire. Also, unless you're cooking for a large group you'll more than likely have some of the goat cheese spread leftover for sandwiches and snacks. Unfortunately I ate mine up before having a chance to try it, but panini/toasted sandwiches spread thinly with the herbed goat cheese and layered with grilled mushrooms and fresh tomato seem like an awfully nice idea.
Winter Tomato Soup with Goat Cheese CrostiniSoup
1/3 cup extra-virgin oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions (3-4 medium onions)
Sea salt or kosher salt
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
Large pinch of red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes or diced tomatoes in juice
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock or water
2 2-inch strips orange zest
1 sprig fresh sage
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, halved
2 tbsp chopped fresh chives or flat-leaf parsley, for serving
For the soup:
In a 3- to 4-quart Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1/2 tsp salt and cook, stirring, until the onions are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic cloves, carrot, and pepper flakes, lower the heat, cover, and cook until the vegetables are sweet and juicy but not browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Check, stirring occasionally, and add 1 tablespoon water if the vegetables appear dry.
Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the olive oil turns reddish orange, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the stock or water, orange zest, and sage and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and discard the orange zest and sage. Puree the soup with an immersion blender (or working in batches, in a regular blender or a food processor) until smooth. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a saucepan and reheat before serving.
For the Crostini:
Preheat the oven to 400°.
In a small bowl, use a fork to beat together the goat cheese, olive oil, thyme, lemon zest, and a few grinds of black pepper until smooth.
Slice the baguette on the bias into four to six 1/3-inch-thick slices that are 2 to 3 inches long. Lay the slices in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
Rub the toasts with the garlic halves and spread with the goat cheese mixture.
Pour the soup into four bowls and float a crostini on each. Sprinkle with the chopped chives or parsley and serve immediately.
-Peter Berley, The Flexitarian Table
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|Cooking with Pumpkins|
Dec 30th, 2007
Following up on my last post on single ingredient cookbooks, I raided another book in my collection for Thanksgiving dinner - this one on pumpkins. (And yes I realize I'm posting this over a month late, insert the latest "I've been busy" excuse here).
Putting together a Thanksgiving menu for my family is increasingly difficult as the diets and food intolerances pile up (currently we've got low-carb, no beef, lactose intolerant, and a tomato aversion ~ oh and two picky kids who pretty much exist on carbs and lactose), and this baked pumpkin recipe was technically off-limits as it includes mascarpone cheese. But as soon as I saw it I knew I had to make it. How can you resist a recipe that is baked in a whole pumpkin and includes pancetta and cheese? I don't know about you but I simply can't (resist that is). My lactose-intolerant brother will just have to drool and eat the mashed potatoes that the carb-a-phobes can't eat.
You'll need four 1-lb sugar pumpkins or two 2-lb'ers for this recipe. A one pound pumpkin is very small and can be served as an individual portion. It can be hard to find them that small except around Halloween though, so larger pumpkins can be shared between diners. If you can find the little ones though, how cute is that to serve individual tiny baked pumpkins oozing with cheese and herbs? (Cute is the answer by the way, super cute).
Baked Pumpkin with Mascarpone & Sage4 small pumpkins, each about 1 lb
6 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped pancetta or smoked bacon
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped sage
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
5 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Cut a thin slice off the top of each pumpkin. Scoop out the seeds and fibers. Place the pumpkins in a roasting pan, putting the tops, flesh side up, next to the whole shells. Brush the inside of the pumpkins and the lids with 4 tbsp of the oil and season with salt and plenty of black pepper. Bake in a preheated oven at 425°F for 20 minutes until softened and beginning to brown.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil and fry the pancetta or bacon until crisp and golden. Add the garlic, tomatoes, and sage and cook for 2 minutes.
Pile the mixture into the pumpkin shells. Spoon on the mascarpone and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for a further 20 minutes. Serve hot.
-Hamlyn, The Pumpkin Cookbook
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