Thursday, September 13, 2012

What to do with all those Summer Tomatoes

I was gifted recently with quite a few heirloom tomatoes. Now I dearly love heirloom tomatoes after having success growing them the past couple of years. This year I didn't get them planted and have missed dearly having them at my disposable. When I received this wonderful gift of many different heirloom tomatoes I remembered going  to one of my most favorite blogs, Once Upon a Plate. Mari had also been gifted with some heirloom tomatoes and had done a post of a soup she had prepared for Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup. An Ina Garten recipe that Mari had tweaked to her own liking but it sounded delicious and when I received this fabulous gift it immediately brought to mind Mari's blog post. Now I have all of Ina Garten's cookbooks but had never prepared this recipe. What was I thinking?????

Here's what you do with wonderful and tasty Heirloom Tomato's besides making a Caprese Salad which is also delicious but this soup is quite honestly amazing. Now this soup can be made with any tomatoes but I think that the taste of Heirloom Tomatoes are so much more flavorful. Just my opinion???

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup
serves 5 or 6

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup heavy cream
Julienned fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Parmesan Toasts (recipe follows) or croutons

Heat the olive oil in a large. heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute' for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that's left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or Parmesan toasts.

Parmesan toasts

1 French Baguette
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Slice the baguette diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Make as many slices as you like to serve with the soup.

Place the slices on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sprinkle a thick layer of grated Parmesan on the toasts and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the toasts are lightly browned. Cool to room temperature.

Now I didn't make the Parmesan toasts for my garnish but I will the next time I prepare this delicious soup.

I think it is always important when preparing a recipe to gather all your ingredients and prep each ingredient before beginning.

These tomatoes looked and smelled soooooooo yummy as they were cooking.

Pared with my homemade Pimento Cheese sandwiches it made for a simple dinner for two.
I took Mari's lead on this and since I had it in my herb garden I did add some thyme to the recipe. And since I was serving the soup with a sandwich I chose to top the soup with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of Black Truffle Oil instead of the Parmesan Toasts or croutons as Ina suggests. The Black Truffle Oil put this soup over the top IMO.
If you have access to some Heirloom Tomatoes I highly recommend this recipe. It is quite simply delicious.

It's Friday and time for Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollum. Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again. If you try this recipe you won't be disappointed.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Farmer's Market Frittata

I often peruse my collection of cookbooks to prepare my grocery list for the week. Often I am looking for quick, easy but yet delicious recipes for dinner when I have had an unusually busy day. This recipe was just what I was looking for and it comes form one of my favorite cookbooks, Farm to Fork, cooking local, cooking fresh by Emeril Lagasse.

This frittata can be served for breakfast, brunch, lunch or even a lighter dinner. It is simply delicious using the freshest of ingredients. Substitutes of course, can be made cup for cup depending on your personal preference but this recipe will not disappoint. This time of year we have a wealth of fresh vegetables so why not use them but in different ways.

You will need a pan that can go from cook top to oven and in this case I used my trusty cast iron pan.

Farmer's Market Frittata
Farm to Fork by Emeril Lagassee

8 eggs
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 cup thinly sliced yellow, red, or orange bell peppers, or a mix
1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms (about 4 ounces)
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1 cup diced smoked ham
2 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs, such as chives, basil, thyme, parsley, oregano, or your favorite mixture
1 cup grated Swiss cheese (about 4 ounces)

Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the broiler.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper together until combined.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch oven proof saute' pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook, stirring as needed, until soft, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and corn and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ham and cook until warmed through, 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and when it has melted, add the egg mixture. Sprinkle the fresh herbs over the eggs, and top with the grated cheese. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the eggs, undisturbed, for 3 minutes, or until the surface begins to bubble and the bottom starts to set.

Immediately place the saute' pan in the oven and broil until golden brown on top, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Using a rubber spatula, loosen the frittata from the sides of the pan. Tilt the pan and gently slide the frittata onto a platter. Serve hot or warm.

Serves 6

My Notes: I used baby portobello mushrooms because I think they have more flavor and I also used a good imported Gruyere cheese.


The fresh herbs are essential to this dish and if you don't have an herb garden grow them in pots. Herbs make even the most mundane recipe just pop with flavor. With this frittata I used Sage, Thyme, and Basil.

This dish is just loaded with deliciousness and pared with a simple side salad it makes for a light but yet satisfying dinner.
I am linking this post to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Transformed Vignette

A couple of weeks ago while at one of my favorite local gift shops I spied some most unusual wall sconces. Upon asking about them I discovered that an artist who uses items from demolished houses made these. I thought to myself, "How cool is that?" Definitely recycling. They of course, were very tall and these had been made from old stair spindles just randomly put together. I went home without buying them and looked around my house to find a place to put them. I REALLY didn't NEED another pair of sconces but these were so unusual and their size make such a statement, IMO. Do you ever see something that just speaks to you and you know that you must have somewhere you can put them? Happens to me all the time and I think that is one of the things that makes life more interesting, for me anyway.

My new wall sconces in our most used space in our home, the family room.

Here is what I had there before, brass sconces that had belonged to my mother. Of course, they have sentimental value and I will find another place to put them but they seemed lost on this wall.

The new sconces just seemed to work so much better. The buffet is an antique oak piece that I bought many years ago. The spiderweb back chairs I saw in one of the Southern Living homes that was a Show House in our area and just loved those chairs with their leopard seats. The lamp is fairly new with it's textured base and burlap shade and the pillows I had made recently. The pillows are burlap on the front with a burlap colored and black cording, the back is black and of course, the unusual monogram is black. When I saw some similar pillows I knew immediately they were just screaming to be placed on my leopard chairs.

The new sconces were just the statement I was looking for to complete this vignette. Now the tabletop things may change soon with some Fall things and I have already ordered some Fall gold candles for this room. For now I am enjoying my new sconces and everyone who walks through my back door notice them right away. They are making quite the conversation piece.

I had to move some things around especially since the vase of roses were too tall for the vignette after putting up the sconces and I was able to move the sconces out a good bit but I am very pleased with how this vignette came together. I don't think I mentioned the portrait in the middle, a portrait of my grown kidlets and obviously a very cherished portrait.

Today I am linking my post to Marty's blogging party at A Stroll Through Life, Tabletop Tuesday.