Saturday, September 30, 2006

What's In Your Chicken?

We all have fond memories of sliced roast chicken, that marvelous comfort food that speaks of home and hearth, childhood and Sunday dinners at grandma's house. When I was a kid, the chickens that appeared on our table had been running around in the backyard a few hours earlier. I helped to feed and water them, though looking back, at five and six years old, I was probably more hindrance than help traipsing around behind my Dad. We've moved into the 21st century, and I don't personally know anyone with chickens in his backyard. Do you?

Have Some Drugs with Your Chicken -- No Prescription Needed

Chicken growers and processors have moved into the 21st century, too. With the cautions about eating too much red meat, it quickly became a challenge to meet the demand for chicken and turkey. It was necessary to develop new methods to raise more chickens faster. Today's fowl are dosed with antibotics to fight the diseases that arise primarily because of their crowded living conditions, have you seen what a modern chicken farm looks like? Hormones and growth stimulants are part of their diet to speed up the time it takes to get them big enough to get to market sooner and pesticides are another necessary evil as a result of the cruel and unusual living conditions that are standard in chicken raising today. Then to provide a little flavor and to plump up those breasts, (big breasts --an American fetish) they're injected with salt and water, labeled as natural additives. All of these things that the chicken ingests become a part of its cells -- a part of its flesh -- a part of your chicken dinner.

The succulent, juicy chicken breast pictured above is from a chicken that was raised without antibiotics, growth stimulants, hormones or pesticides. And guess what? It tastes like the chicken I had as a child. Wonderful.

It's a chicken breast from Murray's Chicken, raised in a natural environment in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. For the past 12 years Murray's has been raising chickens in a natural environment. They were the first enterprise to earn certification for humane raising and handling of chickens. Murray's provides chicken to many posh and popular restaurants around the country and their natural products are available in many supermarkets. Find one near you.

I like to cook up a Murray's chicken breast to have on hand for a sandwich or to top off a romaine and onion salad with a little blue cheese dressing.

This chicken breast was dusted with Adobo seasoning (onion, garlic, black pepper, Mexican oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper) from Penzey's. Sautéed in a tablespoon of EVOO in a hot pan for 3 - 4 minutes then transferred into a preheated 400­­° oven for twenty minutes. Rest before slicing if serving immediately, or wrap in foil and refrigerate until needed. Enjoy this great tasting piece of chicken or one of Murray's whole chickens knowing you are not eating pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, growth stimulants and other additives that Mother Nature never intended to be in a chicken. Eat well, it's your health's lifeline.

'till next time . . . keep on cooking.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Sweet and Sour

A simple sauce, a few veggies, a little chicken and presto - a lower calorie version of a take-out favorite, Sweet & Sour Chicken. Easier still, if you prep the veggies ahead. Measure out the wet ingredients while the chicken browns, then toss it all together for a few minutes to marry the flavors. Serve over heavenly scented Jasmine rice and you've a real culinary treat.

Stir fry meals are an easy way to get those nine servings of fruits and veggies into your daily diet. One pot cooking makes clean-up easy, too. A wok is great for a meal like this, but a large sauté pan works equally well. This is another of those 30 minute meals I love to whip up at the end of a busy day. The rice takes 17 minutes to cook and depending on how many veggies you choose to include, the stir fry will take about 10 - 12 minutes. Prepping the veggies, if not done ahead, will probably take another 5 minutes. Be sure to pour a glass of wine to sip while you prep and stir adds immeasurably to the success of the dish.

Heart of the Matter*: Choosing the ingredients becomes a matter of taste, what's on hand and which veggies you prefer. I used a $2 package of chicken tenders, cut in bite sized pieces; one red bell pepper, in bite sized pieces; half a vidalia onion, sliced in wedges; one jalepeno pepper, diced; a clove of garlic, minced; a handful of broccoli flowerets and 3/4 cup pineapple tidbits. Increase quantities based on how many you want to serve. The above ingredients would easily serve two with leftovers.

* Apologies to Graham Greene

Sauce: Whisk together 1/2 cup pineapple juice (from drained pieces); 1/4 cup chicken broth; 3 TBS soy sauce; 3 TBS rice wine vinegar; 3 TBS brown sugar; 3 tsp cornstarch.

Execution: Heat 2 TBS EVOO in large skillet or wok, add chicken pieces and cook undisturbed for 2 minutes. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until no longer pink and just starting to brown. Remove chicken to plate. Add another tablespoon of olive oil and start sauteeing the veggies. Start with the onion pieces, stir fry for a minute or two, add red pepper and garlic, stir fry another couple of minutes then add broccoli. Continue to stir and fry for another minute. Add chicken pieces back to pan with liquid ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender crisp, another 4 to 5 minutes. Serve over choice of rice.

Don't let the marketing efforts of the food industry convince you that the convenience of prepared foods is the modern way to eat. Since WWII, when food processors developed the means to package meals for our fighting men on land, sea and air, the American public has been sold a bill of goods that faster is better; processed is modern; pre-packaged, frozen, dehydrated, prepared foods are more convenient.

"All because once the technology was established and the factories up and running, they needed to keep right on canning, freezing, dehydrating food as if the nation's life depended on it. The industry had to persuade millions of Americans to develop a lasting taste for meals that were a lot like field rations." Laura Shapiro, Something From the Oven: reinventing dinner in 1950s America

The industry's task then became to convince the American public that 'from scratch' was passé, old-fashioned, not 'with it'. Over time they succeeded. Don't miss out on the pleasure of eating real food, prepared with care. Don't short change your system by neglecting the nutrition derived from whole foods and don't miss out on the joy of cooking. It's an act of love.

'till next time . . . keep on cooking.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Glorious Green Bean

We all know that fresh fruit and veggies are a major part of a recommended healthy diet. More and more studies are adding some very interesting foods to the list that are proving to be beneficial in lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and offering a way to cut the risk of heart attacks dramatically. Among these super foods are almonds, dark chocolate and red wine.

The ambitious (read greedy) pharmaceutical industry came up with an innovative wonder drug back in 2003 intended to be a preventive drug. Dubbed the "polypill", it's a combination of six various drugs, including aspirin,folic acid and cholesterol lowering drugs and blood pressure drugs. All wrapped up in one neat little package.

"Polypill" (fictional depiction)


"Polymeal" (real food)

Green beans with onions and almonds; Bay scallops, Tomato with blue cheese dressing

It comes as no surprise, researchers found that eating a polymeal would achieve roughly the same effect. Remember, Hippocrates admonished, "our food should be our medicine and our medicine our food." He wasn't talking through his three cornered hat. Meals of fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, garlic, almonds, dark chocolate and wine are perfect medicine to lower cholesterol and high blood pressure and cut heart disease by a whopping 76%. Just think if you added daily exercise to this formula!

Well, that's my consumer advocate message for this week! Eat well, you deserve to be in health (the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit; freedom from physical disease or pain). You're either healthy or unhealthy. Good health is a redundant expression and bad health is an oxymoron. Have a polymeal soon and often. Get out for a walk and don't forget almonds, dark chocolate and a glass of wine.

P.S. I picked up a couple of interesting, very reasonable, red wines this week at Tim's Wine Market. Check out Tim's selections, sign up for his newsletter, don't miss out on his fabulous finds.


Book Nook

Gobbled up Tess Gerritsen's new novel, The Mephisto Club. Good fast read. Dan Brown surely started an interesting trend. Everyone's getting on the dark historical data, religious symbolism, obscure books of the bible bandwagon. Gerritsen combines extensive research into satanic practices and ancient gospels with her first hand medical knowledge to produce a tense psychological drama peopled with characters we've come to know from previous volumes. Solid writing and good plotting makes this a 'can't put down' offering.

'Til next time . . . keep on cooking!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Oh, That Sweet Tooth!
Man cannot live by bread alone - he must have sweets, too! Yeah, I know all about the deadly whites and the negative effects of sugar, but let's face it, every now and then the spirit yearns for dessert!
For years, I've disciplined myself not to buy sweets or junk food when I shop. Most times when the urge for sweets rears its seductive head, there's nothing in the house to lead me into temptation. But every now and then, I succumb to the urge and bake a goodie or two.
I rarely am tempted to buy anything at the market, as not only are store-bought sweets outrageously expensive, but most supermarket baked goods are tasteless non-entities filled with chemicals, artificial flavors and colorings along with hydrogenated oils. It's no wonder they're tasteless.
At least when I bake at home, I'm able to maintain control over what goes into the dish. The following are not considered health foods, just in case you were expecting a tofu/whole wheat/carob wonder bar. These are favorite desserts, easy to make, and sure to please the panting penchant for pastry.

The very first 9" pie plate I bought had a little peel off label inside with a picture and recipe for cheesecake. I've been making the same recipe ever since -- over 40 years. It's easy, quick, foolproof and outrageously rich and creamy with just a slight zing. The plain cheesecake pictured above can also be enhanced with a cherry or blueberry topping. Turned into a holiday favorite with the addition of pumpkin or elevated to a decadent plateau with the addition of a liquor --Amaretto, Frangelico or my favorite, Grand Marnier. Baking them in a bain marie (water bath) ensures a smooth, crack-free top as well as a moist, creamy filling. The little 4" springform pans, pictured above, are perfect for singles. Eat one now, freeze the others. The following recipe is for a 9 inch springform pan, providing 10 - 12 servings.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted; 3 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs; 2 lbs cream cheese (4 8oz packages); 1 1/4 cups sugar; 4 large eggs; 1 teaspoon lemon zest, minced; 2 teaspoons vanilla; 1/4 cup heavy cream; 1/4 cup sour cream. Bake on middle rack of oven at 325° for approximately 55 to 60 minutes.

Brush melted butter over sides and bottom of springform pan. Sprinkle graham crumbs over, tilting pan to coat evenly. Cover pan underneath and up sides with aluminum foil to prevent leakage. Set in large baking pan and bring kettle of water to a boil for water bath.

Meanwhile, beat cream cheese until smooth. Gradually add sugar and beat on medium speed until sugar dissolves. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated, scraping down bowl after each addition. Add zest and vanilla -- beat until just incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Set roasting pan on oven rack and pour in enough boiling water to come about halfway up side of springform pan. Bake until perimeter of cake is set, but center jiggles like Jell-O when pan is tapped, 55 - 60 minutes.

Turn off heat and leave oven door ajar, using a long handled fork or spoon to hold it open for one hour longer. Remove pan from water bath and set on wire rack; cool to room temperature. Then cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours.

Apple Crumble

"Nothing says lovin' like something from the oven."

A La Mode

With fall in the air -- somewhere, it's apple picking time. Maybe not in Florida but in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York and Michigan, to name just a few of the apple growing states,orchards are flush with ripe fruit. Families pile into cars on weekends to head for the U Pick 'Em sites, filling baskets, boxes and bags with that biblically notorious fruit -- the apple.

Pies are great but for many, making and rolling pie crusts is not only time consuming and intimidating but pie crusts are a bit high on the caloric scale. A flaky crust is the product of a good amount of shortening! Crisps and crumbles are quick and easy to make, while still delivering that soul satisfying sensation of a hot homemade apple treat.

The crumble above was made with 6 Gala apples and a handful of raisins, baked in a 350° oven for 30 minutes. Design your own signature apple crumble with the addition of nuts, and other dried fruit instead of raisins. Dried apricots, dried cranberries, dried cherries are all good options. Raisins happened to be all I had on hand the other day when I baked this crumble. No additions are really necessary; the apples can stand on their own. Dried fruits and nuts add an element of surprise as well as a little extra nutrition.

Filling: Peel, core and dice about 5 cups of apples. In a large bowl mix the apples with 3/4 cup dried fruit of choice and 1/2 cup of broken nut pieces. (Walnuts or pecans are nice) 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 1/3 cup of sugar.

Topping: 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, working them together until crumbly and well mixed. Or using a food processor, pulse until crumbly.

Heat the oven to 400°. Spoon the apple mixture into a 6 cup baking dish and sprinkle the crumble mixture on top. Place the dish on a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes or until the apples are tender when pierced with a knife and the topping is brown and crusty. Best served lukewarm. Wonderful with ice cream, whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Florida State Pie - It's Official!

Key Lime Pie in Poor Lighting

I was so relieved to read earlier this summer that the state legislature had reached a unanimous decision to make Key Lime pie the official state pie. Knowing our representatives are so hard at work enacting such crucial legislation on our behalf, lets us all sleep better, doesn't it?

I've made many a lemon meringue pie in my life, but I'd never made a lime pie. Spurred on by the thorough research and development of cooking teacher and author, Stephen Schmidt on behalf of Cook's Illustrated (April 1997), I couldn't pass up the temptation to whisk up the State pie, particularly since it only involved three ingredients: limes, eggs and condensed milk.

Make, or heaven forbid, buy a 9" graham cracker crust and bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes in a 325° oven, remove to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Leave oven on.

Filling: 4 teaspoons grated lime zest plus 1/2 cup strained lime juice (3 or 4 limes); 4 large egg yolks;1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz). Whisk zest and yolks in medium bowl until tinted light green. Beat in milk, then juice; set aside at room temperature to thicken. Pour lime filling into cooled crust and bake until center is set yet wiggly when jiggled. (15-17 minutes). Place pie on wire rack to cool to room temperature then refrigerate until well cooled.

Dollops of whipped cream can be added to the pie at serving time or added decoratively, using a pastry bag, as in the image above. Sweet, addictive and official!


Book Nook

Minnette Walters - The Devil's Feather

Walters brings us her 12th psychological thriller set firmly in the 21st century and our present engagement in the middle east, interweaving themes of abuse, rape and the elements of freedom. A quick, easy read.

Jane Gardam - Old Filth

The New York Times Book Review said, "Splendid . . . Jane Gardam's style is perfect." I couldn't agree more. This is an amazing depiction of an era and a main character that will stay with you long after the last page has been turned. I heartily encourage you to make this a must read. It won't disappoint.

"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." - Ray Bradbury

'Til next time . . . keep on cooking!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Cook Like A Pro
Be Organized
Madhur Jaffrey was in two films I watched recently. In Prime, she played Meryl Streep's analyst, a minor, yet charming role. In ABCD, she had the starring role. Ms Jaffrey portrayed a concerned mother, trying to instill Indian traditions within her American born children. Engrossed in the film, my taste-memory sped into high gear. As she prepared her daughter's favorite dish, samosas, my mouth began to water for the exotic flavors and spicy bite of Indian cooking.
It was probably at least 10 years ago that I went on an Indian food kick. Bought Madhur Jaffrey's book on Indian cooking and frequented little out of the way markets to purchase authentic Indian spices . Following the sage advice of Indian cooks I met and experimenting with recipes from Jaffrey's book, the house became redolent with spicy aromas from toasting seeds, crushed spices, fresh cilantro and hard to find curry leaves.
I had such great fun making chapatis on the gas stove. . . removing the cooked flat bread from the griddle and placing it directly on the gas flame for a couple of seconds, watching it puff up, golden and hot, just waiting for a liberal brushing of melted, clarified butter (ghee). Simply amazing to have such a satisfying, tasty staple made from nothing more than whole wheat flour and water.
Mise - en - place
One kitchen procedure that Madhur Jaffrey emphasizes is to prepare and measure all the ingredients before starting the actual cooking. This is true for all cooking, not just Indian. Mise-en-place [MEEZ-anh-plahs], a French term meaning "everything in its place", is standard practice in a professional kitchen. Prep the aromatics, measure the spices, mince the herbs, measure any liquids -- have all necessary ingredients for a dish, prepared and ready to go before you start cooking. Tip: Use a pastry brush to sweep seeds and spices into recipe.
Clockwise: salt,garam masala,cumin, black pepper, cayenne

Clockwise:onions, cilantro, grated ginger, green chili

The filling for samosas is simply potatoes and peas prepared with spices, aromatics and lemon juice. The filling can easily be served as a tasty side dish with chicken breast or chops and is a lively accompaniment for a bland fish fillet. But the spiced potato/pea mixture shines as the filling for a fabulous finger food.

Check the archives. The August 6th posting contains instructions for making the pastry dough for little turnovers (meat patties). Samosas are normally deep fried and eaten as snacks or appetizers, usually accompanied by fresh coriander chutney. They are equally good and less artery clogging baked.

Samosa Filling

4 medium potatoes, boiled and cooled, 1 medium onion, finely chopped, 1 cup of peas, if frozen, defrost first. 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I use olive oil) 1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger, 1 fresh green chili, finely chopped, 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 3 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

While potatoes are boiling, dice remainder of vegetables and herbs, measure spices, squeeze lemon juice. When potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut in 1/4" dice. Heat 4 tbs vegetable or olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. When hot, add oinon, stir and fry until brown at the edges. Add the peas, ginger, green chili, cilantro and 3 tablespoons of water. Cover, lower heat and simmer until peas are cooked. Stir every now and then and add a little more water if the mixture seems to dry out. Then add the diced potatoes with the remainder or the spices and the lemon juice. Stir to mix. Cook on low heat for 3 - 4 minutes. Taste for seasoning adding more salt and/or lemon juice, if needed. Allow to cool if using for samosa stuffing.

The samosas freeze nicely, either pre-baked in a 350° oven until nicely browned (25 - 30 minutes) or freeze them unbaked to cook when needed. Nice item to have on hand when guests drop in.



Don't miss this !

Sara Gruen - Water For Elephants

"A home without books is like a body without a soul" - Cicero

'Till next time . . . keep on cooking!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I'm Monte Christo. I've been saved.

How can I explain what it's like to wake up in an animal shelter? The frightening confusion. Nothing is familiar. The metal kennel, the strange smells, the constant racket. The fear, so deep in your bones, your whole body just shakes. And the noise, the never ending noise. All the other dogs barking for their owners, barking to be let out, barking for attention, barking for help, barking, barking, barking. It's so loud; it just doesn't stop. I'm so scared.

I guess the humans in this place are okay. No one's hit me or yelled at me but I don't know them. They don't smell familiar. They don't sound right and I rarely see the same face twice. A nice man rubbed my head when he put some food and water in my cage, but then off he went, and I didn't see him again. What's going on? What's happening? Why am I here? What did I do? I'm so scared.

A tall lady showed up, opened my kennel door and picked me up. She speaks softly and smells like dog, that's nice. But where are we going? Oh, no! A bath. What's that noise? Oh, no! Clippers. What is she doing to me? All my fur is being shaved off. I can't stop shaking. She tells the guy who is holding me that I'm too matted to brush out. I don't know what matted is - how did I get matted? Is that why I'm here? I'm so scared.

Now they're taking me somewhere else. . .here's another lady, but wait, oh, no! A shot. She's giving me a shot and another one. Ouch! Ouch! Now what are they doing to me? She keeps telling me to be good. I'm good. How would she like to be prodded, poked, shaved and all alone? I'm good but I'm so scared.

Here comes someone else. She's smiling at me, saying something that's supposed to make me feel good, I guess. But I don't know her. Why is she putting this thing around my neck? Now she's picking me up and we're going out the door. This lady says she's from the Coastal Poodle Rescue Group and she's come to take me to a foster home but first we have to go to another vet. We take a long ride. I can't stop shaking. I'm so scared.

More strange smells, more peeking, poking, prodding. They say I have to come back for surgery in a couple of days. Whatever that is. Can't be good. Another ride in a car with another lady. This one keeps talking to me and rubbing my head as we ride and I keep shaking. Now we're at my foster home and there's another poodle here. I like him, he's nice, he doesn't bark at me. It's quiet here, the food is good and the bed is soft. I'm still scared but I'm so tired. I think I'll take a nap with my new friend.

Gilly watches over Monte while he catches forty winks.

A Central Florida animal shelter called the Coastal Poodle Rescue Group, who in turn sent out an emergency SOS email asking for three volunteers to open their homes for three abandoned poodles who would be euthanized the next day if not picked up. Monte Christo was one of them.

For many innocent, loving, deserving pets, there is no rescue in sight.

The headline in the Orlando Sentinel's Local section on August 28th read: Too many pets, too few homes. with the subtitle: Unwanted animals overwhelm shelters. The article with accompanying statistics, more than 100,000 impounded animals last year, is a frightening testament to the severity of the problem.

Most animal rescue groups, are non-profit, run and manned by volunteers.
Rescued animals are brought for health checks, treated for ailments, spayed or neutered and placed in foster homes awaiting adoption. But based on the figures published for Central Florida last year, only 25% of the impounded animals were reclaimed by their owner or adopted. 61% were euthanized.

Fortunately this time, a phone call was made, a volunteer stepped forward, and Monte Christo lives to see a full life in the loving home of his new adopted family. But how many deserving animals will never have that chance? I'm not asking you to think about what you can do. I'm asking you to decide what you will do.

Will you talk to people about adopting a rescued dog? Will you distribute flyers? Will you talk about the importance of spaying/neutering to dog owners you know? Will you donate some money to help with the vet bills? Will you drive a dog to the vet? Will you transport a rescued dog to a foster home out of town? Will you foster a rescued dog for a week or a month? Will you adopt a rescued dog? Will you think about the frightening numbers just here in Central Florida last year:
Impounded: 107,865
Reclaimed: 9,685
Adopted: 17,609
Euthanized: 80,571
What Will You Do?
We all can do something to help alleviate the problem. Please ask yourself, what WILL you do. Every donated hour, every donated dollar makes a big difference in some dog's life. Will you help?
Check out our website: email or give us a call.
Don't Miss Out on Macy's Charity Day
Get your Macy's Charity Day discount tickets soon. Sale day is 9/16/06 at every Macy's nationwide. Buy a $5 ticket and receive a 20% discount on all purchases on 9/16 (10% on large ticket items).
CPR receives the entire five dollars from each ticket sold.
Help us while you save money!
• How easy is that?
• Call me!
$Thanks for your help$

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Versatile Fruit We Call A Vegetable
This is the time of year when tomatoes are often eaten as apples. . . picked ripe from the vine, warmed by the noonday sun, the fragrant spray as tooth meets flesh and then the trickle of succulent juices that can't be contained, but run pell mell over hand and wrist, as we quickly chew and swallow lest we lose a precious bite. The simple pleasure of eating a fresh tomato!
Roasted Cauliflower with Oven-Dried Tomatoes
But we can only eat so many fresh from the vine and when they're ripe we have to put them to good use quickly. This week, from my abundance, I've enjoyed tomatoes, in some form, at just about every meal.
Pieces of oven roasted tomatoes tucked in with cauliflower florets roasted with a sprinkling of allepo pepper one night.
Another day, fresh corn sauteed with a little shallot and thyme then topped with a fresh tomato salad, dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt and pepper and a sprinkling of lemon zest tossed on at serving time. This simple salad can be an impressive entree by topping it off with cold shrimp or lobster pieces, but it's fine on its own as a simple luncheon salad or a side dish for dinner.
Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad
Corn and Tomato Salad
(serves 4 as a side dish)
1 chopped shallot
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or pinch of dried (crushed)
2 cups fresh corn kernels (3 - 4 ears)
4 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into eighths
Freshly squeezed lemon juice as needed
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, then add shallot and garlic. Cook stirring occasionally until soft. Add thyme and corn and cook, stirring occasionally until corn begins to brown and tastes cooked - about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss tomatoes with 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper, taste and adjust seasoning.
Make a bed of corn on each plate, then top with a portion of tomatoes and their juices. Sprinkle with a little more lemon juice and the grated zest.
Homemade Tomato Soup
I'm a big fan of tomato soup. For years I kept a couple of cans of Campbell's on hand for those times when I felt under the weather or just didn't know what to eat. My tomato soup choices have matured along with the rest of me. Wolfgang Puck has a canned organic tomato basil soup on the supermarket shelves that is quite nice. But very pricey. Making a pot of homemade tomato soup isn't hard nor time consuming and even when fresh tomatoes are not in abundance, Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes make a fine substitute. I actually supplemented my meager reserve of oven roasted fresh tomatoes with a can of them today. Combined with a little mirepoix, a cup of chicken broth, some butter and cream, I had a great thick soup, ready to eat in a little over 30 minutes.
Homemade Tomato Soup
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 TBS butter
1/2 cup half and half (optional)
Heat EVOO over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Add mirepoix and minced garlic, salt and pepper, cook until softened, but not browned (10 min). Add tomatoes with juice, chicken broth, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender. About 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree with a hand held immersion blender until as smooth as you like it (I keep it a little chunky). Return to burner, add cream and heat to serving temperature - do not boil. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.
Book Nook
Found a little time to enjoy some new fiction this past week, all easy to recommend for a few hours of sheer entertainment.
Elizabeth Cox - The Slow Moon
Robert B. Parker - Sea Change
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
"Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours." - John Locke
'Til next time . . . Keep On Cooking!