Archive for September, 2012

Tomatoes. Love ’em. Can’t get enough.

September 28, 2012 Comments off

I often say that I could eat my weight in tomatoes. This time of year I do. In recent years, heirloom tomatoes have found their way to our table. I wait with great anticipation every year to see them pop up at the farmers market, and I always hope that Indian summer will ensure us being able to enjoy them well into the fall. The small cherry and teardrop varieties I keep in a bowl on the counter, and pop them into my mouth as though they were candy. To me they are.  I am a purist when it comes to certain things. Tomatoes are one of those things. The most I will do to a good tomato is put it in a Caprese salad. To me, that means just the tomatoes, some fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, some Kosher salt, and a drizzle of a very good extra virgin olive oil. No garlic. No lemon. No balsamic. I want to taste the tomatoes. For every piece of tomato that makes it into the bowl for the Caprese salad, one makes it into my mouth. It just happens. We judge how many tomatoes to buy each Saturday, by how far into the week the tomatoes made it the week before.

Last year we discovered that many farmers sell their #2 tomatoes, or what they call grade “B” tomatoes at very reasonable prices. They may have a soft spot, a split, or something that might keep them from being picture perfect. I started using these orphaned tomatoes to make a wonderful tomato soup. I looked through many recipes, and decided to make my own variation. I sautéed chopped carrots and onions in olive oil, added a bit of chopped garlic, and then the tomatoes that I had chopped up, skin, seeds, and all. I also added a handful of chopped basil. I had chicken stock ready to add to the pot, as well as a Foley Food Mill waiting nearby to get rid of the skins and seeds. After the tomatoes had simmered for a while, I decided to give our immersion blender a try. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the seeds and skin all but disappeared. The soup was wonderful. It actually tasted like tomatoes. How novel… tomato soup that tastes like tomatoes.  I did not add any broth. Why would I want to “water down” the tomatoes? I did add a bit of tomato paste to thicken up the soup, and add a bit of richness. Instead of stirring cream into the soup, I drizzled some on the top of each bowl, and used a knife to make a pretty pattern. Elegant to look at, and wonderful to eat.


Homemade Ice Cream. Really?

September 27, 2012 Comments off


Black Coffee Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of those things that I never thought I would make myself.  I figured that there are so many good ice creams out there, I would use the time I had for cooking  to make other things.  Last year, I started to pay attention to the homemade ice creams that our dear friend Ralph always makes to go with desserts that grace the table for Thanksgiving dinner. Last year, I helped Ralph make the ice creams. And then I borrowed his ice cream machine. And then I started making ice cream. And then I was hooked. And then… yeah, we bought an ice cream maker. The first ice cream that we made was Swiss Orange Chip, a custard-based ice cream.  You can read about that ice cream here.

Then, thanks to Leite’s Culinaria, we were introduced to Jeni Britton Bauer. Her ice cream recipes use a cornstarch slurry as well as cream cheese in place of the egg custard. We tried the Black Coffee Ice Cream, and were sold on Jeni’s method. I don’t need a chicken in every pot, but lately I need a container of this ice cream in our freezer. Every day. You can find the recipe for this wonderful ice cream at Leite’s site here.   Right now, I gotta go make some more.

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