I live to eat and love to cook. Welcome to my life!

December 28, 2009

A bit of Summer in the heart of Winter

Sometime in the latter part of summer when the last of the heirloom tomatoes were giving themselves to us one at a time so stubbornly (did anyone else have a bad tomato year?) I came across a few plants on the first tier of my Dad's ranch that were overflowing with golf ball sized cherry tomatoes. They didn't have the sweet tart "pop" of the sweet 100's that we prefer for salads and eating raw, but were more mild and filled to bursting with seeds and juice.

Never one to waste something like this, I set out to fill two 5 gallon buckets and a large bowl with these little gems and tried to figure out how I could somehow easily preserve them so that somehow I could have fresh tomatoes somewhere down the line when the farmers market doesn't yield them and the supermarket tomatoes are tasteless fleshy blobs.

So I stemmed them and soaked them. Triple washed them and went through them to get rid of any blemished, squishy or not quite ripe ones. Sorted out the bugs and picked off the last of the tops and proceeded to cook them down, batch by batch.

And there were a LOT of batches.

Then I strained out the seeds from a couple of batches.

But there were a LOT of seeds!

So I got a little lazy and cooked them down a bit and mom helped me pack them up in 1 quart Ziploc bags that we froze and split between us. In reality, she actually packed them up because by the time they were cool, I was in my bed a few miles down the road.

Since then I have used a bag or two for spaghetti sauce, but tonight decided that I wanted something so comforting that I think every American child has it imprinted on their brain as one of the top 10 comfort foods of all time.

Tomato Soup served with......

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches! (you knew that was coming!)

Currently suffering from a head cold, allergies and an earache I decided about mid day that this was exactly what my inner child was crying for.

So here I am in my kitchen enjoying a few of my Christmas presents and making a nice batch of Tomato Bisque to go with grilled cheese sammiches. :)

New bamboo cutting board made by my sweetie....that gets stored so nicely in it's custom made rack. How awesome is he? If you are in the market, I can put in a good word to Santa or St. Valentine or the birthday fairy.

Shiny red Dutch oven with which to make all kinds of delicious meals. Isn't it nice that we are so color coordinated for our maiden voyage in the Dutch oven???

Fuzzy red Mary Jane slippers with sparkles to slog around on my cold tile floors (they had to match the Dutch oven, ya know?) . You know you think they are sexy....

And a new laptop with which to type my blog from right in my kitchen instead of schlepping my lazy ass upstairs to type on the old desktop. :)

Christmas was unexpectedly great, this year in general was pretty awesome. Hope yours was just as blessed.

Tomato Bisque

1 quart tomatoes in juice-you can use canned if you have to!
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled & diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2 large cloves of garlic, diced
1 bay leaf
1 T sugar

Bring all ingredients above to a simmer in a soup pot for about an hour or until carrots are tender. Strain through a sieve remove bay leaf and smash as much of the vegetable through as you can. Return to soup pot.

2 T butter
2 T flour

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add the flour, stir and cook for just a few minutes. Add to soup pot and whisk over low heat until incorporated and the soup starts to thicken a bit.

1 C Milk (whole milk or cream, no low fat stuff as it will curdle)

Scald milk and add to the soup. Season with S&P as needed.

If you are looking to step outside the box, you can flavor this with any number of herbs or spices including the traditional Italian basil, oregano and rosemary. You can garnish with croutons or lump crab meat, swirl in a little creme freche for ultra decadent soup.

Or you can serve it as is with a buttery toasted grilled sourdough Swiss and cheddar filled sandwich that is cut in to triangles and call it a day.

Guess what I did?

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