Tomato Bisque

D&D_1907It is funny, or maybe just odd, that I do not like raw tomatoes, only cooked ones. Tomato sauce, yes, tomato bisque – absolutely. Sliced tomato on something – I’ll pass. Tomato bisque is a soup weakness for me. Another odd thing, I only like vegetarian soups. Not sure why that is, but it is a thing for me. I think it because when there is a protein in a soup, it is likely to get over cooked – at least to my taste. I might also be that I just prefer to make vegetarian soups – in this instance meat just seems to get in the way.

Growing up I do not remember a lot of homemade soups with the exception of homemade vegetable soup which I was never a huge fan of – my mom would put all kinds of veg in that I just didn’t care for – yes, lima beans. But if we had any tomato soup it was from a can. That’s not terrible, but making decent tomato soup is so easy and takes less than an hour, I just don’t see any reason not to make it from scratch especially when you have most of the things on hand to start with.

This is a cream soup, but to my mind it is a bisque but I realized that I really had never looked up the definition of a bisque. So here it is. Not what I was expecting to be honest.

Bisque – A thick rich soup usually consisting of puréed seafood (sometimes fowl or vegetables) and cream. p.57 Food Lover’s Companion 

Adapted from this Creamy Tomato Soup recipe in Bon Appetit via alexandracooks.com and modified by me, because I am, after all, me. Yep, that is what I do.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 sprigs thyme
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
¼ cup (or more) heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely grate Parmigiano-Reggiano
Chicago Italian bread

Melt butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add thyme, onion, and garlic and add salt to help soften everything. Cook until onion is completely soft. Add tomato paste and increase heat to medium and cook until pasta starts to darken in color and you can smell it.

Add tomatoes with juices from the can – you can crush the tomatoes with your hands or with a potato masher – and 4 cups water to the pot. Increase heat to high; bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Simmer until flavors meld and soup reduces, 45 minutes or so. Remove soup from heat; discard thyme sprigs. Purée soup with an immersion blender.

Reduce heat to low and stir in ¼ cup cream – let simmer for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed – salt, freshly cracked black pepper, more cream. Simmer 10 more minutes and taste again.

I think this time I am going to make little cheese toasts with Parmigiano Reggiano on sliced Chicago Italian and add a little swirl of 14 year old sherry vinegar.

8 June 2017

Italian Fresh Cream Lemon Cake

D&D_1374 I have always heard about Italian Cream Cakes, but this is my first go with one. In a way it seems like lighter version of a pound cake and I did bake this in a bundt pan. Seems to make sense in a way.

I appear to be in cake mode now. Not sure why, but that does happen to me on occasion. Kind of like being in cookie mode for the last couple of months (read: 8 months). It is odd in a way, but I guess as humans we get into a trend of sorts and just go with it. Now, it is cake – not a bad thing, at least not in my opinion. We will see how this sorts itself out. Who knows? Not me – ever.

Maybe next trend will be cupcakes (if they are not too twee). Unsure at this point. But need something to transport them in.

I brought this cake to the office this Wednesday which is when our students are there – it seemed to be a success.  It really is a light version of a pound cake. I will make it again, but I really need more lemon in it. Maybe a lemon glaze. That always seems to make things better.

2 cups plus 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
4 large eggs
1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted for sure)
7 Tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled
zest of one lemon, grated on a microplane
1 tsp vanilla or more which is not a bad thing -kind of always do more
2/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Over a piece of waxed paper, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Spray a bundt pan with baking spray – yeah, just over do it if your have the kind of bundt pans I have (see below).  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light. Add the flour to the egg mixture alternating with cream. Fold in butter. zest, and vanilla.

Pour into (well) prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Testing with a wooden skewer – just to be sure. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then tump it out. Let cool for a few more minutes and dust with  confectioners’ sugar.

Notes: I just realized how many assumptions I made with the recipe – holy cow. I assumed all-purpose flour but the recipe I have did not make that clear,  and large eggs, and unsalted butter, wow could this recipe be more vague. I could have just made a huge mistake. But I am hoping I did not.

Source: An Italian in my Kitchen.com

Pan – Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan

 

Trying Something New: Lemon Cream Scones

DD_9084

Lemon Cream Scones

I have never made scones, ever. And to be perfectly honest, I have never even eaten a scone – even after living in England. So this was a total shot in the dark. That said, I was worried about the temp and time in the recipe – it did not make sense to me. 400 degrees for 40 minutes. I get that it was a really wet, shaggy dough, and a bit of a mess but ….

To take an idea from K-9 search and rescue – Trust your dog – well, I need to … Trust my instincts.

Lemon Cream Scones

Makes 8

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 8 Tbs cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 Tbs baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp course salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream plus 3 Tbs heavy cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 Tbs finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flour, butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix at low speed until the mixture resembles wet sand.

In a separate bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup cream, 2 eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla. Add the cream mixture to the flour mixture, and beat on low speed until just incorporated. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface, and form into a flat disk, about 8 inches across and 1 1/2 inches thick. Cut into 8 wedges and transfer to prepared baking sheet.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining egg and 3 Tbs cream to make an egg wash. Brush scones with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. bake until the tops are golden brown and firm 40 to 50 minutes.

Source: Martha Stewart

Notes: Okay, I had problems with this recipe (as noted above). Just 30 minutes tops, unless you want the bottom to burn. Needs more lemon; I’m thinking a lemon & confectioners’ sugar glaze – that would work. At least for me. I would also use raw sugar for the top – a little more crunchy. That would be good.

Guess scones go thorough the baking powder. I need to learn the science behind that, but sometimes it’s just more fun not to.

With the scones I baked 30 minutes. They were lovely. Lightly brown, crunchy outside, but light inside.  I could get used to that for breakfast.

Next in scones: Brown Sugar Pecan Scones. I already have the dry measured out in a zip top bag for when I’m in the mood to go another round. This time the recipe seems a bit more reasonable concerning time and temp. And I will also consult my Baking Illustrated cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen to see what they do.

It’s hard, sometimes, when you’ve never made a particular thing before to trust yourself, but this is a lesson learned. I have good instincts in cooking and baking, so I need to trust myself more.