Friday, December 21, 2012

Tomato Basil Soup

As endless summer fades into endless autumn, and again into what can only be termed "Winter" by a person who has never actually lived through one,  it comes time for soups! The occasional 'cold snap'- literally, a day or two when temperatures drop to- gasp!- below 60 and sunny- require a warm and comforting dish like this to keep you "warm".

 And of all the delicious soup combos- tomato soup and grilled cheese- that is the golden classic. This soup was simple and delicious- another winner adapted from 'A Year in the Vegetarian Kitchen' by Jack Bishop.

2 28-oz cans of whole tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tbsp butter
3 medium leeks, whites and greens, washed and cut into thin strips
1 tbsp sun-dried/double strength tomato paste (Get the italian stuff that is imported and comes in a toothpaste tube. It's the only way to go)
2 tbsp flour
2 cups vegetable broth
cayenne pepper
fresh basil, cut "chiffonade" (roll it up and cut into thin ribbons)
Fresh or dried oregano
heavy cream for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Prepare a rimmed baking dish by lining with tinfoil. Drain the tomatoes from the juice in a sieve, collecting the juice in a bowl below. Open the tomatoes one at a time, and use your thumb to slide out the seeds and any juice on the inside into the strainer. Set the bowl aside for later. Place the tomatoes on the baking sheet and sprinkle with brown sugar. Roast until all liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes begin to color. Discard the seeds in the strainer and reserve the juice in the bowl for later.

2. Melt the butter in the bottom of the soup pot. Add the leeks and salt and pepper, and allow to cook down over medium-low heat. Add the tomato paste, 3/4 of the basil, and oregano, and continue cooking, stirring often. Add the flour and stir for another minute, then slowly add in the vegetable broth, using a whisk to constantly stir. Add the juice and roasted tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.

3. Use either a magic wand or hand blender to puree the soup until perfectly smooth. Adjust the seasoning, adding in cayenne and salt to taste.

4. Serve and garnish with a tbsp of the heavy cream drizzled on top and a sprinkle of the fresh basil ribbons.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Baked Leek & Sweet Potato Gratin

Fall has finally arrived in the ATX, and I've been searching out new comfort food recipes. This one was inspired by my favorite magazine, Vegetarian Times. I made a few Lora Dever tweaks, and it can be a simple yet savory and sweet side, or a main course with a salad and crusty bread!!

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into slices
3 medium leeks, whites and light green parts, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable broth (approx)
Fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, about a fistful, chopped
1/4 cup shredded cheese blend (I used mexican b/c I had it on hand, but any blend will do)
salt and pepper to taste
3-4 tbs breadcrumbs
olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Heat a small amount of the oil in a pan. Over med-low heat, saute the garlic and leeks until translucent, being careful not to allow to stick and burn or brown. Use a little splash of vegetable stock to moisten if they start sticking before softened and aromatic.
3. Once leeks and garlic are aromatic, add 1/2 of the herbs and saute, salt and pepper to taste.
4. In casserole dish, arrange 1/3 of the sweet potato slices so they overlap. Spread 1/2 the leek mixture on top. Arrange another layer of sweet potato and leeks, and top with a few additional sweet potato pieces.
5. Drizzle broth over the top and cover with tinfoil. Bake about 35 minutes.
6. In a small bowl, stir together bread crumbs, about a tsp of olive oil, and remaining herbs. Remove foil from gratin and sprinkle mixture and cheese on top.
7. Allow to bake uncovered for 15 additional minutes, or until the top is "gratin"!  (browned)

Monday, December 3, 2012

Soy Glazed Salmon with Bok Choy and Sushi Rice

One of my goals is to eat more fish. I've been trying salmon lately, and this recipe sounded so delicious! (Thank you, Martha Stewart!) I also was thrilled to see that all the ingredients were already in my kitchen pantry, and it took about 10 minutes to get everything prepped!


honey-about 2 tbsp

  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 3 tablespoons tamari
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 2 tablespoons dry white wine
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 a shallot
  • 1 pound salmon fillet
  • pepper to taste
  • Lemon wedges, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. with a rack in the center. Make the glaze: In a small bowl, stir brown sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, and white wine until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Cut salmon fillet into 4 equal-size pieces; arrange, skin side down, in a single layer in a baking dish. Pour glaze over the fish, and turn to coat evenly.
  3. Bake until fish is opaque but still bright pink inside, basting every few minutes with glaze from baking dish, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

For the Bok Choy:

1 clove garlic
1/2 shallot
olive oil
2 heads baby bok choy
salt and pepper
1/4 lemon

Cut off the ends of the bok choy and rinse well in a colander. Split each piece into two parts.
Sweat the garlic and shallots in the oil. 
Add in the bok choy, toss in the oil, and sprinkle with lemon, salt and pepper.
Turn up the heat and press the bok choy into the pan. Cook until the stems are soft and the greens wilt.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Curry Noodle with Cilantro Butter Tofu

I love thai noodle dishes- both flat noodles, and the "rice stick" (Banh pho) noodles pictured above, which are commonly used in dishes like Pad thai. One of my favorite dishes is curry noodle- and it is so easy to make, and delicious! We made a batch just last night, and it was amazing! In a regular grocery store, you might be able to find some banh pho in the international aisle, but you may have to shop an Asian Grocery to find a brand outside of Taste of Thai (which I avoid!!)

Banh pho noodles- soak in a bowl of water for about 30-45 minutes before you want to cook them
Follow my recipe to make a batch of Thai Curry.
Peanut or Vegatable oil
THAI soy sauce

For the Tofu:
Tofu, patted dry and cut into cubes
Fresh Cilantro
Salt & Pepper


Put the noodles in cold water and set aside to soak.

Preheat the oven to 375. Prepare the tofu by spreading butter on each side, and then sprinkling some freshly chopped cilantro on each piece. Season with salt and pepper, and bake, 30-40 minutes, until the tofu crisps up and browns lightly on the edges.

Once the Tofu is baking, start the curry sauce. This takes about 30 minutes.

Once the curry and tofu are finished, heat a saute pan or wok until it is very hot. Add in some peanut oil, just enough to cover the pan, and drain and toss in the noodles. Stir fry to coat the noodles in the oil. Allow them to cook a few minutes, until they turn translucent. Ladle the curry sauce over the noodles, and continue to cook, stirring frequently. Add in the tofu and some vegetables from the curry, and toss together. Taste, if too spicy, add in more Thai soy sauce.

Plate and garnish with a handful of fresh cilantro.