Thursday Recipe Exchange: Cold Soups

High Park Fire (Colorado) photo from Facebook

Things are still quite smokey here. The fire is about 40 miles north of here and depending on the wind we can get a heavy covering of thick smoke. Between the heat and the smoke, I have not felt like cooking. So I was glad cold soups were on the menu this week. I can get behind that.

This is from my ride last Saturday. It’s been burning ever since.

I have quite few cold soups on the blog. If you click here on Cold Soups, you’ll find all of them. Tonight I’ll feature a Creamy Gazpacho and  Cucumber Tomato Soup.

This serves 4.

Creamy Gazpacho

  • 6 medium, ripe tomatoes, cored
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, halved, and seeded (I used an English cucumber)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper , halved, cored and seeded
  • 6 green onions, roots removed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 small serrano chile , stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 small jalapeno, stemmed and halved lenghthwise
  • 1/4 green chili, stemmed and halved
  • 1 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 slice thick white bread, crusted removed, broken in pieces
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Dash of limejuice
  • 2 cups water or salt-free vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp finely minced chives or cilantro (I did a little mix of the two)
  • Ground black pepper

Chop 5 of the tomatoes, half of cucumber, half of bell pepper, and all but two of the onions into large pieces (you’ll be blending, so no need to go all crazy here) and place in large bowl. Add garlic, chilies, and 1 teaspoon salt; toss until well combined. Set aside for at least 1 hour.

Finely dice remaining tomato, cucumber, and pepper, place vegetables in medium bowl. Mince remaining onion and add to diced vegetables. Toss with 1/4 tsp salt and transfer to a strainer set over medium bowl. Set aside 1 hour.

Transfer drained finely diced vegetables back to medium bowl, cover tightly and set aside. Add bread pieces to exuded liquid (there should be about ¼ cup) and soak 1 minute. Add soaked bread and any remaining liquid to roughly chopped vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.

Transfer roughly chopped vegetables and water to a blender and blend until smooth, you may have to do this in two batches. Slowly drizzle in oil while blending, blend until smooth. You can run the entire thing through a strainer (use the back of spoon to press through) if you want it to be completely smooth. Full disclosure, I neither peel or seed my tomatoes and as you can imagine, I didn’t strain my soup.

Stir vinegar, minced herb, limejuice, and half of diced vegetables into soup and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate (you can do this overnight) to chill completely and develop flavors. Serve with remaining diced vegetables as garnish.

For the Cucumber Tomato Cold Soup, click here. It’s a very pretty soup that makes a great first course at your next BBQ.

Dirty Rice

A continuation of yesterday’s recipe exchange.

Dirty Rice

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 pound chicken livers*, chopped fine
  • 1/2 pound pork sausage
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks finely chopped celery
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp Creole seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • 5 cups cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

In a large, heavy sauté pan, heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken livers and sausage and cook, stirring, until the meat is browned, about 6 minutes. Add the remaining oil, the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, Creole seasoning, salt, pepper and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaves and deglaze the pan (scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir thoroughly. Cook additional 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Stir in the parsley and serve.

*I suppose it’s not really dirty rice when I make it, because I do not use chicken livers.

Mmm…Frittata

I thought it time to scratch my frittata itch this morning.  I had some odds and ends of veggies I needed to use and a frittata is the perfect vehicle for that.  I did open a package of fresh goat cheese to crumble over the top.

I took a few pictures in the available light just for fun, the ones of the skillet on the stove were taken with just the under cabinet florescent fixture for direct illumination along with what light there was from a cloudy morning outside the windows.  The camera did all the work and did a pretty good job of figuring it all out for me.  I’m liking the f/1.8 35mm lens quite a bit, too.  The plated meal was shot using the usual twin strobe bounce illumination.  With a white ceiling in the kitchen I can treat the whole table as a “light box”.

Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Tuna salad

I’ve been a huge fan of tuna salad for a long, long time.  Now I’m talking about the tuna in the can, never fresh tuna, not sure I’ve even seen fresh tuna anywhere except on a TV show.  I’ll bet fresh would make a super salad, I know that I made salmon patties from fresh salmon once and they were really good.  It’s just that here in Small Town, HeartLand,  USA! USA! we are pretty far from an ocean.  I’m not sure catfish would do.

Any way:

A tuna fish sammich has to be on toast.  I will brook no dissent.  This toast was made from a loaf of white bread (Julia Child’s recipe!) but whole wheat will work, and that nice NY City deli rye bread would be very good indeed…

I have a pal who grew up in NY City, and he sniffs with disdain whenever he sees my tuna salad.  His recipe uses tuna, grated onion, and mayo.  I’m not really sure about the mayo.  I’ll pin him down if he shows in the chat room today.  I’m a fan of tuna with “the works”.  This batch has mayo, hard boiled eggs, sweet pickle relish, celery, green peppers, chopped green olives with the pimentos and sweet onions.  I’ve been known to add shredded cheddar or another cheese to the mix.  Mainly I add whatever I have on hand that seems like a good idea.

Have you a favorite tuna salad recipe?

Memorial Day Grilling Menu

Here’s a grilling menu that is a nice change from BBQ, burgers and steak (not that there is anything wrong with any of that!).  The grilled pears are a real treat, especially with the melted butter baste.  If the weather cooperates, why cook inside when you can cook your entire meal outside?

  1. Honey Glazed Chicken
  2. Grilled Vegetable Wraps
  3. Grilled Pears

Honey Glazed Chicken

  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • ¼ tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/8 tsp salt & pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Mix together honey, zest, mustard, garlic, salt & pepper. Brush chicken breasts with oil and grill over medium-high heat. After 10 minutes, turn breasts over. After 5 additional minutes begin to brush with sauce. Turn and brush every 5 minutes until breasts are cooked through (approximately 20-30 minutes total cooking time).

Grilled Vegetable Wraps

  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 1 yellow sweet pepper
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 summer squash, cut lengthwise (¼” thick)
  • 1 small onion, cut into thin rings
  • 1 tomato, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup Ranch Dressing
  • 4 tomato or spinach flavored flour tortillas
  • 2 oz shredded pepper jack cheese
  • ½ cup snipped cilantro

grilling basket or foil

Seed & slice peppers into thin strips. Toss peppers, squash, onions & tomato with oil. Grill in grilling basket or in foil packet until vegetables are tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. Spread ranch dressing on each tortilla, sprinkle with cheese & cilantro, place ¼ of vegetables in each tortilla and wrap up. If you like you can then toast rolled up tortillas on the grill until cheese melts.

Grilled pears

4 pears, cut into 4 wedges each and place on skewers & grill for 5 minutes, brushing lightly with butter during grilling.

Burrito? Fajita?–It’s chicken and stuff in a tortilla

I’m never sure what to name these things.  As far as I can tell, either name would work.  I didn’t start out to make these.  I wanted to grill some chicken breasts that I bought several days ago but didn’t freeze right away.  I took my silver hammer and pounded the breasts semi flat, I didn’t spend too much effort on them.  Poured some olive oil into a hot pan to grill them-I was thinking along the lines of grilled chicken salads.  Decided to add some seasoning to them other than salt and pepper, and dragged the fajita seasoning out.  Got me thinking, “hmm…fajita?”  I sliced up some green peppers and some red onion, added some yellow onion, decided to toss in some fresh mushrooms.  Added some ancho sauce, it was a bit dry yet so I splashed in a half cup or so of chicken broth.  Was starting to come together.

I warmed some tortillas directly over the gas burner, let them scorch just a tad, and laid them out on a plate.  Piled a generous heaping of the chicken veggie mix and garnished with green onions, shredded cheddar,  salsa, and a bit of sour cream.  Good stuff!

Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In Praise of Meatloaf

I don’t make a lot of meatloaves.  I cannot remember that last time I actually made one.  But the stars aligned last week and it had to be meatloaf.  I had gotten a great deal on good ground beef, so I had purchased it in bulk, JeffW had posted an amazing looking meatloaf earlier, and I had some homemade tomato soup I had to do use up.

A quick call to mom, to make sure the recipe I was thinking of was a good one and I was all set.  I put it together the night before and let it sit, wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator until I was ready to form it.

I have 2 mini-loaf pans that I use for making holiday breads.  They are the best size to make banana breads or other fruit breads to wrap for the holidays.   And as it turns out, perfect size for making meatloaf.  Each pan holds about half the amount of  a regular pan.  This shortened cooking time by about 30 minutes and kept the meatloaf from drying out.  One for dinner, one for sandwiches the next day.   Here’s my recipe.  Nothing fancy at all:

Meatloaf

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1-1/2 lbs ground beef
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup tomato soup*
  • 1/2 finely chopped small onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

large bowl and 2 mini-loaf pans or 1 regular loaf pan

Mix oats and milk together and let sit for 5 minutes until milk is absorbed. In the bowl, add beef and create a large well in the center.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Shape into 1 or 2 loaves and place in pan.  Bake at 350 degrees until center reaches 160 degrees.  Time will vary depending on pan type – glass, aluminum or mini.  Makes 8 servings.

* the tomato soup had peppers, carrots and lots of spices in it, so I didn’t feel the need to add more to the loaf.  But you can add finely chopped carrots, green peppers and some basil or thyme as desired.

While I was searching for my meatloaf recipe, in my trusty Better Homes and Garden’s Cookbook (that I have had since high school), I came across one that sounded interesting.  If I had ricotta on hand, I would have made it.  I used their recipe as a guide, but because I think theirs was only a good start I changed it quite a bit.  So in case you are looking for a change-up in your regular meatloaf, this one might be one to try.

Italian Meatloaf

  • 2 eggs
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1-1/2 lbs ground beef

Filling:

  • 12 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 3 button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp crushed oregano and basil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic

8×8 baking dish

Mix the meatloaf together as above.  Pat half the mixture into the baking dish.  Beat ricotta and eggs together well, add remaining ingredients and spread over meat in the baking dish.  Cover with remaining meat mixture, spread evenly.  Bake at 350 degrees until meat in both layers is 160 degrees (about 50 minutes).  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Green Tomato Relish

Really had a change in the weather today, foggy and cool.  Temp was 66 just now per the thermometer in the truck as I was coming back from the post office.  There is even a touch of smoke in the air, like someone has a fire going in their wood stove.  We have several folks around here that use wood burners for heating.  We have plenty enough wood that we could except we are way too lazy to chop and split.  Been there, done that.  Anyhow…

It seems sure that the green tomatoes hanging on in the garden aren’t going to ripen any time soon.  I’ve been looking at green tomato relishes for a few days and today seemed a good day to try one out. “Mommy’s Kitchen”–great name for a food blog!

I went out and brought in a basket full of green tomatoes, and a few green peppers.  Didn’t have any ripe bell peppers but there were several nice banana peppers that had turned a nice red.  Grabbed a couple of jalapenos, too.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.