Eggplant and Potato Curry

Lots of September eggplants mean I am looking for great recipes to enjoy them to the fullest. This happens to be one of my favorite ways to do just that.  It is a vegetable curry, now don’t be put off by that; no long list of spices: only a couple and some fresh ginger in it and it isn’t too spicy or wild tasting. I have simplified it a bit and as a bonus I give you my best eggplant frying tip. Yeap, it is vegetarian but that can be a nice change of pace from all that meat. I serve it over brown rice and it is very satisfying. You can feel virtuous enjoying this savory entree and use all that fresh fall produce.

This recipe came from my favorite Indian cookbook Indian Cooking for Pleasure by Charmaine Solomon.  This 70’s bible for Indian cookery is out of print and very pricey to buy on line. I have used literally dozens of recipes from it. She knows her spices and chooses great recipes that always work.

You can use big fat eggplants as I did this time or smaller ones; you will just need more of them. These days there are many interesting smaller eggplant varieties; any will work here; just cube, no need to peel.

Eggplant and Potato Curry

1 medium eggplant

2 large potatoes

2 decent sized tomatoes or most of a can of chopped tomatoes

1 large onion diced

1 small red pepper and 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced.

1 bunch spinach or a big handful of roughly chopped kale

3-4 Tbsp. mild olive oil

1 ½ tsp. grated ginger, I freeze mine and just grate it frozen

½ tsp. cumin seeds, crushed in a pestle

½ tsp. ground turmeric; I did a rounded measurement; a tad more than level

1 tsp. sea salt

1 tsp. brown sugar

Directions: Slice eggplants into ½ inch rounds and cut into cubes. Peel and dice the potatoes into a bit less than ½ inch rounds. Chop the tomatoes. Chop the onion. Seed and chop the peppers (you can use any level of spicy pepper you like; the original recipe said green chilies). Wash and chop the spinach or kale (I used kale this time; subs in great)

Heat 3 Tbsp. mild oil in a large frying pan. Fry the cubed potatoes until golden; you will need to turn them a few times. Remove from pan. Add the eggplant and fry until cooked; once the oil is soaked in I wait a half minute and add a couple tablespoons of water to the pan; let the water steam off and the eggplant should be done; if you have to do that again; go ahead. This trick saves adding a lot more oil to keep the eggplant from sticking/burning. When mostly done remove from pan.  It will cook more later so it is okay if edges and bits are not fully done.

Note: you could fry the eggplant at the same time in a separate pan to save a few minutes if you are in a hurry; might take a touch more oil that way; worked for me.

Then, add a touch more oil to the same (now empty) pan and pour in the chopped onion and fry until soft and turning golden. Add the cumin, turmeric and grated ginger. Fry for a minute, stirring. Add the chilies, tomatoes and salt, stir well and add back the eggplant and potatoes. Tip: when I make this in a wide 12 inch frying pan I don’t have a big enough lid; I use an upside down metal pizza pan and it makes a great lid.

Top with the spinach or kale. Stir after a minute, cover and cook on low heat for a few minutes until the spinach is soft, adding up to ½ cup water to keep it from sticking/burning. Add the brown sugar and cook the curry uncovered until it is thick; no more than 8-9 minutes. Serve with Indian bread or brown rice. As I haven’t really found time re-create my favorite Indian breads I served mine over brown rice.  eggplant curry on plante

Summer Tomato Soup

Summer is tomato time around here.  I had tomato salad last night and for lunch I had homemade tomato soup, had it yesterday too.  It is all gone but I am wishing I had another bowl in the fridge for tomorrow.  Last October I made a big batch and froze it in plastic containers, each two servings.  I felt like I was back in a sunny summer day whenever I had it for lunch last winter.  I add the cream before serving; not before freezing, FYI.

So make some, it is Ina Garten’s recipe simplified a tad.  If you don’t like it creamy leave out the cream or use half and half or whole milk for less calories.  If you are a vegetarian use veggie broth instead of chicken broth.  You can strain it but I prefer it unstrained and chunky. It has a fair amount of garlic which you can reduce as wished.  I cut back on the salt but you can cut it even further as you wish.

Your family will love this soup with a sandwich or salad. It is naturally gluten free.  GF croutons would bring a lovely crunch to it if you have any.  I make it a lot in late summer, commonly used recipe…I never think to take pictures of the process. Next batch!

tomato soup in bowl

This was made with just a touch of half and half, not cream; plenty creamy for me!

Cream of Tomato Soup

Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red or yellow onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5-6 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves

2-3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1-2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 to 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream/half and half or whole milk

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Or: use your Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker to make it; saute as per recipe in the pot, add the rest of the ingredients and put the lid on and cook under pressure 20 minutes.  You might have to blend it a bit with an immersion blender. I sometimes leave off the cream but my next paragraph is how to add that….

The finish: Add the cream or milk to the soup and process it by blending with an immersion blender or run it through your food processor. I use my cute little boat motor blender and leave it chunky just as I love soup to be. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve plain or with julienned basil leaves and/or GF croutons. Enjoy!

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cream-of-fresh-tomato-soup-recipe.

Original post of this was way back in the summer of 2014.  Minor changes and additions.

Golden Gazpacho…Cold Tomato Soup for Summertime Dining

Hot summer days mean I need a cool recipe. One with minimal cooking: gotta be easy and totally tasty.  Plus I gotta use some of my garden produce.  Gazpacho is the classic Spanish cold soup. I make it every summer out of ripe red tomatoes. This time I made it from some golden yellow tomatoes; they had some bad spots and couldn’t be included in a free produce give away due to that. I believe the actual variety is Kelloggs Golden; think big fat heirloom tomaters. They are especially nice for some people as this variety is lower in acid; we grow it in our church community garden for seniors who have trouble with regular tomatoes.  Using yellow tomatoes changed nothing else about this recipe but it sure looks different! The flavor is mild and delightfully tomato-y.golden tomatoes in bucket

So, this recipe is perfect for using excess tomatoes and I love it on a hot day. It absolutely must be made with ripe summer tomatoes, never ever attempt it with any less than the best vine ripened fruit.  You can get great tomatoes at farm stands, farmer’s markets and even the grocery store; look for the grown local label for the best flavored tomatoes. Please do not use greenhouse tomatoes grown far away and shipped while not really ripe. Your soup will not be full of tomato flavor and it will taste disappointing.  These ripe locally grown tomatoes are vital to the flavor of gazpacho.  If you can’t find golden tomatoes just use red ones; a more traditional looking gazpacho.

I make my gazpacho in the blender but I believe a food processor works okay too.  No heat,  minimal fuss.

golden gazpacho in blender

My version allows you to add chopped raw veggies in the amount you prefer just before you slurp it down. I prefer its fresh pure flavors to those soulless restaurant versions that are often gelatinous and terminally crammed full of assorted chunky veggies…uggh.

golden gazpacho toppings

Warning: you do need to peel the tomatoes but that goes pretty fast.  I heat about a wide sauce pan filled 3 inches deep with water to a boil and pop the ripe tomatoes in for 2 to 3 minutes. I put in two big ones at a time; done in a couple batches.  Let them cool a bit and then peel off the skin and cut out the blossom end (top) and they are ready to use. Saying large tomatoes is kinda vague; just think about how many will fill your blender about 2 times 2/3 of the way full. For me it was about 4 or 5 huge tomatoes.  I had a bit extra I put in a bowl and sprinkled with white balsamic vinegar to eat as a tomato salad; good way to use up extra  tomato slices. golden tomatoes in pot

One important instruction: gazpacho just HAS to chill really good; make it early in the morning to serve as a late lunch or better yet; for supper. The colder the better, I always put my soup bowls in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes and yank them out just before filling and serving this cold summer delight.

It is a flexible recipe; depends on the size of your tomatoes. This should make close to 50 ounces or nearly a  quart and a half.  It will keep 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

Golden Gazpacho

Soup ingredients:

3 to 6 ripe fat golden tomatoes (large ones)

About ¼ cup EVOL; best quality you can afford: I used some from Aldi’s

2 slices white bread (GF if you have celiac)

1 lemon

2 large garlic cloves, peeled

1 to 1 ½ tsp. sea salt

Toppings:

2 tomatoes diced, heirloom if possible

1 cup diced burpless cucumber

2 scallions, sliced thin, green and white parts. Chives work okay too.

Directions: peel the tomatoes as described above.  When I peel them I do it over a bowl to capture the juices and seeds. I save them, strain off the seeds and I add back the juice as needed to thin the finished soup.    Put half of your cut up tomatoes in the blender; add a slice of bread broken up, 2 tbsp. olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and one garlic clove.  Put the lid on and blend well.  Note: do not fill the blender more then ¾ full. Taste; add salt; ½ to ¾ tsp. Pour in a glass bowl.

Repeat entire process with the rest of the ingredients and thin with reserved tomato juice – it should be thick but not porridge thick.  Mix the two batches together in a big glass bowl; never metal because of the acidity of tomatoes and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Then chill it at least 3 to 4 hours.

Serve with bowls of toppings to sprinkle on top of the thick soup; diced ripe tomatoes, scallion slices and cucumber ( preferably burpless) cut in small dice.  If you want to guild the lily, top with croutons (gf ones if you have celiac), I don’t often bother. golden gazpacho in bowl

 

Note: gluten free bread often gives a slightly different texture to the soup; somewhat less smooth in the look of it and the taste.  It’s okay as it doesn’t affect the flavor: it still is delicious and a bowl of it is so very refreshing on a hot day.  Serve with a small sandwich and you have a perfect summer lunch.

Symon Says Chicken Goes Perfect with Olives and Orange

This recipe came out of a five ingredient cookbook by Michael Symon that I got out of the local library many months ago. The combination of olives, tomatoes and orange is very Mediterranean and a tummy warming bundle of yummy flavors. Don’t leave any of those three ingredients out; they are crucial to a great result. olivesYou gotta love how short the list of stuff to buy is. Well, this dish actually uses eight items but olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes are three staples I (and most cooks) keep in the house all the time. So it is five, sort of! I had everything on hand but the chicken so I was in business after a stop for some high quality chicken thighs.

Chicken is a regular protein choice for dinner at my house, inexpensive, easy to make and it takes on the flavor of whatever you put it with. The thighs are my favorite chicken part as they stay moist and have a bit more flavor than breasts. Canned chopped tomatoes have great tomato flavor and are so convenient as well as pretty inexpensive.

navel oranges

I used a bit less olive oil than the original recipe – seemed like half of the quarter cup was quite enough. I have made this about 3 times in the past year. I believe the original recipe was made with boneless chicken thighs but I prefer them bone in. If you like boneless; cook it five minutes less. I stuck a thigh with my instant read thermometer and knew the poultry was done. Totally takes the guess work out.

This recipe is a keeper: it meets my criteria of inexpensive, quick to put together, gluten free and great tasting. That’s the quartet of food greatness in my recipe world. And that is why I am sharing it with you today!

chicken with olives 003

Symon Says Chicken with Orange and Olives

Ingredients

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 chicken thighs (if small; 5-6)
2 sliced garlic cloves
1-2 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes
Grated zest and juice of one fresh navel orange
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped Kalamata olives (I opened a can of regular black ones and cut them up roughly – in half is fine)

In a dutch oven heat the oil, add the chicken, skin side down, cook 8 minutes, turn using a pair of tongs, cook 8 more minutes. Add olives and rosemary; cook one minute. Add a half cup of water to de-glaze the pan and then add the rest of the ingredients. I like to hold half the olives and add them at the end, especially if you use the canned black olives which are softer than kalamata olives. Cook 20 minutes, test for doneness and add 5 more minutes if needed.

I served my chicken over a baked red potato, cut open and sliced somewhat. With a simple green salad you have a super supper. There is very little active time spent making this; but you can’t leave it alone for more than 8 minutes while each side browns. Still, dishes can be done, kitchen tidied or other chores completed while the chicken thighs brown. The dish goes together in just a few minutes of chopping garlic and olives. In a rush I have been known to tip the olives into a measuring cup and just cut with a paring knife stuck in the cup to roughly chop the olives.

It is also nice with pasta; gluten free ziti comes to mind. Even rice would be great with this flavorful and naturally gluten free main dish.

Summer Tomato Soup’s On!

Summer is tomato time around here.  I had tomato salad the other day, a big tomato sandwich Thursday and for lunch I am having homemade tomato soup, made it yesterday.  Last October I made a big batch and froze it in plastic containers, each two servings.  I felt like I was back in summer whenever I had it for lunch last winter. I am freezing lots of it this summer; here are about 9 servings about to go in my big freezer for winter lunches.

rustic apple tart 014

So make some, it is Ina Garten’s recipe simplified a tad.  If you don’t like it creamy leave out the cream or use half and half or whole milk for less calories.  If you are a vegetarian use veggie broth instead of chicken broth.  You can strain it but I prefer it unstrained and chunky. It has a fair amount of garlic which you can reduce as wished.  I cut back on the salt but you can cut it even further as you wish.

Your family will love this soup with a sandwich or salad. It is naturally gluten free.  GF croutons would bring a lovely crunch to it if you have any.

tomato soup

Messy rim but yummy soup!

Cream of Tomato Soup
Ingredients
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red or yellow onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5-6 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves

3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream

Directions
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it by blending with an immersion blender or run it through your food processor. I use my cute little boat motor blender and leave it chunky just as I love soup to be. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve plain or with julienned basil leaves and/or GF croutons.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/cream-of-fresh-tomato-soup-recipe.  Originally published August 2014, modified for this post.

Refreshing Spanish Gazpacho Soup: Ole Tomatoes!

Hot Hot HOT summer days mean I need a cool recipe. One with minimal cooking: that is easy and tasty.  Plus I want to use some of my garden produce.  This classic Spanish soup called gazpacho is perfect for all of that and my family loves it. It absolutely must be made with ripe summer tomatoes, never ever attempt it with any less than the best vine ripened fruit.  You can get great tomatoes at farm stands, farmer’s markets and even the grocery store; look for the grown local label for the best flavored tomatoes. Please do not use greenhouse tomatoes grown far away and shipped while not really ripe. Your soup will not be full of tomato flavor and it will taste disappointing.  These ripe locally grown tomatoes are vital to the flavor of gazpacho.

I make my gazpacho in the blender but I believe a food processor works okay too.  No heat,  minimal fuss.

My version allows you to add chopped raw veggies in the amount you prefer just before you slurp it down. I prefer its fresh pure flavors to those soulless restaurant versions that are gelatinous and crammed full of a wide assortment of chunked veggies…uggh.

I once had a version of gazpacho similar to mine in a Philadelphia restaurant made with golden yellow tomatoes which was beautiful looking and quite tasty too.

Warning: you do need to peel the tomatoes but that goes pretty fast.  I heat about a wide sauce pan filled 3 inches deep with water to a boil and pop the ripe tomatoes in for 2 to 3 minutes. I put in 4 at a time; done in a couple batches.  Let them cool a bit and then peel off the skin and cut out the blossom end (top) and they are ready to use.

One more important instruction: gazpacho HAS to chill really good; make it early in the morning to serve as a late lunch or better yet; for supper. The colder the better, I actually put my soup bowls in the freezer for 15 or 20 minutes and yank them out just before filling and serving this cold summer delight.

It is a flexible recipe; depends on the size of your tomatoes. This should make close to 60 ounces or just shy of 2 quarts; cut in half if you don’t want too much. But you will wish you had made more…I promise!  It will keep 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

gazpacho and pork steak 004

tomato juice for thinning the soup

gazpacho and pork steak 003

skinned tomatoes ready for soup making

gazpacho and pork steak 006

I am about to press the puree button!

gazpacho and pork steak 007

Still in blender, just pureed soup.

Summer Chill Gazpacho

Soup ingredients:

8 to 10 ripe fat tomatoes (large ones)

About ¼ cup EVOL; best you can afford

2 slices white bread (GF if you have celiac)

1 lemon

2 garlic cloves, peeled

1 to 1 ½ tsp. sea salt

Toppings:

2 large tomatoes diced, heirloom if possible

1 cup diced burpless cucumber

2 scallions, sliced thin, green and white parts

Directions: peel the tomatoes as described above.  When I peel them I do it over a bowl to capture the juices and seeds. I save them, strain off the seeds and I add back the juice as needed to thin the finished soup.    Put 4-5 tomatoes in the blender; add a slice of bread broken up, 2 tbsp. olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and one garlic clove.  Put the lid on and blend well.  Note: do not fill the blender more then ¾ full. Taste; add salt; ½ to ¾ tsp.

Repeat entire process with the rest of the ingredients and thin with reserved tomato juice – it should be thick but not porridge thick.  Mix the two batches together in a big glass bowl; never metal because of the acidity of tomatoes and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Then chill it at least 3 to 4 hours.

Serve with bowls of toppings to sprinkle on top of the thick soup; diced ripe tomatoes, scallion slices and cucumber ( preferably burpless) cut in small dice.  If you want to guild the lily, top with croutons (gf ones if you have celiac), I don’t bother.

gazpacho and pork steak 012

Note: gluten free bread often gives a slightly different texture to the soup; somewhat less smooth in the look of it and the taste.  It’s okay as it doesn’t affect the flavor: it still is delicious and a bowl of it is so very refreshing on a hot day.  Serve with a sandwich and you have a perfect summer lunch.

Winter Tummy Warmer: Italian Lentil Stew

Okay, I have one more yummy soup recipe for these cold winter days.  I took a basic Italian lentil soup and kicked it up a bit with some changes and additions.  My daughter loves the Italian sausage in it and I love kale added to the mix.  Increases the nutritional value and the flavor.  I also like how easily it goes together.  Lentils are very earthy and very good for you. I have to say that my daughter loves this recipe; I made it because she was talking about it last week. Perfect to enjoy during this frigid weather.

If you hate kale leave it out; fresh baby spinach might be tasty too in it.  I like my kale fresh when making stews and I usually cut off any tough stems.  This recipe is naturally gluten free.  Do be careful about the broth you use.  Make sure it is labeled gluten free.

 

It could be made vegetarian; use vegetable broth and leave out the sausage.  I don’t always have the parm cheese on it but it is very tasty with it.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

Ingredients

¼ cup EVOL

1 cup diced yellow onion

2 large carrots diced

1-2 garlic cloves minced

1 can diced tomatoes

2 tbsp. tomato paste dissolved in ½ cup water

2 cups dried brown lentils, washed after measuring

1-2 quarts chicken broth, I prefer Kitchen Basics

1 lb Italian sausage

1 lb fresh or frozen kale.  Fresh is best; chop it up but frozen will do

½ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese, optional (for topping)

2 tbsp chopped parsley; can leave out if adding kale.

 

Directions:

Sauté the onion and carrots in the olive oil in a big heavy bottomed soup pot.  I use a heavy bottom as your soup will be less likely to burn.  Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the sausage; push the onions to the pan’s walls so they don’t burn.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side. Add the garlic as you are turning or stirring .

yogurt and apple crisp 019

Add tomatoes and stir up well, add the tomato paste in water and cook 10 minutes.  Add broth and season with salt and pepper; remove sausage to a plate to cool. Bring the soup back to a boil and then add lentils.

yogurt and apple crisp 021 Cook about 45 minutes to 50 until lentils are done to your taste.  Stir it occasionally so it doesn’t stick.

Add the kale and cook 5-7 minutes then add back the sausage.  While the lentils are cooking you should cut up the sausage into rounds and add them to the stew when the lentils are done.    Let the soup stand at least 15-20 minutes once it is done.

Serve in a wide soup bowl with a good sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese on top.  Perfect on a cold winter night to warm you up from  your tummy to your toes!

I only made a half batch this time as that was all the lentils in the house. We ate it all up before realizing I had forgotten to take a picture of a bowl of hot soup, ready to dive my spoon into it’s tasty depths.  Next batch!