Snow Day

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Catherine and her girls were here for a little over a week.  We had so much fun but I think I heard my liver breathe a sigh of relief as we watched them pull out of the driveway Sunday morning.  We ate and drank too much but it was worth every bite and every sip.  We were fortunate to get a few inches of snow while we all together and so we spent an amazing morning sledding on the golf course, throwing snowballs and building a snowman.   At the end of our day in the snow we came inside and made the most civilized lunch: homemade creamy tomato soup,  prosciutto and cheese panini sandwiches served with a crisp Sauvignon Blanc.  It was the perfect ending to a really fun day.   What did the kids eat, you ask?  Kids?  PB&Js of course.  This was an adult only dining room.

-Andra

Creamy Tomato Soup adapted from Ina Garten

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped red onions

2 carrots unpeeled and chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish

3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

3/4 cup heavy cream

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and saute 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 use an immersion blender to puree the soup discarding.  Serve with julienned basil leaves and a light drizzle of olive oil.

Snow Day Panini 

Lightly spread one piece of country-style bread  with a Boursin type cheese and then layer with prosciutto (roasted until crisp in a 350° oven), sharp cheddar and slices of avocado and basil leaves.  Generously butter the two outside slices of bread and place in a panini press until the cheese is melted.

Curried Chicken Salad Collard Green Wraps with Lentil Salad

We had a health-night tonight after a not-so-healthy week.  I won’t go into the details but we needed a dose of green.  I made a curried chicken salad with leftover chicken from our weekly winner-winner-chicken-dinner.  I rolled the salad into collard green leaves with julienned red peppers and basil.  I also made a lentil salad with many of the same flavors of the chicken salad with the addition of a little freshly grated ginger.

The six-year-old resisted the collard greens at first but the lentil salad went down so quickly, the whole plate disappeared really without anyone realizing it.  I looked everywhere for the collard green leaf, under the table, in the trash, in his pocket, but I couldn’t find it.  I’m convinced he ate it.

Thankfully, I have enough for lunch tomorrow.  Or maybe breakfast,  it’s been known to happen.  Ask Catherine about how many bowls of lima beans she’s had before noon.  Some might call it a problem.

-Andra

Curried Chicken Salad

2 cups of cooked chicken, shredded

1 stalk of celery, diced

1/2 cup Greek yogurt

2 heaping tablespoons of mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

1/4 teaspoon of Garam Masala

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of coriander

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 Collard Green leaves, large, tough part of the stem cut out

Combine all of the ingredients and then roll into a collard green leaf just like making a burrito. Add other vegetables and fresh herbs according to your taste and what you have on hand.

Lentil Salad 

1 cup of lentils

2 cups of chicken stock or water

1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

1/4 teaspoon of Garam Masala

1/2 teaspoon of curry powder

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of coriander

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 carrot, peeled and diced

salt and pepper, to taste

Bring water or stock to boil and add the lentils.  Turn down the heat to simmer, partially covered, for 15-20 minutes. Test for doneness and drain.

While the lentils cook, combine the next eight ingredients to make the vinaigrette.

While warm, add the vinaigrette to the lentils with the diced carrots and salt and pepper to taste.

BLNJTA w/ BM

I didn’t realize what an unfortunate acronym that title would be until right at the very end.  If you didn’t already know, “BLNJTA w/ BM” stands for a “Bacon, Lettuce, New Jersey Tomato and Avocado Sandwich with Basil Mayonnaise”.

A classic BLT is delicious, but when you use fresh Challah bread and add New Jersey tomatoes, avocado and fresh basil mayonnaise, it’s even better.

I meant to add “slight toasted” to the list above.  You can decide if that’s how you prefer your bread or your chef.

– Catherine

Roasted Red Pepper Soup and BLATs (or BLTs with Avocado)

This is Andra’s recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Soup.  So glad that’s out of the way.  Now that appropriate credit is given, I will tell you that this is the best Roasted Red Pepper Soup Ever.  I served it with BLATs (BLTs with Avocado), the reappearance of which is a sure sign of Spring.  I always buy good bakery sourdough or challah bread for BLATs.

Andra’s Roasted Red Pepper Soup

4 red peppers

1 onion, diced

2 T butter

1 sprig fresh rosemary

5 cups chicken broth

3 T tomato paste

1/2 cup cream salt & pepper

Hot smoked paprika (optional)

Roast the red peppers over an open flame or under a broiler. Once the skin is charred place the peppers in a bowl and cover for about 10 minutes. Once cool enough to handle, rub the skins off of the peppers.

Melt the butter over medium heat and saute the diced onions until translucent. Add the rosemary, roasted peppers, broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes and stir in the tomato paste. Remove the rosemary sprig.

Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is thick. Stir in 1/4 cup of cream and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a little cream drizzled on top. For extra heat, add a little sprinkling of hot smoked paprika.

Most people started celebrating Spring last weekend.  My fat cells started celebrating last night.  (FYI, you CAN wear white pants before Easter and you can eat BLATs before Easter, but BLATs taste better after Easter.  Especially when eaten while wearing white pants.)

Speaking of Spring, our Easter menu was delicious, but because we had another couple and their children over to celebrate, we decided not to weird them out by taking pictures of everything before we ate it.  So we put our camera away.  The only picture I took was this one of our appetizers:

The rest of our menu was Grilled Leg of Lamb with Rosemary, Ina’s Rosemary Roasted Potatoes, Grilled Asparagus and Lemon Creme Brulee served with Raspberries in Creme de Cassis for dessert.  All of it was wonderful.  If I did have any critiques about the grilling, I wouldn’t tell you about it.  That’s personal and I would never betray my husband by admitting that I think the lamb was overcooked.  So stop asking.

– Catherine

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