Snow Day


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.


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.

Simple Tomato Sauce

A sweet friend gave me about three pounds of some very ripe tomatoes.  I decided to make the simplest tomato sauce with the most minimal of ingredients and it was outstanding.  I served it over penne with a green salad.  It was very little effort, ingredients and time and tasted like something that had been fussed over for the better part of an afternoon.

Fresh tomato sauce

3 lb. fresh ripe tomatoes

1 14 oz can of tomato sauce

2 T of tomato paste

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Handful of chopped fresh basil

Boil a large pot of water.

Skin the tomatoes by cutting a small X in the bottom of the tomato and letting it sit in boiling water for a minute.  The skins should easily slip off.  Reserve your pot of boiling water to cook your pasta.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and then set the tomatoes in the pan to soften.  When they have sizzled in the oil for a few minutes, mash them with a potato masher, turn down the heat to medium low and let them simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the tomato sauce,  2 tablespoons of tomato paste and salt and pepper to taste and simmer until thickened slightly.

Cook the pasta to al dente.  Add fresh basil to the sauce when you are ready to serve.  Toss the pasta with the sauce and pass freshly grated parmesan and crushed red pepper at the table.


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