Tag Archives: basil

Mini Tomato-Basil Bread Puddings

9 Sep

Mini Tomato Basil Bread PuddingBread puddings are the epitome of warm, homey comfort food. We always remember all the delicious dessert bread puddings and often overlook that savory bread puddings are celebrated soul friendly brunch entrées or a dinner side dishes.

A few years ago I came across a remarkable Tomato-Basil Bread Pudding recipe created by Giada de Laurentiis. Over the years I have created several brunch versions of this and have enjoyed all of them. It’s a versatile recipe that can take on the addition of any favorite omelet ingredient – ham, mushrooms, green peppers etc. This version doesn’t deviate too far from the original recipe. I add in some Fontina cheese for extra creaminess and some hot sauce for an underlying kick. Creating individual portions in cupcake tins gives a little vigor to comfort classic. Individual Tomato Basil Bread Pudding

These mini tomato-basil bread puddings symbolize comfort food at its best – rustic, humble, inexpensive and heartwarming!  Continue reading

Start your year right: Thai Pomelo Salad

2 Jan

Thai Pomelo Salad

Happy New Year!

It is the time for New Year’s Resolutions; often know as – lofty promises of regular workouts and healthy meals. These resolutions are more than often short-lived pledges that fade away within a few weeks into the year. But since most of us are trying to start our year right, this is a great salad to add to a healthy regimen. Its intense flavors will ensure that even though you’ll soon revert to your old ways you may just crave to eat this salad throughout the year.Pomelo Salad

This salad is inspired by my favorite salad on a recent trip to Thailand. Its star ingredient is the Pomelo, a citrus fruit similar in taste to a pink or Ruby Red grapefruit (great substitutes if you cannot find Pomelos). The fish sauce, Thai basil and birds eye chili add a quintessential Thai flavor to this salad, creating a unique and invigorating salad for any meal of the day.

Thai Pomelo Salad Recipe
Yield: about 3 cups of salad
Time:20 minutes

Ingredients:

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ½ teaspoons light brown sugar
  • 1 finely chopped birds eye chili

Salad Ingredients:

  • 2 cups bite size pieces of Thai pomelo/ South Indian Pummelo or Ruby red grapefruit (See note)
  • ½ cup bean sprouts
  • ¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely sliced scallions
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped Thai basil (See note)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
  • Garnish: Crushed peanuts (optional)
  • Iceberg or Bib lettuce for a serving bed (optional)

Notes:

  • You can use Thai Pomelos, South Indian Pummelos or ruby red grapefruits for this salad. The dressings and all other salad ingredients work well with any of these 3 fruits. Pomelos can be found in Mexican and in Asian markets.
  • Thai Basil can be found in all Asian Grocery stores as well as some of the larger grocery chains.

Method:
1) In a small bowl mix together all the dressing ingredients and set aside for 15 minutes.
2) In a large bowl Toss together all the salad ingredients (except for the peanuts and lettuce).
3) If you do not want a very spicy salad, at this stage remove the birds eye chili from the dressing. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well till all the ingredients are well coated with the dressing.
4) Refrigerate for 30 minutes (can be refrigerated for a maximum of 12 hours).
5) Serve cold on a bed of lettuce or in lettuce cups and garnish with peanuts if using them.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Truffle Oil & A Herbed Goat Cheese Ball

27 Sep

We all have our lists of comfort foods; foods that warm our hearts and feed our souls. They are foods that calm our nerves and satiate our appetites on days that seem far from perfect. I have a long list of favorite comfort foods and soup is pretty high up on that list. And not just any soup – tomato soup, particularly a roasted tomato soup.

By now you know my love for tomatoes, and since tomatoes found in the cooler months of the year are often not at their best, roasting wheedles out the flavor of a less than pristine tomato. A classic roasted tomato soup is a staple around our home in the cooler months, but is an entertaining worthy soup?

This is a dilemma I found myself grappling with a few days ago. Since I profess that I feed people’s appetites, I ought to have my fancier, party worthy meals stem for classic comfort food recipes. I need to create dressed up versions of comfort classics that have both the panache of a fancy dinner and the cozy feel of comfort food. This self-imposed mandate was the foundation of this recipe.

The herbed goat cheese ball replaces the cream that would traditionally thicken a tomato soup. As it melts into the soup it creates an additional layer of flavor and texture. This coupled with a hint of white truffle oil elevates a comfort classic to celebrity status.

Roasted Tomato Soup with Truffle oil & Herbed Goat Cheese
Serves 4 people

HERBED GOAT CHEESE BALLS:

Ingredients:

4 oz goat cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon finely chopped basil
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
¼ teaspoon table salt
¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

 Method:

1) Mix together all the above ingredients.
2) Use your hands to form small balls that are just a little smaller than golf balls. Place them on a plate and chill in the refrigerator till the soup is ready.
3) If you have leftover goat cheese balls, they make a great spread for toast or crackers.

ROASTED TOMATO SOUP

Ingredients:

1 lb vine ripe tomatoes, quartered
1 large yellow onion, peeled and quartered
5 unpeeled whole garlic cloves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
5 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon of white truffle oil (See note)
2 tablespoons of basil, Chiffonade
Salt and pepper to taste

Note:

  • You can use more truffle oil if you want to. Be aware that it is very strong and a little bit more can have an overpowering flavor. You want to just have a hint of it when you taste the soup.

Method:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 450⁰F.
2) Cover a large sheet pan/cookie sheet with foil. Lay out all tomatoes, onion and garlic cloves on it. Drizzle the vegetables with the olive oil and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of cracked black pepper.
3) Roast all these vegetables in the oven for 30 minutes. Flip the vegetables over half way through to ensure even charring.
4) Once the vegetables are roasted, bring the chicken stock to a boil along with the bay leaf and oregano in a Dutch oven on the stove top.
5) Add the roasted vegetables and the tomato paste to the boiling broth. Don’t forget to remove the roasted garlic from the peels and discard the peels before adding to the broth. Let everything come up to a rolling boil.
6) Now reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat when done.
7) Using and immersion blender or a food processor, blend everything together. Use a sieve to strain out any seeds.
8) Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the truffle oil and basil.
9) Serve the soup in your best soup bowls and top each bowl with one of the goat cheese balls.

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