Sunday, October 28, 2012

Bread-Tomato-Garlic Soup: For Food 'n Flix: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes and Souper (Soup, Salad, & Sammie) Sundays

In about one third of the time that it will take you to watch the film Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, you can make this bowl of simple, hearty Bread-Tomato-Garlic Soup. And, I do recommend that's where you spend your time--the soup not the movie. 

Elizabeth at The Law Student's Cookbook selected this campy "horror" movie as our Food 'n Flix pick for October--a very fitting choice. Although I generally like B-rated cult-status films, I just couldn't quite get into it this round. Filmed in 1978, (I vaguely remember watching it as a child), the years have not been kind to this film--I think my only real laughs came from the clothing and bad low-budget special effects. Still, seemingly harmless tomatoes intent on taking over the world did inspire this delicious dish. 

This recipe comes from the Jill Dupleix cookbook of the same name, Bread Tomato Garlic--featuring recipes with three "main player" ingredients. The three are used beautifully here in a thick, velvety soup. 

Jill Dupleix says, "A soup that's really a salad: sourdough bread, rich, ripe tomatoes and your fruitiest olive oil."

Bread-Tomato-Garlic Soup 
Adapted from Bread Tomato Garlic by Jill Dupleix
(Serves 4)

Main Players:
12 oz stale sourdough bread
1 lb ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, peeled (I used 3 cloves)

Supporting Cast:
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
5 cups chicken stock or veggie broth
1 small bunch basil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove crusts from the bread, thickly slice and cut into 3/4-inch cubes. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, and smash the garlic with the side of a knife until flattened.

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a heavy saucepan. When hot, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.

Add the broth gradually, stirring, and bring to a boil. When the mixture is bubbling, add the stale bread cubes, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. Toss in a handful of fresh basil leave sand stir them through.

Cover and simmer over very low heat for 20-30 minutes. Stir every now and then, squashing some of the bread into the soup with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon. 

Remove from the heat and leave to cool for a while. Serve warm, drizzled with extra olive oil.  

Notes/Results: So simple and good. The bread makes this soup thick and smooth. I added a little extra garlic to mine and put half of the basil in when the recipe called for it and the other half in at the end. Playing off of Dupleix comment that this is a soup that is really a salad, I topped mine with a little fresh mozzarella, making it Caprese-ish. This soup is pure comfort food and I would definitely make it again. 

Thanks to Elizabeth for picking a fun October film. She'll be rounding up the killer tomato-inspired dishes on her blog in the next few days. Have a hankering for films and food? Join us for the next Food 'n Flix pick, Julie and Julia hosted by La Cocina de Leslie

Now let's visit the Souper Sundays kitchen and see what dishes await. 

Foodycat has a new addiction--Nduja--rich, spicy, paste-like sausage from Calabria and used it to make this hearty Ndjua Meatball Minestrone Soup. She says, "The flavour of the pepper stuffing started me thinking of meatballs. And as the weather has turned distinctly autumnal, it led my thoughts towards soup. A big pot of minestrone, thick with stelline, beans and vegetables, with balls of 'nduja-and-sausagemeat poached gently in it. The chilli-warmth worked its way through the whole pot of broth."

Dave from Inspired by eRecipeCards joins us for the first time at Souper Sundays with two soupy bowls of goodness.  First is this Garlic Garlic Chicken and Dumplings. Dave says, "Not a typo, double Garlic. And as good as that sounds... It tasted better.  In fact, I am out on a limb here, but I really think this is about the best thing I have ever made.  A terrific garlic seasoned vegetable chicken soup, but on top are the most amazing garlic cheese dumplings.  I cried just a bit when the leftovers were gone."

Next, Dave shares this Chicken, Kale, Sweet Potatoes in a Silky Butternut Squash Soup and says, "Today's soup wasn't waiting for Indian Summer, this beauty was made with a base of creamy silky butternut squash (thickened with a roux and pureed).  The meat of the soup was cubes of fried Sweet Potatoes for texture (and health), some Kale for color. texture and even more health and some of my beloved store bought, fully cooked, fully seasoned Rotisserie Chicken..." Welcome to Souper Sundays Dave!

Joanne of Eats Well With Others created a fun soupy spin on a classic dish with her Lasagna Soup and says, "My grandmother didn't make lasagna. Perhaps that is why I've never felt that bad taking what should be tradition and transforming it into something totally unrecognizable.  Omitting key ingredients, adding in a rainbow of vegetables that wasn't there before, or saying "who needs an hour of baking or a tray of cheesy perfection...just throw it all on the stovetop and call it soup!" As it turns out, without a gold standard to compare it to, anything goes."

Janet of The Taste Space has two salads to share this week. First, this end-of-summer Flageolet Bean Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Leeks. She says, "It is such a simple salad, but capitalizes on summer’s fresh bounty. You could even whip this one out in the middle of winter with green-house tomatoes and nobody would be the wiser. Roasting the tomatoes, leeks and garlic makes a delicious base for this salad. Coated in a touch of coconut oil, it permeates into the juicy tomatoes and silky leeks. I combined them with flageolet beans, perfect for salads with their creamy texture yet firm shape. No need for a dressing, the vegetable juices embrace the beans.

Janet also made this pretty salad topped with Tomato-Pomegranate Vinaigrette and says, "I was initially perplexed by the recipe since it seemed to be a dressing infused with the flavours instead of being pureed directly into the dressing. So, I experimented. I made half of the recipe through the suggested (infused) method, and half of the dressing was simply pureed. The verdict? Both were good and more surprisingly to me, the blended dressing was creamier. I thought the pureed shallot and garlic would make this a scary dressing, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t as tart and acidic as the infused dressing. However, once mixed with my veggie medley, it was perfect. Both versions were nice."

Becky from veghotpot is back with a satisfying Vegan BLT (BBQ Tofu, Lettuce and Tomato) sandwich and says, "A BLT needs to be slightly smoky, slightly salty and a good contrast between crispy ‘bacon’, crunchy lettuce and juicy tomatoes! ... What I liked about this sandwich was the fact that the tofu packed some great flavour but it also had a creamy subtleness which was delicious against the toasted bread. I actually left the tofu marinating for quite a while as we went to the pub and I can confirm that after a few cold pints of beer on a rainy day, this sandwich was perfect to come home to!"

Finally, Heather of girlichef made these fun Spiced Shawarma Chicken Wraps and says, "Can I just say how much I adore deceptively simple recipes?  Deceptive in that, although fairly quick and definitely no-fuss, they are absolute crowd-pleasers.  That would be exactly the case with the recipe... Everybody loved them exactly as-is.  And me?  Well, I stole away with the remaining garlic mayo all for myself.  And a little bowl of Kalamata olives.  Dip wrap in mayo, pop an olive in my mouth, take glorious free-will-melting bite. Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat."

Wonderful dishes this week--thanks to everyone who joined in. If you have a soup, salad, or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my side bar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pale Green, Spicy, Minty Lassi: Creamy, Cool Yogurt Refreshment

Lack of trade winds this week and the resulting humidity make something cold and refreshing very welcome. I am more familiar with a sweet lassi, the Indian yogurt drink. My favorite is made with fresh mango and a little cardamom. This Pale Green, Spicy, Minty Lassi from Madhur Jaffrey is definitely different. The heat of the chili is prominent but cooled down by the yogurt and mint and the cumin, ginger and cilantro add layers of flavor. 

Jaffrey says, "I cannot think of anything more refreshing for a hot summer day."

Pale Green, Spicy, Minty Lassi (Hari Lassi)
From Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking 
(Serves 2)

1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
25 large mint leaves or 30 smaller ones
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 fresh hot green chile (use the upper half for more heat, the lower for less)
1/3 tsp salt or to taste
1/4 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds (optional)
8 ice cubes

Combine all the ingredients in an electric blender and blend until smooth. Some ice pieces may remain. Pour into 2 glasses and serve.

Notes/Results: Very refreshing. I followed the recipe as written--using thick Greek yogurt so I had to add a little water to get it blended to the right consistency. To make it vegan, you could use a coconut yogurt of course. I like the pale green color and the combination of the tangy, spicy and minty elements. I would make it again.

Everything is Better with Yogurt is the theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week where we are currently cooking with Madhur Jaffrey.

Happy Aloha Friday!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Masoor Dal (Soupish Red Lentils) for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

The first time that I cooked with split red lentils, many moons ago, I was surprised at how quickly they lost their shape and that they turned more of a yellow-ish orange. I wasn't sure I liked the texture--preferring the sturdier brown and green varieties. They grew on me though and I came to love them for how quickly they cook and how good they are. 

In this case, lightly spiced in Masoor Dal, the turmeric gives them even more of a yellow hue and their flavor is enhanced by the smoky cumin seeds, hot red chilies and leek-onion essence of the asafoetida (a spice that doesn't get that much use in my kitchen so I like coming across dishes that use it). Does dal qualify for Souper Sundays? Sure, it is a thick, Indian stew. Served with some basmati rice, it fills the kitchen with a rich, exotic aroma in no time and makes a healthy, filling dinner.   

Masoor Dal (Split Red Lentils)
From 100 Weeknight Curries by Madhur Jaffrey
(Serves 6-8 very small side dish servings)

350 g (12oz) split red lentils (masoor dal)
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/4-1 1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
generous pinch of ground asafoetida
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-5 dried hot red chillies

Pick over lentils for any grit. Place them in a bowl and wash in several changes of water. Drain the lentils and out them in a heavy-based pan with 1.2 litres (2 pints) water and the turmeric. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook the lentils over low heat for 35-40 minutes or until the lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.

Add the salt to the lentils, mix and leave covered over low heat. Heat the ghee or vegetable oil in a frying pan over fairly high heat and, when hot, add the asafoetida followed by the cumin seeds. Let the cumin seeds sizzle for a few seconds and then add the chillies. As soon as they turn dark red--this takes just a few seconds--pour the contents of the frying pan into the lentils and mix.

Notes/Results: This is simple hearty fare but the flavors are clear and strong. The toasted cumin comes out the most, but the asafoetida adds a little something that makes it unique. Use less chillies and leave them whole it you want it mild, more and break them up for the heat. I find that this dal shines with a squeeze of lemon to enhance and brighten the other ingredients. An easy, relatively quick warming dinner that I would make again.

We are showing our Lentil Love! at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. You can check out all the different lentil dishes everyone made by following the post links. 

Let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen where we have some great dishes waiting.

My pal Heather of girlichef brings a hearty slow cooker Spicy White Chicken Chili with her this week and says, "This is one of those meals that I want to come home to after "a day".  Warm, comforting, and spicy enough to give me a big ol' kick in the batootie.  You know, so I can get motivated to do everything around the house that didn't get done during the day while I was out. ... This chili is seriously spicy. If you like a lower heat level, reduce the amount of chile powder and/or jalapeños."

Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe is back this week with this nourishing Sweet Potato, Silverbeet and Black Bean Soup. She says, "Last week I made pumpkin scrolls (more about them later).  With a filling dessert, I decided a simple stew was all I needed for dinner.  I had sweet potato roasting in the oven, a tin of black beans in the pantry and silverbeet in the garden. ... With the soup, the bad news was that there was too much silverbeet for E.  The good news was that he only had it one night.  I had it two nights in a row and really enjoyed it.  It came together quickly and meant I could eat more pumpkin scrolls!"

Tigerfish of Teczcape - An Escape to Food made a healthy Nagaimo (Mountain Yam), Mushrooms, Tofu Soymilk-Based Soup and says, "This is a nourishing one-pot dish packed with proteins (mushrooms and tofu) and fiber (mountain yam - Nagaimo and celery) adapted from a TV programme. The show particularly highlighted the benefits of mountain yam - Nagaimo and the host-cum-cook used soy milk (in replacement of water) for the added nourishment, as the cooking broth."

Joanne of Eats Well With Others made a rough day better with this Kabocha Lentil Soup. Joanne says, "As you can see I'm full of grievances today. Rifling through every inch of your apartment looking for paperwork you probably never had to begin with will do that to a girl. A night filled with that much clutter can be made better by only one thing. Soup.  And fritters, in this case. A warm and hearty lentil winter squash soup, to be precise, paired with what are essentially savory zucchini pancakes and a hearty slice of Italian bread.  No fire safety certification necessary. Win."

Judee of Gluten Free A-Z Blog made this crunchy Cranberry, Apple and Cashew Broccoli Slaw and says, "This nutritious cranberry, apple, cashew broccoli slaw is easy to make, looks really pretty, and tastes sensational. Ok , I confess that the raw cranberries in the salad are really tart, but I only used a handful for color in the salad,  and I like the  tartness .. Also, the tartness is balanced by the sweet raisins and the raw honey in the dressing. This could make a great salad for Thanksgiving, especially if you are looking for a raw dish or are vegan."

Our sandwich offering this week comes from Janet of The Taste Space with this Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Sandwich with Lime and Cilantro. She says, "Like a souped up guacamole, this combined both of my versions. Chunky like my pineapple and cucumber guacamole but ramped up with chickpeas like my edamame guacamole. Filled with fresh cilantro, a zip from green onions and citrus tang from lime, this worked really well. You could use this as a dip with big crackers. Or slather it onto your next sandwich or wrap. Whatever you decide, you know it will be a tasty spread."

Thanks to everyone who joined in this week! If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on my sidebar for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Book Tour Stops Here: Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose & a Much Happier Hawaii-Inspired Desk Salad with Ahi and Creamy Miso Dressing

Usually is a book's description that hooks me. With Sad Desk Salad by Jessica Grose, it was the title. A sad desk salad is the lunchtime standby of the working woman--that meal you consume at your desk--either working or while surfing the net. I have had many a sad desk salad in my working life--whether consumed at an actual work desk or at my kitchen table as I work from home--often getting my own blog post out or seeing what my friends are doing on their blogs. As Alex, the blogger main character in Sad Desk Salad puts it, "We get the most readers around lunchtime, when girls in offices all over the East Coast eat their sad desk salads and force down bites of desiccated chicken breasts while scrolling through our latest posts. We get another traffic bump around four, when our West Coast counterparts eat their greens with low-fat dressing.

Alex Lyons is one of four writers for Chick Habit, a popular website for women, where she is responsible for ten posts a day--mostly salacious celebrity gossip and stories about those not-so "regular" people that you might see on Jerry Springer. She spends her days waiting for news feeds to drop stories interesting enough to write about and post to hit her work quota of one-million page views per month. Although she tries to tell herself she is achieving her dream of being a professional writer, it doesn't really feel that way and her conscience suffers--basically, in her words, it feels like she "gets paid to be a bitch."

Scrambling for blog-worthy fodder when her monthly numbers are down, an email from an anonymous source drops a red-hot story in her lap--one of a famous "tiger-mom"-style author and current senate candidate's quadruplet college-age daughters has been caught doing something she shouldn't. Alex has to decide whether to run the story, hit a career home-run while potentially ruining the girl's life, or stick to the ethics she struggles with. 

Paperback: 304 pages
 William Morrow Paperbacks October 2, 2012

Author Jessica Grose is a writer and editor, previously a senior editor at Slate and an editor at Jezebel. Her work has appeared in the New York TimesGlamourMarie ClaireSpin, and several other publications, and on She lives in Brooklyn with her husband.

Sad Desk Salad is a light chick-lit read, funny--in a snarky way which appeals to me. I relate well to snarky. ;-) It paints an entertaining picture of blogging and how obsessed with celebrity screw-ups the media is with lots of pop culture references. At the end of the day, it's not at all deep and meaningful, but it entertains and is a quick and easy read to enjoy over a few days of consuming your own sad desk salads. 

For my book-inspired dish--although it is always a little sad eating lunch at your desk, your meal itself doesn't have to be sad at all. I livened up that sad desk salad and gave it some Aloha and some Hawaiian-style inspiration because, as a good friend from the rainy Northwest once reminded me as I was "bitching" about a particularly bad day I was having, "It can't be that bad! You live in Hawaii--one of the most beautiful places on earth!" I can't argue that fact. A quick walk outside or peek at the beach, or being stuck in traffic with a water view seems much less harsh than a gloomy day that matches your mood. Elevate that salad and it becomes something to look forward to instead of something to endure.

My "Much Happier Hawaiian-Inspired Desk Salad" features a bed of local mixed baby greens and little sweet tomatoes, local avocado and papaya. It's topped with some seaweed salad, edamame and fresh ahi poke (if you don't know the Hawaiian staple poke look here), and is garnished with green onion and black sesame seeds. There is a little of one of my stand-by salad dressings on the greens, a Creamy Miso Dressing (recipe below).

It is impossible not to be happy when feeding yourself this sun-soaked flavorful (savory, sweet, tangy, briny, with a kick of chile) salad with a favorite pair of chopsticks. (Tip from Deb--most salads should be consumed with chopsticks--makes it more fun!). Even consumed at a desk or work table, this salad is an escape to paradise. ;-)

Creamy Miso Dressing
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 1 Cup of dressing)

1/3 cup, light (white) miso

2/3 cup soft tofu 
1 tsp, honey or agave
1/2 tsp, dry yellow mustard 

2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons, rice wine vinegar or brown rice vinegar

black sesame seeds (optional)

In a blender or food processor, blend all ingredients except sesame seeds if using, together until smooth. Stir in sesame seeds. Taste and add additional seasoning as needed. Store in a tightly-closed jar in the refrigerator for--should keep 4-5 days or more.

Note: A review copy of Sad Desk Salad was provided by the publisher and TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Ginger Tofu Soup: A Restorative Cure-All for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

This soup from Moosewood Restaurant: Cooking for Health takes the place of chicken soup when you want a veg-friendly, no-meat restorative cure-all for a stuffed up head. There is enough powerful ginger and garlic to clear the sinuses and the rice and tofu add substance. It's also incredibly quick and easy to make, good for when the last thing you feel like doing is spending time cooking. 

I made a few minor changes--in red below. 

Ginger Tofu Soup
Moosewood Restaurant: Cooking for Health
(Yields about 7 Cups)
Time: 20 minutes (with leftover rice)

1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth (see note) (I diluted my broth w/ 2 cups water-6 cups total)
1 cup thinly sliced celery
(I added 1 carrot, thinly sliced)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed (I added 3 large cloves)
1/4 cup peeled ginger root matchsticks (2-inch pieces)
2 Tbsp soy sauce (I used low-sodium tamari)
1 cake of firm tofu (about 16 oz)
1 cup cooked brown rice (I used a mix of wild and brown rice)
4 scallions, cut on the diagonal 
(garnished with black sesame seeds)

Place the vegetable broth in a soup pot and bring to almost boiling. Add the celery, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Cut the tofu into small cubes and add to the pot. Gently stir in the rice. Return to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the scallions and serve.

Moosewood Note: The better the broth, the better the soup. We like Imagine or Pacific brands: our favorite for this soup is a mock chicken broth. 

Nutritional Info: (Per 1 Cup) Calories: 69, Protein: 5g, Carbohydrate: 9g, Dietary Fiber: 1g, Total Fat: 1 g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 273mg

Notes/Results: Nourishing and flavorful and a great replacement for the chicken soup my mom insists I need to get better. ;-) The ginger and garlic flavor are strong but not overpowering. I thought the "matchsticks" of ginger would be distracting, but they are easy enough to eat around. I liked it with a squirt or two of Sriracha or other hot sauce--also very congestion clearing. Very simple, very good. I will make this soup again.

We have some delicious bowls of soup waiting in the Souper Sunday kitchen this week. Let's take a look. 

Janet of The Taste Space made this hearty Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup with Chickpeas, Leeks and Fennel and says, "This soup did not disappoint. Chickpeas and squash go so well together. Savoury cumin and fennel seeds augment the mellow fennel, leek and shallots. Ginger and chile flakes add a nice zip and lemon juice balances it all. A hearty meal in a bowl, perfect for warming up with this colder weather. A new favourite, for sure."

Graziana of Erbe in Cucina made the most of her leftovers with this Peas Soup with Pesto. She says, "I made some pesto using different varieties of basil (large leaf, cinnamon, lemon), chives and chives garlic, along with sunflower seeds, olive oil and parmesan cheese. We had the pesto with spaghetti, and then used the leftovers for this creamy soup."

Carol of There's Always Thyme to Cook... is embracing soup season with two bowls this week--Minestrone with Tomatoes and Rice and Tuscan White Bean and Garlic. She says,"I love the cooler weather. And I am looking forward to soup. Lots of soups. Hearty soups. So I went looking through past blog posts to see what's what. These are two I had forgotten about and I'm glad I went back to look. They will be on our table again very soon."

Finally Pam from Sidewalk Shoes tried this Caribbean Black Soup with Roasted Garlic and Tomatoes and says, "Normally I make my black bean soup exactly like my white bean soup, the only difference being the type of bean.  But while browsing through the cookbook, I found this recipe.   The extra step of roasting the garlic and tomatoes sounded intriguing and not too much work.  I was skeptical of a bean soup that didn’t at least have a ham bone in it.  But this was good.  Very good.  I didn’t even miss the meat!  The complexity from the roasted garlic and tomatoes was just enough to elevate this soup."

Thanks to Janet, Graziana, Carol and Pam for sharing their soups this week. If you have a soup (or salad, or sandwich) to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo for all of the details.

Have a happy, healthy week!