Monthly Archives: August 2015

Bushel of Tomatoes? Make Soup!

Tomato Soups

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Roasted peppers, tomatoes, sautéed aromatics and seasonings are cooked in chicken broth, strained, pureed, and thickened with a roux to create this creamy soup.

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 4 large tomatoes – peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon white sugar
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons sour cream

Roast peppers: rub oil on peppers and put them under the broiler until blackened, turn to get all sides. Put into paper bag and seal. Let rest for 15 minutes, then peel will come right off and core and seeds will fall out. Chop peppers. Reserve one chopped pepper; set aside.

Heat olive oil over moderate heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato, bell peppers (except reserved), thyme, paprika, and sugar. Cook over medium-low heat until all the tomato juices have evaporated, about 25 minutes.

Stir in chicken stock, salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, and hot sauce (if using). Bring to boiling, lower heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Strain soup, reserving broth. Place solids in food processor or blender, and process until fairly smooth. Add puree back into broth.

Melt butter and stir in the flour, cook for 1 minute. Stirring slowly, add the broth/vegetable mixture. Add reserved chopped pepper and bring to boiling. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Ladle into bowls and add 1 tablespoon of sour cream to each bowl. For a lighter soup, this is also delicious without the sour cream.


Tomato and Basil Soup

  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • 2 organic chicken or vegetable stock cubes
  • 2 x 400 g tinned plum tomatoes
  • 6 large ripe tomatoes
  • 1 small bunch fresh basil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Peel and roughly slice the carrots. Slice the celery. Peel and roughly chop the onions. Peel and slice the garlic. Put a large pan on a medium heat and add a couple of lugs of olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients and mix together with a wooden spoon.

Cook for around 10 to 15 minutes with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden.

Put the stock cubes into a jug or pan and pour in 1.5 litres of boiling water from the kettle. Stir until the stock cubes are dissolved, then add to the pan with your tinned and fresh whole tomatoes, including the green stalks that may still be attached to some of them (these give an amazing flavour – trust me!) Give it a good stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. Meanwhile, pick your basil leaves.

Remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper and add the basil leaves. Using a hand blender or liquidizer, pulse the soup until smooth. Season again before dividing between your serving bowls.



Spicy Dill Pickle Soup, Pickle Chicken with Garlic Fries and Spicy Pickle Dip & Baked “Fried” Pickles with Peanut Butter Frosting Dip

Pickle Soup, Chicken and Dessert

This was such a fun meal.  One of my guests absolutely loved Pickles and Peanut Butter.  So I took to creating a Pickle experience from start to finish.  The soup was on the spicy side so would definitely pair with a light white or a bubbly.  The main course was perfect with a creamy Chardonnay as the Chicken after being brined for 24 hours in pickle juice was the tenderest chicken I have ever tasted.  The desert was another flavour explosion and a sweet dessert wine or Cab Franc Ice wine would be perfect.

Spicy Dill Pickle Soup

  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 5 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup pickle juice
  • 1cup baby dill pickles, diced
  • 1cup russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2   cups carrots, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup Yoplait® Greek 100 plain yogurt (or sour cream)
  • Pita chips for serving
  • Grated cheddar cheese for garnish, if desired

Melt butter in stock pot and whisk in flour. Whisk in half the chicken broth. To the pot, add the remaining chicken broth and the butter, flour and broth mixture and whisk until combined. Add the pickle juice, pickles, potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper and cayenne.

Bring to boil and then simmer until veggies are cooked.  Cool and then puree in a blender.  Stir in the yogurt (or sour cream) and cook another 5 minutes. Serve warm with pita chips and garnish with grated cheddar cheese or chopped pickles if desired.


 Pickle Chicken with Garlic Fries and Spicy Pickle Dip

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 jar of garlic dill pickles (I go for the sandwich slices to top each piece of chicken with – see note)
  • 4 medium baking potatoes, scrubbed and sliced relatively thin – like steak fries
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic dill pickles
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • salt to taste

Up to 24 hours ahead of time (but at least an hour) place the chicken in a shallow dish and pour the pickle juice over it. Cover tightly and refrigerate until you re ready to cook.

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. Lay the potatoes out in a single layer. Sprinkle them with the salt and garlic. Bake the potatoes for 25 minutes, turning them over on the tray halfway through.

While the potatoes bake, heat your grill. You could also utilize a stovetop grill pan.

To make the Spicy Pickle Dip, mix together the chopped pickles, Greek yogurt, sriracha, and salt.

Grill your chicken. I usually opt for thinner chicken breasts and 4-5 minutes on each side will cook them through (grill temperature should be 350°-400°F). Make sure you either check the chicken with an instant read thermometer for an internal temperature of 165°F OR slice into the thickest part of the meat and check that the juices are clear and there’s no pink.

Serve the chicken with a pickle slice on top (optional) , with a handful of the Garlic Fries and a side of Spicy Pickle Dip!


Baked “Fried” Pickles with Peanut Butter Frosting Dip

For the Pickles

  • 1 jar Farmer’s Garden by Vlasic Kosher Dill Spears
  • 2 eggs
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup Italian Style Bread Crumbs
  • cooking spray

For the Peanut Butter Frosting Dip

  • 4-oz. (half of a block) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat broiler to high. Line a baking sheet with foil and set a rack over the baking sheet; spray with cooking spray and set aside.

Drain and dry all pickle-spears with paper towel; set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, hot sauce, salt and pepper. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. Dip each pickle in the egg mixture, then roll the pickle in the bread crumbs. Place all the prepared pickles on the previously prepared rack. Lightly spray all the pickles with cooking spray. Broil for 4 minutes.

Remove from oven; turn over all the pickles, lightly spray with cooking spray and broil for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside.

Prepare Peanut Butter Frosting Dip

In your mixer’s bowl, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar; mix until creamy. Add peanut butter and vanilla; continue to beat until smooth and well incorporated. Pour frosting in a dipping bowl and serve.

Beef and Broccoli with Fried Quinoa

Beef and Broccoli with Fried Quinoa

A simple quick meal with a bit of kick (or not if you choose not to use Sriracha). Pairs perfectly with a Gamay or Baco Noir.

For the Quinoa:

  • ¾ cup quinoa
  • 1 ½ cups veggie or chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 cups mixed veggies– ie. red pepper, carrot, peapods, mushrooms, frozen peas
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Oil for pan, about 1-2 teaspoons
  • 2 eggs beaten with a splash of water
  • Green onions & Sriracha to garnish
  • Low Sodium Soy Sauce, to taste


For the Beef and Broccoli:

  • ¾-1 pounds of beef
  • 3-4 cups chopped broccoli florets. Fresh or frozen.
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon of ground ginger


For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
  • ¼ cup teriyaki + 2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil + 1 teaspoon sesame oil

To make the quinoa, In a sauce pan, add oil and quinoa. Toast on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes. Toss in garlic clove and stock. Bubble on low heat for 20 minutes. Fluff with fork and remove garlic and ginger. Place in fridge until ready to use.

Chop all veggies. Heat a wok over medium high heat. Circle with enough oil to cover pan—about 1 teaspoon. Add egg and cook like an omelet, seasoning with Sriracha. Remove from pan and slice in ribbons for later. Add veggies to pan and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic. Shake in soy sauce, to taste. I tend to use around 1 tablespoon. Add quinoa and toss with veggies for a minute. Mix in cooked egg and sprinkle with green onions and Sriracha.

To make the Beef and Broccoli – Melt coconut oil in the microwave for about 20 seconds with the honey. Mix everything together in the bowl. Slice the beef in ¼ inch cuts. Marinade the beef for at least 2 hours.

Combine everything for the sauce together and mix well. Remove the marinated beef from the fridge. Let stand for about 15 minutes. Heat the wok to medium high (same one as quinoa! No need to mess up another pan!), circle some canola oil to coat pan. Add beef and any extra marinade. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broccoli and continue to stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Pour in sauce to coat beef and broccoli. Cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.


Herb-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Potatoes and Lemony Asparagus

Herb-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin With Potatoes and Lemony Asparagus

Pork is such a versatile ingredient that can be adjusted to fit your palate. The asparagus and herb crust of the pork make this a perfect pairing with a crisp white wine.

  • 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes (about 15), halved, or quartered if large
  • 3 tablespoons   olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 pork tenderloin (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound), trimmed
  • 1 lemon, sliced

Heat oven to 450° F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the potatoes with 1 tablespoon of the oil and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Roast, tossing once, until tender and browned, 20 to 24 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub the pork with the parsley, thyme, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. After the potatoes have cooked for 10 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the asparagus and lemon to the skillet and drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil. Transfer the skillet to oven and cook until the pork is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the pork rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the potatoes, asparagus, and lemon.