Monday, August 15, 2011

Simple gifts

I know, I know, how saccharine and disgusting! But I can't help it. There has been such a glut of them recently. Take these matryoshka measuring cups and spoons, given to me by my mother-in-law.

My revived basil plant.

This thing has at least nine lives.

Cheap end-of-summer heirloom tomatoes, resting on a bamboo cutting board courtesy of my best friend's mother (i.e. my second mother).

Pretty and delicious

The re-realization, at the wedding of two of my high school friends who have been dating since we were in ninth grade, that the friends I made in high school are so staggeringly full of personality, strength, and accomplishment that I couldn't have assembled a better group of them if I'd tried.


Roasted heirloom tomato and red pepper soup on an unseasonably cool and rainy day, with butter lettuce salad and 45-cent happy hour bagels.

Tastes better than it looks. As usual.

Schadenfreude. No, I don't have a specific recent example of that, but I figured I had to cut the cloying examples featured in this post with the acknowledgement that revenge is just as sweet as any of the above.

Neither here nor there soup
I'm calling it this because it needs to be summer for tomatoes to be good enough to make this, but it's too warm to be eaten if conditions are not autumnal.

1.5 lbs heirloom tomatoes, slow-roasted
2 large red peppers, roasted and blistered in the oven
4 cloves garlic, roasted
1 carrot
1 onion
1 rib celery, with the annoying veiny bits stripped out
1 pod star anise
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sugar
dash of soy sauce
red pepper flakes
1/2 to 3/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp cornstarch

Dice the onion, carrot, and celery to make a mirepoix. Sweat the mirepoix in a heavy-bottomed pot, then add the roasted vegetables and garlic, add soy sauce and water to cover, and bring to a boil. (I don't really care about a perfectly smooth soup, so I included the tomato and red pepper skins, but if you do care, take the skins off by scalding the vegetables prior to roasting.) Reduce to a simmer and add the spices to taste; make sure you taste every 5 minutes or so and remove the anise pod as soon as you find the anise flavor to be sufficient. Simmer until all the vegetables are soft enough to immersion blend or puree, at which point you should cool the soup enough to do so. Warm the milk in the microwave and add the cornstarch gradually, stirring to combine. Stir the cornstarchy milk into the soup and heat through. Pass through a mesh sieve or a chinois if you like. Eat with crusty bread (or really cheap bagels) and salad.

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