Monday, May 10, 2010

Sometime between yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening, Brooklyn decided to turn into a chilly windstorm and dropped 20 degrees.  After a week of 75+ degree weather, it was highs of 55.  OOF.  This dashed any dreams I had of breezy summer salads and cold cucumber soups for dinner tonight.  Instead, I was craving something hearty and filling… luckily I had a few friends in the same boat.
I built tonight’s dinner around a white bean soup, basing it off of this interpretation of an Ina Garten recipe. 
White Bean Soup with Rosemary
250 (8.8oz) grams white beans 4 cans of white beans, rinsed3 Tbs olive oil1 large onion, chopped1 clove of garlic, minced1 branch fresh rosemary1.5l (3 pints) chicken or vegetable stock1 bay leaf2 tsp salt1/2 tsp pepper
Soak the beans overnight in a big bowl. (Open up the cans of beans and drain them because that’s so much easier.) Heat olive oil and sauté the onions for 10-15 minutes, till soft and translucent.  Add garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes.  Add the drained beans, rosemary, bay leaf and stock and simmer for an hour (you don’t have to simmer this long since we are using pre-cooked beans) or until the beans are very soft.  Remove the bay leaf and the rosemary branch.  Process in a food processor till smooth or coarse depending on your preference (I used my awesome hand blender until it was smooth, adding more stock until it was the consistency I wanted). Return the soup to the pot to reheat and season with salt and pepper.  Serve garnished with pumpkin oil, pepper and chives. (I used kale chips!! More on that below..)
Servings: 5ish
Originally I had planned to just add a swirl of white truffle oil on top of the soup and have the kale chips separately, but as I got tired of transferring things in and out of that stupid convection oven of mine and just decided to do one batch of the chips to garnish the soup.  It added a nice salty crunch and was super easy to make!
Kale Chips (via alwaysorderdessert)
Ingredients1 bunch Lacinato (dinosaur) or regular kale, rinsed and gently patted dryOlive oilsalt (I like Celtic sea salt, but at least try and use Kosher)Desired seasonings (optional)Special Equipment: 2 parchment-lined cookie sheetsDirectionsTear the leaves off the thick stems of the kale. Toss in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. If you’re adding any additional spices, add them now. Toss to make sure the leaves are well coated. Arrange in a single layer on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.Bake in a 250 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the leaves are dry and crisped. Let cool for 1-2 minutes before removing from the parchment paper. Serve and enjoy immediately
To go along with the soup, I decided to create a simple grilled brushcetta (this picture sucks.. everyone was ready to eat, including me.  No time for fancy pics!!)

Roasted Vegetable Bruschetta
Ingredients:1 loaf of good bread, sliced thick3 red peppers, chopped1 red onion, chopped2 yellow squash, chopped1 large ball of fresh mozzarella olive oilthyme (fresh is best, but I used dry.)salt & pepper to taste
Toss vegetables in olive oil, thyme and salt & pepper and throw in the oven at 375 until they started to roast/caramelize a bit.  It will smell delicious. 
Drizzle bread with olive oil and throw into the oven until it starts to brown.
Pile a bit of the grilled vegetable mixture onto the toasted bread and layer sliced mozzarella on top.  Put back in the oven until the cheese melts (make sure to watch it so that it doesn’t melt all over your oven and in a panic to remove it, you drop a piece and make a mess out of everything.)
As an over-achiever, I decided that I needed one more dish to make certain that my guests were properly satiated, which is where the roasted tomatoes came in, quite possibly the stand out star of the night. 

Stuffed Tomatoes (via Tuscan Recipes)Ingredients8 almost ripe tomatoes (I used four, and they were probably too ripe. Live and learn)2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 Tbsp chopped parsley ½ Tbsp chopped basil 1 tsp olive oil ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup bread crumbs 1 tsp dried oregano (optional) salt and ground pepper Cut tomatoes in half (I cut the tops off,) with a spoon carve out the pulp and seeds and collect pulp in a bowl. Lightly salt the inside of the tomatoes and turn them, cut side down, onto paper towels.

Combine the chopped garlic, parsley and basil with the tomato pulp and seeds. Add the olive oil, grated cheese, bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste. Add the oregano if you want. Mix well to combine. Take tomato halves and stuff with mixture. Take a wide skillet and slightly cover bottom with olive oil and some water. Place tomato halves side by side, and cover. Cook covered for about 30 minutes over low-medium heat, adding a little bit of water to the skillet if necessary. Tomatoes are done when the bottom of the tomatoes feel soft; check by sticking a toothpick through the center of the center tomatoes.
I failed to take a picture of the finished tomatoes, cause they sorted of mushed when I moved out of the pan and into the serving dish (I only like pretty things!!!!), but they were delicious. 
All-in-all the meal received rave reviews (thanks to Brooke, Mads, Emma and Jeff for helping me eat it) and I learned that sometimes a little slaving over the hot stove pays off in flowers!

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