Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tomato Soup

I always hated tomato soup from a can, but when I lived in Utah there was a cafe that had the yummiest tomato soup, and I always craved it when we moved to Portland. So one afternoon I had a bunch of girlfriends over for a playdate, and I tried out a homemade tomato soup recipe for the first time. It turned out pretty good, but I've since switched to the Elephant's Deli tomato orange soup recipe.

Serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches on sourdough bread. Mmm mmm good.

Elephant Deli Tomato Orange Soup

1/4 cup butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 T. fresh thyme
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup of heavy cream (see notes)

In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the diced onion and saute until translucent. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, baking soda, and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender. (I use my Braun hand blender and do it right in the pan.) Return to pan and stir in the orange juice. Heat through. Stir in the cream and serve.

Notes: don't substitute the cream with half and half or milk. It will leave a weird texture. If you want to lighten it up, omit the cream entirely.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Kefte Recipe

I grew up eating Keftes. Over the years I have made some modifications. Here is the latest and greatest version:

2lb ground beef
2 eggs
10 or so crumbled saltines
1/2 cup parsley chopped
1/2 cup onions chopped

In a large bowl crumble the raw ground beef add remaining ingredients as well as a generous amount of salt and pepper. Work together with hands to combine all ingredients. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a skillet and form small (no bigger than 3-4 inches in diameter) patties. Brown patties in pan until nearly cooked through. Place cooked patties on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels to absorb extra oil. Once all patties are browned place them in a 9X13 baking dish and pre-heat oven to 350.
While the oven is heating make the sauce.

Sauce recipe:

1 can of tomato sauce
1 cans of diced stewed tomatoes (pureed)
Pepper to taste
Johnny's Greek seasoning to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup of lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. This is where you have to decide how flavorful you want your sauce. I add at least on tbsp of Johnny's and a tsp of pepper to start. I like lemon so I would probably opt for the 1/2 c of lemon juice for this size recipe. The consistency of the sauce s/be watery more watery than spaghetti sauce. I believe the sauce should be well flavored so that when it is baked with the Keftes the Keftes absorb the extra flavor. Just add spices and lemon and taste it as you go.

Pour sauce over the Keftes. The sauce should nearly fully cover the Keftes. If you need more add more Pureed tomatos.

Bake for 30 minutes in the oven. If 350 is too hot reduce heat to 300 after 15 minutes. You don't want all of your sauce to burn onto the sides of the pan.

Serve over rice. I usually make a nice Greek Style salad with this meal.

Some modifications you could make: Use 1/2 ground lamb and 1/2 ground beef for a more authentic flavor. You can also use ground turkey. When I use the ground turkey I usually season it with Cumin instead of just salt and pepper. I have also gotten creative with adding chopped spinach to my meat mixture to add additional vegies to my family's diet. Try anything!
Let me know if you have questions...hope I didn't forget anything!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cooking with girlfriends

A few years ago Kristin and I decided that it was time for Rachel to impart a bit of her Greek cooking wisdom on us and teach us how to make dolmas.  That experience is the first time I can remember, as an adult, cooking with girlfriends.  It was such a fun afternoon sitting in Rachel's sunny kitchen, repeatedly folding seasoned rice into grape leaves while we solved all the world's problems.   Or maybe we discussed the antics of Hollywood celebrities.  I forget which.   Regardless, it made what could have been a very mundane task so enjoyable, and cooking with girlfriends has been on my list of favorite things ever since.

When I can't actually cook with them, I still enjoy using their recipes. 

This is a blog to share the recipes we make for and with each other, and the stories that go along with them.