July 21, 2010

Recipe: Tortilla Soup

Before we get to this simple, elegant recipe, I need to rant.  I have a large garden in my backyard filled with beautiful heirloom tomatoes of all colors, shapes and sizes... yellow, green, deep red, purple and pink.  All together, they are absolutely beautiful and they explode with flavor.  Then I go to the grocery store and all the tomatoes are fire-engine red.  That's it.  No other colors.  They also come in only three sizes: regular, plum and cherry-size.  How did this happen?  Commercial agriculture ruins the quality of food and taste.  Exeunt soapbox.

Back to Tortilla Soup.  This is one of my go-to recipes that is super easy and can carry a ton a flavor.  It starts with a mirepoix.  Remember that thing I call flavor?

Tortilla Soup
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
Clean out the fridge veggies!

This is the perfect opportunity to clean out your fridge of old vegetables, even wilted lettuce.  Chop it up and throw it in.  What we're making is essentially a vegetable broth, but we want all the vegetables in there too!  They are all going to get blended, so you won't recognize any of it by the end.

Water fry the vegetables until they start to brown and carmelize.  Then add:

3 C water
3 C tomato puree
2 T cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Then bring to a boil and blend the whole thing with an immersion blender until smooth.  Then add:

2 C black beans, cooked

Let simmer for 15 minutes.  Before serving, turn off the heat and add:

1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of one lime

Remember, adding fresh herbs or citrus to a dish after it has been cooked really livens it up.

Now, taste it.  Here's where you make some judgement calls that many people are afraid of.  If you want more tang, add another lime.  You won't hurt it.  If you like more cilantro, add more cilantro.  If you like the cumin taste, add another tablespoon.  If you want some heat, add a few dashes of chipotle powder.  Like I said, you won't hurt it.  This is what chefs do.  Go for it!  

Garnish with fresh tomatoes, cilantro, or even a slice of avocado.  Serve with warm corn tortillas.  Look for ones that have only "corn, water and lime."  You can even make your own using masa flour and water.  Check in the Mexican section of your store for Masa flour.  Sometimes it is called tamale flour too.

Serves 6-8.

July 18, 2010

Recipe: Beetza sauce!

The wait is over!  Sorry for the delay as I have been sitting on a beach the past week.  The recipe for Beetza sauce is incredibly simple.  Throughout many cultures, people have been pairing sweet foods and tart foods for thousands of years.  This sauce follows the same principle.  Sweet beets and tart balsamic.

Beetza Sauce
1 C balsamic vinegar
1 medium-size beet, sliced
1 medium-size onion, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a pot or pan, bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil.  Add the beet, onion, salt and pepper.  Cover with a lid and cook until the beets are tender.  Add more balsamic as necessary to keep liquid in the pan.  Then, put everything in a blender and blend until smooth.  Last, add a splash of fresh balsamic at the end.  Cooking balsamic tends to mellow out the tart taste a bit.  Adding a splash at the end brings that tartness back.  This will produce a thick, tangy/sweet sauce.  If it is too thick, another splash of balsamic or water should smooth things out.

That's it.  Amazing cooking doesn't have to be difficult.  On your favorite or homemade pizza crust, add the sauce, four cloves of garlic thinly sliced and lightly toasted in a pan, roughly chopped fresh beet greens and sliced fresh figs.  Then, bake it as you would any other pizza.

You gotta try this.  The taste is amazing.  The colors are beautiful.  You will be in heaven.  And with one taste, your friends will stop making fun of you for putting beets on a pizza too!

July 7, 2010

The Best Pizza I Ever Tasted!

We called it "The Beetza."  This was going to be a "What's Cooking At Le Chateau Soleil," but it was just too good for a standard post.  Honestly, this was the best pizza I have ever tasted and everyone who was at this dinner agreed.  I am from Chicago and have eaten a lot of pizza in my life, both vegan and non-vegan.  I don't say it is the best pizza I have ever tasted unless it really is.

Did I mention there was no added fat?  Did I mention there was nothing with a high fat content at all?  Did I mention that the sauce was made from BEETS!?!?!?

It was a pizza cooked in my adobe oven with a beet balsamic sauce, toasted garlic, beet greens and fresh figs on a 100% whole wheat crust.

Eating doesn't get better than this.  Recipe will follow soon.