Category: cold night

Fall Comfort and Friends

In L.A. Halloween is the earliest we start to see Fall. For me it is also when I start looking to gather my family and friends together. There is no better way to get people together than a warm cup of soup and a comfort sandwich. So when the kids start collecting candy, I start making soups.

A soup and sandwich combo is perfect because it gives me an excuse to get up from the table and not be the only one in the kitchen. I love the idea of inviting everyone into the kitchen to ladle up a bowl of warm tomato soup and help themselves to my Panini bar, to make their own sandwich.

I found and interesting tomato soup mash up with French Onion Soup. It sounded great but had a lot of steps. Unless, it’s a holiday that is not how I want to spend my time in the Fall. I took the lead from Poole’s Diner in North Carolina and made it my own. The best is caramelized onions and the sweetness they add.

In addition to putting out a beautiful selection of meats, cheeses, breads and toppings, for the Panini bar, I also make these Grilled Cheese Roll-ups. They’re super easy and the kids love to be able to grab them and run out the door to Trick or Treat. Don’t tell the kids but I actually put a little bit of Dijon on the bread before it cooks.

I hope you all have a fabulous Fall season and a scary Halloween.

Roasted Tomato / French Onion Soup
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Servings
6 bowls
Servings
6 bowls
Roasted Tomato / French Onion Soup
Print Recipe
Servings
6 bowls
Servings
6 bowls
Ingredients
Servings: bowls
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven 425°
  2. Toss together tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.
  3. Roast for 20 - 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven and add to soup pot with chicken stock, bay leaves and butter.
  5. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes.
  6. While soup is cooking: Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy skillet, over medium heat.
  7. Add onions and 2 tsp. salt. Turn heat to high and stir for 1 minute to coat onions evenly with salt and oil.
  8. Reduce heat to medium/low and cover pan. Cook covered for 20 minutes.
  9. Uncover and continue to stir and cook until onions are thick and a deep brown color. Set aside.
  10. Remove bay leaves. Use immersion blender and blend to desired consistency. I like mine a little rustic.
  11. Add the caramelized onions and stir to incorporate and heat onions, if they've cooled. At this point you can add cream, if using.
  12. Stack 2 baguette slices in each bowl, with 1 T. of cheese between each layer and on top.
  13. Ladle the hot soup around the bread.
  14. Place bowls under the broiler and cook for 2 - 3 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and browned. This is easier if you put the bowls on a sheet pan.
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Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups
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Servings
6 sandwiches
Servings
6 sandwiches
Grilled Cheese Roll-Ups
Print Recipe
Servings
6 sandwiches
Servings
6 sandwiches
Ingredients
Servings: sandwiches
Instructions
  1. Use a rolling pin, to roll slices of bread to 1/4" thickness.
  2. Spread each slice with a tiny bit of Dijon mustard, optional.
  3. Place 1 lice of cheese on each bread and roll tightly.
  4. Melt 2 T. of butter in a large fry pan over high heat.
  5. Add roll-up to pan and cook until all sides are golden brown and cheese is melted. You may have to do a few at a time and add more butter if needed.
  6. Serve immediately
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Try Something New -Homemade Pasta Edition!

In case you haven’t heard it’s been raining here in California, A LOT! So it was a great weekend to stay home and make all sorts of comfort food. It doesn’t get more comfortable than homemade pasta.

I love that you and I both probably have everything we need to make pasta, already, in our kitchens. Are you ready for the long list; Flour, salt, eggs, water and olive oil. I have a hand cranked pasta roller, but you really don’t need it. Pasta has been made for centuries, certainly long before standing electric mixers were adding attachments and even before my hand-cranked roller. If you have a wooden roller pin and a knife you can make your own pasta.

Keep in mind you can search for basic pasta recipes and find dozens of variations. Start with mine but if it s not a good fit, you can play around. Add more water; use just all-purpose flour, more oil (not too much). I did make mine in a standing mixer, with a dough hook; you can do everything by hand in a large bowl.

I want to say that, even not so great, homemade pasta will taste better than any pasta you will ever buy in a store. Once you get this pasta made, go over to March 1, 2015 and make the Marinara Sauce!

Homemade Pasta Dough
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Homemade Pasta Dough
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl combine flours and salt. Make a well (indentation) and add eggs. If you are doing this by hand, start to fold your flour over the eggs and mix, adding water and oil, until you have a stiff dough. I used a standing electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. I used a spatula to scrape down the sides.
  2. As you are mixing and adding water & oil, keep pinching the dough. When it starts to stick together easily, its ready. You do not want it too sticky.
  3. I used Durum Semolina, which is traditionally Italian. It has a coarser texture, almost like corn meal, it will need more water and olive oil. The texture smooths out in rolling and cooking. All-purpose flour will NOT need nearly as much liquid.
  4. Once the dough is all mixed. Knead for 3 - 4 minutes on a lightly floured board. Then form a disk and wrap in plastic and let rest, in refrigerator, for 30 minutes.
  5. When ready to roll, cut disk into quarters and flatten. If you are using a pasta machine or roller, start on a zero setting and run the dough through once or twice and fold in half and lightly flour each side and run through again. Repeat this process gradually increasing setting to higher numbers and ultimately increasing to desired thinness and length. Or follow the directions provided, with your machine.
  6. If you are hand rolling, lightly flour a board and use a rolling pin to roll dough out to desired thinness and length. I like to roll between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. Too much flour can make the pasta too chewy.
  7. At this point you would switch to the cutting shape, you want on the machine. If you are cutting by hand use a knife or pizza cute to cut your dough.
  8. Once your dough is cut, it is IMPORTANT to let it dry/set for a while before storing or cooking. If you don't it might be gummy. If you have something to hang your pasta over, even a towel rack will do, that's ideal. if not just let it lay straight on board or parchment lined pan. Don't let it sit bunched up, like in the picture.
  9. Once it is a little dry you can store it, folded, in an airtight container, with a little semolina or cornmeal, to keep it separated.
  10. To cook, bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it, liberally. Add you pasta and cook 5 - 7 minutes. Do not over cook. Serve with your favorite sauce or none at all. It's that good,
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