Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

During college, my friend and I loved to visit a local bistro for their Roasted Red Pepper and Gouda Bisque. We were slightly appalled to find out it came prepackaged, and were determined to someday recreate it in our own kitchens. While this version doesn’t involve gouda, it is very creamy and surprisingly filling. It also provides another use for the Roasted Red Peppers in my previous entry.

Most creamy soups require pureeing of some sort. I use an immersion blender (sometimes called a stick blender) so I can puree right in the stockpot. This makes cleanup a lot easier, but if you don’t have an immersion blender, a regular blender will work too. Directions for both pureeing methods are listed.

As I’m sure you might guess, there is a reason why I recommend removing the bay leaves before blending the soup. My first try with this recipe involved a house full of very gracious guests who were constantly picking the crunchy bay leaf pieces out of their soup, since the leaves had been chopped up by the hand blender. Since bay leaves are used in cooking for flavor only - they do not become tender during cooking like most herbs - please be nice to your guests and follow step number four!

This recipe is adapted from one I found in a Penzey’s Spices catalog, submitted by Mike Gallacher.


  • 6 roasted red peppers, skins removed
  • 3 Tbsp fat (I used 2 Tbsp olive oil and 1 Tbsp butter)
  • ½ large onion, minced
  • 2 generous pinches of dried whole thyme, about 1 Tbsp (less if you use ground thyme, perhaps 1 ½ tsp)
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 cup milk


  1. Heat the fat (butter/olive oil) over medium heat in a stockpot.
  2. Add the onion and all spices (including salt and pepper) and cook until onion is translucent.
  3. Add the broth and bring to a gentle boil. (I let the broth simmer on low until my peppers were done roasting and I had peeled the skins off, then brought the broth to a boil.)
  4. Turn heat to low. Remove ALL FOUR bay leaves.
  5. Add red peppers and use an immersion blender to puree the soup. Or, you can transfer the soup a few cups at a time to a regular blender to puree and return to stockpot.
  6. Add the milk and simmer until soup is heated throughout.


This is one of my favorite soups – it makes quite a bit, so we let the leftovers cool and freeze a few servings of it for those days when we don’t feel much like cooking. It heats back up quite well over medium heat. However, it isn’t a soup that can really stand alone as a meal; since its flavor is very strong, a coffee mug or small bowl’s worth will be plenty. It would be nice served with cheese and crackers.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Roasting Red Peppers

image by tooeasyphotos

Roasted red peppers are considered by many to be a luxury item on their grocery list. This is probably because a small jar of roasted red peppers can cost up to $5 at some stores. However, if you can find red bell peppers at a reasonable price (at my local grocery store, they currently cost $1.99/lb, equaling about 90 cents a pepper) it is worth it to roast your own.

Why bother? Besides being cost effective (especially if you are making something that requires a lot of peppers), roasted red peppers taste a lot different when done by hand. As long as you don't rinse them when they're done, they will keep their flavor for a long time. If you plan to do a batch of them to keep for a while, you can pack them in some olive oil in a clean glass jar. When the peppers are gone, the oil will be flavored and it can be used in cooking or in any recipe that calls for olive oil, such as a pasta dish that might benefit from that extra flavor.

Roasted red peppers can be used in a green salad- one of my favorite bistros offers a salad with feta cheese, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, and greens topped with a Greek style vinaigrette dressing. They can also be an amazing topper on a pizza (like my Mini Pizzas) or can stand alone in a dish highlighting their flavor. In the next few weeks I hope to post a recipe for Roasted Red Pepper Soup, which is great as an appetizer or paired with grilled cheese.

What You'll Need
  • red bell peppers, washed clean and stickers removed
  • large cutting board
  • kitchen knife
  • non-stick cookie sheet
  • large bowl
  • plastic/Saran wrap
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut peppers in half the long way. Remove stem and all seeds.
  3. Place pepper halves on cookie sheet, cut side down.
  4. Roast in oven for 20-30 minutes, more if needed. Remove when skin has blackened and is blistered all over.
  5. Immediately place peppers in large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Wait 15-20 minutes so steam can loosen pepper skins.
  6. Peel skins from peppers. Peppers can then be sliced for immediate use, or packed in a clean glass jar and topped with oil to store in refrigerator.
The skins leave a bitter taste, so try to remove as much of them as you can. However, if they don't peel easily, you can try placing them back in the bowl, covering it, and letting the steam work its magic for a few more minutes.

See also:

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Eggs in a Frame

One of Dan the Man's favorite breakfast foods is a special version of eggs known as Eggs in a Frame, or sometimes called Toad in a Hole. Being art minded, I prefer Eggs in a Frame; however the concept is the same. It's an easy but fun way to spice up a breakfast.

As long as you get the skillet hot, the egg should stay right inside the bread as it will cook pretty quickly.

You will need a cookie cutter for this escapade - I used a heart shaped one - Hello Valentine's Day breakfast!

This can easily be made gluten-free by using a slice of potato bread, rather than the wheat bread shown in the image.

Ingredients - listed per Egg-in-Frame
  • 1 egg
  • 1 piece of bread, buttered on both sides **
  • salt and pepper, to taste
** For a gluten-free diet, make sure to use bread made from a gluten-free starch, such as potato bread.

  • Heat up your skillet or flat top to medium heat.
  • While the pan is heating up, butter both sides of the bread. Cut a hole from the middle of the bread, making sure the hole does not connect to the sides of the bread.

  • Once the skillet is hot, place bread in pan. Crack egg inside the bread.

  • Right before flipping, season with salt and pepper if desired.
  • Flip and finish cooking.

This is really simple to make but can be really fun, especially if you have a variety of cookie cutters - imagine angels and stars near Christmas, or cats and ghosts on Halloween. Of course, if you had larger bread, such as the homemade bread carried in lots of bakeries, you could even do two small shapes, like two little hearts. If I were doing two I would probably pre-scramble an egg so it was easier to pour half in each little heart...

This entry was submitted to a contest by Savor the Thyme and The Naptime Chef !

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dill and Sour Cream Rolls

Being Italian, I think that I have a natural inclination toward carbohydrates. Ask my husband, whose family's house we were at for the holiday season. By mid-week I was desperate for pasta, chips, even dry toast. So for an addition to the New Year's Day dinner, I made dill and sour cream rolls. Making bread in general can be a pain if your house is too cold or things aren't the right temperature - in this recipe you'll notice several ingredients are marked a specific temperature (lukewarm, cooled, at room temperature...) - these notes are important, as temperature can affect the outcome of the rolls, how long they will take to rise, and how they will taste when done. I found the recipe for these delicious rolls over at Coconut & Lime - I made a few changes to the ingredients, which are reflected in my version of the recipe below.
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast (which measures in at 1/4 oz)
  • 3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature (I bought the smallest container of sour cream available and let it sit out while preparing other things)
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 Tbsp dillweed (dried dill)
  • 1/2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp salt
  • 3 1/4 cups flour (I used unbleached bread flour)
  • 2 eggs (1 for dough, 1 for brushing)
  • butter for greasing the pan
  1. Place water in the largest mixing bowl you have. Sprinkle the yeast in, mix, and let stand for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Add sour cream, melted butter, dillweed, sugar, and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add flour, about 1 cup at a time, mixing well as you go. (C&L recommends adding a splash of milk if the dough is too dry.) As you need to, transfer dough to table and continue kneading until all flour is incorporated and dough is barely sticky.
  4. Grease the bowl with butter and return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and put bowl in a warm, dry spot to rise until dough doubles in size. (My dough took about 1.5 hours)
  5. Grease a 13x9 pan with butter.
  6. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place each roll in the pan, cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and allow rolls to double in size. (This took my dough another hour or so)
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  8. Beat the other egg and brush it over each roll.
  9. Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes, turning the pan 180 degrees in the oven after about 10 minutes.
Warm out of the oven, these rolls were delicious. However, it wasn't until we were eating the precious leftovers later as a snack that we were able to taste the flavors, specifically the dill. The true test of a good roll, according to my brothers, is if you are able to enjoy the roll free of any dressings, including butter or jam. These passed the test.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Mini Pizzas - and Happy New Year!

After receiving protests from the Bee Balm Gal for my lack of posting, I realized it has been three weeks since my last post! Please accept my apologies - and enjoy this fun recipe.

Now that we've survived the holiday Bermuda Triangle - Hanukkah, Christmas, and
Festivus - it is time to make space in your fridge by using some of those leftovers. My recommendation: mini pizzas. Pizzas are always a good tool for using up the last of the green pepper / chicken / cherry tomatoes, and since so many people are in the mood for appetizers or other smaller-than-normal sized foods, I thought mini pizzas would fit in perfectly. We had them for New Year's Day lunch at my husband's family's house. This recipe makes about 5-6 small (8-inch or so) pizzas.

In this recipe I stretch and bake the crust for a couple minutes before dressing the pizzas - I found that it made the bottom crust sturdier and better able to withstand the saturation of sauce, cheese, and toppings.

  • a batch of Basic Pizza Dough that has risen and been punched down
  • flour (for dusting)
  • 14 oz. jar of pizza sauce (we like the flavor of Ragu's pizza sauce)
  • 3- or 4-cup bag of shredded mozzarella cheese
  • desired toppings (we used pepperoni, diced chicken, and sliced cherry tomatoes)
  • basil
  • oregano
  1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
  2. Cut dough into 5 or 6 equal sized pieces.
  3. Stretch them into approximately 8-inch rounds and place on a floured cookie sheet or other flat pan.
  4. Bake the dough, plain, for 2-3 minutes until just risen.
  5. Remove from oven and dress with sauce, cheese, and desired toppings.
  6. Sprinkle with basil and oregano.
  7. Put back in oven for another 5-6 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
These could be made even smaller if desired, but cut into quarters they make a nice snack for people to share. It can also be fun to let people decorate their own pizzas.