Roasted Cherry Tomato & Goat Cheese Crostini + 2 Favorite Thai-inspired Soups

Before…

For a blast of bright August flavor on a frigid January day, try roasting tomatoes. Baking or roasting transforms the winter tomato, minimizing the mealy texture and maximizing their sweet flavor.

Last weekend I concocted the recipe below, and brought the appetizer (pictured above) to a party. I saved time by having the baker slice the baguette and purchasing pre-made Olive Tapenade from Trader Joe’s. (If you live near one of their stores, get the tapenade that’s found in their refrigerated section, not their shelf-stable product.)

Roasting other vegetables, such as cauliflower or Brussels Sprouts or broccoli, and incorporating them into recipes conjures the same magic.

After!

Tomorrow I wave goodbye to the tundra heading off with my man for a month in Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

After a couple of days in trains, airports and planes (we’re saving a ridiculous amount of money flying out of Chicago instead of Detroit), the ninety degree temps will be a wake-up call to my weary wintry soul.

My favorite part about traveling is experiencing the food–the ideal gateway to the people and their culture. Food is so easy. Who can be offended when you approach to inquire, “Do you have any suggestions where I can eat?” It’s the starting  point for many interesting conversations. Can’t speak the language? So what. Food is multilingual. Restaurant owners will love, perhaps even invite you into their backstage world,  if you appreciate their food with smiles and thumbs up gestures.

Most of the time will be spent traveling up Viet Nam, the last spot, Hanoi, where we’re spending a week. The city’s a culinary paradise fusing flavors from France, China and Viet Nam. You can believe I’ve been scrutinized the street food and restaurant scene online. I’m wary of Trip Advisor as some of the higher starred places tend to be Asian cooking adapted to the American palate, but this Food Republic site’s been worthy. Scrutinizing their site and the links, I feel as if I’m studying for the Bar (-:

Thai Green Curry Shrimp and Broccoli Soup

Thai Green Curry Shrimp and Broccoli Soup

As scorching as it can be in Southeast Asia, it’s remarkable how insanely popular their hot soups are–the locals eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Something about the heat of the broth and spice that cools you down as you slurp. Whatever. All I know is that for my money, these folks have cornered the market on soup.

I last travelled in Thailand several years back and made a couple of soups–a curried shrimp and a chicken upon my return to the States.

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Unless you live in the vicinity of a Pho House or other Asian eatery, they share little resemblance  to the USA versions of winter soups–those that you would find lining grocer’s shelves or steaming on a hot bar.

If inclined, give the recipes a try. The fresh lemongrass, coconut milk, fish sauces and chili’s may very well cure what ails you.

Be well, my friends, and remember to wash your hands often! The flu bug is vicious this year.

Recipe: Crostini with Roasted Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 pint red cherry tomatoes, washed
  • 1 pint orange or yellow cherry tomatoes, washed
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Handful of fresh basil, thinly sliced into a chiffonade

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Toss tomatoes and garlic cloves in 1-2 tablespoon olive oil. Slightly season with kosher salt. Place on foil-lined baking sheet (covering garlic entirely in foil) and roast on middle rack of oven 13-15 minutes or until tomatoes are just beginning to collapse.

3. Meanwhile, spread goat cheese over 18-22 baguette slices.

3. Whisk balsamic vinegar into a tablespoon of olive oil. Chop garlic and stir into vinaigrette. When tomato are cool enough to handle, toss into vinaigrette.

4. Place one red and one yellow or orange tomato on each baguette. (You will have extra tomatoes and juice, which can be reserved for a quick pasta sauce.) Center a small dollop of tapenade in between the two tomatoes on each crostini; arrange basil chiffonade over crostini and serve.

Roast time: 13-15 minutes

Assembly time: 15 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 18-22 pieces

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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A Winter’s Tale of Soup

Scarola e Faciole: White Bean and Escarole Soup with Pancetta

Scarola e Faciole: White Bean and Escarole Soup with Pancetta

If you, like me, are suffering through these grey upon grey single-digit days, reading Dostoyevsky while sipping a good Russian vodka could provide some comfort. Sipping said vodka while watching Dr. Zhivago might be another plan. These activities, of course, accompanied by a good cup of soup– always a good leavening agent.

Take Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, “The Brothers Karamazov”. In the midst of a heady conversation between Ivan and Alyosha, soup is brought into the story:

“Though I may not believe in the order of the universe, yet I love the sticky little leaves as they open in spring. I love the blue sky, I love some people, whom one loves you know sometimes without knowing why. I love some great deeds done by men, though I’ve long ceased perhaps to have faith in them, yet from old habit one’s heart prizes them. Here they have brought the soup for you, eat it, it will do you good. It’s first-rate soup, they know how to make it here…”

It’s a random mention, but why not? For the brothers, perhaps soup provides more of a tangible relief from life than than their more ethereal topics at hand.

Oxtail Soup

Oxtail Soup

Unless you’re lucky enough to live in a tropical climate, we’re in Dostoyevsky-mode now, folks.  And may I suggest something that the brothers might have enjoyed? Perhaps  Borscht or an Oxtail Soup? Or maybe a White Bean and Escarole Soup?

Here’s another something/something that helped chase away my blues. My publishing company is reducing (for a limited time) the price of a physical copy of THE WELCOME HOME DINER. I’m grabbing copies for book club signings as I can’t get them any cheaper than this–even with an author discount. (US residents only: $6.99 per paperback. Free shipping for Amazon Prime, recipes included)

 

 

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Quick & Festive Holiday Appetizer Ideas

Most of my friends are in accord that it’s difficult enough to get your dwelling in shape for a party much less entertain, supply the bar and  party food fare. Especially during the busy holiday season.

My group is happy to pitch in, bringing a dish, a bottle, or in Frederick’s case (pictured at the piano) musical talent to help ease the strain. I’ve had several such events of late–all different crowds–so took the liberty of repeating myself by stuffing various fillings into endive leaves.

Last week I stuffed the leaves with my recipe for Walnut-Dill Chicken Salad (pictured above). If I was really short of time, I could have purchased some ready-made chicken salad, as well.

Last night I decided to stuff them with langoustine salad (recipe below).

Endive stuffed with Langostino Salad (recipe below).

I used a package of langostino tails, which have a meaty-lobsterish taste and texture, which I purchased in the frozen seafood department at Trader Joe’s. You could, however, substitute them with shrimp in the recipe below. A crab salad would be wonderful stuffed in endive but I would use a vinaigrette base instead of mayo.

Most seafood departments in my area have various ready-made spreads and seafood salads that would be marvelous stuffed in endive. A smoked fish, chopped up an tossed with chopped red onion and capers would also be heavenly.

I wish you and your family a stress-free holiday season, filled with an abundance of happiness and peace. ♥♥♥

 

Recipe: Langostino Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) package frozen Langostino Tails, thawed* or 1 3/4 cup chopped lobster or shrimp (with paper towels or a clean cloth, press as much liquid as possible out of the seafood)
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise, homemade or Hellman’s preferred (reduced fat is fine)
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon or dill
  • 2 tablespoons snipped chives
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 1/4 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
  • Pinch of cayenne, or to taste
  • Dash of Worcestershire (optional)
  • 10-16 sturdy romaine or endive leaves, washed

Instructions

  1. Combine mayonnaise, lemon zest, juice, tarragon or dill, chives, celery, seafood seasoning, cayenne, and Worcestershire (if using).
  2. Pat dry thawed langostino tails to remove excess water. Stir into dressing and season to taste with kosher salt. (Other ingredients lend sodium so you may not feel it necessary.)
  3. Place in decorative bowl with lettuce wedges on the side for stuffing. (You may also stuff them prior to serving. If you do so, garnish each endive boat with additional fresh herbs and zest.)

Time: 15 minutes (if not stuffing)

Number of servings (yield): Enough salad to stuff appx.12-14 large leaves

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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