Sunday, July 31, 2011

Roasted Sour Cherry-Goat Cheese Ice Cream

My dad tells me this is the last day of National Ice Cream Month, and what better way to celebrate it than with this ice cream!  This is possibly the most insane ice cream I have ever eaten (as in the most insanely good ice cream).  It tastes a little like cherry cheesecake, except a million times better.  Our whole family gives this ice cream an A+, and although it has quite a few steps, none of them are particularly difficult.  The ice cream base is super creamy - probably the creamiest home-made ice cream I've tasted - and has a subtle tang from the goat cheese.   The rich ice cream is perfectly offset by a tart sauce of whole sour cherries and their juices, roasted with sugar until they're nicely tender but still retain the perfect sour punch.  It's a must-make if you can get your hands on some sour cherries - this ice cream and cherry pie are tied for my favorite way to enjoy this delicious fruit.

Roasted Sour Cherry-Goat Cheese Ice Cream (from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home)
Makes about 2 pints

Roasted Cherries
2 cups pitted sour cherries
2/3 cup white sugar
2 tsp cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Combine all ingredients in a 9-inch square pan.  Roast for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until the juice is thickened and bubbling.  Let cool and then chill in the fridge until completely cold.

Ice Cream
2 cups whole milk
1 T plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup (4 ounces) fresh, creamy goat cheese
3 T (1-1/2 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Roasted Cherries (see above)

1. Mix 2 T milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl; set aside.
2. Whisk together the goat cheese, cream cheese, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth; set aside.
3. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.
4. Combine the remaining milk, cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Keep at a rolling boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry from step 1.
5. Bring the mixture back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a rubber spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.
6. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the goat cheese mixture until it is smooth.  Pour into a 1-gallon Ziplock freezer bag, seal well, and submerge in the ice bath.  Add more ice as necessary until the mixture is cold, about 30 minutes.
7. Pour the ice cream base through a fine-mesh strainer, and then spin until thick and creamy.  Pack in a storage container, alternating with layers of cherries and ending with a spoonful of cherries.  Don't mix the cherries in.
8. Press some parchment or wax paper against the surface of the ice cream and seal with a lid.  Freeze at least 4 hours before serving.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Hummingbird Cake

Today is my mom's birthday, and so we had a really fun birthday dinner with my mom, dad, grandma, uncle, and myself.  My dad and I "cooked" dinner - although it's been hot enough here that we made a dinner of cold things!  We served chilled cucumber soup with poached shrimp and a roasted asparagus-orange salad.  For dessert, my mom requested a Hummingbird Cake with coconut sprinkled on the frosting, and the cake turned out perfectly!  The coconut added a great festive touch to really make it a "party" cake, and the cake itself was moist, sweet, and flavorful.  I really like that the addition of bananas and crushed pineapple means that the cake feels rich and not-at-all dry despite containing only 1/2 cup of oilAnd, I love the cute pink candles that my grandma contributed - what a fun celebration!  Happy birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday Hummingbird Cake (adapted from Baking Bites, original recipe here)
Makes one 2-layer, 9-inch round cake

3 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups ripe banana, chopped (from 2-3 bananas)
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
Cream cheese frosting
Shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two 9-inch round pans with parchment, and butter and flour them.
2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, soda, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
3. Whisk together the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and eggs in a separate bowl.  Add the bananas, pineapple, and pecans and stir to combine.
4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir to combine, being careful not to overmix.  Divide the batter among the pans.
5. Bake 30-35 minutes, until nicely browned and a tester comes out clean.  Cool completely.
6. Trim the cakes to make even layers.  Frost with cream cheese, and then sprinkle all over with shredded coconut.

 Blowing out the candles!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Salty Caramel Ice Cream

Jeni's ice cream has long been one of my favorite ice cream shops.  They have really creative and always delicious flavors, made with local, high quality ingredients.  So, I was delighted when they put out a cookbook so that I could try some of my favorite ice creams in California (Jeni's is based in Ohio, so I only get to enjoy their ice cream when I'm visiting my parents or when my dad is kind enough to send me a box on dry ice!). 

The first ice cream I tried is one of my absolute favorites, Salty Caramel.  It's got that perfect balance of caramelized sugar and salt, and I often get the version with smoked almonds, called Gravel Road.  This time I went for the original, and it definitely did not disappoint! This ice cream tasted pretty much exactly like what you can get in the shop, and it stayed nice and creamy in the freezer, unlike many homemade ice creams.  The one flaw was that - although I noticed some lumps in the chilled ice cream base - I failed to strain it before freezing.  Although the recipe didn't specify to do so, I really should have known better - it turned out that the cornstarch had gotten a bit lumpy, which made the texture of the ice cream less than amazing at times.  I actually ended up forcing the frozen ice cream through a strainer each time I wanted a bowl, which is a huge pain - just strain it before freezing and I promise you'll be much happier!  Once strained, though, the ice cream was one of the best ice creams I've ever made...I definitely look forward to trying more recipes from this book!

Salty Caramel Ice Cream (adapted from Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home)
Makes about 2 pints

1-1/2 ounces (3 T) softened cream cheese
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
2 T light corn syrup
2/3 cup white sugar
2 cups whole milk, divided
1 T plus 1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract

1. Mash together the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Set aside.
2. Whisk together the cream and corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.
3. Make the caramel. Pour the sugar into a 4-quart saucepan and place over medium heat.  Let the sugar melt without stirring until there is a full layer of melted sugar on the bottom of the pot.  Then gently use a heat-proof spatula to push the browning edges toward the middle and any un-melted sugar toward the edges.  Continue this process until the sugar is completely melted and the color of an old penny.  When the sugar begins to bubble and smoke slightly, remove it from the heat.
4. Very carefully pour about 1/4 cup of the cream mixture into the caramel - it is extremely hot, so stand back!  Stir until incorporated, and then continue to add the cream a bit at a time, stirring after each addition until it is all incorporated. 
5. Mix about 2 T of the milk with the cornstarch to create a slurry and set aside.
6. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining milk.  Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
7. Return the pan to medium-high heat and cook until slightly thickened, stirring with a heatproof spatula, about 1 minute.  Remove from heat.
8. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese mixture until smooth.  Cover tightly, and chill in the refrigerator until completely cold, at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
9. Pour the ice cream base through a fine mesh strainer, and then process in an ice cream maker until thick and creamy.  Serve right away for a soft-serve consistency, or chill in the freezer for about 4 hours for a firmer consistency.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Murgh Makhani and Moroccan Carrot Salad

Tim and I made this fantastic dinner a few weeks ago one evening when I was feeling in the mood to make something a little more involved than usual.  The dish isn't difficult, but it does take a while between making the sauce, removing the skin from the chicken (ew!), browning the chicken, and then cooking everything together and finishing the sauce - a great dish to have two people for so one person can start on the sauce while the other works on the chicken.  The sauce didn't turn out particularly spicy, largely because the recipe simply called for "green" and "red" chilies and I had to guess as to which ones to use. You might taste the sauce and see if you want to add additional chilis if you make this dish.  Besides the heat, the sauce has fantastic spices (cumin, cardamom, and ginger) that taste wonderful together and really make this chicken special - well, all that butter doesn't hurt either!

Since the chicken is so rich, a bright veggie salad is the perfect accompaniment.  Although this carrot salad has Moroccan flavors rather than Indian flavors like the chicken, the two dishes actually pair really well together.  The dish is made extra-delicious by the addition of slowly caramelized Meyer lemons.  Along with lots of spices, orange juice, and a pop of green, the shredded carrots are elevated to a whole new level.  This salad also keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days, so make the full recipe and enjoy the leftovers!

Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken) (adapted from Fat)
Serves 3-4

2 onions, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 ounce peeled and coarsely chopped ginger
8 cardamom pods
2 tsp toasted cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 green chiles
1 dried red chile
¾ cup water
3 pounds chicken pieces on the bone (I used thighs and drumsticks)
Coarse sea salt
2-3 T ghee
Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
14 ounces canned tomatoes
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, diced
Chopped cilantro, to serve
1 lime

1. Place the onions, garlic, and ginger in a food processor.  Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and add the seeds to the food processor along with the cumin seeds, and peppercorns.  Remove the seeds from the green chiles and discard.  Chop the chiles and add to the food processor along with the red chile, complete with seeds.  Add 1/4 cup of the water and process until the mixture forms a soupy paste.  Set aside.
2. Remove the skin from the chicken. Season with salt.
3. In a large frying pan, heat 2 T ghee over high heat and brown the chicken in batches, adding more ghee as necessary.  Transfer to a plate.  Lower heat to low and add the onion-spice mixture to the pan.  Using a wooden spoon, deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom.  Add the cinnamon sticks, tomatoes with their juice, remaining water, and 1 tsp salt.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
4.  Add the chicken pieces and any juices to the sauce.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.
5. Transfer the chicken to a dish and keep warm.  Remove the cinnamon stick from the sauce, add the cream, and bring to a boil.  Boil, stirring often, until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter pieces until melted.  Return chicken to the pan and stir to coat with the sauce.  Sprinkle with cilantro, add a squeeze of lime juice, and serve.

Moroccan Carrot Salad (adapted from Aarti Party)
Serves 4-6

1 large Meyer lemon, washed, sliced into thin rounds, and then quartered
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for lemons
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pinches cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon orange zest, plus 1/4 cup orange juice (from 1 orange or so)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 medium carrots, peeled and grated (about 4 cups)
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Juice of 1 Meyer lemon

1. Place the lemon pieces in a cold skillet. Add a generous amount of oil to cover the bottom of the pan and heat over low heat until the rinds soften and begin to brown and caramelize, about 20 minutes.
2. Whisk together the cumin, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, orange zest, and orange juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil, then taste and adjust for seasoning.  Add the carrots, raisins, cilantro, and pine nuts and toss to combine.  Remove the caramelized lemon from the skillet with a slotted spoon and add to the salad; toss to combine.  Add the juice of half the lemon, taste, and add the remaining juice if desire.
3. Store in the refrigerator until serving time. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Secret Recipe Club: Creamy Scramble with Fresh Veggies

This is my third month as a member of the Secret Recipe Club, and I love the surprise every month of finding out who my secret partner will be and looking through all of the delicious recipes on her blog.  This month I was paired up with Tina from Mom's Crazy Cooking.  At first I was convinced that I would choose one of her tasty dessert recipes, but in the end I was more in need of dinner, so I turned to Tina's unique recipe for scrambled eggs.  She includes cream cheese along with the eggs, which makes for extra fluffy, extra rich eggs that are totally delicious.  I made them a complete meal by topping the eggs with avocado, tomatoes, and a bit of cheddar cheese.  An easy and delicious meal - thanks, Tina! 

Creamy Scramble with Fresh Veggies (adapted from Mom's Crazy Cooking)
Serves 1

1/2 avocado
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and pepper
2 eggs
2 T cream cheese, softened
1 T butter or olive oil
1 small heirloom tomato, roughly chopped
Shredded cheddar cheese

1. Mash the avocado, and then add the lime juice plus salt and pepper to taste.  Stir to combine well.

2. Whisk together the eggs, cream cheese, and salt and pepper.  (The cream cheese won't get completely incorporated, so just aim for breaking up any large chunks.)

3. Melt the butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add the egg mixture and stir with a rubber spatula, breaking up any remaining pieces of cream cheese as they melt, until the eggs are done to your liking.

4. Top the eggs with the mashed avocado, chopped tomatoes, and shredded cheese.  Serve immediately.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Basic Deviled Eggs

Tim and I are off this morning on a road trip up the coast to visit northern California.  While we're gone, though, I wanted to share this recipe.  Have a great end of the week and weekend!

It's surprising how hard it is to find a recipe for a plain old deviled egg!  When Tim and I decided to bring deviled eggs to a friend's 4th of July BBQ and looked up recipes online, we found lots with all sorts of interesting variations, but none that we just the basic deviled egg we grew up with.  For the 4th of July, I wanted to make the classic (in particular, nothing to mess up the smooth texture of the yolk like relish or minced onions).  I eventually found what I was looking for, and the eggs turned out perfectly -- and were all gobbled up in no time!

These deviled eggs start with a perfect hard boiled egg - no green around the yolk, which is still slightly soft and perfectly mash-able.  Mayo, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice are whisked in to create the perfect tangy, fluffy deviled egg filling - just like what I remember having as a kid!  The one nod to modern food trends we did go with was using smoked paprika on half the eggs - I really enjoyed the smoky flavor it added, though the ones with regular paprika were quite tasty as well.

Basic Deviled Eggs (adapted from Orangette and Simply Recipes)
Makes 2 dozen

1 dozen large eggs
6 T mayonnaise
1 T Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
Smoked paprika (pimentón) or regular paprika

1. Set the eggs in a pot large enough to allow them to lay in one layer on the bottom.  Cover with cold water by a few inches.
2. Bring the water to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for one minute.  Remove from the heat, cover, and let sit undisturbed for twelve minutes.
3. Drain the eggs in a strainer, and then run under cold water or place in an ice bath until cooled.
4. Peel the eggs, slice each one in half, and scoop out the yolks and place in a separate bowl.
5. Mash the yolks with a fork.  Add the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, and salt to the yolks. Whisk everything together until the mixture is smooth and fluffy.
6. Scoop the yolk mixture back into the egg whites, dividing it evenly among the eggs.
7. Sprinkle the deviled eggs with smoked paprika (or regular paprika if you prefer).

I'm sending this post off to These Chicks Cooked!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Fennel, Fresh Ricotta, and Prosciutto

When I'm in the mood for homemade pizza, sometimes I want something traditional like pepperoni, and other times I want to make something with more interesting toppings.  This pizza was the result of the latter sort of evening.  After going through all the different pizza recipes I had bookmarked (or at least many of them!), I ended up combining a couple of recipes for toppings with some whole wheat dough I had stashed away in the fridge.  I topped the pizza with a little olive oil, some caramlelized onions and fennel, homemade ricotta (so easy to make and so delicious!), and a layer of prosciutto.  The result was a great combination of sweetness from the caramelized veggies; rich, soft cheese; saltiness from the prosciutto; a bit of spice from some roasted red pepper flakes; and lemon juice for a hit of acid.  A perfect pizza!  If you haven't made homemade cheese before, I definitely recommend this recipe for ricotta - it's very little effort for a rich, pillow-y, fresh cheese that definitely "made" this pizza!

Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Fennel, Fresh Ricotta, and Prosciutto (adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Love and Olive Oil)
Makes 1 pizza

Pizza dough for one pizza crust (I used a whole wheat dough based on the master recipe in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day)

One batch homemade ricotta cheese

Olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
Salt and Pepper
Thinly sliced prosciutto
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 Meyer lemon

1. Shape the pizza dough into a ball and set out at room temperature for its final rise.
2. Make the ricotta cheese and set aside to drain while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
3. Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a medium skillet, and then add the onion and fennel along with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until nicely browned and caramelized, 15-20 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
5. Shape the pizza dough into your preferred shape on a peel or pizza pan.  If it's thick, pre-bake in the oven for a few minutes (not needed for thinner crusts).
6. Brush the crust with olive oil, and then top with the caramelizes onion and fennel.  Dot with ricotta cheese, and sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes.  Finally, layer on the prosciutto in one layer.  Bake the pie until the crust is cooked through and the toppings are hot.
7. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze lemon juice all over the pizza.
8. Serve while hot!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes

Tim and I made these cheesecakes for our friend Wistaria's birthday dinner, and let me tell you - they were amazing!  They start off with a chocolate cookie crust - we were at a sort of strange grocery store that didn't have regular chocolate wafer cookies, so we ended up getting Oreos and scraping out the insides.  Sort of an annoying task, but it worked.  However, I definitely recommend just getting normal cookies if you can.  :)  In any case, the crust turned out to be delicious, especially topped with chocolate cheesecake!

The cheesecake filling is your typical chocolate cheesecake, extra rich and delicious with a wonderful smooth texture.  Because the cheesecakes are baked in muffin tins, they're small enough that you don't really have to worry about cracking.  Additionally, the cupcake papers shrink in with the cheesecakes as they cool, rather than bits of cheesecake sticking to the sides and creating cracks.  Finally, once the cheesecakes are cool, they're topped with a mascarpone-sour cream topping that's absolutely delicious.  If you don't want to purchase both, I'm pretty sure you could get away with using all of one or the other, but the combination certainly was delicious!  Raspberries made a great topper, but another berry (maybe strawberries?) or a fruit sauce would also be delicious.  Something a little on the tart side is nice just because the cheesecake is so rich.  Overall, this was a delicious and festive birthday dessert - definitely a winner!

Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes (adapted from strawberries in paris, original recipe here)
Makes about 18 mini cheesecakes

For the crust:
8 oz chocolate wafers (or Oreos with the cream scraped out), ground to crumbs with a food processor
5 T butter, melted
2 T granulated sugar

For the cheesecake
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
3 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, inside scraped out

For the topping:
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree.  Pour some water in a shallow pan that will fit your muffin tins, and place in the oven.  Fill 18 (or so) muffin cups with cupcake papers.
2. Mix together all of the crust ingredients and spoon 1 T or so into each cupcake paper, pressing down with the back of a spoon.
3. Beat together the cream cheese and marscarpone at high speed for 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Beat in the melted chocolate, sugar, and vanilla bean innards until thoroughly blended. Continue beating until the mixture is very smooth, for about 4 minutes.
4. Set the mixer on low speed and add the eggs one at a time, beating until just incorporated but taking care not to overbeat. Add the heavy cream and beat just until incorporated, for about 30 seconds.
5. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them almost to the top of the papers.  Place the tins on the sheet filled with water in the oven (working in two batches if needed).
6. Bake until the mini cheesecakes are set on top but still a bit jiggly in the center, about 20 minutes - check them often.  Remove from the oven, cool, and then chill until firm. 
7. Mix topping ingredients together and spoon over the cheesecakes.  Top each one with a raspberry!

In other news, I'm now on Google+, so if you'd like to be friends (or whatever word they're using), here's my profile.

Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Edgeware.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cinnamon-Spiced Pluot Jam with Homemade Pectin

My friend Sara and I made this fantastic jam with pluots from the market.  Pluots are a hybrid fruit that's a combination of apricots and plums; if you can't find them, I'm sure this jam would also be terrific with plums (which is actually the fruit in the original recipe).  Making the homemade pectin in a bit of work, but it was a fun process - especially if you have a food mill to make the puree-ing process easier.  It can lead to a more "natural", softer set than using store-bought pectin, although in our case we over-cooked the jam a bit and it got somewhat over-gelled.  Luckily about 30 seconds in the microwave before spreading on the jam works perfectly fine, so it's not a disaster.

As to the flavor, this jam tastes like Christmas to me despite being made with summer fruit!  Something about the combination of cinnamon and plum flavors just brings up a cozy feeling of winter desserts.  Of course, it's also delicious to eat any time of year - I enjoyed some here spread on home-baked whole wheat bread.  The pluots are slightly tart, which is perfectly balanced with the warm cinnamon spice.  I think this jam would make a fantastic Christmas gift to give friends and family a taste of summer fruit with winter spices.

Cinnamon-Spiced Pluot Jam with Homemade Pectin (adapted from Ball Canning)
Makes around 2 cups, easily multiplied

Homemade Pectin
3 large granny smith apples (or other tart apples), tops and bottoms removed, coarsely chopped with cores intact
1 small lemon, scrubbed, finely chopped, including peels

1 cup homemade pectin (reserve the rest for another jam project or reduce over medium heat and add sugar to make applesauce)
3 cups peeled, pitted, and chopped pluots (or plums)
2-3/4 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick

1. Place the apples and lemons in a large pot with enough water to avoid sticking.  Boil until soft.  Puree using a food mill or by forcing the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer.
2. Measure out 1 cup of the homemade pectin, and add to the berries, sugar, and cinnamon stick in a large pot.  Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the jam is thickened and passes the gel test.  Be sure not to overcook - due to the added pectin, this jam can definitely get too thick if you cook it too long!  (If that happens, just pop the jam in the microwave for about 30 seconds before using to loosen it up a bit.)
3. Fill clean jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace.  Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath to preserve, or just store in the fridge or freezer.

 I'm sending this post off to These Chicks Cooked!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Heirloom Tomato Soup

My friend Sara and I canned gorgeous heirloom tomatoes from Happy Girl last summer, and so I went looking for a recipe to use up my last couple of jars.  This one was perfect - not-too-fussy tomato soup that really lets the tomato flavor shine through. The flavors are simple and uncomplicated - which is exactly what I want from tomato soup.  It's also thick and almost creamy, even though it doesn't contain any milk or cream.  It's the perfect accompaniment to a grilled cheese sandwich made with extra sharp cheddar...especially if you like to dip your sandwich into your soup! 

Heirloom Tomato Soup (adapted from Fine Cooking, via use real butter)
Makes 2 servings

1 T olive oil
1/2 T butter
1/2 large red onion, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 T all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups chicken broth
1 pint home-canned heirloom tomatoes (or substitute a 16-ounce can of whole tomatoes)
1/2 tsp sugar
1 sprig fresh oregano
Salt and pepper

1. Melt the oil and butter together in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic, and cook until translucent and soft, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the flour until the onion and garlic are coated and the flour just begins to brown.
2. Pour in the broth, tomatoes (with their juice), sugar, oregano, and a few good grinds of pepper.  Bring soup to a simmer over medium-high heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Remove the oregano, and then puree the soup using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor.  Taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
4. Return soup to pot and simmer for another five minutes or so. Serve with grilled cheese sandwiches.