I cook a lot, in many different settings, for many different numbers of people. These are some of the recipes that I’m consistently and constantly asked to share.
Tomato Basil Soup I use frozen chopped onions and chopped garlic from a jar. You can use more or less diced tomatoes or tomato sauce; don’t obsess about what you have on hand. I’ve used half-and-half, regular and fat free, instead of the cream, and it works fine.1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dry basil
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
Black pepper to taste
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes
2 14.5-oz cans tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup heavy cream
3 oz cream cheese
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have browned quite a bit, 10-15 minutes. Add red wine vinegar, salt, basic, Tabasco, and pepper. Stir to scrape up bits of bood stuck to the pan. Allow vinegar to boil away. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer.
In another pan, heat cream over medium heat. Cut cream cheese into small chunks and add to cream. Stir often until cream cheese melts and mixtures is hot.
Remove tomato mixture from heat and stir in cream. Do not boil again.
Makes about 2 quarts.
Tomato-Basil Tart This recipe is a tremendous hit everywhere and with everyone. Several people have told me it’s the best thing they’ve ever eaten. You can serve it for lunch, or dinner, or at a party. It’s great with soup and/or salad.
1 unbaked refrigerated or homemade pie crust (I use homemade; see the next recipe)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups diced tomatoes, well drained
2 tsp dried basil
4 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise (regular or low-fat)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
Prick bottom of pie crust in several places with a fork, and line with a double thickness of foil. Bake at 450 degrees 8 minutes; remove foil and bakd 4-5 minutes longer until set and dry. Remove from oven. Reduce temperature to 375 degrees. Sprinkle crust with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.Stir together tomatoes, basil, and garlic; distribute evenly in crust.
In a bowl, combine remaining mozzarella, mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Spoon cheese mixture over tomatoes, spreading all the way to the edges and evenly covering the top.
If desired, decorate top with thin slices of tomatoes to mark the slices (I use Roma tomatoes). Bake at 375 degrees 35-40 minutes, until top is golden and bubbly.
Serves 4 to 8, depending on what else you’re serving and the size of the appetites involved.
Pie CrustTender, flaky, easy to make, and easy to handle. Once you’ve used butter and a food processor, you’ll never go back to shortening and a pastry blender.
1-1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
3 tbsp ice water
Place flour and salt in a food processor; mix for 5 seconds.Cut butter into 8 pieces and distribute over flour; process 15 seconds, until butter is thoroughly cut in.
With processor running, add ice water in a stream; process just until the dough comes together.
Roll out dough and fit into a pie pan. If crust is too large, fold under the edges; a sturdy edge is easier to serve and less likely to shrink. Flute or make another decorate edge. If time allows, refrigerate the crust 30 minutes before baking to help reduce shrinkage.
West Indian Pumpkin SoupI use frozen chopped onions and green peppers. Rather than peel and dice a large carrot, I use several mini carrots and pulse them in a food processor until they’re well chopped. If you aren’t vegetarian, you can use chicken or ham broth; and the soup is excellent served with a sprinkling of crisp crumbled bacon on top.
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup diced tomatoes, with juice
1 cup pureed pumpkin (cooked or canned)
1/8 tsp ground allspice
Good pinch crushed dried hot peppers
Salt and pepper to taste
In a heavy pot, cook the onion, green pepper, carrot and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until soft.Add remaining ingredients, and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, over low heat for about 30 minutes. If desired, puree some or all of the soup before serving.
Triple-Chocolate Brownies4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3/4 c. butter
2 c. sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1/2 c. chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13″x9″ pan. (If you want really thick, fudgy brownies, use a 9″x9″ pan.)
Microwave chocolate and butter 2 minutes, until butter is melted; stir to completely melt chocolate.Stir in sugar and vanilla. Add eggs; mix well. Stir in flour, and then stir in chocolate chips.Bake in prepared pan 30-35 minutes, until a tester inserted in the center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (If you use the smaller pan, bake a little longer.)
Frost with chocolate frosting (next recipe).
Chocolate Frosting1/2 c. butter
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanillaMelt butter; stir in cocoa. Add vanilla. Gradually stir in powdered sugar, alternating with milk. Then beat on high speed until creamy. Makes about 2 cups.
Chocolate CakeThe perfect chocolate cake recipe. It comes from the world’s greatest cookbook: Judy Rosenberg’s All-Butter Fresh Cream Sugar-Packed No-Holds-Barred Baking Book. Got milk?
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup very strong, hot coffee; or 5 tsp. instant coffee powder dissolved in 1 c. hot water
1/2 c. sour cream, at room temperature
1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 eggs, at room temperaturePreheat oven to 345 degrees. (Yes, 345, not 350.) Grease two 8″ layer pans or a 13″x9″ pan.Microwave chocolate until melted (about 1-1/2 minutes).
Sift together sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, blend coffee, sour cream, and vegetable oil with a whisk.
With the mixer on low speed, add the coffee mixture in a stream to the dry ingredients, and mix until blended. Scrape the bowl, and then mix a little more.
Add the eggs one at a time, and mix on medium-low after each addition until smooth.
Add the chocolate, and mix until the batter is uniform in color, about 10 seconds.
Bake until the cake springs back to the touch and a tester inserted in the center comes out dry, 35-38 minutes.