Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Basque Shepherd’s Cheese Grilled Sandwich

I don’t know why, but this winter season has felt and still feels (even though officially spring arrived a while ago…) like taking forever. Last Tuesday was soooo cold, that we had to turn on the heat again, just when we thought we were done with it 😦
I was working in my kitchen, filling a bunch of chocolate orders, and although most of the times when I’m making truffles I get so into it, and time seems to fly, I don’t even remember to have lunch (a bad thing… I know…), but last Tuesday the cold got to me, within my bones… so I had to have soup, but I wanted to make something quick, yet comforting, cause I had to get back to work, so Tomato and Red Roasted Pepper Soup came to the rescue.

I accompanied it with a kicked up classic: Grilled cheese Sandwich, but not just any grilled cheese sandwich, I used Basque Shepperd’s Cheese… mmmm Delicious!

Tomato and Roasted Read Pepper Soup

It sure did it’s job and got me back to work, all warmed up and energized too!
This recipe is adapted from the Food Network, Down with the Neelys, I changed a couple of things, since I wanted to make the soup vegan to see how it turned out.
Here is what you will need:
Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper 
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Vidalia onion, choppedtomato soup
1 Carrot (I omitted this, since I didn’t want the soup to be too sweet)
2 Cloves of garlic (I added one more, I love garlic)

Kosher Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper
1 Tablespoon of tomato paste
1 (14.5 oz.) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (12 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped (I used Belarra Piquillo Peppers, they are my favorite)
2 1/2 cups of low sodium vegetable broth
2 teaspoons of sugar (I also omitted this for the same reason, and I’m glad I did because the soup came out just perfectly sweet for my taste)
1/2 unsweetened almond milk

Basil, I used cilantro cause I didn’t have basil at hand and it was very tasty too.
Heat the olive oil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat. Add onion and carrot and saute until tender, about five minutes. Add garlic and saute until just fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste and cook until toasted, just one more minute.Add tomatoes, red pepper, vegetable broth and let simmer for 25 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have melded together. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper and sugar if needed. Add the almond milk and basil, puree using a hand held immersion blender until smooth.Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of fresh basil on top, cilantro in my case.

Basque Shepherds cheese
Now, let me tell you a little bit about this delicious cheese…
It’s real name is: AOC Ossau – Iraty because it’s there were it’s produced, in southwestern France in two neighboring provinces: the Ossau Valley in the Bearn and the Iraty Forests of the Basque Country (Pays Basque)The three initials before it’s name mean: appellation d’origine controlee which only means that this product has been certified to be produced with the special characteristics of that particular geographical area. Along with Roquefort these are the only two sheep milk cheeses with AOC status in France.It’s uncooked, pressed cheese handcrafted with raw, unpasteurized milk from Manech and Basco-Bearnaise Sheep, and has to be aged at least for 90 days to reach it’s fatty, sweet and nutty perfection.

It has been called the grandfather of Basque Cheeses, made the traditional way by Basque Shepherd’s for millenia.

It’s so good, that it’s in the book: “1001 Foods You Must Try Before You Die”

I simply lightly buttered two pieces of Soft Rustico Multigrain Bread, added some cheese and grilled it, perfect pairing for this delicious smoky soup.

grilled cheese
Enjoy with a nice glass of red wine, for me it had to be Rioja Wine of course… 🙂 and there you have it:
Total comfort food on a plate.
Basque Shepherd's Cheese - Rioja Wine

Light Green Pea Shoot and Dandy Meyer Lemon Salad

We went grocery shopping on Saturday, and while at Costco, I saw them! Yes! Dandy Meyer Lemons!!! Yay!!! Some people may wonder: What’s a Dandy Meyer Lemon? Well… they are a wonderful thing! No, seriously, Dandy Meyer Lemons are a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. This unique fruit blends the traditional flavor of a lemon and the sweetness of an orange creating a refreshingly exceptional taste experience. After squeezing them, my hands smelled sooo citrusy for ever… Love them. It’s rich, dark and aromatic juice is much sweeter than a conventional lemon making its distinctive flavor a favorite amongst gourmet cooks and dessert chefs. So I bought a bunch of them!

I also saw these great springy Green Pea Shoots so I also HAD to buy them 😛

Pea shoots are the bright green tender young leaves of a pea plant. They taste faintly of fresh peas. Personally I will tell you that they taste like spring!!! These are also super good for you, since they are very high in Vitamin K, which is important for blood clotting and other body processes. They are also full of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and folic acid.

brotes con flor

Green Pea Shoots

This was a match made in heaven… I had to make a salad with them. Let me show you a picture of them together, and yes, these are lemons, not oranges 🙂

meyer lemon 2

Dandy Meyer Lemon – Green Pea Shoots

It takes literally only a few minutes to put this salad together, I simply pealed the lemons and then sliced them, add them to the shoots and then to give them a little boost I added a little bit of saffron, they did pair very well, also I added some wild flowers and my favorite nuts, hazelnuts for some crunch.

Since this is such a simple salad I went with a super simple dressing too, but I made a larger amount since we eat salads every day in our house.
Dandy Meyer Lemon Dressing
1/2 tsp of black pepper (more if desired) 2 tsp salt 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Freshly squeezed Meyer Lemon juice
Mix all ingredients into a container with secure lid, tighten lid. Shake vigorously until olive oil and lemon juice blend into one, after about 1 minute of shaking.
So here it is for you: Spring on a plate! Enjoy!
detalle ensalada plato

Summer Squash Tart

This is such an easy and simple recipe but still awesome and quick!
Spring is here… kind of.. so I decided to make something fresh and easy, it can be eaten right away from the oven or simply at room temperature.
I thawed a sheet of frozen puff pastry which by the way is so versatile… I think everybody should have it on hand. With it, you can make and endless number of sweet or savory dishes that with very little effort look very impressive 😉 and along with my trusty mandolin in a few minutes this beauty came out of the oven.
I made mine very light with only one summer squash.
You will need:
1 sheet (thawed) puff pastry
1 summer squash thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of EVOO
the juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg beaten with a splash of water
Heat up your oven to 400 F
Whisk the EVOO, lemon juice, salt and pepper and pour over the thinly sliced summer squash.
Place sheet of puff pastry (I used Trader Joe’s which comes flat out and already pricked, was flat enough for my taste so I really didn’t do anything to it, so it turned out perfectly square 😉 on top of parchment paper, paint with EVOO and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste, and then arrange the squash slices in rows.
Then paint the edges with the egg wash.
Just before placing the tray in the oven I sprinkled freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese all over it, for an extra saltiness and nuttiness 😉
Every oven is different and since puff pastry is so delicate, keep a look on it, I baked mine for about 10 minutes, until it was crisp and deep golden brown.
Like I said before, this is delicious right out of the oven, or if you are having people over and want to enjoy their company, make it ahead of time and simply serve it at room temperature, it’s simply delicious and very delicate, you’ll really enjoy it. Also feel free to garnish it with chopped parsley, rosemary, basil or your favorite herb, this time I garnished mine simply with a bunch of sprouts.
More puff pastry recipes soon to come! 😉

“Fake” Doughnuts

I had to share this with you guys… this is not really a new recipe, in fact is the SAME batter recipe I made last, it is the super fluffy waffle recipe(minus the grains)!!! Yes, believe or not it is, and it comes out pretty good! 🙂
The thing is that my son Alex wanted waffles, so there I go, I start getting the batter ready and he happened to walk by the self where I keep our little donut maker, and of course right away he says: Mommy!!! I don’t want waffles, I want donuts!!!! Right now please!!!!
I tried to convince him that we’d make them next time, and it was not working, so it just crossed my mind… why not try to make these cute little doughnuts with the waffle batter? I was not convinced at all but I gave it a try, and let me tell you… they are goooood!!! Of course as all of you know: everything is good with chocolate. So here they are… please give them a try if you happened to have a mini donut maker, I promise you won’t be disappointed 😉
Only keep in mind just to add a little dollop of batter, you don’t want them to overflow
"Fake" Doughnuts

“Fake” Doughnuts

Here is a super simple and easy chocolate glaze recipe:

4 tablespoons of good quality unsweetened cocoa powder (the better the quality the better the results, of course)
2 tablespoons of heavy cream, plus 1 tablespoon of water mixed together (if not use regular milk or even water)
1 1/2 of powdered sugar

In a bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, and slowly stir in the liquid. Whisk until you get a silky and smooth glaze, literally it takes a minute to make. Adjust the liquid until you get a dippable consistency glaze.
Dip these cute guys and let them set for a few minutes to harden slightly, if you can that is…
With a child next to me I had to make them with sprinkles which by the way made them even look cuter!!!
Of course like any other kind of doughnuts these are better enjoyed the same day you make them. We couldn’t almost let them set… we ate them right away!