8 Italian Bread Bowls

Recently, I made Peter Reinhart's Italian Bread into soup bowls.  This has been my all time favorite bread as part of the BBA challenge.

My husband firmly believes soup needs to be in a bread bowl in order for it to be a "meal."

Take your favorite bread recipe and divide them into 6 oz. portions.  This Italian Bread recipe easily makes six bread bowls.  This was the perfect size for a ladies function.

Gently shape each portion into a ball, stretching the outside and tucking the edges underneath.  Let the dough rest for 5-10 minutes.  The dough will relax and the pinched part of the bottom will come apart.  Bring the edges of the dough together again.  This is creating surface tension.
 Surface tension allows your dough to rise up instead of out.

After the dough has risen, it is slashed (I use a tomato knife) and put into a hot 500ºF oven.  To create a crispy, artisan bread crust, take a spray bottle filled with water and quickly mist the area over the dough (don't mist any light bulbs or glass!)  Shut the oven door; wait 30 seconds, and quickly mist again.  Close the oven door, wait 30 seconds and mist one last time.  Close the oven door.
Turn the temperature down to 400ºF  and cooked them for 20-25 minutes, creating a thicker crust to hold the soup.

The result?

They were perfect.  The right size, texture and flavor.

Twelve of these bowls were quickly enjoyed with soup by several ladies at a church function.


2 Roasted Tomato Tortellini Soup

During the summer, I received a coupon from Buitoni and FoodBuzz to try a pasta of my choice.  I chose their fresh tortellini.

Did you know that you can freeze fresh pasta?  I became very busy this past summer and stuck this in the freezer.

Recently,  Girlichef took tomato soup up a notch, roasting her tomatoes and adding cute little cheese sandwich croutons.  I made a creamy tomato soup at my last  Christmas dinner ,  and thought, why not roast the tomatoes and add tortellini?

Roasting tomatoes are easy.  I gathered four pounds of vine tomatoes, washed and quartered them.  Put them on a baking sheet and drizzled them with olive oil.

Put them in a 325ºF oven for about an hour,

 till you get this.

Don't forget...you'll want to roast some garlic while you roasting the tomatoes.

In a large pot, add olive oil, red onions,

 chopped carrots and roasted garlic,

 and add just a touch of sugar to sweeten the acidity of the tomatoes.

The recipe calls for 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste.

Tomato paste adds a punch of tomato flavor to any recipe.

Why waste a whole can when you can freeze it?

 This POST shows how to freeze tomato paste.

Don't have fresh basil?

Don't worry, you can use pesto.

I froze some in some ice cube trays and other containers last year, thanks to this tip from Kaylyn's Kitchen.

Add some chicken stock.

I love to use the McCormick's chicken base and keep it in my fridge.

Freshly ground pepper is good, too.

Okay, this is where my $10 immersion blender comes in.

If you don't have one, use a food processor, blender, or food mill.

Unless you have a blender that can pulverize everything, you can strain this.

Using a rubber spatula and pushing it through a coarse strainer, this is what is left behind.

You could always skin and seed your tomatoes using this method.

Add some cream.

Cream makes everything better...

There you have it.

Fresh, creamy, roasted tomato soup.

Oh, and don't forget Buitoni's Fresh Tortellini ~

It was fabulous in this soup!

Thanks, Buitoni and FoodBuzz!

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Creamy Roasted Tomato Soup
Adapted from Ina Garten's Creamy Fresh Tomato Basil Soup

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced or roasted garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, quartered (5-6 large)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish (I used pesto)
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
Croutons, for garnish
Put tomatoes in a single layer on a foil lined baking sheet.  Lightly drizzle tomatoes with olive oil.
Bake in a 325ºF oven for about an hour.
In a large dutch oven or soup pot, combine olive oil, red onions and carrots.  Add garlic at this point.  If using roasted garlic, save it for the end of the dish.  Saute for about 10 minutes, or until tender.
Add tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, stock, salt and pepper and stir well.
Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered for 30-40 minutes.
Add roasted garlic.  Puree soup with a blender, food processor or food mill.  If using a blender or processor, push soup through a medium strainer that will leave residual skin and seeds behind.
Add cream.

Reheat soup over low heat until hot and serve with basil leaves and/or croutons.



8 Roasting Garlic, the EASY Way

Roasted garlic imparts a deeper, sweeter, and more mellow flavor that I have grown to love.  Typically, whole heads of garlic are roasted in an oven that can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.

This method, found at King Arthur Flour, takes only around 20 minutes and yeilds more garlic than the whole head method.

First, break apart your head of garlic into separate cloves.  Trim the woody end and discard.

Place the cut garlic cloves in a bowl and drizzle some olive oil, giving it a stir to lightly coat them.

Place the oil drizzled cloves onto a baking sheet and stick them into a preheated 325ºF oven.

20 minutes later, this is what you'll get....

Look at those cute little guys, busting outta their skins ~

I freeze the roasted garlic in their skins, so they are ready to use any time!

When I'm ready to use them, I simply slide the skins off, mash them, and they are good to go.

Roasted garlic is great in mashed potatoes, salad dressing, turkey, soups, pasta and in bread!

What is your favorite way of using garlic?


0 Canning 101: Sealed or Not Sealed?

I love these new lids from Ball.

Can you tell if this jar is sealed?

Notice the little "bubble" in the middle.

How about this one?

If you answered, "Yes," you are correct.

Well, partially correct.

If the "bubble" in the middle is concave (down), does not come up when pressed, take off the ring/band.  Gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips.  If you cannot lift the lid, the jar has a good vacuum seal.

What to do with an unsealed jar?  You have two choices:

1.  Within 24 hours, use it immediately or put in the fridge to use within a few days. (This is what I prefer to do).

2.  Reprocess the product:  remove the lid, reheat the food and/or liquid as recommended by the recipe.
Pack food into clean, hot, jars.  Place a new heated lid on the jar and adjust the band.  Reprocess the product using the canning method and full length of processing time recommended by the recipe.

If the jar did not seal because of damage to the jar (usually chips along the rim), dispose of the contents and use the jar for NONcanning purposes, or put the jar in your glass recycle.

Happy Canning!


2 Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream

Who says you can't have ice cream in the Fall?

Ice cream is the perfect complement to a warm apple pie or atop a hot, Fudgey Brownie or served with Chocohotopots.  That combination of hot vs. cold is a real treat and you will love this ice cream recipe from  David Lebovitz.

Introducing a new caramel ice cream, one that is so much easier to make and not as rich the Salted Butter Caramel ice cream from the same creator.

This starts with 8 oz. of this lovely, creamy, smooth Caramelized White Chocolate.

If you've made this and have been keeping it in the fridge, re-warm it in the microwave.

Add some heavy cream...

and stir till smooth.

In a medium saucepan, heat the milk, sugar, and salt.

Whisk together the egg yolks in a small bowl and gradually whisk in half of the warm milk...

then pour the warmed yolk/milk mixture back into the saucepan.

Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly with a spoon, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon.

When you can take a finger and draw a clean line down the middle of the spoon, the mixture is ready.

Immediately pour the custard through the strainer (to catch any "scrambled" eggs) into the white chocolate mixture and stir till smooth.

Put contents in a container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate overnight.

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to directions.

Take a spoonful, put it in your mouth, and let it melt....

Caramelized White Chocolate Ice Cream
(4x6 recipe download)  (full page printable recipe)


1 Caramelized White Chocolate Sauce

Just seeing this title on David Lebovitz's blog caught my attention.

"How can white chocolate be caramel?"

I'm here to tell you, it can and it should.

One lick of this from a spoon, and you won't be able to control yourself.

Here's how to do it...

David says, "Look for a white chocolate that has a minimum of 20% cocoa butter.  30% gives the best results."

I found these white chocolate "Melty" wafers at Winco.  The label didn't tell me how much cocoa butter it has, but I discovered later through the Internet that these have vegetable fat, not cocoa butter fat.

Not to worry, I think these melty wafers worked.

Next time, I'm going to see if I can find a slab of white chocolate...I've heard Michaels has them and I have a 40% off coupon...

Anyways, back to the white chocolate.  Put pieces on a single layer and bake them for 10 minutes.  Stir with a clean, dry spatula.

Is this what it is supposed to look like?  Aaaaaaccckkk!

Bake for an additional 10 minutes and then stir.

Remove it when it reaches a peanut butter-like color.

I look at the recipe.  ...Keep stirring and it will smooth out..."

Huh?  This looks pretty lumpy to me...

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.

Stir to remove lumps...

Okay, the lumps are gone, but now it looks and feels like peanut butter cookie dough.

I have NO idea what I'm doing!!

This is why I like step-by-step photos...

I look at the recipe again..."add up to 1/4 c. heavy cream until the sauce is smooth and creamy."

Okay, here it goes...

I hold my breath, gently stirring the cream in, little by little.

"...add 1 T. of butter..."

Okay.  Stirring butter in, while crossing my fingers behind my back...

I take a close look.

Hmmm....smoothed out, but looks a little grainy.

Check the recipe again.

"...push sauce through a sieve to remove any remaining lumps."

I can do that!

While cleaning the sieve with the spatula, I decided to give this a taste...

Mmmmmmm...I'm in love.

My family tells me that it tastes like dulce de leche.  I wouldn't know.  I've never had it before.  I just know it tastes good.

David suggests using this as a glaze for a
coffee cake
Topping for sticky buns
White chocolate cherry scones
Macaron filling
...or...ice cream.  That's what I'm going to make next ~

Caramelized White Chocolate Sauce

(4x6 recipe download)    (full page printable recipe)

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