Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup

Nothing can be easier and more satisfying than a supper of soup and sandwiches.  And if the soup is made from scratch…even better.tomato soup

Peel and seed 6 tomatoes and then chop.  Chop one onion  and 2 garlic cloves.  Saute in a bit of oil and then place in a blender.  Blend until the consistency of a nice creamy soup.  Add enough milk to achieve this.  Taste for salt and pepper, sprinkle a few parsley leaves over the top and serve with toasty grilled cheese sandwiches.

butter

I like to make my sandwich with thin slices of good cheese.  I don’t think the bread needs any mayonaise , but others may disagree.  I then fry it in butter.grilled cheese sandwich

The key is to do it with low heat and lots of patience.  My children can attest to how hard this can be, since they have had to endure many a burnt sandwich.Grilled Cheese Sandwich and Tomato Soup

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Rioja

Rioja

Recently we tried a new (to us) restaurant in Denver. It is called Rioja.  This is a Mediteranian insipred cuisine.

Bread and butter

I started with the tuna sashimi and tuna tartare, marinated apple and fennel, anise vinaigrette, crispy apple chips.  It was divine.  The apple chips are an unusual treat.DSCN1204 Rioja

The warm Brussels sprout salad, roasted delicata squash, pancetta apple vinaigrette, pistachio pistou was a great surprise.  Who would have ever thought of having Brussels sprouts in a salad.  It was delicious.  And I don’t even like them, normally.

DSCN1205 Rioja

The braised Wagyu boneless beef shortrib, gorgonzola creamed farro, pear arugula salad,  candied walnuts, with Don PX sherry reduction was so tender and rich.  It is one of the specialties.  It was phenomenal.

DSCN1208 Rioja

The quince tortelli, pine nut brown butter, juniper gastrique, organic arugula were quite unique.  The brown butter sauce was very special. DSCN1209 RiojaThis was a fabulous meal.  I know that we will be back again, and of course I’ll have to post that meal as well.

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Mayacamas Wine

Mayacamas

It is such a pleasure to have a bottle of fine wine.  And if it is aged, it is truly a privilege.  A well stored old wine makes any dinner special.  We really enjoyed this 35 year old wine.  I recommend wine collecting.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Enjoy a nice bottle of wine with Friends or Family.

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Tia Edwina’s Senegalese Soup

Green Apple

My Aunt was a wonderful cook and a marvelous hostess.  She sure loved to have a party.  This was one of her favorite soups.  It has a very interesting flavor.  You can serve it hot or cold, but it is most commonly served cold.

Chicken Senegalese

2 Tablespoons Onion, minced
2 Tablespoons Butter
4 Granny Smith Apples, chopped
1 Tablespoons Flour
2 teaspoons Curry
3 ½ cups Chicken broth
1 teaspoon Chicken bullion
1/4 cup Cream
Chicken meat, diced
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Apples and Onions Saute onions in butter. Add apples and cook for about 5 minutes. Add flour and curry, stir well then add broth. Simmer 30 minutes. Blend at low speed in a blender then put through sieve and chill. Place chicken in the bowls and serve with cream.  There is a variation that adds 2/3 cup of good peanut butter when the soup is blended. You can also garnish it with cilantro.

These same ingredients can be turned into Chicken a la Senegalese.   You just take the Chicken pieces and brown them then add the soup and simmer for about 20 minutes.  You can serve this over rice.

Senegalese soup

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Clyde’s

There is a nice restaurant that is in Washington DC.  I really like it because they have a great Lobster special.  I went looking for my Lobster fix recently, but alas….. there was none.   Oh, well.  Next time.

Clyde's

So I did the honorable thing….I ordered Crab cakes.  They were very good.  Lots of good lump crab and no filler.  They were served with a nice sauce.  Not lobster, but still good.

Crab cakes

Another great dish that we had there was the  Butternut Squash Ravioli.    It was a great fall dish, delicious and colorful.

Butternut squash

This was a great meal with wonderful company, but next time….I want my lobster!

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Vietnamese Soup- Pho

Pho is a wonderful Vietnamese soup that is staple of this cuisine.  Pho literally means noodle, so it is a delicious broth that has a combination of noodles and vegetables and some type of protein.  The combination is up to the individual.  The garnishes can be set up on the table for each person to add what they want.  It’s a lot of fun for a party.  Pho is pronounced like a cross between Fa and Fu, a bit like foot with out the t.   At least that is how I have heard it.Pho Broth

Broth

10 cups broth (vegetarian or chicken)

4 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

2 whole cloves

4 large slices of ginger

1 small bunch of cilantro

1 onion in slices

3 Tablespoons sugar

salt and pepper to taste

1 package of rice noodles, soaked for 30 min. in cold water.

Garnishes

Garnishes (pick what you like)

Cilantro leaves

mint leaves

basil leaves

finely chopped chiles

hot sauce (Thai or Chinese)

hoisin sauce

bean sprouts

sliced scallions

thinly sliced carrots

lemon wedges

sliced cooked chicken or beef  or shrimp

Pho

Broth

Crush all of the spices. Add all of the ingredients to a stock pot and simmer, covered for about 30 minutes.  Strain the broth to get rid of the spices.  Add the noodles and allow the guests to add what ever garnishes they would like.  Then cover with the hot broth.  Enjoy

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Sopa de Frijol- Bean Soup

Frijoles are a staple in Mexican Cuisine.  They are full of nutrients and fiber and so good for you.  They also happen to be one of my favorite foods.  As far as I’m concerned, the black bean is the most flavorful, but this works well with any kind.  Put them in a soup and that is the best!

Sopa de Frijol

2 Cups cooked beans

1 pinch cumin powder

1/2 onion chopped

Chicken stock

Sour cream for garnish

Queso fresco and avocado for garnish

Fried tortillas for garnish

Salt and Pepper

Saute onion in oil until translucent.  Add the beans and cumin.  Saute for 5 minutes. Transfer to the blender and process until smooth adding  stock until you get the consistency of a creamy soup.  Taste for seasoning.  Serve warm with a dollop of cream, avocado, cheese and the tortilla chips.

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Chiles en Nogada- Chiles in nut sauce

Abuelita  Mina  made the BEST Chiles en Nogada.  She very generously offered to make them for anyone that was having a party.  The only deal breaker was if the pomegranate seeds were not in season.  I must agree.  Chiles en Nogada are nothing without the “semillas de granadas”.  This is labor intensive, but worth it.

Pomagranets

Chiles en Nogada –Chiles in a walnut sauce

Chiles en Nogada are the typical Mexican dish served during the Independence celebrations.  The colors are representative of the Mexican flag: green (chiles), red (pomegranate) and white (sauce).  There are different versions of this sauce, but this is my favorite.  The quantities of liquids are just an approximation.  Work slowly to make sure that you don’t make the sauce too watery.

6 large green chiles, stuffed with picadillo (earlier post)
~1/2 cup mexican cream or sour cream
~1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 round of queso fresco
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pomegranate, seeds separated to decorate
salt and pepper
.

One day ahead, take the shelled walnuts and almonds and place them in a cold pot of water.  Bring it to a boil and then pour out all the water and rinse in cold water.  Place the nuts in a new pot of cold water and once again bring it to a boil and let cool.  Remove the papery skins.  This may be hard to do if the nuts are not fresh.  The sauce is smoother without the skins, but if you can’t get them off, make sure you puree it well.  Let the walnuts  and the almonds soak in milk overnight.

Soak the walnuts and almonds in the milk for 1 hour.  Place the nuts,sugar and cinnamon and queso fresco in a blender with the milk. Add the orange juice and cream slowly until smooth and the consistency of a light mayonnaise.  The quantity of liquid will vary depending on the freshness of the nuts.  The goal is to have a sauce that is thick enough to cling to the chiles but thin enough to pour.  Check seasoning for salt and pepper.

Serve the chiles rellenos on a platter with the sauce on top and sprinkle  pomegranate seeds.  This is the “Blanco, Verde y Colorado” of the Mexican flag.  This dish is served at room temperature.

Chile En Nogada

 

Chiles Rellenos

Chiles Rellenos seems to be one of the Mexican dishes that most Americans know.  They can be served hot or cold, with a sauce or without, battered or not.  And I have not even started with the fillings….

Chiles Poblanos

Chiles
In Mexico, we only use Chiles Poblanos.  The first thing you have to do is remove the “skin”.  The best way to do that is to char them either over an open flame on the stove or under a broiler.  You really need to keep turning them to make sure that they have a nice char that is even around the chile.  Place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a damp towel.  Let them sit while you make the filling.  Rub off the skin and make a careful slit along the length of the chile, to remove the seeds and ribs.  Try to keep the chile as intact as you can.  Rinse and place on a towel to dry.

The filling can be as simple as Mexican cheese, frijoles or tuna, or a combination of meats, also known as Picadillo.

For the Picadillo
2 lbs ground beef or pork or a combination
1/2 onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 Tablespoons raisins
4  Tablespoons slivered almonds
2 Tablespoons candied mexican acitron  (can substitute ginger)
1 Pound of tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Saute meat with onions until browned.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes.  Check seasoning.  Let cool.

Fill the chiles being careful to keep the integrity of the chiles.  To serve, you can either place in an oven proof dish and cover with a simple tomato sauce or you can dredge the chiles in flour, then egg whites that have been beaten to peaks.  Fry in oil until brown and then serve with a tomato sauce.

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Nonna’s Cilantro Soup

One of my favorite herbs is Cilantro (Coriander).  It is a typical Mexican flavor.  Our family really loves this soup and my Mother’s recipe is really easy.  Buen Provecho!

Cilantro Soup

2 Tablespoons butter
1 large package of cream cheese
2 Cups cilantro leaves
2 Cups chicken stock
1 chile poblano without the seeds, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon corn starch

Fry the onion in the butter with the chile until onion is translucent.  Mix the corn starch in a 1/4 cup of the stock.  Add the cilantro, cream cheese and all of the stock, including the   corn starch mixture.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Place in blender and blend until smooth.  If it is too thick, you can thin it out with more stock.  It can be served either hot or cold.

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