Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tortilla Soup

Between a cold going around and some freezing weather (for the Bay Area...I know I sound like a wimp if you're an East Coaster), there has been a lot of soup-eating going on in our house lately. Being half-Italian, I looove anything pasta based and gravitate towards those hearty pasta, white bean, and kale type of soups. Nothing against those, but it was starting to get a little old after a while - time to spice things up!

This tortilla soup is definitely not super authentic, but that's not really what I was going for. I just threw together some easy to find ingredients and the result was just spicy enough to be warming and hearty enough for a winter dinner.

Tortilla Soup (serves 6)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup red or white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
26 ounces canned chopped tomatoes (a few ounces more or less is fine)
4 cups chicken or veggie broth
15 ounces each canned (or fresh if you have it!) corn and black beans
1 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon aleppo pepper (or substitute 1 teaspoon chili powder)
4-5 tortillas (corn or flour)
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges for garnishing

In a large, heavy bottomed soup pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic over medium heat for about five to seven minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Add in the tomatoes, aleppo pepper or chili powder, salt and pepper and simmer for about five minutes more. Then pour in the chicken/veggie broth and the beans and corn and bring to a boil, stirring to combine all ingredients.

Boil for about 10 minutes, then turn the heat down a bit and let the soup simmer for a good 15-20 minutes more. I have definitely noticed with soup that the longer it cooks, the more the flavors meld together. It's even better as leftovers the next day!

While the soup is simmering, heat a small saute pan over medium heat. To crisp up the tortillas for garnishing, place them one at a time in the pan - no oil needed! Keep an eye on the tortilla and as it starts to brown and bubbles form, flip it to crisp the other side. This just makes them more crunchy and delicious as a topping for the soup!

When you're ready to serve, garnish the soup with grated cheese, cilantro, lime wedges, and tortilla pieces.

Finally...Poppy "helps" with laundry. No wonder I have orange kitty hair all over all my clothes...

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Panettone French Toast

I hope everyone had a great holiday and a happy New Year! If your New Year's resolution is to eat healthier, then I'm sorry, this recipe is not for you...but you should try the salad from my last post!

In my family, it's a tradition to have Panettone at Christmas. Panettone is an eggy, sweet Italian dessert cake made with lots of spices, citrus zest, and rasins. You can normally find it at any grocery store around the holidays - I just saw some on sale this morning, score! It's pretty delicious on its own, or toasted with a little butter, but my favorite way to eat it is in the form of french toast. 

It's basically a standard french toast recipe with a little extra cinnamon and some orange zest to bring out the flavors of the bread. Since the bread is so dense, it soaks up an ton of the dipping mixture, and once cooked, it becomes crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside.

Panettone French Toast
Makes 6 pieces, serves about 3, and can be very easily doubled or tripled to feed a crowd!

6 medium-thick slices Panettone
2 cups milk
2 eggs
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons orange zest
Butter for frying and topping

It really couldn't be easier - just mix all ingredients together in a wide, shallow bowl. Use a whisk to make sure the eggs are well combined with the milk.

Dunk the Panettone slices into the wet mixture, flipping them over to make sure they are soaked through.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and melt a generous pat of butter. I like to use salted butter just because I think it's a nice contrast to the sweet french toast, but you can use whatever you have!

Cook all slices until they are golden brown and slightly crisp on the outside. I'd recommend keeping it simple with the toppings - jam or syrup can overwhelm the flavors, so I love just a little butter and powdered sugar.

Here's Poppy, napping as usual. She's a little depressed that Christmas is over and there are no more shiny ornaments to play with and trees to try and knock down.