Tomato Soup

Just the thing when you’re in need of a Norman Rockwell moment, tomato soup can be on the table in less than an hour.  The basic ingredients are simple and can be used to make a straight up soup (you’ll want to seed and process the tomatoes to get that Campbells soup effect).   The additional vegetables and spice aren’t much extra work and they bring out a pronounced set of distinct flavors.

a great winter meal

As for the tomatoes, there’s little difference between store-bought and canned.  If you want, you can substitute two 14 oz cans of diced tomatoes or tomato puree.  The advantage of this is that you won’t have to deal with the peeling and mashing.  I use fresh because it’s fun (I like to play with my food ).

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Stuffed Cabbage

This one takes time but it’s worth the effort.  The weather’s cold and comfort food is the perfect remedy for a dreary winter day.

serve plain or with sauce.

This old-world classic takes a whole afternoon, so grab a book and make some tea, and settle into a little quality down time.  Note:  I’ve amended the stuffing to include tomato, which is not in the pictures.  Give it a try and let me know how it turns out.

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Fillo Veggie Rolls

This is another great addition for the holidays.  It’s also deceptive.  Fillo pastry is easy and forgiving, and a selection of robust vegetables and spice provides an illusion of complexity.

deceptively easy

In addition, fillo is vegan.  This can serve as a main course for vegetarians or a side for everyone else.

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie

For most large gatherings and holidays vegetarians have to suck it up – they’re lucky if there are enough sides at a meal to put three colors on a plate.  This dish adds variety to the meal and doubles as a main course for vegetarians or a side for meatetarians.

great as a main course or side dish

If you’re cooking for vegans, you can substitute vegetable stock and olive oil for butter and cream in the mashed potatoes.

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Chocolate Raspberry Layer Cake (by Table Daughter)

Cake. Cake is awesome.  Allow me to explain. On November 21 my father turned 49. This means that my father is also one year closer to being fifty, and if there is one thing that could make the consequences of his ensuing midlife crisis any better it is cake, specifically this cake.

3 Layer Chocolate Raspberry Birthday Cake


(Serves 16, adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes)

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Potato Pancakes

Food processors cut down the prep time for this from hours to minutes.  Potato pancakes, or latkes, are great as a main course or side.  And like anything fried, they’re just as good as leftovers.

an all-time favorite

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Seasoned Oil – the Key to Frying

Promoting fried food is bad.  Bad in such a good way.  But even worse are failed attempts that produce limp and pale food.  (For a geekalicious explanation of why it’s hard to fry in a home kitchen check out How to Read a French Fry by Russ Parsons.)  The short answer on why it’s hard to fry at home is that oil repels water, and most foods contain a lot of water.  To break down this barrier the oil should first be seasoned.

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“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”  With this endorsement from a loving spouse I set out to cook a turducken.  My rationale?  “It’s my birthday.  I’ll cook what I want.”

easy to cook, easy to serve

Relegated to the universe of food porn & possessing those unfortunate first four letters, turducken’s much better than its reputation.  First, it’s efficient.  The recipe below is the size of a small turkey but serves 15 people.  It’s also fast.  Cooking time is a little over 3 hours.  And it’s good.

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Sausage Stuffing (chicken or pork)

This recipe yields enough for a 20 pound holiday bird.  Reduce ingredients proportionally for a family size chicken or duck.

bringing good things together

Also – if you’re using sausage links remove the casings before cooking.

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Chicken Stock

I post a lot about cooking with boned chicken and fish.  It’s great presentation and easier to eat (why else would markets sell filets and breasts?).  It’s also the way cooking used to be done, because bones have all the goodness of marrow and texture of gelatin, and who wants the yummy firm stuff going to waste?  So use the bones for stock.

at the heart of most things savory

Making stock requires a bit more organization in the kitchen.  After a few times it becomes habit.  And there’s no comparison between the tepid stuff you bring home from the market and a quart of fresh stock waiting in the back of the fridge.  This is a basic recipe, so add whatever herbs you like, or a full bouquet garni if you want to get fancy.

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Filed under Condiments, Soups & Stews, Technique & Dirty Secrets