My cooking class was canceled for today! Due to three non-functioning elevators. Must be the lamest excuse I’ve heard since ‘soccer game is canceled because of the rain’ in US High School. But, no class. Thank you, Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie for putting down a brand new ‘cook tower’ for the Anderlecht hotel school with really bad elevators.
Anyway, this means I have time for a new blog post! I’ve been waiting for a while until I found time to write something about the fall menu I’ve been working on the past two weekends. Seasonal cooking is not just hip this days, but also more environmentally responsible. So here we go! I made two menus: one for a lovely evening at home and one for our ‘housewarming dinner’ with the parents…
Hors d’oeuvre: herb-filled portobello mushroom (recipe courtesy of delicious. magazine – no picture of my own, they were gone before I could find my camera, sorry!)
Ingredients for six people:
6 portobello mushrooms
4 spoonfuls of fresh herbs (I used parsley and mint, but try your own combination if you like!)
3 spoonfuls of (old) bread crumbs
40 grams (more or less) of freshly grated parmezan cheese
olive oil, salt and pepper
preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Remove the stems of the mushrooms and chop them coarsely. Put the mushrooms with their hollow sides up on a baking sheet and sprinkle with some olive oil and salt and pepper (this is not in the recipe, but I find otherwise they’re a little dry). Mix chopped mushroom stems with chopped herbs, cheese and breadcrumbs and stuff the mushrooms with this. Sprinkle with more olive oil and put into the oven for 15 minutes until the stuffing is golden brown.
Great as a hors d’oeuvre, but my guests found it a little difficult to eat without fork and knife. Better serve it on a plate. Very veggie-approved!
For the entree, I made two types of soup. I’ll give the tomato soup recipe here and keep the pumpkin-carrot-sweet potato soup for another time.
Tomato soup with melting mozzarella balls and basil garnish (mozzarella idea from delicious. magazine)
Recipe (for a good amount of soup)
This soup is bound by using a bit of flour and making a sort of roux with the basic soup vegetables already in it. Start by melting some butter and add a chopped onion and some chopped celery. You can add some thyme, parsley and laurel (bouquet garni). Then add two spoonfuls of regular flour and stir around for a minute or two so the starch is ‘cooked’ and won’t taste of flour. Add in a small can of tomato concentrate and stir for another minute. Then add in a kilo (about 2 pounds) of flavorful tomatoes (I used the last-of-the-season cherry and plum tomatoes from my parents’ greenhouse) and let heat on the fire. Add in a 500 ml can of chopped tomatoes and about two liters ofcold vegetable stock, I use two cubes per liter (for a roux, one of the two parts always needs to be hot while the other is cold to make it work, if you want to know why better ring up a scientist friend ’cause I have no idea) Let it come to a boil and simmer for a while. Add in pepper, salt and herbs to taste (if the tomatoes are sufficiently tasty this is hardly necessary) and mix the soup with a blender or mixer. If you don’t want tomato skins, put through a conical strainer. Little trick: put your mixer into the strainer, the soup will go through much faster! (You can see in the picture that my soup is kind of thick because I have no conical strainer – yet!)
Heat up some small mozzarella balls (usually bought to skewer with cherry tomatoes but also delicious as garnish!) in a warm oven for a few minutes until slightly melted and then add into the soup. Garnish with a bit of fresh basil. Yum!
Now I’m about to catch up with some episodes of inspector Frost – as soon as I find time (or as soon as the school’s elevators refuse to function again), my very own recipe of blackened salmon with pumpkin and sweet potato fries and Jamie Oliver’s red wine and mushroom risotto will follow!