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Homemade tomato soup — I made this recipe with 1 1/2 pounds of canned Italian tomatoes (save the juice for another use). It was delicately seasoned and a perfect accompaniment to stuffed French bread, a family favorite. I’m looking forward to making the soup with fresh summer tomatoes.
Ingredients: 1 large onion coarsely chopped, 1 carrot grated, 1/4 cup butter, 5 medium ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled and quartered), 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves (about 1/2 cup packed whole leaves), 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, 3/4 teaspoon sugar and 2 cups chicken stock.
Preparation: In a 2-quart saucepan, sauté onion and carrot in butter until onion is soft. Stir in tomatoes, basil salt, pepper and sugar. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Purée in a blender until smooth. Return the purée to the saucepan, add chicken stock (or vegetable stock for a vegetarian soup) and reheat.
Stuffed French bread is quickly and easily assembled. To me it’s definitely as flavorful as pizza but much easier. Since it is full of complex textures, it is deliciously flavorful. It’s the perfect answer for a party appetizer or coupled with soup or a striking green salad. It’s a festive and enjoyable dinner.
To make stuffed French bread slice a loaf of French bread horizontally. To make the long length easier to handle, slice each half of the French bread into 2 sections. One loaf of French bread will make four parts. Hollow out the bread with your fingers leaving the crust and about a ¼ inch of bread remaining. Tear or cut these bread pieces into bite size chunks. Put these bread chunks into a large bowl.
This part of the recipe is where the creativity and fun begins. Now add the amount and type of ingredients that you would normally have on a favorite pizza. I usually add 1-2 cups of each of the following: cheese (I use sharp Cheddar or Monterey jack), mushrooms, olives, onions.
Then I add 2-4 cloves minced garlic, a small amount of red pepper if I have one on hand for color and 1 small can diced green chilies for a vegetarian style. To delight the meat eaters, add 2 cups cooked diced Italian sausage. Add more or less of these ingredients, to your taste and, of course, feel free to add other favorite ingredients not included here.
Mix all the ingredients together and moisten with 1 egg and approximately ¼ cup mayonnaise, enough so that the bread-vegetable mixture is cohesive. With clean hands, scoop the stuffing mixture and gently mound it back into the hollowed French bread shells. Place the stuffed French bread on a cookie sheet with quarters cut sides together so the filling doesn’t spill onto the cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes until the filling is hot and bubbly and the edges of the bread are toasted. Slice the stuffed French bread crosswise (as you would Garlic Bread) into individual slices and serve.
Wings — The following recipes are for 3 pounds of cut chicken wings. These wings are roasted wings so they absorb less fat than fried.
Preparation: Split all wings at the joints and remove tips. Toss wings in one of the following seasonings, roast, then serve. To roast, spread the chicken wings on two oiled rimmed baking sheets and roast at 425 degrees until very crisp, about 45 minutes. Seasonings: Steakhouse — Toss the wings with a sprinkle of salt and 2 tablespoons coarsely ground pepper, roast. Toss with 1/3 cup steak sauce. Rosemary-lemon — Toss the wings with 1/4 cup lemon-pepper and 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary.
In the next column I will share some additional seasonings.