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Monday, 3 May 2010

HAUTE CUISINE



Continuing on from the previous post on my joblessness, here is how I get my (very) cheap thrills on a Bank Holiday Weekend. It's probs rather obvious that I unashamedly lick the very ground that Sophie Dahl walks on, so her food programme flies high on my excitability radar. Cooking, I have found, is a stupidly satisfying activity when you're not really sure what to do with yourself, and last night I tackled my first 'off the telly' recipe. 




Roasted Tomato and Thyme (and basil) Soup with Double Baked (blue) Cheese and Chive Potatoes






Ingredients

For the potatoes
4 baking potatoes
knob of butter
2 tbsp crème fraîche
small bunch fresh chives, finely chopped
200g/7oz soft blue goats' cheese
1 free-range egg, beaten
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the soup
2kg/4½lbs large ripe plum tomatoes, halved
1 garlic bulb, cut in half horizontally
2 large red onions, peeled, quartered
few sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
250ml/9fl oz vegetable stock (optional)
100ml/3½fl oz single cream (optional)
a few drops Worcestershire sauce (optional)
a few drops balsamic vinegar (optional)

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.
2. Bake the potatoes directly on the wire rack of the oven for 1½ - 1¾ hours, or until tender.
3. Meanwhile, for the soup, place the tomatoes, garlic, onions and thyme into a large roasting tin and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle with the oil, and roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
4. Mash the garlic with the back of a fork, and discard the skin. Tip the roasted tomatoes and onions into a food processor along with the mashed garlic,
and pulse until smooth.
5. If the soup is too thick, pour into a large saucepan and loosen the mixture with either vegetable stock, or single cream. Add a little Worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar, to season, if you like.
6. Remove the potatoes from the oven and using a cloth to hold the hot potato, cut each one in half and scoop out the insides into a bowl.
7. Mix in the butter, crème fraîche, chives and goats' cheese, and stir in the egg.
8. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and spoon the potato mixture back into the skins. Place onto a baking tray in the oven for
a further 15-20 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp on top.
9. To serve, reheat the soup and divide among four bowls, with two potato halves each on the side.





I found the whole process incredibly easy, and that's not bigging myself up as I'm really quite stupid. Best bit: roughly chopping the tomatoes, onion and garlic and getting it all oily and salty with my hands - tres Nigella. Worst Bit: liquifying the soup with a hand held blender, got a tiny bit splattered... But it tasted nice, faffing about with presentation added a fastidious bonus and I'd deffo do it again.

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