Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

I found this recipe on Notes from the Vegan Feast Kitchen.  I have made it many times now and it is delicious and very easy.  I've also made a few changes to suit my taste - decreasing the oil and leaving out the onions.  You can also make this soup using wheat bread or whatever you have on hand and it is just as good in my opinion.  You can even throw in the crusts unless you are using bread that has a very chewy or crispy crust than won't break down during cooking.  

Vegan Creamy Tomato Soup

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil 

1 medium onion, chopped (optional)

3 medium garlic cloves, minced 

1 bay leaf 

1 (28-ounce) can good quality whole peeled plum tomatoes packed in juice (unsalted) 

2 tablespoons brown sugar (or to taste-- it depends on your tomatoes)

3 large slices commercial Italian bread, crusts removed, torn into 1-inch pieces 

2 cups chicken-style veggie broth

1 teaspoon salt (less if you use salted tomatoes, in which case, salt to taste) 
freshly-ground black pepper to taste 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, and bay leaf. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, 3 to 5 minutes (less if not using the onion).
  • Stir in the tomatoes and their juice. Using a potato masher, mash the tomatoes until no pieces bigger than 2 inches remain. Stir in the sugar and bread and bring the mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until bread is completely saturated and starts to break down, which takes about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. 
  • Transfer the mixture to blender (or use an immersion blender like I did). Process until the mixture is smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. Rise out the pot and return the blended mixture to the pot. Stir in the broth. If using an immersion blender you may add the broth to the pot before blending.  Reheat soup to your liking, add salt, and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Serve soup in individual bowls.  Yield: about 4 1/2 cups 

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Curd Filling

When I saw this recipe on Baking Bites, I thought about the bag of organic lemons languishing on top of my refrigerator and I knew I had to try it.  I've been craving something light and lemony and these are just the thing.  This cupcake recipe makes 24 cupcakes and the lemon curd recipe makes enough filling for 24.  You may half both recipes if you just want to make 12 cupcakes.

Lemon Cupcakes Filled with Lemon Curd
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 2/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp lemon zest (or 1 tsp lemon extract)
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk (I used fat free milk)
approx 1 1/2 cups lemon curd (see recipe below)

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In a large bowl, cream together butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy. Adding the lemon zest early helps release more of its flavor. Blend in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla extract. Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by half of the milk. Add another 1/3 of the flour and the remaining milk, then stir in the remaining flour, mixing only until no streaks of flour remain.
  • Divide batter evenly into prepared muffin cups, filling each approx 2/3 to 3/4 full.
  • Bake for 16-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
  • Cool completely on a wire rack.
  • To fill, use a melon baller to scoop a small hole in the top of each muffin. You can also use a small knife to carve a small cone of cake out. Fill the depression with 2 tsp lemon curd.

Serve shortly after filling. Unfilled cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container until ready to fill and serve.  Makes 24 cupcakes.

Light Lemon Curd
(from Chocolate and the Art of Low Fat Desserts)
2/3 cup strained, fresh lemon juice
4 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
  • In a small sauce pan, over medium heat, combine sugar and lemon juice. Add zest and stir until sugar is dissolved completely.
  • In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs. Whisking constantly (or with an electric mixer on low), very slowly stream the hot lemon-sugar syrup into the egg. Beat for 2 minutes (only 1 if you’re using a mixer), then transfer back into the saucepan by pouring the mixture through a sieve.
  • Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the curd just comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Watch it closely when you return the lemon mixture to the saucepan.  It doesn't take long to boil and will burn if you don't remove it from the heat quickly.  Transfer to a small airtight container and store in the refrigerator.
I recommend making the lemon curd first (even the night before) so it has time to cool in the refrigerator.  I think these cupcakes are delicious on their own and I would like to try them with other fillings or toppings such as a strawberry buttercream or something like that.  They have a nice vanilla flavor with a hint of lemon.  The lemon curd really tops them off well.  This is the first time I've made lemon curd and I'm really pleased with this recipe.