I’ve always wanted to be one of those people who could just take whatever food is on hand and make it into something wonderful. Today, I sort of did that.
I had about a pound of mushrooms that were getting close to that slimy state. The next door neighbor gave me a bunch of tomatoes and one was already half rotten. And our peach tree dumped a load of fruit that managed to sit on the ground for a few days, and that did not do a lot to improve them. So I spent the afternoon cooking.
I started with the tomatoes. I’ve been looking forward to this season so that I could continue what has been a longtime obsession with me: the perfect cream of tomato soup. As anyone who has tried to do it knows: tomatoes and cream do not like each other. And in truth, I’ve never been fully happy with any of my many attempts. Today was no different, but I think it turned out pretty well.
Most recipes call for canned tomatoes, and this does make it a lot easier. You really need to cook the hell out of fresh tomatoes. On the other hand, fresh tomatoes provide a much better flavor. After all, if all you want is vaguely tomatoey soup, you can just make Campbell’s with milk. At this point, I don’t use any particular recipe. The basics are that you create a roux: butter and flour; then you add milk. Cook is on the lowest possible setting until it thickens. Meanwhile, chop the tomatoes up and cook them with onions. Season with salt and pepper. Normally, I use rosemary, but I didn’t feel like it today. It is often a pain to work with and I don’t have a mortar and pestle right now. Finally, you use the food processor on the tomato mixture and slowly blend it with the soup base.
I wasn’t too happy with the taste when I was all done. So I added a bit more salt and pepper. And then I added half a teaspoon of garlic. That did the trick. It was very tasty.
Next up was the mushrooms. This one was easy. I always make the recipe in The Moosewood Cookbook. I have been doing that for more than 20 years. But just now, I checked online and this recipe (without referencing) was on All Recipes. Interestingly, it makes the exact two substitutions that I do. Moosewood calls for Hungarian Paprika and I just use regular. And Moosewood calls for tamari and I just use soy sauce. But as you will see if you click on those last two links, maybe I should go back to the original recipe.
Regardless, it was (As usual!) fantastic. It is one of my very favorite foods!
The peaches were a mess. I ended up throwing out roughly half of them surgically. But because they were so ripe, I knew the pie would likely turn out well. First, however, I had to make the bottom pie crust. I recently discovered a great and extremely easy pie crust recipe. (I’ve been making chicken pies recently.) This is an “in pie pan” recipe. Dump in 1.5 cups of flour, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt, a half cup of vegetable oil, and an eighth cup of milk. Blend it together with a fork. Then just press it out to fill out the pie pan. I always cook my bottom crusts for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees so they don’t get soggy.
The filling is similarly easy. I used 5 cups of half inch square pieces of peach. Add to that 1.5 cups of sugar (because I have a major sweet tooth, you can get away with a lot less), half cup of flour, half teaspoon of cinnamon. Mix it all up and dump into your pie pan.
After that, you make a top crust the same way, but press it onto wax paper. Then put it on top of the pie, peal the wax paper away, and seal the edges of the pie. Poke holes in the top. Sugar it is you please. Cook at 425 for about 40 minutes and it should be delicious.
Of course, in the middle of all that, I also managed to write two articles for this blog. Such is the commitment I have to all of you!