Friday, January 22, 2010

Help for Haiti!
On Sunday, January 24th, L'ecole, at The French Culinary Institute,
will be donating 100% of brunch proceeds (11:30am-2pm) including
waiters tips to The Red Cross Haitian Relief.
The prix fixe menu will be $19.50.

During the last third of their training, L'Ecole, the Michelin-rated restaurant of The French Culinary Institute, provides a unique opportunity for culinary students to apply their skills in every station of a busy kitchen. Under the watchful eye of Chef-Instructors, students learn to prepare meals for New York's sophisticated clientele. The Zagat Survey rated the restaurant highly, comparing it to "getting Prada wholesale." The menu prices really are fantastic.
L'ecole 462 Broadway, New York

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Best Tomato Soup Ever
Campbell's tomato soup is what I grew up on and it's what I turn to when I feel sick, but this is even better. Try it with a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold day. I added 1/2 a chipotle, but it's wonderful without it. This is a very forgiving recipe, more of this and less of that. If you don't have celery I would still make it. The key is to keep tasting and get the salt and pepper right. It won't take more than 20 minutes of your attention to pull it together.

4 Tbsp butter
1 medium size onion, finely minced
1 stalk of celery, finely minced

1 28 ounce can of tomatoes, chopped
~3 ounces tomato paste, about 1/2 a small can
1 cup chicken broth

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp dried basil, or 1/2 bunch of sliced fresh basil leaves added at the last minute before serving
1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (completely optional, or a little tabasco)

1/2 - 1 1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 to 2 tsp of sugar (to taste depending on acidity of tomatoes)

  1. Saute onion and celery in butter over low heat until soft, about 15 min.
  2. Add can of tomatoes with it's liquid, chicken broth, and seasonings to the pot.
  3. Bring to a boil, and lower to a slow simmer. Simmer about 20 minutes. Puree with blender, food processor or hand stick blender. I like a cup or so not pureed to give the soup a bit of a chunky texture.
  4. Return to the pot, bring to simmer and stir in baking soda and cream to taste. It may foam up a bit with the addition of baking soda, but don't be alarmed. It's added to make the soup less acidic so your cream doesn't curdle.
  5. Stir in salt and sugar adding very little at a time stirring and tasting to balance the flavors. Keep tasting! You may even want to add more cream.

Serves 4

To serve for company: Top bowls with a tablespoon of herbed goat cheese and a fresh basil leaf.