Well, the week of Kamille is officially over as of a week ago. And although I was richly blessed by my husband for allowing me to take a three day cooking class, spend a couple evenings away from home and be creative away from typical mommy duties, it still made me feel like I wanted (and possibly needed) more time away. Is that horrible to say? I think I needed time to take in everything I learned, in order to apply it. But for anyone with small children knows, finding time to debrief is near impossible because life is always going.
However, after a couple days, I was able to apply some of my newly learned skills. My top priority being cutting apart a whole chicken and then making a stock out of the leftover chicken parts. So far I have two whole chickens cut down under my belt and about 100 more to go. It was great to make such simple dishes for dinner (using the chicken I cut up) and have Ben rave over them. He said of last night's dinner (of roasted chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese & basil under the skin & roasted squash), "Mama, you did a good job! This is is what you would eat at a fancy restaurant." I replied, "Are you teasing me?" Ben, "No, I'm serious!" What a great way to win over my heart (if you want to hit my soft spot you simply have to praise my cooking & baking...it doesn't take much)
And I guess that's what I have enjoyed about baking & cooking. It's not only a simple (but big) way to show my family & friends I care for them---it is a means to allow the stresses of family, church, life, mommyhood to be taken from me for a short window. To simply peel potatoes & carrots is not an arduous job, but a time to think and let the cares of this world fall off my shoulder. To cut apart a chicken is not a complicated task, but a time to achieve something simple in a world so complex & difficult to grapple. To beat butter & sugar together at the mixer is not simply formulaic & mindless work, but a chance to watch the world unfold as freshly baked sweetness comes out of the oven. All of this is done to know myself in the midst of chaos and to know how to extend my world of blessing to someone who needs it most.
At my cooking class I made an Heirloom Tomato Soup. It was one of my favorite dishes, because it was a melding of complex and simple, much like life. It took only a handful of ingredients, but turned my mouth upside down as the flavors danced around.
Kamille's Heirloom Tomato Soup (printable recipe)
Make a roux, which is a ratio of 55 flour to 45 fat (butter for this soup). Mix the ingredients together in a pan over medium high heat, constantly stirring until the roux forms a ball or it begins to smell like popcorn & hazelnuts. You can cook it as long as you like, but I cooked mine till it formed a tan color.
Roux (transfer your roux from pan to a bowl to stop the cooking)
1 lb Heirloom tomatoes
1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
about 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock (if you want to make it vegetarian than use vegetable stock)
Salt to taste
Freshly cracked pepper & olive oil drizzled on top
1. Score the bottoms of your tomatoes with an X mark.
2. Blanch your tomatoes for 30 seconds in scalding water, then submerge in an ice bath to stop the cooking.
3. Peel the skin off (as much as you can) and dice up your tomatoes.
4. Add about a tablespoon or more of olive oil to your pan and saute your garlic & shallot until fragrant, but not browned. Add your tomatoes and chicken stock to the pan. Cook over medium-high heat to produce a boil, then lower heat to low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
5. Take pan off heat and use an immersion blender to process tomato mixture (if you don't have an immersion blender then use a regular blender, but blend in a couple batches). Take your roux and add about a tablespoon to your pureed tomato soup. Mix and taste. Add salt. Mix and taste. Pour into bowl and top with freshly cracked pepper and olive oil.
**Most important item in all of this is to taste during every process. Taste your pre-cooked and cooked roux. Taste the tomatoes, shallot, garlic & chicken stock mixture. Taste so you know how much salt you need to add. Also, don't be afraid of the salt, it is an essential ingredient that makes food "pop," especially tomatoes. Serve with some crusty bread and enjoy.