Sunday, September 28, 2008

Breathing In, Breathing Out

After letting the stress get to me, I let let it go. At least some of it.
Of course, one of the best stress relievers is comfort food.
So this weekend's foray into comfort food was a couple of fall favorites. Perfect for the dreary days we've had.
The first was my Papa's Paprikas (paprikash). My father always had his specialties, but he began really cooking for himself about 9 years ago, after my mother passed away. About 6 months after she passed, he had a business trip that took him to Europe. He and my mom lived in Germany when they were first married, so he took the opportunity to return to some of the places they had visited, but also had the time to check out some of his family back life. He spent a few days in Hungary, trying to track his mother's roots and eating food that reminded him of his youth. After this trip, he mad a mission of making a good, Hunky Paprikas. Emphasis on good!
So, like he made his recipe his own, I have made his recipe my own.
I don't have any pictures, because of technical difficulties (that Rex, couldn't stand the camera & hid the battery from me. the scoundrel!) I promise I'll have details soon, but I left my notes in the kitchen...

But I will say that the paprika's is a stew that warms you inside & out and sweet of the red peppers with the zip of some good hot paprika is enough to keep the boogeyman at bay!

Since I found the red peppers at a great price at a road-side stand in the middle of nowhere and some gorgeous eggplant alongside, I took advantage of them for my other comfort meal. This is one of those rare recipes that I make almost exactly as written. Just haven't found much in need of change. If you really have your act together & think about it in advance, you can roast the eggplant & red pepper early in the day and get rid of that chore. Don't skimp on the lemon or the Parmesan, those little garnish make the soup! Enjoy!

Roasted Red Pepper & Eggplant Soup
Bon Appétit March 2001

The Stuff
2 eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds total), halved

4 red bell peppers (about 22 ounces)

1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped (I usually add a shallot, too)
1 medium leek, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only; about 2 cups) (I used 2 big, because that what was fresh & I didn't want the second to go to waste)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
8 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Parmesan cheese shavings

The Method
Preheat oven to 450°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pierce eggplants all over with fork. Transfer, cut side down, to baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Cool slightly. Remove peel and discard. Cut eggplants into large pieces. Rinse eggplant pieces under running water. Drain well. Set aside.

Char bell peppers over gas flame or in broiler until blackened on all sides. Enclose in paper bag 10 minutes. Peel, seed and coarsely chop peppers.

Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and leek and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in eggplant, peppers, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 45 minutes. Stir in basil and thyme. Cool slightly.

Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to pot. Season with salt and pepper. Add butter and lemon juice; stir over low heat until soup is heated through, about 5 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to simmer before continuing.) Transfer to large bowl; garnish with Parmesan.

3 garnishes:

Sarah Louise September 29, 2008 at 8:50 AM  

okay, I'm confused--is your recipe here a version of the Paprikas? I make that too, (yes, I do cook, occasionally.)

Am reading Eat, Pray, Love--you read that, yes? The bit about Venice made me think of your upcoming trip. (I know you're going other places, but in my brain, you're going to Venice.) I need to re-read the post that says where you're going.



KitchenKiki September 29, 2008 at 9:20 AM  

No, this recipe is Roasted Red Pepper Soup. I was going to put the Paprikas recipe up, but couldn't remember it. I'll get it up soon.

Loved Eat, Pray, Love! Is a book that I actually plan to buy.

I need to finish the post with the rest of the places I'm going. Lots to do!

noble pig September 29, 2008 at 4:59 PM  

What a wonderful story about your family and the recipe sounds divine!

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