Sunday, August 16, 2009

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup

I am back!!! The lovely and long hiatus in this blog has been due to my preparing for and taking the examination required to practice in my chosen profession. Now that I have finished, I am back to cooking and blogging these recipes.

Take note: There will be some changes coming to this blog. First, I realized I am FAR too bored with making recipes out of one cookbook. As much as I love "How to Cook Everything," and will still make many recipes from that awesome book, I really need the flexibility to pull recipes from everywhere and to blog about them. Second, Awesome Sauce will be playing a more active role and will be blogging some of his own recipes. Finally, I want to blog about my experiences with these recipes, not just the recipes themselves. I want to include more of why I made them, my motivations for choosing that recipe and any fun experiences I have while making these recipes. Sometimes, they will be made just so I can use a particular ingredient. Sometimes I just have a craving. Other times I am simply ready to challenge myself. Since this blog is primarily for myself and Awesome Sauce, remembering all of these experiences and tying them to a recipe creates a diary of sorts. One where we can open up a page any day and enjoy the simple pleasures of sight, smell and taste to take us back to a memorable weekend or a special dinner.

So on to today's recipe: Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup

To start out: I HATED tomatoes and tomato products as a kid. Actually, that's not quite true. As it has been told to me by my family, I loved my Mom-mom's spaghetti and marinara as a very young child. Then one day I tried "grownup spaghetti" with onions and peppers. Something that today would likely make me salivate turned me from tomatoes for years. I would eat my spaghetti with butter and my pizza white. I loathed ketchup and could never enjoy a delicious Caprese salad. Recently, i have begun to look at fresh, delicious tomatoes in a new light. First, I started with small bites in salsa. I hadn't had salsa in years. In salsa tomatoes are awesome! Next, I started with pizza "light on the sauce." My love of tomatoes was beginning to come back. I now I am growing to enjoy delicious tomatoes and tomato recipes (still can't stand ketchup though...). So today, I decided to conquire a recipe I hated for years: Tomato Soup.

I was told this recipe by a friend. I have no actual measurements. First, I purchased sevan fat tomatoes from the supermarket. I placed them in a pyrex dish along with two heads of garlic with the tops chopped off. I then layed fresh basil leaves across the top of each tomato and drizzled the whole thing with olive oil, salt and pepper. I baked this for about two hours at 350 degrees. I then turned off the oven and left the tomatoes in there for several more hours. When I took out the pyrex, I placed all of the tomatoes and basil in a large pot. I took the roasted garlic out of their skins and placed them in the pot with the tomatoes. I then used my awesome immersion blender to blend the whole mess. Finally, I trained the result into a beautiful tomato soup. The extra tomato, garlic and basil is saved in the refridgerator to be stirred into marinara and used in eggplant parmesan later this week. Here are some images of the process.

Tomatoes ready to be roasted!

Close Up!




Left-overs to be stirred into marinara for eggplant Parmesan.

Tonight's dinner! Awesome Sauce made DELICIOUS marinaded and grilled chicken breast and we placed it over romaine lettuce tossed with my homemade caesar dressing. Along with it we served the Roasted Tomato and Garlic Soup.

The soup was delicious! Junky Monkey thought it was "very good and smooth." Awesome Sauce thought it was acidic and needed seasoning, but was pretty good. I thought it was decent. It had a nice consistency, but the flavor could be improved. I think it might be time to try some other tomato soups. I was also disappointed to only get three moderate bowls of soup out of seven very large tomatoes. Perhaps I was expecting too much here?


The Clumsy Gourmet: 6
Awesome Sauce: 6
Junky Monkey: 6

Monday, May 25, 2009

Black Bean Brownies (No..this is not a joke!)

For those who don't know us very well, Awesome Sauce and I are quite enamored with the perfect food known as the Black Bean. Awesome Sauce may take credit for my introduction to this wonderful food. The Black Bean has significant amounts of carbohydrates, protein and fiber. I love Black Beans and will put them into almost everything. We have put Black Beans in pasta, in couscous, on pizza, as the "meat" in quesadillas and burgers and have made several versions of Black Bean salsa. Without a doubt, the Black Bean is one of my favorite foods.

It is no wonder that when a friend introduced me to a recipe for Black Bean Brownies, I was absolutely obligated to give them a try. I originally saw the recipe posted at and can be found here:

(A quick note on is one of the best recipe journals I have ever seen. I have made many recipes from here and have almost always been highly impressed with this site. I strongly recommend that everyone peruse this wonderful resource!!) This particular recipe originally came from a cookbook by Ania Catalano titled "Baking with Agave Nectar: Over 100 Recipes Using Nature's Ultimate Sweetener" (I believe that 101 Cookbooks and Ania Catalano call these "Amazing Black Bean Brownies."). Trying this recipe (especially because I love Agave Nectar) has made me wish to try out this cookbook. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for a copy sometime soon.

Awesome Sauce and I made these brownies for a movie night. They were a hit! We had fun making everyone try to guess the "special ingredient" (we knew there would be no allergies...these folks have eaten our Black Bean creations before). It was a little odd to serve cold brownies, but they still definitely worked.

I was very impressed with these brownies, but I don't think I would make them again. First, there was a LOT of butter in them. Second, agave nectar is expensive...this was a bit too much to use on one recipe. Finally, as good as they are, when I want a brownie, I want a Real Brownie. I would rather have the real think then a bunch of ones that just don't quite hit the spot. Still, this recipe was inventive and lots of fun to try.

As usual, here are your photos:

Black Bean Brownies are being eaten!

Up Close and Personal View!

The Clumsy Gourmet: 5
Awesome Sauce: 5

So, we made the recipe. On our friend's recommendation, we did cut down a bit on the

White Bean Salad

Awesome Sauce and I visited a friend for dinner one night and he served a very delicious meal. His wonderful meal included an Eggplant Pilaf served with and Herbed Yogurt sauce and Bean Salad. Four our contribution, Awesome Sauce and I brought Baklava for dessert. At the end of the evening, I knew I must have his recipes and so we engineered a trade...his dinner recipes for my dessert recipe. Since then, I have made this recipe multiple times with several variations.

Here is the original recipe I was sent:
  • 2 small cans of northern beans (butter beans are ok too)
  • 1 medium size onion (red onion suggested)
  • 4-5 green onions
  • Parsley (amount depends on how much you like it), leaves only
  • 2-3 medium tomatoes (4-5 roma)
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • Lemon juice (one whole lemon)
  • Salt
I have since made it with great northern beans, small white beans, and cannellini (my personal favorite). I also usually use two red onions rather than one. I don't always use green onions (for some reason...I like it better without even though I am typically a HUGE green onion fan). I tend to use a little extra lemon juice and balsamic vinegar than most might like...what can I say...I like sour and vinegary tastes. I also enjoy substituting cilantro for vinegar. This salad is incredibly healthy and very tasty. It is perfect as a picnic or BBQ side dish or delightful on its own as a light summer lunch.

Here are some pictures:

Top view.

Side view.

Junky Monkey really enjoyed this recipe but both she and Awesome Sauce prefer when I make it less vinegary. Awesome Sauce finds it a bit rough in the amount of onion (okay...this is definitely my fault). Guest tasters (my mom and sister) were thrilled with this dish and both wanted the recipe!! Whoo-hoo!!

The Clumsy Gourmet: 9
Awesome Sauce: 7.5 (he would like it much more if I laid off the onion a bit...oops.)

Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing

Hello Everyone! I'm sorry it has been so long since I have added to this blog, but as with everything, life got in the way on this one. I just finished my round of finals ever! Now I am ready to play catch-up with this blog.

One of my favorite things to eat is Caesar Salad. I have been making my own croutons for years and have spent quite a bit of time trying different creamy Caesar salad dressings. My two favorite bottled Salad Dressings are definitely Kraft Creamy Caesar (not the "Free," supposedly healthier version) and Cardini's Caesar Salad Dressing. Both of these dressings are excellent and have made many delicious salads that I have served in my home. However, as my close friends and family know. something happened to my taste buds recently. I have become sensitive to lots of preservatives in my foods. Foods that I used to love and enjoy such as canned black bean soup, certain bottled salad dressings and boxed brownie mix are now very irritating and "chemically" tasting. This may be a result of my generally eating healthier. It may just be a change in my taste buds for a variety of other reasons. Whatever the cause, I decided this is definitely for the best. I have been working hard and making my own butter, my own bread, my own soups and now my own salad dressing. It is a slow process, but an enjoyable one.

This recipe is from and was posted by Shannon. You can find the recipe here:,1615,142189-245199,00.html

Now, this caesar dressing uses mayo. One time when I made the dressing, I did use my own homemade mayo. I found that it wasn't amazingly different than when I used the regular, full-fat may I found in the store. (Yes, the mayo in the store has more preservatives, but for some reason, this hasn't quite bothered my taste buds yet.) I did also decide to attempt this recipe with a healthier, low fat mayo. After attempts with generic "light" mayo and with Smart Balance mayo, I have decided that this recipe does not lend itself to "lighter" mayonnaise (but perhaps this is my preservative-sensitivies kicking in again...). One great thing about this recipe is that you need VERY little to make a nice big caesar salad. When I would make caesar salad for Awesome Sauce, Junky Monkey and me, I would usually need between 4 and 6 TBSP of bottled dressing in order to caot the leaves. With this recipe, I only need between 2 and 3 TBSP. With this dressing, the total caloric load of my Caesar Salad has significantly lessened.

So, for this recipe I once again use my beautiful Magic Bullet knock-off blender. I start with a garlic clove, lemon, Worcestershire, cracked black pepper, and salt. Once this is blended, I add mayo and shredded parmesean cheese. Once this is done, your ceasar salad dressing will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. Reviews from friends and family have been outstanding. I strongly recommend this recipe.

Here are a few pictures:

Dressing in the Blender.

Making a beautiful Caesar Salad!

The Clumsy Gourmet: 10
Awesome Sauce: 9
Junky Monkey: 9 (she found it a bit garlicky)

Guest Taster K thought that this was the best caesar dressing she had ever tasted. (I made sure to send her home with one). Guest Taster S wanted the recipe before leaving my home. I would say that this one is a winner.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Valentine's Day Part 5: Molten Lava Cakes with Chocolate Ganache, Raspberry Coulis and Whipped Cream

You CANNOT have Valentine's Day without chocolate. Yummy chocolate is a necessity on Valentine's Day! When planning our meal, I knew exactly what our ending note would be.

I started with the base of a molten lava cake. This recipe can be found at

These cakes were very easy to make. I made the batter the day before and placed them in the little souffle cups. I then placed the cups on a plate, covered them loosely with saran wrap and kept them in the fridge. When we were ready for dessert, I took them out of the fridge while the oven reached the desired temperature. Then they went into the oven while I poured us each a small glass of brandy and whipped the cream and prepared the ganache. After they came out they were allowed to cool for a few moments and were drizzled with the toppings.

Ganache, I discovered, is ridiculously easy. It is one part chocolate to two parts heavy cream. Put it in a sauce pan on low and let it do its own work. It thickens into a beautiful chocolate sauce. I used a bittersweet chocolate with great results.

Whipped cream I have been making for years. Heavy whipping cream, covered stand mixer, a tiny bit of powdered sugar (I don't like it too sweet!), a tiny bit of vanilla and you let it go to town.

The Raspberry Coulis was also a new one. This one was easy and would make a great topping for a variety of desserts (mmmm...I am thinking a lemon cheesecake....). It was also easy enough to make the day before and stick in the fridge. I suspect it would have lasted a few more days, so if you want to make it very early, it is seems very possible. This recipe was also from Epicurious and can be found here:

Straining the Raspberry Coulis

Here is the finished product:


Side View!

This dessert was wonderful. The molten cake was good, but nothing special in and of itself. The sauces really made it. Awesome Sauce found that the sauces overpowered the molten cake. However, as desserts go, he really liked this one.

These desserts were ridiculous! Tasty, but over the top! Actually, this whole dinner was quite ridiculous and there is a reason why Awesome Sauce and I do not eat like this every day. We do enjoy indulging ourselves on holidays and special occasions. I really enjoyed cooking this meal for him and tried to make sure he would enjoy every last bite. I am so glad that we stayed in and I cooked this year. It is really nice to personalize your meal to your partner and was my way of showing Awesome Sauce how much I love and appreciate him. For your next occasion, I highly recommend using your kitchen prowess to show your partner that you care.

Ratings for Overall Dessert:
The Clumsy Gourmet: 8
Awesome Sauce: 9

Valentine's Day Part 4: Chicken Breasts, Smashed Artichoke Potatoes and Mixed Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette

Okay, so I have been pretty bad about blogging lately. A few things have come up that have kept me from blogging. However, I haven't stopped cooking and now have QUITE the backlog to post! I am going to try to get on it as much as possible, but it may be tough with finals coming up. I promise I will do my best to get through it all!

So for our main course, Awesome Sauce and I dined on Cognac Flambeed Chicken Breasts, Smashed Artichoke Potatoes and Mixed Greens with Lemon Vinaigrette.

This part of the meal was incredibly simple. There was no real recipe for the chicken. You take chicken breasts and coat them in a light layer of kosher salt and cracked black pepper. You then take a pan and put a large pat of butter in said pan (about a tablespoon). You then toss in some sliced almonds and put the whole thing over a medium flame. Once you can smell the almonds, you add the chicken breasts and turn up the heat, searing them on both sides. Finish cooking in the oven or very slowly over the stove. Once you take them out, toss about a shot glass worth of cognac over the chicken breasts and light it on fire!! This is best done at the table for a fun presentation. Unfortunately for us, the chicken breasts didn't want to light! :-( I have heard that others have been successful so we will definitely have to try again sometime. I can be a bit of a pyromaniac :-P

Overall the chicken wasn't bad, but wasn't anything special. We served it with a chardonnay that was recommended for buttery dishes. They did go exceptionally well together. The mixed greens were the same as the bed I placed the Crab Cakes one, so it is reviewed in an earlier post.

The smashed artichoke potatoes were a new one for us and were quite tasty. They were a unique recipe from Allrecipes and can be found here:

I really liked these and am always fascinated by different variations on mashed potatoes. These ones were creamy and garlicky. They artichoke added a "freshness" to them that is difficult to describe. I would definitely recommend these and am considering making them the next time I grill up a steak. Something about the artichoke has me thinking that they would really compliment a steak well. I have tried some strange ones in my day (including peanut butter in mashed potatoes...yes, I am looking at you little sister....), but they are always fun to try.

Here is what the finished dinner looked like:

So, time for the Ratings:

Cognac Flambeed Chicken Breasts:
The Clumsy Gourmet: 6
Awesome Sauce: 4 (Awesome Sauce didn't find them very interesting and was bored by the basically plain chicken breasts. He did, however, very much like the wine with the butter sauce.

Artichoke Smashed Potatoes:
The Clumsy Gourmet: 8
Awesome Sauce: 8

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Valentine's Day Course 3: Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Sage Brown Butter Sauce

For our third course, I decided to make a tasty butternut squash ravioli. This is to be served in a sage brown butter sauce. The recipe is from Emeril Lagasse and can be found on The Food Network's website.

Here is the recipe:

As with all of my Valentine's Day planning, I tackled this recipe the day before. I roasted the butternut squash and then made a lovely mix with them that included shallots, the roasted butternut squash and several spices.

While this cooled, I made pasta and rolled it out into thin sheets. I then placed dollops of filling on the sheets and layered another sheet of pasta on top. I pressed down in between the dollops and cut the individual ravioli with my rotating cutter.

I then froze the ravioli. On Valentine's Day, when we were ready for the third course, I boiled a pot of water and worked on the brown butter sage sauce while it boiled. I then boiled the ravioli for about seven minutes (until they were floating) and placed them in the butter sauce.

The ravioli were excellent. I had but one regret. Following the plan, I rolled out the pasta. I can NEVER get pasta as thin as when I break out my old fashioned pasta roller and really work it out. The pasta came out a bit too thick for my liking, but I know that by using the roller, I will definitely have a different result.

MMM...roasted butternut squash! I could eat it just like this!!

Sauteing the shallots!

Making the ravioli!!

Finished dish! Ready to be served!!

This dish was wonderful and made great leftovers for lunch the next day!! I served it with a heavier Chardonnay which was recommended to complement buttery dishes. They went very well together!


The Clumsy Gourmet: 8 (would have been 8.5 if I had rolled the pasta thinner!!)
Awesome Sauce: 7.5