Tom’s Tomato Soup

Found this on The Splendid Table on public radio.  Good soup with some heat.

  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced (adjust this based on your taste for onions)
  • 1.5 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled (or minced garlic)
  • 2.5 cups canned whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 1 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano or 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion and garlic until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, water, cream, salt, red pepper flakes, celery seed, oregano, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and puree in batches in the container of a blender. Return the soup to the pot and reheat to a simmer, seasoning to taste with more salt and pepper.

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Grocery Store Germs

Before you get to the grocery store think about what you eat at a restaurant.  One inspector I know eats only dishes that are cooked at a high temperature–nothing from the salad bar (a metropolis for bacteria)–as an attempt to reduce the germs he eats.

A couple of things to keep in mind when visiting the grocery store–from an old grocery store veteran.

1.  Always wipe the handle of the grocery cart with an antiseptic wipe.  Tests reveal that over 50% of the cart handles have traces of fecal matter.

2.  Don’t buy fresh products from the deli that are sliced, cut, wrapped or otherwise handled by the workers.  Listeria bacteria lives for several days on slicers, counters, metal, wood and plastic surfaces.  Few deli work area are cleaned adequately to remove the bacteria.  Better to purchase prepackaged meats, cheeses, etc.  That is no guarantee the product is germ-free but the chance of the product being tainted is reduced.

3.  After purchasing produce at the store wipe it dry–or better yet, wash and dry the produce–as soon as you can.  Two reasons why:  a) the surface of the produce may have dirt, bacteria, fertilizer–who know what that might contain–that is unhealthy.  b) the moisture on the surface of the produce accelerates spoilage.  Keep the product dry and it will last longer.  People knowledgeable about shelf-life use produce they buy within 3 days after purchase because it’s hard to know how long ago the product was harvested.

4.  Glance at the floor under display cases when you get a chance.  If it’s dirty under the cases the store may have other problems, like they are not cleaning visible surfaces adequately or the debris under the cases might be food for rodents!

Good burgers, no condiment needed!

I’ve had many requests (one) for this recipe, so here it is:

1 lb. ground beef- 80/20 or 85/15.  You can use a leaner mix but the 80/20 has more flavor.

2-3 Tbsp. A1 sauce

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

½ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. pepper

2 cloves minced garlic

¾ tsp. dry oregano

1 Tbsp. dehydrated onion

Combine ingredients by hand. I usually use 80% lean ground chuck because it tastes better.  Shape meat into 4-5 patties by hand.  The flavor is sharper due to the mustard and stake sauce, which means this meat makes great sliders if you like smaller portions.

If you want to make the patties in advance and freeze them, go ahead.  That gives the ingredients a chance to blend together.

Grill for about 5-6 minutes on one side over medium heat.  Flip the meat once.  Then place slice of sharp cheddar (or your choice)  of cheese on the cooked side and let it melt.  Grill the second side 2-3 minutes.

Place each side of the bun face down in your fry pan for about 30 seconds while the second side of the patty is cooking.

Remove the toasted bun and place the meat/cheese on the bun.

Take a bite before placing any condiments on the bun–the meat doesn’t need other flavors.