Those precious, rare, free moments. Those few golden hours with nothing errands to run, no homework to do, no tests to study for, no college apps need to complete anymore (I just finished all of them!!! :)). Those pure, unadulterated stretches of time to relax, rejuvenate, and recover.
Life can become hectic, especially for my friends and I, along with any other teenager, in what is probably the most volatile time of his or her life. With all this seemingly unending chaos, some people seem to burn out. I may be a second semester senior, but I can’t burn out; my grades still matter, along with those upcoming college interviews (very important…I’ve actually got two tomorrow!) and my weekend job at the restaurant. When I can devote a few worry-free hours and a bit of love to cook some comfort food in the middle of all of this, though, I take that opportunity.
I’d hardly be sane otherwise.
The ingredients and recipe are simple enough for these dishes. Go the extra mile for these, though. Take that extra few glances in the oven to check if your vegetables are at the peak of their caramelization; take the few moments to taste and spice the soup along the way. Take the time to spruce up your grilled cheese with some panko breading; take the few extra seconds needed to grate the cheese instead of slicing it.
I could definitely the care and love I put into this perfect comfort combo. After I finished, I sat back in my chair, dunked my grilled cheese, ate…and did absolutely nothing else.
Roasted Tomato Soup
Adapted from a recipe found on Saturday Dish. This recipe is very free-form. As you’ll see, my spices are not listed with measurement amounts. It’s important to taste your food as you go along, people!
- 6 medium-sized tomatoes, rinsed and sliced in half (remove the hard stem part from top)
- 1 onion, peeled and sliced into 3 thick rounds
- 1 large shallot, peeled
- 3 – 4 large cloves of garlic, skin on
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Basil (Fresh or dried)
For the soup
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup (skim) milk
- Black Pepper
- Cayenne Pepper
- Pre heat oven to 425º F.
- Place vegetables on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle salt and pepper; lightly sprinkle cayenne pepper.
- Place in oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, until vegetables have lightly browned and caramelized.
- Afterwards, remove from oven and add everything except garlic to stock pot. The garlic will be soft, so simply squeeze our the innards into the pot and discard skin.
- Purée with an immersion blender until smooth (alternatively, after removing vegetables from oven, purée them in a blender and then add to a stock pot).
- Add chicken stock, stir to combine and bring to a gentle boil.
- Reduce heat and allow soup to simmer for about 20 or so minutes.
- At this point, taste and adjust seasoning with cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt to taste. (Have fun with spicing this! Taste your soup and analyze the flavors. More salt? Black or cayenne pepper? If your soup is a bit spicy due to the cayenne at this point, don’t worry; the next step will curb the spice a good deal).
- Whisk in cream and skim milk and let simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- At this point again, taste and adjust seasoning with cayenne pepper, black pepper, basil, and salt to taste. (Refer to note in step 8)
- When soup is spiced to your liking, serve with a little drizzle of olive oil, a sprig of basil, and/or some creme fraiche.
Panko-Crusted Grilled Cheese
Idea stems from a recipe I found on Fuss Free Cooking. This make enough for 2-3 people (depending on hunger), so scale down or up for your needs; I scaled down to make just enough for me.
- 8 slices of stale french loaf (4 slices of normal bread loaf)
- 1 cup grated cheese (I used horseradish cheddar; it was delicious!)
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp milk
- Salt & pepper
- Optional: 4 grape tomatoes, thinly sliced (I didn’t use any. I had tomato soup, after all!)
- Whisk egg, milk, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. Set aside.
- Pour panko breadcrumbs and grated cheese on respective plates. Set aside.
- Add some grated cheese on a slice of bread. (Optional: Layer again with sliced tomatoes, then some cheese again and a second slice of bread.)
- Dip both sides of the cheese sandwich in the egg mixture and coat it with panko breadcrumbs. Shake of the excess breadcrumbs.
- In a heated pan greased with some neutral cooking oil, grill both sides of the sandwich until golden brown. Keep the flame on low because the cheese needs to melt before the bread cooks all the way through.
- Repeat step 2 and 3 for the remaining 6 slices of bread, cheese, milk and breadcrumbs.
P.S.: Do you all prefer the bullet point/numbered format of the recipes on this post?
P.P.S.: Don’t be afraid to messy!