Dinner for one

I have been home alone for a couple of days. I am pretty bad at being alone with myself. I like me, don't get me wrong, but when it comes to entertain myself, I am not enough.- It's not me, it's myself, I need something else, I understand, right?- Yes. -OK. (See? Not good at being alone). Fortunately my sister is coming today to take me away from this crazy solitude.

One of the things that I'm bad at when I'm alone is eating. I tend to skip lunch, and then I get super hungry and I start going to the fridge to snack trying to deceive my stomach until dinner. Yesterday was no exception. I spent all day cleaning and doing laundry like a crazy person, and I forgot to eat lunch. When I finished the chores I decided that I was going to eat dinner like a normal person, or actually, like two normal persons, because I was very very hungry. So I found this recipe and 3 perfect reasons to make it: 1) it looked yummy; 2) I had chicken in the freezer and parsley in a glass of water; 3) I wanted to use our new food processor and I hate hate hate chopping parsley by hand.

The trick of putting the parsley in a glass of water is something that I have learnt from my mom and my grandma. It's a great idea! It stays fresh for about 2 weeks. Another way to keep fresh parsley that my grandma recently showed me is to freeze it in a tupperware once chopped. The food processor worked great for chopping the parsley, a process that lasted exactly 5 seconds. I was so amazed. Goodbye chopping parsley with a knife!

The recipe did not disappoint. On the contrary, it was delicious. Although it calls for one hour and fifteen minutes of braising, I only cooked it for 45 minutes. Scott always accuses me of cutting down cooking times, but this time I was about to starve so I couldn't help it. 

Finally, I got my meal of the day in company of these pretty roses. I don't like eating alone.

Braised chicken with parsley and capers
Adapted from Bon Appétite, Serves 1

1 small onion, finely chopped
2-3 chicken thighs, or drumsticks, or combination
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) chopped parsley
2  tbsp capers, rinsed
1 1/2 cups (350 ml) chicken stock
1/4 cup (60 ml) white wine vinegar
Olive oil, salt and pepper

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook, stirring often, until softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer onion to a bowl. 

Add more oil to the skillet and increase heat to medium-high. Season chicken with salt. Add chicken to skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Add reserved onion, parsley and capers to skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, vinegar and chicken with juices. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 1 1/4 hours (or 45 minutes if you can't wait). Transfer chicken to a plate. Season sauce with salt and pepper and spoon over the chicken. Eat, alone or not. 

Note: For 2 servings, just add more chicken. For 4 servings, double the stock, the vinegar, the parsley, the onion and the capers. 


A soup that is on a diet

I was thinking about starting this post apologizing for having almost abandoned you in the past couple months. I wanted to explain to you why I have been missing and tell you that I'm going to be better at writing in spoonglish from now on. But I'm not going to do that. Whatever, right? It's not like you care that much.

Instead, I'm just going to write about this AMAZING tomato soup. It's from the book Essentials of French Cooking, from Williams-Sonoma. The pictures of this book are so mouthwatering that you want to make everything that is in it. However, when you start making the recipes, the pictures are only there to tell you that your version doesn't look nearly as good. But who cares about looks, right? Beauty is inside, and in this case, inside a soup bowl with a puff pastry cover. 

My favorite thing about this recipe is the flavor added by the fresh thyme. It makes it different from most tomato soups and so delicious. I also love the idea of the puff pastry on top. It makes it look like a mushroom and then it's so good to eat it breaking the pastry into the soup and eating it all together. 

What I did not find so compelling was the 4 cups of heavy cream that the recipe calls for. Four cups! That's when the eternal question comes again: why aren't french people fat?  I decided to make this soup be on a diet and halve the amount of cream, because I prefer to have more tomato flavor and less regret. 

Although this might seem like a pretty wintery dish, now is when tomatoes are at their best, so now it's when you want to make this. Here is the adapted recipe:

Tomato soup with puff pastry
Serves 4-6. Adapted from Essentials of French Cooking, Williams-Sonoma

2 lb (1 kg) ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup (125 g) unsalted butter
1 small or 1/2 big yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons of minced fresh thyme
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
2 sheets of puff pastry
1 large egg beaten with 2 tbsp water

Bring a big saucepan of water to a boil. Score an X on to bottom of each tomato and add them to the boiling water. After 30 seconds take the tomatoes out of the water using a slotted spoon. Peel and quarter the tomatoes. 

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to low and add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

Working in batches in a blender, or using an immersion blender, puree the tomato mixture until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and return to pan. Stir in the cream and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remover from heat.

Preheat the oven at 400°F (200°C). Roll out the puff pastry until 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick and cut rounds that are slightly larger than the diameter of an ovenproof bowl. Place the soup bowls on a baking sheet and ladle the soup into the bowls. Place the pastry rounds on top of each bowl and pull the edges tight. Brush the pastry with the egg wash. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately. 


Americanizing myself

It has been a year since I moved to America. It was summer (obviously) and Scott and I had huge fights about the air conditioning all the time. He, as a good American, wanted to have the air conditioning on all the time so the apartment was constantly at 67º F. I, as a good Spaniard, hated the AC and wanted to turn it on only if the temperature went over 80º F. In Spain, summer is supposed to be hot and most people believe that air conditioning is not good for you. That's just the way it is. But now, a year after, America has won the battle. We never fight about the AC anymore, and it's always on. When my friend Almu visited us from Spain, she didn't stop complaining about the Air Conditioning in restaurants, the metro, the stores and...our apartment! I realized that I now love the AC and that going from a 100º F street to a 68º F store is like going from hell to heaven. 

Now I am in Spain, and I can't get used to not having air conditioning. The heat keeps me up at night and sweaty during the day. It makes me be in the mood of notdoinganything, and that includes cooking and blogging. Also, I am at my mom's, so why would I cook? However, people ask me why I haven't been blogging recently, so I decided to finish this post, which I started to write about 3 weeks ago, after making delicious peach tart for the first time.

Since I saw Amanda Hesser's peach tart recipe last winter I had been wanting to make it. However, I had to wait for the summer to come and sweet afordable peaches to arrive to the grocery store. Finally, last week about 3 weeks ago, the wait finished.

I used white peaches the first time, the one you can see in the pictures. The second time I made it I used yellow peaches. It's delicious with both as long as they are ripe.The first time the crust was too thin, so the second time I doubled the recipe (thanks Lisa) and used enough to get the desired thickness. 

Peach tart
Adapted from Amanda Hesser, Food 52. Serves 8.

For this tart I used a 11 inch (27 cm) diameter removable bottom tart pan.

3 cups (380 g) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 cups (150 g) plus 2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup (120 ml) mild olive oil
4 tablespoons whole milk
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
4 small ripe peaches, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/2-inch (1 cm) wide)
1 handful of chopped bleached almonds

Heat the oven to 425º F (220º C).
In a mixing bowl, stir together 3 cups (380 g) flour, 1 teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoon sugar. Stirring enables the salt and sugar to sift the flour, so you don’t need to sift it in advance.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oils, milk and almond extract. Pour this mixture into the flour mixture and mix gently with a fork, just enough to dampen; do not over work it. Then, transfer the dough to an 11-inch tart pan, and use your hands to pat out the dough so it covers the bottom of the pan, pushing it up the sides to meet the edge. It should be about 1/ 8-inch thick all around. Trim and discard excess dough. 

In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons butter. (If your peaches are especially juicy, add 1 tablespoon additional flour.) Using your fingers, pinch the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbly, with a mixture of fine granules and tiny pebbles. 

Starting on the outside, arrange the peaches overlapping in a concentric circle over the pastry. Fill in the center in whatever pattern makes sense. The peaches should fit snugly. Sprinkle the pebbly butter mixture over top (it will seem like a lot). Sprinkle the almonds. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until shiny, thick bubbles begin enveloping the fruit and the crust is slightly brown. Cool on a rack. Serve warm or room temperature. It is delicious with vanilla ice cream.