Tomato Soup?

I only eat soup. And when it's as good as this tomato soup, who could complain? I made it yesterday listening to the new Devendra Banhart album called "What Will We Be", wearing read high heels and rolled up baggy jeans. My hair? Sticking straight up from straight out of bed. I sadly do not have a picture. I thought about it of course...

I spotted these lovelies in a second hand shop in Seattle while shopping with my dear friend Kelsey. I have yet to wear them out in public. Most of the time, I just look at them and know I could wear them. One day I hope to stride across stages and sing out about that great big heart of mine.

Alright, the soup. You'll need some of this sweet smoked paprika. It costs about 8 bucks a pot. I bought it last year and I still have 3/4 of a pot left. Is it worth it? Yes. You've never smelled anything like it in your life (besides real vanilla extract from Mexico). And it gives this tomato soup a one hell of a deep sweet roasted flavour.

Judy's Tomato Soup

makes four good-sized servings

1 medium-sized onion - sliced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
2 C chicken broth
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (or more, or less)
salt and pepper to taste

- In a dutch oven or large stew pot, caramelize the onion in olive oil or butter until deep brown (this could take a while, like 30-40 minutes, but this is where the most of the soup's flavour comes from so don't skimp on this step.)
- add minced garlic
- add tomatoes and chicken broth
- bring the soup to a boil and let simmer for 20 min - 40 min (depending on your level of patience)
- purée the soup with a hand blender or in a normal one
- add the paprika and season with salt and pepper

- grill yourself a cheese sandwich and open a can of pickled beans from the farm and sit on the floor and slurp and munch and crunch away.

A New Friend, A New Year, Endless Possibilities.

Dear Judy & Faithful readership -

1. I think we have a new friend here. Let's read her and admire her pictures.

2. Birthday is March 11th. To celebrate I suggest we cook tarte tatin from The Best International Recipe. The last time I attempted tarte tatin was in the communal kitchen of my freshman dorm with two of the very best in terms of friends and foodies. We made do with little and spent hours creating puff pastry, rolling it out with an illicit wine bottle. The result though, was divine, if a little less than aesthetic. Roasting a chicken might not be a bad idea either.

3. I also suggest a blog face lift in honor of year two. Thoughts?

Love to all,


For the Love of Chocolate

I love that fancy chocolate comes with instructions. Consider Vosges "See, Smell, Snap, and Nibble."

Generally the delight is wrapped in various layers, meaning that the consumer gets to delicately open the cardboard and then savagely peel into the foil before breaking off a piece with a satisfying jerk. It makes the moment of chocolate craving less primordial and more soothing.

Are their sommeliers of chocolate? Because I’d like to be one. I have a discerning palette.

Some of the favorites at our house when we are kindly gifted or choose to splurge:

1. Jacques Torres These are for special occasions, I've only eaten them in New York. But I reccomend earl gray.
Chocolove in Rhaspberry. Break up and add to brownies.
3. Green & Black in Mint. By far the finest Mint Chocolate combo.
4. And clearly, I failed this valentines day because I did not purchase Matt this.
5. My mother on the other hand succeeded because she found me a dark chocolate orange, for which there is blissfully no web link.

Happy Belated Valentines day and happy Chocolatiering. Get after that foil, and follow with a glass of red wine at whatever price point suites you. This my friends, is indulgence.

The “No Expectation Let Yourself Love and Be Loved Cake”

Valentine’s eh? A holiday filled with expectation and commercial horror. Or so seems to be the opinion of my ever-liberated generation. I have celebrated Valentine’s with few of my boyfriends, but only because there haven’t been many to celebrate with. I was either so engrossed in my studies I didn’t look around the room twice to see if someone might be interested, or I had just started dating someone, and it was much too early to make a big deal about it.

Valentine’s is unfortunately associated with this need to buy all sorts of presents to prove how much you love someone. This seems to be the root of the problem for many people. Shouldn’t we be able to express this every day? Of course! Good grief. I’ve always celebrated Valentine’s whether I was with a boyfriend or not. It’s a delightful excuse to eat delicious things with some favourite people and celebrate one of the most important things in this world: love.

Growing up, we always had a Valentine’s day breakfast. My mom would set the table in red and white; there would be flowers in vases, chocolates and cookies beside our place mats, and sometimes little “ I love you cards”. No matter what we had planned for that morning, we always ate together. Scones, coffee cake, cinnamon buns, or anything else delicious would be served with scrambled eggs and strong black tea. Someone would turn on Chicago’s "Make Me Smile" and we’d all sit ourselves down. Being the joyful little unit that we are, we’d all say “Happy Valentine’s!” Wave our forks and napkins around in the air and dig in.

My first boyfriend only wore shorts. Even in winter. This didn’t bother me – I found his long skinny legs charming. He swam, skateboarded, played the bass and ran track. We were sixteen and knew nothing about relationships. As we stumbled through, stealing kisses after track practice and clambering back into our clothes when we heard our parents coming home, we learned a lot about each other and about loving. I remember a rather juvenile conversation we had about what clothes we would look best in. I admitted he would look great in a red t-shirt and black pants. He grimaced of course at the mention of pants and I laughed saying it really didn’t matter, I’d love him anyways, but it would look good…. Valentine’s rolled around that year and we’d been dating for maybe four months. I don’t remember planning anything special, but we both cooked up something on our own accord. I made him a huge heart-shaped “red cake” (a family favourite) complete with cinnamon heart decorations and “I love you Eric” written in the middle. He showed up at my locker wearing a red t-shirt and black pants, carrying a Styrofoam carton with a cinnamon bun in it from my favourite bakery. Huge points.

A couple years later – a far cry from being innocently sweet and sixteen – I celebrated another Valentine’s with a Montreal, tree-planting boyfriend. Looking back, I can’t help but smile. Things weren’t going so well, to say the least, and I used Valentine’s to try and prove how perfect we were for each other. If I could make the perfect dinner, he would know how much I loved him. In the week prior, I scoured the city for ingredients. I bought little cards for our two other roommates and left them little candies at breakfast. On Valentine’s I cooked all day, making yet another heart-shaped red cake complete with cinnamon heart decorations. For dinner, I made a moose tajine (yes, a tajine with moose meat instead of the traditional lamb or chicken – it didn’t pair so well with the spices, I must add). I dressed up, lit candles and waited for him to come home from school. When he walked in the door, he was surprised, but underneath seemed uncomfortable. Why had I gone to so much trouble? Dinner was good, but we said little and ate too much – our full bellies trying to fill our empty hearts. The evening was filled with unsatisfied expectation. It was Valentine's after all! We should be so in love! But I knew it wasn't working and I had no idea how to get out. After dinner we went and played hockey with friends. Skating around the rink, I remember wanting to keep skating as fast as possible, forever, until I couldn’t see anyone anymore but myself. But I kept going in circles.

I made another cake this year. Molly’s Winning Heart’s and Minds Cake. Except I’m calling it the “No Expectation Let Yourself Love and Be Loved Cake”. You can visit her website and read all about it here.

Happy loving folks.

Afternoon Sun, Loud Music and Miso Soup

These days I have time. Time to wake up slowly, stretch, eat oatmeal, read, think. I do work, oh yes, most days I have many things to do: translations for school, technical writing exercises, statistical documents to read in French, emails to write. My mornings are slow, but I'm usually working by 10. Then comes lunch, more work, singing, dinner and class. Not a bad existence considering it's February and everyone's supposed to be going stir crazy. I feel the opposite. This is the first winter in Montreal I haven't wanted to run at top speed off the top of Mount Royal and fly back home as fast as possible.

In January, I decided I wasn't going to let the solitude get me down. I wasn't going to be harsh with myself - winter is harsh enough. I would eat good soup, lots of roast chicken, broccoli and oatmeal cookies. I would dance regularly in the living room and go for long walks. I would read Kurt Vonnegut short stories and Marguerite Duras. I would enjoy the company of myself; because if we can't do that, where are we? Some days I'm more productive than others; some I go stir crazy from sitting in front of the computer too long; some I lie on the floor after lunch in the sun too long with Sinead O'Connor or Fleetwood Mac blasting from the speakers. Then I frantically leap up and say, "Oh no! Where has the day gone?" My nimble lion fire fuels me. I allow my mind to go where it needs to. And I eat Miso Soup for lunch.

Miso Soup

Ros gave me the Cooks Illustrated International Cookbook (an absolute must have) in a cookbook exchange we did. The first recipe I made was miso soup from the Japanese section. I went to the health food store and bought enough seaweed, tofu and miso to last all winter. But my first soup was a disappointment. After several tries, I figured out this soup is best eaten immediately and now only make enough for one. Although it won't satisfy a growling, ferocious hunger, the kind that takes over me around dinner, it's perfect for lunch. And it takes 15 minutes to make.

The Broth

Kombu is a thick form of seaweed used to make dashi, the basic broth in Japanese cooking. When making miso soup, bonito flakes (at right in picture) are added after the kombu water boils. Some people strain out the fish flakes, but I like to leave them in, as I enjoy their strong, smoky taste.

one bowl of water
1 piece of kombu broken in half
1 TBS (or more or less) bonito flakes
1 TBS miso paste (I use brown rice)

- fill up the bowl you want to eat soup in with water
- pour the water into a small sauce pan
- add the kombu
- cover the pot and bring the water to a simmer
- turn off the heat, take out the kombu and add the bonito flakes (you can cut the kombu up and add it to the soup, but I find it tough)
- let the broth sit for 3-5 min (strain out bonito flakes if you don't want them - they are a bit stringy)
- turn the heat on to medium and start stirring in the miso paste with a whisk
- heat the broth until it just starts to simmer and the miso is disolved

Additions to your soup

While the kombu water is heating up, start preparing your bowl. I like to add tofu, pickled vegetables, sesame seeds and green onion. You can add whatever else you like or drink the broth plain.

1/3 block tofu
1 TBS pickled vegetables (recipe to follow)
1 green onion (sliced finely)
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

- cut up the tofu into small cubes and place in bowl
- add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl
- when the miso is hot enough, pour it over the tofu in the bowl

Because I'm always very excited to eat, I often burn my tongue on soup. I use cold tofu which cools down the soup while cooking gently in the broth.

Pickled Vegetables

1/2 carrot
1/2 cucumber
4-6 radishes
1 C rice vinegar (or more)

- cut the carrot and cucumber on the bias so you have long diagonal slices. Lay the slices out on the cutting board so they slighty over lap each other and cut them into skinny strips. This is called julienne. Another way to do this is to first square off the vegetable and then cut it into match-stick slices. You can watch a video of how to do this here.
- for the ginger, you will need to peel it and cut it into coins. Then you can cut it into skinny slices.
- put your julienned vegetables in a bowl and cover them with rice vinegar. Let the vegetables sit for 30 minutes or over night. They will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge. I wouldn't keep them any longer, however.

Afterwards, eat a few oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and some fruit. That should be enough until snack time.

Speaking of's that time of day.

- murph

The Epitome of Comfort Food

"What are we having for dinner?" My thirteen-year old self yelled from the living room into the kitchen.

"Creamed chicken and biscuits." Mom called back. She was pulling containers out of the fridge, washing her hands, tying her apron, and sighing now and then. Long day?

"Awww, really? Again?" I cried.

"Yes, we are. It's been a long day, there's leftover chicken that needs eating. Will you please come in and set the table?"

I put my nose back in my book and scowled. Chicken and biscuits. How uninspiring. I got up and dragged my feet into the kitchen. I hated setting the table.

In the kitchen, mom was scraping chopped, cooked chicken into a thick, warm gravy. She opened the freezer, dug out some frozen vegetables and added them to the mix. She put the lid on the saucepan and opened the oven to check the biscuits. They were done: fluffy, flaky, buttery goodness. My stomach rumbled.

"Where's dad and Katherine?" I asked.

"They're coming home from track practice. Should be here any minute. Will you please set the table?"

"Aww do I have to..."

"Judy, I don't want to ask you again."

I got the silverware out of the drawer, set it out on the table, lit the candles, and made sure everyone had a napkin. Then dad and Katherine came in the door, sweaty and hungry. They'd been out high-jumping or long-jumping or doing some kind of jumping, running around in circles, throwing things, you know.

"Smells good!" Dad said.

"Okay, we're ready to eat!" mom cried. I stood with my plate in hand, hungry, and no longer "uninspired". She opened up a biscuit, put it on my plate and poured the thick chicken gravy over the biscuit. It smelled so good. Then we all sat down.

No one said much; it was the end of a week in February. The rain poured down, the candles flickered and Joni Mitchel sang about bows and flows and angel hair. After we'd finished eating we ate the leftover biscuits slathered in Smuckers raspberry jam for dessert.

"Can I be excused? It's been 15 minutes," I piped up, breaking the quiet.

"Yes, you may." Mom said.

"Me too?" said Katherine.

"It's Katherine's night for dishes! Katherine's night for dishes! Haha!" I broke out into song, dancing around the dining room. My sister groaned when she remembered this was true.

I scampered off into the evening, delighted I didn't have to do the dishes or sit a moment longer at the table. But my belly was full and I called out as I pounded downstairs to my room, "Hey mom! Thanks for dinner!"

"You're welcome," I heard her call as I shut my door and disappeared.

Creamed Chicken and Biscuits

Because I have class at night, I often cook during the day. I also try and make meals that are nourishing, inexpensive, comforting and easy. The answer? Chicken and biscuits. No wonder my parents made it so often. And even though I've never really liked frozen vegetables, I quickly realized that this dish isn't the same without some added frozen peas, corn, or carrots, or all three.

Despite my resistance throughout my teenage years to sit for longer than 15 minutes with my family at the table (that was the rule anyways), I now value eating with people above all, and the meals I share with my family when I go home beat any meal I've ever eaten by myself. In the meantime, I'm focusing on enjoying eating alone, because that too has value: Being comfortable with you are.

for 2 people

1 TBS butter
1 TBS flour
1 C chicken stock

1 C cooked, chopped chicken
1 C frozen veggies
1 tsp dried thyme (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

1 recipe for biscuits

- Make biscuits.
- They may be done before the gravy is. No problem! Take them out of the oven, wrap them in a towel and set them aside in a bowl until you're ready to eat.

For the gravy

- Over medium heat, melt the butter in a medium sauce pan.
- Add the flour and stir vigorously to combine it with the butter until bubbling.
- Slowly add the chicken stock, stirring constantly. As the chicken stock heats up and the flour cooks, a gravy forms. The sauce may take 10 minutes or so to thicken. It is important to stir the sauce while it thickens. Otherwise, it will burn on the bottom.
- Add the salt, pepper and thyme.
- Add the chicken and veggies.
- Turn the heat down and put the lid on the pot and cook until the veggies are soft.
- Taste for seasoning. (I've heard you can add some cream here, if you're not too fat, but I've never done this. I don't consider myself too fat, either. I bet it's delicious.)
- Cut open two biscuits, place them face up on a plate and smother them with the creamed chicken.

- After, have a little dessert why don'cha! I've been eating huge oranges every day, because they're in season in some far off place, and delicious. And then a couple squares of chocolate never hurt anyone.