Tomato Bisque and grilled cheese

So I am newly married.

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And because of this I will probably find an excuse to post wedding pictures all the time. 😉

But to the point!  I now cook for two instead of just for me.  And some of my favorite foods are… well… Lets just be honest and say Daniel doesn’t like them.

And one of these is tomato soup! And I love me some tomato soup.  But today Daniel is stuck on campus for lunch and I don’t work till this evening so I realized I could make some de-lish tomato soup.  All for me.

Naturally this starts with making bread.  All soup is better if you have fresh warm bread to dip in it.  I decided to make some cheesy french bread.  Most people overestimate the time and energy this takes.  See bread recipes usually say “Total cooking time: 3 Hours”.  But most of this is actully just letting the bread rise.  So saying you don’t have time to make bread is the same as saying you don’t have time to make crockpot chicken.  AKA you are being silly.

Now I used a simple french bread recipe and added swiss cheese, olive oil, and herbs to it.  Bread is very forgiving as far as modifying goes.  as long as you add a propper amount of flour to it in the end, it will be fine.

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Another big trick to bread is dough consistency.  Unless you want a hot mess you need to add the right amount of flour.  For quick breads you should add the amount required and be done.  For yeast breads however, you have to go by feel.  Those amounts of flour written in the ingredient list are just suggestions.  You NEED to add enough that the dough no longer sticks to the bowl.  But then….

If you want it softer and lighter, this is where you stop.  If you are doing a thicker bread or a shaped bread like french bread, it needs to be firmer so keep punching in flour till you can pick it up with one hand and it doesn’t try to ooooooose out of your fingers.  And stop. Too much flour and you will end up with a brick.  But honestly, don’t be afraid to try different textures till you find some you like.

Another trick is that if you like a nice crust on your bread try brushing it with an egg just before you bake.  It will give you a nice, crunchy finish.

Now for the soup I went to the store and much to my sadness there were no yellow tomatoes.  Yellow tomatoes are much less acidic and sharp and make super delicious soup.  However sense I have red ones I will just be sure to add some cream to the soup.

Now this is a lot like the bread.  If you start with fresh tomatoes, you have to let the soup simmer for quite a while. So mix everything up, set it to low and go get other stuff done for a while!

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Then all you do is throw it in a blender, add the sherry and cream, warm it up and she is ready to enjoy!

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I cut the bread into long thin slices and made some yummy grilled cheese dippers to eat with mine.

Cheesy French Bread

2  1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or one package)

1  1/4 cup warm water (just warmer then your skin temp)

1 tsp sugar

3-4 cups flour

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp rosemary

2 tsp salt

1 cup shredded swiss cheese (plus some extra for the top)

1 egg

Whisk the sugar and yeast into the warm water and allow to sit and rest about 5 minutes till a few bubbles have started to form.

Mix in about 1  1/2 cups flour till smooth.  Add olive oil, herbs, salt, and cheese.  stir till completely mixed.  mix in enough remaining flour till dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.  turn onto a floured surface and knead till dough is firm but still elastic.

Cover and let rise till doubled in size.  About one hour.

Remove from bowl and knead for a few minutes.  pull and roll until about 12-14 inches long.  smooth the top until you have the desired look.  place in the center of a greased cookie sheet.  tent tinfoil over the top and let rise for another hour or until double in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Take off tinfoil.  make three diagonal slits about 1/2 inch deep.  Brush beaten egg over the top of the bread.  Sprinkle with flour and then about 1/4 cup cheese.  bake for 25-30 minutes or until bread sounds hollow when you knock on the top.

place on cooling rack once done.  Enjoy!

Tomato Bisque

3 or 4 large tomatoes

1 shallot (can use 1/2 onion if you don’t have shallots)

6 Tbsp butter

1  1/2 cups warm water

1 Tbsp chicken bouillon

1 tsp paprika

2 or 3 bay leaves

a dash of salt and pepper

1 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup cream or half-n-half

3/4 cup sherry cooking wine

1 tsp basil

Get a pot of water boiling.  pour the water over the tomatoes. (this makes them super easy to peal) Peal and chop into medium size chunks.

Melt 6 Tbsp butter in a large sauce pan.  dice the shallot and saute in butter just till soft.  Add the tomatoes, water, bouillon, paprika, bay leaves, and pepper. bring the whole thing to a boil.  lower the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Dump all contents into a blender of food processor and pulverize everything till smooth.

melt 1 Tbsp butter and whisk in the flour. add to the blender and mix.

dump everything back in the pan.  Add the sherry and basil.  Bring back to a boil.  simmer for about 5 minutes then add the cream.

Hope you enjoy!

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