Fresh Tomato Soup

The farmers’ markets are loaded–some vendors are even discarding bruised or overripe tomatoes. This pains me! In my experience, vendors are willing to sell cheaply or even give away what they can’t sell. I’ve seen them dump produce at the end of the market. If you have ripe tomatoes, too many to eat raw, here’s a simple and completely delicious recipe. I peel the tomatoes by cutting out a small cone at the core and placing them in boiling water for about 40 seconds. The skin will come off easily. The habit of peeling comes from my mother; she also peeled cucumbers, potatoes, and apples, disliking bits of skin in her teeth. But I know people who never peel their tomatoes.

For about two pounds of tomatoes (cut into big chunks), use 1/2 pound peeled onion–any kind–yellow, red, white–cut into 1/2 inch chunks. Combine with 4 tbs. butter (salted or unsalted, you’ll correct the seasoning later). You can use olive oil if you must. Simmer on low for about 40 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, then blend until smooth. Don’t seed the tomatoes! The seeds will dissolve during the blending, and they add flavor and nutrition. That’s it. Add salt to taste. The soup freezes well.

Of course, the flavor and ripeness of the tomatoes will affect the soup. Imagine this taste of summer on a cool fall day–with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Buckwheat Hazelnut Cookies

(adapted from Tartine 3, makes about 2 dozen)

The first time I make a recipe, I follow it exactly. Actually, I thought the Tartine recipe (which calls them sables) was wrong when the finished dough resembled butter, and the baked cookies looked like puddles instead of disks, but could a fancy bakery and Chronicle Books not have tested, not have proofread? In fact, the cookies did turn out greasy. They also didn’t resemble the photo in the book. Somewhere along the line, a typo, a mistake. So yes, I think the recipe was wrong. In any case, the second time, I used less butter and increased the flour and they were excellent. They are gluten free and not too sweet. I simplified the procedure, too, by using already toasted hazelnuts, and only the food processor. Just be aware that you should not grind the nuts fine, you want texture in the cookie. These come together quickly and are buttery and the citrus taste is subtle.

150 grams toasted hazelnuts (I use Trader Joe’s)

120 grams buckwheat flour (I use Pure Living Sprouted Buckwheat Flour)

160 grams unsalted butter (or use salted butter and omit the salt, below)

½ tsp. fine sea salt

100 grams coconut sugar (the second time I used turbinado, also nice)

2 large egg yolks

Zest of one lemon

Zest of one orange

OR shortcut to substitute for the zest: about 12 drops of citrus essential oil—I used tangerine.

Put the hazelnuts and half the flour in a food processor and pulse until pebbly. Do not grind fine. Dump into a bowl and whisk in the rest of the flour. 

In the empty food processor, whip the butter until creamy, then add the sugar and the salt and process until smooth. Add the egg yolks, scraping down the bowl, and process again. Then add the nuts/flour mixture and pulse only enough to combine. If necessary to keep from grinding the nuts pieces too fine, remove the mixture from the processor and combine by hand.

Place the dough on a long (16”) piece of plastic wrap and shape into a 14” log. (I did not make it evenly round, you’ll see from the photo; I kind of like the squarish–call it artisanal, call it handmade–shape.) Wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to two days. 

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Cut the dough into coins (i.e. slice somewhere between ½ and ¼ inch pieces) and place 1 ½ inches apart on the parchment. Bake for about 15-16 minutes, rotating the sheets if necessary to bake to an even brown.