Hello again! I’m back from a few weeks hiatus, which wasn’t intentional at all, but the last month or so has been kind of a whirlwind of miscellaneous small-but-urgent tasks. Finishing up some painting and renovations on our new house, keeping up with some big deadlines at work, and trying to catch up with the fall pruning (which really shouldn’t be a big time sink, but A) we have a lot of bushes and shrubs that haven’t been pruned in about five years, and B) I have no idea what I’m doing).
In any case, the good news is I still made time to cook, and a lot of things turned out fantastic; I’ve been excited to share them, I just didn’t have the time to write them up! Catching up now – for this week I have a super tasty early-fall menu, including my old favorite creamy tomato soup and my new favorite sandwich bread, which makes amazing grilled cheese. This soup will give you something to do with your garden tomatoes, if you’re buried under a mountain of them like I am! There’s also a savory bread pudding to use up any extra bread, and a couple of ginger beverages: a refreshing green smoothie and a spicy ginger beer. And last but not least, a tasty marinated Vietnamese chicken dish with pickled veggies and rice noodles. Hope you’re excited to get cooking!
Homemade Fizzy Ginger Beer from Alton Brown
Farmhouse White Sandwich Bread from Gather for Bread
Tom’s Tasty Tomato Soup & Smoked Cheddar Grilled Cheese (from Tom Douglas)
Pan-fried Tilapia Nachos with Tomato & Green Pepper Garden Salsa (adapted from Dinner at the Zoo)
Ginger Green Citrus Smoothie from Sally’s Baking Addiction
Savory Cheddar Sausage Bread Pudding from Once Upon a Chef
6-7 cups fresh tomatoes (see footnote)
1 bunch spinach or kale
1 large ginger root
2 medium onions
1 green pepper
1 each cucumber, carrot (see footnote)
1.5 liter bottle of filtered water
active dry yeast
Asian fish sauce
Vietnamese hot chili-garlic paste (sambal oelek) or Sriracha sauce
1 pound cheddar cheese (see footnote)
1 pound sweet or spicy pork sausage meat (casings removed)
1 pound tilapia filets
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
red chili flakes
rice wine vinegar
Note on tomatoes: The quantity and type of tomato is fairly flexible. They will be used in soup and salsa. You can get 6-8 large heirloom or vine-ripened tomatoes, or up to 10 smaller Roma tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes can be used, but will take more work.
Note on cucumbers, carrots: These veggies will be quick-pickled to accompany the Vietnamese marinated chicken. You can choose any combination you like: I pickled a cucumber, a carrot, and half a red onion, but you could do just one or two vegetable types. Radishes work well too.
Note on cheese: Some of this cheddar will be going into grilled cheese sandwiches and some is for bread pudding. You can get one large brick of your go-to cheddar and use it for both, or if you want to splurge a little, you can get plain cheddar for the pudding and a small brick of smoked cheddar for the sandwiches. I found some double-smoked cheddar at our local superstore, and it added a nice autumn-y touch. But it’ll be delicious either way. 🙂