Posted by Stephanie Meyer on Jan 26, 2006 at 9:42am

Crazy-fun night, oh my god how I laughed, ouch. Kim and Susie (here with Nathan), two of the funniest people on the planet, came for dinner. Our goal was to actually do some work – ha! – on Feminine Hijinx… Our soon-to-be podcast! Of the three of us raving various subjects together – the concept and name of which Susie brainstormed. And, she wrote the theme song, and of course it’s fantastic! The plan was to meet here, eat a quick bowl of soup (tortilla) with the family, then retire to the newly fabulous (ha) downstairs to nail down a format. W..e..l..l…we talked and laughed in the dining room for a couple of hours, keeping Nathan from his homework, since he loves to hang with Susie and Kim too. We then ended up in our bedroom, looking at family photos, and naturally (?) posing for photos of our own. Finally, we made it downstairs, and did talk about the podcast, and everything else under the sun, and when the yawns were more than the laughs, we called the evening over. I rolled into bed (this time, with John) at some point after midnight, still laughing. I don’t know what it is about the three of us that makes us dork out like silly, giggling (actually, shrieking) schoolgirls, but I’ll take it!

So, tortilla soup. One of my favorites, and in my mind a healthy way to tame that craving for Mexican food that was born in, of all places, Grand Forks, North Dakota, at what was then La Campana restaurant. They put some drug in those beef burritos, because I still crave them, powerfully. Stephanie Sanford, Kim Borgen, and I still email each other about LaCampana, and whenever we’re together in GF, which isn’t often enough, we head there (or actually, to its heir, Paradiso) right away and chow down. And now we can also have a beer (woo hoo!), which we couldn’t in highschool of course. Since there’s no equal to Paradiso here in the Twin Cities (and most people would be glad about that, especially John!), I whipped up some tortilla soup. Simple, healthy, little spicy, little salty, full of chicken, avocado, a few tortilla chips, and topped with a sprinkle of cheese and a dab of sour cream. Delicious, and on the table in less than thirty. Yes! Recipe is in comments, below. (I have to confess, I didn’t have the soup hot enough when we ate it last night – sorry about that guys, I was too busy talking; when it’s hot, it’s truly a fantastic meal-in-a-bowl…)

Today I’m preparing a little appetizer for our neighborhood women’s association meeting. The group gets together every-other month throughout the year at a different home each time. SO fun. Lots of gabbing, laughing, and drinking wine – my kind of get-together. Such a girlie week! Which will continue right on into the weekend, as I mentioned yesterday, at a family bridal shower on Saturday. The only drawback is I’m hardly seeing John this week – Thursday night is usually our “date night,” since both kids are always with their other parent on Thursday nights. Next week (or Sunday night?) I’ll have to come up with something fun for dinner, maybe John’s favorite, some/any version of chicken & rice (and make up for the triple-pork and polenta I put him through this week).

I’m bringing two spreads, one a Spuma di Tonno, from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking (lovely book), a smooth tuna spread that is salty and delicious with something crisp. The other, just a simple herb butter, made with what I think is the holy grail of butter, Hope Creamery. John just laughs at me that I can’t even buy this stuff and keep it in the house because I can’t stay away from it. And I can’t. Thin, cold slices of this on anything – bread, a cracker, or nothing at all (sick, I know, but I think of it as cheese to make it seem OK)…sublime. So I really don’t buy it unless I know I’m going to use it up real fast. I figure I’ll use half today for the herb butter, half tomorrow for one of the two coffeecakes I’m baking. I’ll get my one (small) taste of it, and then get it the hell out of here. I’ll post recipes for both the Spuma di Tonno and herb butter in comments (below).

Print Friendly and PDF

Older Comments

  1. By Stephanie on January 26, 2006 at 10:31PM

    Herb Butter
    makes 1/2 cup

    Like many of the recipes I post, this one is very flexible. I use what I have available and thus it's different every time. This is great as a dip for crisp breadsticks, but also makes a piece of poached fish seem decadent (only takes a dab). Also yummy stirred into hot rice, hot pasta, spread on hot toast (under an egg, quite nice), a smidge to finish a grilled chicken breast. Or a steak. Or mashed or baked potatoes. You get the picture.

    1/4 c. packed of various chopped, fresh herbs (scallion, chervil, arugula, oregano, thyme - be creative, choose two or three that are complementary; I often throw in a 1/2 inch piece of jalapeno if I have it; a small piece of bell pepper is nice too)
    1 small clove garlic
    1/2 lb. good butter (as I've mentioned, Hope Creamery is excellent, and quite salty on its own)

    Put chopped herbs and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Puree. Add butter, and puree until smooth and well combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and puree one last time. Serve at room temp as a dip, or store, chilled, to use with rice, pasta, fish, etc. Keeps for one week refrigerated, one month frozen.

  2. By Stephanie on January 26, 2006 at 11:16AM

    Spuma di Tonno
    From Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking
    Makes about ¾ cup

    Serving suggestion:
    I usually serve it with grissini (bread sticks) or crostini to spread it on, and I love it with Champagne (Stephanie’s note: or Prosecco!). You can double the recipe easily, and believe me, it will disappear fast.

    1 can (7 oz. or 200 grams) imported olive oil-packed tuna, drained (Genova, available at Byerly’s and probably other nice grocery stores, is delicious)
    2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
    2 tsp. soy sauce
    2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
    1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. butter, at room temperature
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 Tbsp. heavy cream

    Put the tuna in a food processor and pulse to break up the fish. With the machine running, add the lemon juice, soy sauce, and balsamic vinegar. Add the butter and blend until smooth, then stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the processor bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and blend again. Check the seasoning, then add the heavy cream and pulse to blend. Be careful not to overblend once the cream is added or the mixture may break. Serve at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days. If refrigerated, return the spuma to room temperature before serving.

  3. By Stephanie on January 26, 2006 at 11:03AM

    Tortilla Soup
    Stephanie Levy
    Serves 4-6

    2 Tbsp. oil
    1 small onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    2 tsp. ancho chili powder (or more to taste, I use up to 1 Tbsp., but I like it spicy)
    1 tsp. cumin
    2 Tbsp. flour
    2 14-oz. cans chicken broth
    1 can diced tomatoes (don’t drain)
    salt and pepper

    tortilla chips, crushed into bite-size pieces
    ripe avocado, diced
    shredded jack cheese
    cooked chicken breast (I pull apart a deli/rotisserie chicken)
    sour cream
    chopped scallions

    Heat oil over medium high heat in a Dutch oven. Add onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, sauté for 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and salt, and sauté for 2 minutes (until fragrant). Stir in flour and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in broth, then chopped tomatoes. Simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out most of the solids and add to the bowl of a food processor (leave remaining broth in the pot). Add about 1 cup of broth to the processor as well. Puree and return to the pot, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

    To serve:

    Set out serving bowls and add some of each of the garnishes to each bowl. Ladle soup over garnishes and serve.