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Tomato and pepper soup

What I hate the most in making a tomato soup is peeling the tomatoes. After the boiling, tomatoes are hot and waiting until they are enough cool to touch them is simply a waste of time. I even tried to not peel the tomatoes but even after blending there are small unappealing tomato skins in my soup. I like the tomato soup to be clean so I needed to find a way to remove the skin without spending to much time and without burning constantly my fingers when removing the skin. What I found useful was to cut the tomatoes in 4. In this way they are easier to be removed. Then, the best is not to touch them directly with your fingers. For this soup I used just 2 chopped sticks. With a fork it would be easy also.
This trick saved me, as tomato soup is one of my favorite, if not, my most favorite soup.
Tomato soup combined with pasta and lovage is an incredible combination. Lovage is another favorite of mine in terms of flavoring the savory food. I brought it back from Romania and I have it in my garden since few years. It dries during the winter but grows back in the early spring. It is not demanding at all and offers you so many tasty pleasures.
This tomato and pepper soup looks more like a classic tomato soup. However, adding some other vegetables enrich the dish quite a lot in terms of nutrition. It does not change the taste too much, although the pepper is very delicately felt.

Tart crust

One of my ambitions was to succeed perfect tart crusts like these. I actually didn't count how many times I tried it without being satisfied about the results. There were times when the dough was stretched back in the oven and the crust was unusable to hold any pastry cream inside. However, when this happened, my kids were happy as they just ate them as biscuits. Sometimes the stretch was just a little, but still it was not what I was looking for. I changed also the recipes many times hoping to find a finally a good one.
Another aspect in my trials was to find a good recipe. For me, using 6 egg yolks just for tart crust was not a good idea as I had to do something else with the whites. Another constant issue was the amount of sugar. I saw recipes with 250g of sugar only in the crust and this for me is definitively unacceptable. I could add sugar in the filling of the tart but the tart itself I prefer to have light amount of sugar.
With so many restrictions and so many expectations, one day I found this incredible recipe. Not too much sugar, only 1 egg used and.... perfect shape after baking.
With time I also though that my failures were due to wrong tools and this proved to be partially true. I purchased special perforated tart rings, special perforated silicone mat and special perforated tray only to increase my chances of success. But when trying them the first time, I was again disappointing. It was clear to me then that the problem was the recipe I used and not only the tools. But the next recipe I tried turned out as I so long wished. So yes, tools might help. A lot. But it's not only about the tools. Nevertheless, I intend to bake more tart crusts not only using these tart rings but also other types. We shall see about this in the future.

Until then, I cannot wait to fill in these crust with some pastry cream before my kids discovering them and eating them as they are.

Quiche Lorraine with French cheese

I love many types of French cheeses and I treat myself from time to time with a piece. Many times, I take a byte, pack it back and I put it in the fridge. Today with this type, tomorrow with that type and sometimes I simply forget them in the fridge for days. 
This is exactly what happened to me these days. I found an opened box of Camembert and a package of Brie opened. They do not alterate, they simply dry. Being that dry they do not look so appealing to eat them as they are. But these cheeses are too good to be thrown away, so I gave them a second life into a quiche lorraine where they melt while spreading their special taste.
What I love about quiches is that you can use almost any vegetable or cheese and they will still taste exceptionally.
I used for this quiche a big oven proof glass pan. It has around 30cm of diameter, so this is a really big savory tart. For a smaller version, for sure you'll need to reduce the amount of each ingredient. Or, maybe you want to simply try your own version with what you find in your fridge. This recipe is so flexible.... as long as you bind the vegetables and/or meat with the egg+milk and sour cream.

Enjoy.

Chocolate tartelettes

Now that we are staying home and cooking more, I asked my daughter what kind of cake she would like. She was very quick to answer, a chocolate cake. Ooook, then a chocolate cake should be.
I quickly grabbed an old good book and showed her some pictures. She picked of course the best looking one.
There were on that page 2 chocolate cakes, one more firm and one with a melted core. She wanted the firm one. I started to mix ingredients and when almost done I realized that I actually looked on the wrong recipe. Ups... nooo... I made the wrong one. But, when I looked what were the differences between the 2 cake recipes I was pleasantly surprised to see that the only difference between them were only 25g of flour. And of course a shorter baking time. It was easy then to fix my mistake.

As I baked in small ceramic pans of course the baking time needed to be reduced.
After that, my biggest challenge was to keep 3 of them just as long as I needed to photograph them.
After that moment... forget about them... they were eaten very quickly :)

Lemon hazelnuts poppy seeds muffins

I want muffins but another type that are not like all the classical ones. I found this recipe that at a first glance looked weird. I took my curage and make it. I was not expecting something wow but I was well surprised in the end.
They didn't raise as much as I wished but the taste and texture was outstanding. A nutty taste due to hazelnuts combined with a grainy texture due to poppy seeds and a moist one due to the raisins inside. A bitter light flavor was due to the boiled lemon. If you do not like the bitter sensation you may remove the peel of the lemon but I didn't. My kids were not big fans but I enjoyed them. The bitter taste is very very light that even for a person like me who doesn't like coffee is enjoyable. In fact I can say that this strange flavor for a muffin fits well with the rest of ingredients and that's what it makes it special.