Personally, it's a busy time too — we have a couple of kids, so gift planning and shopping is a must. As is attending school concerts and seasonal events. Every Christmas Eve we host a family/friend dinner. The tradition started years ago, before any of us had children, and before my parents moved cross country to be close to their first grand children.
In the early days, when there were only four of us, there was a lot of "accidental" successes and failures. But youth, friendship and wine, helped smooth it all out!
Over the last few years, it's become a matter of personal pride that the dinner is as wonderful and creative as possible. We never have the same exact meal twice. This last year was probably the best so far, with the addition of recipes created by our friend, and fellow car enthusiast, Chef Tim Creehan.
We met Chef Tim about 3 years ago at the Wing Car Reunion held at the Wellborn MuscleCar Museum. I purchased one of his cookbooks (pictured below), but in awe of his incredible talent, I was reluctant to try any of the recipes - feeling my attempts would fall short.
We saw Chef Tim at Cuvée Bistro in Destin, Florida last summer. In fact, we ate there every night of our stay. The food is amazing, the wine list is incredible, the staff are wonderful. If you're ever anywhere near the area, you have to stop by. Word of warning, make a reservation ... the place was packed every night.
It was there that we first tried "Tim Creehan's Smoked Tomato Soup". Even our non veggie eating daughter loved it. With an assurance from Chef Tim that his recipes are simple to follow, because he uses fresh, simple ingredients, I threw caution to the wind. I followed the recipe exactly, and the result was perfect. Everyone loved it, asked for seconds and for the recipe!
I asked Tim if I could share it with others, and he gave me the go ahead. So, here it is. Do yourself a favor and give it a whirl. You won't be disappointed.
Tim Creehan's Smoked Tomato Soup
Ingredients – Serves 12
|A must have cookbook in our kitchen.|
- 2 yellow onions
- 4 tomatoes
- 1/3 pound chopped bacon
- ¼ cup chopped garlic
- 3 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes
- 3 cups tomato sauce or puree
- ½ cup tomato paste
- 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo
- 1½ quarts chicken stock
- ¼ cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 pound steamed (70-90 count) shrimp
- ¼ cup chopped parsley or chive stems
- Sprinkle a smoker with soaked hickory chips and preheat. Cut the onions in half and place them and the whole tomatoes on the smoker rack. Smoke over low heat for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and chop.
- Saute the bacon in a heavy soup pot. Add the onions, tomatoes and garlic. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the next 6 ingredients; mix well. Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Process the mixture in batches in a blender or food processor until smooth. Combine the mixture in the soup pot; stir in the cream. Season with salt and pepper and heat to serving temperature. Ladle the soup into soup bowls and top with the steamed shrimp and chopped parsley or chive stems.
Grill Plus Instant Marinade and Cooking Sauce, makes a wonderful marinade for steaks or roasts. Great on chicken and pork. I've brushed it on hours in advance, or moments before cooking. I've used it instead of butter or oil in the pan when sauteeing. It's very versatile, flavourful (without being overwhelming) and keeps meat from sticking to any surface. I've even mixed it into our favorite bbq sauce when grilling ribs! Check out ChefsGrillPlus.com for ordering information and recipe ideas.
A great big thanks to Chef Tim, for making me feel like a gourmet ... we cannot wait until our next trip to Destin! And, happy cooking to everyone!! — Linda