Monday, September 10, 2012

On Fire with Pappa al Pomodoro

My kitchen adventures this past weekend were far from ordinary. There were extreme highs and extreme lows of emotion, coupled with cooking success and failure. Riding the wave of my stellar shrimp and grits earlier that week, I decided to stick with the "southern" genre of foods and set my appetite on frying catfish. This is one of my favorite meals, and I was eager to make it on my own.

After a trip to Whole Foods, I came home to unwrap 3 beautiful catfish fillets on my spotless granite counter top. Fast forward an hour later, and there is a huge puddle of splattered hot oil dripping from the stove down to the floor. My first two attempts at deep-fried catfish have turned into deep-fried crap fish. My self-esteem sinks lower by the minute as my blood pressure rises by the second. I’m about ready to throw in the towel when my husband walks over to the stove, begins cutting the catfish into smaller pieces, dredging them in batter, and delicately laying them into the cast iron skillet. He’s the best. Whether dinner that night was a disaster or triumph, it matters not. I’m lucky enough to have someone whisper in my ear, “what matters is that you tried something new”. You win some you loose some. C’est la vie, non? 

But let’s be honest. No one wants to end the weekend on a loss. So, Sunday afternoon, I break out the big guns: the barefoot contessa’s “Back to Basics” cookbook. I knew Ina Garten had a recipe that would put me back in business. I chose her recipe for pappa al pomodoro – a rustic Italian tomato soup that’s thickened with ciabatta bread and garnished with home made croutons and pancetta. It was perfection. The flavors were so hearty, and this soup is even better the second day. Sautéed onions, carrots and garlic lay the foundation for this recipe. Whisking the ciabatta into the soup of plum tomatoes and chicken stock give it a real creamy flavor and chunky texture. Definitely add this to your list of soups to make this fall. Click here for the recipe.

Alicia Key's new single "Girl on Fire" is the tune to my culinary victory dance. From a fried fish job gone wrong to a heart-warming soup, I turned that frown upside down with this recipe for pappa al pomodoro. 


Beka Roberts Johnson said...

Deep-fried crap fish... Ha! Aren't new recipes fun? So true, you win some & lose some. And learn a little from it all! Or that's what I hear anyway ;)

Julia said...

Hey Beka! I know; I've heard I'm supposed to meet adversity with dignity and grace. Sometimes it's easier said than done :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for sharing..