Saturday, August 31, 2013

My two latest "addictions"

The first is zuppa toscana. Yes, the soup at Olive Garden. Having lived near so many great Italian restaurants while I lived in the Philadelphia suburbs, Olive Garden just never did it for me. But a couple weeks ago while at BYU education week, a friend and I had a quick dinner at the local Olive Garden. Since it was pretty late, I didn't want pasta and so opted for soup. I've had their minestrone but decided to try the zuppa toscana. Wow! It was so good. I knew I had to find a copycat recipe and make it myself.

I had everything I needed to make the soup except the cream and kale. So that weekend after a quick trip to the grocery store, I made the soup. This is the recipe I used. I can't take credit for the photo below, but mine looked just like it:

It is surprisingly similar to a Hungarian cabbage and sausage soup I've  been making for nearly 20 years. They both have spicy sausage, potatoes, onions, and chicken broth. The Hungarian version uses cabbage (not Kale), sour cream (not heavy cream), and also has paprika and marjoram. The zuppa toscana also has bacon (gives it a smokey flavor -- which to me means  it isn't very Italian, because Italian bacon isn't smoked). But the bacon does give the soup a good flavor. With fall weather coming soon (hopefully!) this will become a regular part of my soup repertoire.

OK, my other new addiction is Kaffe Fassett fabric.

Now I naturally gravitate toward traditional muted prints, such as Civil War prints or Kim Diehl fabrics for Henry Glass. I was starting a new quilt incorporating a traditional crossed laurels block. I made my first version of the block with scraps typical of my stash. Yep, a pretty ordinary crossed laurels block.

I started thinking about how I could make the block more exciting and knew that I had to pick more exciting fabrics. So I bought a lot of Kaffe Fassett fabrics -- mostly charm squares since the pieces in the quilt are so small. 

Here's my first version of the block using Kaffe fabrics on a white background. Definitely an improvement. But I didn't think I was quite there yet.

I wanted even more punch decided to make the block with a solid black background.

I also knew that I wanted an easy way to do the appliqué. I wasn't up to needle turn (after all, I'll eventually make about 16 blocks). And even though I like Kim Diehl's freezer paper method combined with machine appliqué, I turned to fusible web. But have you noticed, it's virtually impossible to find Steam-a-seam right now? It's out of stock everywhere. Now what was I going to do?

I also wanted to use my Go! Baby by Accuquilt to cut the pieces. Faster AND more precise than scissors. I found the perfect dye from  Accuquilt.

But that definitely meant I needed some sort of fusible web material. I had heard about Misty Fuse and decided to try it out. I quite like it (it's thinner than Steam-a-seam and doesn't have a paper backing). I'll post about my experience using it soon.

Now I've got to buckle down and get those blocks done!  I have no excuse. I've got the perfect fabric. I've got the Accuquilt die and cutter. And I've got several yards of Misty Fuse. Time to get busy! But first, I think I'll warm up some zuppa toscana for my dinner.



Josie McRazie said...

We make Zuppa all the time. But ours we fry up real bacon then add the sausage in plus our has red pepper flakes YUM and ours makes a GIANT batch!

Loraine said...

Thanks for the soup recipe! It looks wonderful.
I like the way you changed the look of the block with different fabric choices. The black one is stunning. I still like the original one best. I guess I'm just a true Civil War fan deep down. :)


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