Potato Salad with Green Beans

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So, I started out making a potato sad that I intended to use rocket in, to use up some of the rocket I have, but then I got around to adding the rocket and changed my mind and added green beans instead. I am glad I did because the freezer was just starting to extract the liquid from the beans and would have soon dried them out.

This is a pretty standard potato salad. I boiled 4 potatoes in salted water and hard-boiled 4 eggs. I use Martha Stewart’s method to boil eggs and it never fails me. I am not going to reinvent boiling eggs. When the potatoes were done I ran cold water on them to chill. I also chilled the eggs. I then boiled some salted water and blanched the green beans. I did not want them mushy and wanted them to stay bright.

So then I chopped up one whole yellow onion, the potatoes, the eggs and the green beans and tossed them together. I drained a can of black olives and crushed about 1/3 of the can.

In a bowl, I missed 3 TBSP mayo, 1 tsp of mustard, 3 TBSP of apple cider vinegar and a 1/2 tsp of sugar, salt and pepper. I made it to taste and added to the salad and blended.

This made 4 to 6 servings and was better the next day. It’s nice and tangy with the mustard, the olives add an earthiness that I love.

Braised Beef Shank & Vegetables

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This is a shot at the big cooking pan full of vegetables and the beef shank I braised with them since it makes about 8 servings and the shank will be pulled apart to add bits of beef to each serving. This takes several hours in the oven, so you must plan ahead, but it takes very little to prepare.

  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 tsp shaved nutmeg
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 beef shank
  • 1.5 onions, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 small potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 cups frozen Italian beans
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

To begin, I warmed olive oil on medium heat is a big pan. I shaved about 1 tsp of nutmeg into the oil using a microplane. I added 6 peppercorns and a tsp of cinnamon. I let the oil heat until the spices thoroughly infused the oil and the air was rich and aromatic. This is enough nutmeg to be spicy, to leave a bit of tingle on your tongue. You can use less, but I love the flavor it brings.

I added the beef shank and let it brown on both sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. While it was browning, I chopped 1 and a half onions and 2 stalks of celery.

Removing the shank from the oil and setting it aside while I sautéed the vegetable. I added the onions and celery and let them cook. I added some  salt and pepper.

I turned the oven on to 350° to pre-heat.

I chopped up the carrots, potatoes and smashed and peeled the garlic gloves. When the onions were transparent, I added these veggies and let them cook for a few minutes. I added some  salt and pepper.

Then I added the Italian beans and diced tomatoes and stirred everything together. I added some  salt and pepper, then I tossed in a bay leaf and put the shank back in the pan.

Remember that adding salt and pepper throughout the cooking builds flavors more effectively and helps avoid over-salting at the end.

I put the pan in the oven and let it braise for the next 3 hours. It was delicious, spicy and aromatic. It made at least eight servings, so I stored it in an airtight container and reheated for several meals.

 

Red Chard & Kidney Bean Soup

Red Chard & Kidney Bean Soup

I had some fresh red chard the other day and wanted to make something simple. I decided on a simple soup with some sausage. I had some breakfast sausage so I worked with that.

I diced 1/2 of a yellow onion and two cloves of garlic and sautéed in about 1 tbsp of olive oil. I added salt, pepper and a couple teaspoons of oregano. Then, I added 6 ounces of breakfast sausage and cooked until it browned. I peeled and chopped 2 carrots and 1 potato and added them. Then I added 1 small 6 oz. can of diced tomatoes and about 12 oz of water and left it to simmer.

Meanwhile I cut the red chard leaves in thing strips and about 10 minutes before serving I added the chard and cooked until it was softened. I also added a can of kidney beans. I did not bother straining or rinsing the beans, knowing the liquid will just enrich the broth.

This made a delicious and simple soup that only got better the next day and the next. It made 4 servings.

Red Chard, Potato and Chickpea Soup

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I had a bunch of new potatoes that were getting eyes all over and really needed to be cooked up into something. They were quite small, so cut up small pieces, they came to about 4 cups or so of potatoes. Thinking of what to make, I considered making the Potato & Kale Chicken soup I made a few months ago, but I had some red chard and decided to go with that and the vague memory of a stew served by my host family in Spain back when I was in high school.

I heated 2 TBSP of olive oil in my 4 quart pot. I chopped up one small yellow onion (about 1 cup of diced onions) and once the oil was hot, I added the 1 cup of diced onions and 4 cups of chopped potatoes and sautéed until the potatoes began to brown. Once they browned I added 3 minced small garlic cloves (I would have used 2 but they were tiny.) I then added 1/8 tsp of cayenne, 1 tsp of turmeric and 1/2 tsp of paprika and 1/2 tsp of salt. I let them heat just until they perfumed the air.

Then I added 4 cups of chicken broth. I made the broth by boiling the carcass and drippings from a roast chicken I made. The chicken rests on a bed of onions while it roasts and the onions become saturated with flavor making an amazing broth. If you want to make a vegan version, you can use vegetable broth. The original recipe fried up lots of shoulder bacon, using the bacon grease instead of olive oil and adding water for a bacon-flavored broth.

I let the broth heat and drained one can of cooked chickpeas, rinsing the canning fluid off them I tossed the chickpeas in with the potatoes. I took 3 stalks of red chard and cleaned them, removing the leaves from the red stems. I chopped up the leaves and added them (about 4 cups of chopped red chard) and let everything simmer with the lid on until the potatoes were tender.

The flavor is subtly spicy. It’s fairly hearty for a summer soup, but delicious and flavorful with some smokiness from the paprika, some heat from the cayenne and a subtle perfume from the turmeric that gives it a earthy background flavor that rounds out the blend of chard, potato and chickpeas.

This made about 2 quarts of soup.

Garlic Scapes & Potato Soup

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My best friend brought over a bunch of garlic scapes. If you have never had them, they are the early spring shoots off garlic plants and they have this delicious and so very delicate oniony-garlic flavor. A favorite way to cook them is roasting them in the oven, but I swear my downstairs neighbor still has the heat on so I did not want to heat up the apartment by turning on the oven. Since I love soup just about more than anything, I decided I would try come up with something that would respect the delicate flavor of the scapes. Lots of googling found several recipes mostly for garlic scapes and white bean soups. There are no white beans in the pantry so that’s out. There were several recipes with potatoes in a pureed soup. I think garlic scapes are so pretty, that I decided to just come up with something on my own and see what happens.

I heated 1 TBSP of olive oil in my 2 quart sauce pan. I chopped the scapes into pieces about 1.5 inches long and tossed them in to sauté. I added 1 tsp of dry tarragon. I would have used fresh, but I didn’t have any. I also added some salt and pepper because you always want to season in layers so that the flavor builds in each ingredient you add. I had the heat up just a bit above medium because I wanted the scapes to brown and caramelize just a bit to bring out their sweetness.

As soon as I had nice caramelization, I added 3 cups of chicken broth (made by boiling the heck out of a roast chicken carcass and all the onions that it rested on while roasting) and 3 potatoes, cubed into just under 1 inch bites. I added a dash of salt and pepper and cooked until the potatoes were tender. It is essential that you cut the potatoes all the same size because you want them to all be done at the same time. Otherwise you will have underdone and mushy potatoes which is really not appealing. If you want a vegan version, use vegetable broth instead.

So this was the moment of truth, would the scapes be too fibrous as they are? Would I have to puree to deal with the texture? Well, I am happy to report they maintained their integrity, not turning to mush, while also being tender and toothsome without a hint of being too fibrous for soup. The flavor was a bit mellow, so I added the juice of one lemon and another dash of salt and pepper and it was done. And it is amazing.

The deepest flavor is a rich oniony-garlic flavor from the scapes with high notes of tarragon and lemon. It is a truly stunning soup that is made even more special because scapes have such a short window during the year. So get to the store now, they could be gone in no time.

This made 6 generous servings. You could make a vegan version by using vegetable broth. 

 

Pea Shoots & Bacon Soup

Pea Shoots & Bacon Soup

Pea shoots are the essence of spring time and I have been enjoying several salads with pea shoots, but I wanted to figure out a way to use the bottom half of the shoots, those tougher, larger, fibrous stalks. I decided to make a pea shoos pureed soup.

In my 2 quart pan, I melted 1 TBSP of butter on medium low. I chopped up half of a medium yellow onion and sautéed them in the butter. I crushed and chopped up two cloves of garlic and added them and let them cook. Then I chopped up 3 slices of bacon into small pieces and let them cook with the onions and garlic.

While they sautéed, I chopped up 4 red potatoes into 2 inch cubes. Once the bacon was done,, I added 1 quart of chicken broth (from the roast chicken I made last week) and the chunks of red potatoes. I put a lid on the pan and let them cook until fork tender. You can use a potato masher to mash them up a bit.

While the potatoes cooked, I rinsed the pea shoots in cold water and chopped up all but the tender top shoots into 2 inch long pieces or so. Add to the soup and let cook.

Remove from heat and let cool. Then puree until smooth. Because the pea shoots can be fibrous, after the soup was pureed, I poured it through a strainer so the resultant soup was smooth with no bits of pea shoot fibers or stalks remaining. I cut a lemon in half, and juiced it into the soup. Adding a bit of salt and pepper to taste and it was done, just needing a bit of reheating before serving – garnished with some tendrils of pea shoots.

This makes 8 servings. The soup is bright and delicious. The lemon juice is absolutely what makes the soup so delicious – hot or cold.

Chicken, Kale and Potato Soup

Chicken and Kale Soup

 

I put two cups of chicken broth in  a sauce pan and brought to a simmer. Meanwhile, I cut up a potato into small pieces and tossed them in to cook. I added salt and pepper for seasoning and then cleaned and chopped up three stalks of kale, removing the ribs. I added the kale to the broth about 10 minutes after the potatoes so they were both tender and ready to eat 10 minutes later. I squeezed about 1 tbsp of lemon juice in before serving to just brighten and elevate the flavor a bit

This was another hearty and flavorful soup with an emphasis on umami flavor.

Parsnip-Rutabaga Soup with Andouille Sausage

Rutabaga Parsnip Soup

This was a delicious and successful experiment. I have been thinking rutabagas might make a tasty soup but was not sure how to approach them. I decided to give it a try today.

I added 1/2 TBSP of olive oil to my soup pot and put it on medium heat. I then added about 3 TBSP of onions and the tiniest pinch of anise seed – about 10 seeds in all. I cooked until tender and then added two chicken andouille sausages. I know that is not authentic, but it is delicious. I browned the sausages slightly. While they were browning, I peeled and chopped into 1/2 bites 1 rutabaga, 1 parsnip, 1 carrot and 1 potato. I figured I needed the sweetness of the carrot and the mildness of the potato to balance out the tartness of the rutabaga and parsnip. I added enough water to cover everything and set simmer about 30 minutes or so until they were all tender. I removed the sausage and let the soup cool enough for me to blend it in my magic bullet. I pureed the soup, cut the sausages into 5 pieces each and put them back in the soup.

This made two large bowls of soup that was a bit spicy, a bit tart and totally delicious.

Pumpkin & Potato Soup

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This was an easy soup made with the leftover pumpkin chunks from my Italian Sausage, Pumpkin and Kale soup the other day.

I turned the heat to medium low (3 out of 10 on my electric stove) and added 1 TBSP of butter. If you want a vegan soup, use olive oil. I just think butter gives it a slightly richer flavor. While the butter melted, I chopped up 1/2 of a yellow onion and tossed into the pot. I let it sweat while I peeled three small russet potatoes and cut into chunks, yielding about 2 cups or so. I already had about 2.5 cups of pumpkin chunks cut up when I chopped up a pumpkin for soup earlier in the week, but if you don’t, then peel and clean 1 small pumpkin and chop it into 1 inch pieces. You will need about 2.5 cups or so and can save the rest for something else.

You should roast the seeds with some olive oil, salt and in this case, paprika for 20-30 minutes at 320° F so you can use a handful as garnish. I already did that earlier in the week.

After 10 minutes or so, the onions had softened and were sweating beautifully. I added 1 tsp of anise seed, 1/4 tsp of cardamom, 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of pepper and let cook another 5 to 10 minutes so the heat deepens the flavor of the spices. I then added the pumpkin and potato chunks and pour in enough water to cover them with about an inch of extra water. I put the lid on and let them cook until tender.

Removing the soup from the heat, I mashed the pumpkins and potatoes and then pressed them through a chinois (a metal strainer). You can use a blender or magic bullet or immersion blender or whatever you like. I like using the chinois because it’s low-tech and unlike the blender, it lets you remove the really fibrous bits of pumpkin so you get a smoother soup with a better texture.

Like any potato soup, it is hearty and earthy, but the pumpkin adds some sweetness and the cardamom adds some real heat while the anise seeds just add a grace note like no other. It’s delicious, flavorful and very easy to make. This makes two medium bowls of soup. I sprinkled some roasted pumpkin seeds on top for a garnish and a bit of smokiness.

Cucumber & Potato Soup

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Well, WordPress ate all the text, so I am reposting. This is a delicious and subtle soup that can be thrown together in 20 minutes, perfect for a lazy lunch.

Peel and dice 2 potatoes. Toss in a soup kettle with 2 cups of water and let boil until tender.

Meanwhile, peel and dice one medium cucumber or half an english cucumber. Scoop out the seeds before chopping. Dice up one or two green onions – totally depends on your love of onion. It adds a bit of bite and I like it so I used two. I also prepped 1 cup of milk from nonfat dry milk powder. You can use regular milk. I just use milk so seldom that I never buy milk and mix up what I need.

When the potatoes are tender, remove from heat and mash. You can use a blender or chinois or simply elbow grease. I mashed. Then I whisked in 1 TBSP of butter to give it some fat – since I am using nonfat milk. You can also use cream if you want richer soup. Add the cucumbers and onions and return to heat on medium and let cook about 5 minutes until tender. Add 1 tsp of dill weed and 2 TBSP of feta. The feta is completely optional. I like the sourness it adds. You can also get sourness by using buttermilk, but believe me, if I don’t keep milk on hand, I also don’t keep buttermilk on hand. Add a bit of salt and pepper to taste and serve.

This makes 2 bowls, but soup always tastes better reheated, so you want that second bowl. It has delicious earthiness from the potatoes with a freshness from the cucumbers and dill, while the onions add zest and the feta adds a sourness that is so good with the creamy milk potato goodness of the broth.