Cucumber & Potato Soup

DSCN5253

 

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.

Portobello Hash

Portobello Hash

I am too much my mother’s daughter to waste food, so when making stuffed mushrooms, I refuse to follow the recipe and discard the gills and stem after cleaning my mushrooms. Instead I chop them up and put them in a mesh strainer to rinse really well to make sure I remove any of the dirt that can get trapped in the gills. The reason people discard the gills is that they darken and discolor the foods that are cooked with them. However, a simple potato hash is not going to be harmed by a bit of discoloration from the gills.

Wash one potato and shred into fine strips, like hash browns. I use a mandoline, but you can also use a vegetable shredder. In a skillet, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil and add 2 TBSP of diced yellow onion. Crush and mince one garlic glove and add that. Toss in the chopped mushroom stems and gills from two portobello mushrooms and the shredded potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Continue to heat, stirring occasionally until the potatoes are cooked. I like to let the potatoes crisp a bit, but that’s a personal taste preference. Many people think hash should not be crispy.

This has a lovely earthy flavor from the mushrooms augmented by the smokiness of the paprika. It’s not a beautiful dish, but it’s delicious and uses the often-wasted bits of portobellos. This makes one large serving or two regular servings.

Lamb Stew

Lamb Stew

Grab your stock pot and put 1 TBSP of olive oil on the bottom and put on medium heat. Add one onion, chopped, and 3 cloves of garlic, minced. Let cook until tender, toss in 1 cardamom pod, crushed and chopped fine. Toast in the oil before adding a small lamb shank (about 1 pound). Brown the lamb shank on each side and then add 2 quarts of water, 2 small cans of chopped tomatoes (or 3 fresh tomatoes) and cover and bring to a boil. Toss in 2 bay leaves and reduce to a simmer and allow to simmer for an hour or more until lamb falls off the bone.

Meanwhile, chop up 1 pound of potatoes into 1 inch cubes and snap 1 pound of fresh green beans. When the lamb is tender, remove from the pot and let cool. Add the potatoes and green beans and allow that to cook while you remove the lamb from the bone and cut into 1 inch pieces for the stew. Add the meat back in along with 1/2 of freshly grated nutmeg and 1 TBSP of turmeric.

This is a very aromatic stew, with a savory blend of meat and potatoes set off by the sweetness of tomatoes and the bright heat of cardamom and nutmeg all held together with the deep flavor of turmeric.

You can take fresh basil leaves and roll them into a cigar and chiffonade the basil to sprinkle on top of the stew when you serve. That’s completely optional. You can also add a dollop of sour cream if you like.

This makes 8 to 10 servings so you will have to store in the fridge for later meals.

Hearty Chicken Soup

DSCN4775

In a stock pot, heat 1 TBSP of olive oil and add

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper

and saute until tender. Then add

  • 5 stems of fresh thyme
  • 3 dried bay leaves

Stir and add

  • Whole chicken, washed and any pieces inserted removed and tossed in separately
  • 2 quarters of water
  • Salt and pepper

Bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for one hour until chicken is falling off the bone. Put a colander inside another bowl and removed the chicken into the colander to drain and cool.  Meanwhile, to the broth add:

  • 5 red potatoes, cubed
  • 1 pound small button mushrooms
  • 2 Carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes

Simmer until fork tender. Meanwhile, remove the chicken meat from the bone once it has cooled. Store the white meat in a container for use in salads and sandwiches. The liver, heart and kidneys can be pureed with 2 TBSP of broth for a tasty treat for your cat. Add the dark meat back into the soup, add salt and pepper to taste and it’s ready to serve.  This makes about 12 servings of soup, 1 serving of cat food and the reserved meat can make anywhere from 5 to 10 lunches.

It has a fabulous hearty flavor and the fresh thyme works the sort of magic that fresh thyme always conjures.

Turkey-Mushroom Sandwich & Deviled Potatoes

Mushroom Turkey Burger with Potato Salad

Mix these together
2 potatoes, cooked, cooled, peeled and cut into cubes
1 hard boiled egg, cut up in large pieces
1 TBSP onion
1 TBSP chopped celery

Then mix these together to dress the salad.
1.5 TBSP Mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp cidar vinegar
a dash of sugar, salt, pepper, celery seed

For the sandwich,
4 oz of ground turkey
4 oz of crimini mushroom, chopped
2 oz of yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 pieces of frozen okra, chopped

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute onion and garlic, cook until tender and add chopped mushroom, ground turkey and frozen okra. When it’s nearly done, push everything to the edge of the pan and add a small roux of 2 tsp butter and 2 tsp flour. Cook the roux and add a bit of water and mix the meat and mushrooms back in and cook down until it makes a nice sauce that holds together. The okra helps give it body and substance. Toast a couple buns and serve.

Pork Shoulder Steak, Pommes Maxim Aus Herbes and Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Pork Shoulder Steak, Pommes Maxim aux Herbes, Ribbon Zucchini Salad

I made the salad first since I wanted it to marinate in the lime juice to soften it just a bit. First I sliced 1 yellow squash and 2 zucchini lengthwise using a mandoline for thin 1/8th inch slices. The yellow squash was much bigger than the zucchinis so it’s really equivalent amounts. I also cut the yellow squash slices in half so they were about the same length. I slice up 1 tomato to add a bit of color and tossed in some pecans. For the marinade, I squeezed two kaffir limes, added 1 TBSP of olive oil, 3 minced cloves of garlic and about 1 tsp of cayenne. Mixed and poured over the salad. I made it in a plastic container with a tight cover which I put on and shook the salad vigorously to ensure it was all covered and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving. This has a fresh, bright flavor with a dash of heat at the end. Whenever you season a salad like this with cayenne, underseason at first, because the heat grows. Funny thing! I had some salad for a tv-watching snack later in the evening and when I set the bowl down, my cat ate up all the lime/cayenne sauce. I kept expecting him to freak at the heat, but he didn’t.

For the potatoes, I trimmed off the tops and two sides to make a nice, rectangular shape that was flat for the mandoline and sliced 8 long, thin slices at about 1/4 inch. (Next time I make them I will try 1/8th). I used PAM olive oil spray and sprayed my baking sheet layed down 4 slices, sprayed them lightly, laid down some fresh tarragon leaves and another slice on top, sandwiching the tarragon between the slices of potato. I sprayed lightly with olive oil and put them in the oven to bake at 250° for 45 minutes. I turned them up to 350° for the last 10 minutes to give me some more browning. Pommes Maxim are usually made with butter, not olive oil. I tried this option to see if i could make a slightly healthier version. It still tasted delicious, but butter gives you a much nicer brown without crisping the potato quite so much.  The potatoes are also more translucent, revealing the herbs more clearly. Butter and olive oil don’t react to temperature the same way, so I assume that is why. With olive oil, it’s still tasty and delicious, but not quite as pretty, so if you want pretty, go for the butter.

To serve with it, I simply fried a nice pork shoulder blade steak, about 5 minutes on each side with a bit of salt and pepper.

Lentil Soup and Roasted Veggies

Lentil Soup with Roasted Veggies

I put two ham shanks into my stock pot along with 1 yellow onion, 2 cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, salt, pepper and two quarts of water and let simmer until the water reduced by half. I added more water and let it cook some more, until I had a rich, dark broth. I added 2 cups of lentils, some salt, pepper and cumin and let it continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, I chopped up 2 carrots and half a head of celery and tossed them in. I removed the shanks and let them cool, took the meat off the bone and chopped it up before adding it back.

When I added the lentils to the soup, I turned the oven to 450 F and put some brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes in a baking pan with some olive oil and kosher salt salt and let bake until the potatoes were done and beginning to caramelize.

The soup has a rich, meaty flavor and was deliciously filling. The potatoes and brussels sprouts added a nice fresh taste, especially lovely with the toasty, slightly salty seasoning.

Caldo Verde and Roasted Edamame

Caldo Verde & Roasted Edamame

With company coming and just thirty minutes to whip something up, I decided to roast some edamame and make a fast and tasty soup. Portuguese Caldo Verde is a delicious soup that takes no time at all to prepare and even less now that I tried cooking the sausage with the soup instead of separately. The key is getting a nice spicy sausage that isn’t too fatty. The recipe calls for chorizo, but that puts a bit too much fat into it which is why it gets cook separately. I picked up a nice spicy Italian sausage from New Seasons and cooked it with the soup – and then I left out the olive oil that is normally used.

Rinse fresh soy beans (edamame), pat dry and place on a baking sheet. Turn oven to 450° F and let it heat up. Sprinkle with olive oil and kosher salt and bake until they begin to caramelize. Even though you don’t eat the shells, when you open them with your teeth, you will get their delicious flavor. If you serve with the soup, put them in the oven at the same time you put the potatoes in the soup.

On the stovetop, heat your soup kettle to medium and toss in 4 spicy sausages and let cook, while it’s cooking, dice up a yellow onion and three cloves of garlic. By the time they are diced, there will be enough fat from the sausage to cook them until they are nicely softened. Season lightly with salt and pepper. While they cook, peel and cut 6 medium potatoes and cut into chunks. Add 2 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Turn to simmer and let cook for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, clean 1 pound of kale and slice into thin ribbons. When the potatoes are tender, remove the sausage and mash the potatoes, then cut the sausage into 1 inch pieces and add back to the soup. Add the kale and let cook another 10 minutes or so. Salt and pepper to taste. I think you should season lightly throughout the cooking process, step by step, and not just at the end.

The soup will be just slightly spicy and creamy, with many layers of flavor. The edamame taste delicious when roasted, sort of nutty and savory.

The soup

Kale Soup

This is a quick and easy soup recipe that has lots of rich, multi-layered flavors. It takes a little over 30 minutes from start to finish and tastes like it took all day. I had picked up some kale to make a salad, but didn’t get to it quickly and the kale got a bit wilty, so I knew I would have to cook it. I thought about making a kale hash or something and then got a brainwave to try and make a caldo verde, a soup I had when I was in Spain that was made with potatoes, kale and sausage. I didn’t have linguica or chorizo and probably should have compensated by adding a bit more spice, but to be honest, this mild version is truly delicious and it didn’t need the spicier sausage.

So, to begin, mince 3 cloves of garlic and dice 1 onion. Saute in olive oil with one bay leaf, salt and pepper. Cooking just until softened, but without any caramelizing. Add 2 quarts of water and 4 cups of diced new potatoes (I used fingerlings) and let boil for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in another pan, cook 2 sausages, drain and slice. I used bratwurst because that is what I had. While the sausage is cooking, trim the stems from a pound of kale, rinse the kale, squeezing it dry and chop up fine. By now the potatoes should be softened so you can take a masher and mash them up in the soup pot. If you’re ambitious, you can pull them out and puree them, but I didn’t bother. Once they are mashed, I added the sausage and the kale, put the lid on and let cook another 5 to 10 minutes. I pulled out the bay leaf and let cool a bit and it was done.

It has a rich, earthy heartiness with the subtle spiciness of the bratwurst. I could have added a tiny bit of jalapeño with the onion and garlic, but it’s delicious without as well. A linguica or chorizo would be a bit spicier and would definitely not need more spice. I think it will be even better tomorrow.

Potato Leek Soup

Potato Leek Soup

An easy and delicious soup.

Cut up two leeks. Cut off the tops and the root and  work with the long remaining stalk and that 2 to 3 inches of tender leaves. Cut them in half and then slice into small portions.

In your soup kettle, melt 2 tbsp of butter and add 2 leeks that you have sliced finely and simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes or so until they are tender. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of flour over the leeks and stir in and cook until the flour disappears – 2 minutes or so. Turn the heat up and whisk, adding 1 large box of chicken or vegetable broth (if you want a vegetarian alternative).

Add a bay leaf and small red potatoes that you have cleaned and cut into quarters. Don’t peel, the skins add nutrients and color. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until potatoes are sort a toothy tender.  Remove from the heat and let stand 10 minutes or so and the potatoes will finish cooking and be very tender. Pick out the bay leaf and add salt and pepper to taste.