Cauliflower, Potato and Leek Soup

September 27th, 2016

Cauliflower Soup 1

Although the weather is still quite hot, Fall is in the air.  The leaves are starting to drop even though the colors have not changed much.  This time of year I start thinking about soup.  I was in the village of Saluda last week with a friend.  Saluda is a quaint town with an excellent bakery, unique eateries and two old fashioned grocery and hardware stores.Saluda 1

On one of the side streets we found this garden maintained by the local garden club with an antique shop at the bottom of the steps.

Saluda 2

Beyond the garden is the outdoor eating area of The Purple Onion where we had lunch.

Cauliflower Soup 1

I had their cauliflower soup with a half of BLT sandwich on whole wheat bread from Wildflower Bakery.  Both were delicious and I decided I needed to make some cauliflower soup at home.  My only regret is that I did not come home with a loaf of that delicious bread.

Cauliflower Soup 2V

 

 

I was very happy with the soup recipe that I came up with.  It is a combination of leeks sauteed in butter, cooked cauliflower, chicken broth or vegetable broth, and potatoes.  It is similar to the classic potato leek soup but is heavier on the cauliflower.  It has only two potatoes in it.  I used my emulsion blender to emulsify it and flavored it with herbs and lots of cracked black pepper.  If you prefer you can add some sauteed sausages or bacon to make it heartier.  We enjoyed it on a rainy evening this week.  Welcome Fall!

CAULIFLOWER, POTATO AND LEEK SOUP

2 leeks, trimmed, sliced and washed
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 32 ounce box of chicken or vegetable broth
2 medium size potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Bouquet Garni of thyme, basil, bay leaves and peppercorns
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets.  Stems removed
Freshly grated black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Cooked bacon or sausage (Optional)

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large stock pot.  Dry washed leek slices and add to butter.  Saute over medium heat until soft.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Pour the stock into the pot.  Wrap the herbs and pepper in a piece of cheesecloth and tie with twine.  Place in pot. Bring the liquid to a boil and add the diced potatoes and cook until the potatoes are tender.

Meanwhile, chop the cauliflower and add to a large saucepan with water to cover.  Cook over medium heat until tender.  Save water and scoop the cauliflower into the stock pot with potatoes and leeks.  Cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Emulsify the soup either with an emulsion blender or in a blender.  If using blender, divide soup into several batches.  Return to stock pot.  If soup is too thick add some of the cauliflower water until you reach the desired consistency.  Season to taste with lots of pepper and salt as needed.  Add optional bacon or sausage.

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Yogurt Bread with Molasses

September 19th, 2016

Molasses Bread 4

A healthy bread is a wonderful choice for breakfast.  Warm out of the oven and smeared with a bit of butter it will get your day off to a great start.  When I saw this bread from Marian Bull on Food52 I knew that I would be making it.  The original recipe came from Mark Bittman, that former New York Times columnist who is known for his healthy take on eating.

The bread is hearty with white whole wheat flour and corn meal.  It is moist from the yogurt, molasses and cranberries, and is beautiful to the eye. At least it is beautiful to my former hippie eye.  I wrote a rather humorous post about our early “back to the land” lifestyle here.  You may get a laugh out of it.  Maturity has its perks.

Molasses Bread 2

Because it is a quick bread, it is easy to assemble and bake.  I have always been a bread person.  I have made my own yeast bread, bought quality loaves from local bakeries, and loved the baguettes from the French bakeries that we have visited.  This Yogurt Bread with Molasses has been added to my list of favorites.

YOGURT BREAD WITH MOLASSES (Marian Bull on Food52)

Makes one loaf

  • 2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup medium- or coarse-grind cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 2/3 cup whole milk yogurt, or 1 1/2 cups whole milk + 2 tablespoons white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • Optional: 1 to 1 1/2 cups cranberries, chopped fruit, or nuts
  • Butter, for greasing the pan
  1. Preheat your oven to 325° F. If you’re using milk, mix it with the vinegar and set it aside.
  2. Mix together your dry ingredients in a wide bowl (rather than one with straight sides; this makes it easier to mix). Whisk your yogurt (or vinegary milk) with your molasses.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in 2 or 3 batches, stirring in round, sweeping motions. Make sure to incorporate the flour at the bottom of the bowl. Mix until just combined. The dough should fizz, subtly, like a science experiment. It will be thick! If you’re adding in fruit, etc: Fold it in when there are still a few small pockets of flour.
  4. Slice a pat of butter into either a loaf pan or a 7-inch cast iron skillet. Put it into the oven until the butter melts. Remove, then swirl the butter around to grease the pan. Transfer batter into pan, without mixing it any further. (Be gentle!)
  5. Bake for one hour, or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted. Touch the top of the bread: it should give a little bit, and feel supple, but it should still resist your touch and not feel like there’s goo beneath there. Very important: Let the bread cool before you slice it. Yes, I’m serious.

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Tomato Gravy and Biscuits

September 12th, 2016

Tomato Gravy 4

We had the family here over the Labor Day Weekend.  It was a marathon of good food, excellent wine, swimming, boating and games.  There is a special vibe to a multi-generational get together.  The grandparents, grown kids and the littles all contribute to the fun.  And all day long someone was always hungry!  The cookie container was emptied by the third day.

One morning David made this tomato gravy to go with our biscuits.  Of course we all love sausage gravy with biscuits, but this tomato gravy is also a winner.

Tomato Gravy 2V

The recipe came from my friend Barbara who lives in Virginia.  It  has been in her family for years and relies on the home canned tomatoes that her family puts by every year.  If you don’t have home canned tomatoes you can use whole canned tomatoes from the supermarket.

Tomato Gravy 3

Everyone loved the combination.  One of the Grands came back for seconds and thirds.  David made the tomato gravy.  I cheated and used frozen biscuits and fried up some sausage patties to go with everything.

Cassoulet Kit

As a hostess gift, I was given this fabulous D’artagnan Cassoulet Kit.  We enjoyed the wonderful duck confit and sausage casserole one evening on the porch.  It is beginning to cool down in the evenings so this was a perfect meal that was not too difficult to assemble.

This tomato gravy recipe is written in Barbara’s own words.  David guessed on some of the amounts.

BARABARA’S TOMATO GRAVY

This is all adjusted to taste and subject to trial and error!

2 28 ounce can of tomatoes – I prefer the ones we can fresh from the garden but the whole peeled tomatoes work just fine.  I would not buy the petite chopped tomatoes but coarsely chop the whole peeled ones.

Add salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of sugar ( D used 1 tablespoon ) to cut down on the acid.  Naturally, I add butter to flavor the gravy.  Adjust to your taste or diet. ( D used 1 tablespoon).

Cook the tomatoes down until about half the liquid is gone.  Mix about a cup of milk and flour ( I cheat and use the wondra flour about 1 to 2 tablespoons) and pour into tomatoes.

Stir until desired consistency and pour over biscuits!

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Cafe Salle Pleyel Hamburger

September 6th, 2016

French Hamburger 1

I love this riff on an American hamburger from a French chef.  As related by Dorie Greenspan in her book Around my French Table, her friend Helene Samuel is responsible for it.  She created the cafe’ in the newly renovated Salle Pleyel Concert Hall in the 8th Arrondissement.

Salle_Pleyel

She wanted to put a hamburger on the menu that would appeal to French people who sometimes equated hamburgers with the McDonald’s version.

French Hamburger 2V

It has the bun and the pickle, but it has very French ingredients worked into the meat and topping; capers, cornichons, tarragon, sun-dried tomatoes and a red onion marmalade.  Instead of the American cheese it is garnished with shards of Parmesan.  It all sounded excellent to me.

French Hamburger 3

The burger became a best seller and ended up being featured in The New York Times.   I think you will agree that this is a worthy burger with French overtones.  The only thing mine was missing was the sesame seed bun. Helene included that as an homage to the American version.

CAFE’ SALLE PLEYEL HAMBURGER (From Dorie Greenspan)

  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • cup oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes(2.5 ounces), drained and chopped
  • ¼ cup drained capers (1.5 ounces)
  • 6 cornichons
  • ¼ cup tarragon leaves
  • ½ cup flat parsley leaves
  • 1 ½ pounds ground sirloin, chuck or mix
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, thinly sliced with a vegetable peeler
  • 4 large sesame-seed hamburger buns
  • 2 dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise with a vegetable peeler
  1. In a small saucepan, combine red onion with butter, coriander and 1 cup water and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small food processor, pulse sun-dried tomatoes with capers, cornichons, tarragon and parsley until finely chopped.
  3. In a medium bowl, lightly mix meat with sun-dried tomato mixture and season with pepper. Shape meat into 4 patties about 3/4 inch thick.
  4. Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add burgers and cook for about 2 minutes on each side for rare or 3 minutes for medium rare. Transfer burgers to a platter and top with Parmesan. Lightly toast buns. Spread a thin layer of onion jam on bottom buns. Top with pickle slices and burgers. Cover with top buns and serve.

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Summer Squash Casserole

August 23rd, 2016

Summer Squash Casserole 1

I remember when we had a garden and had to deal with the prolific profusion of yellow squash and zucchini.  Our lake house is too shady to support a garden these days, so I have to rely on friends, the Farmers’ Markets and the Supermarket for my squash.  You can never have too many summer squash recipes.  This one, that I adapted from The New York Times, is a winner.

Summer Squash Casserole 2v

The cooked and pureed yellow squash is combined with cheese and minced peppers, onions and flavoring and cooked in a custard of eggs and cream topped with buttered bread crumbs.  It makes a casserole that everyone will love.  It was easy to photograph too.  Photography has become important to me, although I’ve always had an interest.  I just found this early picture of myself and my Mom.  I was very proud of my new Brownie camera.

Christmas 1956

The intrepid girl photographer.  What memories this brings back.

Enjoy this summer squash casserole.  Your harvest will thank you for not wasting all of that bounty.

SUMMER SQUASH CASSEROLE ( The New York Times)

  • 2 pounds yellow summer squash
  • 7 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 4 slices plain white bread, toasted
  • 24 Ritz crackers, crumbed in food processor
  • ½ pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Cut the squash into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Cook in boiling, salted water until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Purée in a food processor.
  2. Melt 6 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and peppers and cook until just tender. Meanwhile, crumb the toast in a food processor, melt remaining butter and toss together.
  3. Mix the squash purée, onions, peppers, garlic, cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir in the eggs, cream, sugar and seasonings. Blend well. Pour into the baking dish. Top with bread crumbs and bake until browned, about 40 minutes.

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© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.