Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

January 19th, 2015

Sweet Potato Soup 1

It has been quite a week.  Even with a simple kitchen remodel, daily tasks can revert to chaos.  We were able to use our kitchen during the facelift, but because of a leak under the sink, washing dishes was a problem.  I ended up washing dishes in the sink in the garage.  We have eaten simple soups, grilled steaks with baked potatoes and homemade pizza.  This sweet potato soup was one of my favorites.  Not only was it easy, but it was delicious.  When you are in the middle of a project, cooking sweet potatoes in the microwave is a blessing.  Add them to some chicken broth, seasonings, and a quick whir in the immersion blender and dinner is ready.  The bacon, shaved parmesan and parsley is just an added bonus if you have the time.

Florida Kitchen New

Here is a sneak peek of the kitchen remodel.  I will show you more later because not everything is finished.  The contractors were one door short on  the order.  The cabinet to the right of the stove is missing a door.  We also need the contractors to come back to re-adjust shelf heights in one cabinet.  Other than that, we are very pleased with the results.  The cabinets are a shaker style with a subtle bead board panel inset in each door.  To break things up, I requested glass doors in the cabinet over the dishwasher.  I store all of my glassware and cream colored dishes there.   Because we still have soffits over the cabinets, I decided to get creative on top.  I bought inexpensive corrugated metal letters spelling out “Dinner” to add an industrial element to the design.  I already had a “Bon Appetit” sign and black and cream plates on the other wall above the stove.  More later.

Sweet Potato Soup 2

This creamy sweet potato soup came together so quickly, that I thought to myself,” I need to have these ingredients on hand at all times for a quick and easy meal”.  David is not always a fan of sweet potatoes, but this soup convinced him otherwise.  It is thick and hearty.  The crisp bacon and Parmesan shavings complement the whole bowl to perfection.

On another note, hold all of your family and friends close.  We have just lost a dear friend from our college years to cancer.  John will be missed.  My, where have the years gone and why do we have to start dealing with the lose of friends?  I am not ready.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm.

CREAMY SWEET POTATO SOUP ( Cooking Light )

2 pounds sweet potatoes, halved lengthwise (about 2 large)
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups unsalted chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon salt ( I added more )
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, shaved (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley leaves

Place potatoes, cut sides down, in an 11 x 7-inch microwave safe baking dish.  Add 1/4 cup water; cover with plastic wrap.  Microwave at HIGH 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Cool slightly; discard potato skins.

Heat a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Add onion; saute 1 minute or until translucent.  Stir in cumin and red pepper.  Add stock to pan; bring to a boil.  Add sweet potatoes and gently mix in breaking them up slightly.  I used an immersion blender to puree the mixture.  If you do not have an immersion blender,  mix half of the mixture at a time in a blender or food processor until smooth.  Return to pan to reheat.

Divide soup evenly among 4 to 6 bowls; sprinkle cooked bacon and Parmesan cheese evenly over top.  Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Printable Recipe

 

Venetian Fish Soup

December 3rd, 2014

Venetian Fish Soup 1

I don’t know about you, but after the Thanksgiving holidays I crave food that is totally different from that table of white carbs and sweet desserts.  Also, for health reasons, David is trying to eat better.  So he has been on a seafood soup kick lately.  He spends his mornings at the gym and then comes home and throws something together like this Venetian fish soup.  Similar to bouillabaisse or cioppino, this fragrant fish soup is vibrant and alive with flavor.

Venetian Fish Soup 2V

Shrimp and fish fillets are the protein in this soup.  Combined with vegetables, clam juice, crushed tomatoes and white wine, you have a relatively light bowl of goodness.  If you wanted to add some carbs to the mix you could add a piece of garlic infused toasted baguette to the bowl before you add the soup.  But for lunch we liked it just the way that it was.

Venetian Fish Soup 3

The recipe came from Food and Wine Magazine.  David adapted it slightly.  But I am showing it here as it was written.  I am fortunate to have him in the kitchen doing his healthy cooking.  Maybe it will offset all of the cookies I am getting ready to make.

VENETIAN FISH SOUP

1/2 pound large shrimp, shells removed and reserved
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups bottled clam juice
2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in puree (from a 28-ounce can)
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt or more, depending on the saltiness of the clam juice
2 bay leaves
2 pounds moderately firm white fish fillets such as cod, halibut, ocean perch, orange roughy, or pollack (cut in pieces)
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the shrimp shells and the water in a small pot; bring the water to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl.  Discard the shells.

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat.  Add the carrots, onions, fennel, celery and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine; cook until it almost evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the shrimp stock, clam juice, tomatoes, red-pepper flakes, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the thyme, salt and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.  Taste for salt and, if needed, add more,  Remove the bay leaves.

Add the fish, shrimp, the remaining tablespoon parsley and the pepper to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the fish and shrimp are just done, about 2 minutes.

Printable Recipe

Onion Tart

November 19th, 2014

Onion Tart 1

I am still enthralled with Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France, so bear with me for another recipe from this astounding cookbook.  To quote Mimi, ” I always have a big bowl of onions on my kitchen table in various shades and sizes.  To me they are as beautiful as any vase of flowers and as necessary as running water or a working stove”.  This tart transforms the essential onion into an even more beautiful presentation.  Besides that, it is easy.

Onion Tart 2V

I used a store-bought puff pastry for the crust.  The combination of slow cooked onions, balsamic vinegar, honey and bacon make for a flavorful topping.  I would even consider serving this cut into small pieces as an appetizer for Thanksgiving.

Onion Tart 3

Mimi made her tart in a 10-inch round tart pan.  I have this 7.5″ x 11.5″ rectangular pan that I thought made it very festive.  Although I loved this tart there are a few changes I would make next time.  I thought the amount of oil, butter and bacon grease made it a bit too full of fat.  Also if your tart pan has a removable bottom, I would put it on a cookie sheet because the fat leaked out of the bottom.  But the flavor was sublime.  This is the kind of dish that I would choose for a light supper with a salad and a glass of wine or as the aforementioned appetizer.

ONION TART

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling ( I would suggest 1 tablespoon )
2 tablespoons unsalted butter ( I would suggest 1 tablespoon )
3 1/2 ounces bacon, cut into lardons or diced
1 pound onions, thinly sliced ( I used 3 onions )
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
All-purpose flour for rolling the dough
8 ounces puff pastry, homemade or store-bought

Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add the bacon and fry until browned, about 3 minutes.  Lower the heat to medium-low, add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Add the honey, balsamic vinegar, and thyme, increase the heat to high, and boil to reduce for 2 to 3 minutes.  Take off the heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick.  Line a 10-inch tart pan with the pastry and prick the bottom several times with a fork.  Trim the edges.  Scoop the onion mixture into the tart shell.  ( Place on baking sheet ).  Bake until the pastry is crisp and golden, about 20 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes before drizzling with olive oil ( If needed ) and serving.

Printable Recipe

 

Candied Spiced Almonds

November 4th, 2014

Sugar Spiced Nuts 2

You may remember that in this post I suggested that everyone should have an “in house” recipe for flavored nuts.  I have finally found my favorite nut recipe that will be on my appetizer table all through the holidays.  It will also be in cellophane bags as gifts to friends and neighbors for Christmas.  It doesn’t hurt that the recipe came from David Lebovist via Susan Herrmann Loomis of On Rue Tatin fame.

Sugar Spiced Nuts 3V

This is a recipe that requires your complete attention from the very start.  You cannot leave the almonds alone in the pan until they are done.  Susan has a very complete detailed description of how you should caramelize them, so I will not include the recipe here.  I found that it was very easy to follow her directions with pictures of each step.  You can go to her post here.

Sugar Spiced Nuts 1

These nuts keep in a covered container for up to two weeks and freeze well.  I feel secure that I will have them available for both planned and unplanned get togethers.  You need to make these candied spiced nuts this holiday season.  You will not be disappointed.  The recipe calls for piment d’espelette.  I used crushed red pepper flakes.  Would love to hear from you if you make them.  They are addictive.

Ribollita – Tuscan Vegetable and Bread Soup

October 24th, 2014

Ribollita 1

Ribollita is a classic Tuscan peasant soup.  It utilizes stale bread and inexpensive winter vegetables.  Translated ribollita means “reboiled”.   Many times left-over minestrone was used as its base.  I admire the frugality of this soup because it also offers a wealth of nutrient rich vegetables.  Leafy kale (cavalo nero in Tuscany), savoy cabbage, carrots, potatoes, celery,cannellini beans and tomatoes are all part of the ingredients.  The stale bread stretches it to feed many.  I was inspired to make this soup because I had a left-over chunk of the wonderful Parmesan bread that I made in my last post.  It was perfect for this soup; a little dense and full of Parmesan flavor.

Ribollita 2

I reviewed several recipes for ribollita.  Some included pancetta or bacon, some added garlic and rosemary, but I went with a classic recipe from Gabriele Corcos, who with his wife Debi Mazar, has the cooking show Extra Virgin on the Cooking Channel. Gabriele is a native of Tuscany.  For me, this hearty soup had a depth of flavor that emanated from the vegetables.  The tomatoes were kept to a minimum and water was used instead of broth to flavor the soup.  So the overall flavor was mild with a rich earthy vegetable taste.  This is most likely the way it was made originally.  My husband decided he needed some meat, so added sauteed sausages to his soup.

Ribollita 3

This soup is very forgiving of any ingredients that you may want to add, and I have decided that I will be hoarding stale bread just for the purpose of making it.  Warm, filling, delicious and good for you.  You couldn’t ask for more.

David Cooking

Today is David’s birthday.  Happy birthday to my partner, soul mate and best friend.  As you can see we have a lot in common.  But I don’t mind sharing kitchen space with him.

RIBOLLITA (Adapted from Extra Virgin by Gabriele Corsos and Debi Mazer)

8 ounces dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight in cold water to cover (Or 1-15 ounce can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans)*
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 bunch Tuscan kale or regular kale, leaves, removed and roughly chopped
1/2 head savoy cabbage, roughly chopped
1 (15 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 pound stale country style bread (I used 1/3 of a loaf of Parmesan bread), cut into cubes

Rinse and drain the soaked beans.  Bring a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot full of water to a boil.  Add the beans, making sure they’re covered by a few inches of water, and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook for at least 1 hour, salting the water after 40 minutes, until tender.  Drain the beans and set aside.

In an 8-quart pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot.  Add the carrots, onion, and celery and saute’ for 8 to 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent but not golden.  Add the potatoes, kale and cabbage and saute’ for about 5 minutes, until the cabbage is wilted.

Add the tomatoes, breaking them up with a wooden spoon and the drained beans.  Add enough water to cover the ingredients, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes, until it thickens considerably.

Add the bread and continue cooking for another 30 minutes , until the crust of the bread begins falling apart.*  If using canned beans add them when you add the bread.

Serve in bowls with an extra drizzle of olive oil.  Serves 6.

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