Winter Potato Soup

April 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Nothing says comfort after a hard day at work than a warm bowl of creamy hot potato soup.  It warms the body from the cold winter days and brightens the mood when the days seem so dark and long because the sun rises later and goes down earlier.  It makes all your worries go away, if only for the short time you are finishing every last drop from the bowl.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. of Yukon Gold potatoes (peel on and diced)
  • 2 bulbs of fennel (thinly sliced)
  • 3 leeks (thinly sliced and cleaned well)
  • olive oil
  • 2 boxes of vegetable broth
  • 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan/Romano grated cheese
  • salt and pepper
1.  Saute fennel and leeks in a dutch oven pot with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
2.  When the leeks and fennel have caramelized, add the diced potatoes and vegetable broth to the pot.  Cover and simmer until potatoes are cooked through.
3.  When the potatoes are cooked through, use a hand-held masher to mash-up the potatoes and thicken the soup.  When all of the potatoes are broken up, add the heavy cream and the Parmesan/Romano cheese.  Finish the soup up with salt and pepper to taste.
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Rustic Balsamic Potatoes

January 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

When looking for a fast and crowd pleasing side, I frequently turn to potatoes.  So when friends gathered at our place last weekend, I found myself wanting to dress the potatoes up without adding more prep time.  I decided to experiment with balsamic vinegar – it turns out that it gets along well with the potatoes, garlic, onions and spices in this recipe.

The idea behind this dish is to get the potatoes to a daringly dark color that toes the appearance of being burnt.  The balsamic adds an intense depth of flavor, as well as a glorious mahogany color to the plate.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion (cut into large pieces)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 1 cup of balsamic
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine ingredients in a baking dish and toss together.  Make sure that the olive oil and butter coat the potatoes evenly.  You will probably feel like you have added far too much balsamic vinegar, but not to worry – there is a method behind the madness!  The balsamic vinegar is what gives this dish character.

Place on top rack of preheated oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until top layer of potatoes appears very dark and almost burnt.

Remove from oven and toss.  Serve.

Sunday at the Farmers Market

July 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

I love summer at the farmer’s market because all the most amazing fruits and veggies are in season!  Don’t even get me started on the tomatoes… AMAZING!

Here are today’s gorgeous organic finds:

WeHo Farmer’s Market Finds

March 21, 2010 § Leave a comment

I recently moved from Marina del Rey to West Hollywood, so I was a little nervous and excited to visit my new West Hollywood Sunday farmers market (located on Melrose Place & Croft).  Would the selection be as great as it was at the Main St. market in Santa Monica?  Would the veggies be as fresh?  The wait was making me very excited!

Alas, Sunday morning I walked on over to the market — it was small with far fewer vendors than the Main St. one, but the selection was great!  I could not be happier.  The fact that it was small only made it easier to get in and out very quickly without wading through the typical crowd in Santa Monica.

Here are my finds from this week’s market trip:

Broccoli and Potato Cheese Soup Monday

March 16, 2010 § 1 Comment

A couple of weeks ago, I cooked broccoli as a side dish for dinner.  I bought too much broccoli and there was no way that my husband and I were going to eat it all before it decided to go bad.  I thought of what I could possibly cook with broccoli in the future….soup.  I decided to cook the broccoli, let it cool, bag it up, and put it in the freezer.

As I was trying to think of some sort of comfort food to make for my husband last night, I ran across potatoes on my counter, broccoli in my freezer, and a nice block of aged cheddar in my fridge.  As a kid, any form of potatoes and cheese were a tell-tell sign that my dad was going to be making potato cheese soup.  This recipe was born with his inspiration….

Ingredients:

3 large Yukon Gold potatoes or 4-5 medium potatoes

4 stalks celery

3 medium-sized carrots

1/2 Mayan sweet onion

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp. dried parsley (if using fresh parsley, you need to use more)

1 and 1/2  boxes of  Trader Joe’s vegetable broth

1 large head of broccoli, or 2 small heads, cut into small florets

1 Tbsp. corn starch

3/4 lb. cheddar cheese (I used Boxing Cheddar from Australia)

1 cup Trader Joe’s soy creamer (regular cream or half & half  is fine)

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Add the olive oil to a dutch oven, I use an All Clad cast iron dutch oven, or soup pot and heat on a medium to medium low heat.

2. Chop onions and add to the oil.  Sauté the onions (do not let them get brown and fried).  Dice the carrots and celery into evenly sized pieces and add them to the oil.  Add in the parsley and cook veggies for about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.

3. Add two boxes of vegetable broth to the pot.

4. Cut potatoes into evenly sized pieces and add them to the pot.  Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until potatoes are almost tender (the time will vary depending on how big you cut the potatoes).

5. When potatoes are almost done, add your broccoli.  Cook another 5-8 minutes or until broccoli and potatoes are tender.

6. Right now you have a great base for a vegetable soup, so step#6  makes this soup into a creamy cheesy bowl of goodness.  Add 1 cup of Trader Joe’s soy creamer.  I use soy creamer because it lightens up the soup, decreases the calories, and doesn’t make the soup so heavy.  You can use regular cream, half & half, or heavy whipping cream depending on how rich you want your soup.

7. In a small container, shake the cornstarch with the recommended amount of water (I use about 2 Tbsp).  The cornstarch will dissolve into the water and have a smooth consistency.  Add this mix to the soup to act as a thickening agent.

8. Add the grated cheddar cheese.  If you are using a sharp cheddar, you might want to add less cheese.  If you are using a mild cheddar, you might want to add more cheese.  To be on the safe side, add 1/2 cup of the grated cheese to the soup first, and then add more to taste.

9. Add salt and pepper to taste.

This soup pairs well with a rustic loaf of bread or homemade drop biscuits (as seen in the first picture of this post).  Enjoy!


Russian Roots Friday

February 12, 2010 § Leave a comment

This salad is very popular in Russian households, especially in the wintertime when roots (carrots, potatoes, beets, etc) are readily available.  Although this is a salad, it is definitely hearty enough to be served as a light dinner main course.  It is best served at room temperature or cold.

This recipe is quite simple and it is perfect for the end of the week because the roots you get at the farmers market will still be nice and fresh.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boiled potatoes (I used mini potatoes — you could use any size, just make sure they are young potatoes)
  • 4 boiled fist-sized beets
  • 1/2 lb boiled carrots (I used red carrots, but regular orange ones are fine too)
  • 1 cup peas (I used Trader Joe’s organic frozen peas)
  • 4 dill pickles or 1 large dill pickle
  • 2 small yellow onions OR 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 large APPLE (add it if you have it, it will change your life)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Note on boiled vegetables: In order to prepare the boiled vegetables, simply wash them and boil them in a large pot so that the water is always covering them.  Boil on medium for about 30-45 minutes.  Test with a fork to make sure they are cooked: stick a fork into the largest vegetable and if the fork slides in and out smoothly, they are done.

Do not worry about peeling anything before boiling.  It is much easier to peel them once they are cooked.  Once the vegetables are cooked, peel the beets and the carrots by simply scraping your knife over the skins until they come off.  See picture below.

Next, cut the vegetables, apple and pickles into 1/4″ pieces and combine in a bowl with peas, olive oil, salt and pepper:

Mix and serve.  (I can’t get over the beautiful color of the beets!)

Gold and Sweet Tain Friday

February 12, 2010 § 1 Comment

For the last two weeks, I have eyed the leeks that one of the vendors bring to the farmer’s market.  I decided to keep my eye out for a recipe that I will have to buy leeks for.  I didn’t want to make soup, and I wanted to use the leeks in an easy one dish recipe.   The February edition of Martha Stewart Living has a great recipe that uses leeks.  It is in an article that boasts a lighter take on comfort foods.

The tain has an interesting flavor because of the combination of Yukon Gold potatoes, sweet potatoes, green apple, leeks, and Gruyère cheese.  The apple helps keep the dish moist, so it doesn’t need  calories or fat from cream.

Recipe:  See Martha Stewart online.  Search Potato and Sweet potato Tain.

My husband and I really enjoyed this recipe, but next time I try it I would like to adjust it a little bit.  I want to try to substitute a mild blue cheese for the Gruyère and add a walnut bread crumb topping.  I would also like to try a layer of escarole on the bottom of the pan, to add a little bit of a pepper taste and some greens.  I’ll give it a try later this month and post how it went.  I am not sure if I can make a Marth Stewart recipe better, but I’m sure going to give it a try.

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