Potato Leek Soup (dairy free!)

We have so many baby leeks this week; we decided to make a batch of Potato Leek Soup.  Perfect for this damp weekend!  This version is dairy free, but feel free to add dairy if you prefer.  This soup freezes well.

4 tablespoon olive oil (or butter)
8-12 baby leeks, or 3 mature leeks – discard dark green leaves then rough chop into 1 inch lengths.
1 medium onion onion – rough chop
2 cloves garlic – rough chop
1 pound potatoes – peel and large dice
1 quart stock (chicken or veggie stock)
Herbs of your choice (parsley, thyme, etc.)

1. In a heavy soup pot, heat the oil, then saute Leeks, Onion and Garlic for about 10 minutes stirring frequently.
2. Add Stock, Potatoes and Herbs. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and cover. About 20 minutes.
3. Puree in the pot using a stick blender, or puree batch by batch in a regular blender.
4. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.  Thin the soup with a little bit of water, if you like a thinner soup.
5. Serve with your toppings of choice – chives, crème fraiche, etc.

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Buttermilk Vichyssoise with Watercress

Originating in France this probably seems like a strange combination – buttermilk and watercress but on a hot, humid day like today it really hits the spot!!!

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced into half-moons, washed well and drained
  • 3 large white potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 1/2 cups homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock
  • 3 cups cleaned watercress leaves, loosely packed
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk (or 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup half-and-half)
  1. Melt butter in a stockpot over medium-low heat. Add leeks, and cook, covered, until tender, about 15 minutes.

  2. Add potatoes, stock, and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil; simmer until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Cool completely; stir in 2 cups watercress.

  3. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender until smooth. Transfer pureed soup to a large bowl. Season with salt and white pepper. Stir in half-and-half, if using; chill at least 1 hour. Add buttermilk just before serving. Adjust seasoning as needed. If necessary, thin the soup with a bit more chicken stock or water to achieve desired consistency. Garnish with remaining cup watercress leaves.

Recipe source: Martha Stewart

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Hasselback Potatoes

This dish originated in Stockholm, Sweden and is named for the restaurant Hasselbacken where it was first served.

4 potatoes about 6 to 8 ounces each I like russets for this recipe but you can use other potatoes as well

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1/8 cup fresh finely grated parmesan cheese or romano cheese

¼ cup dry bread crumbs (you can used seasoned or plain)

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Sunflower oil or vegetable oil of your choice

Other tools that are helpful but not necessary: wooden chopsticks or spoons

Preheat oven to 450° degrees F. Oil a large shallow glass baking dish with the sunflower oil.  Rinse and scrub the potatoes thoroughly before using.

Cut a narrow 1/4-inch slice from the bottom of each potato – discard the slice.  This will help keep the potato from rolling around.  Place two long handled wooden chopsticks on each side of the potato lengthwise.  You can also use a spoon.  Using a sharp knife slice each potato crosswise, making 1/4-inch thick slices cutting down vertically until you hit the chopsticks or spoon.     The slices should stay connected at the bottom, and the chopsticks/spoon helps keep the depth even   As you finish cutting each potato, drop them into cold water to prevent discoloring. GENTLY flex the potato fans open while rinsing under cold running water.  This helps to remove excess starch that may keep potatoes from fanning out.  Place the grated cheese, bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon melted butter, paprika, and salt in a food processor; process until blended.  Place potatoes in the oiled baking dish.  Brush the potatoes with 2 tablespoons melted butter being sure to get butter down into the cracks of each one.   Season each potato with salt and pepper to taste.  Pat the prepared cheese/bread crumb mixture on top of each potato getting some down in between the cracks.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Remove the aluminum foil and bake an additional 15 minutes until they turn crispy and the flesh is soft.  Garnish with the fresh parsley if you like!  I personally do like!!

NOTES:  Most recipes tell you to peel the potatoes I don’t I like the crispy skin on them!

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Potato Kale Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
1 medium carrot, diced into 1/4-inch cubes (about 1 cup)
1 cup diced celery
1 medium potato, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups kale, rinsed, stems removed and chopped very fine
1 ½ tsp dried thyme
1 ½ tsp dried sage
salt and pepper to taste

Keeping vegetables separate – Chop garlic and onions. Dice carrots, celery and potatoes. In a medium sized pot add onions “sweat” over medium to high heat to bring out natural juices. Add diced carrots and celery cooking just enough to bring out natural juices. The veggies will become translucent in color. Add olive oil and garlic. Keep stirring. Sounds like a lot of work but it really isn’t I promise! Sauté about five minutes. Keep stirring! Add broth bring to a high boil then turn heat down and simmer about 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender, about 15 more minutes. Add kale and spices cook another 5 minutes. If you want to simmer for a longer time for extra flavor and richness, you may need to add a little more broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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Onion Pie

I submitted a recipe for onion pie to the New York Times for an article on onions.  This is their version of it here:

12 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces Saltine crackers (about 36)

1 1/2 pounds yellow onions, peeled, trimmed, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced (about 4 1/2 cups)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large eggs

3/4 cup heavy cream

4 ounces grated extra-sharp New York cheddar cheese (about 1 cup).

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a large skillet or sauté pan over low heat; set aside. In a food processor, pulse Saltines to fine crumbs and transfer to a medium bowl. Pour four tablespoons melted butter over crumbs and toss with fingertips or a rubber spatula until evenly coated. Press mixture firmly into a deep-dish 9-inch pie pan, using a second pie pan, if possible, to compact them evenly against bottom and sides of pan.

2. Reheat remaining melted butter in skillet over medium-high heat until frothy. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are evenly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer onions to pie pan, patting them down in an even layer on crust.

3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a whisk and add heavy cream and remaining salt, whisking gently to incorporate. Pour mixture slowly, in a thin stream, into center of onions in pie pan. Sprinkle grated cheese over top and place in oven. Bake until puffy and slightly browned on top, 30 to 35 minutes. Slice with a serrated knife into six wedges and serve.

Yield: 6 servings.

As printed in NY Times 10/24/2007  http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/24/dining/242orex.html?ref=dining&_r=0

Adapted from Cheryl Rogowski

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Creamy Potato Kale Soup

5 Tablespoons Butter
1 Large yellow onion – peel and chop roughly
3 large potatoes – peel if you want a pristine soup and chop roughly
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 to 3 cups of kale – stems removed and chopped
2 cups of milk
salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the chopped onions and potatoes. Saute until golden brown about 5 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add 6 cups of broth and all the kale. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes until the kale is soft and a darker green color. Transfer to a blender or use a stick immersion blender. Puree until the soup is smooth. Transfer the puree back to pot stir in the milk and as much broth as you need to get the desired consistency for your taste. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with sandwiches, hearty slices of bread

This recipe is very adaptable – add more herbs, use more potatoes, more kale, more broth, etc. The more kale you add, the more bright green your soup will be!

For a dairy free version – use russet potatoes – these are those famous idaho bakers they will thicken the soup and no need to add milk!!

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Caponata alla Siciliana

recipe submitted by Barb Simmons

Caponata is served as an appetizer at room temperature over bruschetta toasts, or as an addition to an antipasto platter with cold cuts and cheeses. It can jazz up an Italian “sangaweech” of salami, provolone and capicollo, and is also great served hot over pasta with pecorino cheese.

1/4 cup olive oil
1- 1 pound eggplant, peeled and cubed, small
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
1 green bell pepper, seeded and cubed
1 zucchini, large dice
2 stalks celery, large dice
1/2 onion, small dice
2 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

Heat the olive oil in a very large frying pan and throw in the eggplant. Sautée over high heat about 5 minutes and add in the rest of the above ingredients. Cook another 5 minutes, then cover and lower the heat, cooking for 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

1-2 tablespoons golden raisins or dried cranberries
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
2 tablespoons capers with one tablespoon of their brine
2 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup red wine
1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon oregano
2-3 leaves torn basil
salt & pepper

3-4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon snipped parsley
shaved parmigiano or pecorino cheese

Stir these ingredients into the vegetables above to blend well. Simmer together, covered, for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 10 minutes to reduce the juices and thicken. Allow to come to room temperature and top bruschetta toasts with the caponata, garnishing with the pine nuts, parsley and shaved cheese.

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