Friday, December 10, 2004

Potato Leek Soup

Ok, so it's still 75 degrees out at night here, but it was cloudy today--that qualifies as soup weather, right?

When we were at the new Whole Foods the other night, I noticed that they had some fine looking leeks--much broader and healthier looking that at those other grocery stores. I found myself downtown today, so I decided to go back for the leeks, and some boutique bacon. And some sourdough bread that was still warm.

Anyway, here's the potato leek soup recipe. I'm sure you could leave out the bacon, but I don't want to hear about it.

Trim the white to light green ends from the leeks, split them, and rinse them thoroughly. Chop them relatively finely.

Peel and roughly chop about a pound of potatoes. I used yukon golds because they were sprouting in my cabinet. I'm guessing it was a pound. It was a pile of chopped potatoes about the same size as the pile of chopped leeks.

Slice three strips of bacon into half inch pieces. Toss them in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Render the fat and remove the crisped bacon.

Add the leeks and saute until they begin to soften and turn translucent, adding ground pepper as you go. Add the potatoes, followed by enough chicken stock to cover. Simmer (boil if you're hungry and impatient) until potatoes are fork tender.

I happen to have a stick blender around (thanks to my ever-thoughtful friends). If you do too, pulse that soup up. If you don't, a potato masher works fine. After you get a consistency you're happy with, add about a quarter cup heavy cream--or just serve as is, topped with the crispy bacon pieces. Some bread never hurt either.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Garden update

My garden is coming along nicely. Last week I harvested two heads of romaine. Probably another one due this week. I'm also getting ready to transplant some Thai basil. The first of the shallots have sprouted, and the chamomile looks to be making a comeback. I'm not sure if I'll get any eggplants this time around, but it seems that at least one of the plants has finally gotten adjusted, as it has begun putting up new leaves and blossoms. The broccoli has a head about the size of a softball.


Thai chile.

Young onions

One lonely little snow pea.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

More sausages...

Upon returning from his Thanksgiving vacation, John presented me with a coil of Italian sausage the size of a hubcap. Regretably, I have no pictures. You'll just have to believe me. I took the sausage out of its casing, browned it, and added it to a basic tomato sauce, along with some sauted yellow peppers. The sauce was then tossed with roughly a pound of penne, put into a large shallow baking dish, covered with mozzarella and oregano, and then baked. Just that simple.

Thanksgiving fallout

Yeah, I know this post is almost a week late, but I've been Really, beginning with last Thursday's dinner, I've been on sort of a roll as far as dinners are concerned. It's amazing I can still close the fridge.

Thanksgiving dinner was a small affair--a chicken roasted atop carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onions, garlic and apples, a bread and dried fruit stuffing, Renee's cranberry sauce, and a pecan pie.

As it was only four of us dining, there was some chicken left over. I took advantage of that by making a recipe from a NYT thanksgiving leftover article from 1993. The original recipe was, of course, for turkey enchiladas with mole, but the chicken worked just as well. A rather simple mole recipe, most of the action takes place in a blender. I began by toasting and boiling six ancho chiles. I really need to start using these more. Every time I do, I realize what a wonderful flavor and color they have. Toasting them in the cast iron skillet, their black-purple flesh gives of a wonderful aroma, almost like spicey-smokey raisins. After the chiles had softend up in the boiling water, I stemmed and seeded them. I then blended them with toasted sesame seeds, ground cloves, cinnamon, and allspice, canned tomatoes, melted unsweetened chocolate, half a banana, and some of the boiling liquid. The result is a fragrant, mahogany colored sauce--both sweet and hot. I rolled the pulled chicken meat in steamed corn tortillas along with some jack cheese and onions, covered the rolls with mole and baked them in the skillet.

Since I now have epazote growing in my garden, I made some black beans as well. I charred a whole onion and a whole head of garlic in the skillet, then added them to a pound of dried black beans, already boiling with the epazote. With some rice, it made a pretty good meal for starting with leftovers. Really, the leftover chicken was just an excuse to make the mole, which I still have plenty of in the freezer. More to follow on the garden and the epazote.