Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mashed Potato Soup

The French have a soup called Vichyssoise, where potatoes and leeks are pureed with cream and chicken stock. It is a very refined (almost snooty) dish that is actually very popular served cold. In Portugal, the most popular soup is called Caldo Verde which, like Vichyssoise, is made with pureed potato, but has other vegetables (like cabbage) and sausage added. This is a soup of the people - hearty and flavorful. I think I have found a way to combine the two styles. I use mashed potatoes instead of puree, since I like the added texture. I also use bacon bits (lardons in French) instead of sausage, but you could probably use any pork product you like!

Ingredients
  • 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 leeks, trimmed, washed, and chopped
  • 4 carrots, washed and diced small
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound washed, stemmed, and chopped kale (you could use cabbage or collard greens)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • white pepper
  • crispy crumbled bacon
Directions

Place potatoes in a medium saucepan. Add just enough broth to submerge and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat for 10-20 minutes, or until they are just cooked through, but not mushy or falling apart.

Meanwhile, melt the butter with the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, and onions with one teaspoon kosher salt. Sweat (no browning!) over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the leeks and carrots are softened.

When the potatoes are cooked, drain and reserve the broth. Mash the potatoes with a hand masher. Add to the pot with other softened vegetables along with all 4 cups of broth. Simmer, stirring gently, for 2 minutes or until everything is well integrated. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Add the kale and cook for 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until kale is just cooked (still firm, but not crunchy). Serve with a tablespoon of bacon crumbles on top of each bowl.

Monday, February 15, 2010

King Cake

Editor's Note: Consider yourselves lucky, since Valentines day is back-to-back with Carnivale season, you get two posts today. If I was a better editor, you would've had one (or both) of today's recipes last week, but c'est la vie!

Let the good times roll!! Today is Mardi Gras, which is French for "Fat Tuesday", referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before ritual fasting of the the Lenten Season, which starts on Ash Wednesday.

The king cake signifies the three kings who brought gifts to the baby Jesus, and is shaped to represent a crown. King cake season begins on Three Kings Day (Jan. 6th)

The colors symbolize: Purple - Justice, Green - Faith, and Gold - Power.

Whoever finds the baby hidden in the cake, becomes King/Queen for the day and makes the cake next year.



12 oz fat free cream cheese, softened
½ C. powdered sugar
¾ tsp. vanilla
3 Tbs granulated sugar
1 ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
Nonstick cooking spray
2 packages of 11 oz refrigerated French bread dough
Plastic baby or dried bean

Icing:
1 ½ powdered sugar
3. Tbs whole milk (half and half works)
Green, yellow, and purple sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
For filling, beat softened cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla in medium mixing bowl with electric mixer on low speed until smooth.
Blend sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl.
Lightly coat plastic cutting board or work surface with non stick cooking spray. Unroll 1 package refrigerated dough on to work surface. Unroll second package alongside first, over lapping slightly to make one long piece. Press along seam to seal well. Sprinkle dough evenly with cinnamon mixture. Spread cream cheese mixture length wise on dough, leaving 1 inch along the edge uncovered. Roll up dough, starting with cream cheese side. Pinch along seam to seal in filling. Place dough on prepared baking sheet and gently twist. Attach ends of dough pieces to form large twisted circle (to resemble crown); pinch tightly to seal ends together. Insert plastic baby/dried bean underneath dough.

For icing, combine powdered sugar and milk in a 2 cup measuring cup with spout, and stir until smooth. Drizzle icing evenly onto coffeecake. Sprinkle on colored sugars, alternating colors to make 3 sections of 3 colors each. Let coffee cake stand at least 1 hour to allow icing to firm up. Cut into 2-to 3- inch piece to serve.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Breakfast for your Muffin

I love themes. I thought it would be fun to do some holiday recipes. We'll start off with Valentine's Day. Treat your Sweetie to one of these delicious muffins. Sorry, it's late.

White Chocolate Chunk Muffins - For your honey with a sweet tooth.
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) plus 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped white chocolate

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease 12 jumbo (3 1/2) inch muffin pan cups.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
In a small bowl, combine buttermilk, butter, eggs, and vanilla until blended.
Stir into flour mixture just until moistened. Fold in white chocolate. Spoon into prepared muffins cups, filling 1/2 full.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on wire rack 10 minutes. Serve warm or cool completely.

Jake's tip: Cut it open and smear it with cream cheese. Yum!
Makes 12 large muffins

Ham & Cheese Corn Muffins - For those who prefer a more savory muffin
1 package (about 8 ounces)corn muffin mix
3/4 cup chopped deli ham
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup reduced fat milk
1 egg
1 tablespoon mustard regular or Dijon

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease muffin pan
In a medium bowl, combine muffin mix, ham and cheese. In a 1-cup glass measure, beat milk, egg, and mustard. Stir milk mixture into dry ingredients; mix until just moistened.

Spoon into prepared muffin cups, filling 2/3 full. Bake 18-20 or until light golden brown. Remove muffin pan to cooling rack. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Jake's tip: Cook up an egg, cut the muffin in half and enjoy your muffin sandwich.
Optional: In a double batch, we've also added canned diced green chiles

Makes 9 muffins

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chili Beef with Greens and Corn Casserole

One thing I love about cooking is unexpected combinations. In this case it is the flavor of chili-spiced ground beef mixed with the earthy flavors of collard greens. The results speak for themselves!

Ingredients
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 12 oz. extra lean ground beef
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • ¼ cup low-sodium salsa
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed corn kernels
  • 3 oz chopped collard greens, about ½ inch pieces (1 cup packed)
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup (1 oz.) shreddedsharp Cheddar cheese
  • tortilla strips / crushed chips
Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat a 12 inch skillet over medium heat and cook beef, stirring constantly, until no longer pink. Add chili powder, cumin, and salsa; cook and stir 1 minute and remove from heat.
Coat 8x8x2 inch baking pan with cooking spray. Place corn and collards in bottom of pan and toss to blend. Spoon beef mixture evenly over all, cover tightly with foil and bake 25 minutes or until collard are tender. Serve, topping each serving with 2 tablespoons sour cream and 1 tablespoon cheese. Garnish with tortilla strips.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Best Caramel Brownies ever!

A few years ago, I would get together with some ladies in the neighborhood for a weekly brunch. I planned themes for our brunches. One week, it was family favorites and Aubrie Ivie brought this delicious recipe to share with us.

Ingredients
  • 1 German Chocolate cake mix
  • 7 Tbs melted butter or margarine
  • 1/3 C evaporated milk
  • 1 cup of chocolate chips
  • 50-60 kraft caramels
  • ½ C evaporated milk
Directions

Preheat oven to 325. Mix together cake mix, butter and 1/3 C evaporated milk. Pat ½ of the mixture into the bottom of a 9” x 13” pan. Bake for 7-8 minutes.

In a separate microwavable bowl, combine the caramels and ½ C. evaporated milk. Melt mixture in the microwave, stirring every 1-2 minutes until smooth.

Remove the cake from the oven & sprinkle chocolate chips over the top of the baked cake. Pour the caramel mixture over the chocolate chips. Sprinkle the remaining cake mixture over the top. Bake for another 18 minutes. Cool and serve.