Friday, October 24, 2014

Potato Leek Soup

307. A fall favorite soup always contains potato and cheddar cheese.  You could almost call this soup "Loaded Potato Soup".  I enjoyed a bowl the next day for a private lunch at the snack bar which in fact tasted even better a day later.
 Here is my recipe for Potato Leek Soup

15 medium potatoes or 8 large, peeled and diced
2 leeks, cut lengthwise and in half placed in a cold water bath to remove sand.  Chop leeks into pieces
Fresh dill chopped, approximately ⅛ cup
Salt & Pepper to taste
water
2 cups whole milk
2  cups shredded cheddar cheese
olive oil
butter as much or as little as you prefer (Butter makes everything better!)
1 lb bacon, fried till crisp and set aside

In a large 8 quart pot place olive oil and bring up heat.  Add diced potatoes and stir allowing some potatoes to lightly brown.  Add chopped leek and half of the dill.  Pour in water to cover potatoes till floating.  Bring to a boil then turn down to simmer till potatoes are tender.  Turn soup off till ready to serve.  15 minutes before serving turn heat back on and add milk, butter and cheddar cheese.  Bring soup temperature back up to just about boiling.  Add another pinch of dill and transfer to serving tureen.
 Serve soup and have crispy bacon bits as an add on as well as fresh chopped dill.
This soup is simplistic yet tastes sophisticated and has a depth of flavor and textures.
"A potato is like a garden carried in the pocket."
~Ancient Irish proverb for gardening - circa 100bc

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Marinara Sauce

 306.  This summer my tomatoes grew exceptionally well.  So well that the neighborhood squirrels had a steady diet of my little red beauties!
 When I make my homemade fresh tomato sauce I use my blender.  I remember my mom processing tomatoes for hours.  Boiling the water.  Dropping the tomatoes in the water then plunging them into an ice bath to stop the cooking process.  Then laboriously peeling each tomatoes and then squeezing every last bit of liquid and seeds from the centers.  There was just as much waste from the tomatoes as there were tomatoes to cook.
 My logic has been…the seeds and skin carry just as much nutrition as the pulp of the tomato.  So, I just wash each tomato, whole and cherry, and cut them in chunks, then fill up my blender.
 The blender does a wonderful job of mincing every bit of skin and seed that you would not know the difference.  And the texture is very smooth and consistent.
 Once it has processed till all the little bits disappear, it will seem foamy and the color turns pink.
 I prepare a large 6-8quart pot by sautéing in olive oil 1 large onion chopped and 4 cloves of garlic minced.  Once you pour the liquid tomato puree into the pot, bring it to a rolling boil and continue with the remaining tomatoes.
 The color red returns quickly with the heat.  I then chop fresh parsley, oregano and basil.  One to two cans of tomato paste.  Add teaspoon of sugar, salt and pepper and sometimes a pinch of red pepper flakes.
 Bring all to a boil, then turn down to simmer for about 60 minutes stirring every so often.  Taste to adjust the seasoning and if you would like to add more of the ingredients have fun!  I have even added chopped up veggies from my garden such as squash, green bean, peppers or eggplant.  Once it has cooked and the seasoning is perfect you can serve it with pasta or pour the hot sauce into sterilized jars and place sterilized lids on top.  Within minutes you will hear the seals pop and your sauce is ready to store away in a cool place until you need it.  For canning I use both canning jars and mayonnaise jars, which are a perfect size and the special canning lids fit just right!
"The federal government has sponsored research that has produced a tomato that is perfect in every respect, except that you can't eat it.  We should make every effort to make sure this disease, often referred to as 'progress', doesn't spread."
~Andy Rooney

"I don't care what anybody says:  Nothing is better than a tomato you grow.  There's something about it that's different than a tomato you can buy.  It's a great thing."
~T. Vilsack

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Stuffed Zucchini

305.  Zucchini is such a bountiful diverse vegetable.  With such a mild flavor and texture, it can camouflage as sweet or savory.
 When a zucchini makes its way into my kitchen, my favorite way of preparing it is with a savory meat stuffing.
 I cut it length wise and scrape out the center seed section creating a trough.
 Next, ground meat is mixed with either 1 cup of rice or 1 cup of seasoned breadcrumbs, 1 large egg, 1 large onion chopped, 2 cloves garlic minced, salt and pepper, parsley, ¼ cup parmesan cheese.  Mix together till blended.
 You can place the extra pieces of zucchini around the bottom of the baking dish.
 Fill the trough with the meat mixture and spread evenly mounding the meat.
 If there is extra meat I make meatballs and place them in the baking dish as well.
 I use marinara sauce, this sauce I canned this summer from my wonderful tomato harvest.
 I pour the sauce around the zucchini and lightly cover the meat.
 I cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.  Then remove the tinfoil and place mozzarella cheese across the meat and place it back in the oven till melted.
I serve it with pasta and the sauce from the baking dish.  The zucchini and meat render beautiful flavors into the sauce. It is delicious, hardy and a delightful spin on Italian meatloaf.  A one casserole meal.
"Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie."
~J. Davis

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Carolina Hash

304.  There is nothing like a lazy afternoon in South Carolina.  The crickets singing, light breeze rustling the trees and barbecue on the menu.
 Our ventures took us south to "The Low Lands" which the locals affectionately call South Carolina. We loved the laid back atmosphere and lazy "drawl".  The roadside antique vendor mentioned "Y'all must not be from around these parts."  Our accents gave us away.  We enjoyed the rest and relaxation, not to mention all the good food!
A great restaurant was  The Pompous Pig in Anderson, SC. We saw on the chalk board a special of Carolina Hash.  Ordered with curiosity, we didn't want a tasteful opportunity to pass by.
We learned that most people "up north" have never heard of hash.  And that this particular hash was developed as a "stick to your ribs" kind of meal to keep farmers full, satisfied and nourished.  I researched Carolina Hash and found quite an interesting array of recipes.  You can find a few here on the Taste Of Home Community Forum.
 I must say this was the best surprise.  The Carolina Hash was so memorably delicious...with every bite you could taste new surprises and flavors.  I would have been satisfied to walk out right then and there.
It was served in a bowl and topped with white rice, a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with cheddar cheese.  There were bits of pork, chicken, potatoes and tomatoes. It was like heaven in your mouth!
We also ordered other items...but the Carolina Hash stole the blue ribbon!

Our other choices were Brunswick Stew, very delicious!

BBQ Ribs with sides of Potato Salad, Baked Beans and
THE BEST CORNBREAD EVER MADE!!!
 I kid you not!  It was perfect...no butter or honey needed.  It was tender, perfectly sweet/salty and was not grainy.  I would pay for their recipe!
The BBQ Sauce on the tables was so good with a Tomato BBQ, Mustard BBQ, Bourbon BBQ and a sumptuous Vinegar Aju, which was my personal favorite!
Pulled Pork with Mashed Potato Bake and Fried Okra with Cole Slaw.  All served in a red basket lined with checkered paper.  A roll of paper towels on each table and sweet southern waitresses asking "How's your meal?  Everythin' alright?"
If you are ever in South Carolina, you have to eat at The Pompous Pig!  Very memorable eating experience.  I would drive all night for Carolina Hash and Cornbread!

"A Southern Lady - Someone who...has a pitcher of sweet tea at the ready.  Guards her recipe for Pimento Cheese.  Always writes a Thank-You Note.  Has monogrammed guest towels.  Bakes pies for her neighbors.  Knows pearls match everything.  Thinks smocked dresses and hair bows are simply darlin'.  Arranges hydrangea from her garden. Is always blessin' someone's heart."
~ Anonymous Southerner 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sofi's Crepes

303.  If you love crepes you must try a Sofi Crepe from Annapolis, MD.  Located on Craig Street by the United States Naval Academy, Sofi is a walk-up storefront selling made-to-order crepes both savory and sweet.  
You place your order then watch the crepe artist make your crepe right before your eyes.
The smell is intoxicating and you can't help but get excited.
The crepe comes wrapped in a foil wrapper and is hot and steamy.  
You can find the website here:  Sofi's Crepes
And the menu:  Sofi's Crepe Menu
Tables and chairs are located along the sidewalk just a stones throw away from the Naval Academy.
The town is a quaint nautical port with archaic buildings and history down every street.
We parked our car and walked around.
 It is a great day trip and there are delicious restaurants and great shopping down each street.
Sofi's actually has 6 locations around Maryland.  See the locations here:
"...sprinkled with sugar and eaten hot, they form an exquisite dish.  they have a golden hue and are tempting to eat.  Thin and transparent like muslin, their edges are trimmed to resemble fine lace.  They are so light that after a good dinner, a man from Agen is still willing to sample three to four dozen of them!  Crêpes form an integral part of every family celebrations."
~Anatole France

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sausage Gravy and Biscuits

302.  Hi Y'all!  While vacationing in the South, we enjoyed several Southern comfort foods. BBQ Ribs, Southern Fried Chicken and of course Biscuits.  I found a wonderful biscuit flour mix that we fell in love with.
You just add milk and work the dough as usual following the directions.  They were beautiful! And delicious!
Many years ago a dear sweet southern lady taught me the basics of a good sausage gravy.  I have not forgotten. So in Katie Rudisill's honor, Sausage Gravy was on our breakfast menu.
SAUSAGE GRAVY 

2 lbs original pork sausage, Jimmy Dean or Bob Evans (The better the brand the less fat content)
2 - 3 Tablespoons flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
2 - 3 cups whole milk, start with 2 and add more to stretch the recipe or make it thinner
Optional: Original Tabasco sauce couple splashes

Sauté the sausage in a large deep skillet till brown.  Drain the sausage and place in a bowl.  Set aside. In the frying pan of reserved fat drippings heat till sizzling.  Add the flour one tablespoon at a time and whisk the flour to avoid lumps forming.  Continue to simmer till flour begins to lightly brown and bits on the bottom of pan are loosened.  Slowly add the milk and continue to whisk.
Lower heat and whisk till a light boil and beginning to thicken. Then introduce the reserved cooked sausage back into the skillet.
Stir together.  Test for seasoning and continue to cook for 5 more minutes or till gravy has come to just about a boil.  Place in a serving bowl or tureen.
Serve with fresh hot biscuits. 
Break open a hot biscuit. Place open sides up on your plate and pour the sausage gravy over the biscuit.  Now that is good eatin'!

"I'm good at anything that's country - biscuits, gravy, chicken-fried steak. Look at me, for God's sake.  I cook what I like to eat."
~Blake Shelton

" There's nothin' worse than sausage gravy that is white as a sheet and you can barely find a trace of meat, or was that a lump o' flour?"
~Anonymous Southerner 

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