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
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


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