Monday, September 10, 2012

Recipe: Potato Leek Soup

I just plucked the first two leeks out of the garden and I think its time to make my favorite soup above all....potato leek. Its a little chilly out tonight and fall is in the air so whats better than a nice warm yummy soup for dinner. Depending on taste you can either leave it chunky or I puree it in a blender or you can use a stick emulsion blender. Don't use a food processor it will make a mess and it will make glue. So here is my recipe I hope you enjoy!
my beautiful homegrown leeks!


2 medium or 1 large Leek
2  lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes
1 32 oz box of chicken stock or homemade if you have it
2 tbs butter
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup Half and Half

1) Prep Veggies:  Cut the tough green leaves and the stem end off leaving all the white and a couple of nice inches of the green. I usually split mine down the middle lengthwise and the slice into 1/2" half moons. Leeks are notoriously dirty so after I slice them I wash them well making sure to get rid of all the dirt and sand attached. Peel Potatoes and cut into a medium nice about 1/2 inch or so.

everything melding together in butter.

2) Heat butter over medium low heat. Once it is slightly brown toss in leeks with a about a 1/4 tsp of salt. Cook leeks about 5-7 minutes add diced potatoes and continuing cooking stirring all together for another 3 or 4 minutes. Add chicken stock, 1/4 tsp salt and a few grindings of black pepper (to taste) and cook for 30 minutes over medium low heat stirring occasionally or until the potatoes are fork tender.

potatoes almost tender

3) Once the potatoes are tender add the cream over low heat bring back to heat but do not boil. At this point you can serve it as is or puree until smooth. My husband hates smooth soups and I hate chunky ones so after I add the cream using a ladle take a couple of cups of the soup and puree it in a blender then add some back to thicken his version and eat the rest as is for myself. Taste before serving adjusting salt and adding more black pepper to finish.
the chunky version
the smooth yummy version

This soup can also be served cold in summer in the French manner of Vichyssoise.  This can also be made with vegetable stock or even water and the cream too is optional but its yummy! Likewise the butter can be swapped for an oil of choice if dairy is a concern. Trust me its good in any shape or form!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Recipe: Mixed Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce

Okay its that time of year where you might have a surplus of cherry tomatoes in your garden or maybe you bought too many of the tempting little devils at the farmers market this weekend. We ended up not selling all of ours and there were too many to eat so while I was putting up sauce for this winter I made a batch using the excess cherries. Now we have a mix of several different kinds including, red zebra, blush, black cherry, tomatoberry, sakura, a small paste tomato but any mix will do. I did include a can of diced tomatoes too to give it a little more body since the cherry tomatoes aren't as meaty as a regular tomato.
the cherry tomatoes on display at market!

3 pints mixed cherry tomatoes, washed stems removed
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes (or whatever you have on hand)
1 large garlic clove sliced
3 tbl olive oil
1 tsp salt or to taste or salt conscious
1/4 tsp hot pepper flakes
basil of choice (I used fino verde because I had it left over and the leaves are so small it needs no chopping!

Heat olive oil in a sauce pan toss in garlic and brown very slightly. Toss in cherry tomatoes and stir to incorporate over low to medium heat. 
The cherries getting yummy with the garlic and evoo. The pan is dirty from the previous batch of sauce but i just wiped it out figuring the remnants would just add flavor.

Cook for 5-10 minutes until cherries start to break down. Once they have starting to let off their juice add the diced tomatoes salt and pepper flakes and wine. Continue cooking over low heat stirring occasionally for 45 minutes. Now depending on your likes and dislikes you can either leave the sauce as it is use for dinner freeze for later or if you are into canning can it for winter. I however abhor seeds and skins cant stand em not a one so I pass my finish product through a food mill to achieve a nice consistent seed free sauce. If you want it a bit smoother but not as nutty as I am you can also use a potato masher to get a finer consistency.

Finished product if you like it chunky.

Post production notes when I tasted the sauce it was sweeter than I expected so I added a bit more salt again up to you! I would add basil here at the end if this is as far as you want to go with it. Use the Fino Verde its pretty awesome leaves so small they really don't require any knife work which I think benefits the taste. If you are crazy like me and like no seeds this is what it looks like after I passed it through a food mill I at first didn't use the smallest disc I had and it let the smaller cherry tomato seeds through so I had to change discs and use the smallest I had which turned out just fine.
Finished product after being run through the finest disc on a food mill. As you can see the color is a little lighter due to the different color tomatoes used. 
Riff on this recipe which came to me when I took this picture. After the tomatoes start to breakdown add a 1/2 cup or so of chicken stock cook as above add some cream and some black pepper and you would probably have a seriously tasty tomato soup.