Monday, September 28, 2015

Julia Child's Potato Leek Soup

I often try numerous Potato Soup recipes because I find them to be such "comfort" food and when our evening and morning temperatures start to cool Potato Soup is one of my go to recipes.

I have a recipe that my mother handed down to me but it uses a good bit of  butter and evaporated milk. While that is the ultimate "comfort" food to me since it was my mother's, I am always on a search for something lighter and I have found a delicious alternative.

"Julia Child's Potato Leek Soup"
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canolla or grapeseed oil
1 to 5 medium russet potatoes, 1 pound peeled and roughly chopped
3 large leeks, 1 pound cleaned and thinly sliced
6 cups vegetable stock or light chicken stock
Kosher salt, to taste
1 to 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup crème fraiche
1/3 cup minced parsley or chives
Heat the oil in a large 6 quart stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the leek and potato. Cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have begun to soften and brown slightly, about 8 to 12 minutes.
Add the vegetable stock or chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Blend until smooth using an immersion blender or by carefully transferring to a blender in batches.
Add the cream and season to taste with salt and lemon juice.
Ladle into bowls and garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche and a healthy sprinkling of minced parsley.
My Notes: I used Chicken Stock for this recipe and also used olive oil instead of the lighter oils recommended. I also want to add that I am a huge believer in that your dish is only as good as the ingredients you use. Don't skimp on ingredients, there is a big taste difference in different products.
My favorite chicken stock,
First of all, when our calendar turns to September my Pumpkin Staub Pot immediately makes it's way to my cooktop. I leave it out until after Thanksgiving just as I do most all of my Fall décor. It makes a great pot of soup too.
I love the smell of those leeks sautéing away and I also love cooking with leeks, a mellower onion. 
This soup is such a simple soup with lots of flavor and it went together so quickly.
I chose not to garnish with parsley or chives but instead gave it a dollop of crème fraiche which imparts a subtle tangy taste and a drizzle of Black Truffle Oil. Black Truffle Oil puts any kind of cream soup over the top and adds an elegance to a simple everyday soup. I am a huge fan of Black Truffle Oil.
 Paired with a simple Mixed Green Salad, a glass of your favorite white wine and you have a very satisfying but yet elegant dinner. "Comfort" food at it's best and you could never go wrong with a recipe of Julia Child's. I highly recommend this soup.
I am linking this post to Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee at Rattlebridge Farm. Click HERE to see other wonderful recipes shared.
Thank you for visiting my blog and I hope you will come again.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Summer Harvest Pasta

Recently a blogging friend posted the recipe for "Summer Harvest Pasta" and I knew immediately that I MUST try this recipe ASAP. I was not disappointed, it was as Susan shared, absolutely delicious. I have never prepared one of her recipes that I did not like and she has an amazing blog, Savoring Time In The Kitchen. Click HERE to visit her blog.

Summer Harvest Pasta
Recipe adapted from William Sonoma

Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 lb. Penne Pasta
6 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
Fresh Kernels cut from 2 ears of corn
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4-6 small zucchini, about 2 lb. total, cut into half-moons
1/2 yellow onion, diced
4 tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoons sliced or grated garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
2 ounces Parmigiona-Reggiano cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400*F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Generously salt the water, add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just barely tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.

In a 12-inch oven proof sauté pan over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the corn, season with salt and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn is lightly golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Return the pan to medium heat and heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Working in batches, add the zucchini, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is tender and golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add to the bowl with the corn. Repeat with the remaining zucchini, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

Set the pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion , 1 teaspoon of salt and black pepper, to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes soften and begin to form a sauce, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced and the sauce is fairly thick, about 3 minutes more.

Add the pasta, tomato sauce, basil, mozzarella and half of the Parmigiona-Reggiano to the bowl with the vegetables and stir to combine. Transfer to the same oven proof frying pan and sprinkle the remaining Parmigiona-Reggiano on top. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until golden brown on top, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.

Like Susan I used the smaller Penne, Mezze Penne Pasta and I used cherry tomatoes cut in half as she suggested. I did not rinse the pasta but drained it in a colander and sprinkled a little olive oil over it so the pasta wouldn't stick together. I did save the pasta water and added a little to the sauce to thicken it a little more, a trick I learned from watching Lidia Bastianich so often. 

After prepping all my ingredients this dish went together very quickly and I loved the addition of the white wine. It gave the dish a little more depth of flavor. I chose to sauté everything in a sauté pan and then transferred to a oval casserole dish but either way is fine.
I used a blue basil that I had sitting on my kitchen counter. I love the sweet little purple bloom so instead of cutting back the bloom in the garden I most often bring it in to enjoy the bloom and it fragrances my kitchen. Using fresh herbs from the garden was an added plus to this dish.
What's not to like about this dish, fresh herbs, fresh veggies, cheese and pasta. I think this was a homerun. Pared with a simple salad it was a wonderful veggie dinner.
Thank you Susan for sharing this excellent "Summer Harvest Pasta". This I will make again and again, DELICIOUS!!!!!
I'm linking this post to Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee at Rattlebridge Farm. To see other spectacular recipes shared click HERE.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Summer Family Dinner

My almost grown up grandsons who are almost always too busy for their grand parents these days, graced me with their presence not too long ago. Actually all I have to do is put on a big pot of Marinara Sauce with Meatballs and Italian Sausage and they are more than happy to accommodate me, after all they are growing boys. Our summers are very hot but not too hot to make them their favorite dinner.
With an Italian dinner on the stove I went about setting my table with my Italian dinner ware. This is a favorite pattern of mine as is Italian food.
The watercolor portrait hanging on the wall behind the buffet is a portrait of the twins when they were so very little. They are now 6 feet tall, 14 years old (where does the time go?) and in high school.

The pattern is Contrada by Vietri and I have had it for a long time but would love to add some pieces. Unfortunately it has been discontinued and I can't find this pattern anywhere. Until I do find it I will enjoy what I already have.
The placemats are a great color with this dinnerware and the best part, they are vinyl. Easy clean up especially when you are serving sometimes messy boys.

My silverware is my hotel silver. What I love most about this pattern is that every piece is different lending itself to a casual setting.

A good time was had by all and our twin grand boys were reminded that they needed to make time for their grand parents. They are high school age so I suppose it can be over looked.

I am sharing this post at "Between Naps on the Porch" for "Tablescape Thursday". To see other interesting table settings just click "HERE".