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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A "Kicked Up" Spring Leek & Potato Soup

Our Guest Chef this week is A Feast for the Eyes, who made a wonderful (and very delicious looking too, I might add!) Spring Leek & Potato soup. Kicked it up a notch Emeril style, and she was basking in the deliciousness of all things good! Enjoy:
I have been cooking and baking for most of this Sunday. I have kept my promise to cook what's in my fridge, pantry and freezer so I have made soup, baked muffins, cooked artichokes, made an aioli and egg salad (with Old Bay Seasoning)-- many of these items are for our lunch boxes, for the work week.

It's about 78 degrees outside, so my husband thought I'd really lost my marbles when I announced that I had made soup for lunch. He had been outside, doing yard work, and feeling pretty hot and sweaty. Still, he liked it and I loved it!

My inspiration to make the soup came from a need to use the beautiful spring garlic and leeks I received in my CSA box.

Truth be told, I had no idea what spring garlic was-- until my friend, Felicia, told me that there is a clear difference. Upon close inspection, I see what she means-- the spring garlic is a little smaller than leeks and have a purplish stripe. They smelled very mild. I decided to add this to my soup, though it wasn't part of the printed recipe.

I also have a several quarts of frozen turkey stock, my from Thanksgiving Turkey. Bless that bird's heart, I never waste a chicken or turkey carcass. I decided to thaw that and my decision was made-- hot or not, I was going to make soup for our lunch boxes-- and we are expecting rain by Tuesday.

Potato & Leek soup has been making the food blogosphere rounds, along with bundt cakes and Tuesdays with Dorie versions of baked goods. I have a recipe, by Rachael Ray, that I've made a few times. This time, I stumbled on Emeril Lagasse's version and I paused... bacon, white wine and creme fraiche. Not only did I have all three ingredients on hand, I liked the idea of adding bacon!

I had already prepped my leeks-- for those of you who haven't work with these, they can be very full of soil. My preferred way to prep them, is to cut them lengthwise and then in half moons. I put these into a colander and into a bowl with water.... swish, swish, swish... the dirt falls to the bottom of the bowl, and I'm in business!

I loved the idea of the garni, but I had already trimmed and tossed the greenery from the leeks, to better fit into my apartment size refrigerator (I dream of owning a large refrigerator). I also realized I was out of cheese cloth, so I improvised-- I resurrected two outer leaves of leeks and cut fresh thyme (from my garden), bay leaves and peppercorn-- and I wrapped it and tied it with twine. Very cool!

In a dutch oven, I melted a little butter and rendered the fat from 3 slices of chopped bacon; then added the leeks and spring garlic. This really smelled wonderful and I was ready to start adding the liquids.

Now, for my favorite part-- I added 1/2 cup of sauvignon blanc (my choice for cooking with white wine) Is anyone old enough to remember Graham Kerr? He's that "chef" who loved to cook with wine on his TV show. I was young, but I always wondered how pickled he really was. Anyway...

I added the potato, my cute little bouquet garni (see it in the background) and my turkey stock, salt and white pepper.

30 minutes later, on simmer, the soup was ready for the next step.

I removed and tossed the bouquet garni and had my immersion blender, all plugged in: I love my immersion blender. It's not an expensive one, and it's not cordless, but I'd much rather use this tool than to puree in a blender. I think it's easier and less chances of explosions! (Says me, who loves pressure cooking).

This soup pureed beautifully, and was a perfect thickness. I turned off the heat and added 1/2 cup of creme fraiche. Perfect! The bacon does come through, so omit it if you don't like bacon.

I raced to my garden and cut some fresh chives and garnished this soup with an extra dollop of creme fraiche. Bam!

Emeril, I applaud you. I'm not a fan of your Bayou Blast (sorry, I'm just not big on hot sauce and I go easy on cayenne). This is the best potato leek soup I've made, so far.

I've already put portions into small bowls for our lunch boxes tomorrow.

It feels great to make something so good, that is economical, and made with frozen homemade stock.

Now... do I dare make one more thing today? We shall see... at least I have a week's worth of blogging all ready to go.

I'm addicted. I can't help it.
Thanks A Feast for the Eyes, we're drooling over here! Your photography is great and you've hit the nail on the head ~ we eat with our eyes first! Here is your badge to thank you for sharing with us!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

february blog for food update

As you may know, over 40 Oregon bloggers have been posting about Blog for Food to help raise funds for the Oregon Food Bank. In this economy so many foodbanks are struggling and we are trying to help our local banks which serve over 13 counties.

We have a running total now: as of last Friday, $1210 has been donated to the OFB (Oregon Food Bank) directly as a result of our efforts. Every $12 is enough for the OFB to collect and distribute an Emergency Food Box, which feeds a family of four for 3-5 days. $1210 represents over 100 food boxes. This is in addition to all the food that has been dropped off to various locations. Throughout the month many bloggers have joined us, and many businesses have volunteered their services as a collection site for those wanting to donate food. Thank you everyone!

.......Just to sweeten the deal, through Feb. 28th, Gilt Club is offering a free appetizer to anyone who brings in a donation to the Oregon Food Bank. All they ask is that you keep it to "one per party per visit" and don't abuse the offer, since it is for charity.......

This Saturday will be the last day of our combined efforts and we'd like to end on a high note! So if you feel so compelled please feel free to donate, any amount is welcome, and it all adds up to a good cause.


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Monday, February 23, 2009

are you following? blogger glitch

My thanks for 5 Star Foodie for a good description and solution to the problem:
"Several of my foodie friends contacted me today, saying that I no longer follow their blog. I also noticed quite a few followers have been dropped from my blog as well. It is a glitch in Blogger due to their releasing a new feature. They, without users permission, changed the users from “Public” to “Anonymous”. The “Follow Blog” widget only lists the users that are Public therefore counts of followers have dropped.

Here’s how to fix your own subscriptions. In Dashboard find a button ‘Manage’, click on that and then change any of your subscriptions that say “Anonymous” back to “Public”. Blogger will NOT fix this for you automatically so you have to do it yourselves.

I hope you will find this information useful!"

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

guest recipe: chipotle chicken chili

Guest Chef: Chef E, the Behind the Wheel Chef, cooking and reviewing from Gloria Chadwick's soon to be released cookbook. Yum!

It is cold and snowy outside so I want something to warm me up...

Soaking the dried chipotle peppers with the beans gives them a nice smokey flavor, Gloria Chadwick begins this recipe in her new Food and Flavors of San Antonio, page 131...

We all know I am a big fan of Tex-Mex, and there is nothing like trying your recipes out on a bunch of Texans right! I was excited to receive her new book in the mail this Monday. I looked it over and picked three recipes I would like to make.

Too excited and no time on hand there were some dried pintos in my pantry, avocado, and salsa waiting...I wanted to make something right away...If you follow her recipe below you will find it came out great even with my switch-a-roo!

I found most of the recipes in her book delightful, and great for any starter cook, or someone who would love to learn more about traditional Tex-Mex flavors. I got a few ideas for some future dishes from her...

Chipotle Chicken Chili

2 cups dry black beans

8 cups water

2 chipotle peppers

3 bay leaves

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 green bell peppers, chopped

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 tablespoon cumin

1 14 ounce can chicken broth

Sour Cream

Place the beans in a large saucepan with the water, chipotle peppers, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender stirring occasionally.

Remove the chipotle peppers, chop, and set aside. Discard the bay leaves.

Heat the oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium-high heat; add the chicken and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion, garlic, green peppers, salt and black pepper. Saute until the vegetables are tender.

Return the chicken to the pan and stir in the chili powder, cumin, and reserved chipotle peppers. Stir to mix. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes.

Stir in black beans with their liquid and add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Simmer for 45 minutes or until the flavors have blended and the chili is thickened.

Ladle into individual serving bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Come in for a closer look before we eat it all up...and stay tuned for her Green Chili Meatballs later this week!

Thanks Chef E! Here is your badge!