Rustic Vichyssoise (potato and leek soup)

Vichyssoise 2
Too hot outside for another soup recipe?  What if I told you it was a cold soup?  Would that change your mind or keep you further away?  We are okay with gazpacho so why not potato and leek?  Maybe if it had a fancy French name?  Vichyssoise (pronounced vishy-swah) is a silky potato soup, cooled down with cream and it might just become your new favorite soup.

A French chef at the Ritz in the 1950s, Louis Diat, was credited with this soup’s [cold] invention.  He said as a boy, he and his brother would cool off the potato and leek soup his grandmother would make, by pouring milk or cream into the hot soup.  He loved the experience so much, he wanted to create a soup for his patrons at the Ritz similar to the soup he had as a boy.

I haven’t quite gotten behind the cold version, yet.  I think the silky potato soup is amazing hot and it has so much depth.  For a dish that has so few ingredients, it tastes like it has a dozen. The potato/leek combination is rather magical in and of itself.  Matt loves the cold version (chill the soup first, then add cream, or you’ll just end up with lukewarm soup if you add cream to hot soup) I love it hot, Olive loves it somewhere in between and once again, this is a great way to provide vegetables for a great little eater who is otherwise distracted by the experience of being two 🙂

I, of course, defaulted to my favorite French cookbook for the recipe – Winnie never steers me wrong!

Vichyssoise 1
Rustic Vichyssoise* (rustic because I forgot to peel the potatoes first)

2 TBS unsalted butter
2 medium-size leeks (or one Texas size – white and pale green parts only, halved lengthwise, rinsed and chopped, about 1 cup)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I had beef broth on hand and it turned out great)
1.5 lbs yellow or white potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped(or unpeeled if you forget and want to call it rustic :))
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 TBS heavy cream
1/4 cup snipped fresh chives for garnish

Melt the butter in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring, until tender but not brown, 4 to 5 minutes.  Pour in the broth slowly and then add the potatoes and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and cook at an active simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes.

Blend in the pot with an immersion blender until no chunks of potato remain (or, working in batches, puree in a blender).  Stir in the cream and season with extra salt and pepper, if needed.  Garnish with fresh chives and add extra cream to your liking.  For making traditional Vichyssoise, chill the soup for a few hours and then add about 1/4 cup cold cream or half and half to each serving.  Re-season as needed.

*slightly adapted from the Bonne Femme Cookbook

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Roll - cross section
Good Sunday morning to you all!  This week has been a tough one for me.  I got sick on Tuesday and as anyone who has ever been pregnant knows, you can’t take the good meds when you’re sick.  So I had the usual, insulting cold in the middle of summer, had two weddings and one family shoot to edit, made a ginormous birthday cake for a friend which took up all of Tuesday AND my wonderful redhead decided to cut her usual nap time in half, so I had only one good hour during the day to get my photo work done (still got the wedding done in my two-week time frame – bragging, I don’t care, gotta throw that out there).

Blackberry Lime Morning Rolls
In the midst of my feeling like my head was stuck in a cloud and everything else, I felt it was the right time to make cinnamon rolls.  I don’t know – it was just therapeutic.  A few weeks ago, Matt made Joy the Baker’s first Baking Bootcamp recipe – a triple berry cinnamon swirl bread – and it was just outstanding.  Wonderful recipe and the flavors were so perfect.
Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread
The day he made it, I knew I wanted to turn it into cinnamon rolls with some kind of citrus glaze.  I finally got around to it and…score.  They were so bright and comforting at the same time.  I will definitely make these again when I’m not afflicted with Taste Blindness (I’ll expound on that, later).  And you should make them, too!  They take about an hour less than typical from-scratch cinnamon rolls and can be used with most any fruit – so get creative!

Morning Rolls - Blackberry Lime

 

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls with Lime Vanilla Bean Icing*

For the Dough:
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to a warm lukewarm
1 large egg yolk 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 1/4 cups King Arthur All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon salt a bit of olive oil for greasing the bowl

For the Filling: 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 cups fresh blackberries
Zest from two limes
1 large egg, beaten for egg wash

In a medium bowl stir yeast with sugar. Stir in  the lukewarm milk and then add the egg yolk and melted butter.  Whisk together until thoroughly combined.  Allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes.  It should foam and froth. In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Pour the milk mixture over the dry ingredients and start kneading it until it pulls away from the edges of the bowl. Place dough on a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for about 10 minutes more.  Dough ball should be smooth and damp, without being too sticky.  Shape dough into a ball. Grease a large bowl with olive oil.  Place the dough in the bowl and cover.  Allow to rest at warm room temperature for about 1 hours, or until doubled in size.

While the dough rises, whisk together the butter with sugar and cinnamon for the filling.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a 9 inch cake pan.  Set aside. After the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead twice.  Using a rolling pin to roll the dough to a rectangle of about 18×12 inches. Spoon the cinnamon filling over top, spreading evenly, leaving a clean 1-inch border around the edges. Sprinkle the fresh blackberries over the cinnamon filling and grate the lime zest over everything.
Blackberry Cinnamon Rolls
(My blackberries were apparently from the Land of Canaan, so I had to cut them up). Start by rolling the longest side of the dough.  The roll will be a bit lumpy because of all the berries. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 1 1/2 inch rolls and place cut-side down.  Brush the rolls with the beaten egg. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Allow to cool for about 30 minutes before icing.

For the Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
juice from one lime
3 tbs heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
a good pinch of kosher salt

Mix everything together in a medium bowl and thin out the icing with more lime juice, or thicken it up with more sugar.  Easy as that!

Have a happy rest of your weekend 🙂

*I adapted Joy’s recipe for the Triple Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread a bit, but you can see her original and wonderful recipe HERE.

Blackberry Lime Cinnamon Rolls

Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup and trying something new

Butternut Squash Soup
This is one of the best soups I’ve made all winter.  Previously, butternut squash soups were borderline too sweet for me – I could never finish an entire batch and would guiltily throw the leftovers down the sink.  I’ve made this version three times, now, and each time, we eat it all!  It doesn’t get boring – the flavors are so complex and balanced, thanks to that crazy looking celery root.  It’s perfect!  It’s also incredibly filling and very low fat, so I think it’s quite possibly the most wonderful food to have when you’re watching what you eat, but don’t want to feel deprived.  It’s also perfect as a baby food!  With just two simple vegetables, it’s a great way to introduce flavors to a little one just starting out on solids, or a toddler who might eat soup better than they would eat a new vegetable.  For toddlers, I think the best way to serve soup is in a small, handled cup.  Fill it half way and let them sip at their own pace.  They love feeling in control and YOU will feel better with limited soup-spills as would occur most certainly if you handed them a spoon 🙂  This soup is also a great way to introduce YOU to a new vegetable!  Who here has bought and prepared celery root?  (also called celeriac)  If you haven’t, you don’t have to be afraid – it tastes like celery with the consistency of a sweet potato!

I’m happy to announce a little cooking segment I’ll be doing this year on my friend, Paul’s PBS show, 24 Frames!  (this soup makes an appearance!)  It’s very exciting to be a part of something creative and I’m deeply flattered that he included me in his show. I love talking about food more than anything, so once I get over the mortal fear of seeing myself talk on camera, I’ll finally start to enjoy watching my own segment.  Please tune in to 24 Frames every Saturday night at 9 p.m. Central on PBS!  The show should be available online very soon for those who don’t live in this area, and when it is, I’ll post a link!

Thank you all for watching and for reading my blog.  It’s very humbling and I hope you can feel a little more confident in the kitchen with every new recipe you try!

Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup

Butternut Squash and Celery Root Soup
serves 6-8

 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 – 2lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
1 celery root, peeled, rinsed and diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock, hot
black pepper and cream for garnish
1. Peel and chop the onion, celery root and butternut squash.
2. Heat the oil in a large stock pot.
3. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes.
4. Stir the squash, celery root and salt into the pot and cook for about 10 minutes until the squash begins to soften.
5. Add the rosemary and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer over medium heat, partially covered, for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
6. Using a blender in batches, or an immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth.  Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and thin out with cream or extra stock as desired.  Ladle into bowls and add a swirl of cream and a few dashes of fresh cracked pepper and serve!

Curried Potato Pockets with Lemon Dill Cream

curry potato puffs with dill cream

This was an incredibly flavorful dinner for us last Tuesday night.  It was one of those meals that came from a lack of motivation to go to the store.  I had two large potatoes, an onion and some puff pastry and I knew – there’s a meal there, somewhere.  With just a little prep, I had a meal on the table in about an hour.  I made these with left-over pie crust, as well, but everyone, including Olive, preferred the ones with puff pastry.  Buttery and flaky with that smoky curry spice went exceptionally well with the tang of the yogurt and dill.

This meal included one of those moments where I wasn’t giving Olive any sort of chance and declared that she wouldn’t like the yogurt sauce and so I didn’t offer her any.  After we had eaten a few bites, she said, “I want the sauce?!” and so I put some on her plate and she ate it all!  Yet another lesson in giving your kids a chance to prove you wrong. You never know when they’ll surprise you!

curried potato puffs

Curry Potato Pockets with Lemon Dill Cream
makes 9 puff pockets with plenty of filling to spare

2 medium russet potatoes, cleaned, skinned and diced small
1 large yellow onion, diced small
4 tbs butter
1 tbs curry powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into 9 squares
2 tbs cream for brushing the pastry
1/2 cup plain, full fat yogurt
squeeze of one lemon
2 tbs chopped fresh dill
salt to taste

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and once it starts to froth, add in the onion and potato.  Stir around until the potato begins to soften and then cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove the lid and add in the curry, cumin and salt and pepper.  Continue cooking over low heat until the potatoes are completely soft.  Remove mixture from stove and set aside.

Set your oven at 400F.  Mash the potato/onion mixture in a bowl until mostly smooth and adjust the seasoning as desired.

Cut the puff pastry into 9 squares and put a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of each square.  Dip your finger in the cream and dab along the edges and pinch/fold them together into little letters – really, however you pinch and fold is up to you, as long as they have a fighting chance of staying closed while baking! Place on a greased cookie sheet and repeat until all the squares are filled.  Brush the tops with the remaining cream and bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

For the yogurt dipping sauce: simply chop the dill and squeeze the lemon into the yogurt and stir till combined.  Adjust with a little salt and serve along side the pastries.  Personally, I don’t like this sauce on its own, but with the curry pockets, it’s just an amazing balance of flavors.

Enjoy!

Candied Apple Pie – a family recipe

slice of candied apple pie

My brother in law, Justin, is pretty amazing with a pie plate.  He’s been known to ship his cherry pies across the country just because someone requested it.  I tasted one the first year he was married to my sister in law, Julie, because he mailed one to us in Tulsa for Thanksgiving since he and Julie couldn’t come and were stuck working in Atlanta.  It was amazing and it made me doubly glad he married into the family. 🙂  He is a man of many talents and you’d never expect this hunter/carpenter/plumber/electrician type guy to be a whiz with baking, but he is!  And he loves it and you can tell.  There’s a pride in what he bakes that can literally be tasted.  Matt and I feel so fortunate that we have two more enthusiastic hands in the kitchen around the holidays in Justin and Julie.  We’re a family centered around the table with forks in hand!

This recipes was one he made over the Christmas break.  He first made a candied cherry pie and followed that up with this candied apple pie, which was so beautiful and rustic, I had to take pics and then, I had to have the recipe after I tasted it – amazing.  I know pie season is over and New Years Resolutions are done, but if you have room in your heart for one more pie this winter, make it this one.

candied apple pie

Candied Apple Pie
makes one, 10″ pie

For the crust:

2 1/2 cups flour
2 sticks of butter, very cold and in small cubes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup ice water, more or less as needed

In a stand mixer, add the first cup and a half of flour, the salt and sugar, and gradually beat in the butter by small handfuls until each addition is pretty well incorporated.  When all the butter has been added, add the last cup of flour and mix slowly to combine.  Add tablespoons of water until the dough just comes together when pressed between your fingers.  Wrap the dough in a plastic bag (I use a bread bag) and flatten out into a disc and let chill for at least 30 minutes.  When ready for the pie, take it out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit on a lightly floured counter space for about ten minutes, and then divide the dough, not exactly in half, but let one half be a bit bigger than the other.  You’ll use the slightly smaller half for the top of the pie.

For the Filling and Assembly:
3-5 lbs Granny Smith apples (or any firm, tart apple), cored, peeled, halved and sliced thin
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick of butter (8 tbs)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 egg white

In a 10″ cast iron skillet melt the butter and add the brown sugar. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved.  Set aside.

Peel and slice the apples (this little gadget is worth buying!). In a large mixing bowl,  stir 1 cup granulated sugar with the cinnamon and mix in the apples. Set aside.

Roll out the bigger of the two pie crusts and lay into the skillet, on top of your brown sugar/butter mixture.  Fill crust with apple mixture.  Roll out the smaller crust over the top and crimp edges and and trim any excess. Cut several single blade-width vent slots. Baste top with lightly whipped egg white then sprinkle with white sugar. Cook at 350 degrees for one hour.

Serve right out of the pan with ice cream or wait a bit for it to cool and the caramel in the bottom will be extra gooey.  It’s up to you.  If the bottom seems to be sticking and won’t come out, simply warm the skillet on a burner over low heat until the caramel melts and you can remove a slice.

Enjoy!

skilled apple pie

S’mores Pie

S'mores Pie

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope you did, too!  I got to spend it with my whole family!  Both my brothers came down with their children and with them and my parents, there were 16 of us bedding down in our old childhood home! I got to see my grandmother and my sweet Aunt Mary, too!  I really don’t think I’ve seen that much family in one weekend in several years. It was good for the soul and I don’t feel like I even overate as much as I usually do, which enabled me to enjoy the heck out of this pie I created on Friday night.

S’mores pie!  When we showed Olive s’mores for the first time this summer, we made them with dark chocolate.  I loved the balance the dark chocolate gave to the super sweet marshmallow and graham cracker.  So when thinking of a pie to make for Thanksgiving, I thought of doing the darkest chocolate pie I knew how to do and topping it with my favorite meringue and then torch the heck out of the top.

Best.  Chocolate Pie. Ever.

Seriously, if you want to win some kind of chocolate pie award, this is your pie.  Make it with a traditional crust and serve it with soft whipped cream and that is all you’ll need for ultimate bragging rights.  I nearly skipped out on the meringue, but I wanted that dramatic torched effect so I went with it.  I think if I were to do this pie over, I would give it more s’moresy flavor by just dumping a bunch of marshmallows on top and burning them to a crisp.  Because I’m that s’mores gal – the one who likes to eat slightly sweet bits of char instead of marshmallows.  I’d say most people aren’t like this or don’t have a coal deficiency or whatever, so I erred on the side of not-too-burnt.  The results were great and I will definitely make this pie again at Christmas!

torching the smores pie helping torch the pie
My nephew, Landon, helped me torch it!

aerial s'mores pie

S’mores Pie

2 eggs, beaten
1-5 ounce can of evaporated milk
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 TBS cocoa powder
1 TBS instant coffee granules
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup butter
2 TBS corn meal
For the crust:
1 and a half packages of graham crackers, crushed fine (12 large)
2 TBS sugar
4 TBS butter, melted
2 TBS water
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar, salt and butter until it’s well combined.  If it doesn’t hold together when you press it between your fingers, add the tablespoons of water.  Press into a 9″ pie plate and set aside.
Combine the eggs, evaporated milk and sugars until smooth.  Put the cocoa powder and instant coffee in a small cup and add a tablespoon of water and whip it into a paste.  Whisk this paste into the egg/milk mixture.  Melt the dark chocolate and butter together in a microwave at 30 second increments, stirring after each time until completely smooth and glossy.  Add the chocolate and butter to the egg mixture and then whisk in the corn meal until smooth.
Pour into the pie shell and place your pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the middle doesn’t jiggle anymore.  Let the pie come to room temp before making the meringue!
For the meringue:
5 egg whites, room temp (room temp is important)
1 cup of sugar
1/3 cup water
Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil till the temp reaches 250 on a candy thermometer.  While it’s boiling, put the egg whites in a mixer at medium speed and beat with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form.  When the sugar is up to temp, remove from heat and while the mixer is going on medium, drizzle the syrup in a very thin stream until completely incorporated and then increase speed to high and whip until the bowl cools down.  This takes a while so be patient.
Assemble!
Dump ALL the meringue on top of your ROOM TEMP pie and with a blow torch (such a great addition to any kitchen) or a dainty creme brulee torch (not as fun) torch the meringue until evenly browned.  If you have neither, you can brown it in the oven under the broiler but you have to be VIGILANT as to not burn the meringue.  A broiler works scary fast.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Santa's Little Helper2

This is the Super Bowl of a cook’s world.  I love this holiday and I certainly don’t want to skip over it in a rush to get to Christmas!  Since Matt and I began developing our love of cooking almost 10 years ago, we have looked forward to Thanksgiving a little more each year.  I think, in a way, we are trying to create our own family traditions this year, with a little family of our own.  We realized with a hint of despair the other day that we may not get to host our own family Thanksgiving until our children are in college!  So we decided that along with trying out new recipes each year and saving some old favorites, we’d have our own Thanksgiving at our home, before heading out of town to spend time with our extended families.

This was our Pre-Thanksgiving!  I printed off each recipe and kept the stack on our counter to refer to as I did my prep.  I couldn’t sleep Monday morning, so I got up around 5 and started chopping leeks, mushrooms and Brussels sprouts.  We had a few friends over who each brought an amazing pie and some blue ribbon biscuits from our friend, Rod, who still won’t share that recipe, almost 20 years later.  🙂 I didn’t get pictures of everything, nor was I trying to do a post on any one particular recipe.  I just took some pics that I could and let the rest go – this was about having a great time with friends and not about styling a plate of food. However, I did get links to the recipes for everything we did.  Everything turned out really fantastic – loved the Brussels Sprouts and the Cheesy Squash Cassrole and that cocktail made everything just a little more sparkly. 😉

brussels sprouts with blue cheese and bacon
Brussels Sprouts with Blue Cheese and Bacon

cranberry orange relish
Cranberry Orange Relish
pimento cheese twice baked potatoes
Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes

Santa's Little Helper
The cocktail of the evening that made EVERYONE happy – Santa’s Little Helper.  This will be making a repeat appearance. turkey porcetta
Turkey Porcetta

Dishes I made but failed to get a photo of:
Mushroom and Bacon Stuffing
Cheesy Squash Casserole

Again, everything was wonderful and we had a great time with our friends!  Happy Thanksgiving to everyone – have safe travels and we’ll see you back here next week with a report on all the goodies we make at my parents’ house in New Mexico.  There’s a S’mores pie I’ve been wanting to create…