Potato and Leek Soup with a Twist

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I discovered an Indian twist on a favorite classic. The lemon really shines through and finishes the soup nicely, and the roasted garlic adds a decadent umami flavor.

Since I’ve moved to Germany, I’ve had to switch to the metric system. It wasn’t as hard of a change as I thought it would be! But, I will add some notes on using the imperial system.

This recipe makes about 4 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1-2 heads of garlic
  • olive oil for roasting the garlic
  • sunflower oil for sautéing the other vegetables (we don’t want to bring the olive oil to smoking point, so we use sunflower oil, alternatives include: coconut oil or canola oil)
  • 3 medium potatoes, diced (3 cups)
  • 2 large leeks, stiff green tops removed, tender white parts sliced
  • 1 liter of vegetable broth (4 cups)
  • ~200 g cashews (1 cup)
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • juice from 1/4 of a lemon
  • 2 cups spinach, sliced into thin ribbons

Directions

  1. Roast the garlic for 30 minutes in the oven at 200 C (400 F).
    1. Slice the tips off of the head of garlic to expose the cloves.
    2. Wrap the garlic in some aluminum foil, and drizzle a little olive oil over it.
    3. Cover the garlic completely with the aluminum foil so that it looks like a little satchet.
    4. Bake it in the oven.
  2. Heat some oil in a soup pot, add the leeks and potatoes. Sauté for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the vegetable broth, cashews, and spices. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic to the soup.
  5. Blend the soup in a blender or food processor. I like it a little chunky, but you could also make it smooth and creamy.
  6. Return the soup to the saucepan, and add the spinach on low heat.
  7. Once the spinach is just wilted, add the lemon juice. Salt to taste.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Patties with Spicy Coconut and Spinach Sauce

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I tried this recipe from foodblogandthedog, made some minor adjustments, and it turned out super tasty. I didn’t use scotch bonnet chilis (yikes, spicy!). Instead I used some super spicy madras chili powder from the indian grocery store. It’s very concentrated though, so a little goes a long way (it is definitely not the same as other chili powders, and I learned that the hard way!). This recipe makes enough for 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (the smaller the cubes, the less mashing you’ll do later)
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp masala chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 head of garlic, outer leaves peeled off but still held together
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • zest of 1/2 a lime
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1 can of coconut milk (about 14-16 oz)
  • 1 bunch of spinach leaves, ~250-500 g (organic!)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped bell pepper (organic!)
  • 1 tomato, diced (organic!)
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 475 F
  2. In a lined baking tray or a glass casserole dish, toss the potato with olive oil, allspice, cumin, thyme, chili, and salt/pepper.
  3. Place the head of garlic in the tray.
  4. Roast for ~20 min, or until soft.
  5. Take half of the head of roasted garlic and mash it with the potato. Add the green onions, cilantro, and lime zest.
  6. Place the mix in the fridge until the sauce is finished.
  7. Except for the lime juice and coriander, place the remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for ~20-25 min.
  8. Puree this mixture in your blender/food processor.
  9. Add the lime juice and cilantro.
  10. Shape the potato mix into patties and fry in oil. Cook until each side is brown and crispy, ~2 min per side.
  11. Serve the cakes with the sauce and extra lime wedges.

Corn Chowder

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Corn chowder is one of those dishes that tastes better the next day after you make it. All the flavors seep into the potatoes and make for a delicious leftover. This is my interpretation of Tyler Florence’s Corn Chowder. I tried it his way the first time I made corn chowder, but I found it to be too rich and salty. This is a lighter version.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp of butter
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • about 1-2 tsp of thyme (fresh or dried, it doesn’t really make a huge difference. The downside with fresh thyme is that you have to pluck all the really tiny leaves off of the sprig)
  • 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced (the smaller you dice them, the better they disintegrate and cook)
  • 1 can of corn (or you can use 6 ears of corn, but let’s be real… that’s more work)
  • 1/4 cup of parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Heat the butter in a large soup pot until it’s hot enough to add the diced onion and thyme.
  2. Cook until the onion is soft, and then add the garlic. Don’t let the garlic brown.
  3. Coat the vegetables with flour and mix well.
  4. Pour in the vegetable stock and water. Bring to a boil.
  5. Add the milk and potatoes and boil (hard) for about 10 minutes.
  6. Add the corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Stir in the parsley and serve.

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Soup

I’ve been on a soup spree lately. Something about Fall just makes me want soup. All the time. In the spirit of Fall, Halloween, supporting local farms, and soup, I went to a farm last weekend and picked out a pumpkin to cook – I guess it’s the vegetarian version of picking a lobster from the lobster tank for dinner (hah!).

This recipe makes about 6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small pumpkin (I am planning to freeze the other half and use it in pumpkin pancakes)
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 1/2 red onions
  • 1/2 a head of garlic
  • 1 bell pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp of chili powder
  • 6 cups of water mixed with 2 tbsp of vegetable base
  • 1 cup of water
  • shaved cheese (parmesean or asiago) for garnish
  • walnuts, pine nuts, or pecans (or all 3 nuts at once!) for garnish

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 375F.
  2. Cut the squash and pumpkin into 1-2 inch chunks (skin on or off), toss with olive oil, and bake for about 35 minutes. If you leave the skin on, you can peel it off after you bake it. Or you can take the skin off right away. I can’t decide which method is better.
  3. Dice the onions and bell pepper. Mince the garlic. Toss all three into a pan with olive oil and saute until the onions are soft.
  4. Heat 6 cups of water and mix the vegetable base into it.
  5. Using a blender or food processor, blend the onions, bell pepper, and garlic with 1 cup of the vegetable boullion. Transfer to a large soup pot.
  6. Once the squash and pumpkin are soft enough (if you stab it with a fork, it should be really easy), remove the skin, and blend with vegetable boullion. Transfer to a large soup pot.
  7. In your soup pot, add the spices and additional cup of water. Turn heat on medium-low.
  8. Toast the nuts.

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Barley Mushroom Soup

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This is a vegetarian recipe for a hearty, thick soup. Makes 6 servings. Goes well with ciabatta bread and bellavitano cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 2 sliced portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2-3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 2 sliced carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 diced red  bell pepper
  • 1 diced green bell pepper
  • olive oil for saute

Directions:

  1. Saute all of the vegetables, barley, and mushrooms in olive oil in your soup pot. Cook for ~15 min, or until the onions are soft.
  2. Add the flour, and mix well, stirring for about 1 min.
  3. Immediately add the vegetable stock, salt, spices, and water to the pot. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a spoon to unstick any flour that may have stuck to the bottom. This is an important step because it will incorporate the flavors from the saute into the soup.
  4. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer for 45 min, or until the barley is soft and tender. Stir occasionally.
  5. Add any additional spices, as necessary.

Breakfast for Dinner (or Lunch… or Breakfast…)

I know I’m getting better at cooking when my significant other says, “This relationship is worth it for this meal alone.” He’s a bona fide champ for downing (with a toothy grin) other meals that didn’t go quite as well!

This was my first crack at making pancakes from scratch. Usually, I get the boxed pancake/waffle mix. Or, I don’t make pancakes at all, because I’m more of a waffle person. This turned out to be a serendipitous treat! Anyway, the recipe below makes about six servings.

Blueberry-Pecan-Cinnamon-Vanilla Pancakes and Roasted Garlic-Basil-Onion-Potatoes

Ingredients:

Pancakes:

  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. white sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter

Potatoes:

  • 2 medium white potatoes
  • 4 tbsp. roughly chopped basil
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sage
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • I liked having the potatoes on a slice of toasted Jewish Rye bread, but they’re good on their own, too!

Directions:

(I made the potatoes first, and while they were baking in the oven, I focused on the pancakes.)

Potatoes:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wash potatoes, then chop them into 1 in. chunks (I left the skin on)
  3. Toss everything except the basil in olive oil.
  4. Lay the mix on a sheet pan (if you like them crispy) or in a glass casserole dish (if you like them soft and mushy).
  5. Bake for ~45 minutes.
  6. After you take them out, toss in the basil and season to taste. (Hot sauce tastes great with these!)

Pancakes:

  1. Sift all of the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, sugar).
  2. Stir in the milk, egg, melted butter, and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add additional milk if you want a runnier batter.
  3. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat. Use ~1/4 cup of batter per pancake. Make sure the batter is spread thinly on the griddle. They puff up. Alot.
  4. Put a few pecan chunks and the blueberries on the top of the pancake right after you lay it on the griddle.
  5. When air bubbles start to come out of the edges, flip the pancake. (The first pancake is always a goner; either the flip goes wrong or it gets burnt or the middle is still doughy…)
  6. Brown on both sides and serve with maple syrup!

Vegetarian Pine Nut and Wild Rice Stuffed Bell Peppers

I just tried this recipe the other night, and it is awesome! This is a vegetarian recipe, but for you meat-lovers out there, I’m sure you can stick bits of chicken, sausage, or bacon into the peppers.

Servings: 6

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 crushed (or minced) garlic cloves
  • 2/3 cups of wild rice
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts (worth the cost… this recipe is SO good)
  • 1/2 cup fresh, finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste dissolved in 3 cups of hot water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4-6 red, green, or yellow bell peppers

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Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees F.
  2. Cut the tops off of the bell peppers and save them. Remove the seeds.

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  3. Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until the onions are soft.

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  4. Toast the pine nuts lightly.
  5. Mince the parsley.
  6. Cook the rice in the 3 cups of hot water and tomato paste. It took me about 20 minutes.

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  7. Combine onions, garlic, rice, pine nuts, parsley, and raisins. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Spoon the mixture into each bell pepper.

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  9. Top each bell pepper with its top, and slide into the oven for about 15 minutes, or until they appear roasted. Lightly drizzle with olive oil before putting them in the oven.

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