With the busyness of this time of year, I am finding myself far more called to creating nourishing, comforting food that doesn’t eat up half the day in prep work, but that also cooks quickly and leaves us time for all the other crazy tasks we have on ours lists right now. This time of year I just want the most comforting foods, soups and stews, roasts and other hearty, seasonal meals. This Instant Pot Beef Stew is basically the best ever version of all of this! Ready in under an hour, it’ll taste as if had been cooking ALL day long.
Last year I got myself the Instant Pot, after hearing from so many people how amazing it is. I am still, after a year, learning all the things it can do. I recently began playing with the sauté feature, which allows you to sear meat, before pressure cooking it. I find this seals in the flavor and the caramelized flavors from the browning really brings more depth and richness to the overall dish. Plus, it gives us little brown bits to deglaze, which is one of my most favorite things to do when cooking.
This is comforting, winter food at it’s finest. It actually reminds me of being a kid, this is the food we grew up on. My mom made a killer beef stew on the stove top. It tastes of love, coziness and comfort.
This light Greek Potato Salad is full of a bright, fresh tang from the freshly squeezed lemon juice, an incredible fresh crunch from the red onions and cucumber this all comes together with the fresh fill and oregano to create perfect Greek flavors. Step away from the mayo and opt for my family’s favorite summer side dish.
Summertime is the time of quick meals, picnics, BBQs and cookouts. As much as I am a big fan of mayonnaise, I have never been able to get down with the idea of it on my cold salads. I have never enjoyed it on potato salad, coleslaw or pasta salad. Not sure why. Maybe it’s too many picnics in my youth, seeing the salad and the mayo baking away in the sun, no one has a care in the world. I won’t ruin it for those of you that like it, but it’s just not for me.
With Easter Sunday just a few short days away, I, clearly, cannot get breakfast off my mind. I got a beautiful bunch of brussels sprouts and beautiful green garlic from our CSA box (community supported agriculture), bacon and eggs from a local farmer and I had some organic russet potatoes on-hand from another recipe I was creating – it was as if this recipe created itself.
There is something about brunch that just makes me so happy. After a long and busy week, a weekend brunch is that welcomed slow highlight, that light at the end of the hectic tunnel. To me brunch is a time to relish in the quiet and the peace, the time to connect with your people. Holiday or not, I feel like every single week should include one incredible brunch. Whether made at home or out at your favorite local eatery.
The wonderful thing about this hash is how simple it is to make. It’s a one-pan meal on it’s own. It is fantastic served alongside a spring-inspired frittata, or maybe some delicious savory breakfast muffins, or just keep it crazy simple and fry up a couple of eggs and plop them on top. Done and done.
This tutorial falls under the category of simple, yet sweet. Or should I say, simple, yet savory! This is the perfect weeknight meal solution and as of recent, it is a near weekly occurrence in our house. I grab a fresh 3-4 lb whole pasture-raised chicken at the farmers market or Whole Foods, I rub it down, season it up, pile it atop some root veggies in the Crock Pot and voila, 4 hours later, dinner is ready.
The best part of a weekly whole chicken is how many meals we get from it. The meal from the whole roasted chicken is good for at least 2-3 meals, we enjoy it with the potatoes, as chicken salad, on top of big green salads, etc. Then I make a big pot of stock from the leftover bones and we get another 2-3 meals from that. This is truly a must for any busy family.
The seasonings on your chicken can vary with your preference and your mood. Generally I use this all-purpose herb and seasoning blend, that I love, occasionally I will opt for a spicy, chile pepper rub, it’s also great with lemon zest, garlic and freshly ground black pepper. The possibilities are endless. Seriously, you will never buy that rotisserie chicken from the store, again.
Hey guys! Happy New Year! I hope your holidays were perfect and amazing. After a busy final few months of the year, I decided to take the holiday time away from all the work and projects and simply enjoy my husband and our life. Really relish in the magic of the holidays, one of my favorite times of the year. We went to Palm Springs for a few days, went on hikes, to the beach, lots of walks and bike rides in the neighborhood and all that good stuff. It was a break I needed very much and I was happy to get grounded in what really matters this time of year.
I came back to it all yesterday feeling refreshed and excited for this new year ahead. I had time to get organized and focus on what my goals are for this new year. It always feels good to step away and bring an awareness and clarity to the important things in life.
I made lots of comforting and healthy food during the break, with just a little indulging here and there. We worked our way through all of our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) goodies from our box from Beachgreens. With these beautiful organic Russian banana fingerlings potatoes and the unique organic white carrots, I was simply going to roast them, one of my favorite ways to enjoy veggies this time of year, but with the cooler weather a bowl of comforting soup was calling my name. I had some chicken bone broth in the freezer from one of the chickens we got from our farmer a while back, so it was perfect.
Oh my gosh do I love Indian food. The unique flavors and spices are unlike any other cuisine and they instantly make me so happy. Although Indian food may be intimidating to some, I find that once you experiment and learn some of the foundational spices used, you can really very easily make many of your favorite dishes at home.
This particular classic Indian dish is one of my favorites when I order at restaurants and although it is traditionally a butter based tomato sauce with heavy cream, most places will substitute the coconut milk for the cream and leave out the butter, if you are dairy-free or vegan. The name Makhani isn’t exactly accurate without the butter, since Makhan literally means butter and we are leaving it out here, but for the sake of being an alternative to the traditional recipe, I kept the name the same. I personally think it is just as good this way, if not better.
I know you guys are aware just how much I adore cooking foods inspired by the season and what is most fresh. I don’t have to sell you on that. This salad came from a recent trip to the farmers market where I decided to grab the most delicious, in-season produce I could and just create from there. I had no clue what I was making when I bought everything, I just got it home and started brainstorming.
This salad is full of flavor, beautiful Spring colors and I love the combination of the tender baby red potatoes with the crunch for the sugar snap peas and the radishes. Plus the light dressing, is such a nice alternative to the usual creamy mayo-based dressings on most potato salads. The mint is the perfect compliment to the salad, finishing it with a bright, fresh flavor.
This salad is naturally gluten-free and vegan, so it would be perfect as a side dish at a BBQ or picnic when you have folks with restricted diets. It is sure to please all. This post was originally shared on Free People blog BLDG 25.5 from 1 reviewsSpring Potato Salad with Sugar Snap Peas and Radishes - Gluten-free + VeganPrep timeCook timeTotal timeServes: 4-6IngredientsDressing
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 lb baby red potatoes, washed and cut into ½-inch slices
- ½ lb sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 1 small bunch radishes, 4 to 6, trimmed and sliced thin
- 1 /2 small red onion, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons fresh mint, sliced thin
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Whisk the 4 dressing ingredients together in a small bowl to combine. Set aside.
- Set up an ice bath in a large bowl, by filling it with cold water and ice cubes. Meanwhile bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a rolling boil, add the sugar snap peas and blanch for 1 to 2 minutes, immediately remove the snap peas to the ice bath with a slotted spoon. Leave the pot of water on the stove and over a medium-high heat. Add the potatoes to the same pot and bring the water back to a boil. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender.
- Drain the potatoes and if you want to cool them quicker, run some cold water over them.
- Once the snap peas and potatoes are cooled and drained (you can pat them dry to make sure they are nice and dry), add them to a large serving bowl with radishes, onion and fresh mint. Mix the dressing and pour over the salad. Toss gently to combine. Salt and pepper, to taste.
- Serve at room temperature or cold, and enjoy!
We just got back from a week-long vacation (yes, an actual vacation, no working, just vacation) on South Padre Island in the Gulf of Mexico. We spent the week on the beach, enjoying each other’s company, celebrating our 4-year wedding anniversary and just relaxing. It was much-needed and absolutely perfect. After a long, busy and very cold winter we both needed some time to do nothing and we definitely needed the sunshine and hot temps. It was also nice to enjoy some summer-esque cocktails and meals, too. There really is nothing like eating fresh gulf shrimp at a beach bar that overlooks the beautiful, crystal blue gulf; cocktail in hand, slathered in sunscreen, wearing a sundress and sandals – all with the person you love most. I am already missing and craving that feeling. However, like many good things, the trip had to come to an end and we had to come back home to life and all of the craziness. Unfortunately, this also meant coming home to cool, almost autumn-like weather. You’d never guess it by looking out the window or feeling the cold breeze, that it is actually spring here in Buffalo.
The temperatures have been in the 40s and 50s and rainy since we got home and I am not sure the sun has shown it’s face once. Strangely, all I have wanted since we got off the plane was hot soup, but I really wanted to take advantage of the beautiful spring produce showing up at the market. I decided to make a big pot of this delicious and creamy spring soup with a gorgeous spring salad on the side. I actually doubled this recipe since I knew life would be a bit crazy (and cold and rainy) this week and it would be perfect for leftovers. This soup was exactly what my body and mind both wanted, hot and creamy, light, healthy and green! It is hard to believe this soup is naturally vegan, it is so creamy, achieved from the potatoes instead of dairy. Topped with spicy dried red pepper flakes, bright green chives from our yard and a drizzle of some really good olive oil, it was absolute nutrient-filled perfection.
We leave for NYC next week for work, hopefully before we go I will both get to the farmers market and the weather will warm up a bit so I can start posting even more spring dishes. Do you have any favorite spring recipes?
Creamy Asparagus, Potato and Leek Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Vidalia onion, diced
1 large leek, rinsed very well, slice thinly white and light green parts only*
1 pound organic asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces
1 pound organic russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
4-5 cups low sodium organic vegetable broth or low sodium organic chicken broth
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh marjoram, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for serving
Bunch of fresh chives, sliced thin
Additional high quality olive oil to drizzle over top
If you wish the soup to be even creamier you can add in 1/4 cup of greek yogurt (or half and half or heavy cream) just before pureeing
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over low heat. Add the onions and leeks and cook, covered, until they are soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add in the asparagus and potatoes and cook another 5-8 minutes. Add the broth, herbs and crushed red pepper. Simmer until the potatoes and asparagus are soft, about 15 minutes. If you notice that there isn’t enough liquid you can add water to the broth so it doesn’t get too thick when you puree it.
Ladle the soup into a blender and puree until smooth (be sure not to blend too much soup at once and put a towel over the lid when you are blending so the hot soup doesn’t explode out). Add the pureed soup to a large bowl. Continue blending the whole pot of soup in batches, until it has all been blended. Add the soup back to your pot, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, serve immediately topped with a sprinkle of both red pepper flakes and freshly chopped chives. Drizzle with a high-quality olive oil.
* a quick note on cleaning leeks: leeks tend to have a lot of dirt and grit in them. If you aren’t careful when cleaning them, you may think they are totally clean, start cooking with them and find your entire dish has a nasty grittiness to it. This can ruin a dish. After trimming off the ends (called the beards) and the dark green tops (save these for stocks). You can run them under cold water at this point, or even better, you can submerge the leeks in a large pot of cold water. Swirl them around to really remove all the grit and dirt. Drain well and then cut.
There is something about a creamy and spicy soup that just warms your tummy and your soul. It is still bitter cold here in Buffalo and I am trying to look on the bright side of this brutal winter, by enjoying that I can still cook hearty and hot, wintry dinners. I know soon when the warm weather is upon us, I will miss the hot soups and stews, one of my favorite things about the winter months.
This soup brings a nice kick of smokey spice from the chipotles, it’s comforting, thick and creamy, three things that just really make winter dinner satisfying, to me. The great thing about this soup and the fact that most of the creaminess comes from blending the potatoes, is that it can easily be made vegan. Go with vegetable stock over chicken and you can either skip the milk altogether or use a non-dairy milk like plain unsweetened almond, rice or soy milk. Then just skip the cheese or top with your favorite vegan cheese. I used local, pasture-raised whole milk that we bought at Farmers and Artisans, one of the few milks I have ever tasted that is actually good enough to enjoy a glass of (in my opinion). There is only a cup of milk and a cup of cheese in the entire pot of soup, so don’t even feel the littlest bit guilty about it. On the other hand, if you have no guilt and really want to indulge, you could go with a cup of heavy cream instead of milk and maybe even some crispy bacon on top, why not right? Either way, before the warm weather shows itself again, you need to make a pot of this soup and not only remember, but enjoy the lovely things about the winter that we will all surely miss in the heat of July or August. Trust me, we all miss it, even just a little.
Chipotle Potato Soup with Bell Pepper Salsa
Bell Pepper Salsa
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped red onion
Juice from 1 lime
Kosher salt , to taste
In small bowl, mix together bell peppers, cilantro and onion. Squeeze lime over. Gently stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.
Chipotle Potato Soup
2 1/2 – 3 lbs red potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch cubes
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (this soup is spicy, go with less chipotles if you don’t want all the heat, you can always add in more)
6 cups low-sodium vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 cup organic whole milk (you can either skip the milk and add an extra cup of stock or use a non-dairy milk and skip the cheese, to make this soup vegan)
1 teaspoon ground chili powder
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, plus additional for garnish
kosher salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
In a large pan of salted water over high-heat, bring the potatoes to a boil and then drop the heat to simmer and cook for approximately 20 minutes, until potatoes are soft. Drain.
In a large stock pot, over high heat, sauté onion, bell peppers and garlic in olive oil for 2 minutes, add the chipotle chiles and the chili powder. Lower heat to medium; continue cooking until the onions are soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes, stock and milk (if you are using it) to the stock pot. Bring to gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer 10-15 minutes. Turn off heat and let the soup cool about 5 minutes.
Purée with immersion blender or in batches using a regular blender*, until smooth, gradually adding cheese. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Ladle the soup in large serving bowls and top with shredded cheese and the bell pepper salsa.
* When blending hot soup in a blender, do so in small batches, filling the blender pitcher only about halfway. Put the lid on, but remove that small cap in the lid (if you have it) and hold the lid down tight with a towel, otherwise the steam will cause the lid to explode off, spewing hot liquid everywhere. This has never happened to me, but it can, so be careful.
As you can probably tell from reading my recipes, we eat very little meat in our household. We aren’t vegetarians, but I would say we are mostly vegetarian. I consider myself to be a conscientious omnivore, I do eat meat occasionally, but only meat that I know where it comes from, how it was raised, what it ate, etc. At this point the only meat in our house comes from a local farm where it was all pasture-raised without the use of hormones, antibiotics or other chemicals. We have visited the farm, we have seen the animals and we have shaken the hand of the man who does it all. This is the only way I will ever buy meat for our home. It feels right. This fall we shared a pig with my parents. We have more pork that you can even imagine in our freezer. At home I would say we probably enjoy pork once or twice a month and chicken once a month. I have a good supply of this wonderful ground italian sausage that is unlike anything you can ever imagine. So tasty, sweet, subtly spicy and not too greasy, it is perfect. Without the ability to make patties and throw them on the grill (it is WAY too cold for that), I was trying to think of some winter friendly ways to enjoy the sausage. I thought a nice hearty soup would be perfect. I was torn between a tomato-based vegetable pasta sausage soup but then I thought something creamy and hearty sounded even better (though I plan to make that first soup soon).
This soup was really incredible, spicy and creamy with a nice green crunch from the spinach. The fresh herbs were wonderful, though dried will do if you can’t find fresh. I wanted it to be nice and brothy and wanted more servings so I used about 7 or 8 cups of chicken broth, you can certainly go with less, 5 or 6, if you want it to be a chunkier and less brothy soup. I also decided to go with half and half versus heavy cream to keep it a bit lighter per serving, but heavy cream would certainly be delicious and with less broth you would have a nice thick soup, just a bit fewer servings. Oh and the freshly grated parmesan cheese on top really sets this soup over the edge. It is the perfect finishing move.
*I am not at all crazy about the photo of this soup, it was hard to photograph with all the lovely bits, and I forgot to put the cheese on top for the photo, but you get the idea.
Creamy Italian Sausage and Potato Soup
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound of ground Italian pork sausage, local, pasture-raised and free from hormones and antibiotics
6-8 cups of organic chicken broth, low sodium
5 small russet potatoes, washed and cut into 1 inch cubes with the skins still on
1/2 cup of fresh basil, roughly chopped
1/2 cup of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more if you like spicy)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup of organic half and half
2 cups of coarsely cut spinach
1/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Place the olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the onion and garlic and saute until the onion gets soft. At this point add the Italian Sausage and cook until its browned. Our sausage isn’t very greasy so I didn’t need to pour any out, if your sausage produces a lot of grease pour some off before adding the soup.
In a large stock pot over medium-high heat add in the chicken broth, potatoes, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, pepper and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and bring to a simmer, allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
After the soup has been simmering add the sausage, onion and garlic mixture and cook another 5-10 minutes. After it is done simmering, add in the half and half and stir. Reduce the heat and be sure it doesn’t boil. Cook another 2 minutes. Taste the soup, add more salt and pepper to taste. More red pepper flakes if you want it spicier.
Remove the soup from the heat, add in the spinach and cover. Let it sit for an additional 3-5 minutes until the spinach is cooked.
Ladle the soup in your bowls and sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese.
We rarely go out to eat anymore, we try to cook and eat at home most of the time and reserve going out to eat for special occasions. We seem to enjoy it so much more. One of my favorite things about going out to eat has always been when I find a dish I really think has potential but it just isn’t quite there, I love coming home and recreating the dish the way I would like it. On the flip side, when you are out and have the perfect dish, everything is just right, I love to still come home and recreate it my way, keeping the integrity of the elements and ingredients that made me fall in love in the first place. This past week our good friends from Toronto, Ben and Esther came up for the day and we went out for dinner. We took them to Betty’s, a wonderful home-style but eclectic restaurant in the neighborhood where our store is. Betty’s has a large menu that features local and seasonal ingredients and dishes that warm your soul just reading about them. I ordered their Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie that had a bit of a goat cheese crust on top. I had never had goat cheese on a shepherd’s pie and it was so perfect. Everything about theirs was delightful, so much so that I found myself recreating it just a mere 3 days later.
What I love most about this dish, besides how delicious it is, is the fact that you can totally make and assemble it a day or two ahead of time and hold off on the baking. It is perfect for a busy week like we are in the midst of this week. I made it all on Sunday, waited for it to cool, popped it in the fridge and pulled it out the next night. I also love how many meals it yields for the two of us, we’ve been enjoying it all week for lunches.
This dish is so hearty and it is the perfect belly-warming meal for a cold winter night. The lentils provide as much protein as any meat that would traditionally be in a shepherd’s pie and it has an incredible amount of healthy goodies in it. You can easily make this vegan by substituting a non-dairy milk and a non-dairy butter in the mashed potatoes and skipping the goat cheese.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Lentils and Goat Cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and diced
2-3 organic carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of organic celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
a small bunch of fresh rosemary
1 small bunch of fresh parsley
1 cup of dry organic lentil beans
1 28-ounce can of organic diced tomatoes
6-8 organic baby potatoes, peels on, halved and sliced
1 cup frozen organic green peas
2lbs potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large whole clove of garlic, peeled
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup whole organic local milk (use non-dairy milk if vegan)
2 tablespoons organic butter (use vegan butter substitute like Earth Balance if vegan)
3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (skip if vegan)
1 fresh nutmeg, for grating
Prepare the lentils. Add 1 cups of lentils to a few cups of water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and allow to boil approximately 30-45 minutes until cooked. Once the lentils are cooked, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, chop and prepare all of your vegetables. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat, add in the onions, celery and carrots. Saute for about 8-10 minutes, then add in the minced garlic, saute another 2 minutes. Add in your cooked lentils, fresh herbs, tomatoes and their juice, potatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to simmer approximately 30-45 minutes until the veggies are no longer hard and it is nice and thick. Add in the frozen peas when there is about 10 minutes of cooking left.
While your filling is cooking, peel and dice your potatoes (if they are small/medium sized, quartered are perfect), bring the potatoes to a boil in a large pot with the clove of garlic and a bit of salt, boil for 10-15 minutes until they are soft. Remove the pan from the heat and drain. Pour in approximately a 1/2 cup of milk to start (you can add more as needed), the butter and a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Mash by hand, with a ricer or with a hand mixer.
If you are going to cook and eat the shepherd’s pie right away, preheat your oven to 375º. Transfer the lentil mixture to a large 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish, spoon the mashed potato mixture on top and spread it evenly. Crumble the goat cheese over the top of the entire dish and sprinkle with fresh ground nutmeg. Cook for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Scoop a large portion onto each plate, garnish with a sprig of rosemary and a sprinkle of fresh nutmeg. Serve.
If you are making this ahead and plan to eat it the next day, hold off on the goat cheese, allow it to cool, cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate up to a day or two. Sprinkle the goat cheese on just before baking. Baking time will increase when coming from a cool refrigerator, it may take more like 45 minutes.
This past weekend, I had to make sure to make a trip to the Elmwood Bidwell Farmers Market, since it was the second to last weekend that it is going to be there. I stocked up on pumpkins and squashes, brussel sprouts, arugula, sage, leeks, potatoes and so much more. I couldn’t wait to get home and make a huge pot of this creamy potato leek soup. I was happy to find I had everything I needed for this soup already in the pantry, so I could just throw it together quick and enjoy my Saturday evening at home, cuddling with hubby and puppy. I decided to skip any type of cream or milk and go with vegetable broth to keep this soup vegan. I am telling you, on first taste, you could swear there was some type of dairy in there, Mark couldn’t believe it. It is so creamy. If you’d like to go with a chicken stock instead, feel free and if you want the ultimate in creaminess, add a splash or two of heavy cream or milk. I honestly suggest making this soup without the dairy first, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how creamy it is without it and no reason to add the extra calories and fat. If you really want to be indulgent, top your soup with some crumbled bacon (only if it’s farm fresh pastured-raised, humanely treated bacon, of course).
Potato Leek Soup
3 leeks, rinsed very well, slice thinly white and light green parts only*
2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
6 cups organic low-sodium vegetable broth (you can also use chicken broth, water or any combination of the three)
2 lbs of potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon of marjoram (I didn’t have fresh, so I used dried)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme plus a dash more for serving (use can use dried here, just use less)
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the leek slices and season with salt and pepper. Cook leeks over a medium-low heat for approximately 10 minutes. Stir often, making sure they don’t brown. Cook until they are soft and wilted. Add your thyme marjoram and cayenne pepper, stir to combine.
Pour in your broth and add your potatoes. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender. This can take anywhere from 15-30 minutes. Check for doneness by piercing a potato with a sharp knife. If it goes in easily, they are done.
Scoop the soup into a blender and puree until smooth. (be sure not to blend too much soup at once and put a towel over the lid when you are blending so the hot soup doesn’t explode out) Add the pureed soup to a large bowl. Continue blending the whole pot of soup in batches, until it has all been blended. Add the soup back to your pot, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top each bowl with a few sprinkles of freshly chopped thyme.
* a quick note on cleaning leeks: leeks tend to have a lot of dirt and grit in them. If you aren’t careful when cleaning them, you may think they are totally clean, start cooking with them and find your entire dish has a nasty grittiness to it. This can ruin a dish 🙁 After trimming off the ends (called the beards) and the dark green tops (save these for stocks). You can run them under cold water at this point, or even better, you can submerge the leeks in a large pot of cold water. Swirl them around to really remove all the grit and dirt. Drain well and then cut.
I usually am not a fan of mayo based potato salad, something about most of them just never seems very appetizing to me. However, I had been meaning to experiment with a yogurt-based dressing as an alternative. I had bought some great yogurt cheese from White Cow Dairy at the farmer’s market and I thought that would be perfect for a potato salad dressing. White Cow Dairy is located in East Otto, NY where all of their cows enjoy a life full of grazing on their lush pastures. They make a variety of artisan products including custards, crème bulgares, thick yogurts, whey drinks, sauces and more. When sweetening is required, their products are flavored with maple found right on their own land, additionally they use wild leeks, onions, blueberries and apples all from the land on or surrounding their farm. I love that.
I really don’t know much about yogurt cheese, just that it is the creamy white cheese you get when liquid whey drains from yogurt. It has a great thick and rich consistency without the fat and it really gives a nice tang to all kinds of dishes. I have put it on everything from veggie burgers to fresh berries. It is quite versatile with either sweet or savory items. I will definitely be buying it again. I have also seen recipes for making your own yogurt cheese at home, though I am not sure I would bother considering the perfection that White Cow Dairy has achieved with theirs.
As usual, I threw this recipe together by taste, so I am not exactly sure on the measurements. I had a small bushel of baby potatoes from the market last week that needed to get eaten up, so I just pulled this together on the fly.
Potato Salad with Yogurt Cheese Dressing
1 cup yogurt cheese
approx 1/4 cup organic milk to thin the cheese
approx 30 or so baby potatoes, (red or otherwise)
half of a medium-sized red onion, chopped
fresh herbs, dill, chives, etc (dried will work as well)
fresh ground black pepper
In salty water, boil the potatoes, cook until soft. Drain and allow to cool. Once cooled, you can peel and half them. I leave the peels on myself. Put the halved potatoes in a large serving bowl, add the chopped red onion, chopped fresh chives and dill (I went with dried dill as that was all I had). To prepare the dressing, take 1 cup of the yogurt and slowly add the milk, one tablespoon at a time, whisking. Add milk until the yogurt is thinned to your desired consistency. I left mine fairly thick, but not chunky. Add the dressing to the potato salad and season with salt and pepper. Mix to combine and coat, being careful not to mash the potatoes. Taste and add more seasonings as needed. Chill until you are ready to serve. Allowing this to chill for a good couple of hours really brings all the flavors together and all the ingredients get nice and cold. Serve with fresh chives and fresh ground pepper on top. Enjoy.
Last night after we left the studio, we had planned on throwing together something quick and heading to the grocery store to grab what we needed for the next week. By the time we got home, the sun was still shining and neither of us felt like grocery shopping, so instead I decided we could make do with what we had at home and put the grocery store off one more night. I am glad we did.
We had a bag of baby potatoes and some delicious handmade veggie burgers from the Farmers Market, so I decided we would be able to do something amazing with these plus some frozen organic peas. Both my oregano and chives came up on their own from last season and they are growing out of control, taking over my herb box, so I have been trying to take advantage and use them in almost everything I make. Since we were firing up the grill for the brown rice and spinach burgers, this sounded like the perfect way to make a side dish with the potatoes. They really turned out great. There was so much flavor from the fresh herbs and the crispy smoke flavor from the grill was perfect. I think we will be making this a lot this summer.
Grilled Herb Potato Salad
30 baby potatoes, halved
coarse kosher salt
3 garlic cloves, halve two of the cloves, mince the third
1 shallot, diced
1 bunch of fresh oregano, chopped
1 bunch of fresh chives, chopped
1/4 cup of pine nuts
freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Start by precooking the potatoes. Add the halved baby potatoes, a tablespoon of course salt, two cloves of garlic (halved) and enough water to cover the potatoes by 1-inch to a medium-sized pot over high heat. Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for approximately 10-12 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender.
Drain potatoes in a colander and rinse with cold water to cool quickly and stop the potatoes from cooking.
Start your grill, preheat with the cover on for about 10 minutes on high. Lightly spray a grill pan with cooking spray to keep the potatoes from sticking (if you do not have a grill pan, you can also thread the potatoes onto skewers).
Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the diced shallot, minced garlic, the chopped fresh herbs, plus 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix the mixture to combine the ingredients and then remove half of the mixture to a small bowl, set aside. Add the potatoes to the large mixing bowl, and toss to coat the potatoes with the oil and herb mixture.
Pour the potatoes into the grill pan and set onto your hot grill, we got a bit of smoke because of the little bit of oil dripping, but it gave the potatoes a great smokey flavor. Give the potatoes a stir every few minutes to make sure they aren’t sticking. Once you are sure they aren’t sticking, you can stir them last which will allow them to get crispier. Cook them over a high heat for approximately 15-20 minutes until they are fully cooked and starting to brown and crisp up a bit. (This time will depend on how hot your grill is, we couldn’t get our grill super hot so it took a bit longer, it may only take about 10-15 minutes on a very hot grill). Remove the grill pan from the heat, and add the potatoes back to your large mixing bowl, add the remainder of the oil and herb mixture, the pine nuts, lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Toss gently to combine. Enjoy.
(This can also easily be made by roasting or broiling the potatoes in shallow baking pan in your oven. The potatoes can also be boiled 1 day ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Bring them to room temperature before boiling)
Yesterday was the first day of our big Farmers Market at Elmwood and Bidwell and I knew all week that the weather was doomed for it’s opening day. We decided to meet my parents there right at 9 am to possibly beat the rain and wind. It actually wasn’t too bad, though it felt more like a very cool Autumn Day, not Spring. We walked around, looked at everything, ran into friends and began to make a plan for what we wanted to buy. The sun even peaked out a time or two. Eventually dark clouds made their way overhead, the wind picked up and we knew we should probably make our purchases soon.
We got so much great stuff, apples, leeks, spinach, asparagus, baby potatoes, veggie burgers, yogurt leek sauce, homemade strawberry jam, fresh from the farm eggs, sausage, bacon, and a beautiful, whole, fresh Heritage chicken. I decided this would be dinner. A roast chicken. It was the perfect day for it, it was cold, rainy and windy and I just wanted to stay in. So, I took a look at everything else we bought and made a plan.
Roast Chicken, Apples, Leeks and Baby Potatoes
Serves 2 with leftover veggies
2 medium apples (I used Crispin) chopped
1 leek (white and light green parts), chopped
1 pound of baby potatoes, halved
4 small sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 3 pound whole chicken – we had a farm raised, all natural, heritage chicken from Painted Meadows Farms in Franklinville, NY
Preheat your oven to 350° F
Rinse the bird, inside and out and pat dry. Place the potatoes, leeks and apples in the roasting tray of a large roasting pan, place the chicken in the center (breast side up). Drizzle olive oil over everything, making sure to get a good light coating over the whole bird to give you a crispy, perfectly browned skin. Sprinkle everything with rosemary, sea salt and freshly ground pepper. You can also sprinkle the inside of the bird with your spices as well, I did that plus I stuffed a couple of chopped leeks in there, as well as a whole sprig of rosemary. Toss the vegetables gently to make sure they are coated.
Roast the chicken until it is cooked through and the apples, potatoes and leeks are tender. I took the chicken out around 2 hours and the veggies could still use more time, so I took the chicken out to rest, took the vegetables out of the roasting tray so they could cook in the juices from the chicken and turned the oven up to 400° F. I wanted to get them really brown and crispy, the way we like them. Taste the veggies as they are done and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Allow the chicken to rest 10-15 minutes before cutting into it, this will allow the juices to redistribute. Serve with a nice helping of the apples, leeks and potatoes.
We found that the Heritage Chicken was much different from any other chicken we had ever roasted before, it had an incredible scent when it came out of the oven and it tasted so amazing, a much more rich chicken flavor than from the grocery store chickens. We found the dark meat to be very dark and slightly tougher (almost gamier), a bit more like a cornish hen. However, the breast meat was impeccable, what chicken should taste like, the best I have ever had. The skin, though I don’t typically eat it any way, was thicker than usual and tough to eat. Mark usually eats as much as he can before I start nagging him about the fat, but this time he couldn’t eat much. I’ll have to ask the women we bought the chicken from next week if there is a trick for cooking the Heritage birds, from what I had read it is best to cook these birds low and slow so as not to dry them out and toughen the meat. The legs on this bird seemed longer than I have ever seen and they were sticking straight up (!), but I didn’t have any kitchen twine to truss them, so I went without. I am curious if that could have been why the leg meat seemed tougher, maybe it was overcooked.
We ate dinner a bit later than normal last night, so by the time it was ready it was fairly dark and the pictures of the finished bird are not that great. Still working on a way around the night-time photos.
All in all, this was the perfect start to the farmers market season, I cannot wait to make more meals this week with the goodies we bought and of course to go back next week.