Cauliflower Cheese and Potato Soup

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This simple soup is a delicious warm-me-up on a cold day. Roasting the cauliflower adds a nice flavor to the soup. Creamy without adding cream.

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1 large head cauliflower

1 medium onion

2 small cloves garlic

4 cups chicken broth. You can substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup.

2 large Yukon gold potatoes or one large Russet potato

3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Approximately 3 Tb olive oil for roasting and sauteing

Directions: Preheat oven to 425′

caulifloweretsCut the cauliflower into florets, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt in a baking pan.

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Roast cauliflower for 20 minutes, until it is golden brown and crispy at the edges.

While cauliflower is roasting, chop onion and saute in olive oil in the bottom of a big heavy saucepan. Smash and mince garlic and add to onion. Saute over medium heat until translucent. Add the chicken stock (or vegetable stock) and heat to boiling. While soup is heating, peel the potatoes and chop into small cubes. Add to the boiling soup.

Add most of the roasted cauliflower, reserving about 1/3 cup for garnish. Let soup cook over medium heat for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are soft.

While soup is cooking, grate the sharp cheddar cheese.

When potatoes are soft, add the soup in batches to a blender. Blend in batches and set aside in a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese to the last batch, then pour back into the pot. Pour all the blended soup into the pot and heat until it’s hot enough to serve, stirring well. Adjust salt and pepper.

Pour the soup into bowls. Garnish with the reserved roasted cauliflowerets.

 

 

 

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Empanadas de Camote: Yam Turnovers

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Empanadas de Camote are our favorite Mexican pan dulce (pastry). After years of trying different doughs, from cream cheese and butter dough that was delicious but fell apart, to yeast dough that reminded us of Rio Grande valley empanadas, to pie dough, I hit the jackpot with modified scone dough! Easy to make and easy to use, light and tasty!

Ingredients:

Dough:

3 Tb granulated sugar

2 Tb  brown sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the board

1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 Tb baking powder

2 large eggs

2/3 cup heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

Filling:

1 large yam, baked for an hour and 20 minutes until super soft, peeled and smashed

2 Tb brown sugar

1/4 tsp cinnamon

A couple of shakes pumpkin pie spice

A couple of shakes nutmeg

2 Tb heavy cream

A pinch of coarse demerara sugar to decorate

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400′

Sift together dry ingredients in a medium large bowl, and whisk well to mix

Whisk together egg, cream and vanilla in a smaller bowl

Add egg mixture to dry mixture, reserving a tablespoon to brush on the empanadas.

Mix with large spoon, then with hands until all the flour is absorbed.

IMG_0523Form into 8 balls, then roll each ball in a circle. dough should be thin.

IMG_0521Mix the brown sugar, spices and cream together until smooth. Mash the yam into the sugar mixture and stir until well blended.

IMG_0525Scoop a ball of yam mixture into the dough circles

IMG_0526Fold dough over so there is about a 1/2 inch space between the the 2 sides.

IMG_0527Then fold bottom side up over the top

IMG_0528Crimp to seal using your thumb and forefinger.

IMG_0530Brush with reserved egg wash using a pastry brush or your finger. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake at 400′ for 20 minutes until golden brown

 

Blueberry and Cream Scones

open-scone.jpgBursting with Blueberries and light as a feather, these moist and delicious scones are the perfect way to start your day. Recipe is inspired by Trang’s Lemon Blueberry Cream Scones from her site Wild Wild Whisk: https://wildwildwhisk.com/lemon-blueberry-cream-scones

Ingredients: (half recipe in parentheses)

blueberries on paper towel

1 heaping cup (1/2 cup) fresh blueberries

1/3 cup (2 Tb and 2 tsp) granulated sugar

Grated zest of one large lemon (preferably Meyer lemon)

2 cups (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus extra to flour the board

1/2 tsp (1/4 tsp) Kosher salt

1 Tb (1 1/2 tsp) baking powder

2 (1) large eggs

2/3 cup (1/3 cup) heavy cream

1 tsp (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400′

Rinse blueberries, then spread out on paper towels to dry.

lemon sugarMeasure sugar into medium bowl. Grate lemon zest into sugar, and rub sugar over the grater afterward to scrub out all the zest from it. Whisk sugar well until it turns yellow and is fragrant with the zest.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into sugar, then whisk well to mix.

blueberries in flour mixAdd the blueberries to the flour mix and gently mix in with a large spoon.

In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs, cream and vanilla together until well blended.

Pour all but a tablespoon of liquid into the flour mixture. (You will use the reserved egg mixture to brush on the scones before baking.) Using your hands, gently mix the dough until all the flour mix is absorbed. Dough will be sticky.

sliced round of sconesGenerously flour a pastry board. Place the dough on the board and turn it several times until it is no longer sticky. Mold it into a large circle about an inch thick. Dip a large sharp knife into the flour and cut the circle into 8 pieces. Coat the knife before each cut. You may need to cut twice.

scones on baking sheetLine an insulated cookie sheet with parchment paper. This is an important step to prevent blueberry juice from making a mess on your cookie sheet! Using a metal spatula, arrange the scones on the paper lined pan so that they are not touching. Use a pastry brush to brush the reserved egg mixture on the top of each scone.

Bake for 22 minutes until golden brown. Transfer parchment paper onto a cooling rack and let scones cool until you can’t wait any longer.

 

Mango Salmon

mango salmon on plateSalmon and mango pan fried in coconut oil!

Serves 2-3 people (about 1/4 pound salmon each)

mango salmon ingredients.JPGIngredients:

3/4 pound salmon filet

1 – 2 tsp coconut oil. I used the virgin oil with coconut flavor

1/2 Manila mango, sliced

1/2 small lemon

1/2 tsp butter

Directions:

Melt 1 tsp coconut oil over medium heat in heavy frying pan. I use my cast iron skillet.

Put salmon fillet in, skin side down. Add mango slices. Cover skillet for about 3-4 minutes until the skin is well cooked.

mango salmon in panFlip salmon over and ease skin off with a metal spatula. Spread a little bit of butter on top of the salmon and squeeze some lemon on.

Add another tsp of coconut oil to the pan and flip the mango slices over. Cover pan and let cook for another 3-4 minutes until the salmon is starting to cook through. Flip the salmon over and spread a bit more butter on top and squeeze some more lemon on it and the mango slices.

Cut salmon into portions and serve with mango slices on top.

 

 

Mexican Wedding Cookies with Anise: Pastelitas de Boda con Anís

IMG_0278Bizcochitos are anise studded Mexican sugar cookies. I combined this idea with the recipe for  Mexican Wedding Cookies I found in Joy of Cooking. It made a tasty cookie even more delicious. These are a special treat at Christmastime which melts in your mouth with a lovely anise flavor.

Ingredients:

Anise

1 cup shelled pecans

2 sticks unsalted butter (1/2 pound), softened

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar plus 1/3 cup for rolling the cookies in

1 Tb vanilla

1 teaspoon anise seeds

2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

raosted pecansSpread pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes. Let cool on a plate. Run in food processor until they are in tiny pieces, but not powdery or oily.

whip butterBeat softened butter, add salt, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla on medium speed until it is fluffy. Gradually add pecans and anise and beat until they are incorporated into the butter mixture.

Sift the flour over the top and slowly beat until well blended.

Grease cookie sheets. Roll 1 inch balls between your palms and place them on the cookie sheets about 1 inch apart. Bake the sheets one at a time at 350′ for 12-15 minutes until tinged with golden brown. Rotate the sheet halfway through for even browning.

Place sheet on a rack to cool until the cookies begin to firm. Then remove the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

roll in powdered sugarRoll cooled cookies in 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar to coat them.

 

 

 

 

Cream of Roasted Mushroom Turkey soup

serving cream of mushroom soupOne of my comfort foods as a young woman was Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup over noodles. This post-Thanksgiving soup brings it up a quite few notches with roasted Cremini mushrooms. These earthy brown mushrooms, also known as baby bellas, are the middle child between the common white mushroom and the mature portobellos. I  add a large portobello and some shiitake mushrooms and a few pungent dried chanterelle and porcini mushrooms for extra savory umami flavor.

I used leftover turkey from Thanksgiving for the broth.

This soup takes a couple of days to make. Make the broth the first day. You can also roast the mushrooms the first day, or wait until the second day.

Makes about 8 bowls of soup

Ingredients:

roasted mushrooms1 turkey carcass with accompanying herbs, vegetables and drippings

about 16 cups of water (1 gallon)

1 pound cremini mushrooms

1 large portobello mushroom

5 shiitake mushrooms

5 dried chanterelle mushrooms

5 dried porcini mushrooms

4 Tb olive oil, divided

1 leek

1 shallot

3 handfuls (4 ounces) of egg noodles

1/2 cup cream, half and half or milk depending on the amount of richness and calories you desire.

several grinds black pepper

1/4 cup dry sherry

1 – 2 tsp salt to taste (I use sea salt)

8 oz (1/2 pound) frozen peas

Make a turkey broth using the skin and carcass of the Thanksgiving turkey and the accompanying roast vegetables and drippings, adding a gallon of water (16 cups) to a large pot. If you make a plain roast turkey, add several stalks celery, an onion, several leeks and a couple of carrots along with several sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme to the broth. Scrape as much white meat and wing meat from the carcass, making this a bare bones operation (couldn’t resist that one!) Save some of the dark meat but add the thigh meat into the broth. Add salt to taste. Boil for a couple of hours, then pour through  sieve into a large container. Let sit in the refrigerator overnight until the fat separates.

Shred and chop the turkey meat until you have 2 cups, and set aside.

Soak the dried mushrooms in a cup of water for at least 20 minutes until soft.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Scrub fresh mushrooms with a soft mushroom brush or wet paper towel. Wrap a paper towel around a bunch at a time to dry them. Slice the woody ends off of the stems. If your creminis are really large, cut them in half. Cut the portobello into quarters. Place in an oiled roasting pan and toss with 2 -3 Tablespoons of olive oil. Roast for 15 minutes. Let cool, then slice them. Cut portobello into bite-sized pieces.

Slice the leek lengthwise into quarters, then cut crosswise into small pieces. Soak in a salad spinner and rinse three times until all dirt is rinsed away. Slice the shallot thinly. Saute the leek and shallot in 1 Tb olive oil.

Spoon the fat from the top of the broth and reserve 3 Tb. Heat the broth to boiling and stir in the roasted mushrooms, sauteed leeks and shallot.

chopped soaked dried mushroomsChop the chanterelle and porcini mushrooms finely and add to the broth along with the soaking liquid.

Cook the soup for half an hour. Let cool for half an hour.

Ladle out 1/3 of the soup into a blender. Blend on high.

Melt reserved fat in a frying pan. Whisk in 1/4 cup white flour and cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat, whisking constantly. Slowly whisk in blended soup, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Stir into the rest of the soup and bring it to boiling, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile bring a medium pot of water to boil. Add a spoonful of salt. Stir in 3 handfuls of egg noodles. Cook for 6 minutes on medium heat. Drain noodles.

Add noodles to soup. Stir in pepper and sherry. Add cream, half and half or milk. Stir in 1 teaspoon salt and adjust to taste. Stir in reserved turkey meat and peas and cook for 5 minutes.

Green Beans with Chestnuts

serving in casseroleThis Thanksgiving side dish incorporates the Native American foods chestnuts and pine nuts tossed with Blue Lake green beans, red onion, shallot, and  roasted almonds in a butter bath.

Ingredients:

One pound, more or less, Blue Lake green beans

4 Tb (1/2 cube) salted butter

1/2 red onion

1 shallot

5.2 oz package chestnuts, peeled and precooked (available at Trader Joe’s and Berkeley Bowl)

3 Tb pine nuts

About 1/4 tsp salt to taste

Several grinds black pepper

1/4 cup roasted almond pieces (available at Berkeley Bowl)

Directions:

boil beans

Fill a 3 1/2 or 4 quart pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Cut the ends off the green beans and cut into 2 inch pieces. Boil for 5 minutes, until they turn bring green.

While waiting for water to boil, fill a large bowl with ice and ice water. When beans have finished cooking, drain them over a colander then plunge into the ice bath.’

Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Thinly slice the red onion and shallot and saute in the butter over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes until they are soft.

chopping chestnutsSlice chestnuts and toss them and pine nuts into the onions for a few minutes. Add salt black pepper

mix in large pot.jpgDrain green beans, and be careful to remove any pieces of ice. Put green beans into a large pot. Scrape all the onion chestnut mixture over the green beans and toss well with toasted almond pieces. Adjust salt.

Spoon into a flat casserole dish if planning to reheat.

Serve as is, or make ahead and reheat in the microwave.