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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Cocido de Res – Mexican Beef Stew


After 25 years of marriage, my husband, Jesús, suddenly told me “You know my favorite food is caldo de res. My mom used to make it for me.” It took him that long to tell me! (In California it’s known more as cocido de res, so I titled the blog that.) So I called his mom, Conchita, and I got the recipe. Of course I tweaked it a bit, but he loved the results since the broth was so rich.

I used the leftover broth from making the chicken for Enchiladas Rojas for 15 Hungry Dancers. You could also go cross-cultural and use Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or go the easy route and use boxed or canned broth. When you add the bones and beef to broth and slow cook it, you will get an incredibly rich broth.

I went to the local Mexican market in Berkeley,  Mi Tierra, and the carnicero (butcher) cut up the meat for me on a giant band saw.

If you don’t have chilies, you can substitute 1 tsp ancho chili powder (or more if you like it spicier).

Makes about 12 servings

Ingredients:
1 gallon (16 cups)  chicken or beef broth. If not using the broth fromEnchiladas Rojas for 15 Hungry Dancers or Tamales de pollo,  add the following ingredients to Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup  or other plain chicken or beef broth:
3 ancho chilies
1 tsp. chipotle powder
3 Tb cumin powder (comino)
2 Tb. dried oregano
 
2 chopped onions
1 sliced bell pepper
6 minced garlic cloves
 
2 cups diced Roma (plum) tomatoes or 15 oz can diced tomatoes (fire roasted is nice)
6 – oz can tomato paste
1 Tb. salt to taste
1/2 tsp black pepper
 

Boil the broth in a large pot. Toast the chilies on a heavy skillet until soft and slightly blackened.  Remove and let cool a few minutes, then place in a plastic bag. After it’s completely cool, about 20 minutes, remove the skin, stems and seeds and add to the boiling broth. If you want a spicier stew,  add some of the seeds to the broth.

Toast the chili powder, comino, and oregano on the skillet a few minutes until fragrant then add to broth.

Pour a tsp of olive oil in the skillet and add the chopped onions and bell peppers, stirring over medium flame, until softened. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, then add to broth. Add tomatoes and tomato paste, black pepper and salt.

1 pound beef chuck roast, cut into cubes against the grain

1 pound beef short ribs, cut into cubes against the grain

2 Tb olive oil.

Salt and pepper to sprinkle on beef

Vegetables:

2 bell peppers, stem, ribs and seeds removed

1 pasilla chili, stem removed.

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced in rounds

3 large red potatoes, peeled and chopped in bite-size chunks

2 large chayotes , peeled, seed area removed, and chopped in bite-size chunks

3 cobs sweet corn, cut into rounds (use a large knife)

Garnish:

cilantro leaves

avocado slices

lemon or lime juice

Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet. Sprinkle beef with salt and black pepper, and add to the skillet in batches, browning on both sides.  Then add it to broth. Pour the soup into a crock pot and cook on low for 5 hours.

Transfer the whole soup to a large pot, add vegetables to the broth and bring to a boil. Cook for 30 more minutes until vegetables are tender. Adjust salt to taste. You can skim the fat off the top of the soup and serve. Or you can transfer it to a large container and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. The vegetables will absorb the flavors of the broth and impart their flavors as they sit in the broth all night. Remove the congealed fat from the top of the soup before serving.

Serve garnished with fresh cilantro leaves, a slice or two of avocado, and a squeeze of lemon or lime, with warm  or fresh baguette (we are in Berkeley after all).

Hanukkah Latkes (potato pancakes)

On Hanukkah, Jews light a menorah for 8 nights and eat foods fried in oil to celebrate the miracle of the oil in the holy lamp lasting for 8 days. Some eat doughnuts, but I prefer latkes, fried potato pancakes. This is my mother’s recipe, but I added the onion on my friend Vivian’s suggestion. I made these gluten free by subbing the potato starch for the matzo meal.

Serves 4

4 cups raw grated Russet potatoes. Use 4 large or 5 medium

1 onion, grated

4 large eggs

2 Tb matzo meal or 1/4 cup potato starch

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups canola oil per frying pan

Peel potatoes and soak in water until ready to grate. Grate by hand or in a food processor. Place in a colander so that potatoes can drain their water, until rest of ingredients are mixed and oil is hot. Pour oil into a heavy frying pan, such as cast iron and put on medium high heat. Beat eggs well and add matzo meal, onion and salt. Add potatoes and stir well.

Using a large slotted serving spoon and a large solid serving spoon, mold a spoonful of batter on the slotted spoon, squeezing down with the solid spoon. You will need to squeeze more water out of the potatoes toward the end of the frying. Gently place the latke in the hot oil.

Fry until golden brown, then flip over using the slotted spoon. Don’t crowd the pan, usually 3 or 4  latkes are good for a 9” pan. When latkes are golden brown on both sides, lift each one with the slotted spoon and let the oil drain back into the pan.

Place them on a rack over a cookie sheet. Put the rack in a low oven, about 275’. This will help the oil drain from the latkes and keep them warm and crispy until all the latkes are ready to serve.

Serve with applesauce. (Some people eat them with sour cream, but not in our family.)

Happy Hanukkah!

Minestrone Soup

Fall in the Bay Area brings a few weeks of sunshine to ripen tomatoes, then rainy and chilly days, perfect Minestrone Soup weather. Pick those ripened tomatoes off the withering vines, combine them with broth and chopped veggies and herbs in a big pot. This is a pretty forgiving recipe, so if you want to clean out the veggie bin of your fridge, throw in what you’ve got. You could use frozen veggies  or canned tomatoes. There is a use for everything, even Parmesan cheese rinds! The rind lends a wonderful flavor to the soup. If it doesn’t break up, leave it in the pot when serving.

10 servings:
1 or more Parmesan rinds
1 large onion, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 bunch red Swiss chard, leaves torn off ribs and chopped fine, to make about 3 ½ cups, dice the ribs
1 large red bell pepper, diced to make 1 cup
1 large green bell pepper, diced to make 1 cup
1/2 pound crimini mushrooms
1 Tb salt (to taste)
½  tsp fresh minced rosemary
1 Tb fresh minced oregano
1 tsp dried basil
6 cloves garlic, minced
several grinds black pepper
One package (4 links) Aidells chicken sausages. either artichoke and garlic or sun-dried tomato with mozzarella cheese (optional)
1 bay leaf
several shakes red pepper flakes
10 cups (2 1/2 quarts) homemade chicken or vegetable stock Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup or vegetable broth (you can use boxed stock, but it won’t be as good!)
1 can tomato paste
4 cups diced tomatoes (Roma is best)
OR 28 ounce can San Marzano peeled tomatoes to sub for tomatoes and tomato paste
4 dried Porcini mushrooms
1 rind Parmesan cheese
1  cup peeled and diced carrots (2 large carrots)
2 peeled and diced red potatoes
2/3 cup small pasta (I used the tiny tubes called ditalini for my last batch, but I have also used salad macaroni)
4 small zucchini, diced to make 1 ½ cups
1/2 pound green beans, chopped
1 15-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed.
1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 small bunch Italian parsley, chopped.
1 Tb fresh minced basil (about 5 leaves)
 
Garnish:
a few pinches dried oregano to taste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

 

Heat stock, Parmesan rinds, tomato paste, tomatoes or canned tomatoes  in a large pot.

Grind dried Porcini mushrooms in a coffee grinder or small food processor and add to the stock. Add salt to taste.

Scrub mushrooms and rinse well. Dry in paper towel. and cut off woody ends from the stems. Place mushrooms on toaster oven tray and spray with olive oil spray. Broil for 10 minutes. When they cool, cut them in quarters and add to stock.

Stir-fry onions, red bell pepper, chard ribs, garlic, celery, and herbs in  olive oil in a heavy skillet until translucent. Add to stock.

Slice sausages in quarters lengthwise and then into half-coins. Stir fry in the same skillet as the onions were in for about 4 minutes, until browned. Add to soup, then ladle some soup into the frying pan and scrape the browned bits into the soup, then pour back into the pot.

Stir in carrots, chard leaves, canned beans, and potato and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in pasta, green beans, zucchini, parsley, corn and peas. Cook 10 minutes on medium. Stir in fresh basil.

Discard bay leaf and ladle into bowl. Stir in a pinch of dried oregano, fresh basil, and a few spoonfuls of grated Parmesan cheese. Enjoy with a slice of good bread such as Acme herb slab, foccacia, olive bread, or sourdough baguette. Manga!

A Tale of Two Squash: Squash soup and Squash tacos

It was the best of squash,  it was….well anyway, there once were two butternut squash that were roasted in the oven.

but after becoming caramelized and soft, they headed for two different fates: one a smooth creamy soup made with broth and sage; the other filled spicy tacos with a burst of freshness from cilantro.

Butternut Squash Soup

Heat 3 cups broth (see Roz’s Jewish Chicken Soup (plus a vegan version)

If squash has not cooked completely in oven, put seeded and peeled cooked squash in broth. Add  a large peeled and chopped red potato, and cook until very soft, about 10 minutes.  Or I bake a Russet potato with the squash, halve it and peel it.  If both squash and potato are soft, you can skip boiling them and just plop them in the blender with the soup and sage.

squash in broth

Put it in the blender with the soup, several torn sage leaves, and a ½ to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste). You can omit the potato and make this soup with Potato-Leek soup base for a creamier, savory taste. Or try part broth, part potato-leek soup.

Heat raw pepitas (green shelled Mexican pumpkin seeds) on a comal or heavy frying pan until they begin to pop.

Garnish soup with seeds and a sage leaf.

Butternut Squash Tacos

mash squash

Simpler veggie version: Seed and peel squash and mash with ¼ cup butternut squash soup. Add ½ tsp. cumin and a few shakes chili powder or chipotle powder and salt. Grate or slice 2 tsp low fat cheddar cheese for each taco and add to squash.

tortilla with squash and cheese with pepitas on comal

Heat corn tortilla on comal, spread squash-cheese mixture on top.

Add salsa to taste, then toasted pepitas (you can toast them while heating the tortilla). Finish with chopped tomato and fresh cilantro.

ground turkey squash taco

Ground turkey version: Heat 1 Tb garlic infused olive oil (or regular olive oil) and add ½ chopped onion and one pound ground turkey. Add 1 chopped red or yellow bell pepper and 3 chopped Roma tomatoes. Season with 1 tsp each cumin and chipotle or chili powder, black pepper and chili flakes, 3 Tb salsa, and salt to taste. Cook until turkey is brown, add ½ cup butternut squash, and a squeeze of lime to cut the sweetness of the squash. Heat corn tortilla and fill with mixture. Add as desired: chopped lettuce, tomato, guacamole,  shredded low-fat cheese, more salsa, and cilantro. For a vegetarian version, substitute pinto  beans for turkey.

Potato-Leek soup with cheese, mushroom, cauliflower variations

Potato-Leek soup

3 cups chicken broth (You can make this a vegan dish with vegetable broth)

1 leek, white part only

2 Russet potatoes

1 tsp. salt (to taste)

5 grinds black pepper

chopped leeks and potatoes

Skim refrigerated broth and bring to a boil. Cut the white part of leeks lengthwise and chop coarsely. Peel two russet potatoes and slice thin.

boiling potatoes and leeks in broth

Boil in the broth until soft, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

potatoes and leeks in broth in blender

Let cool, then blend until pureed.  (If  you have a immersion blender, you blend it in the pot.)

Cheese Soup (no cream or butter!)

shredded Jarlsberg cheese

Add 1 cup low-fat Jarlsberg or sharp cheddar cheese to pureed soup, stir until melted.

No cream added Mushroom Soup


Make potato-leek soup. Quarter 10 mushrooms for each 2 cups of potato-leek soup. Boil soup and cook mushrooms on medium for 10 min. You can blend a few spoonfuls of mushrooms in the broth. That’s it. It’s practically non-fat.

Mushroom-cheese Soup

Add cheese to mushroom soup.

Cauliflower with cheese and Mushroom Sauce


cauliflowerets cooked in broth

Boil cauliflowerets in broth for 5 minutes until soft, then remove with slotted spoon. Pour cheese and mushroom soup over them and top with minced fresh chives.

cauliflower cheese and mushroom soup

Cauliflower Cheese and Mushroom Soup

Blend a few spoonfuls of cooked cauliflower into the cheese and mushroom soup, then pour a bowlful over cooked cauliflowerets. Top with fresh chives.

minced chives

Top soups with fresh minced chives.