Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Butternut Buttermilk Apple Soup With Chorizo

Dear Autumn,

Welcome! It's really good to see you again after the steaming heat of summer left me wilted. I yearned for your cool, refreshing nights and golden mornings of dappled light sparkling through leaves of fiery scarlets, regal golds, and pumpkin oranges. 

And your gifts! Apple trees in rows upon the rolling hills of farms, your branches so heavy with fruit they sag downward for easy picking; your giant (and tiny, too) orange orbs dotting the fields waiting patiently for kids and adults to choose the perfect pumpkin for scary carvings or sweet, warmly spiced pies; your wide variety of cruciferous veggies growing low to the ground for picking and sturdy enough to store through fall and winter. 

Your cabbage family bounty easily lends itself to hearty fall dishes that ward off any chill in the air. Stuffed cabbage rolls with (maybe?) homemade sauerkraut, bacon roasted, crispy edged Brussels sprouts or even Mom's old fashioned cheesy cauliflower casserole grace your season's dinner tables. You can't serve that kind of hearty fare in the sizzling heat of summer! 

And you know you're the season of soup! Nothing warms a home like a pot of stock simmering on the stove filled with the possibilities of what it shall become. Chicken stock. Traditional chicken noodle, perhaps? Or spicy black bean, chicken and rice? Sweet corn? Tomato rice? Beef stock. Hearty vegetable? Or mushroom beef barley? Everybody's favorite onion soup crowned with a big, melty, toasty, cheesy crouton?

Of course, Autumn, I sometimes skip the simmering stockpot completely and make an easy fall soup right in my Vitamix. Why not?! There's so much to do and see and enjoy during your glorious season that time in the kitchen is reserved for your cool and rainy days (and there are plenty of those, too!).

This is a smooth, silky, sweet, tart, slightly spicy soup to serve warm with good and yeasty rolls slathered with lots of butter. The chorizo is a spicy contrast in texture, but if you want to keep this vegetarian soup meatless, use some crunchy roasted pumpkin seeds as a garnish instead. 

Of course, Autumn, I know you don't cook so you won't be cooking up any kind of soup or anything else. Well, except for cooking up sweet, sweet days and warm memories. Thanks for those....you're the best!

Dinner Plan-it

Butternut Buttermilk Apple Soup With Chorizo

  • 3 lbs peeled, cubed butternut squash (you know, the pre-peeled kind in plastic tubs in the market), sprayed or drizzled with coconut oil, sprinkled with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, roasted at 425 degrees for 30-40 minutes until lightly browned and caramelized
  • 1 medium leek, quartered lengthwise, washed, and sliced across into 1" pieces
  • 2 medium tart apples, peeled, cored, diced
  • 1/4 C water
  • 6 T softened butter
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C buttermilk, plus 1 1/2 C additional
  • 1 C apple cider
  • 1/2 t chipotle powder (or more if you like it spicier)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2-3 links Mexican-style fresh chorizo sausage, crumbled and fried crisp
Add to your Vitamix the roasted butternut squash, leek, diced apple, water, softened butter, salt, 1 C buttermilk, apple cider, chipotle powder, and lime juice. Process in bursts until all is smooth and then continue processing until the container is good and warm and the soup is cooked. Yikes, I love the convenience of my Vitamix!

Pour the mixture into a large bowl or other container, add the additional buttermilk and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to meld. Before serving, warm the soup on the stovetop, adding a little more buttermilk and/or apple cider to thin the soup, if necessary. (Don't thin it until it's warm so you don't thin it too much.) 

Garnish with chorizo crumbles. To make this vegetarian, either don't use the chorizo or garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds instead of chorizo.

NOTE: I served this in tiny espresso cups for a party recently. So pretty!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

3 Potato Gratin With Rosemary, Parm and Gouda

You know how the experts say we first eat with our eyes? Here's a dish that's as delicious to those baby blues (or browns or hazels....) as it is to the palate. Three varieties of potatoes - Japanese sweet potatoes, Garnet sweet potatoes, and Yukon golds, fresh rosemary and garlic infused cream, melty gouda and sharp and tangy real parmigiano reggiano all meld together in the oven to become one satisfying and comforting side dish to delight both company and family.

If you have the time, arrange the potatoes into stripes like I did for a recent dinner. If there isn't time for that nonsense, just jumble up the potatoes and get on with it! Without further adieu, here's the recipe.

3 Potato Gratin With Rosemary, Parm and Gouda

  • 2 Japanese sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (I used the slicing blade of my food processor for ALL the potatoes to cut prep time)
  • 2 garnet sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 C heavy cream
  • 1/2 stick of butter (1/4 C)
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed with the flat side of a knife blade
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 C gouda cheese, shredded
  • 1/2 C Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Butter a large gratin dish or a large, shallow baking dish. 

In a medium, heavy bottomed pot, combine cream, garlic and rosemary and bring the mixture to a simmer; simmer for 5 minutes, turn off the heat and set aside while you assemble the dish.

To make it the pretty, striped way, arrange the potatoes in alternate stripes in the dish; to make it the easy way, just toss the potatoes together as you peel and slice them and it will still be pretty...win/win!

Potatoes arranged the pretty way...the whitest potatoes are the Japanese sweet potatoes!

Make a layer of potatoes, sprinkle with gouda, salt & pepper. Make another layer of potatoes, sprinkle with parm and pepper (parm is salty, so I don't use salt on the parm layers), make a third layer, sprinkle with pepper and parm and then pour the cream mixture through a strainer over the top of the potatoes. The strainer keeps the big chunks of garlic and rosemary pieces from going into the casserole.

Bake at 400 for half an hour. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees, cover the dish with foil and bake until browned and tender all the way through and the cream has been absorbed by the potatoes - maybe another half an hour. Remove foil and serve. Don't be surprised if you're asked to make this ALL the time!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Smoky Pumpkin Vegetable Soup With Chorizo

How do you welcome this perfectly wonderful Autumn season? In my kitchen, you know the Fall cool down has begun when there's a big pot of homemade soup simmering on the back burner of the stove. It's just so very comforting.

The "smoky" part of this brand new recipe comes from two sources. The beef broth was built on a base of leftover (planned over) beef ribs I'd smoked for dinner on Sunday and the addition of smoked Spanish-style chorizo doubled down the smoke factor. I used a good and spicy rub on the ribs to lend a subtle heat to the dish for my tastes. If you like heat, use a spicy rub, if not, then don't!

Fresh autumn roasted sugar pumpkin, ribbons of purple kale, and last-of-the-summer tomatoes and sweet red peppers really pumped up the color and flavor. The gold and red and green and purple colors in the bowl make me think of fallen leaves...and it's as beautiful in the bowl as it is warm, comforting and delicious in your tummy. 

Smoky Pumpkin Vegetable Soup With Chorizo

  • 6 meaty beef ribs, rubbed with your favorite rub (use a rub with some heat to it if you like your soup spicy), smoked the day before - I remove the meat for other purposes (tacos!) and leave a bit of meat on for the soup
  • 1 nice sized beef soup bone
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roast the smoked ribs and beef soup bone for 1/2 hour to 45 minutes to get lots of deep beefy flavor from them for your broth.

  • 1/2 medium sugar pumpkin, seeded & guts removed, rind peeled and cut into 1" X 1/2" chunks. Spray with coconut oil, season with salt & pepper & roast at 425 degrees until caramelized. Cool and set aside.
Roast the pumpkin chunks at the same time you roast the bones. While the bones and pumpkin are roasting, start working on the veggies.

  • 12 oz. smoked chorizo - I used the Wellshire brand - cut into 1/2 moons
  • 2 medium leeks (approx 2 C) diced small
  • 2 stalks celery with leaves, diced small
  • 1 1/2 C carrots, diced small
In a large skillet, saute the chorizo until it releases some fat and begins to brown. Then add the leeks, celery and carrots and saute until the veggies soften. Set aside.

  • 1 lrg red bell pepper, seeds removed, diced (approx. 1 C)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced (approx. 1 C or so)
  • 3 large Roma tomatoes, diced 
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 T or so Jane's Crazy Mixed Up seasoned salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 4 C (packed) purple kale, sliced across into thin ribbons

Beef broth: Put the roasted bones into a large soup pot and just cover with water. Add the sauteed veggies, and all the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT for the kale and roasted pumpkin - they'll go in at the end.

Bring the pot to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Once the broth has developed full flavor, remove the bones to a tray and cool. Remove any meat and add to the soup.

Bring the soup to a boil again and add the kale. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the kale is softened, then add the roasted pumpkin. Let the soup simmer another 10 minutes or so, remove the stems from the thyme springs and serve. A nice pan of cornbread goes great!