Sunday, September 27, 2009

Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger

On our first night of vacation in Maui, Hawaii, we had carrot ginger soup as part of our dinner. McHubby loved it! Now that we’re back home, I wanted to make the soup that reminded us of our first dinner on the beautiful island. This recipe wasn’t exactly like the soup we had on Maui—this one adds the flavor of orange zest and juice. This soup was very easy to make. I also added some honey to cut the acidity.

Source: Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger,
Williams Sonoma Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 leeks, including tender green parts, thinly sliced
1 red potato, about ½ pound, peeled and coarsely diced
1 ½ teaspoons peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger
5 cups chicken or vegetable stock or prepared broth
½ cup fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Thin orange slices for garnish (optional)
Fresh mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Add the leeks and sauté until just slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, potato, and ginger and sauté until the vegetables are just softened, about 5 minutes longer.

Add the stock, cover partially, and simmer until the vegetables are completely softened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a blender or food processor, puree the soup in batches, leaving some texture, and return the soup to the pan. Alternatively, process with a handheld blender in the pan until the desired consistency is reached. Return the soup to medium heat and stir in the orange juice and zest. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish each serving with an orange slice and a sprig of mint.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Easy as Pie Key Lime Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of my guilty pleasures, and I’ve been eyeing this key lime pie ice cream recipe for a while. Be sure to use real key limes for this frozen treat. I was intrigued and delighted to see this recipe, which doesn’t include additional sugar or even require any cooking! Most custard- or cream-based ice cream recipes require heating a mixture of egg yolks, cream, and sugar. This recipe couldn’t be any easier to make, and the sweet-tart flavor of the key lime juice against the graham cracker crumbs really does taste like cool, refreshing key lime pie!

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream, Cooking Light

1 ½ cups 2% reduced-fat milk
½ cup fresh or bottled Key lime juice (such as Nellie and Joe's)
½ cup whipping cream
Dash of salt
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
6 graham crackers (1 ½ cookie sheets), coarsely crushed, divided
Key lime wedges (optional)

Combine first 5 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Pour mixture into freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Stir ⅓ cup graham crackers into ice cream. Spoon ice cream into a freezer-safe container, and cover and freeze for 1 hour or until firm. Sprinkle each serving with 1 teaspoon graham crackers. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

Portuguese Chouriço and Kale Soup

The first day of autumn was a few days ago, on September 22nd. Since then, the weather has started getting a little cooler. In fact, today is a cool, gray, rainy day—the perfect inspiration for a hearty soup. I used garden fresh kale from our latest CSA bag, and I used Mexican chorizo, since that’s what was available at my supermarket.

There are differences, though, between
Mexican chorizo and Portuguese chouriço. Chorizo can be a fresh sausage, in which case it must be cooked, but in Europe it is more frequently a fermented cured smoked sausage, in which case it is usually sliced and eaten without cooking. Spanish chorizo and Portuguese chouriço get their distinctive smokiness and deep red color from dried smoked red peppers. Mexican chorizo usually has the consistency of ground beef, though drier, due to the high chile powder content. Another similar type of sausage is linguiça, which is a form of Portuguese cured pork sausage seasoned with onions, garlic, and paprika. Both the linguiça and chouriço are made from pork, both have the basic same spicing, but linguiça is cured with red wine and more paprika, neither is smoked but air dried to firm them up and both have to be cooked. Both linguiça and chouriço are solid, while the Mexican chorizo is very different in texture—softer and mushier.

The delicious, hot, steaming bowl of soup on this damp autumn day really hit the spot. The combination of healthy ingredients simmers into a spicy and flavorful comfort food.

Portuguese Chouriço and Kale Soup, Rachael Ray

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium white waxy potatoes, like yukon golds, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, chopped
4 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried
1 pound kale, coarsely chopped
Coarse salt and pepper
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzos (chick peas), drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes
1 pound diced chouriço, casing removed
1 quart chicken broth
Warm, crusty bread

Heat oil in a deep pot over medium high heat. Add potatoes and onions, cover and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add garlic, bay leaves, and kale to the pot. Cover pot and wilt greens 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add beans, tomatoes, chourico, and broth to the pot and bring soup to a full boil. Reduce heat back to medium and cook 5 to 10 minutes longer or until potatoes are tender.

Serve soup with hunks of crusty bread and butter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Celebrity Chef Robert Irvine

Completely random and unexpected, I saw celebrity chef Robert Irvine of Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible while I was at work today. He was meeting with the cafeteria staff, and I was just so surprised to see him there. He started chatting with me and gave me an autographed photo. Such an exciting celebrity sighting!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Contessa's Cream of Tomato Soup

Looking at all the tomatoes in my pantry from the CSA share, I was inspired to make soup. Barefoot Contessa never lets me down! Don’t fret about the long list of ingredients—I actually already had most of these items on hand. The preparation is easy and comes together quickly. Using the medium blade on the food mill ensures a perfect texture for this great summer soup.

Cream of Fresh Tomato Soup, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

3 tablespoons good olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped red onions (2 onions)
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped (5 large)
1 ½ teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves, plus julienned basil leaves, for garnish
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¾ cup heavy cream
Croutons, for garnish

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well. Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.

Add the cream to the soup and process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding only the dry pulp that's left. Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with julienned basil leaves and/or croutons.