Archive for the Category ◊ Rice and Potatoes ◊

14 Sep 2010 Baked Potato Soup

I found this recipe in the crock pot cookbook “Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufman.  So, I tried this recipe in the crock pot.  When I was in the midst of it, I was thinking “WHY”?  Why cook potatoes for 5 hours in the crockpot, when they only take 20 minutes on stop of the stove?  It’s not like the crockpot did anything special to the potatoes, plus I still had to peel the potatoes, blend the soup, cook the bacon, chop the green onions and grate the cheese. Does cooking the potatoes for 5 hours in the crockpot make more sense than boiling them for 20 minutes?  I don’t think so.  I liked the soup though.  LOVED the soup, so I revised it to make on top of the stove (didn’t take much revising…).

This soup starts with water! You don’t have to find 2 or 3 quarts of chicken stock to get started (which makes it economical, too).  Just boil five pounds of potatoes (one small $1.99 bag) in water until done.  Blend.  Then serve with baked potato toppings of butter, sour cream, grated cheese, chopped green onions, and crumbled bacon.  Soooo yummy. So easy!

Baked Potato Soup

5 pounds russet potatoes
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup sour cream
8 oz. bacon, cooked crisply, and crumbled (OK, so I used a bit more than 1/2 lb.)
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
2-3 cups grated cheddar and jack cheese blend (to taste)

Peel and dice the potatoes.  Cover with cold water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil.  Boil until potatoes are falling apart (cooked more than you would for mashed potatoes).  Depending on the size of your potatoes, this could take 20-40 minutes.  Turn the heat to low.  Add in butter and half-and-half.  Simmer until butter is melted, about another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.  Stir in sour cream.  With an immersion blender (the blender-on-a-stick thing), blend soup until creamy. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a regular blender.  Be careful, and don’t fill up blender more than half full.  Hot liquids tend to splash out when the blender is turned on).  Return soup to stove and turn on heat to medium.  Gradually blend in the grated cheese (to taste).  Stir in the chopped bacon and sliced green onions. Taste.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.  Serve hot. (I actually prefer this soup the second day.  I like to have the flavor of the green onions and bacon settle into the potatoes.)

Mmmm. Make this your first soup of the season. It was mine!  I’m happy!

 
05 Sep 2010 Blasted Sausages

Holy Moly, this recipe delivers in both taste and presentation. The original recipe stated this is a traditional Tuscan harvest dish, but I know I have never run across anything like this before (not that I have ever been to Tuscany…).  I found this recipe in “150 Best American Recipes”, but I changed it up a bit to suit my taste (and reduced the quantities to serve a small crowd, rather than a whole village).  Now’s the time to make this recipe.  The grape harvest is in.

My son came home from college last night for a quick 36 hour visit.  I almost fainted when he asked me to teach him to cook something while he was here.  Did he REALLY say that?  Be still my heart! Lucky for him, I had been wanting to make this recipe and had all the ingredients on hand.  This is an easy-easy recipe, a great one for newbie 19 year old cooks (and stretched-to-the-max parents of small children, and older folk who are tired of cooking but still want to eat well…)

I just had to give my son the MamaBear warnings about how HOT pans are after being in a 500 degree oven.  I’ll remind you, too.  Use thick pot holders. Be careful. Have fun with this.  It’s truly delicious.  If I had a Bistro, this would definitely be on the menu.

Blasted Sausages and Grapes

1 1/2 lbs Sweet Italian Sausages (usually 6)
1 can beer (or water)
3 T. butter,melted
1 lb red seedless grapes, stemmed
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Rustic mashed potatoes (recipe summary included in body of recipe)

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat cover the sausages with beer or water and parboil for 8 minutes to rid sausages of excess fat. Drain.

Pour melted butter into a baking pan (or a large ovenproof skillet). Add the grapes to the pan and toss to coat with the melted butter. Place the sausages in the pan with the grapes and butter.  Push the sausages down into the grapes.

Put the roasting pan or skillet with the grapes and sausages into 500 degrees for 12 minutes. Turn sausages over, and roast for an additional 12 minutes. (While the sausages are cooking, make some Rustic Mashed Potatoes.  Cube one russet potato for each guest, do not peel.  Put cubed potatoes in a pan of salted water and bring to a boil.  Boil for approx 20 minutes (could be longer if your potato cubes are larger).  When potatoes are soft, drain and place in large mixing bowl.  Add 1T of butter to mixing bowl for each potato.  Whip potatoes and butter lightly together with an electric mixer. Pour in 1T. milk, cream or sour cream for each potato.  Whip again.  Rustic Mashed Potatoes should remain a bit lumpy. Taste, then add as much salt and pepper as needed.)

With a slotted spoon remove sausages to serving platter.  Top or surround the sausages with the cooked grapes. Retain the pan juices in the bottom of the pan and move to a small saucepan.  Stir in  2 tablespoons of good balsamic vinegar.  Cook juices and vinegar over medium-high heat until the mixture is thick and syrupy. Drizzle the sauce over the sausages and serve immediately with the Rustic Mashed Potatoes.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Your visits help lift my spirits, as did the weather. I am always glad to open the door to you and close the door on summer. It’s going to be Fall soon, my very, very, very favorite season of the year. Enjoying a plate of Blasted Sausages and Roasted Grapes is a great way to celebrate.

31 Aug 2010 Green Rice (Arroz Verde)

I first posted this recipe on my Facebook “Polly, Julie and Julia” page in 2009.  Since then I have had a lot of feedback:  we have a winner! Green Rice has become a welcome addition to  many dinner plates.  Finally, a new rice side-dish; one that both looks good on the plate and is deliciously, delicately flavored. Odd, that you cook the rice in pureed spinach, cilantro and milk, but it works!  Don’t let the name-or the method-scare you off.  BTW,  the rice is not green-green, it’s more herby-green.  It’s pretty!

I found this recipe in “The Best 150 American Recipes“, by Fran McCullough and Molly Stevens, the book that spurred this food blogging urge.  The authors of the book  used some interesting turns of phrase to describe this rice dish (and other rice dishes of Mexico) the book said, “…like unexpected treasures at a rummage sale”.  This recipe certainly is an unexpected treasure…I don’t know about the rummage sale part though.

One note of caution, my rice, although very tasty, was a bit crunchy. Next time I will add a bit more liquid (2T – 1/4 cup). Check your rice about halfway through, to see if yours needs a bit more liquid, too. Other than that, you can probably fit this into your dinner plans in the next day or two. It will make the whole meal shine a bit more brightly “(…like an unexpected treasure at a rummage sale”!).

Green Rice

1 cup tightly packed spinach leaves (about 1.5 oz)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (about .5 oz)
1 1/4 cup chicken broth (homemade is best)
1 1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
3 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1/4 cup minced onion
1 minced garlic clove

Place spinach, cilantro and broth in a blender and puree. Add milk and salt to spinach mixture and blend until combined. Set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat butter and olive oil. When butter has melted, add rice. Saute rice, stirring frequently, until rice just begins to brown, 3-4 minutes. Add onion and saute for 1 minute more, then add in garlic and stir. To rice in pan pour mixture from blender, turn heat up, and bring to boil. Cover pan, reduce heat, and cook for 25 minutes. (You might want to check, about halfway through, to see if rice needs a bit more liquid. If it does, add 2 – 4 T of additional warm broth, water, or milk.) After 25 minutes, turn off heat, stir rice, re-cover pan and let sit for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Recipe states the rice is best just after it’s made but can be made up to 2 days ahead and reheated in the microwave.

Thanks for stopping by my kitchen today.  Hope it was worth your while!