Archive | March, 2014

Julia Child’s Potato Leek Soup

23 Mar

Julia Child–I had the thrill of meeting her once. I walked beside her down a long corridor when I at worked at Macy’s Herald Square back in the early 90’s. Julia was delightful, even for those few moments. She waved and chortled her hellos to everyone she passed. She was tall and happy.

Now, when I make this soup, I think of those few moments when I was in the presence of  greatness. Aside from her height, her happiness was the most noticeable thing about her. When I make this soup, I try to channel my inner joy, in honor of Julia of course.

The thing that I like best about it is that it is simple. This is not what people think of when they think of Julia Child or of French cooking.

There are only 5 ingredients. Six if you count the garnish.

Aside from a little bit of chopping and peeling, there is minimal work to do here. This soup, Julia’s Potage Parmentier, just simmers away for under an hour, then you take an immersion blender to it, and you are just about done. It can be devoured hot, or you can serve it cold, and then you have vichyssoise.

So channel your inner Julia and serve some happiness tonight.

Julia's Potato Leek Soup

Julia’s Potato Leek Soup

Julia Child’s Potato Leek Soup or Potage Parmentier

  • 4 to 5 cups of peeled and sliced potatoes
  • 3 to 4 cups of washed and sliced leeks
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • snipped chives for garnish

1. Place the potatoes, leeks, water, and salt into a soup pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 45 minutes.

2. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.

3. Add cream and a little more salt, to taste.

4. Serve hot or cold with snipped chives to garnish and give a pop of flavor.

leeks

leeks

and potatoes

and potatoes

add water and salt

add water and salt

simmer, puree, add cream, and voila!

simmer, puree, add cream, and voila!

Julia's Potato Leek Soup

Julia’s Potato Leek Soup

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Red Curry Cravings

20 Mar

I really love Thai curry.

Luckily, we have three great Thai restaurants within minutes from our house and we go as often as we can. But unfortunately we can’t spend every night in a restaurant. There are times when one has to take matters into their own hands and make Thai curry at home.

On a busy night it comes together quickly. Shortcuts are okay with me and my family agrees.

I start with the rice. My foolproof way of making rice is this: I take 2 cups of Jasmine rice, 3 cups water, and two teaspoons kosher salt and place them in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave it for 15 minutes with the cover off and 5 more minutes with the cover on. Out of sight and out of mind while I focus on the curry.

15 minutes like this

15 minutes like this

5 minutes like this

5 minutes like this

holes

holes

ready and waiting

ready and waiting

fluff

fluff before serving

Next comes the curry. This is a little different then restaurant curry but it is how we do it at home. And we are out to make ourselves happy after all.

First, saute a cup of chopped onions.

smile

smile

Add 1 tablespoon ginger paste and 1 teaspoon chopped garlic.

add ginger and garlic

add ginger and garlic

Add 2 tablespoons of red curry paste.

add curry paste

add curry paste

Add 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and 2 to 3 tablespoons of  brown sugar.

brown sugar and fish sauce

brown sugar and fish sauce

Add  a can of coconut milk.

add coconut milk

add coconut milk

This time I added a pound of pre-cooked shrimp and about 12 ounces of pre-cooked green beans. But you can add anything you like… chicken, tofu, beef, peppers, broccoli, etc.

add green beans and shrimp

add green beans and shrimp

Simmer for about 10 minutes.

simmer

simmer

Serve with the rice.

yum!

yum!

Craving satisfied!

Chocolate Chip Hamantaschen Dough with Chocolate Truffle Filling

15 Mar

Have you tried to use chocolate chips to fill a hamantaschen? Of course you have! And did it turn into a chalky dry disappointing mess? Of course it did! And since any kind of negative feelings on Purim are just plain and simple against the rules, I am here to help.

What you want to do is think outside the box, or bag, in this case, and add your chocolate chips to the dough. Then, not only do you get speckled, freckled happiness, but these pied beauties will bring joy to any chocolate lover you choose to bestow them upon.

side view

freckled speckled hapiness

You will need to finely chop the chocolate and add some fresh orange zest as a nod to the land of Israel and Golda Meir’s famous chocolate chip cookie recipe. But the rest is pretty straightforward and mostly foolproof. The wow factor here is the orange zest so be sure not to skip it.

finely chopped

finely chopped chocolate

You can make the dough and truffle filling up to 3 days ahead and then assemble when you are ready.

Chocolate Chip Hamantaschen Dough

  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 sticks butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest from one large orange
  • 2 eggs at room temperature
  • 4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, finely chopped
  1. Put the sugar and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides as needed.
  2. Add the vanilla extract and orange zest and stir.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring after each.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Add flour mixture to the batter and mix well.
  6. Add the finely chopped chocolate chips and mix until well combined.
sugar

sugar

and butter

and butter

mix it up

mix it up

for 3 minutes

for 3 minutes

until fluffy

until fluffy

whisk together dry ingredients

whisk together dry ingredients

add dry to wet

add dry to wet

mix

mix

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup chocolate chips

finely chopped

finely chopped

add to batter and mix

add to batter and mix

chocolate chip dough

chocolate chip dough

Truffle Filling

  • 8 ounces of chocolate
  • 6 ounces of heavy cream
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  1. Put the chocolate chips, heavy cream, and pinch of salt into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for one minute and stir. Then heat in 20 second increments and stir until melted and smooth.
  2. Place in fridge until firm.

To assemble:

  1. Rip off a hunk of dough and form into a ball. Roll out with a rolling pin until about ¼ of an inch thick. Cut out a circle using a 3” cookie cutter or cup. Repeat.
  2. Put a dollop of the truffle filling in the center of each round (you can use Nutella if you don’t want to make the filling).
  3. Lift sides of dough toward center to form a triangle and pinch seams together to seal. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake at 350° F for 12 minutes. Let cool before eating to give the filling a chance to firm up.
grab a handful and make a ball

grab a handful and make a ball

roll it out

roll it out

cut

cut

fill

fill

fold

fold

like this

like this

and this

and this

perfection

perfection

Pizza Hamantashen

11 Mar

Folks are doing amazing things with hamantaschen nowadays and are creative as can be. Lately I’ve seen rainbow hamantaschen as well as challah hamantaschen and even cupcake hamantaschen, which are all in good fun. If you are looking for a traditional hamantashen recipe (this one has a feminist spin), then there is no shortage of those as well.

But while you are branching out, why not make pizza hamantaschen, since the only thing that kids like as much as cookies is pizza? And you want to make them happy. After all, it’s Purim!

Pizza Hamantaschen--Be Happy!

Pizza Hamantaschen–Be Happy!

Pizza Hamantaschen  (Pictures follow)

  • ·         1 package biscuit dough, such as Pillsbury or Trader Joe’s,  preferably one that has flaky layers
  • ·         1-14 ounce can pizza sauce (you will use about 6 ounces)
  • ·         Shredded mozzarella cheese (about a cup)

 

1.       Preheat oven to 350° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.      Open biscuit package and separate the dough into 8 rounds.

3.      Peel each biscuit in half horizontally so you have 2 rounds of dough.

4.      Lay them out on a work surface, and top with a dollop of pizza sauce. Do not spread the sauce, and be careful not to put too much or you won’t be able to seal your hamantaschen.

5.      Top with a pinch of cheese.

6.      Fold into the traditional hamantaschen shape by folding up one side and pinching the dough closed, and then lifting up the other side and pinching the other two corners closed. You should be able to see a little bit of the filling peeking through.

7.      Place on the baking sheet and cook for about 9 minutes until the edges of the dough are golden brown and the pizza hamantaschen is puffed. Eat while hot, and don’t forget to be happy!

Biscuit dough

Biscuit dough

Peel apart horizontally

Peel apart horizontally

Lay flat on work surface

Lay flat on work surface

Put a dollop of sauce on each

Put a dollop of sauce on each

Top with a sprinkle of cheese

Top with a sprinkle of cheese

Fold one side up and pinch to seal

Fold one side up and pinch to seal

It will look like this

It will look like this

Then do the second side

Then do the second side

And the third side

And the third side

Voila

Voila

Repeat

Repeat

Ready to bake

Ready to bake

Bake at 350 F for about 9 minutes or until golden

Bake at 350 F for about 9 minutes or until golden

Pizza Hamantashen 16 Pizza Hamantashen 17 Pizza Hamantashen 18

Pizza Hamantaschen--Be Happy!

Pizza Hamantaschen–Be Happy!

Chicken Pot Pie

3 Mar

Snow day has followed snow day, and frankly I don’t mind a bit. The icy roads and sub-zero temps have given me permission to stay home with my family in my cozy house and cook. The biggest challenge on those days is to decide if I will put on clothes or pajamas after a shower, and pajamas always seem to win.

Comfortable clothes lead to comfort food, and this chicken pot pie is an old favorite.

There are varying degrees of how challenging this recipe can be—sometimes I make my own crust and add wine and a bay leaf to the filling ( ask me if you want to know when to add what), other times I use store bought crust and frozen veggies. It all depends on how much effort I feel like putting into it, and honestly, it is always delicious no matter which way I choose to go.

I will give you all of the variations and you can decide for yourself the next time you are snowed in, whether to put on pajamas or clothes, or make or buy a pie crust.

Comfort food equals comfort cooking, so have it your way.

I have made this when company comes, when bringing dinner to sick friends, and when I have bits of this and that leftover in the fridge. It never disappoints, so if winter has you down, this will pick you up!

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe (pictures follow)

  • 2 pie crusts, store-bought, I used Pillsbury, but any frozen crust will do, except Trader Joe’s brand which is too sweet, or homemade (sift 1 cup flour into a bowl, cut in 1/3 cup butter or shortening and mix with fork, sprinkle on 2 tablespoons cold water and blend again with fork, shape into a ball, wrap with plastic and chill in fridge until after you cook the filling)
  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil, or butter, or whatever you like to sauté onions with
  • 1 medium onion, about 1 cup, chopped
  • For the veggies: 1 diced potato or 1 cup chopped cauliflower florets, ½ cup diced carrots, ½ cup frozen peas. On a lazy day I might use a  bag of frozen veggies such as Trader Joe’s Vegetable Melange, cooked in the microwave for twice as long as the directions say, and added after I sauté the onion.
  • 6 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups diced chicken

To make filling:

  1. Heat oil and sauté onion, peas, carrots, and potato or cauliflower until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper and mix well. Gradually stir in the broth, stirring constantly to make a thick, creamy sauce. Add diced chicken and stir to combine.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Let the filling cool for a bit while you prep the crusts. Roll out both pieces of dough and place one in the bottom of the pie dish, letting it hang over the edge a bit. Set the second piece of dough aside. Pour in the slightly cooled filling, and cover it with the second piece of rolled out dough. Pierce the top crust with a fork to vent, and tuck the edges of the crust under to make a neat edge.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden. Let stand for 15-30 minutes to let the filling thicken a bit before you cut into it.

Pot Pie 16 Pot Pie 15 Pot Pie 12 Pot Pie 14 Pot Pie 13 Pot Pie 11 Pot Pie 10 Pot Pie 9 Pot Pie 8 Pot Pie 7 Pot Pie 6 Pot Pie 5 Pot Pie 2 Pot Pie 1 Pot Pie 3 Pot Pie 4

Love!

Love!

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