Tag Archives: potatoes

Creamy Winter Veg Soup

It’s the week before Christmas, and in light of what happened this past Friday in Connecticut I think everyone is slowing down and enjoying time with their loved ones.  I don’t really talk about politics on this blog, but I will mention that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the grieving families who have lost a loved one.

Whenever I feel melancholy or overwhelmed, I do like a warm bowl of soup.  It’s comforting, and a perfect way to end a cold winter day.  This one is extremely easy, and does not take too much time, or many ingredients to make.  As each of you hurry to get all of your Christmas shopping done, plan your holiday meals, and decorate your homes- also take the time to make some warm soup (such as this one!) and enjoy it with your family and friends.

Also, a note on the new bowls.  We received these as a wedding present (all different colors) from our friends- Ben & Brittany- from Anthropologie, a colorful bowl for a gloomy evening!

Winter Veg Soup

Creamy Winter Veg Soup
Fifth Floor Kitchen Original

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 leeks, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 bulb fennel, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
4-5 turnips, peeled & chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 large potatoes, cooked OR 3 cups mashed potatoes
4 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
2 cups of water
1/4 cup of parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Then add in the onion, sauté them until they are translucent, for about 5 minutes.  Then add in the leeks, bulb fennel, turnips, salt and pepper.  Cook while stirring for about 10 minutes, or until the fennel is soft.  Then add in the potatoes, broth and water, cook for another 15 minutes.

Puree the soup using a blender.  Pour back into the large pot, cook for another 10 minutes, feel free to add more salt or pepper.

Ladle soup into bowl, sprinkle with parsley & enjoy with a slice of fresh bread!

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Lamb Shepherd’s Pie in a Mason Jar

Two nights before our wedding we got a box with presents from our registry- it was one of the first ones, and I got really excited (it felt like an early Christmas!).  First, I pulled out a set of dessert plates I’ve been eying for some time, but there was also a cute cookbook which I didn’t have on my list.

As any food blogger would do, I flipped through the cookbook- Handheld Pies: Dozens of Pint-Sized Sweets & Savories by Sarah Billingsley & Rachel Wharton- and picked out my favorite recipes.  Immediately, I opened to the page with Shepherd’s Pie on it, and I knew this was going to be the first recipe I would make.  Since we still had a wedding, and a honeymoon I knew it’d be a couple of weeks- but the moment we came home this recipe was immediately on my “to cook” list!

Using mason jar’s was a great idea for this dish- it kept everything in equal servings, and it was so easy to store, heat up, and take to work.  The book suggested using smaller mason jars, but since I only had the medium size, this is what I used.  With nights getting colder, this is the perfect dish to wrap your hands around the mason jar to keep warm, and your tummy full!

Thank you Jen & Neil- this is a great addition to our cookbook collection!

Shepherd’s Pie in a Mason Jar
Adapted from: Handheld Pies: Dozens of Pint-Size Sweets & Savories

You can use lamb, beef or tofu crumbles- all would be great with this dish.  If there are other veggies you’d like to add in here, definitely do- we stuck with the traditional version the first time around.

3 russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled & quartered
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground lamb
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup green peas
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

In a medium pot, add the potatoes and water (so it covers the potatoes) and bring the water to a boil.  Then reduce the heat to medium, and cover the pot.  Cook until the potatoes are tender, when pierced with a fork (about 20-30 minutes).

When the potatoes are cooked, drain them.  In a large bowl, mash them using a potato masher (or mixer).  Then add the milk, cheese, butter, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper- stir well.

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Then add in the onion, carrots, and celery and cook, until the onions are translucent.  Next, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the lamb and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon and stirring frequently until it is browned, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the vegetable broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce and cook until the liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Finally, add the peas, red pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper and stir well.

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Place 6 medium-sized mason jars on a baking sheet.

First divide all of the meat mixture, then the mashed potatoes into all of the jars.  Place the jars and banking sheet on the top rack of the oven and bake for about 15 minutes (or until the potatoes turn golden).

The pies can be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.  Reheat at 350ºF for 15 minutes.

Food Matters Project #23: Chicken & Potatoes with Romesco Sauce

It’s another Food Matters Project post!  Apologies to the missed post last week- check out what others did here– but ours was not very photogenic, so we decided to not post up the recipe.  It tasted great, just didn’t have the most appetizing colors!

This weeks recipe was chosen by Mireya, of My Healthy Eating Habits.  She chose Mark Bittman’s recipe for Roasted Potatoes with Chicken and Romesco Sauce, from his Food Matters Cookbook.  Check out the reason she chose this recipe, and what other Food Matters Project bloggers did with their recipes here.

I’m glad that Mireya chose this recipe, since I would have flipped right through it.  I had no idea what romesco sauce is, and would have gone right past it!

What is romesco sauce?

It’s a nut and red pepper based sauce which originates from northeastern Spain.  Typically it’s made from raw almonds, pine nuts or hazelnuts.  Other ingredients include: oil, garlic, chili peppers and bell peppers.  Additional ingredients are roasted tomatoes, vinegar, onions or stale bread (to thicken the sauce).  In Spain it’s mostly served with seafood, but can also be served with poultry, or as a dip for vegetables.

Chicken & Potatoes with Romesco Sauce
Adapted from: Food Matters Cookbook (page 463)

We really liked this sauce, and will definitely use it again.  Although, next time we’ll be putting it on some white fish (bake some of the sauce with the fish).  It tasted great on the chicken, but we think fish would be fantastic with this!  Or this would be a great topping for some fish tacos.

Sauce:
1/2 cup raw almonds
2 roasted red peppers
5 garlic cloves
3 small tomatoes
1/2 yellow onion
1 cup parsley
1 jalapeño (optional)
1 red spicy pepper (optional)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1 lb small red potatoes, quartered
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3/8 tsp pepper
2 boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips

In a food processor add all of the ingredients for the sauce.  Purée all of the ingredients until the sauce is smooth.  Refrigerate until you are ready to use it.

Preheat the oven to 420ºF.  Spread out the potatoes over a cookie sheet, drizzle 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and 1/8 tsp pepper.  Using your hands, spread the olive oil over all of the potatoes.  Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are slightly browned and crispy.

Meanwhile, drizzle 1/2  tbsp of olive oil onto a sauté pan.  Allow the olive oil to heat up, and then add the chicken.  Sprinkle the 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper over the chicken.  Keep flipping chicken until it is slightly browned on both side.

Arrange the chicken and potatoes onto a plate, drizzle with romesco sauce before serving.

European Food Adventures- Vienna

The second portion of our trip included Vienna (we first visited Poland).  This was the first time either of us had been there, and we really enjoyed it!

Vienna, Austria

One of the well known Viennese specialties is Sacher Torte.  It is a chocolate cake invented by Franz Sacher (an Austrian-Jewish confectioner) in 1832.

Fun Fact #2: Prince Metternich wanted a special dessert from his personal chef, but the chef was sick.  Therefore, his 16-year old apprentice, Franz Sacher, took on the task.  The torte was created for a special occasion, and all of the guests enjoyed it.  Sacher ended up opening his own specialty delicatessen and winery after finishing his training.  Then his son, Eduard, continued the family legacy and perfected his father’s recipe.  The torte was first served at the Demel, and then at the Hotel Sacher, which he established in 1876.  The cake continues to be one of Vienna’s famous culinary specialties.

We might have had our dessert before dinner that day!  =)

Sam and I both really love mushrooms.  I know there are many of you out there that do not like them, but I find them delicious!  Fortunately for us, we had mushroom soup a number of times while in Europe, one of them being in Vienna.

We stumbled upon Restaurant Ferdinandt.  A section of their menu was seasonal, where I found this mushroom soup:

This tasty soup was made out of chanterelles.  Being a mushroom lover, I can only repeat- every bite was amazing!  Here, in the US, chanterelles are expensive and depending on where you live- hard to come by. But in Europe they are fairly inexpensive and many food stands and farmers markets were selling them, so we indulged!

Don’t you worry, we still got our Vitamin C when we ate some fruit.  A fruit that my Mom loves, and we haven’t been able to find in the US, are red currants.  They are native to Europe and have a great mix of tartness and sweetness.

When I was little, my Mom and I used to pick red currants every single year.  Some ended up in the baskets to take home, others in our tummies!

Of course, while Sam and I were in Vienna, we tried a lot of beers.  Here’s a picture to prove it.

Every beer needed a tasty European dish!

While we meandered the street of Vienna, we ended up trying two different establishments, turns out they had the same owner.  It was only after we left the second place, we found out they were extremely close together (around the block!).  How I love winding European streets, it can be fun to get lost!

The establishment(s) that deserved two visits in one day were Bierhof and Hopferl!  Apparently there is a third restaurant, but we didn’t not find it.

Sam had the rostbratwürste (grilled sausage) with bratensaft (gravy) and braterdäpfel (fried potatoes).  The potatoes had the perfect crisp to them!

Meanwhile, I tried out the wiener saftgulasch (Viennese goulash) with spätzle (egg noodles).  I ate my plate clean!  Goulash is a Hungarian soup, but it’s a very popular soup in East and Southern European countries.  Spätzle is a popular egg noodle in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Hungary.  The gravy was perfect with it.

Of course, brats and beer are not the only thing that Austria specializes in.  They also have wine.  While wandering the streets, we found a wine bar!

One evening we found was a specialty grocery store.  Below it was Meinl’s Wine Bar.

The store had a number of European wines: French, German, Italian and Spanish (plus more!).  But we wanted to try some Austrian wines.

I’m not sure if either of these can be found in the U.S.- but in case they can, our recommendations are: Helmunt Bruckner and Umathum.  Both of these had a deep juicy quality, reminiscent of dark red cherry quality.  While we tried out these wines, we also indulged in:

Sam thought that this beef tartar looked like a muppet.  Which muppet do you think it was?

As you can tell, we ate very well while we were Vienna!  Up next: Munich, Germany.

Samosa Casserole

So I know I’ve been a little absent from the blog world, but there is a reason for it.  We’re on vacation!  Yes, remember this post?  Since our travels began, we’ve been enjoying some great food, and yes, we’ll be sure to write about it here the moment we get back!

Until then, here’s a recipe I had made for my Book Club about a week prior to our trip.  Our last book was filled with short stories about Indian families living in the US- so naturally, I had to make some Indian dishes!  Searching around, I had stumbled upon this one, and thought it’d be a hit (and it was!).

The great thing about this dish was that I prepared it the night before.  I had made all of the filling, and then stored it overnight, covered in the fridge.  Then next day, I had made the crust and baked it.

Samosa Casserole
Adapted from: Vegetarian Times (Jan 2010)
6-8 servings

1 cup of flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
10 tbsp cold water
1 1/2 lb Russet potatoes, quartered
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 cup peas, frozen
1 cup of water
1 vegetable bouillon
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Knead together flour, salt and vegetable oil.  Once it starts clumping, add cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Continue kneading until you can form a ball.  Cover with a towel and set aside.

Cook potatoes in boiling water until they are tender, then drain them.  Next, add them to a bowl and mash them- try leaving some chunks for texture.

In a saucepan, heat olive oil.  Then add the onions, carrots and garlic; sauté for about 5 minutes.  While the heat is still on, slide the vegetable mixture to one side of the pan.  In the empty space add mustard seeds.  Toast them for about 30 seconds, then mix them into the vegetable mixture.  Stir in peas, water and a vegetable bouillon.  Finally, add the curry powder, ground ginger, ground cumin, garam masala and red pepper flakes.  Stir well, mixing in all of the spices.

Once it is all incorporated, add the vegetable mixture into the bowl with mashed potatoes.  Also, add honey, salt and pepper.  Make sure it’s well incorporated.  Spread the filling into about a 9-inch pan (any shape).

Preheat the over to 350ºF.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface.  If the pan is 9-inch, then the dough should be around 11-inches.  Cover the filling with the dough, pressing down to eliminate all of the air pockets.  Trim off the excess dough.  In the center, cut in an X, to let the steam out.

Bake the casserole for about 60-70 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.  Let it stand a couple of minutes before serving.