Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday in the Kitchen

My assignment for tonight's neighborhood Christmas party was to bring an appetizer.  My first thought was Artichoke Dip, that lucious cheese dip that has been a favorite for years.  Then I thought, why play it safe? 

Black Pepper Cheese Shortbreads
So today was all about trying new recipes, some with success, others not so great.  The first recipe was Kale Chips since there was kale in the garden ready to be picked.  I used the standard recipe with olive oil and seasoned salt, but I did not like the results.  I think the problem is my kale, the curly variety.  The biggest problem was not the flavor, but the texture.  But I'm not giving up.  Next time I will try a different variety and see if what happens.
Next on the list are two recipes from Virginia Willis' new book, Basic to Brillant, Y'all.  As I am writing, the Black Pepper Cheese Shortbreads are in the oven, with one minor change.  Instead of sharp white Cheddar cheese, I am using extra sharp Cheddar since that was what was in the frig.  I was "brillant" and added a pecan garnish.
The second recipe is Mini Country Ham Cheddar Biscuits.  They are hanging out on our cold screened-in porch waiting for their time in the oven.  I decided to go "brilliant" with time and make the Honey Bourbon Butter.  Who knew that adding bourbon would add such an unique flavor to the honey?

Sorry, no recipes for these, you will have to buy the book!  Thanks, Virginia for a great cookbook that allows us to take our creations from basic to brilliant!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Potato, Broccoli and Cheddar Soup

To my surprise, I have broccoli in the garden! I have planted broccoli many times before but have never had much success. This year I decided to try it again and the four plants have grown and produced some beautiful heads. The garden and the weather were the inspiration for this recipe. A cold, rainy day, where the high for the day is in the morning calls for a bowl of warm, thick soup. Serve with a simple fruit salad and you have a meal that will add some sunshine to any dreary day.
Potato Broccoli Cheddar Soup
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 leeks, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon aleppo chili
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
3 pounds potatoes, diced
1 head broccoli
2 cups grated extra sharp Cheddar cheese
Salt and Pepper
Sour cream
In a heavy Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Saute onion and celery until tender, seasoning with salt as it cooks. Add flour, paprika and aleppo chili to pot and stir until the flour bubbles. Add the broth, milk and potatoes and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes and the potatoes are tender.
While the potatoes cook, cut broccoli into bite-size pieces and steam until tender crisp. When the potatoes are tender, use a potato masher to break up some of the potatoes. Reduce the temperature to low and add the broccoli and cheese and stir until the cheese is melted and the soup is heated through, adding salt and pepper as needed.
Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Serves 6 to 8.