Creamy Leek & Potato Soup + America’s Test Kitchen’s Vegetables Illustrated Cookbook Review

Cook’s Illustrated new cookbook Vegetables Illustrated is a beautifully compiled cookbook of delicious, easy to make, and crowd-pleasing recipes featuring vegetables as the star.  The cookbook reads like a reference guide with vegetables separated into individual chapters accompanied by tips, tricks, and innovative recipes that any meat lover will enjoy.

I chose the creamy leek and potato soup because I was craving something warm and comforting with the taste and colors of spring.  April in New England is a bit like Jekyll and Hyde, sunny and warm one day then raw and raining the next!  This soup did not disappoint in flavor or comfort.  The flavor of the leeks shines through while the thyme compliments its earthy flavor.  The addition of the russet potato and bread make this soup hearty without the addition of cream.  Seasoning to taste with salt and pepper is important as both bring out the flavor of the leeks.  I added a bit of Maldon sea salt flakes which is a must buy for any salt lover.  Just a sprinkle is all you need.  Serve this soup with fresh, crusty bread and you have comfort in a bowl.

Next on my list of must makes from this cookbook is the southwestern radish and apple salad, quickly followed by a carrot cake recipe that makes my mouth water every time I look at the photograph.  With four hundred and eighty-five pages of recipes, I have a lot to explore and just in time with fresh produce from farmer’s markets arriving soon.  You can purchase this cookbook here.  I highly recommend it.  Happy Spring!

I reached out to America’s Test Kitchen who sent me this cookbook for free.  All opinions are my own.

Creamy Leek and Potato Soup

Serves 4 to 6

Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Vegetables Illustrated

 Ingredients:

2 pounds leeks, white and light green parts halved lengthwise and sliced thin, dark green parts halved and cut into 2-inch pieces, (be sure to wash all of it thoroughly)

2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)

2 cups of water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion, chopped

Kosher salt and pepper

1 small russet potato, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼ inch slices

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of fresh thyme or tarragon (I used thyme.)

1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, toasted a bit and torn into ¼ inch pieces

Directions:

Add broth, water, and dark green leek pieces to a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.  Once boiling, reduce heat to low and cover.  Allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  Using a fine mesh sieve strain broth over an empty bowl while pushing on the solids to release as much liquid and flavor as possible.  Set aside.

Add butter to a now-empty saucepan and melt over medium-low heat.  Add sliced white bread, green leeks, onion, and 1 teaspoon of salt.  Reduce heat to low and cook stirring often until vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Next, increase the heat to high and add broth, potato, bay leaf, and herb sprig.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until potato is soft and bread breaks down about 10 minutes.

Remove bay leaf and herb sprig.  Process soup in batches in a blender or use a handheld immersion blender to save you time.  Process until smooth.  Bring to a simmer and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with Maldon Sea Salt flakes and thyme leaves.  Serve with crusty bread if desired.  Enjoy!

 

 

Lemon Ricotta Zucchini & Tomato Galette + 5 Summer Savory Galette Links

 

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The blue sky  was splattered with gauzy clouds.  Our kite soared many feet above and danced in the mean ocean breeze while the kids chased its shadow down the long empty beach.  A perfect kinda day, really.  I felt you there, wrote your name in the sand and watched the tide selfishly whisk it away.  I smiled at the pointless gesture.  As if the sea were that kind.

Later, I bounced my youngest on my hip in the cool salt water pond and kissed his wet, chubby cheeks, all while he giggled at fun mommy.  The older kids swam around us like a school of trout, approaching and darting quickly away.  I passed our youngest off to J and returned to my sand covered beach chair.  I watched, fully present, something I hardly ever do.

Is there much more?  

You laughed.  The dead are so wise.  No, no there is nothing else.

I smiled, easy for you to say.

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Lemon Ricotta Zucchini Tomato Tart

A savory summer galette starring garden ripe zucchini and heirloom tomatoes paired with a bright lemon ricotta filling

serves 6

recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens and Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

Ingredients for filling:

1/2 of a 15 ounce package of your favorite refrigerated pie crust or use the recipe listed below

1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced (about 2 + 1/2 cups)

3 heirloom tomatoes, 1/4 inch slices

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup goat cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil

zest of 1 lemon

juice of 1 lemon

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper + more to taste

kosher salt to taste

basil leaves, torn

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

Sea Salt

Optional: Balsamic glaze like this

Directions:

Sprinkle sliced zucchini lightly with salt.  Place in colander and drain for about 15 minutes.  Pat dry.

Pre-heat the oven to 400F.

Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and roll out your pie dough to a 12 inch circle.  Transfer to a large baking sheet and set aside.

Using a medium bowl whisk together ricotta, Parmesan cheese, goat cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, kosher salt and pepper.  Grab a spatula and spread the filling evenly over the dough leaving about 1 and 1/2 inch border.  Top with zucchini, followed by tomato slices and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Gently fold over pastry edge, pleating and pressing down as needed.

In a small bowl whisk together 1 egg with 1 tablespoon of water.  Using a pastry brush lightly brush the edges with the egg mixture.  Place in oven and bake until golden brown, 35-40 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with torn basil leaves and sea salt.  Drizzle all over with balsamic glaze, if desired.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Galette is best the day it is made, but it does make a nice breakfast the next day.  If you have leftovers, store in an air-tight container at room temperature.  Bring to room temperature before eating.  Enjoy!

Pate Brisee or Short Pastry

recipe from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts

Makes 1-9 inch pie crust

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/8 tsp. salt

8 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter

3-4 tablespoons ice water

Directions:

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl.   Next add cold butter, cut into 1 inch pieces. Rub butter and flour between your fingertips until the butter is pea-sized. Dump dough onto clean counter. Form a “trough” lengthwise (vertically) through flour mixture. Add the water, one tablespoon at a time, and fluff it with your fingers until large lumps form and the pastry is blended. The dough should be a bit dry, not too wet.

Gather the dough together and flatten the dough with the heel of your hand so that the butter will layer between the flour (fraisage). Rotate dough and repeat once again.  Repeat a few more times.  Form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

5 Summer Savory Galette Links

Can’t get enough of heirloom tomatoes?  Head to Joy the Baker for her heirloom tomato tart recipe with sun-dried tomato pesto.  Yum!

Not sure what to do with all of your garden’s summer squash?  Try A Cozy Kitchen’s summer squash lattice ricotta tart.

Gluten-free?  Head to Tartelette  and try a gluten-free tart with savory greens, tomatoes and goat cheese.  While you are there be sure to check out Helene’s recipe for a Swiss chard, goat cheese and prosciutto tart.

If your CSA contains more Swiss chard than you can handle, try making Smitten Kitchen’s leek and Swiss chard tart!

A Dose of Fall Comfort Food: Butternut Squash + Apple Soup plus 5 Must Try Fall Desserts

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Last week I was sick. I felt awful, really awful. Luckily, Bubba was able to work from home for a day to help deal with the kids. It was the first time in I don’t know how long I had an actual sick day. I napped, I didn’t make any meals or clean any dishes, Bubba did the laundry and took the kids to the park and I watched an episode of Barefoot Contessa. Yes, an entire episode not recorded, in the middle of the day! That never happens.

After my fever broke I felt better, but I needed something comforting to eat. A couple of days before I got sick, we went apple picking. So on my counter I had a bunch of apples and a butternut squash from our CSA staring at me. “Make something with me!” they seemed to scream. Ok fine, but what? My mind felt hazy and my body still ached a bit. I grabbed my new favorite cookbook, Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach, and looked up butternut squash. This was not the time for creativity, I just needed a good recipe for something soothing. (All of her recipes are good. If you are looking to buy a new cookbook, buy her book. You’ll love it!) I found Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. Perfect, just what my body needs now.

The soup has a bit of spice to it which I love. The apples add a subtle sweetness which works well with the butternut squash, and a pinch of cayenne gives a little heat. The combination of the apples, squash and thyme simmering together made our house smell like fall. I served the soup with crusty bread and chopped chives sprinkled on top. G tried the soup and wasn’t impressed. C refused to try the soup but she did dip a piece of bread in it and said it tasted “ok.” I’ll keep working on her and G. Bubba loved the soup. At least one other person in our family loved the soup.

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The apples are a mix of Macintosh and Honey Crisp. Honey Crisp is my favorite.

_KH10032One two-pound butternut squash, two apples, two small onions or one medium and a sprig of thyme are the main ingredients.

_KH10036Peel the squash. I love the golden orange color on the inside.

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Scrape out the seeds and chop into 1 inch cubes.

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Bring the apples, onions, squash, broth and seasonings to a boil and then allow to simmer for about a half hour. Check every ten minutes while simmering and add more broth if necessary.

_KH10061Serve with crusty bread and top with chopped chives, walnuts and crème fraiche. Use all toppings or just one! Take a big bite and feel better.

Butternut Squash + Apple Soup

Recipe from Dinner: A Love Story

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 small or 1 medium onion

A large glug of olive oil

Leaves from one sprig of fresh thyme

1 Tbsp. curry powder (optional but I used it)

1/8 tsp. cayenne

1 2 lb butternut squash, peeled, cut in half, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes

2 apples peeled, cored and cut into any size chunks (Macintosh or Fuji work well here. I used Macs. Do not use Red Delicious.)

31/2 cups or more of chicken broth. (If you are not using homemade chicken broth, buy low sodium so you can add the amount of salt you want. Store bought chicken broth tends to be too salty for me.)

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Toppings: chopped chives, chopped walnuts or sour cream. Try crème fraiche instead of sour cream for a topping even creamier.

Directions: 

Brown the onion in a large dutch oven or stock pot for about 3 minutes. Add salt, pepper, thyme, curry powder and cayenne and stir. Add squash and apples and chicken broth. Be sure the broth covers the ingredients by about 1/2 inch.

Bring to a boil and then simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Check the soup every 10 minutes and make sure it stays at the same level. If it doesn’t, add more broth. After 30 minutes, check to see if the squash is tender. Continue to cook until tender if it is not. Remove soup from the heat and puree it using a blender or immersion blender. If you using a traditional blender be sure to puree the soup in batches and keep the lid slightly open so it doesn’t explode. Serve hot with as many suggested toppings as desired. Enjoy!

5 Must Try Fall Desserts

I love to bake. When the seasons change I get excited to try new recipes. I plan on trying the recipes list below and I’ll let you know how they turn out.

I spotted these pumpkin bars on Two Peas and Their Pod and I must try them very soon.

Caramel apples are a must eat in the fall but what about adding bacon to them? Check out the recipe here.

I love cupcakes. This cupcake will satisfy your need for anything pumpkin.

Apple pie with caramel? Yes! Get the recipe here.

A fall dessert that won’t pack on the pounds? It exists here.