Potato Chowder with Smoked Gouda

Early March is still technically winter right?  So it’s totally ok to still be eating soup.  You probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that I eat soup all year round.

Soup is my go-to dinner food, right after bread with cheese and hummus.  I know I’ve already griped about how Luke doesn’t like soup, so I don’t get to make it as often as I’d like, etc.  It’s not that Luke doesn’t like soup, he only likes the heavy, cream based ones that sit the bottom of your stomach.

I on the other hand, like my soups light and brothy, though I add milk to thicken them up a little on occasion.  Still, I can’t do cream based soups…it’s like slurping a weird, savory, chunky milkshake.  I’ll pass.

I call this soup a chowder because I added milk to make it creamier and a bit heavier than a regular stock based soup.  This pleased Luke, and I managed to tolerate it, because I’m just a good person like that.

Also because it contains smoked gouda, a cheese after my own heart.  Feel free to use other cheeses though, if you don’t have gouda on hand.

Potato Chowder with Smoked Gouda

Adapted from Cooking Light’s Annual Recipes 2002

Makes 4-6 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 leeks, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 cups Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped

4 cups chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 cup milk (I used 2%)

½ shredded smoked gouda

½ tsp salt

½ tsp black pepper

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add leek and garlic, and sauté for 3 minutes or until tender.  Stir in potato, carrots, stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil.  Cover the pot, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until potato chunks are tender.

Discard bay leaves (I forgot to and ended up eating bay leaf…not too tasty).  Using an immersion blender, or a regular blender, puree the soup until it reaches desired consistency. I like to leave a few chunks of potato intact.

Return soup to pot if you used a normal blender and stir in milk, gouda, salt and pepper.  Cook over medium heat until the cheese melts.  Serve with extra cheese on top if desired.

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Potato Leek Soup

As you read this, I’m probably sitting in a dressing somewhere in Northern Massachusetts trying to muster the strength to squeeze my abused body into yet another big white dress.  Or maybe I’m chilling on my couch with my best lady friends chatting about how easy finding the perfect dress was.

Leeks are pretty.

Either way, I hope you’re enjoying your Saturday, even though I may or may not be.  You might have noticed I’ve been posting a lot.  Sorry about that?  You’re welcome?  Apparently, I’ve been cooking/baking up a store and I’m already backlogged with things to share, so I’ll keep posting every day for as long as I can manage it.

This photo…not so pretty…

I’m trying to vet out the posts with not-so-awesome photography, but that doesn’t at all mean the recipes aren’t awesome.  This soup might not take a fabulous photo, but what it may lack in photogenic-ness, it makes up for in flavor.  I brought some to my mom’s house when I went to Connecticut last weekend, and it served as a rehabilitation meal for my stepdad as he battled a cold.

Nothing beats a warm bowl of soup.  Unless you’re eating a bowl of soup while watching your bunny rabbit stretch, yawn and flop over.  Try to finish your soup before running over to coo mindlessly at her.

Potato Leek Soup

Adapted from Munchin with Munchkin

Makes about 8 servings

8-10 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cubed ( I used 8 potatoes)
1 yellow onion, diced
3 leeks, sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped (I omitted these)
1 carrot, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. salted butter
¼ cup fresh parsley (I used dried)
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme
1 Tsp. dried rosemary
dash red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
6 cups chicken broth (alternately use vegetable broth for a vegetarian soup)
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare all vegetables. Leeks need extra attention when cleaning as they contain a lot of sand. To properly clean a leek remove the roots and the dark green ends, so just the white and light green part remains. Slice the leek length wise, halfway through, so all of its layers are visible. Rinse under cold water carefully pulling back layers to remove the sand. Shake off excess water and slice into thin discs.

In a large pot or dutch oven, melt butter over medium high heat. Sauté leeks, onions and garlic for roughly 3-5 minutes until tender. Do not brown the leeks as it will give your soup a burnt flavor.

Add potatoes, carrots, and celery. Cook for an additional 5 minutes stirring frequently. Sprinkle with parsley, thyme, red pepper flakes, and rosemary, stir to combine. Pour in chicken broth and season with Worcestershire sauce.

Bring soup to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25-35 minutes. Remove from heat.

Using a blender or immersion blender, puree soup in batches until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.


Mashed Potato Gnocchi

Earlier this week, I received some promising news about my future career.  I had a meeting at a day school in Worcester that wants to start a Chinese program next year for their middle/upper school.  I am so excited for this prospect!  Like blissfully giddy excited.  After the meeting, I met my mom for lunch and dropped by Holy Cross to visit/drop off some extra baked goods.  This is one of my constant concerns.  Finding outlets for my excess baked goods so they will be consumed in a reasonable timeframe, allowing me to then go on and make the next thing.  Because I plan out everything.  Seriously, I do.  I have a post it on my Mac dashboard dedicated to listing out things I want to bake in the near future.

Anyway, I love giving my baked goods away to others, mostly because I love sharing what I make with others, especially if it’s something good.  Unless it’s something really, really good.  Then I might not share….but I probably will.  Just ask the boys at Holy Cross, I think what I dropped off was in the later category.  (I’ll be posting about it later, so don’t worry.) Also, I wanted to share (just pictures) of these amazing cheeses I got at Trader Joe’s last weekend.  I could live in that store.

 

This cheese is sooo good.  It’s got those little bits of salty grit that good aged cheese have.  Delicious.

No, this is not cheese.  But I couldn’t resist putting up another Izzy pic.  Every photo I take in the living room comes out like this…

But enough about the future,  let’s focus on the present, like this post about gnocchi.  I think the first time gnocchi entered my consciousness was during high school.  I vaguely remember the name being mentioned at an Italian restaurant once or twice, but I didn’t actually realize what it was until my foodie transformation.  Now, I love gnocchi.  Pillow-soft potato dumplings?  Yes, please.  You can also make gnocchi with ricotta, a method I’ll be trying very soon.  These are a snap to throw together and use up extra mashed potatoes!  My mound of leftover mashed potatoes was starting to worry me, as I hate throwing out food, but thankfully this recipe saved the day.  I thoroughly enjoyed them, and I hope you do too.

Leftover Mashed Potato Gnocchi

Adapted from this site

Makes 3-4 servings

2 ½ cups leftover mashed potatoes

2 eggs

approximately 2 cups all-purpose flour (I think I used more like 3)

pinch of nutmeg

salt and pepper as necessary

Force the mashed potatoes through a fine mesh sieve or a potato ricer and remove skins.  Put them in a medium bowl, make a well in the center, add the eggs and beat lightly.  Add one cup of flour, nutmeg, salt and pepper (you can decide how much to ad, if your mashed potatoes are already seasoned, you can probably omit more seasoning) and mix.  Continue adding flour one cup at a time to make a moist, but firm dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, shape into a ball, and divide into 6 smaller balls.

Put a large pot of water on to boil.  Make sure to salt the water, about a tablespoon’s worth.

Roll each ball into a log and cut it into ¾ inch pieces.  Pick up each piece, press into a fork with your thumb and roll off.  Mine didn’t really want to keep their indentation, so if yours don’t either, it’s ok.

Drop the formed gnocchi into the water.  When they float to the top they’re done, about 3 minutes.  I also put some of the formed gnocchi on a wax paper lined plate and put them in the freezer to save for later.  After about an hour, I transferred them to a Ziploc bag.  They cook the same way, but will take a few minutes longer.

Drain your cooked gnocchi and serve.  I used regular tomato sauce and grated cheese, but gnocchi are versatile, so any sauce used on pasta would work well.


Loaded Potato Bread

We interrupt these regularly scheduled fall recollections for a peak inside the real life that triggers them.

 

I wish that were my life, lounging about all day.  Well, I do  do a fair share of lounging, but there’s work mixed in too.  For those that don’t know, as of right now I am making ends meet by mooching off my fiancée Luke and tutoring.  Just kidding, I don’t mooch.  I think I earn my keep in the apartment as its head cleaner, cook, laundry-doer, and rabbit caretaker.  I have found tutoring very rewarding so far, it’s really amazing the difference a little one-on-one assistance can be.  Currently, all my clients are learning Chinese and I assist or teach them directly.  One of my students is 3 ½ years old.  Today, while learning about fruit, she decided it would be fun to fling canned peach syrup at me with a fork.  I cleaned off my clothes immediately with a wet paper towel, but forgot about my hair.  It had become a sticky mess.  Wonderful.

 

I stood out in the rain for a few minutes to let it “rinse” my hair.  I generally dislike rain.  When I was in Taiwan, it rained so often that I forgot what the sun looked like and got confused when it was able to peek out from behind the everlasting cloud cover of rainy season.  Since returning to the States, I’ve relished the sunshine, though sadly, our apartment doesn’t get much of it.  Still, standing out in the rain today, there was something oddly poetic about the patterns of strewn wet leaves on the driveway, their colors popping out against the black asphalt.  I went back inside and saw Izzy pull a move that looked like a kickflip, except she did it with her body.  Maybe I should get her out of the cage for a little while.  I got her a pen earlier this week so she has a bigger space to run/hop around in without me worrying about her hiding under the couch.  I am also trying to litter train her.  Wish me luck.

One of my favorite activities to do when it rains is bake.  I know, you must be thinking, don’t you do it all the time anyway?  The answer is yes, but when it’s raining, I like to tackle longer projects like bread.  I love making bread.  There’s a unique sense of satisfaction that comes from taking an awkward lump of dough and turning it into soft, fluffy, delicious bread.  I had half a bag of potatoes on the verge of being able to stare back at me, so I made a big batch of mashed potatoes.  What to do with all of them?  I found a couple recipes, and this is the first.  This bread is awesome!  I love scallions (I buy them in huge bunches in Asian markets cuz they’re so cheap!) so when I saw this recipe, I had to make it.  It’s soft, chewy, but not too chewy, with little bits of potato and scallion, oh so good.  I’m making an open face pulled pork sandwich on it tonight.  Though I also think that soup and a hunk of bread makes a pretty fine meal too.  Enjoy!

Loaded Baked Potato Bread
Adapted from Girl Versus Dough (I love her site!)

Yields: 1 sandwich loaf

Ingredients:
1/2 cup warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2/3 cup Yukon Gold or Russet potatoes, boiled and mashed with the skin left on (I used about 1 1/4 Yukon Golds)
1/3 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (I omitted this, not a bacon fan)
1/2 cup chopped green onions or chives
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water and yeast and whisk until yeast is dissolved. Let stand about 3 minutes or until yeast is foamy. Add in butter, salt, sour cream and potatoes and mix with paddle attachment until combined. Add in bacon and green onions and mix until just combined. Add in flour in thirds, mixing with the dough hook, on low, as you add in the flour. Mix until dough completely pulls away from the sides, then remove the dough and knead by hand about 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.
Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Remove risen dough from bowl and press down with fingers into a 6 x 8-inch rectangle. Roll up tightly from the short end and place the dough, seam-side down, in a lightly greased 8 x 4-inch loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Once dough is risen, uncover and bake about 30 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a thermometer inserted in the center reads 190 degrees F. The bread should also make a hollow sound when thwacked on the bottom.
Remove from oven and cool in loaf pan about 10 minutes, and then completely on a cooling rack before slicing or serving.