Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter Farmer's Market: Potato-Leek Soup

Potato-Leek Soup (The City Tavern Cookbook) and onion & garlic burrata on sunflower bread

I had a lovely morning at the Farmer's Market, enjoying a chance to chat briefly with two fabulous people (hi, Alex and Claire!), and I headed straight for Jordan Bros. Fish upstairs, having enjoyed the scallops I bought last week. This week I bought some flounder (in addition to more scallops), which I will be making tomorrow night. Next to Jordan Bros. were two of my favorite Somerville companies: Taza Chocolate and Fiore di Nonno, so some 80% chocolate and Onion/Garlic burrata jumped into my bag.

When I got home I realized I still had potatoes and leeks from last week's market (Enterprise Farm) that I never cooked, and the leeks still looked fine, so that was the priority for tonight. I wanted to make what is probably an amazing and fantastic potato leek soup from Barbara Lynch (as found in her book, Stir), but a recipe calling for four cups of cream isn't really compatible with my desire to take off holiday pounds or my husband's cholesterol. So, I turned to my good ol' City Tavern Cookbook, and learned, among other things, that marjoram was a common 18th-c herb, even though you rarely see it used today. Thomas Jefferson "grew it in abundance at Monticello," evidently (City Tavern Cookbook, 85). This recipe doesn't call for any cream, so it is broth based and at least psychologically more "healthy" if one ignores the butter and bacon, (*ahem*).

City Tavern's Potato Leek Soup (again, I avoid giving the exact amounts due to copyright)

  • unsalted butter
  • leeks (white part only), chopped
  • chicken stock (yes, yes....I used store bought...)
  • red skinned potatoes (I used a mix of locally grown potatoes including gold and purple)
  • yellow onion
  • chopped lean bacon
  • dried marjoram
  • salt and pepper
I happened to buy smoked bacon from Stillman's at the Farmer's Market and WOW...that was even better in the soup than I had imagined. I trimmed off quite a lot of the fat, and the smokiness actually really did come out in the soup. The marjoram was a fantastic addition.

Confession: I'm not a big soup eater. I also don't enjoy making it that much. But this was so straightforward and tasty, I see myself making this a couple of times each winter.

Finally, I'd like to thank KB over at Prof Who Cooks for the "Stylish Blogger Award." I'm not sure I'm deserving of anything preceded by the word "Stylish," but I'm honored, just the same. I will be sending the award on in the next week or so.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Winter Farmers Market: Sautéed Scallops and Herbed Rice

Somerville, MA is a great city. I love living here, and this year's new Winter Farmer's Market just added to my joy. It runs between now and March, and it has been inspiring to see people trudging out in the cold, ice and snow, to the Armory (yes, the market is inside). This past Saturday, I stocked up on locally grown leeks and potatoes, grabbed some hot Italian sausage from Stillman's, and then ventured upstairs to buy some FRESH FISH from Jordan Brothers Seafood. Yes, that's right: haddock from Gloucester, and scallops from Maine. Not frozen--fresh. When she showed me the scallops I might have cried, just a little. Oh, and I picked up a baguette, brioche, and potato bread.

Scallops don't require a lot of fuss, but are easy to overcook. I pulled out my San Juan Classics Cookbook (San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest, not Puerto Rico) and went straight to the shellfish section where I found a recipe for "Sautéed Prawns or Scallops" from Thibert's Crab Market on Fidalgo Island. Due to copyright, I won't reproduce the quantities, but here are the essential ingredients for

Sautéed Scallops
  • fresh scallops--medium to large, dry
  • butter
  • chopped garlic
  • chopped green onions
  • sliced mushrooms (I used babybella)
  • dried tarragon (I substituted fresh because I had it)
  • dry white wine
  • fresh lemon juice
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • lemon wedges to serve
In a nutshell: melt butter, saute garlic, onion, mushrooms and tarragon until softened. Add scallops, sauté for five minutes. Add wine and lemon juice, stir in parsley, simmer to blend. Add salt and pepper to taste!

I served it with Herbed Rice which was loosely inspired by a Herbed Barley recipe that I made for Christmas, from The City Tavern Cookbook .

Herbed Rice
  • basmati rice (follow normal portioning)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • fresh herbs: I used parsley, tarragon, and thyme in a 3:2:1 ratio. It really is to your taste, but I do recommend being sensitive to what you are serving with the rice. The tarragon picked up the tarragon in the scallops, and I wanted just the faintest whisper of thyme, so that it would work with the rice, but not compete with the scallops.
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
Cook the rice according to package directions, putting the 1 tsp of salt in the water. After it is done simmering and the liquid is mostly absorbed, add all the other ingredients and stir through.

Served with a simple green salad, and we had fresh brioche topped with raspberries and brandy for desert.