Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Is Vichyssoise?
Nothing More Than a
Simple Leek and Potato Soup

The Recipe: Pronounced VEE-shee-shwaz, vichyssoise is a simple leek and potato soup. Serve it hot on cold days and cold on hot days. Either way, it is, in two easier-to-pronounce words, simply sublime.

~recipe updated 2016 for a little weekend + inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

Vichyssoise ♥ KitchenParade.com, a simple but sublime potato and leek soup, served cold during warm weather and hot during cold weather.

For eons, I shunned vichyssoise – that's VEE-shee-shwaz, don’t leave off the last z sound! Its name somehow conjured rotten fish. Its French origin sounded fussy.

So wrong! Vichyssoise is a simple soup, ever-so-delicious served cold when the weather's hot – and hot when it’s the weather's cold!

It’s an easy soup for novice cooks to master. Better still, the same techniques apply to other homemade soups.


Easy Summer Recipes ♥ KitchenParade.com, a collection of easy-to-remember and memorable recipes especially for summer. Less cookin'. More livin'. It's the summer's motto!
This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published every summer since 2009.
Watch for new "summer easy" recipes all summer long!
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KITCHEN LESSON: VICHYSSOISE

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour but better after 24 hours
Make 5 cups

  • 3 cups homemade chicken stock (recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large leek, white and light-green parts only, cleaned, cut in half moons
  • 1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup whole milk, half & half or cream
  • Salt & white pepper to taste
  • Milk to thin, if needed
  • Fresh chive, chopped for garnish

MAKE THE SOUP Bring the stock to a boil in the microwave. This step saves time but can be skipped if there’s no rush.

SAUTÉ In a large, heavy pot, melt the butter until shimmery on medium heat. Add the leek, stir to coat with butter, then cook gently until the leeks begin to soften, stirring often.

SIMMER Add the potato and stock, bring to a boil and cover. Adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer, let simmer until potatoes are cooked through, about 30 minutes.

PURÉE Transfer the mixture, in batches if necessary, to a food processor or a blender, filling either one no more than halfway. Process until smooth and return to the pot. (Stop here if you want to freeze some for another time.)

Stir in the milk, half & half or cream. Season the soup generously with salt and pepper.

REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, letting the flavors meld.

SERVE & SAVOR If serving hot, rewarm on low heat but do not allow the soup to boil. If serving cold, you may want to thin with milk, especially if made with half & half or cream. Spoon into serving bowls and garnish with chive.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS I typically make a double batch, planning half for the freezer. But since milk doesn't freeze well, I freeze half the stock-potato-leek mixture, saving room in the freezer. Later, after it's thawed in preparation for serving, I add the milk or cream.

VARIATIONS For years, I made Vichyssoise with what Americans call "half & half" – that's half whole milk and half cream – so rich, over-the-top rich, in fact. But these days, I'm more than satisfied by the simple richness afforded by all whole milk. Could you use a low-fat milk? Of course, the soup will still be wonderful, it'll just be less rich. Fat-free half works okay too. I also some times leave the skins on the potatoes; you lose the pretty clean white color but I kind of like that rustic look, also knowing the healthy fiber's not been lost.

EASY HOMEMADE CHICKEN STOCK There are more complicated ways to make stock but this shortcut works. For supper one night, enjoy a grocery-store rotisserie chicken. Then cover the carcass with water in a large pot, cover and simmer for an hour. Refrigerate overnight. Skim off the fat and pick off the remaining meat for sandwiches or chicken salad. When heated and strained, the gelatinous stuff remaining turns into a rich, flavorful broth. Freeze it for later or refrigerate for up to two days before using. Sound easy? It is! I call it my No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock.

ALANNA's TIPS Vichyssoise has so few ingredients that quality really counts. This means that canned broth or bouillon cubes are acceptable, but not preferable, substitutes for homemade chicken stock. But chicken stock itself isn't required. One particularly good pot of vichyssoise was made with ham stock made from leftover from Twice-Smoked Ham. The leeks and potatoes are so smooth and delicate yet can manage the strong flavors of ham stock. Oiii, leeks! Leeks collect grit while growing so really do need careful cleaning. First, cut off the tough root end, including any roots. Then cut the bulb crosswise at the point where the leaves turn dark; peel off a layer of dark leaves to find more white and light-green parts underneath. Halve the leek lengthwise, then separate the whorls and wash under running water. For visual learners, here's an illustrated guide on how to clean leeks. It's not hard, just takes some attention. Don't shortcut this step, the soup can easily turn out gritty. Not nice! Russet potatoes are some times called "baking potatoes" or "Idaho potatoes". They are often quite large, their skins are rough and their flesh is mealy. I've also used Yukon gold potatoes, these are less meal than russets but do work. What you don't want here are lower-starch red potatoes. No food processor or blender? No problem, just mash the mixture with a potato masher or even the back of a heavy spoon. The texture will be different but the taste the same. If you do have a food processor or blender, please be oh-so-careful careful when putting hot liquids into one. If you haven't done this before, a quick lesson is a good idea, please see hot liquids into a blender.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Cup, made with whole milk/half & half/cream: 137 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 2g Sat Fat; 10mg Cholesterol; 600mg Sodium; 21g Carb; 2g Fiber; 4g Sugar; 5g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 3/4/7 & PointsPlus 4/5/7 & SmartPoints 5/6/11

More Cold Soups for Summer

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Sweet-Corn Soup with Shrimp Cantaloupe-Tomato Gazpacho Cold & Creamy Cantaloupe Soup

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Easy Apricot Jam with Rosemary

The Recipe: A small batch of fresh apricot jam, barely sweet and with a bare touch of rosemary and lemon. And then? No canning required! This is a rustic and fruity refrigerator jam that's super-super apricot-y. We can't get enough!

Easy Apricot Jam with Rosemary ♥ KitchenParade.com, a small batch, no canning required.

Ah, August and September's bounty! Last week's score was two crates of peaches and tomatoes and three quarts of apricots – all seconds, all on the cheap.

Within a few hours, I cranked up the stove to make this year's batch of an old family recipe. (We call it "Sharon's Pickle" for my cousin Sharon, who loves it so much but for others I call Ripe-Tomato Relish with Peaches & Pears.) It's a project, for sure, three hours just to prep the fruits and vegetables, then some hours of cooking, then canning.

If you're like me and only can every so often, reviewing my Practical Home Canning Tips is a good way to get back into the groove.

Fresh apricots for Easy Apricot Jam with Rosemary ♥ KitchenParade.com, a small batch, no canning required.

Sharon's Pickle left me with exactly zero energy for turning lovely, perfectly ripe apricots into the envisioned jarsful of jam. Instead I worked out a small batch recipe for a refrigerator apricot jam, barely sweet and thus rich with ripe apricot flavor with quick flicks of fresh rosemary and lemon.

Best of all? No canning required! No sterilized jars. No boiling water. Just 25 minutes, including minimum kitchen cleanup.

Yes, this is a so-called "refrigerator jam". That means it should be refrigerated (duh) and eaten within a week or so (yum). The eating proved to be no issue, the first jar is gone. Lucky for us? I made two!

Easy Apricot Jam with Rosemary ♥ KitchenParade.com, a small batch, no canning required.

This is simplicity at its best, just fruit, a touch of sugar and the herby rosemary, no pectin required. The jam will thicken on its own, thanks to the natural pectin in stone fruits like apricots, peaches, nectarines and plums.

So far, this is how I've used the apricot jam:
Spooned a few spoonsful over Almost-Chewy Creamy Oatmeal.
Whizzed some with a little mayo for a gorgeous fruity topping for burgers.
In the fridge now? A layer of apricot jam topped with butterscotch cream for #PieDayFriday. Yes, I'm back on Instagram, follow me there!
This weekend, I'll drizzle a little over thin slices of pound cake.

Most of all? Toast! I suddenly understand how our friends George and René go through jars of jam just for morning toast.

Me? I feel an obsession coming on! I make bread nearly every week, why not fresh jam too? Something this easy, this fresh, this useful, this adaptable – and most of all, this wonderful – it's my kinda cookin'. My "Summer Easy" kinda cookin'.

Easy Summer Recipes ♥ KitchenParade.com, a collection of easy-to-remember and memorable recipes especially for summer. Less cookin'. More livin'. It's the summer's motto!
This recipe is so quick and easy
that I'm adding it to a special collection of easy summer recipes
published every summer since 2009.
Watch for new "summer easy" recipes all summer long!
With a free e-mail subscription, you'll never miss a one!


SUMMER EASY:
EASY APRICOT JAM with ROSEMARY

Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 25 minutes
Makes 2-3/4 cups

    JUST FOUR INGREDIENTS!
  • 1-1/4 pounds fresh apricots, skins left on, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup (100g) sugar
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • Zest & juice of a lemon (about 2 tablespoons, don't skip)

In a large, heavy saucepan, bring the apricot, sugar and rosemary to a gentle boil on medium heat. Once the apricot juice begins to release, use the back of a spatula or a potato masher to mash the fruit, not pureeing it smooth, instead aiming for a rustic fruit spread with distinct texture. Cook until thick, mashing and stirring continuously.

Once thick, remove from the heat and remove the rosemary. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Let cool, then transfer to a pretty glass jar and refrigerate.

MAKE-AHEAD TIPS Eat this on the spot or eat it up within a week.

VARIATIONS If you're short on apricots, toss in a peach or nectarine, one of these may actually enhance the essence of apricot.

ALANNA's TIPS Stay close and stir continuously, otherwise the high-sugar and low-liquid content could burn.

NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Tablespoon: 10 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 0mg Sodium; 3g Carb; 0g Fiber; 3g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 0 & PointsPlus 0 & SmartPoints 1 (2T = 1 SmartPoint as well)

Savoring Fruit All Summer Long

(hover for a description, click a photo for a recipe)
Blueberry Jam with Cinnamon Homemade Peach Syrup with Fresh Peaches Savory Rhubarb Chutney

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