Category Archives: Vegetarian

Potato & Leek Soup

I adore Potato & Leek Soup, or Vichyssoise as the French refer to it. Vichyssoise is typically served chilled, but in the winter or on a rainy Spring day, I prefer to eat it piping hot with some fresh bread. There is nothing fancy about this recipe; it is incredibly simple but also delicious and comforting. Don’t even try to substitute leeks for onions here, because it just won’t taste the same. Leeks have a much sweeter and slightly more complex taste in my opinion. Typically this soup has heavy cream in it, but I prefer to make a lighter version because I find that the potatoes add plenty of creaminess without the need for extra fat.

Soups like this, with only six ingredients (not including the salt and pepper) remind me of why good quality and fresh ingredients are so important. The flavor of this soup far exceeds what you would expect from these humble ingredients.

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Potato & Leek Soup
Serves 5-6 as an entree, or 8 as a first course

Ingredients

  • 3 large leeks (split lengthwise, soaked, and rinsed in cold water to remove the dirt). Chop only the white and pale green parts into thin slices.
  • 3 medium sized Yukon gold potatoes, cleaned, peeled, and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves (or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves)
  • 2 tablespoons half & half or heavy cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat a large soup pot or large enameled-cast iron Dutch Oven over low heat on the stove.
  2. Add the butter and leeks and sweat the leeks over low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until translucent.
  3. Add the potatoes, broth, and thyme and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  4. Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are cooked through. Remove from the heat.
  5. Using an immersion blender or regular blender, puree the soup (you can make the soup as smooth or as chunky as you like!)
  6. Add the half & half (you can use more or less depending on how creamy you like your soup) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Serving suggestions: This soup is a meal in itself when served with some nice hearty bread, cheese (I like cheddar or stilton with this soup), and a simple salad. Alternatively, this soup would make a great first course, served either warm or chilled.

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Watercress Soup


This recipe is actually taken from a project that I did while attending the French Culinary Institute. It isn’t fancy, and comes together very quickly—perfect for a lazy weekend or a weeknight meal. My inspiration came from the many watercress and egg salads that I eat when I visit my grandmother in England every summer. Watercress is not very popular in this country, but it is used very frequently by the British in sandwiches, soups, and salads. If you have the ingredients on hand, I urge you to make the lemon crème fraiche that accompanies this soup. It adds a touch of creaminess and a refreshing burst of citrus to the soup. However, if you don’t have the time or ingredients, feel free to do without or to substitute a dollop of yogurt or sour cream instead. This soup would make a great appetizer (which was its original intention), or a light meal served with some crusty, buttered bread. It can also be served either hot or chilled, which makes it perfect for both the summer and the winter!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Watercress Soup with Lemon Crème Fraiche
Serves 8, 150mL portions (or 4 entree portions)

I chose to pair this soup with the 2009 Ata Rangi Sauvignon Blanc from Martinborough, New Zealand because this wine is bright and citrusy and has some peppery notes, which is a perfect compliment for the pepperiness of the watercress and the lemon crème fraiche that garnishes the soup.

For the Watercress Soup:

  • 1 leek (95g), white parts only, chopped finely
  • 2-3 T unsalted butter
  • 3 bunches (477g) of watercress (thick stalks removed)
  • 1 medium yukon gold potato (medium sized, peeled and cut in ½ inch cubes)
  • 1,185mL (5 cups) Vegetable Stock
  • ½ t Lemon Juice
  • 1 T Heavy Cream
  • Salt and Black Pepper (as needed)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil (as needed)

Instructions for the Watercress Soup:

  1. Place a marmite over low heat. Sweat the leeks in the butter until translucent.
  2. Add the potato and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes over low to medium heat.
  3. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for approximately 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely cooked through.
  4. Add the watercress to the pot and continue to simmer for an additional 2 minutes, or until the watercress has wilted.
  5. Remove the soup from the heat and puree the soup in batches in a blender.
  6. Return the pureed soup to the low heat and stir in the lemon juice and cream.
  7. Serve hot with a dollop of lemon crème fraiche and a few drops of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

For Presentation of the Watercress Soup:

  1. Ladle hot soup into bowl.  Garnish with a small spoonful of crème fraiche (see recipe below) and a single sprig of watercress. Finish with a few drops of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and serve.

Lemon Crème Fraiche (adapted from a recipe by John Ash in From the Earth to the Table):

  • 8 oz crème fraiche
  • 2 t lemon rind
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • Salt to taste

Instructions for the Lemon Crème Fraiche:

  1. Whisk the crème fraiche, lemon rind, and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and keep refrigerated until service.

My first attempt at pizza

I can’t believe it, but this pizza marked the very first time that I made pizza dough from scratch (I have used Trader Joe’s pizza dough in the past). In fact, I rarely make pizza, and that is largely because I live in New York City, where excellent pizza can be found on almost every block. Our favorite neighborhood pizza place is called Al Forno. It is a casual, laid-back family restaurant where the servers recognize us when we walk in, and where we know that we can count on a great arugula salad and a delicious thin-crust pizza made with fresh mozzarella cheese. It makes me hungry just thinking about it!

The recipe below came to fruition because I was inspired by a pizza that I had last year at the well-known vegetarian restaurant, Greens, in San Francisco. The pizza that I had at Greens was topped with a fresh cilantro pesto, heirloom beans, poblano peppers, and smoked cheddar. It was unique and incredibly tasty. Our pizza was supposed to be an easy weeknight dinner, so I didn’t bother roasting poblanos and instead mixed canned green chilis into pinto beans that I mashed and seasoned simply with salt and pepper. I did, however, make the cilantro pesto from scratch, combining fresh cilantro, garlic, walnuts, and a touch of parmesan cheese in the food processor.  We also didn’t have any smoked cheddar on hand (in fact, I’m not the biggest fan of smoked cheeses) so I used a combination of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese.

When the pizza came out of my oven, I was relatively happy. It certainly didn’t look like an artisan pizza, but it tasted great despite the fact that I wasn’t thrilled with the recipe that I used to make the whole wheat pizza dough. I found a recipe for whole wheat pizza dough in Eating Well; the recipe called for part all-purpose flour and part whole wheat pastry flour. I immediately questioned the use of pastry flour, which in general is too low in protein to make good bread, but figured I would try it anyway. As I labored away in my small New York kitchen, kneading my dough for a good 20 minutes, I knew something was wrong. Despite my worst fears, the crust was certainly edible, it just didn’t have the soft, doughy spring of a good pizza dough. Next time, I’ll try a new recipe but the toppings on this pizza are certainly worth giving a try. Since I haven’t perfected the recipe, I won’t share it with you quite yet. To be continued…

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Mushroom and Roquefort Strudel

Two weekends ago, Brian and I were in Washington, D.C., meeting with some prospective wedding vendors and visiting my sister and godparents. For a long time, I had been promising my godparents that I would make them dinner, so I delivered on that promise while we were in D.C. Thankfully, they let me off the hook a bit by offering to make the hors d’oeuvres and dessert (and my sister pitched in by making some great homemade bread!).

For our main course, I made seared duck breasts served with lentils braised in red wine, and for the starter I made a mushroom and Roquefort strudel. I made this strudel last year for New Years Eve and it was a hit, so I have decided to share the recipe with you because it truly is delicious. Sautéed mushrooms and blue cheese make a great pairing, and this strudel recipe is a wonderful example of how well they compliment each other.

Although this strudel may look intimidating, it is in fact quite easy to make. The most difficult part is layering the phyllo dough, which, if you impatient like me, can be infuriating. The good news is that this strudel is quite forgiving, so a few rips in your phyllo dough really won’t make a big difference to the end result as long as there are no holes when you roll it up.

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

Mushroom and Roquefort Strudel

Serves 6 appetizer portions

Ingredients:

  • 1 box phyllo dough (defrosted according to the directions on the package)
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 2 pounds assorted mushrooms (I used crimini and shitake)
  • ¼ cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 ounces Roquefort cheese (or other blue cheese)
  • 6 tablespoons dry bread crumbs (store bought is fine for this recipe)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Heat a large sauté pan over low-medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter and the olive oil. Add the chopped shallots and cook over low heat until the shallots are translucent.
  3. Add all of the mushrooms and the garlic and turn up the heat to medium-high. Sauté the mushrooms until they have released all of their liquid and then reabsorbed the liquid.
  4. Add the wine and thyme and cook over medium-high heat until the wine is fully reduced. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Take the sauté pan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before constructing the strudel
  6. When the mushroom mixture has cooled, crumble the Roquefort into the mushrooms and mix in lightly.
  7. Melt the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter over the stove or in the microwave.
  8. Brush a large sheet pan with a small amount of butter to prevent the strudel from sticking.
  9. Take out your phyllo dough and place one layer of the phyllo on the buttered sheet pan. Brush the sheet of pastry with butter and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of breadcrumbs evenly over the sheet of phyllo.
  10. Place another sheet of phyllo over the first layer, brush with butter, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Repeat 4 more times, so that you have a total of 6 layers of phyllo.
  11.  Spoon the cooled mushroom filling onto the long side of the last layer of phyllo.
  12. Carefully roll up the strudel so that the seam side faces down and fold in the ends.
  13. Brush the outside of the strudel with melted butter and place the strudel in the oven for 34-40 minutes, or until the outside is golden brown.
  14. Serve alone or top of baby mixed greens. Rainwater Madeira is a perfect pairing for this strudel!

 

“Black beans and rice”

Apologies for the hiatus between posts! It’s been a busy few weeks, filled with weddings, visitors, and birthdays. The temperatures have become increasingly cooler in New York in the last few weeks, and I would venture to say that fall has arrived.

Every fall I find myself ready to cook heartier food like stews, roasts and pies. Recently, I made the first soup of the season and I am getting the urge to make either a pumpkin or apple bread. Plans to go apple-picking a few weeks ago were thwarted due to rainy weather, but my disappointment has at least been eased by the fact that I have been able to find some of my favorite apple varietals in the stores recently.

The following recipe is really a muddle of ingredients, but it is a perfect example of the type of food that I am craving right now. I call this recipe ‘Black Beans and Rice’ but it should really be categorized as a black bean chili. Strangely enough, I like to sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese on top, instead of a more suitable cheddar or cojita cheese. You could use something other than Parmesan, but I suggest that you take a leap of faith and try it, because it really does taste great. In fact, as I ate this the other night I realized that the leftover rice in my fridge would be perfect reheated and served with a simple combination of Parmesan cheese and peas. Italians would call this combination “Risi e Bisi”, which translated into English is “Rice and Peas”. Traditionally, Rise e Bisi is made with short-grain Arborio rice, but it is nearly as delicious made with long grain white or brown rice.  In fact, I think that I will go make it right now. In the meantime, enjoy the following recipe!

Happy Cooking,
Pippa

“Black Beans and Rice”

Serves 4

For the Rice:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 3 cups of water
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

 For the Beans:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon mild chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 26-ounce box/can of chopped tomatoes (I like Pomî tomatoes)
  • 1 19-ounce can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, cleaned and leaves picked (for garnish)
  • Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (for garnish)

For the Rice:

1.     Place the rice, water, salt, and butter in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat. As soon as the water begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 45 minutes over low heat.

For the Beans:

1.     Heat a sauté pan over medium-low heat and sweat the onion and garlic in olive oil until transluscent.

2.     Add the oregano, cumin, and chili powder and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

3.     Add the tomatoes and bay leaf and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until fully flavored.

4.     Add the black beans and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with the rice, fresh cilantro, and grated parmesan cheese.