Thursday, October 19, 2017

Speedy Sausage, Kale & Potato Soup

Brrrrrr, early this morning the view through the window was wet, gray and totally uninspiring so I made the obvious decision to stay snugly tucked under the covers and read. Hours rolled by as The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt transported me into other lives, other worlds. No book review here; I'm still processing my many mixed responses to this lengthy Pulitzer Prize winning novel. But shortly after noon a series of annoying stomach rumbles reminded me that breakfast was a lost hope and I'd better get up and start moving on lunch prep. 

Soup fit my mood and the weather; quick comfort food is always a good thing on a cool, dreary day. The open bag of Halloween candy, my favorite Snickers bars conveniently stored on an adjacent kitchen counter, didn't even tempt as an emergency snack. Nope, instead some spicy chicken Andouille sausage, Yukon gold potatoes and curly kale prompted a flurry of chopping and cooking, tasting and seasoning without benefit of a recipe. The result? A warming bowl of soup that pleased us both. How do I know? RL ate two full servings and didn't even reach for the hot sauce. 

Lemon zest and juice added an extra pop to each bowl, brightening the flavor while avoiding a too-sour bite. Soups and stews typically improve with an overnight rest, so I am eagerly anticipating another bowlful at lunch tomorrow. 

 Speedy Sausage, Kale and Potato Soup
serves 3-4

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, medium dice
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 links cooked sausage, sliced (precooked chicken Andouille today)
2 large Yukon Gold potatoes, cut in 1" dice
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried basil
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups kale, destemmed & roughly chopped
zest of 1 large lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup instant potato flakes (optional)
lemon wedges to serve alongside
shredded Parmesan cheese, optional

Heat the olive oil in a medium kettle over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for several minutes to soften. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute or so until fragrant. 

Add the coins of sausage, diced potatoes and herbs; toss to coat. Add the chicken broth and cook until the potatoes are just tender. 

Add the kale and cook a few minutes longer until softened. Stir in the lemon zest. Taste and adjust seasonings.

For a thicker broth, stir in instant potato flakes, 1/4 cup at a time. (You could mash the cooked potatoes to thicken the soup, but I like a thicker broth and potato chunks.)

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with shredded Parmesan and serve with lemon wedges.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Summer 2017 IMK Notes

In and Out of My Kitchen...

Summer 2017 has been memorable for Seattle's record-breaking stretch of hot, dry weather; an incredible number of horrific wildfires that torched forest lands in western US and Canada; throat-irritating smoke and ash from those same fires that filled the air for weeks, transforming both sun and moon into brilliant red/orange orbs; and the fleeting thrill of a rare total solar eclipse. Life in my kitchen tended toward the unpredictable as well, but we're back on track for a calmer Autumn. 

Foodwise, we reveled in the abundance of produce. Our three sunloving Asian pear trees produced a record crop, a challenging mixed blessing since so many ripen at once. I've tried to be magnanimous and forgive the marauding raccoons and squirrels who take one big bite, just one! out of dozens of pears. This year there was more than enough fruit to share.

Summer stone fruits, melons, blueberries, and mint make my tastebuds sing. Mint is a total pest, growing like a weed in a sideyard bed, but it's so aromatic that it is worth the effort to keep it in check. Think more fruit salads, more mojitos...

 Vine-ripened tomatoes are the gold standard flavorwise, and 2017 produced a bumper crop locally. Now I wish I had put in a few plants, but the neighborhood markets kept us well supplied. Tomatoes plain, tomatoes sauced, tomatoes in soup, tomatoes in salads... yes!

Pastry hand pies were not my thing, no matter how I tried, so I moved on and worked instead with pizza dough to bake calzone and stromboli. Mushrooms, kale, mozzarella, basil, garlic and walnuts combined for the latest filling. I ate mine plain, but RL preferred his share dunked in spicy red sauce.   

After sorting through my kitchen towel drawer, reluctantly tossing some threadbare favorites, I treated myself to some replacements. The first two were plain and serviceable, my favorite color but nothing special. More remarkable is the lack of any new kitchen gadgets. Such restraint!

In and Out of My Galley...

Tea towels plus matching pot holders caught my eye at Wei Wai Kum House of Treasures, a First Nation store in Campbell River, BC. I carried these treasures south after the trip, thinking they might make attractive gifts for friends. They would, but I decided to keep them for myself and will transport them back to the boat for galley use.

During her week aboard niece Slone helped me organize galley cabinets and pantry, discarding items past their pull date or otherwise questionable. No effort required to deal with the fridge - it had stopped chilling and was empty. We went old school during the trip and used two styrofoam coolers instead. Two freezer drawers and a separate icemaker still functioned so we froze ice blocks to rotate in and out of the coolers on the back deck. It worked, though Slone made countless trips daily in and out to the coolers. Our preplanned menu shifted a bit as we focused first on fresh greens etc., using them while they were stilll crisp. 

Photo: Slone's Loaded Chicken Taco Salad
Our several restaurant outings were all about seafood. The Bouillabaise at the Pt. Roberts, WA Compass Rose Bar & Grill was bowl-licking good... so good I forgot to take photos. I wish they sold cartons of the base sauce, it was that good. Trollers Fish & Chips on the dock in Nanaimo, B.C.'s busy harbor failed to live up to its advertised "Best in town" claim. Overbreaded and overcooked fish proved disappointing. Again, no photos. Ah, but the totally terrific dinner at Campbell River, B.C.'s Riptide Marine Pub was everything we could hope for; very fresh seafood that was well-prepared, a knowledgeable and efficient waitstaff, plus an upbeat vibe. This time I remembered photos.      

Photo: My Togarashi Tuna Plate at the Riptide Marine Pub
Photo: RL's Seafood Linguini at the Riptide Marine Pub
Photo: Slone's Seafood Puttanesca Fettuccini at the Riptide Marine Pub
And then the weather changed; Fall was suddenly in the air if barely on the calendar. The rainbow below hints at good things to come. I'm ready.

Linked to a post at Sherry's Pickings highlighting the happenings in other kitchens around the world. Pop over to meet some interesting cooks, find tempting new recipes and enjoy tales of life, travel and so much more.

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