I know I’ve talked about my Polish background in posts about kielbasa and pierogies, but there’s more than the Polish half to me. If you haven’t guessed by my name (Colleen, meaning “girl” or “maiden” in Gaelic), I am part Irish, too. The O’Briens, on my mother’s side, passed down some fiery Irish genes to supplement 1/4 of my background. I competed in Irish step dancing from when I was 4 until I was 15. No, I wasn’t crazy like the ones on TV, but I do know the difference between a reel and a jig and am acquainted with the term “poodle socks.” I remember those dancing years, during this season, we’d be carted around from one smokey bar to the next, with stops at nursing homes in between, to perform as part of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities. Aside from step dancing, enjoying potatoes and whiskey, and a healthy admiration of Celtic knots, I’m also fascinated by the tales of Irish immigrants that settled in the regions near to here, like the Molly Maguires in the coal region.
So, in honor St. Patrick’s Day and my Irish heritage, I am posting this recipe for potato leek soup. This recipe doesn’t call for any milk or cream, making it not so bad for you (vegan, in fact!), and very inexpensive to whip up. If the soup is too thick for your taste, you can add some extra water after you purée it. Serve this with some crusty bread and an Irish beer. This weekend, I plan on experimenting with some bangers and mash, so perhaps you’ll see that recipe, too!
Potato Leek Soup
The ingredients in this soup cost just a couple of dollars! (not pictured: chili powder)
- 2 T. olive oil
- 4 leeks (Jett’s Produce)
- 4 stalks celery (Jett’s Produce)
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (my garden)
- 1/4 tsp. chili powder, optional
- salt & pepper, to taste
- 6 c. water (or vegetable stock, if you prefer, but not necessary)
- 6 medium potatoes (Padula Potatoes)
- 1 bay leaf
- crusty bread (we used Potato Bread from Apple Ridge Farm)
- Slice leeks and celery 1/4″ thick. (Great tutorial for cleaning & slicing leeks here. Make sure to freeze the dark greens for making broth!)
- Heat olive oil in large soup pot or dutch oven. Add leeks & celery and season with salt. Cook leeks over medium heat stirring frequently, until they’re completely soft and wilted, about 5 minutes.
Leeks & celery sautéeing
- Meanwhile, peel and chop potatoes.
- Add thyme and chili powder to leek mixture, cooking and stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add water, potatoes and whole bay leaf.
- Cover, bring water to boil, then simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are fork tender.
- Remove whole bay leaf.
- Purée soup with immersion blender (or in small batches in blender(not more than 1/2 full)).
- Sprinkle with black pepper and serve hot with crusty bread.
Potato Leek Soup with Potato Bread from Apple Ridge Farm!
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In the spirit of this day we have established to celebrate love and warm fuzzy feelings, I figured I would jump on the wagon and post an appropriately indulgent breakfast recipe. Kevin and I don’t buy gifts or spend lavishly to show our affection for each other, but we do share some good food (and, I did make him a super sappy video slideshow late last night!). The chocolate cherry sourdough bread adds a little extra level of aphrodisiac to this standard breakfast fare that makes it perfect for a romantic morning (with a mimosa, perhaps? or some Bailey’s in your coffee?).
This bread is from Apple Ridge Farm. For months, I’ve arrived at their farmer’s market stand just after they sold out of the chocolate-cherry sourdough they occasionally bake. I kept hearing about how great these loaves were and seeing chatter about it on Facebook, but my less-than-punctual self was always just a few minutes late to market. So, I was thrilled when they decided to bake one last batch of this unusual flavor for the season. I picked up a loaf and started munching on it before I even left the parking lot (I think bread-loaf munching is a trait I inherited from my father). It was delicious! Not too sweet, chewy, tangy and crusty. All I could think of was how great it would be as French toast. So, even though I am not a huge breakfast maker, I mixed up an eggy custard and transformed some of this loaf into a yummy morning treat.
French toast is one of the easiest breakfast sweets to make. I normally add 1/2 tsp of vanilla, but I didn’t want to mask the dark chocolate and dried cherries in the bread, so I left it out of this recipe. It’s a pretty standard recipe, so use whatever bread you’d like, but if you can get your hands on chocolate-cherry, run, do not walk, to the nearest loaf and buy it to make this meal!
Chocolate-Cherry Sourdough French Toast
- Mix eggs and milk in medium bowl.
- Microwave honey for about 10-20 seconds, or until runny, and whisk into egg mixture.
- Add cinnamon and whisk well.
Cinnamon Custard (if you have extra left over, it tastes good scrambled up in a pan!)
- Melt butter on griddle or skillet.
- Dip bread in egg mixture, making sure to coat both sides.
- Cook bread on butter in skillet for 2-3 minutes per side.
- Serve with additional butter or syrup, if desired.
Chocolate Cherry Sourdough French Toast
Who doesn’t love pizza? It’s quick, simple and easy to make, although making pizza dough can sometimes be a pain. I had a hankering for pizza last week but didn’t feel like making dough and waiting for it to rise. So, using the last of the summer’s zucchini and some inspiration from Rainbow Veggie Cakes, I concocted this zucchini pizza. You can obviously top it however you’d like, but this combination is yummy! Enjoy!
The final load of summer veggies.
- Preheat oven to 375°
- Grate the zucchinis, using a food processor if you have one. Place in strainer in sink. Salt, toss to mix and let sit for 10 minutes to drain with a heavy bowl on top.
- Meanwhile, chop garlic, thinly slice onion, and chop swiss chard.
- Combine shredded zucchini and 1 egg in mixing bowl.
- Spread zucchini on pizza pan and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove zucchini crust from oven.
- Spread tomato sauce over crust.
- Sprinkle with onion, garlic, Swiss chard, basil and oregano.
- Top with mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and browned.
- Let sit 5 minutes before cutting.
Grab a slice!