Tag Archive: Leeks

  1. Spicy Potato Tarragon Soup

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    “We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

    —    Anais Nin

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    Spicy Potato Tarragon Soup 

    It’s still winter here in Colorado, although spring is introducing itself in fits and starts. I’m considering this my last homage to the hearty, sustaining bowls of warmth that have characterized this amazing season of snow and festivity. Savor the crumbs of cold that are left for us, folks. Everyone seems to want to be in the season that’s in front of them instead of celebrating the one that’s here, now. It will be time for tulips, asparagus, and rhubarb soon enough.

    • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
    • 2 leeks, sliced
    • 1 bulb fennel, sliced
    • 1 yellow onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 8 small red potatoes
    • 1 fuji apple, sliced
    • 12 small yellow fingerlings
    • 6 oz. Irish Red Ale
    • 6-8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
    • 1 tsp sea salt
    • Freshly ground pepper to taste
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • Juice of two large lemons
    • ———
    • 1/4 cup minced tarragon
    • Sriracha or other preferred hot sauce
    • Crisp cooked bacon (optional)

     

    Melt butter in a 8-quart stockpot. Add onion, leek, garlic, and fennel; cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are just softening. Add potatoes (skins on) and stir together to create some browning at the bottom of the pot and the potatoes. Deglaze the browning bits after 10 minutes with the ale. Lower heat, add stock, salt, and pepper and simmer for 45 minutes.

    When the potatoes are completely softened and separating from their skin, add the heavy cream then transfer batches to the blender and blend on low so that the soup is just combined but still a bit chunky. Transfer to a staging bowl and repeat until all the soup is blended but still has texture.

    Stir in lemon juice, fresh chopped tarragon, hot sauce to your liking, and add bacon (optional). Taste for salt and pepper.

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  2. Leek + Pear + Chanterelle Toasts

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    I love rituals. When the week gets crazy, I can count on a few constants to keep my feet on the ground: exercise, packing a lunch, a phone call home, a big hug from Shaun when I walk in the door. Sunday rituals are the most important. For me, rituals are more than routine or repeated habits, they can be activities that help define our values and reestablish a connection to self, loved ones, and the planet at large.

    When we started fostering rescue dogs back in June, we began dedicating Sunday mornings to a long walk from our house down to the harbor. It helped socialize the dogs, but looking back I think it helped us more than our animal friends. On the way I’d pick up a coffee, Shaun would get apple juice and a croissant (or two) at the local café near our house. By the time we reached the water, my coffee was the perfect temperature and the dogs were ready for a rest. We’d sit on the benches in the shade and watch the banana barges from Central America unload shipping crates onto naked big-rig trailers on the dock. Shaun let me express my abhorrence for the free-trade agreements and cheap labor that brought the bananas here in the first place, but we both knew I needed the barges to be faithful on Sundays. Walking to see them was an oddly cathartic process. There was no past, no future. Just the dogs, the coffee, and the bananas.

    It’s been almost a month since we’ve had a quiet Sunday morning to walk to the harbor and I’ve found myself searching for something constant that can replace or substitute for those few certain, perfect, hours. Time slips like sand through my fingers, as of late. This weekend we traveled north to visit my parents where Shaun filmed a bit for my mom’s nonprofit, Wellness Within. Chilly walks, Jon Stewart re-runs, thoughtful conversation, and waking up in my old bedroom to the sound of rain falling on the skylight was ritual enough to keep me in step for a while.

    After a day in transit, no one really wants to work that hard in the kitchen. These simple, luscious toasts are the “welcome back” we needed today. As much as I love kale, it really can’t say “I love you” like these can. (wink).

    Leek, Pear, and Chanterelle Toasts

    • 4-6 thick slices country levain bread
    • 4-5 cups sliced leeks (whites + just a touch of green)
    • 1 comice pear, diced with skins on
    • 1 small cipollini onion, minced
    • 4-5 tbsp (good) olive oil
    • 1/4 cup white wine
    • salt + pepper to taste
    • goat cheese to spread
    Turn on this playlist. Bring a saucepan pan with a few lugs of olive oil to  medium heat and add leeks, stirring to coat and wilt for 3-5 minutes. Add finely diced pears, stir in the white wine, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to very low. In a second, smaller pan, mix finely sliced chanterelles and the cipollini with another lug of olive oil. Put on heat, and let simmer and reduce for 5-10 minutes. Slice bread, and throw under the broiler of your oven for just a few minutes until the edges crisp up.
    Smear some goat cheese on the toasts, then pile with the leek mixture, then top with chanterelles and juices. Don’t take yourself so seriously, eat with your hands and let it get messy on the plate. Enjoy.
  3. Spring Panzanella

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    Life has a funny way of bringing things into our lives that tote a particular message just when we need it most. Last week I was sitting in a waiting room after a particularly tumultuous morning and picked up an old issue of O Magazine and opened it at a random page where “The Journey,” a poem by Mary Oliver was highlighted:

    One day you finally knew / what you had to do, and began, / though the voices around you / kept shouting their bad advice / though the whole house / began to tremble / and you felt the old tug / at your ankles. / “Mend my life!” / each voice cried. / But you didn’t stop. / You knew what you had to do, / though the wind pried / with its stiff fingers / at the very foundations, / though their melancholy was terrible.

    It was already late enough,  / and a wild night, / and the road full of fallen branches and stones. / But little by little, / as you left their voices behind, / the stars began to burn / through the sheets of clouds, / and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own, / that kept you company / as you strode deeper and deeper / into the world, / determined to do the only thing you could do / determined to save the only life you could save.

    I could have melted right out of my seat. Mary’s wise words snuck into my day and gave me the boost of energy and confidence I desperately needed to stay the course.

    The gift was unexpected, as they often are. Rarely do signs appear with big flashing lights to guide or comfort us in difficult times. Inspiration surrounds us at every moment, gently whispering and nudging us in the right direction – half the time, we’re just too busy or distracted to even notice. Direction and guidance lie tucked in the innuendo; the passing smile of a stranger, old songs on the radio… little reminders that we are not alone and that it’s all okay.

    It is our work to practice mindfulness and give ourselves permission to spend time just noticing. When we stop to simply notice, our busy and anxious minds are forced to the sideline and our intuitions get a chance to shine. The little signs around us end up only pointing to what we already instinctively knew.

    Spring is the perfect season to practice the art of noticing all the beauty and wisdom the world has to offer us. The winds are shifting, the flowers are blooming, and the markets are bursting with fresh and invigorating vegetables that help keep a lightness about our days. The delicate bounties in our CSA box inspired a spring Panzanella based on Erin’s at Fresh365, but with produce this good my version ended up more like a big salad with extra croutons. The ingredient list may feel long, but hang with me.

    Spring Panzanella

    • ½ loaf of bread, cut into 1” cubes
    • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 leeks, sliced thin
    • 1 small bunch of asparagus, cut to 1” pieces
    • ¼ cup red onion, chopped
    • 2 small fennel bulbs, cut thin with a mandoline
    • 1 cup onion sprouts
    • 1 carton cherry tomatoes, halved
    • 1 cup spring peas, halved
    • 2-3 cups rocket, or arugula
    • ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
    • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped
    • 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and tossed with lemon
    • 1/3 cup olive oil
    • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
    • juice of ½ lemon

    Toss bread cubes in olive oil and generous amounts of salt, and pepper. Lay flat on a baking sheet and toss in the oven at 400’ for 10 minutes. Switch the oven to broil, and toast on one side for 2 minutes. Shake the pan to turn the cubes and broil until golden brown and crispy. Set to the side.

    In a small pan, bring 3-4 cups of water to boil and cook asparagus for no longer than 2 minutes. Remove from heat immediately and immerse in cold water to stop cooking. In a large bowl, combine the leeks, red onion, mint, basil, fennel, tomatoes, sprouts, and spring peas, toss with a splash of oil and vinegar, then add the rocket/arugula and cooled asparagus. Toss with the additional dressing, garbanzo beans, and bread cubes. Season with a bit of lemon juice, salt and pepper.

  4. Roasted Asparagus Soup

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    Spring is just around the corner and all the bounties of the season are already starting to burgeon around San Diego. This Saturday precedes the Spring Equinox which makes this weekend an ideal time to come out of winter hibernation and hit the reset button on your body through your yoga practice, exercise routine, work, school, relationships, and your diet. I will miss acorn squash, cauliflower, and kale… but look at all the great friends we get to enjoy in the coming weeks:

    Apricots, Artichokes, Arugula, Asparagus, Beets, Chard, Cherries, Dandelion greens, Fava Beans, Fennel, Fiddleheads, Garlic Scapes, Grapefruit, Green Onions, Greens, Kiwis, Leeks, Lemons, Lettuce, Mint, Morels, Nettles, Parsley, Pea Greens, Radishes, Rhubarb, Spinach, Strawberries, Turnips, Watercress.

    Doesn’t that list just make you feel lighter, happier, sunnier? Spring is the ideal time to increase amounts of fresh enzyme-rich vegetables and herbs in the diet that bring renewed strength and vitality to the body. Stagnant energies from winter are ready to melt away and push us forward into a season of fresh ideas, behaviors or  journeys. Let’s take advantage of all these amazing foods as tonics for our tired cognitive, digestive, AND immune systems!

    This recipe capitalizes on Asparagus, one of everyone’s favorite springtime veggies. I plucked the idea for Roasted Asparagus Soup straight from one of my all time favorite cookbooks One Bite at a Time: Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Their Friends by Rebecca Katz. I love how Rebecca combines the science of healing foods with genuine compassion and grace for nourishing the whole person. Her recipes capture the essence of nutrition by focusing on down-to-earth ingredients and methods that produce no-fail, satisfying, and tasty results. Whether or not you or your family is affected by cancer, these recipes help create the inhospitable environment for cell mutation and cancer growth that all can and will benefit from.

    Here’s what you’ll need:

    • 2 lbs asparagus
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
    • 2 leeks (white part only) chopped
    • 1 cup peeled/diced Yukon gold potatoes
    • 1 tbsp shallot, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 8 cups Magic Mineral Broth (see book) or low sodium veg. broth
    • Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

    Preheat oven to 425’

    Wash the asparagus, snap off the tough ends of the stalk and line up in a single layer on a large sheet pan. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and salt. Roast for about 10 minutes. Heat remaining olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onions, leeks, and salt. Sauté for 3-5 minutes, then add potatoes, onions, and garlic. Sauté for another 3 minutes, and as the contents start to stick to the bottom of the pan, add one cup of stock and reduce the liquid by half. Add the rest of the stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes. In batches, puree the soup in a blender, adding the liquid first, and then the roasted asparagus stalks. Blend until smooth. (The instructions now explain to strain the soup through a chinois or fine-mesh strainer, but I didn’t have either one and still enjoyed a more “pulpy” version of the soup). Garnish with grated nutmeg, and enjoy immediately.

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I wish I could make coffee dates with you all. In the meantime, feel free to drop me a line with questions, comments, concerns, or just to say Hi. I like that. There is nothing more uplifting than an email from a a fresh contact or kindred spirit.

I can be reached through this contact form and at happyolks [at] gmail [dot] com.