Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cauliflower and Potato soup

This post has been way overdue and the reasons are too many to elaborate. My sister was visiting from India, work was crazy, was trying to run too much, etc etc. All of which translated to me not cooking a whole lot and blogging even lesser. I missed both so I am trying my best to get back in the groove. 

We have been getting a lot of great produce from our summer CSA, which we have been cooking in the fastest possible way by sauteing it in some olive oil and keeping the spices to the bare minimum. This has been very tasty and efficient however I would like to be more creative and come up with some interesting ideas. That being said, simple meals are currently the norm in our kitchen. The cauliflower and potato soup which I am blogging today is one such recipe. This was actually inspired by my sister who made a great potato soup when she was here. My sister was not much of a cook when we lived together. But now that she has married a pastry chef, the tables have turned, much to our delight! I absolutely loved her soup and decided to changed it only a wee bit to include cauliflower. The result is delicious, creamy and velvetty.

It is also super easy to put together. The main flavor ingredient here is the browned garlic so be careful not to burn it (especially if you are prone to burning things like me). Here goes then, thanks to my lovely sister who I wish was here longer.

1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and chopped into chunks
1/2 medium sized cauliflower (florets separated)
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped into chunks
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a stockpot.
- Add the garlic cloves and saute till light brown.
- Add the onion chunks and also saute till soft and light brown.
- While the onion is browning, cook the potato and cauliflower till soft (I cooked them in the pressure cooker).
- Add the potatoes, cauliflower and onion garlic mixture into a food processor along with some cooking liquid from the boiled vegetables.
- Blend till smooth and return to the stockpot.
- Add milk, more water if required (depending on the consistency), salt and pepper.
- Bring to a simmer and serve hot with some extra cracked pepper on top.

Makes 4 side servings.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Goat cheese, pesto and swiss chard pasta

Hope everyone had a great Memorial day weekend. Mine was great, at the beach with friends, great food, a lot of sand and water. I really did not want it to end. It did end though only to make me realize this was only the beginning, the beginning of summer, my most favorite time of the year! Having grown up in Bombay, heat is only second nature to me and I don't mind it in the very least. In fact I quite love it. 

Also another thing I love about summer is the fresh produce. This year we signed up for the summer CSA with Coon Rock Farms, which started a few weeks back. Coon Rock is a local farm an hour away from Raleigh, NC. Theirs is a great story which started with the owners walking away from highly successful careers to work on a farm. For the six years that this farm has been in existence, its grown into a completely self sustained farm which produces the best tasting vegetables, eggs and meat.To more read about their amazing story, check this great write-up NY Times did on them.  When you do what you like best, it makes a huge difference. With Coon Rock, it shows in the excellent produce. 

The CSA box is a true indication of the seasons. For the last weeks, it has been mostly cooler weather greens and lettuces. It has also consistently featured one of my favorite vegetables, chard. Either swiss or rainbow varieties. I have been putting the chard to good use and now have enough recipes for a chard 1-2-3, which I am about to embark on! The first recipe in this series is a pasta in a pesto and goat cheese based sauce enveloping some sauteed chard. I also added some pistachios for a little crunch and also because I think anything can be made better by adding pistachios! The creamy pesto sauce works perfectly with the pistachios and chard to make a healthy, tasty and quick one dish meal. I am going to send this recipe to Presto Pasta Nights which is being hosted by Ruth of Once Upon a Feast.


2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
1/4 cup or more goat cheese
3 tablespoons pesto
half a bunch of chard, swiss or rainbow, cut into ribbons
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine (optional)
1/4 cup pistachios, toasted
1/4 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan 

- Boil pasta according to directions till cooked, drain and set aside. Reserve some of the pasta cooking water.
- In a bowl, mix together the goat cheese and pesto. Add in a couple of tablespoons of the hot pasta cooking water to make a sauce. Add salt/pepper to taste.
- In a separate pan saute chard with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cook covered with a little water till tender. Season with white wine if using.
- Combine pasta and chard with the pesto sauce, adding pistachios and topping with some shredded parmesan. Serve warm.

Makes 4 main servings.