Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Creamy Ham and Potato Soup (Surprise: There's no cream and it's all about the onion).

I love soups made with root vegetables. In this soup, potatoes are the star. But to really develop nice flavor, I give credit to the onion. Onion is thinly sliced, pole-to-pole, into long strips, and then cooked in olive oil over very low heat for 30 minutes, slowly turning soft and golden. This method really brings forth excellent flavor, in my opinion. The remaining diced aromatics are then added to the onions and softened, with the heat brought up a bit and with more stirring on the chef's part. Later, to obtain a creamy soup without adding cream, an immersion blender is used to emulsify the soup a bit, but still leaving plenty of chunky veggies. Delicious!


1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced, pole-to-pole, into strips
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 Bay Leaf
2-3 sprigs of Thyme
6 cups chicken stock
1-1/2 cup diced, cooked ham
Salt and Pepper


In a soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbs olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and immediately lower the burner heat to its lowest setting. Sprinkle the onions with a pinch or two of salt. Stirring occasionally, slowly cook the onions until very soft and golden - but not burnt; about 30 minutes. Add the carrot and celery, increasing the heat slightly. Stir a bit more frequently to avoid burning the onions and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.

Add the potatoes and chicken stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The potatoes should have softened. Remove several cups of the soup from the pot and place into a mixing bowl: be careful to not scoop up any Bay Leaf or Thyme sprigs. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the soup in the mixing bowl until it is creamy. Return the blended soup to the soup pot. Add the ham and continue to cook until ham is heated through. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, as needed.


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Yellow Cake

Here is a recipe for an easy yellow cake. I made this as a birthday cake using a 9-inch round cake pan. Decorate it with your favorite frosting.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Butter a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment.


1-1/2 cup AP four
1-3/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs (room temperature)


In a small bowl, combine the AP flour, baking powder, and pinch of salt. Measure the milk into a Pyrex cup and stir the vanilla into the milk.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar, beating the mixture on medium high for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time. Using a spoon or whisk, starting with the flour, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the sugar, ending with the flour mixture.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. The cake is done with it springs back when touched on top and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with only a few crumbs.

Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and allow it to finish cooling on the rack.