Caldo Verde - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

A soup similar to this was posted by a bunch of people on Pinterest recently, which I made and liked a lot. Then Aunt Suzy emailed me this recipe, which was very similar but looked better. Instead of using cream to make it a creamy soup, you puree some of the potatoes, which I like better. I waited a few weeks to try this one out so that we didn’t over do the potato-greens-sausage soup around here, and I’m so glad I got around to making this! It is fantastic…blows the other soup out of the soup pot. Ha! And my husband, Jason, raved about it as well, claiming it to have the “best broth ever.” He’s really good about complimenting my cooking, but this was more emotion than he usually shows about food. So I put this one in the “win” column and will be definitely making it again!

I think that you can switch out different kinds of greens/sausage/potatoes to suit your likes. I made it with spicy Italian sausage because that’s what I had on hand, instead of the chorizo. Next time I’ll make it with the chorizo probably, but the spicy Italian was still good. I prefer Yukon gold potatoes, but russet would be fine, too. And as for the greens, I would stick with tougher, bitter greens like collard, or any type of kale. I don’t think spinach or chard would hold up as well. The main thing that made this soup stand out to me was the process of taking out part of the potatoes and pureeing them to make the broth thick and creamy.

Aunt Suzy says..

As Margaux mentioned, our initial foray into the greens/potato/sausage soup arena was a recipe we saw on Pinterest that we both made exactly according to the recipe, me with chicken and Margaux with pork sausage.  Then my guy Randy shared this recipe with us from Cook’s Illustrated, which we tried shortly thereafter. I’ve made the Pinterest one with regular kale and unpeeled russets and another time with Lacinato kale, unpeeled Yukon Golds and fully cooked Italian sausage from Trader Joe’s. And then I’ve made this recipe exactly as specified.  All are really good, but I think this one is the winner.  Pureeing some of the potatoes with olive oil creates an emulsion that makes for a very silky texture without dairy. Today, I’ve made one of our favorite stewsand Randy asked me if it included sausage – hehe, guess we’ve had enough sausage around here for a while.

Caldo Verde
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

¼ cup EV olive oil

12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (fully cooked, not fresh Mexican)

1 medium onion, chopped fine

4 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

4 cups chicken stock or broth

4 cups water

1 pound collard greens, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, optional

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Cook for a few minutes till translucent. Add the garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, another 3 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, and water; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove 3/4 cup solids and 3/4 cup broth to a bowl or measuring cup.  Set aside. Add collard greens to pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chorizo and continue to simmer until greens are tender, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil to solids/broth mixture that was set aside. Place in blender jar (or use immersion blender) and process until very smooth and emulsified, about 1 minute. Remove pot from heat and stir pureed soup mixture and vinegar, if using, into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Cook’s Notes: If you live near a Whole Foods, Amylu Chicken Chorizo in a 9-ounce package works really well with this and the 9-ounces seemed like enough.  You can try with or without the vinegar. AS didn’t use it and Margaux did.

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Tuscan Bean Stew - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

We are having a real Minnesota winter this year! A recent Sunday plunged to minus 14 degrees F, necessitating a hearty and warming stew. I spied this recipe on The Bitten Word blog, saw that it was their take on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe and was sold! It’s one of those recipes from Cook’s where they have experimented with many different methods to come up with the perfect approach. For this one, the recommendation was to brine the beans overnight and to cook slowly in the oven to achieve a creamy stew in which the beans remain mostly whole. We love Cook’s scientific approach to things here at S&SK and so jumped on this recipe. It turned out as promised! Margaux and I both cooked this, as well as my brother John, so we have lots of experience and opinions to share on this stew. We may have diverged a little on ingredients or methods, but one thing we all three have in common is that we thought this was delicious!

Margaux says . . .

The whole family loved this stew…even my 4-year-old, who has recently decided he is a picky eater. But picky in a way most kids are not…he’ll refuse to eat his mac & cheese, and instead gobble down a salad. And lately, anything I make that has everything “mixed together,” ie., stews, soups, casseroles, etc…basically everything I make in the winter…is deemed inedible. Or as he says, “gross.” But I thought I might have a “win” on my hands here, with beans, sausage and carrots included in the ingredients (some things on the “ok” list), and I was right.

Something I will say about this stew, is that if you have a big client meeting the next morning, or are going on a date the next night, I would definitely cut back on the garlic. We love garlic in our house, but even for us, 8 cloves was a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious! And I’ll make it the same way again next time. But just a warning…your date may wonder if you’re trying to fend off vampires if you eat this the night before. 🙂

Brining the Beans

2 cups dried cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed

3 tablespoons salt (sea salt or table salt, not kosher)

4 quarts cold water

Dissolve the salt in the water in a large bowl or pot. Add the beans and soak overnight or up to 24 hours. Drain the beans and rinse thoroughly. Set aside for use in the stew.

Making the Stew

3/4-1 pound of sweet Italian sausage (casings removed or bulk if available)

2 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 large onion, medium dice (1 1/2-2 cups)

2 celery ribs, medium dice (about 3/4 cup)

2 carrots, peeled and diced medium (about 1 cup)

8 medium garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press or crushed with a knife blade

4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth

3-4 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 small can diced tomatoes, drained and rinsed

1/2 medium head of Savoy cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 8 cups)

One sprig of fresh oregano

Salt and black pepper to taste (taste before adding salt)

Pre-heat the oven to 250°F. In a large Dutch oven, preferably cast iron, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage, breaking up into small pieces with a spatula or wooden spoon. When browned, remove from the pot and place on paper towel. Set aside.

Add the remaining olive oil to the pot and turn heat down to medium. Add the onions, celery and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally until softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook till fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the stock, water, bay leaves and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to a bubble. Cover the pot and place on a rack in the lower middle of the pre-heated oven. Cook for about 45 minutes or so, until beans are just softened but slightly firm in the center.  Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the reserved sausage, cabbage and tomatoes. Place back in the oven and cook for another 30-45 minutes or so, until the cabbage is tender.

Tuscan Bean Stew

Remove pot from the oven and submerge the oregano sprig in the stew. Cover and let stand 20-30 minutes. Remove the oregano and bay leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a little drizzle of olive oil if desired and a nice crusty bread.

COOK’S NOTES – Aunt Suzy:Ingredients The original recipe called for 1 1/2 pounds of sausage. I used 1 pound (of turkey sausage) and thought it was still too much, although I prefer meat in recipes like this for flavoring vs. a main ingredient. I used 3 cups of water, but my stew came out very thick so I think I’ll try 4 cups next time I make it.  Adjust meat amount and liquid to your preferences. I used a garlic press for my garlic, which I think resulted in a less garlicky result than Margaux described; she crushed the garlic with a knife blade (although I love garlic, so I might try that one day!). Regular green cabbage can be substituted if you can’t find Savoy. The original CI recipe called for pancetta and kale – I think we need to try that one also!  Methods I learned 3 things from this recipe: 1) The brining made for ultra-creamy beans as promised, 2) Cooking in the oven at a low temp made for beans that did not break apart, and 3) Adding tomatoes later in the cooking process insured that the skins of the beans were not tough.

COOK’S NOTES – Margaux: I made this on a weeknight, but I prepped everything ahead of time on Sunday, so it made it very quick and easy. Otherwise, this is one that I would probably make on a weekend, because it does take awhile, and you have to remember to do the beans the night before, etc. So I soaked the beans, chopped the cabbage, carrots, onion and celery, and had them all stored in the fridge and ready for Tuesday night. Also, I only used 3 cups of water instead of 4, as we like our stews less brothy around here.

 

Pizza night!

April 18, 2012

Margaux says…

I’ve always wanted to do a “pizza night” regularly in our house, but never got around to it.  Whenever I think of it, it always seems like too much work, so I figure I’ll just do it another time.  And until I get better at it, it is kind of a lot of work.  But let’s be honest, not much more than any other meal that I prepare on a regular basis.  So tonight, I’m starting a new tradition of making pizzas once a month (or so)!  Because with this new pizza dough recipe that I got from last month’s issue of Bon Appetit, these pizzas are REALLY GOOD.  Like, as good as a fancy Italian pizzeria good.  And it’s a lot easier than other recipes I’ve used, where you have to knead it and stuff (probably one of the main reasons why pizza night hasn’t happened regularly yet).  You just have to remember to make the dough the night before, and you’re good to go.

I’ve always been one of those, “pizza isn’t pizza without a ton of sauce” people, until recently.  I loved my pizza drenched in tomato sauce, and would be happy with some on the side to dip it in.  But lately my pizza tastes have finally grown up, and I’m actually preferring “white” pizzas, no sauce included.  Tonight I made a couple of these sauceless pizzas, and they were fantastic.  My topping suggestions that we tried out tonight are below.

Basic Pizza Dough

from Bon Appetit, March 2012

This makes three 10-12″ pizzas.

Make this dough 18 hours before use.  You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time and refrigerate it (just make sure you take it out 2-3 hours before using).

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups room temperature water

Whisk flour, salt and yeast in a medium bowl.  While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add water; stir until well incorporated.  Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball.  Transfer to a large clean bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature in a draft-free area until sufrace is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours.  Transfer dough to a floured work surface.  Gently shape into a rough rectangle.  Divide into 3 equal portions.  Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds.  Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball.  Dust dough with flour, set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet.  Repeat with remaining portions.  (If making ahead of time, wrap each dough ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate until using).  Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.

To make the pizzas:

During the last hour of dough’s resting, prepare oven:  preheat oven to hottest setting, 500-550 degrees, for 1 hour. Working with one dough ball at a a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface.  Gently shape dough into a 10-12″ disk.  Arrange dough disk on baking sheet; top with toppings (see ideas below).  Bake pizza until bottom of crust is crisp and top is blistered, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a work surface to slice.

Kale, marinated tomato, and kalamata olive pizza

1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped into 1-2″ pieces

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

kalamata olives

shredded mozzarella cheese

To prepare kale:

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add kale and minced garlic, and saute until greens are bright green and softened.  Set aside to let cool.

To prepare marinated tomatoes:

**best if made night before, or at least 2-3 hours beforehand**

Whisk together 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, and 1/4 tsp salt until emulsified.  Pour over halved tomatoes in airtight container, cover with a lid and toss until tomatoes are all coated.  Refrigerate overnight or for at least 2 hours.

To build pizza:

Spread sauteed kale over pizza dough, then cover with desired amount of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Arrange tomatoes and olives over the top, and bake.

Italian sausage, caramelized onion and marinated tomato pizza with basil and parmesan

1 mild italian sausage

marinated cherry tomatoes (see recipe above)

caramelized onion (I used one onion, and I like this recipe)

several basil leaves, chiffonaded

shredded mozzarella cheese

grated parmesan cheese

To prepare sausage:

Remove sausage from casing and roll into small balls.  Saute over medium-high heat in a large skillet until cooked thoroughly and browned slightly.  Remove with slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.  Set aside.

To build pizza:

Scatter sausage and onions over prepared pizza dough.  Top with mozzarella cheese, then scatter tomatoes and basil over that.  Add a little parmesan cheese over the top.  Bake.