Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chipotle-Rosemary Sweet Potato Soup: An Ode to Bacon

Oh, bacon…

I love bacon. Always have; always will. And I don’t care if it’s “trendy” to love bacon, or if that trend is deemed “over” by famous chefs. If you ask me, adding bacon to something will most likely make it better. (I am tempted to say that I could eat nothing but bacon, but Andy once ate a whole pound in one sitting and says it put him off the wondrous pork product for quite awhile. I don’t want to risk that…)

When I don’t love an ingredient, I tend to try to disguise it by either adding other ingredients I do love (hello, bacon), or by pureeing it into creamy soup form. So…garnet yams in our farm box? They could only be turned into creamy soup with bacon. 

After consulting The Flavor Bible and not finding the flavors I wanted to find listed under sweet potato, I went rogue and just started adding flavors I love. There were definite moments of uncertainty, but I was shocked at how good this soup turned out. The sweetness of the roasted veggies, the smokiness of the bacon, a little heat from the chipotle and subtle hints of rosemary and cumin are just perfect together. 

And if there’s any point while cooking a dish where you can exclaim, “the leeks and shallots are basically melted into the bacon grease!” well, then you know you’ve got something tasty on your hands.

The moral of the story is that even if you hate sweet potatoes, you will love this soup. Trust me – any recipe that starts by caramelizing anything in bacon grease is a winner (unless you’re a vegetarian, then completely disregard this entire post). 

Chipotle-Rosemary Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon

Serves 4-6

  • 1 1/2 pounds garnet yams or sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 pound carrots
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin, divided use
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided use
  • 3 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon pureed chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth (plus more as needed)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt 
  • pepper
  • grated cheese, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel and chop sweet potatoes and carrots into chunks. Toss in a glass baking dish with olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and1 teaspoon of rosemary. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Roast for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until fork tender. Remove from oven and reserve.
  3. In a dutch oven, fry chopped bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels, reserving bacon grease in pot. (There should be about 2 tablespoons.)
  4. In the same pot, add leeks and shallots. Saute over low heat until caramelized. (This takes quite a while…well over 20 minutes I think, but I forgot to set a timer. Be patient; it’s worth it.)
  5. Add remaining cumin and rosemary, garlic and chipotle puree. Stir to combine and let cook for a few minutes. 
  6. Add white wine to pot, scraping bottom to deglaze. Let liquid cook mostly down, then add roasted sweet potato and carrot mixture. 
  7. Pour in chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer on low for about 10 minutes.
  8. Using an immersion blender, puree mixture until smooth. Add chicken stock as needed to achieve desired thickness. When pureed, stir in cream. Season with salt and pepper. Return pot to heat and warm through.
  9. Serve topped with reserved bacon and grated cheese, if desired.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gingerbread trifle, procrastination and giving thanks

I’ve got a bad case of procrastinator-itis…

I’ve been this way all my life. The only thing that usually gets me going is when it really matters and I’m eight hours away from a deadline that I’ve put off for weeks and start freaking out because I haven’t even started the book I was supposed to read for the report that’s due so I jump in the car to buy the CliffsNotes only to run into my English teacher at the book store with said CliffsNotes in hand. Oh wait...we’re not talking about high school, are we?

Nevertheless, what I know about myself is that if I don’t have a deadline, things don’t tend to get done. Giving myself arbitrary deadlines doesn’t work because I know that there are no consequences to letting them lapse. That puts me in a bit of a pickle with the ol’ blog.  No hard deadlines = one post every six weeks. 

But I do want to blog and I’ve been thinking about it a lot, actually, which is a good sign. And then the other day my dad asked me one simple question that provoked this post:

“So, are you ever going to put anything up on your blog again?” 

This wasn’t the same nagging voice that I hear in my own head. And frankly, I’m pretty sure he was just making conversation since he doesn’t exactly need my blog to keep up with the goings-on around here. But just having the question asked gave me that little kick I needed. And here we are…

November -- the season for giving thanks. I woke up knowing I was going to write a post today about being thankful with an entirely different list in mind. But when I woke up, I could hear the rain falling outside and my plans immediately went out the window. I’m a sucker for rain; could listen to it for hours. So, I’m concentrating on today instead. Lying in bed next to my husband and best friend, listening to that mesmerizing sound of rainfall -- that is what I’m thankful for today. Just this one tiny moment in time…

Gingerbread Trifle with Mascarpone-Amaretto Whipped Cream

Makes 4-6 

2 cups crumbled gingerbread cake (I used Trader Joe’s cake mix)
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons Amaretto
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup heavy cream
sliced almonds

In an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, combine mascarpone, Amaretto and honey on medium speed until smooth. Add heavy cream and whip mixture on high until peak form. Spoon whipped cream into a pastry bag.
In small glasses, layer about half the gingerbread cake crumbs, pressing down slightly. Pipe whipped cream over the top of the cake, sprinkle with sliced almonds. Add another layer of gingerbread cake using remaining crumbles. Press down slightly. Pipe final layer of whipped cream over the cake. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. (There may be whipped cream left over, depending on size of glasses.)
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Can be made ahead several hours or even overnight.

Simple, ridiculously good, and you get away with using boxed cake mix. What more could you want in a holiday dessert?

A warning: If you make these miniature versions like I did, you may find yourself eating more than one at a time. There’s a possibility you’ll eat three at a time. Not that I know from experience.

Happy Thanksgiving!