Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Silky Potato and Gruyere Soup (Meat, Gluten and Dairy Free)

My family and I enjoy potato soup anytime, especially this time of year.  I have several classic recipes that I serve and now I have yet another to share with you.This particular potato soup is unique and different in a key wonderful way.  I used Silk Sugar Free Vanilla Almond Milk.
Nut Milks are a powerhouse of wonderful heart and body-good nutrients.  This particular nut milk has half the RDA's suggested allowance for vitamins B12 and E, plus 40% of calcium, and healthy doses of riboflavin, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc! This is just for the milk substitution alone!
  This soup is fantastic for the lactose intolerant, those just looking to shave off a couple of calories or someone wanting to tap into their inner  Dairy, Gluten or Meat Free style of life, if only for a meal.  I tried this milk initially in a Dairy Free smoothie I created while on vacation.  It is pretty much a blank canvas as per flavor, considering there is no sugar, a little fat, which is mono and polyunsaturated and less than a gram of carbs.  
  Admittedly, this recipe involves full on Gruyere, but I did some research and there is a Vegan Gruyere made with almond milk also, which would accommodate the substitution, since it will be blended until smooth anyway. Again, this is a transitional recipe, so if you do dairy, by all means use the real deal.  The rich and nuttiness of Gruyere pairs well with the nutty flavor profile of the almond milk.  Also remember, vanilla in and of itself is not sweet per se, especially when no other elements of sweet are involved.  The garnish is simply some grated Gruyere tossed with  bright and smoky paprika and freshly cracked black pepper. A tiny sprig of Lime Thyme is added for aromatics and a pop of color.  This recipe allows for substitutions where you feel comfortable.

Recipe:
6 c. potatoes, preferably russet, white if desired, cooked in salted water, drained and mashed
1 quart Sugar Free Vanilla Almond Milk
1 quart vegetable stock OR chicken stock if desired, depending on desired consistency
1 c. crumbled Vegan Almond Gruyere Cheese OR grated Gruyere
2 tbsp. olive oil OR 4 tbsp. butter(optional)
1 tbsp. fresh or dried chives
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
1 tsp. onion powder
Himalayan Pink Salt (optional)
SPST (Salt and Pepper to Suit Taste)
Olive or Chive Oil for garnish (optional)
Instructions:
Over medium low heat, in a medium sauce pot, add potatoes.
Add milk, stock, garlic and olive oil or butter.
Stirring often, slowly bring up to a bubbly simmer.
Using an immersion blender, carefully combine ingredients until smooth.
Add aromatics and cheese, adding more liquid if needed.
Reduce heat to simmer for several more minutes, then turn off heat.
Garnish individual servings as desired.
Serve Immediately.
Makes about 8 servings.



Thursday, September 15, 2016

Atlantic Ocean Fisherman's Almanac: Pan Fried Whiting, Yep, I Caught, Cleaned and Cooked These Guys

One of the many highlights from our recent vacation to Myrtle Beach was fishing off the pier with my bestie and fellow vacation mates, Mike and Micheal.  The rest of the gang came too, minus two.  We had a blast, and the breeze was just right, enabling us to withstand the cloudless heat from the gorgeous day, before the storms started to set in.
 The suggested bait of choice was shrimp, which are a heck of a lot cleaner to work with, as far as the hands and worms go.  The pier fishing rates were way reasonable too, around 21 dollars (bait not included) from 3pm to midnight, which included the rod and reel! You could even leave with your equipment, as long as it was returned by the stated time.  This was awesome for me, since it was my and RD's (bestie) dinner night with the crew.  I was able to fish a bit in the afternoon, then we returned much later that night and fished until Midnight, well I did, RD was my photographer and videographer, as well as my witness to the 'one that got away'! I do believe it was a whopper!! Something even took one of my hooks along with my bait!
We had amazing time, not to mention my haul of these two beauties below.
This was the first time I had seen whiting in it's whole live form.  My wheels were turning for something spectacular to create with them, and I ran a  few suggestions by the Mikes.  They simply said "Fry Them" and I said "OK".  The rest is delicious history.
Recipe:
Whiting, scaled, cleaned and butterflied/filleted
buttermilk( I used fat free)
seasoned flour for dredging
oil for frying ( I used Canola Blend)

I butterflied the smaller fish and filleted the other.  I also soaked the fish in icy salted water for about 20 minutes and rinsed before pouring on the buttermilk.  Do not rinse before dredging in the flour.  Fry until golden.  About 3 minutes per side over medium high heat.  Drain on paper towels before plating/serving.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Southern Comfort; Omelette with Country Ham, Tomatoes and Peaches


 On our way to the beach, we passed many roadside stands that offered fresh produce, namely locally grown peaches, watermelons and tomatoes, some even had grapes!  This particular one had three of the aforementioned, so I was elated to have a fresh batch in tow when we arrived in Cherry Grove, South Carolina.  The peaches were large, fragrant and gorgeous.  I asked the kind and knowledgeable lady running the stand for a mix  of peak ripe ones, with some that would be better suited for the days to come.  I saved the largest and firmest fruit to take home to my lovelies, Mom Genesis, and Bronwyn.  The others I had a little fun with, including a Peach and Banana 'Shake' made from No Sugar Added Almond milk, 2 whole  fresh peaches, a banana, and lots of crushed ice.  I also added a tiny amount sweetener to balance it out.  My bestie Rufus and my friend Doris enjoyed it tremendously, as did I.
The next idea came around brunch time, when appetites were soaring and we were gearing up for a day of exploration and sunification, (yep, made that word up!).
We had missed the breakfast wave of the morning , where my friend Michael was at the helm of the breakfast barge, making omelettes to order, which looked amazing.  The team did a fantastic job of finely dicing the ham, onions and green peppers, nothing like a good ole Western to start the day!
I love a flavor profile that includes elements of sweet, savory, bitter and salty.  That being said, I had picked up these small packages of sliced country ham, a staple when I go out of town, if I randomly pass it in a supermarket. I took the traditional route for RD, with a Western and went all the way with mine.   The following recipe is what I enjoyed and can't wait to make again.
Recipe:
3 large eggs
splash of milk or water
1 dash Sriracha or other hot sauce
1 pat butter, more if desired
1 drizzle olive oil
1/4 c. fresh tomato, seeds and skin removed, diced
1/3 c. freshly diced peaches
1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese, more if desired
1 oz. cooked country ham, chopped or cut into thin strips
SPST
olive oil for drizzling
In a nonstick pan, melt butter and drizzle of olive oil, over medium high heat.
Beat eggs lightly and add milk and sriracha.  SPST
Once bubbles in pan are small and before the butter solids brown, add eggs.
Shake pan vigorously back and forth to set up the omelette.
Using a rubber spatula, push outside of cooked egg to center, lifting the pan and distributing contents around the circumference of the pan until whole bottom is set,
Scrape runny topside of egg to edges and sprinkle in cheese, ham and tomatoes.
After about 30 seconds, fold omelette over in pan and slide onto serving plate.
In a small bowl, toss peaches with a scant drizzle of olive oil and fresh cracked pepper.
Arrange over omelette, and garnish with sriracha if desired.
Serve Immediately.
Makes one omelette.


These Muscadine grapes were outstanding!!
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Smokinhotchef
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