Monday, January 28, 2013


I love veggies. I adore them. Turnips, yes please. Carrots, of course. Even some of the weird ones. Kholrabi? raw and salted, please. Cabbage? I'll take it braised, slaw-ed, boiled. I eat 'em all. Especially Brussels sprouts.

I kind of feel bad for Brussels sprouts. They've gotten a pretty bad rap, and let's be honest. They can be pretty bad when boiled beyond recognition. But most of the time? Absolutely delicious. They're sweet little bites of baby cabbage goodness, with those tiny leaves that soak up bits of butter and salt.

It was the lowly Brussels sprout that inspired tonight's side dish. We both had a pretty long day at work, and cooking was the last thing on my mind when we finally got home. But I had some produce that needed to get used up, and we used up our one "out to eat" night last night.

So, what did I do when I really didn't want to do anything at all? Roasted veggies! This is dead simple, and I'm pretty sure there are a thousand and one variations of this floating around the Internet. I usually roast cauliflower or winter squash. Tonight's peek at the crisper showed me a few carrots getting close to their prime, and a beautiful bag of Brussels sprouts.

I trimmed up the sprouts, peeled and chunked up the sprouts, and threw in a couple peeled garlic cloves for good measure. A healthy drizzle of olive oil, a little kosher salt, and a good grind of black pepper, and we were in business. I tossed everything together on a baking sheet and, at the last minute, threw in a couple thyme sprigs for good measure. After 30 minutes in the oven, we had the best roasted veggies I have ever made. Folks, they were incredible. The carrots were earthy and just a tiny bit sweet, with a nice bite (no mushy carrots here), and the garlic was intense and chewy and just plain delicious. And the Brussels sprouts? Oh! The Brussels sprouts. In-freaking-credible. Those little leaves I love so much got nice and brown and crispy, almost like salty little cabbage chips. The sprouts were nice and tender, with this incredible smoky, roasted flavor. Needless to say, we devoured the entire pan and almost forgot about the rest of dinner.

Try them, I hope you like them as much as we did.

Roasted Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
8 cloves garlic, peeled
fresh thyme
olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375. Add veggies, garlic, and thyme to a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle over the whole thing with a good glug of olive oil. Season liberally with salt and freshly ground pepper and toss everything together, so the oil and seasoning nicely coat each piece of vegetable. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring everthing up halfway through.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Soup Season

This time of year, I adore soup. It's soul-warming, cozy, and makes the house smell great. Also, it gives me a  chance to use my Le Creuset dutch oven. (Best birthday present ever. Does my husband know me or what?)

I wasn't home for most of the day, but wanted a soup that tasted like I was. For that, I turned to an old favorite of ours:  Ham and Potato Soup. This is not the chunky, cheesy Loaded Baked Potato Chowder that is so popular these days. It's the lighter, cleaner, less fussy cousin. I love this soup. It reminds me of my the smell of Grandma's kitchen when I was young. She was a German farm wife and always had potatoes and onions cooking. It's one of my favorite smells. Along with fresh baked bread, chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven, hot coffee... I digress.

Back to this soup. This soup! The broth is not watery, but it's much thinner than those heavy chowders. Instead, it's silky, smooth, and unctuous, with tender little bites of ham, carrot, and celery. Pure comfort food. Just like Grandma used to make. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Ham and Potato Soup

1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 T olive oil
4 cups potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 to 2 cups ham, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
5 T butter
5 T flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot or dutch oven, sweat onions, celery, and carrots in olive oil over medium heat. Add potatoes, ham, and broth. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

In a separate pan (a small saucepan will do), combine butter and flour over medium heat, whisking until combined. Add milk slowly, cooking over medium heat until thick. If you do this all very slowly and consistently, you won't get any lumps.

Add milk mixture to your bubbling pot of soup, and stir everything around until combined. Using a potato masher, mash the soup around until it reaches your desired texture. I like to smash about half the potatoes, so I still have some nice potato chunks in the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

(As with most soups, this is even better the next day.)