Cauliflower Soup with Cudighi

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It’s very cold in Michigan.  Perfect weather for soup.  The secret ingredient in this soup is cudighi.  Cudighi is Italian sausage that originated in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Most specifically it is said to have been invented by Italian immigrants in Ishpeming Michigan which happens to be where I was born.  Cudighi is made using pork butt and dry red wine, garlic, cinnamon,  nutmeg, clove and allspice.  The cudighi I used came from a little Co-op in my hometown of Chatham Michigan.  This sausage is very versatile.  It is excellent in spaghetti sauce or lasagna, formed into paddies and fried for a sandwich, mixed with ground beef for meatloaf or meat balls, as a pizza topping.  Your only limits are you imagination and, of course, your ability to access cudighi in the first place.  It might just be worth a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to score a few pounds.  Or Vollwerths cudighi can be shipped from U.P. Foods in Lake Linden (info@upfoods.com).  If a trip to the UP or waiting for a sausage shipment seems like too much trouble, substitute with a good  Italian sausage available closer to home.

Ingredients:

1 pound cudighi (or Italian sausage of your choosing)

1 head of cauliflower

3-4 stalks of celery rough chopped

2-3 carrots sliced

3 leeks, white and light green parts, sliced

4-5 cloves of garlic diced

2 medium russet potatoes rough chopped

1 poblano pepper seeded and rough chopped

4 cups chicken broth

4 T flour

4 T butter

2 cups half and half or whole milk

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

salt and pepper to taste

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In a dutch oven cook the Cudighi over medium heat until it is no longer pink.  Drain and set aside.

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While the meat is browning prep all of the vegetables.  Slice the leeks and soak them in water.  Leeks tend to hold sand and you don’t want grit in your soup.

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Wash and cut up the poblano, celery and carrots.

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Peel and dice the potatoes and cut the cauliflower into flowerettes.

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Once the cudighi has been browned and set aside add the carrot, celery, and leeks to the drippings and sweat the vegetables over medium heat 3-4 minutes.  Add in the leeks and garlic and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes.  If necessary add a little olive oil.

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Add the potato, cauliflower and broth to the kettle.  Season with salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover the kettle and cook until the vegetables are all tender, 30-40 minutes.

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While the vegetables are simmering make a white sauce in a heavy sauce pan.  Melt 4 T of butter and whisk in the flour over medium heat.  Slowly add the milk continuing to whisk until the mixture starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the shredded cheese.

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Once the vegetables are fork tender purée using an immersion blender.  The consistency is a matter of personal taste.  You can leave some chunks in the soup or purée until smooth.  Once you’ve done the blending add the cheesy white sauce to your dutch oven as well as the sausage.  Add salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste.  Stir and bring to a simmer.

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Garnish with additional shredded cheese, green onions and cilantro.  And homemade garlic croutons.

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Ladle into serving bowls and enjoy!

NOTE:  Fresh parsley or basil leaves sliced, shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese,  or some chopped roasted red pepper would all make excellent garnishes for this soup.  Great served with a slice of good sourdough bread that you can use to clean your bowl.

I happen to think that soups are one of those things that taste a little better the second day.  We will be eating this soup for lunch tomorrow.

Broccoli Cauliflower Soup

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A couple weeks ago I experimented with new concoctions for dinners several nights in a row.  The first night that my husband dished up seconds was when I made this soup.  That was a good sign for the soup.  Not so good for the other dishes which I will probably not make again.  Originally I made this soup with just broccoli.  The second time I added cauliflower and made the soup for our good friends.  It was a hit.  ‘Tis soup season now and I’m sure I will make this often using both broccoli and cauliflower.

Ingredients:

2 cups sliced leeks

2 cups of broccoli flowerettes

2 cups of cauliflower

broccoli and cauliflower stems diced

6 cups of chicken broth

6 T butter

6 T flour

3 cups of whole milk

3 cups shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar and smoked gouda)

1 cup shredded carrots

grated nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

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Slice the leeks and broccoli and cauliflower stems.  Rinse them well, especially the leeks which tend to store up a lot of sand.

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Put the leeks and the vegetable stems in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven with about a cup of the broth and cook over medium high heat until they are softened, 10-15 minutes.  Once the vegetables have softened use an immersion blender off heat and purée.  Add the remaining broth and bring to a simmer.

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Blanch the broccoli and cauliflower flowerettes.  Drop them into ice water to stop the cooking and set aside.  Grate the carrots.

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Next make a cheese sauce.  Melt 6 T of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook for a couple minutes whisking constantly.

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Slowly whisk in the milk and bring to a simmer.  Gradually add the cheese whisking until it melts.

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Add the cheese mixture to the broth and vegetables.  Stir in the flowerettes, grated carrot and nutmeg.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Simmer until the vegetables are thoroughly heated.  Ladle up and enjoy!  Great served with homemade croutons.

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NOTE:  I took all of my photos when I made the first batch of soup so you don’t see any cauliflower.  But the cauliflower was a great addition.  Also a little cayenne pepper or Frank’s hot sauce is a tasty add in.  Any good melting cheese can be substituted for the sharp cheddar and smoky gouda.

Vegetable and Bleu Cheese Tart

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A few Christmases ago my daughter gave me a Nordic Bakery Cookbook by Miisa Mink.  It has some excellent recipes for  pastries and for savory dishes.  We all get tired of making the same meals over and over so tonight I got the book out and decided to make the Vegetable tart.  Just yesterday I bought some excellent buttermilk Bleu cheese at a local market that sells cheeses, meats, great olives, wine and craft beers.  The cheese was perfect for this dish.  Simple ingredients.  Nothing exotic.

Ingredients for the crust:

13 T butter at room temperature

3 1/2 T sour cream or crime fraiche

1 cup AP flour

1 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

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Cream the butter and the sour cream or creme fraiche together in a mixing bowl.

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Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl.  Stir into the creamed mixture until a dough forms.  Form dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, and wrap in plastic wrap.  Store in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

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Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface.

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Transfer the pastry to a tart pan pressing it into the fluted edges of the pan and neatly cut off the excess pastry.  (I love my tart pan and I rarely use it.  You don’t see how pretty it is until it’s empty.)

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Tart Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups broccoli florets

1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets

1 T vegetable oil

1 onion rough diced

1 cup cherry tomatoes halved

2 1/2 oz. Danish Bleu cheese (I used buttermilk Bleu)

3/4 cup grated Cheddar

fresh ground black pepper

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The Bleu cheese is the star!

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut the florets into chunks.  Boil until they are tender crisp.  Drain well and allow to cool.

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Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Fry the onion until it is soft and golden.  Set aside to cool slightly.

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Once the onion has cooled tip the pan over the pastry and spread the onion evenly.  Top with the broccoli, cauliflower and tomatoes.

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Sprinkle the cheeses evenly over the top and sprinkle with cracked black pepper.

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Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

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It’s beautiful!  And it tastes great!  Serve with a green salad and you have a perfect dinner.

NOTE:  You can substitute other vegetables taking care that they don’t become too watery when cooked.  Served as an appetizer the recipe serves 6; as an entree it serves 4.

 

 

Lemon and Garlic Chicken ala Pressure Cooker

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Can you imagine cooking an entire chicken in 15 minutes that is moist and fall off the bone tender and has a delicious sauce?  It’s that easy in my electric pressure cooker. The beauty of this pressure cooker is that you can brown, boil, simmer and keep food warm. One pan to wash and it’s easy to clean. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can surely prepare this recipe using a roaster in your oven. Use a meat thermometer to make sure your chicken reaches 165F.  I used to be a little frightened of pressure cookers…some of you might be as well. Afraid it would start rocking on the stove and the top would blow off leaving dinner on the ceiling. Trust me, the new electric model is easy to use, safe, and not the least bit scary.

Though I love the combination of garlic and lemon I was a little concerned that the flavors might be too strong but they were not. The sauce had a nice citrus tang but was not overpowering. Good balance.  I think you’ll like it.

Ingredients:

1 roasting chicken cut into pieces (I saved the back for broth)

kosher salt to taste

3 T canola or olive oil

5-6 cloves of garlic sliced

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup vermouth or dry white wine

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 cup chicken stock

Fresh parsley chopped

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Generously salt chicken pieces and heat oil in the pressure cooker. Add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, and brown on both sides.  Remove browned pieces to a platter. While your chicken is browning squeeze your lemons and slice your garlic.

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Add the garlic, oregano and red pepper flakes to the hot oil and cook for about 1 minute until garlic becomes fragrant. image

Add lemon juice, vermouth and stock to the pot and arrange the chicken in the liquid.

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Lock the lid and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally. Remove the chicken to a serving platter. Bring the sauce to a boil and stir in chopped parsley. If you wish you can thicken the juices with a little flour or corn starch. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

While the chicken was cooking I decided to prepare some smashed cauliflower for a side. An easy, tasty side.

Ingredients:

1 large head cauliflower cleaned and cut up

3-4 garlic cloves (I know, no vampires in our house!)

1-2 cups chicken stock or broth

1/2 cup Romano cheese shredded

1/2 cup Le Gruyere cheese shredded

2-3 green onions thin sliced

salt and pepper (white pepper if you have it) to taste

2 T butter

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Cook cauliflower and garlic cloves in the chicken broth until the cauliflower is fork tender. Drain off the broth holding a little back to add in while smashing. Add butter to the cauliflower and begin mashing with an ordinary potato masher until the consistency of mashed potatoes. Add some of the broth if necessary. Add the shredded cheese, salt and pepper to taste and green onions stirring well. This is one of my favorite sides!

I was always taught to use contrasting colors on your plate and white and white are a bit off putting. So I added a sizable sprig of parsley (good for getting rid of garlic breath after dinner) and some cranberry relish which I think is a must have for any poultry dish.

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And then there was color.

Lemon and garlic chicken with smashed cauliflower. It’s what’s for dinner tonight. And tomorrow night.

NOTE:  My lemons were particularly juicy and 2 of them made a little over 3/4 cup of juice. I put the extra juice in a small zip lock snack bag and freeze it for a time when I have no fresh lemons on hand.

 

And seriously, parsley IS a good breath freshener.