Potato Ham Chowder

Hi there–  Heading out this afternoon to spend a week in San Francisco to hangout with our kids and those SF grand-kids.  Can’t wait!  So I’ve been trying to amass a pile of leftovers in the fridge to leave behind for Larry— including this potato soup.

Hearty and hot from the soup pot, it’s chock full of tender potatoes, corn, carrots and those little bits of ham.  Serve it up with a bright salad and a chunk of sturdy bread– dinner!

2 tab. butter
2 tab. olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. chicken broth
4 medium russet potatoes, peeled & cubed
2 cups milk
1 tsp. thyme leaves
2 cups ham, cut to bits
2 cups corn, fresh, frozen or canned
2 tab. cornstarch
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
garnish: cheddar & green onions

Heat the butter and olive oil in a soup pot.  The drop in the cut carrots and onion and cook for 5 minutes until they are tender.  Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more.

Then add in the chicken broth and cubed potatoes.  Bring the simmer back up to a low boil and let it cook for 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Add the milk, thyme, ham and corn and bring the soup back up to a simmer.  In a container with a tight fitting lid shake the cornstarch with 1/2 cup water.  Pour it into the soup, stirring until the soup thickens (about 3 or 4 minutes)  Taste it — and add salt & pepper until it’s just right!


Scalloped Potatoes

Hello all–  Who doesn’t love potatoes??  Add a creamy sauce and a couple kinds of cheese, even better–hot and bubbly from the oven.   We served up these potatoes with peppery grilled tri-tip and a bright salad to a table full of friends Saturday night. Delish!

3 tab. butter
2 small yellow onion, chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1  1/2 cup chicken broth
2 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 tsp. thyme leaves, divided
4 pounds yukon gold potatoes, unpeeled, sliced thin
2 cups cheddar, grated
1/2 cup parmesan romano

In a large skillet melt the butter and throw in the chopped onion, cook until the onion is tender, not yet browned.  Add in the garlic and cook a minute more.

Stir in the flour, until a thick paste forms.  Then pour in the chicken broth, stirring as you go until they mixture is smooth.  Keep simmering.  Stir in the milk, salt & pepper and 1 tsp. of the thyme leaves.  Keep stirring as the mixture simmers until it is a thick smooth sauce (about 3 or 4 minutes).  Turn off the heat.

Slice the potatoes thinly and layer half of them in a 9″x13″ pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Over the first half of the potatoes, drizzle half of the sauce.  Then sprinkle on 1 cup of the cheddar cheese and all of the parmesan.  Add the rest of the potatoes and top with the remaining sauce and cheese.

Cover the top with foil, tenting it so that it doesn’t touch the sauce and cheese on top the potatoes.  Pop it covered into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Then remove the foil and cook 20 to 25 minutes more until the potatoes are tender when you poke them with a fork.

Serve them hot, garnished with the remaining teaspoon of thyme leaves sprinkled on top.  Delish!!


Simple Salmon Salad


Hi fiends– Here’s Sunday lunch.  Trying to combine 2 things we should be eating more of– salad and fish.  So when I picked up 2 small salmon fillets at the market, I imagined a nicoise salad– but ended up with simple, quick version.  With a chunk of sturdy bread it’s a fine lunch.


Salad (makes two servings):
4-5 cups baby arugula
1/2 cup petit peas (fresh or frozen)
6 Baby Dutch yellow potatoes*
2 small salmon filets
1 to 2 tab. olive oil
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

5 tab. olive oil
2 tb. red wine vingar
1 tsp. seedy Dijon mustard**
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

To start, slice the small potatoes into thin slices and cook them 4 to 5 minutes in a bowl of salted water in the microwave.  Drain and set aside.

If you’re using frozen peas microwave them just long enough to defrost them–not cook them!

Heat the olive oil in a skillet. Cook the salmon 3 to 4 minutes on each side, adding salt and pepper as it cooks.  Let it cool a few minutes.

Then layer the greens, salmon, potatoes and peas on 2 dinner plates.

For the dressing, shake together the dressing ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid until they are thoroughly combined.  Pour over the salad when you’re ready to serve it.

*red skinned or small purple potatoes would work well too.


Spanish Asparagus & Potato Tortilla

IMG_9419Hi Music Loving friends–  Last weekend Larry and I trekked up to the Hollywood Bowl for the requisite picnic and a balmy summer evening out under the moon with James Taylor. We’ve been fans of his forever –a whole lot of nostalgia listening to all those songs…  Couldn’t have been more fun!

But back to the the picnic!– We nabbed a picnic table outside the Bowl and settled in for a Spanish picnic– salami, cheeses, olive, bottle of wine, olives… and of course, a tortilla.  Usually I stick to the classic potato and onion tortilla, but for our night out on the town, I threw in some asparagus too.

3 medium Russet potatoes, peeled & cut into smallish chunks
6 sturdy stalks of asparagus*
1 yellow onion
olive oil
5 eggs
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

IMG_9435Peel and cut the potatoes into smallish chunks.  Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and then cut the stalks into tidy little rounds.  Peel and chop the onion to bits.

Heat a large nonstick skillet with a good splash of olive oil in the pan.  Drop in the potatoes and cook them , stirring now and then, for about 6 -8 minted, until they just start to brown.  Give them a sprinkle of salt and a few cranks of pepper as they cook.  Then add in the onion ad asparagus.  Use a bit more oil if the pan seems dry.

When the potatoes are nicely browned and the onions and asparagus are cooked through (about 4 -5 more minutes)  take the pan off the stove.  Transfer the potato mixture to a plate and wipe out the skillet.

Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl and liberally sprinkle with salt & pepper. Add the potatoes in with the eggs and let them sit for 5 minutes.

Put the skillet back on the heat with a couple tablespoons of olive oil. When it’s hot, pour the eggs potato mixture into the pan.  Reduce the hear to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes until the bottom side is browned and set and the top is pretty firm.

Now here comes the tricky part.  Put a large dinner plate on top the the skillet and flip it over so that the tortilla falls upside down onto the plate.  Then ever so carefully slide the tortillas cooked side up back into the skillet to cook the bottom side for another 5 minutes or so until the whole thing is cooked through.  (You can use a sharp knife to dig in a test it.)

When it’s done, slide it onto a pretty plate and cut into wedges to serve with other tapa-ish foods for a summer supper under the stars.

*I usually like think asparagus with tender young stalks, but for this the thicker kind is best.

photoP.S.  Here’s our view midway up the hill at the Hollywood Bowl.  Super fun evening with 17,000 other James Taylor fans– by the second encore “How Sweet It is to Be Loved by You,”  we were all swaying and singing along.

Potato Soup with Sausage & Swiss Chard

IMG_5586Hi friendsl– I have to admit I’m a little jealous– just read a facebook post from our girl Laurel in Chicago– “It’s snowing.  (I’m listening to Christmas music).  Where my candy canes at?”

Sheesh– it was in the 80’s here today– lovely weather, but we could use a little snow to really truly appreciate this nice hot soup!!  But I guess I can put on a little premature Christmas music and pretend…  In any case, whether is sunny and toasty where you are, or the big chill is rolling in, I think you might just like this homey potato soup.

2 Italian sausages
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup butter
2  14 oz. cans of chicken broth
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut in small chunks
2 tab. cornstarch
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 cup whole milk (or half & half)
3 swiss chard leaves

Take the skin off of the sausages and break them up into small pieces as they cook in the bottom of soup pot.  When the sausage is broken up, add in the onions and butter and cook it all until the sausage and onion are cooked through. Pour in the 2 cans of chicken broth and the chunked up potatoes.  Simmer this all together for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

In a container with a lit, shake together the cornstarch and 1/3 cup water.  When it’s thoroughly blended stir it into the simmer soup until it thickens.  Add the milk and season to taste with salt & pepper. Cut the stem and center vein out of the chard and chop it to shreds.  Add it into the soup and simmer until it’s hot enough to eat.  Bon apetit!

Orange Rosemary Chicken with Roasted Potatoes

IMG_1638Hello there– It’s the weekend.  What will you be doing on your sunny Saturday off?  I’d like to shop for summer sandals or call a friend to go out for pancakes.  Or maybe hike around Tri City Lake several times under the eucalyptus trees.  And there’s always the temptation to bake a chocolatey batch of something…  But what I actually am doing is sitting in my classroom all day working on report cards (sigh).

So if you are doing any of those enjoyable  items above– or if you are stuck with a work project for the day, here is a quick dinner you can throw into the oven this evening to bake while you sink into a chair with your feet up.  Bon appetit!

1/3 cup orange juice concentrate
2 tab. brown mustard
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. rosemary, chopped fine
2 boneless chicken breasts, filleted

Whisk together the first 5 ingredients.  Then cut the chicken breasts the long way horizontally to make 4 smaller filets.  Pour the sauce into a baking dish coating the chicken breasts and bake at 450 degrees for 30 minutes.

When it’s done baking, set the chicken on a pretty platter and spoon out the thickened sauce over the top.

I’m afraid everyone already is well aware of how to roast potatoes– but just in case you’ve not done it in a while, here goes:

10 red skinned potatoes
1/4 olive oil
several shakes of garlic salt
1/2 tsp. dried basil

Cut the potatoes into smallish chunks.  Toss them in a bowl with the oil, garlic salt and basil.  Scrape it all out onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  (I use a rubber scraper to get all that good salty oil)  Spread them apart. And bake them in the oven with the chicken at 450 degrees for about 30 minutes.  (more or less depending on how big your chunks of potato are and how crispy you like them!)

Makes 4 servings (the photo is just half of this).

Corn, Potato and Ham Chowder

Hi friends– OK, it’s really soup weather around here at last.  It makes my heart happy that my soup pot is pulled out of the cupboard once more.  We’ve been eating this corn chowder since we were first married–37 years!  So we’ve had a few pot-fulls.  Making it again after a long soupless summer is like having an old friend drop in for dinner.  Here it is:

1 cup turkey ham, cut to bits (any ham will do)
2 tab. olive oil
2 tab. butter
1 yellow onion chopped
2 russet potatoes
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped fine
1/4 cup flour
2 15 oz. cans cream corn
4 cups milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
sprinkle of grated cheddar
Sprig of something green for a garnish

Put the oil and butter in the soup pot and heat it up.  Drop the small chunks of ham and onion into the hot pan and let them brown a bit, about 4 or 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, peel and cut the pototoes into polite little chunks.  Cook them in the microwave with water and a 2 shakes of garlic salt for about 7 minutes until the a cooked through, but still firm.  Then sprinkle the flour over the cooking ham and onions.  Turn the heat up medium high and add the milk one cup at a time, stirring all the while until the sauce thickens.   Pour in the creamed corn, green pepper, salt and pepper.  Simmer on the lowest setting (this can scorch easily) until it’s nice and not.

Serve it steaming with a handful of cheddar on top. It’s pretty to add a bit of green.  We have a thyme plant on it’s last legs in the side yard, that worked just fine.  Make some bran muffins and a leafy green salad and it’s dinner!