3.09.2015

Leek, Potato and Fennel Soup

                                                                                                                                                                              I'm so ready for winter to be over!  This last week has been a rough one with each and all of us coming down with the wretched flu, despite having had our flu shots.  Jim toughed it out and worked right through, while I, just gave in to it.  My daughter and her family have had it as well.  I worry so for my little grandson, but he, like the rest of us, has turned the corner and is now feeling better.  


One last bit of comfort food was in order and lots of Mint, Lemon, Honey and Ginger Tea for the cough that lingers.


The fennel adds a slight anise flavor. 

Leek, Potato and Fennel Soup


Serves 4

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 leeks, tender white parts with a little green only, thinly sliced, washed throughly
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into small dice
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Salt to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)


Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.  add the sliced leeks, fennel and garlic along with a generous pinch of salt.  Cook without browning, just until the vegetables soften.

Turn the heat up to medium-high, add the potatoes, and stir.  Add the stock, and bring it up to a boil.  Turn down the heat again, and let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables are all very soft.

Let the soup cool until no longer steaming, and then blend the soup using a hand or stand blender until it has a smooth, velvety consistency.  Season generously with salt and pepper and stir in the heavy cream (if using). 

Reheat and ladle the soup into bowls.  





Photos By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman

2.14.2015

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!


 Happy Valentine's Day!  Each year for 18 years, when Jim and I lived in Santa Fe, NM,  Valentine's Day meant a trip down to our favorite chocolatier.  A box of Twin Peaks for him and Bolitos for me.


We left Santa Fe ten years ago, so this year I decided to try my hand at recreating those two treats.  I also made a batch of "Elspeth's Mocha Butter Balls.


The Twin Peaks are made of Caramel, Almonds and Chocolate.  I've never made caramel before, so it was somewhat trial and error.  I started off with Ina Garten's recipe for Fleur de Sel Caramels (left off the salt).  I cooked it a little too long and it turned out like a brick.  The great thing about caramel is that if you get it wrong the first time, you can just melt it again, add a little more butter and cream, and Voila!



 When I finally got the right consistency for the caramel, I spooned it into mini muffin cups, that had been lightly buttered.  I placed the almonds on before I put them in the refrigerator.  While they were cooling, I melted chocolate baking bits in a bain marie.   After the caramels cool in the fridge for a bit, dip just the bottom half in the melted chocolate and put on a cookie sheet lined in parchment paper.  Put them back in the fridge until the chocolate hardens.


 Bolitos are simply truffles or fudge rolled into balls and coated with crushed nuts.  I used this recipe for the truffles and rolled them in crushed pecans.


Elspeth's Mocha Butterballs -  a recipe from a Santa Fe friend.  They are great with a glass of cold milk.


Elspeth's Mocha Butter Balls

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1-3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1 TBS instant coffee
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate bits

1. Cream butter & sugar
2. Add vanilla
3/  Mix in dry ingredients, Dough will be slightly stiff
4.  Stir in chocolate bits
5.  Roll into 1" balls.  Place on cookie sheet
6.  Bake for 15 minutes in preheated 325 degree oven
7. Fragile when warm.  When cool, sprinkle confectioner's sugar over cookies.


Photography By: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman - Sotto Il Monte

10.14.2014

Polo & Mint Juleps Aiken, South Carolina

 One of our favorite places to visit is Aiken, South Carolina.  Aiken is one of the original Winter Colonies dating back to 1719.  The Goodyear's, Vanderbilt's and Hitchock families escaped the winters in the northeast and built mansions and sports playgrounds here.
 It is an equestrian haven and hosts many events throughout the year.  In the spring and fall you can always catch a game of polo on Sunday afternoon.
There is a new pavilion at the polo field where you can have lunch and watch the game in the shade.  Most people tailgate along the edge of the field.  We chose to do that as well - I brought along some Mint Juleps:)

You can set up tables and umbrellas - it is a pretty festive atmosphere.  During half time everyone goes out to stomp the divots.



The horses are magnificent and it was a perfect day for Polo and Mint Juleps!



 You have to watch out for the occasional wild ball when tailgating and yes this one was heading right at Moi!  It stopped short - no harm done.


 We had intended to spend Thanksgiving this year in Aiken attending the Blessing of the Hounds.   Every Thanksgiving at 11:00 in beautiful Hicthcock Woods, 16 hounds, 65 prize winning horses and hundreds of observers come together to receive blessings before the fox hunt.  Don't forget to stop by the Wilcox Hotel for Bagels & Bloodies before heading over to the Blessing.  Afterwards there is an open table Thanksgiving Dinner at the Stables.  Our plans have changed with the upcoming move and we will be back in Texas for Thanksgiving:)

The Wilcox Hotel has hosted Winston Churchill, President Roosevelt, Fred Astaire, Bing Croxby and Harold Vanderbilt, to name a few.

Photos: Ryannan Bryer de Hickman
Bottom two Photos - 2Luxury2