Lentil, Sausage, Potato, and Greens Soup

This is one of my favorite soups. As soon as the cold weather sets in, I make this at least twice a month.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb sausage, casing removed
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2 leeks, chopped. You can use a regular onion if you don’t have leeks.
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 4 medium potatoes (or 5/6 small, 2 large), diced
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 cup red lentils, picked over for rocks
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • 2 cups chopped greens. I used tatsoi here, but often use kale or spinach.
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Instructions

  1. Brown the sausage in a large pot. I prefer my enamel Dutch oven, but a stock pot works, too. Break it up as you brown it.
  2. Add in the onions and carrots. Let them sweat/get soft without burning. If you are adding other aromatics like parsnips or celery, now is the time to add those, too.
  3. Add in the potatoes and let them get a little soft, too.
  4. Add in the chicken broth. If you make strong homemade broth like I do, adding one quart of broth and one quart of water is okay, too.
  5. Add in the lentils and thyme and bring everything to a boil.
  6. Cover and turn the heat down to low.
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add in the chopped greens.
  9. Simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  10. Taste and add salt/pepper as needed. I usually add a healthy amount of both.

If at any point it looks like it is getting thicker than you like, add more water. If it is too soupy for you, cook it longer.

I regularly improvise on the ingredient list here. The only constants are sausage and lentils. Sometimes I leave out the potatoes. Sometimes I add parsley or parsnips or both. Sometimes celery or celeriac. Sometimes I use leeks instead of onions. Red lentils are my go-to, but I use whatever I have on-hand. Red, green, brown, yellow, black all work, but some types cook faster than others. Greens other than kale work, too. I use whatever I have on-hand: Spinach, bok choy, tatsoi, etc. In fact, in these photos I used tatsoi.

To spice it up, I love adding a teaspoon of harissa powder to my bowl. The coriander and red chili powder give it a great flavor.

What to do with Fresh Peaches

Peach season is here in the northeast! Amanda and I went peach picking at Wilkins Fruit and Fir farm in Yorktown Heights last weekend, just as some of the trees were ripening. They should be in full-swing now. 🍑

If you went peach picking over Labor Day weekend, have plans to go this week, or just have a bunch of peaches from the store to use, here is what we did with them:

1. Peach hand pies

We used this recipe from Serious Eats as the base and subbed in peaches for the nectarines.

2. Peach Bourbon

When I was in Charleston a few weeks ago, I drank some peach bourbon in an Old Fashioned. It held up well, so I thought it would be fun to make some at home.

I know from experience that infusing liquor with dried fruit is better than fresh fruit, which gives off liquid and dilutes the final product. I diced up two peaches, put them on the dehydrator overnight, and then tossed the dried pieces in a mason jar with around 800ml of Old Grand-Dad Bonded for a week.

BONUS: Cook the bourbony peach pieces down into a syrup with some sugar and water for a wonderful ice cream topping or the sugar component in your Peach Old Fashioned. 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, and the boozy dried peaches. Bring to a simmer and stir for 3 minutes, then strain.

3. Peach, Burrata, Basil, and Balsamic salad

I was mindlessly surfing Instagram Stories one morning last week and came across a great idea from Black Sparrow Press: Peach, burrata, basil, and balsamic. We love burrata and had basil on-hand, so I caramelized some peaches in cast-iron and put together a salad. It was so good we made it a second time this weekend for breakfast. The second iteration had fresh mint and honey on it, too.

A Non-Boiled St. Patrick’s Dinner

I love St. Patrick’s Day food, but I’m sick of the traditional boiled dinner. The vegetables are so bland and the corned beef is tough. The whole thing is mediocre, which is sad, because the individual ingredients are so good.

I decided to rethink St. Patrick’s Dinner this year to make something with all the traditional ingredients, done better. Here is what I came up with:

Sous vide corned beef

I usually brine my own corned beef, but I came down with the flu this year and didn’t have time. Yonkers has a huge Irish population, so I didn’t have any trouble finding good corned beef around here to cook. Instead of boiling it to oblivion, I opted to drop the temperature, lengthen the cook time, and preserve its juices by cooking it for 10 hours at 180F in a sous vide bath. I added some extra pickling spice to the bag before sealing. I let it cool for a little bit before slicing it, then served it with some of its juice.

If you don’t have a sous vide, try using a covered dutch oven in a 200F oven for 10 hours. Cover it with water and add some extra pickling spice.

Roasted cabbage with olive oil, lemon juice, and dill

I sliced the cabbage into 1-inch slices, then roasted them in the oven with olive oil for 40 minutes at 425F. I turned on the broiler for the last 5 minutes to brown the tops. When they came out, I seasoned them with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and dill.

Smashed potatoes with butter and parsley

I thought about doing mashed potatoes with garlic, but I wanted something crunchy instead. I boiled the potatoes whole for 15 minutes, cut them in half, smashed them on a baking sheet, then crisped them up with olive oil in the oven for 25 minutes at 425F. When they came out I put them in a bowl and tossed them with melted butter, salt, pepper, and fresh parsley.

Roasted Carrots

I roasted the carrots. While roasted and boiled carrots have the same inside consistency, they are completely different on the outside: Roasting means carmelization. I roasted mine with olive oil on the same baking sheet as the cabbage. I seasoned them simply with salt and pepper when they came out of the oven.

This was a great meal! A nice way to change up the traditional St. Patrick’s Day meal. I’ll probably make this again next year. I’m using the leftover potatoes and corned beef to make a breakfast hash tomorrow morning.

Kulhay Christmas Foods

After Christmas dinner at Grandma’s house this year, I had my Grandma and Aunt Margie explain some of the traditional Christmas foods that come from their side of the family, the Kulhays. Like many of the early 20th century immigrants in the Cleveland area, the Kulhays are from Hungary.

I picked four Christmas staples: Székelygulyás, Sauerkraut Balls, Töltöttkáposzta, and Christmas Jello. After the videos, Grandma and Aunt Margie graciously opened their cookbooks and shared their recipes. Grandma’s cookbook is a treasure:

Székelygulyás

A gulyás is a stew. This one contains sauerkraut and pork. Grandma said that this is traditionally a New Year’s dish, but she makes it at Christmas since that is when we are all home. Grandma eats it by itself, but most of us grandkids prefer eating it over dumplings.

 

Here is the recipe:

 

Sauerkraut Balls

Aunt Margie said that this recipe originally came from McGarvey’s restaurant in Vermilion, OH, where one of her aunts worked. The recipe sounds like a clever chef devised it as a way to use up the weekend’s leftovers. It stuck throughout the years because it is delicious. Here is a McGarvey’s logo from the late 60s:

 

Here is the recipe:

 

Töltöttkáposzta

Töltött means stuffed and káposzta means cabbage. My family makes these in batches of 50 or 100 during the holidays and for big parties like graduations. I have lots of early memories of 4 people at a time standing at the counter rolling meat in cabbage leaves. I even rolled a few myself!

Here are the recipes for 100 and 25:

 

Christmas Jello

Every year, the first dessert we eat after dinner is Grandma’s Christmas Jello. It is an 8-layer jello cake that takes Grandma all day to make. The colorful layers are the normal jello flavors and the white layers are made out of scalded milk and sour cream set with gelatin. You have to let each layer set before pouring on the next layer.

Next year we’ll go over the baked goods!

Root Vegetable Purée

While doing the Whole 30 back in February this year, I tried to make a root vegetable purée. I roasted the vegetables beforehand to develop flavor, just like I’d do with soups. Sounds like a good idea, right?

Nope. It was awful. Roasting dried the vegetables out, which made them very difficult to purée. I had to thin them out with water because we were out of broth and we couldn’t use dairy on the Whole 30. It was so bad that we threw it out. We genuinely tried to eat it, but couldn’t even finish a single serving each.

It bothered me. I had to try again to see if I could get it right. A few weeks ago I noticed that I had a rutabaga, a celeriac, some sunchokes, and some potatoes on hand, and I knew this was my chance. Time for round two.

I decided to take a different tactic this time: Treat it just like mashed potatoes. I made some on Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, so I had it fresh in my mind. I used the same method.

Step 1: Wash, peel, and boil the vegetables.

I used rutabaga, celeriac, sunchokes, and a few potatoes. I washed them, peeled the rutabaga and celeriac, and then chopped everything into a large dice, roughly 1 square inch each. No need to peel the sunchokes or potatoes. The peels are edible and tasty.

I boiled everything for about 20 minutes, until tender enough to easily pierce with a fork.

Step 2: Roast garlic

One of my favorite flavors with mashed veggies of any kind is roasted garlic. I like to peel 4 medium cloves, toss them in olive oil, and roast for 30 minutes in foil at 400F.

Step 3: Purée!

Drain the boiled vegetables and either mash or purée them with the roasted garlic, a stick of butter, some salt and pepper, and some fresh rosemary from our window pot. I puréed mine in two batches in my food processor.

Ready to serve!

This version was so much better than the failed February attempt. The boiled vegetables retained enough moisture to easily purée and the butter, roasted garlic, and fresh rosemary added a lot of flavor. Amanda and I both ate multiple servings with dinner that night and I ate it as a lunch side dish a few times later in the week. This is now my go-to method for making root vegetable purée.

Delicata Squash Frittata

This weekend I had seven delicata squash in my fridge. I love roasting them and topping them with brown butter and sage, but we can only eat that so much. I needed another option, so I started brainstorming: How can I use this for breakfast?

When I started thinking about the other things we have in the fridge, it hit me: Make a frittata! We have bacon, eggs, greens (a mixture of two kinds of kale and rainbow chard), and peppers. If I roast the squash first, it will be nice and soft instead of crunchy.

Delicata is a pain to peel because of the ridges and the skin is completely edible, so I decided to slice it into rings, cut out the seeds, and roast them with olive oil for 20 minutes at 400F before putting them on top of the frittata just after I pour the eggs in the pan. Finish off with some pecorino at the very end and you are good to go.

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes/Sunchokes

Jerusalem Artichokes, also called sunchokes, are the edible tubers of a particular species of sunflower with the same name. They are found in the eastern half of the United States. Once cultivated as a popular food source by Native Americans, this ginger-resembling tuber rarely graces the table of Americans anymore.

Here is a photo of the plant 🌻 they come from, courtesy of Pinterest:

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rst encountered these last year in my CSA. I didn’t quite know what to do with them, so I tried putting them in a root vegetable mash. It was terrible. I don’t think it was the particular fault of the Jerusalem artichokes, it isn’t something I want to try again.

This year I tried something much better: Roasting them. The skin is completely edible, the flesh breaks down to the consistency of a soft, mushy potato, and the edges caramelize nicely. They have a slightly sweet, somewhat nutty, earthy flavor.

Fun fact: Jerusalem artichokes are about 3/4 inulin, so if you are a diabetic, you’d do well to substitute these in place of potatoes 🥔 in your meals a few times a week. Inulin has minimal impact on blood sugar.

Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes

Ingredients

  • Small bag of Jerusalem artichokes. The bags my CSA gives out are about 12oz each.
  • 1/8 cup Olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  2. Scrub the dirt off of the Jerusalem artichokes. Leave the skin on, it is edible.
  3. Cut them in half long-ways. You can also quarter them if they are particularly large.
  4. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary.

  5. Spread them cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.

  6. Roast for 20 minutes. (I decided to add roasted garlic powder here at the last minute when they came out of the oven. I don’t think it was necessary and I probably won’t use it next time.)

  7. Serve.

Other flavors I think would work well with Jerusalem artichokes:

  • Butter, mushrooms and thyme
  • Butter and sage
  • Garlic and cheese (you could make these into a gratin!)
  • Bacon, cheese, and scallions. Think potato soup. These actually purée up into a creamy soup base.