Tuesday, March 29, 2011

In The Kitchen: Leek and Potato Soup with Dill Oil and Goat Cheese

Leek and Potato Soup with Dill Oil and Goat Cheese
This soup is like the love child of 101 Cookbook's Leek Soup with Dill Oil and Smitten Kitchen's Baked Potato Soup; with carrots, white wine & goat cheese tossed in there too.

  • 1 bunch of fresh dill
  • 9 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small head of garlic
  • 4 large leeks, washed well & chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled & sliced thin
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 very large or 3 medium russet potatoes, peeled & sliced thin
  • 4-5 cups chicken stock, warm
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • sea salt

Roast your head of garlic however you're used to doing it (I chop the top off mine, drizzle with olive oil, wrap tightly in foil and roast at 350 for an hour). While the garlic is roasting, use a hand blender to puree the dill and olive oil until creamy, set aside.

When the garlic is finished roasting, take it out of the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes, then pop the garlic cloves out of their skins and set aside in a small bowl.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the butter and 5 tablespoons of the dill oil over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the leeks and carrots, and season with sea salt. Stir everything together so all the vegetable are coated with the butter mixture. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft (about 8 minutes). Add the potatoes and roasted garlic and cook, covered, stirring often so the leeks & carrots don't burn, for 10 minutes. Remove the cover and add 4 cups of the stock & wine, cook uncovered for another 10-15 minuted or until the potatoes are so soft you can mash them with your stirring spoon.

Turn heat down to low and puree the soup with a stick blender right in the pot, or in batches in a food processor or blender. If the soup seems too thick add more stock 1/3 cup at a time. Stir in the sour cream and goat cheese until it melts into the soup.

Spoon soup into bowls and top with extra goat cheese & dill oil.

Around Town

It's officially Spring in Charleston! One of my favorite things about springtime here in Charleston is all the gardens in bloom, and I really love being able to sit in my office with the windows open and smell these flowers all day long.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In The Kitchen: Blueberry Lavender Yogurt Cake

I have finally used the yogurt machine that I've had since Christmas, and like I tend to do with all new kitchen gadgets, I've become a bit obsessed.  I strained some yogurt to make tzatzaki, last night for dinner there was Farfalle with Yogurt and Roasted Broccoli (recipe coming soon), and this morning I made a breakfast cake to enjoy with tea...

Blueberry Lavender Yogurt Cake 

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
  •  2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cup lavender sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract; or 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries 
 Grease and flour a loaf pan, then preheat your oven to 350°F.

In one bowl whisk together the yogurt, lavender sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. In another bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture. Toss the blueberries with a bit of flour to keep them from sinking, then fold them into the batter. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan and bake for approx. 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. 

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn the cake out onto a cooling rack and allow the cake to cool completely.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Auction Surprise

Recently I attended an estate auction where I bought a little display case for the shop (coming soon to downtown Charleston!), a set of antique apothecary glass jars and some old victorian silver pieces. I love to buy "surprise" lots or boxes sometimes, because you never know quite what you're going to get.

This time I bid on a box of what was described as "paper ephemera," which appeared at first glance to be a pile of Victorian calling cards and old receipts. I was bidding for the calling cards, and ended up getting the box for $8, two dollars less than the $10 limit I had set for myself (score! now I could use my $2 buy a root beer from the creepy guy selling hot dogs in the parking lot!).

I'm very impatient, so I began digging through my box as soon as I got back to the car. I picked out those calling cards, some old receipts, tags & greeting cards, nothing I was too thrilled with; and then I found this sign! Underneath this sign was another one that read "60 cents each or 2 for $1," and under that the greatest treasure of all...

...nearly 100 original, unmounted cut paper silhouettes and about a dozen mounted silhouettes that had been signed by the artist & dated!

That $8 box turned into my favorite find of the entire antiquing trip. I've been playing with these silhouettes for the past two weeks, scanning them in so I can use them as inspiration for Curiosity's new logo, and in the shop signage and on the new website (also coming soon).

Once I'm done scanning all of these, I'm going to mount them and put each one in a vintage frame. I'll be keeping a bunch of them myself so I can put a big grouping of silhouettes above my bedroom mantle, but there will also be many silhouettes added to the shop in the coming weeks and available in my Charleston shop when it opens this summer!

Monday, March 7, 2011

In The Kitchen: Spiced Pear Risotto with Bacon & Pecans

Spiced Pear Risotto with Bacon and Pecans

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 3/4 cups arborio rice (orzo also works in a pinch)
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2-3 cups warm chicken broth
  • 1 ripe pear; peeled, cored and diced
  • Heaping 1/8 teaspoon each freshly grated nutmeg & cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 handful of pecan pieces, toasted
  • Salt
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven or suitable risotto pan. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a small bowl with the pecans.
Add the shallot to the bacon oil left in the pan and sauté over medium-low heat, until softened, about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the rice or orzo, decrease the heat to low, and cook until it is evenly coated with the oil, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the wine, turn the heat back up to medium, and stir until absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup of the warm broth and half of the pear to the rice mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the broth is almost fully absorbed. Add the remaining broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and adding more broth only after the previous addition has been absorbed. Add the remaining pear with the last 1/2 cup of broth. When the risotto is creamy, the rice is plump and it has absorbed as much broth as possible, stir in the spices and cheese, then season to taste with salt.

Remove the risotto from the heat and let stand for a few minutes before serving. Divide the risotto into two bowls, and scatter the bacon and pecans over the top.

Serves 2.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

In The Kitchen: Apricot-Orange Bourbon Mustard

Apricot-Orange Bourbon Mustard
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup packed chopped dried apricots
  • 4 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 3 tablespoons maple vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
Mix the mustard seeds, 1/3 cup of the bourbon and the water in a bowl. In another bowl mix the apricots and remaining bourbon. Let the mixtures sit for at least 8 hours, up to 24 hours, covered at room temperature.

Strain the mustard seeds and reserve the soaking liquid. In a food processor or blender combine the apricots & bourbon mixture, marmalade, vinegar, honey, and salt. Purée until the ingredients come together and the apricots are minced. Add the mustard seed liquid and continue to purée until smooth. Add 2/3 of the mustard seeds and pulse until the seeds are cracked, then add the remaining seeds and pulse just once or twice to mix the whole seeds in.

Refrigerate in a covered jar or container for 1- 2 weeks to allow the flavors to develop. Will keep for 2-3 months in the refrigerator.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Home Again...

It's so nice to be back home after my long antiquing trip! There are lots of new vintage & antique finds being added to the shop, and shipping has resumed too. I'll be blogging regularly again, I have some new In the Kitchen posts in the works and hopefully soon I will have some exciting news about the Curiosity store coming to downtown Charleston...but most of all I'm just happy to be back where there is no snow to be found!