Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Three Beautiful Things 01/23/18: Success at the Medical Center, Creamy Potato Soup, Anticipating Fish Cakes

1. The Deke was happy that her procedure at the Shoshone Medical Center progressed successfully and I also did some business at the hospital, having my monthly blood draw completed for the transplant center in Baltimore. The Deke's doctor is a Delaware native, moved to the Poughkeepsie area as a young guy, and went to medical school at NYU and it was fun talking with him about life on the east coast and its lush, verdant beauty.

2. We've had a ham stock bubbling away for several days and I've been eager to use it to make potato soup. I combined ideas from the Deke and from food blogger and cookbook author, Mandy Rivers, whose writes under the title, South your Mouth.

I began by thawing three German sausages I bought at Yoke's last week. When they were ready to cook, I put them in a lightly oiled cast iron skillet and put a pan lid over the sausages to keep grease from flying around the kitchen. Meanwhile, after I strained three cups of ham stock and added a cup of water to it, I finely chopped an onion and some celery and a couple or three cloves of garlic and sauteed them in a generous chunk of butter in the enamel cast iron Dutch oven.  I added a few tablespoons (or more) of all-purpose flour to the sautee and stirred it while it cooked, and then added modest amounts of ham stock out of the crockpot to the mixture. Soon the sausages were cooked through and cooled off and I chopped them into small pieces and tossed them in the pot, letting them cook for a while with the onion, celery, garlic, flour, and stock.

At some point, I then added the four cups of stock I'd strained earlier. I had chopped several potatoes into small pieces, put them in the pot, brought it to a low boil, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and let it all cook very slowly for about 40 minutes.

I had a little half and half available so I whisked it in, along with an unmeasured amount of whole milk, and continued to whisk the soup for a short time.

I got out the blender and scooped out about two or three cups of soup, careful not to include sausage chunks, pureed this amount of the soup, and returned it to the pot.

My last addition to the soup was chopped kale. The Deke and I agreed we'd enjoy kale in this soup and so I put a moderate amount in -- until it looked right to me.

This soup had to be one of the best potato soups I've ever eaten. The long simmering ham stock gave the soup a rich depth and the half and half and milk combined to make it velvety. Others of you reading this might prefer the potatoes and sausage to be cut in larger pieces, but I have come to enjoy vegetables and meat cut into small pieces. I thought smaller pieces enhanced the smooth texture of the soup without having it be a creamy puree. And, lastly, we love kale.

If you'd like to read Mandy Rivers' recipe, it's right here and, well, I'm sorry, but the Deke's contributions are part of the folk tradition of our marriage, information passed along verbally -- I can't digitally link that!

3. Back in Greenbelt, MD, I fixed tilapia fish cakes that we really liked and I think I found the recipe again tonight, so I have plans it place to give this recipe a go on Wednesday. I'm looking forward to the tangy bite of capers, the crunch of the saltine crackers, and the multiple tastes of celery, paprika, mustard, bay leaf, red pepper, mace, nutmeg and other spices that combine to make Old Bay seasoning.

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