Blogs, Recipes

Potato & Leek Soup with Crispy Fried Leeks

I love soups and it is just about soup season! There’s nothing better than grabbing a bowl of warm comforting soup on a fall or winter day! 

This soup is everything you love about a buttery creamy bowl of Potato Leek  soup. But better, because sauteed shallots and garlic are truly one of the most delicious flavor enhancers ever. Add a swirl of cream and crispy fried leeks and you’ll have the perfect bowl of soup. Great for both fall and winter days!

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 medium leeks, trimmed, leaving white and pale green parts only, and chopped
  • 4 small shallots or 2 medium size,, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup dry white wine, Scout & Cellar Fieldhouse White Blend
  • 4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup half and half
  • 3 tablespoon unsalted butter

Crispy Fried Leeks Ingredients

  • 1 cup leeks, washed and sliced into rings
  • ½ cup vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Wash sliced leeks in a large bowl of cold water, then lift out and drain well in a colander.

Cook leeks, shallots, garlic, carrot, celery, salt, and pepper in 4 tablespoons butter in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. 

Peel potato and cut into 1/2-inch cubes, then add to onion mixture along with wine, broth, water, and bay leaf. 

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves. Working in batches, scoop the soup to a blender, don’t fill the blender more than 1/3 way full or it can overflow. 

For a smooth soup, puree all of the soup; for a chunkier soup, don’t puree all of the soup. 

Blend until very smooth, being careful to let smoke escape the blender or it will explode. You can do this by leaving the blender cap open and covering with a paper towel or loose dishtowel. You may also use an immersion blender but I don’t find the soup gets as smooth.

Pour pureed soup back into the pot and stir in 3 tablespoon of butter and stir until melted.

Slowly pour in the half and half, stir until well combined. 

Taste and season with additional salt and pepper. 

Crispy Fried Leeks Instructions

To prepare the leeks, cut the white and pale green part off of the stem. 

Thinly slice the leeks into rings. 

Dry thoroughly before frying.

Using a slotted spoon, lower the leeks into the oil. 

Fry them for about 1 to 2 minutes or so, just until they turn golden. 

Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain.

Blogs, Recipes

Farmhouse Braised Chicken

This braised chicken is very simple, super flavorful, fall-off-the-bone tender, and thankfully you only need ONE pan to make them! 

So, what is braising exactly? It’s a two-step cooking process that involves an initial sear followed by slow simmer in a liquid like wine or broth. The result is super tender meat with a flavorful crust. Basically, it’s the best of both worlds! 

It’s best served with rice, our cauliflower mash if you’re keepin’ it low carb.

And don’t forget a glass of Scout & Cellar 2019 FIDDLENECK CHARDONNAY. For this wine, grapes were handpicked from vines planted 20 years ago in Mendocino’s Lake County. After pressing, the juice fermented in stainless steel for 20 days. The wine then aged in 80% stainless steel and 20% neutral French Oak barrels for 3 months before bottling, unfined and lightly filtered. DID YOU KNOW? Chardonnay is the most popular grape varietal in the United States!

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken quarters (or substitute with chicken drumsticks, thighs or breasts)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons Garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Onion powder
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions (cut into 1/2″ slices)
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • ½ cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic (roughly sliced)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Instructions

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder. Set aside.

Heat four tablespoons of butter in a braiser over medium heat. 

Add the chicken and  sear for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is nicely browned. Flip, cover and continue searing for another 3-4 minutes. Remove the chicken from the braiser and set aside.

Add the onions, and carrots to the braiser. Bump the temperature up to medium high and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are slightly caramelized and softened. 

Add the mushrooms and garlic, cook for about 30 seconds more.

Add the remaining butter to the braiser and let it melt. 

Add the flour and ½ cup of the cheese, whisk really well, ensuring no clumps remain. 

Cook, stirring until the flour turns brown and acquires nutty aroma.

Pour in the broth and red wine vinegar,  stir well. 

Turn off the heat. Taste and adjust the seasonings. 

Add the chicken back, nestling the pieces inside the vegetable mix.

Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of cheese on top of the chicken. 

Cover the braiser and transfer to an oven preheated to 350 F.  Braise for 45-60 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 185. 

Remove the chicken from the oven and serve hot with cauliflower mash or jasmine rice. 

Give the sauce/gravy a stir before pouring over chicken. 

Recipes

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan is one of my favorite Italian comfort foods.
The one thing to keep in mind when cooking eggplant, is eggplants hold onto moisture, like a sponge. So if you’re not careful you can end up with a mushy mess.

So the best method to make eggplant parmesan is to pull the moisture out of the eggplant prior to frying it.

How do we pull moisture out of the eggplant?

You sprinkle salt on the eggplant slice and let them sit for 45 minutes to one hour.The salt pulls out the moisture from the eggplant. 

It also helps to cut the bitterness of the vegetable and makes it “sweat”. You will notice little drops of moisture on the surface of the disks. Removing the moisture from the eggplant will prevent it from releasing it during cooking. 

After the 45 minutes, all you have to do is just pat them dry and dust off the excess salt and then you’ll be ready to start making your eggplant parmesan! I guarantee you will have a much crispier and less soggy eggplant parmesan dish! 

Now of course, you can bake or roast the eggplant for eggplant Parmesan, and they are tasty but frying the eggplant gives the dish a deep caramelized flavor that can not be mimicked by baking. 

I like my eggplant a tad thick so I slice mine about ¼ thick, using a sharp knife. Grab two shallow dishes, crack two eggs in one dish and whisk. I like to add some seasoning, like granulated garlic and black pepper, to my whisked eggs but that is totally up to you. Pour 1 ½ cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs in the other dish. I love cheese and feel you can never have too much so I sprinkle ¼ cup of grated Parmesan into the breadcrumbs and whisk until combined. 

Take each slice, dip it into the egg mixture, roll in the bread crumbs and shake off any excess. Place the breaded eggplant slices on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated. 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. I always use my cast iron skillet but any skillet will work. I have become a big fan of cast iron in the last year. Check out my Tips & Tricks page for why. 

Once the skillet is hot, slowly slide two-three breaded eggplant slices into the oil. Cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, they should be a nice golden brown. The first batch will take longer than the rest as the oil heats up. You will want to keep a close eye on them and watch out for oil splatters. 

Line a large sheet pan with foil, this will make for an easy clean up. Add a layer of eggplant slices then dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. The more cheese the better, in my opinion. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown – you don’t have to, but if you do, watch it carefully!

There is nothing better than the smell of fresh basil. It reminds me of my grandparents’ backyard when I was a child. My grandfather, Papa, always had a basil plant in his backyard. Here’s a great tip for cutting basil. Stack the basil leaves on top of each other and roll up like a cigar. Then make thin slices from one end of the basil cigar to the other. Sprinkle on top of your eggplant parmesan and serve. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into 1/4″ thick slices
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil, for lightly pan-frying
  • 2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2 cups whole milk mozzarella shredded
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese shredded
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves sliced, for garnish (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Salt both sides of your eggplant slices and place them in a large colander in the sink. Let the liquid drain for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

When your eggplant slices have finished draining liquid, brush off the excess salt.

In 2 shallow plates, add breadcrumbs to one and whisk eggs and in the other. Dip both sides of the eggplant slice into egg mixture then cover with breadcrumbs, shaking off the excess. Place on a plate or large baking sheet and repeat until all eggplant slices have been coated.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil into the skillet. Once the skillet is hot, add two-three eggplant slices at a time to the skillet and cook on both sides until golden brown, remove and set on a large plate lined with paper towels. Repeat until you’ve pan-fried them all.

On a large sheet pan, add a layer of eggplant slices then using dollop 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce on top of the eggplant slices. The idea isn’t to smother the layers with sauce. On top of the eggplant slices, sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and parmesan cheese. 

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top. I use the broiler for 5 minutes to get the cheese nice and brown. 

Serve hot and top with sliced basil.