The Last Supper • Asian-style Chicken Noodle Soup

As I madly ran around Friday night trying to finish last minute preparations for my crack-of-dawn departure for my road trip, I did manage to at least make one more meal for my family. I’d made some home made chicken stock on Thursday, and that evening I took that out of the fridge, skimmed off the fat that had collected on the surface, and re-heated it on the stove.

Of course as we sat at the table eating it the kids acted like it was the last meal they would EVER be eating with me, like I was abandoning them forever to go and join the circus or something.

You can easily use store-bought chicken broth and chicken to make this too. You can also add any other ingredients you’d like to it — maybe some mushrooms or chopped bok choy. I used the ingredients I had on hand, and so can you.

Assemble all of your ingredients.

To the simmering broth I added some medallions of peeled ginger (from a 1″ piece).

Add some medallions of peeled ginger.

And then I added some finely diced, peeled, carrots.

Add some finely diced, peeled, carrots.

I let that simmer for about 10 minutes, and then added the shredded chicken I’d reserved from making the stock.

Add the shredded chicken.

Let that simmer for a few minutes until the stock comes back to a simmer, then turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the chinese egg noodles (they look like ramen noodles, but without the seasoning packet; you can find them in the asian-food section of the grocery store). Let that come to a boil and separate the noodles as they soften using two forks.

Add chinese egg noodles to boiling stock.

Working quickly, as you don’t want the noodles to overcook, add some chopped cilantro to the stock and stir to combine.

Add some chopped cilantro and quickly stir to combine.

Quickly plate the soup into individual bowls, distributing the chicken evenly with tongs. Serve while piping hot.

Ricotta & Chive Gnocchi

I recently posted gnocchi in a brown butter sage sauce that was delicious. That was the first time I’d made gnocchi in probably 25 years. It was fun! When I was at my local library for the lecture by The Beekman Boys for their new 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, I saw that Amanda Hesser and Merril Stubbs were going to be there this coming Monday promoting their new cookbook Food 52. I had never heard of this book (trust me, I own enough cookbooks already), but Erin, one of the librarians at the library, was explaining the book to me, so I checked it out on Amazon. It was really highly reviewed, so I decided to order a copy and bring it with me to the Library. I kind of liked getting out of the house at night!

There were so many delicious recipes in the book that I can’t wait to try, but while Amanda was home from college this weekend she was really looking for some of Mama’s comfort food. She asked me to make meatloaf’s for her that we froze and she took home in her suitcase. Apparently one fell out of her carry-on onto the kid  sitting next to her who exclaimed “sick!”.  She also had me make my spicy hummus, which she took home in small containers, and she made some of the chocolate chip cookies I recently posted to bring down to her friends, too. We decided this gnocchi recipe should be the first one we tried. They were terrific. The crust from frying them after you boil them made them extra yummy. I added

Ricotta and Chive Gnocchi

Recipe from The Food 52 Cookbook by Amanda Hesser & Merril Stubbs. Adapted (slightly), by Crafty Farm Girl, November, 2011.

Serves four to six

3 Russet potatoes
2 Eggs
1 c. ricotta
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1/3 cup chives
2 cups Flour (making sure you have extra on hand for rolling them later)
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt & pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the russet potatoes. Boil for 45 minutes, draing the water through a colander, and let the potatoes cool. Following what I learned from the earlier gnocchi recipe, I peeled and riced the potatoes carefully while still hot and spread them out to cool on a rimmed baking sheet. Discard the skins.

Once the potatoes have cooled down, add the eggs and stir into the mixture. Once the eggs have been incorporated, stire in the ricotta, parmesan, and chives.

At this point, the mixture should be very thick, but it needs to be thick and maliable as dough. Add the flour and stir together until you get that consistency. I found this easiest to do by turning the mixture out onto a clean work surface and kneading it until it came together. Continue kneading, flouring the work surface as necessary, until it’s more dough-like and doesn’t stick to everything in sight. Cut the dough into 4 pieces.

Begin rolling the dough, a section at a time, with your hands as if you’re forming a large snake. I found it easiest to cut the coil into two pieces about half-way through to make it easier to work with. Continue rolling until you form rolls that are no bigger than a quarter in circumference. (Any bigger and you’ll have difficulty cooking them.) I probably made mine about the size of a nickel around.

From the skinnier rolls, take a knife or pinch off little sections and roll them around in the palm of your hand to make the gnocchi. You may need to continue dredging them in a little flour as you go, which is fine. Set all the finished gnocchi on a large plate to the side. I found it easiest to cut all the gnocchi, and then I went and rolled each one to form a more evenly rounded shape.

Once all the gnocchi have been formed. Dump them into a boiling pot of hot, salted water. Boil the gnocchi for five minutes to ensure their centers are nice and dense. (They will automatically start popping up to the top of the pot once they’re cooking, but make sure you give them a little extra time in the water.)

Drain the boiled gnocchi through a colandar or remove from the boiling water with a strainer. Then, in a very large saute pan over medium high heat, add two tablespoons of oil and butter. Add just enough gnocchi to the pan where they have enough space to get a light, brown crust around them. I seasoned them with salt and pepper in the pan. Add more oil, butter, and gnocchi when the first batch is done. When plating the gnocchi, lightly season them with a little kosher salt, parsley, or extra chives and some grated parmesan.

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Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage

I haven’t made gnocchi in years, but I saw this recipe on the cover page of last weekend and decided it was time to make it again. I love brown butter sage sauce. There’s a great short tutorialright now on the cover page of Cook’s that shows you step-by-step exactly how to cook these gnocchi. It’s really quick and shows you all the steps to get it right. I made them twice now in 2 weeks. The first time I was in the middle of like 5 other things so the potatoes rested a little long after coming out of the oven. I don’t think it affected their flavor or texture, but I think it made the rolling of them a little more difficult. The second time I was just concentrating on the gnocchi, and made the dough with hot, riced potatoes that I cooled on the pan for 5 minutes as the recipe called for, and the dough was much easier to form.

Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage


Original recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, published September 1, 2011.

Serves 2 to 3 as a main dish, or 4 to 6 as an appetizer

Making gnocchi is simple: Cook the potatoes; peel and mash; knead the cooked spuds into a dough with a minimum of flour; shape; and boil for a minute. And yet the pitfalls are numerous (lumpy mashed potatoes, too much—or too little—flour, a heavy hand when kneading, and bland flavor). We wanted a foolproof recipe for impossibly light gnocchi with unmistakable potato flavor. Baking russets (streamlined by par-cooking the potatoes in the microwave) produced intensely flavored potatoes—an excellent start to our gnocchi base. To avoid lumps, which can cause gnocchi to break apart during cooking, we turned to a ricer, which gave us a smooth, supple mash. While many recipes offer a range of flour, which ups the chances of overworking the dough (and producing leaden gnocchi), we used an exact amount based on the ratio of potato to flour so that our gnocchi dough was mixed as little as possible. And we found that an egg, while not a traditional ingredient, tenderized our gnocchi further, delivering delicate, pillow-like dumplings.

For the most accurate measurements, weigh the potatoes and flour. After processing, you may have slightly more than the 3 cups (16 ounces) of potatoes required for this recipe. Discard any extra or set aside for another use.



  • 2
 pounds russet potatoes
  • 1
 large egg , lightly beaten
  • 3/4
 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) all-purpose flour , plus extra for the counter
  • 1 
teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon salt
  • Sauce

  • 4 
tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 4 pieces
  • 1
 small shallot , minced
  • 1 
teaspoon minced fresh sage
  • 1 1/2 
teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4
 teaspoon salt
  • Instructions

    FOR THE GNOCCHI: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Poke each potato 8 times with paring knife over entire surface. Microwave potatoes until slightly softened at ends, about 10 minutes, flipping potatoes halfway through cooking.

    Transfer potatoes directly to oven rack and bake until skewer glides easily through flesh and potatoes yield to gentle pressure, 18 to 20 minutes.

    Holding each potato with potholder or kitchen towel, peel with paring knife. Process potatoes through ricer or food mill onto rimmed baking sheet.

    Gently spread potatoes into even layer and let cool for 5 minutes.

    Transfer 3 cups (16 ounces) warm potatoes to bowl. Using fork, gently stir in egg until just combined. Sprinkle flour and 1 teaspoon salt over potato mixture. Using fork, gently combine until no pockets of dry flour remain.

    Press mixture into rough ball, transfer to lightly floured counter, and gently knead until smooth but slightly sticky, about 1 minute, lightly dusting counter with flour as needed to prevent sticking.

    Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and dust liberally with flour. Cut dough into 8 pieces.

    Lightly dust counter with flour. Gently roll piece of dough into ½-inch-thick rope, dusting with flour to prevent sticking. Cut rope into ¾-inch lengths.

    Holding fork with tines facing down in 1 hand, press each dough piece cut side down against tines with thumb of other hand to create indentation. Roll dough down tines to form ridges on sides. If dough sticks, dust thumb or fork with flour.

    Transfer formed gnocchi to sheets and repeat with remaining dough.

    FOR THE SAUCE: Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until butter is browned and releases nutty aroma, about 11/2 minutes.

    Off heat, add shallot and sage, stirring until shallot is fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and salt; cover to keep warm.

    Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add remaining 1 tablespoon salt. Using parchment paper as sling, gently lower gnocchi from 1 sheet into water and cook until firm and just cooked through, about 90 seconds (gnocchi should float to surface after about 1 minute).

    Using slotted spoon, transfer cooked gnocchi to skillet with sauce. Repeat with remaining gnocchi. Once I put the gnocchi into the skillet I turned the heat back on to mediun-high to rewarm the sauce briefly. Gently toss gnocchi with sauce and serve.

    Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage

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    Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

    I’m trying to find a few good appetizers that I can use for the upcoming holidays. This recipe was in the same magazine that the Asparagus Fries with Smoked Paprika Aïoli were in; The Best of Fine Cooking’s Appetizers, Fall 2011. There’s lots of good stuff in this, so if you see it on the newsstands you might want to pick one up.

    I feel the need to point out my fingernails in the close-up photos below. No, that is not dirt or chicken & goat poop under my nails. It is oil-based black ink. I’d been up past midnight the night before printing my linoleum print cards and just couldn’t get all of the ink off of my fingernails. I thought you’d want to know.

    I thought these were yummy. They probably would have been even better with the pepper I was supposed to put on the bacon and forgot. I love salty and sweet, and with these you get not only salty and sweet from the bacon and apricot, but crunchy and chewy with the almond and cheese. You can’t get much better than that. Except maybe adding the pepper for some spice…

    Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

    Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Apricots

    Recipe from The Best of Fine Cooking’s Appetizers, Fall 2011

    Yields 24.

    Apricot sizes can vary; if yours are on the smaller side, just trim the cheese a bit and squish it in. Make sure they are whole and not halved. I used apricots from Turkey and Marcona almonds, which are a little softer than regular almonds. Any apricot and almond will do though.

    • 24 dried apricots (about 7 oz.)
    • 3 oz. plain Havarti, cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch squares, 1/4 inch thick
    • 24 almonds (about 1 oz.) 12 strips bacon (about 12 oz.), cut in half crosswise
    • 24 toothpicks, soaked in water
    • Freshly ground black pepper

    Heat a gas grill to high or prepare a hot charcoal fire. I chose not to grill, but instead used a nonstick grill pan. I thought that worked just fine.

    Pry open the apricots (if you look closely you’ll be able to find the slit where they removed the pit) and put a piece of cheese and an almond into each one.

    Wrap a piece of bacon around each apricot, trimming as necessary so it overlaps by 1/2 inch, and secure it with a toothpick. Season the apricots all over with pepper. Somehow I missed that pepper step. They were still delicious without the pepper, but do try to remember it.

    If using a grill, reduce the grill heat to medium (scatter the coals a bit or raise the grate if using charcoal). If using a grill pan, use medium-low heat. Use tongs to grill the apricots on all sides with the grill open, propping them between the bars to hold them up on the narrow sides. Move the apricots around often to avoid flare-ups. Cook until the bacon is crisp all over, about 6 minutes total.

    Serve immediately and remind guests to remove the toothpicks.

    make ahead tips: The apricots can be assembled up to 1 day ahead and refrigerated.

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    Roasted Potato Sticks with Rosemary and Lemon

    My kids don’t eat french fries at home very often, so when I saw this recipe for potato sticks I thought it would be a fun one to try. They loved them, and they were the perfect accompaniment to our cheeseburgers. I liked the seasoning on them, taking them a step beyond your normal french fry.

    Roasted Potato Sticks with Rosemary and Lemon

    Roasted Potato Sticks with Rosemary and Lemon

    Recipe from Fine Cooking Appetizers (Special Party Issue, Fall, 2011), altered slightly by Crafty Farm Girl, November, 2011.

    Rinsing the potatoes under cold water not only removes any dirt from the peel but also removes starch from the potatoes for crisper potato sticks. Be sure to dry them well.

    * I am not a big mustard fan, so I chose to use salad dressing instead. I think any mustard, salad dressing or even BBQ sauce would work well here.

      • 3 medium Idaho potatoes, washed & scrubbed (about 1-1/4 pounds total)
      • 3 tablespoons olive oil
      • 1-1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, salad dressing or BBQ sauce*
      • 1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
      • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
      • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
      • Kosher salt and freshly grated ground black pepper

    Arrange racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 450o F. Slice the potatoes on a sharp angle into 3/8-inch slices. Stack them and slice into 3/8-inch thick sticks. Or, you can use a V-slicer, Mandoline, or a mandoline-style peeler like I did.

    A plastic mandoline, hand julienne peeler, or a good, old-fashioned knife work too.

    Put the potatoes in a colander set inside a slightly larger bowl. Rinse the potatoes in cold water, pouring off the water in the bowl several times until it’s clear. Let the potatoes stand in the cold water for 5 minutes.

    Drain and shake off excess water and spread the potatoes on 2 large baking sheets lined with 2 layers of paper towels. Cover with a few more paper towels and let dry. (I used clean dishtowels instead of paper towels, and after about 5 minutes they were remarkably dry.)

    In a medium bowl, combine the olive oil, mustard or other sauce*, rosemary, lemon zest and juice, 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and whisk well until blended.

    Transfer the potato sticks to the bowl (discard the paper towels if you used them, and obviously don’t toss them with the dishtowels, either) and toss until each piece is well coated.

    Spread the potatoes on the baking sheets in a single layer. Drizzle with any remaining herb mixture.

    Bake the potato sticks until browned on the bottom, about 10 minutes. Turn them with a spatula, spread into a single layer, and bake for 5 minutes, turn again until browned and tender, another 5-10 minutes.

    Sprinkle with more salt, if you like, and serve immediately.

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    Asparagus Fries with Smoked Paprika Aïoli

    My kids are not huge asparagus fans, and I’m actually not crazy about them if they’re not cooked just right. When I saw this recipe a) I thought my kids would like them and b) I thought they’d be a great party appetizer. With the holidays coming up, I thought I’d give them a whirl. I know, I know; breading and frying the asparagus sort of takes away from the whole ‘healthy vegetable’ thing, but whatever. You don’t have to feed my kids.

    The kids came about as close to loving asparagus as they’re ever going to come. And Jim, who is so spoiled by all of my good cooking that I usually don’t get more than a “that was good”, raved about these things.

    Asparagus Fries with Smoked Paprika Aïoli

    I got this recipe from Fine Cooking’s Special Party Issue “Appetizers” issue, fall 2011. Originally From Fine Cooking, Issue #110, pp. 61

    Serves 6

    For the Aïoli

    4 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
    2/3 cup mayonnaise
    1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
    1 tsp. smoked paprika
    1 tsp. fresh lemon juice, more to taste
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    For the Asparagus Fries

    3 cups vegetable oil
    2 large eggs, beaten
    1 medium lime, juiced
    3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 cup panko
    1 lb. thick asparagus spears, trimmed, peeled, and halved crosswise

    Make the Aïoli

    Put the garlic in a small saucepan, add cold water to cover by least 1/2 inch, and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, drain and repeat the process once more. Rinse the garlic with cold water to cool and then peel and mince the cloves. In a medium bowl, whisk the poached garlic with the mayonnaise, olive oil, smoked paprika, and lemon juice until smooth. Add more lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to meld the flavors.

    Make the Asparagus Fries

    In a 3-quart saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer, heat the oil over medium-high heat to 375°F.

In a small bowl, whisk the eggs with the lime juice and 2 Tbs. water. Put the flour on a small plate and season generously with salt and pepper. Put the panko on another small plate.

    Dredge the asparagus in the flour and shake off any excess. Dip the asparagus in the egg mixture and then the panko to coat.

    Working in batches, fry the asparagus until golden-brown, about 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain briefly.

    Sprinkle with salt and serve with the smoked paprika aïoli.

    Nutrition information (per serving):  Calories (kcal): 340; Fat (g): 33; Fat Calories (kcal): 290; Saturated Fat (g): 4.5; Protein (g): 4; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): 10; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 15; Sodium (mg): 460; Cholesterol (mg): 60; Fiber (g): 1

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    Pork & Scallion Potstickers

    My kids adore potstickers, or fried dumplings. I decided to make my own the other day for a treat. I’ve made them before, but not that they’d remember. I found this old Gourmet recipe on Epicurious that seemed to get rave reviews, so I went with that one. The dipping sauce was probably the best dipping sauce I’ve ever had. I changed it a little bit as I like my dipping sauce with grated ginger in it and more on the spicy side, but I loved the fact that it didn’t have any vinegar in it.

    Pork & Chive Dumplings

    Original recipe from Gourmet, October, 2008, adapted slightly by Crafty Farm Girl, October, 2011

    Yield: serves 8 as appetizer servings

    I wasn’t all that thrilled with the ground pork available at the grocery store, so I bought some organic, pasture raised pork chops and ground them in the food processor to combine with the ground pork.

    I could not find dumpling wrappers, so I bought egg roll wrappers and cut them into circles.


    • 1/2 pound fatty ground pork
    • 1/2 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or sake
    • 1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
    • 1/2 teaspoon Vietnamese chile-garlic sauce
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons finely grated peeled ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar (not seasoned)
    • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • Pinch of white pepper
    • 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro stems
    • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flowering chives, flat Chinese chives (garlic chives), or scallions
    • 24 to 30 round dumpling wrappers (preferably with egg)


    Accompaniment: Lantern dumpling sauce, recipe below

    Combine all ingredients (except cilantro stems, chives, and wrappers) in a large bowl, then stir in cilantro stems and chives. Set bowl in a larger bowl of ice to keep chilled while forming dumplings.

    Place a slightly rounded teaspoon of filling in center of a wrapper and moisten area around filling with water. Fold in half to form a crescent and press to seal.

    Alternatively, if you have a dumpling maker, you can use that to form your dumplings.

    Repeat with remaining filling and wrappers, placing on a parchment-lined baking sheet and covering tightly with plastic wrap when finished until ready to cook.

    In a large non-stick skillet place 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil over medium heat and add dumplings to pan. Try not to have any edges touch or they may stick together, but get as many in the pan as you can. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let steam for about 5 minutes, shaking the pan every minute or two to keep them from sticking.

    When the water has evaporated after about 5 minutes, uncover pan, add another tablespoon of oil, and continue to cook, shaking pan occasionally to keep from sticking, until the dumplings are brown on one side. You can remove them from the pan now, or if you prefer, turn them and brown on the other side as well.

    Remove the dumplings when finished briefly to a paper towel-covered plate, and then serve hot with dipping sauce.

    Cooks’ note: Dumplings can be formed (but not cooked) 2 hours ahead and chilled; or 1 month ahead and frozen on a tray, then transferred to a freezer bag. Cook frozen dumplings in 3 or 4 batches, 7 to 8 minutes per batch.

    Lantern Dumpling Sauce

    From Gourmet, October, 2008, adapted slightly by Crafty Farm Girl, October, 2011

    The rich flavors of the pork and chive dumplings shouldn’t be drowned out by a heavy sauce. This quick one is all you need.

      • 1/2 cup soy sauce
      • 1/3 cup water
      • 1/2 tablespoon sake wine
      • 1/8 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
      • 1 garlic clove, smashed3 (2-inch) dried red chiles, wiped clean and cut into thirds
      • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
      • 1/4 teaspoon hot chile oil
      • 1/8 teaspoon sugar

    Stir together all ingredients and let stand at room temperature at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

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    Fried Mashed Potato Cones & Rings

    So there was this awesome looking Pin on Pinterest last week of these potato rings: mashed potatoes rings dredged in seasoned flour and deep fried.

    Be still my heart.

    There is this local deli called Garden Catering that has this lunch special of white meat chicken nuggets and what they call Potato Cones. They’re little cones of mashed potatoes that are fried. The kids and I get them for a treat every once in a while (when Jim’s not looking, and I’m feeling thin enough to justify a meal of fried foods.)

    This recipe looked pretty close to re-creating those potato cones. I tried them yesterday. I made cones and rings. However, the original blog, Spoon Fork Bacon, formed the rings by smoothing the mashed potato mixture out on a sheet pan, freezing it, and then cutting out the rings. It seemed that you could have a lot less waste by simply putting the mixture into a pastry bag and piping them out into rings with a plain tip, so that’s what I tried. I think it worked fine and there was no waste. She also served them with a home-made buttermilk ranch dressing. Since me and my kids are all a bit weird about sauces, we skipped that. We don’t eat our potato cones with sauce, so why should we eat mine with sauce?

    I have to admit my photos aren’t that great. These weeknights with the kids’ school schedules are a little nuts. By the time I get home I’m practically throwing food in a pan — even if it’s all been prepped ahead of time. I will also admit to my oil being too hot…I went out to lock up the farm while it was heating and all the animals were being complete knuckleheads so it took much longer than expected. I think the proper temperature oil would have greatly improved their appearance.

    She stresses two things she discovered while making them: 1) the importance of having the potatoes completely coated; no holes please, or the mashed potatoes will pour out of the holes once they hit the oil. 2) the importance of the rings being frozen solid before entering the oil. I also found that the seasoning with salt was absolutely essential. You might even want to add a bit to the seasoning mix; I think I will next time.

    Potato Rings with Homemade Buttermilk Ranch Dipping Sauce

    Original recipe from Spoon, Fork, Bacon. Modified slightly by Crafty Farm Girl, October, 2011.

    Makes 32-40

    3 large russet potatoes, cleaned peeled and chopped into large pieces
    1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
    ¼ cup unsalted butter (½ stick), softened
    ½ caramelized yellow onions, chopped
    3 tablespoons chives, thinly sliced
    2/3 cup  all purpose flour
    1/3 cup rice flour
    2 tablespoons garlic powder
    1 tablespoon onion powder
    1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    2 eggs, lightly beaten
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 quarts vegetable oil
    buttermilk ranch sauce:

    1/2 cup light mayonnaise
    ¼ cup low-fat buttermilk
    1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
    2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, minced
    1 tablespoon chives, thinly sliced
    1 teaspoons dill, minced
    ½ teaspoon dry mustard
    salt and pepper to taste

    1. Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with water.
    2. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and cook until the potatoes are fork tender, a20-25 minutes.
    3. Drain the potatoes into a colander and pour back into the pot. Mash with a potato masher or a ricer, as I used.

    4. Pour the cream and butter over the potatoes and mash with a potato masher until smooth (Add more cream 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed).

    5. Fold in the caramelized onions and chives until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and stir.

    6. put the potato mixture into a large pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip. I used a #806 tip.
    7. Now pipe the mixture onto parchment-lined baking sheets into either rings or cones, depending on which shape you desire — or both. You can space them closely together. I found I had to smooth down the ‘point’ of the cones a bit when I was done. When finished, loosely cover with plastic wrap and freeze completely, 4-6 hours.

    8. While the potato shapes freeze, place both flours, garlic powder, onion powder and smoked paprika into a shallow dish and stir together until fully combined. Set aside.
    9. Dip the potato rings into the flour mixture followed by the egg mixture and finally again in the flour mixture (make sure the rings are completely coated).

    10. Place the coated rings onto a clean, parchment-lined sheet pan and place back in the freezer and allow the rings to re-freeze completely, 1/2 an hour to an hour.

    11. Once the potato rings are frozen, preheat the oil, in a large pot, to 375°F.
    12. While the oil heats up, place the ingredients for the dipping sauce into a mixing bowl and whisk together. Season with salt and pepper.
    13. When the oil is hot, carefully drop a few of the rings into the oil and fry for 4-6 minutes or until golden brown.

    14. Drain onto a large plate lined with paper towels and season with salt with pepper.
    15. Repeat with the remaining potato rings and serve immediately with the dipping sauce.

    Fried Mashed Potato Rings

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    Curried Lentil Soup with Mango & Apples

    Many years ago we were eating a winter dinner at The Snake River Grill in Jackson, WY. I had a curried lentil soup that was outstanding. It was so great, that after I returned I wrote a letter to the chef there and asked if he might share the recipe with me. I didn’t hear back for a few months, so assumed I would not get my wish. Long after I’d forgotten about it, one day in the mail came the hand-written recipe from the chef for the soup. I still have his original recipe, and it’s one of my favorite soups.

    This recipe can be completely vegetarian if you use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock, and you can substitute all vegetable oil for the butter and oil. I often make it this way and my kids are none the wiser. The french green lentils called for in this recipe are getting easier to find than they used to be. They hold their shape unlike the more typical lentil does. An important part of cooking them though is the quick saute they have before you add the stock to the soup. This helps to seal the outside shell of the lentil I was told. This recipe makes a lot, so there’s plenty to have for a meal and freeze some for another day.

    Curried Lentil Soup with Mango & Apple

    2 pounds French Green Lentils DuPuy (rinsed, but not soaked)
    1 large yellow onion, finely diced
    2 large carrots, peeled & finely diced
    4 stalks celery, finely diced
    2 mangoes, peeled and diced
    2 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
    4 tablespoons good curry powder (I used 2 tbsp. hot curry powder & 2 tbsp. sweet pineapple curry powder)
    1 to 3 teaspoons red Thai curry paste*
    ½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    salt & pepper to taste
    2-1/2 to 3 quarts chicken or vegetable stock

    * Red Thai curry paste can add a lot of heat, quickly. Start with 1 teaspoon and adjust up, slowly, if you find you’d like a little more heat to the soup.

    Sweat all ingredients in butter and olive oil except for lentils for 10-12 minutes on medium heat in a heavy-bottomed stockpot.

    Add lentils, stir for 2-3 minutes.

    Add 2-1/2 quarts stock, bring to a boil, and reduce to a very low simmer.

    Simmer for 40-45 minutes, season with salt & pepper and add additional stock if the soup needs thinning.

    This makes a great meal. Serve with a good, crusty bread.

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    Italian Sausage, Bean & Kale Soup

    Continuing with my soup obsession of late, the most recent soup I made was another one by the folks over at Fine Cooking. This one was also pretty quick to prep and pretty quick to put together. I have to apologize in advance for the lack of photos; a playdate’s mom came to pick up her daughter and got me chatting right in the middle of cooking. Before I even realized what was happening the soup was almost finished. But, this isn’t brain surgery here so I’m pretty sure you can figure it out without my photos.

    This hearty Tuscan-style soup is full of flavor. The original recipe called for Lacinato kale (also called dinosaur or black kale) , but I couldn’t find anything like this around (and my local grocers have pretty good produce departments.) It said that any variety of kale will work. The original recipe also said to roll the sausage into bite-sized meatballs. While I’m sure this is a nice touch, I simply didn’t have time to do this and I don’t think the soup suffered any. I also chose not to add the cider vinegar, as none of my family are big vinegar lovers.

    This recipe is easily adaptable to serve meat-lovers and vegetarians alike: see the variation to serve one vegetarian, below.

    Italian Sausage, Bean & Kale Soup

    Original recipe from Fine Cooking, Issue, December 30, 2009. Adapted (slightly) by Crafty Farm Girl, September, 2011.

    Serves 4

    1-1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
    1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (1-1/2 cups)
    1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped (3/4 cup)
    1 medium celery stalk, finely chopped (3/4 cup)
    1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary
    2 Tbs. tomato paste
    2 large cloves garlic, minced (1 Tbs.)
    1 quart homemade or lower-salt chicken or vegetable broth
    Two 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    6 oz. kale, center ribs removed, leaves chopped (about 4 firmly packed cups)
    1 Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (1×3 inches; optional)
    2/3 lb. sweet or hot bulk Italian sausage (I used a combination of sweet and hot combined)
    1-1/2 tsp. cider vinegar (optional)
    Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Assemble your ingredients before you start cooking. I forgot the cannellini beans in this photo!

    Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 4- to 5-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic and cook until fragrant, 45 seconds. Add the broth, beans, kale, and Parmigiano rind (if using). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and simmer gently until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1/2 Tbs. oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add the sausage meatballs, sprinkle with a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 10 minutes.

    Add the sausage to the soup and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook 5 minutes more to meld the flavors. Stir the cider vinegar into the soup and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    To serve 1 vegetarian and 3 meat lovers: Use vegetable broth for the soup. Reduce the sausage to 1/2 lb. and cook the meatballs in the same fashion. After stirring the cider vinegar into the soup and seasoning to taste, set aside 1-3/4 cups of the soup for the vegetarian before adding the meatballs.

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