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Filtering by Tag: potatoes

Zuppetta di porcini e patate (porcini and potato soup)

Rosetta

Lots of things have kept me busy since I came back from my culinary tour in Calabria: my book launch happened last week and there is a book signing event every week from now until January. But I did promise everyone in the tour group that I would remake the dishes we cooked in Calabria and give them the recipes. So today, our first rainy day in the Bay Area, seems like a good time to start. Luckily most of the recipes that we cooked are in my book, but a few were new to me. The first cooking class of the tour was held at La Tavernetta restaurant in Camigliatello Silano, in the heart of the Sila mountains. This restaurant is one of the top restaurants in Calabria and its menu focuses on dishes based on local ingredients. We spent our first day foraging for wild mushrooms and for dinner, the chef and owner Pietro Lecce demonstrated two wonderful dishes using them. This week I will give you the recipe for the soup we had. Next week I will try the appetizer we made, roasted mushroom caps filled with ricotta and herbs.

This soup really showcases the simplicity of Calabrian cooking. We used the local potatoes that grow in the Sila mountains--our closest are the Yukon gold--and porcini mushrooms.

The two star ingredients of this soup, porcini and potatoes.

Cut the potatoes in small cubes, about 3/8 -inch by 1/2 -inch

Cut the porcini, cap and stem, into small cubes

Cook the potatoes in the broth until soft

Sautee the porcini mushrooms with a sprig of fresh thyme

When the potatoes are soft add the sauteed mushrooms and finish the soup following the recipe below. Yummy!

For a printable recipe, click here.

Zuppetta di porcini e patate (Porcini mushrooms and potato soup)

1.5 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, cut in small cubes, about 3/8 inch by 1/2 inch

Extra virgin olive oil

3/4 pound fresh porcini mushrooms

Sprig of fresh thyme

3 cups or more Vegetable broth or chicken broth

Salt and black pepper

In a small pot, warm up three tablespoons of olive oil. Add the cubed potatoes. Stir to coat and then add two cups of hot vegetable broth. Simmer until the potatoes are cooked and soft, about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cut the porcini mushrooms into small cubes including the stems. In a 10 inch skillet place 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Set over high heat add the mushrooms and a sprig of thyme . Add more olive oil if dry. Saute quickly until the mushrooms are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.

Once the potatoes are soft stir and press against the side of the pot to smash some of them. Add the mushrooms to the potatoes and another ladle of broth. Let them cook together until the potatoes are soft enough that some start breaking apart, about 5 minutes. Stir and smash enough potatoes against the side of the potto make a thick creamy soup. Add more broth if the soup is too thick.

To serve, place a couple of ladles of the soup in a bowl and add a swirl of extra virgin olive oil. Add a few croutons on top of the soup, if desired.

Serves 4 to 6

My vegetable garden in July

Rosetta

Since my last garden update in June a lot has happened in my garden. I have enjoyed fresh strawberries, zucchini, cucumbers, romano beans and baby lettuce every day, and lots of wonderful figs. We have a small patch of strawberries that provide us with the best fruit all summer long; we manage to pick a basket every other day!

Look how wonderful they are below, fully ripe and sweet and juicy. Note the shape and size carefully so that you can buy strawberries that look just like them at a farmers' market. Whatever you do, don't buy those giant, perfectly shaped strawberries.

July is also the month when we start harvesting and preserving some of the garden bounty.

We picked our sweet Italian red onions (cipolle di Tropea) and as you see from the picture below we braid them and hang them from my apple tree, which is how we always kept onions in Calabria. This way, they stay in the shade and don't sprout.  Not that I have to worry about their sprouting--they don't last past the summer months, because they make for great eating.

My 14-year-old son harvested his potato patch and was very proud of the results; from just a few cuttings he managed to pick 15 pounds. He has just planted another crop, this time of Yukon gold, to see if he can produce two crops in one year. I will let you know how his experiment turns out.

We also harvested my oregano patch.  Right after it is in full flower we cut it down to the base.

We tie the long stems in bunches with kitchen string and hang the bunches upside down to let it dry in a shady spot in the garden. This is the oregano that I'll use for the rest of the year for dishes that require it dried. But I always keep a small patch of fresh oregano in the yard; luckily here in California I am able to have fresh herbs all year round.

I also harvested lots of basil and made my first batch of pesto. I freeze it and put it away for the winter months.

The tomatoes are growing up their trellis. They are almost at the top of the poles and all the branches are loaded with tomatoes. In about a month I will have the juiciest, sweetest tomatoes.

The Italian eggplants are just starting now...

...as well as the sweet Italian peppers.

For the next update I will have a garden full of eggplants, tomatoes, romano beans, and hot and sweet peppers. August and September are the best time of year, loaded as they are with all my favorite vegetables.

My vegetable garden in May

Rosetta

While I was in Calabria the first week of May, my parents planted tomato plants in my garden for me: 30 San Marzanos, a couple of  Early Girls and few sweet red 100s, which are cherry tomatoes.  The majority of the San Marzanos will end up canned in jars, although we do eat a few in salads and I bring them to use in my cooking classes when they are at their peak. (The tomatoes, not the classes!). All the other tomatoes we eat fresh off the vines. Following the "from scratch" theme of this blog, my parents always start the tomato seedlings from the seeds they harvest from the tomatoes of the previous season.  The original seeds were the ones they brought from Calabria in the 1970s.

This is what the tomatoes looked like a week after they were planted:

My dad also planted zucchini, peppers (both the Italian sweet and the Calabrian hot), eggplants, and Romano beans.  One of his secret is to give each plant a nice drink of  "manure tea".   Yes, you guessed it:  goat manure steeped in water, truly smelly stuff.  He gives each plant about a quart of this tea and it acts like a booster shot.  It is amazing how they take off.

He always places the seeds of the Romano beans directly into the soil in early April and as you can see from the picture below the plants are already on their way up the poles.  My dad always uses old branches to make poles for the beans to climb on.

Here are pictures of the  zucchini, eggplant, cucumber and pepper plants.

I also have a wonderful lettuce bed of mixed baby greens that are thriving:

And right next to the lettuce bed are some beautiful potatoes planted by my 14-year-old son, who loves to grow his own potatoes as his own little project. He put them in the soil back in March and here is a picture of them in May:

I will give you a garden update next month so you can see how everything is progressing.