Welcome to my BlogSpot. I have created this blog in hopes of inspiring everyone to cook. I have found my inspiration from living in both Southern and Northern California. My influences in flavors have come from family recipes and meals with emphasis on healthy foods, marrying into an Italian family and the ethnic flavors throughout California. There are so many wonderful memories connected to our family dishes as well as new memories in the dishes that have been recently created. My husband, Randy who is recently retired, has been my biggest supporter and inspiration in our kitchen. He is my taster, my sous chef, and has created some really great dishes himself, which will be added to this blog. It is my hope that you too will be inspired to cook and create your own dishes for your loved ones and enjoy the craft of cooking.

One thing I ask of you is if you print out, email and pass out my recipes, please include my name and link.

Be sure to check out my Sweaty Equities blog about the ups and downs of crafty projects and our DIY remodels.
You can find it at http://sweatyequities.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Creamy Artichoke Soup

When Randy and I moved to Northern California we discovered many wonderful places to explore. One of our favorite places to go to is Napa Valley and one of our favorite wineries is Peju Winery. They aren’t the biggest winery in Napa and they don’t sell their wines in your local store so it is a real treat to open up a bottle and enjoy pairing it with some of our favorite recipes.

One of our favorite pairings with Peju Provence Wine is Randy’s recipe for Creamy Artichoke Soup. I love to come home from a long day of skiing and have a bowl of this soup, garlic bread and wine to warm my bones after a cold day of fun.

  • 5 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ Teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 3 Leeks, white part only, washed well and chopped
  • 6 Stalks Celery
  • 3 Baby Bok Choy (stock and leaf), washed well and chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 6 medium-sized Yukon gold Potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons of Susie’s White Spice Rub -click for recipe
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
  • 1 Quart Vegetable Stock
  • ½ Cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 8 Ounces Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 Cup Half and Half.
Garnish with Crème Fraiche and chopped chives.
Heat olive oil in a heavy, large pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks, celery bok choy, and the garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.  Add the potatoes, salt, pepper and spice rub and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring often. Add the artichokes, and vegetable stock, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes. Taste to see if more salt is needed during the cooking time. When vegetables are very tender add the parmesan cheese, mascarpone cheese and half and half and stir well.
Using a handheld stick blender, or in a blender in batches*, puree the soup until creamy. Use caution if you use a regular blender to puree the soup. Fill the blender only half way, leaving the lid vented, as heat expands and you could get burned. Stick blenders aren’t very pricy so if you love this recipe you may want to invest in one since they are so easy to use. Cuisinart is our favorite brand for stick blenders.
Spoon into a bowl and garnish each bowl with a little dollop of crème fraiche and chopped Chives and serve with Easy Cheesy Garlic Bread.
What is Crème Fraiche you ask? It’s a French Cream. –highly addictive.

I can find it at Costco or Whole Foods.
  • 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce mixed in the soup adds a bit of a spicy kick.

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