Sauerkraut Soup

This soup is really easy to make and very delicious!! I’d never had anything like it!!  Tart sauerkraut, yummy kielbasa, potatoes and onions-how can you go wrong?!  This is the time to go to your local Polish shop and get the best kielbasa you can. While you can use the regular supermarket ones using a great kielbasa really makes such a huge difference. Don’t forget they freeze well so you can buy a lot and keep them for later too.

Since we got a big snow storm on Friday night/Saturday I made this for lunch on Saturday and it was perfect. What a delicious meal on a snowy day.

1/13/14 Note: I made this soup this past Saturday morning.  The tomatoes at the store didn’t look very nice and I knew that I had a can of tomatoes in the cabinet at home.  The result is a variation that I think I like more than the original.  It makes more of a tomatoey broth.

  • 7 cups water/sauerkraut liquid instead of the 8 cups below
  • 15oz can crushed tomatoes and their liquid—omit both the plum tomatoes and tomato sauce below.

saursoup

Sauerkraut Soup

Ingredients

  • 1lb bag sauerkraut drained, liquid reserved
  • 8 cups water/sauerkraut liquid
  • 1lb kielbasa-the best quality you can find, cut into 1/4 inch rounds, then in quarters.
  • 1/4 tbsp caraway seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 80z can tomato sauce
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb red potatoes, peeled, cut into bite-sized pieces

Instructions

  1. Add enough water to the reserved sauerkraut liquid to equal 8 cups.
  2. Place the sauerkraut, water, kielbasa, caraway seeds, black peppercorns, bay leaf, tomatoes and tomato sauce into a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.
  3. In a small pan saute the onion and garlic until soft then add it to the soup pot.
  4. Place potato cubes in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil then, when just before cooked fully, drain and add to the soup pot.
  5. Return the soup to a boil then reduce to simmer for an hour.

kielbasa

Here’s the kielbasa I used-just over 1lb.  If you have a little more or little less it’s fine.

Note: This soup freezes well so feel free to make extra and put it away for a later lunch or dinner.

My friend Michelle gave me her recipe and I’ve adapted it to this-enjoy!!

Caprese Salad Platter

One of my great loves is fresh mozzarella cheese. I have a store by me that makes it by hand every morning and, if I stop in on the way to work, when I buy it it’s still warm. Yummy!!!

To me that delicious cheese, really sweet ripe tomatoes, balsamic glaze, olive oil and basil make one of the most perfect combinations known to woman (and man too!).  These small one-bite sizes are perfect for appetizers for parties etc… and because the balsamic glaze is thick it doesn’t drip like the plan balsamic vinegar.

This platter is such a snap to put together. I often bring it to other places and just assemble it there. Cut up the cheese and tomatoes as instructed below, put olive oil in one small container (or ziplock baggie) and do the same with the balsamic glaze. Tote along some basil and toothpicks and a small platter and off you go. Easy peasy.  I brought this to my Mom’s for Thanksgiving along with the Loaded Potato Bites and Kalamata Olive and Tomato Crostini.

Caprese Salad

  • 1 ball of fresh salted mozzarella-about 1 lb
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  • a few basil leaves, cut into small shreds
  • 2-3 tbsp very high-quality olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp very high-quality balsamic glaze
  • toothpicks

Take the  mozzarella ball and cut off the rounded sides so that you are left with a square or rectangle that will easily be cut into cubes (eat the rounded pieces that you cut off:).  Cut the remaining cube of cheese into small 1/2×1/2 inch cubes.

Cut each tomato in half the short way.

With a toothpick spear a piece of the tomato then the mozzarella. Repeat with remaining cheese and tomatoes and place them on the platter.   Sprinkle with the basil and then the olive oil and balsamic glaze.

Tips: if you are prepping the cheese and tomatoes at home you can put the cubed cheese in an airtight container for a day or 2.  For the tomatoes keep the pint container, rinse it out, and when you have the tomatoes halved put them back into the pint container. Place a folded paper towel in a small plastic container in which the pint container can fit into. This will keep the tomatoes from getting soggy and if juices come out the paper towel will absorb them. I don’t suggest keeping the pre-cut tomatoes around too long-a few hours at the most.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

While I was out on the East End this past Sunday with my Mom and Grandma we stopped at Harbes Family Farm which is one of the many farmstands along the wine trail. I picked up a few beautiful tomatoes and a pumpkin.  I wanted to make some sauce using a few of the tomatoes so I looked through my fridge and cabinets to see what I could add to those sweet, wonderful smelling tomatoes.  The outcome was a fresh sauce that just bursts with amazing tomato flavor. It was easy to make and was absolutely delicious.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • a few slices of onion (I used some red onion that I had left over but any will work)
  • artichoke hearts-a few good heaping spoonfulls, chopped
  • large green olives, pitted and chopped-I used 4 but you could use more or less
  • 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • basil leaf-ripped into small pieces
  • 1/2 lb capellini
  • a few grates of parmesan cheese
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. When hot add garlic and sautee until golden and fragrant. Add onion, olives and artichokes and cook until they start to soften-just a few minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients except for the cheese. Bring to a good steadybubble then reduce heat to simmer and stir occasionally until tomatoes are soft and can be smashed with a wooden spoon in the pan.
  2. Add cheese, cook for another minute or two and then serve spooned over the pasta.

Makes 2 servings.

Sparksfromthekitchen.com original

Green Bean Salad

I seriously love this salad. Crispy veggies and a simple dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It’s super easy to make and it’s delicious!! The original recipe only calls for 1/4 cucumber but since I love them I changed it to include the entire cucumber. The original recipe also only called for 1/2 pint of tomatoes but I throw in the whole pint. Why not?

Green Bean Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 European cucumber, cut into small cubes
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • Coarse salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Steam green beans in 1/2 inch boiling water covered for 3 or 4 minutes. Cold shock beans by running under cold water and drain well. Place beans in a bowl and combine with onions, cucumber and tomato. Dress salad with a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of 1/2 lemon. Season salad with coarse salt and pepper, to taste.

Adapted from Rachael Ray.

Peperonata

What a delicious combination of onion, red pepper and tomato. I made this on Sunday morning and put it in the fridge to cool and then was invited to a friends house for some wine and apps.  I brought some with me and it was great chilled and put onto toasted pita wedges.  This can be served warm, cold or at room temperature and is so versatile! Put it on a sandwich or on a cracker or eat as a side salad…the list goes on an on. Such a fresh refreshing little salad.

Peperonata (Braised Sweet Peppers, Tomatoes and Onions)

Ingredients:

  • 1lb (500g) red bell peppers (capsicums), stems, ribs and seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup (2fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tomatoes, seeds removed and coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

  1. Cut the bell peppers into 2 inch squares. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the peppers, olive oil, onion and bay leaves and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are softened and have released their juices-about 15 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes, season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer gently until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

Serve warm or chilled.

Slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma Florence cookbook.