Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Salad Trio

I decided to celebrate Memorial Day with a salad trio.  


  • apples, sliced thin and chopped
  • celery, sliced thin on the diagonal
  • golden raisins
  • toasted walnuts
  • sage
  • chives, chopped
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • sugar to taste

Toss prepared ingredients with dressing.  A light, slightly tart version of the classic Waldorf salad.

I may try this with fresh fennel, thinly sliced, and also (but not with the fennel) with finely chopped fresh ginger.  


  • sliced Kumato tomatoes
  • crumbled goat cheese
  • chives
  • fresh basil leaves
  • balsamic vinegar

Layer ingredients on tomato slices in order listed.  Sprinkle lightly with balsamic vinegar.  Use the real stuff, not the red-wine version that's sold at grocery stores. It's expensive but a little goes a long ways and the flavor is much cleaner.



  • sliced strawberries
  • chopped fresh spearmint
  • orange juice


Toss berries and mint; add a splash of the juice.  Champagne would be lovely instead of the juice.


Try one or more of these salads for something light.  The apple slaw is very refreshing; the Kumato tomatoes & goat cheese is a classic and often-repeated blend of flavors; and strawberries -- well, they speak for themselves.

If you haven't tried Kumato tomatoes, I highly recommend them. The seeds are  only available to select growers; the tomatoes have to be grown under specific conditions and protocols. They can therefore be a bit pricey, but they're worth every penny. They're amazingly full of intense, slightly sweet tomato flavor, something I almost never find in a grocery store tomato.   The flesh is firm and juicy; color varies from a brownish-red to greenish-brown. If you don't already know that refrigeration destroys a tomato's flavor, take this as your warning, and do not put these gems in your fridge.

Whatever you eat and with whomever you share it, happy Memorial Day weekend!  Go out and cook, eat, dance, and love!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cate Jane's Sweet Potato Puree Soup

I love sweet potatoes.  Plain and simple or with other ingredients, but never ever with all that butter and sugar that many people serve as a vegetable at Thanksgiving. (There's more sugar and fat in that dish than in a normal pie, for crying out loud.  Talk about overkill.  And it doesn't even taste good; it just tastes like sugar.).  One of my favorite meals is a plate of steaming brown rice and some boiled sweet potatoes, lightly mashed and served plain, that's how much I love the taste of sweet potatoes. As part of a main meal, in a soup, in burritos, in salad... love 'em.

This soup was inspired by and named after a neighbor who wasn't feeling well.  We had recently been talking about sweet potato and kale soup, and when I found out she was ill, my mind started thinking of comfort food... first my thoughts went to my Il Templari variation with sweet potatoes, then to a sweet potato-black bean soup I love, but neither sounded quite like what would appeal to me if I were fighting off a bug.  Then it hit me:  cream of sweet potato soup, without the dairy!  I started thinking about what I would put in it and came up with the ingredient list below.

Of course I knew a sweet potato puree soup wasn't a novel idea, and a quick search on the internet confirmed this. There are many delicious-sounding variations of a sweet potato puree soup, many of them very similar to what I made.  I went with my original instincts of what would feel comforting to me and plunged in. The result: one of my new favorite soups.  And yes, I may be breaking my arm patting myself on the back, but this truly is a keeper for me and one I know I'll make often.  It's very simple, very easy, and muy delicioso!

For the first time, I'm endorsing a product:  the broth I used for this soup.  The reason is very simple:  when I opened the box of broth and tasted it, I was struck by its richness and depth of flavor.  I think it made a huge difference in how the soup turned out; I believe it really brought out the sweetness and flavor of the sweet potatoes.  Feel free to use whatever broth you like, but  consider giving this one a shot.  I am not receiving any compensation for this endorsement (but if they'd like to reward me with some free broth I wouldn't say no).  

I only had two sweet potatoes so that's what my ingredient amounts are based on.  You can, of course, easily increase the amounts.

On with the show:


  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 c. diced onion
  • 2 peeled and chopped carrots
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • about 2 c. vegetable broth (highly recommend Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Broth)
  • 1/4 t. ground ginger or more

Cut sweet potatoes into thirds and cook in a covered pot in about 1" of water until very tender.  Drain and cool; slip off peels.

While potatoes are cooling, over a low heat, cook remaining veggies in a very small amount of olive oil until onions are translucent.  Add broth and cover; simmer until veggies are very soft.

Puree sweet potatoes with a small amount of liquid from veggies.  Put in soup pot.  Puree other veggies in food processor in small batches and add slowly to sweet potatoes, stirring to check consistency.  I used all the broth and veggies in this batch.  Add ginger.  Heat gently, and serve.


If I'd had fresh ginger I would have added it.  You can also add cinnamon and/or nutmeg.  I chose not to add the last two because I wanted the sweet potato taste to be simple, clean, and in the front, but another time, depending on my mood, I might add any and all of those.  I think a hint of rosemary would also be good in this, especially as a winter soup, with a warm rosemary polenta or cornbread on the side.  

You can, of course, add dairy (cream, milk, a swirl of plain yogurt or sour cream).  I think if I served this cold I might add a dollop of plain yogurt for the tang.

Although I am not a fan of cold soups, this is delicious, smooth, and light when eaten cold, and would be perfect for a hot summer evening meal, with perhaps a wild rice salad or some marinated green beans...

However you serve it, do give it a try, and as you do, remember to cook, eat, dance, love!