Chipotle Sweet Potato Bisque

BisqueThere are two main varieties of sweet potato here in the U.S.  Many people mistakenly refer to them as “yams” but sweet potatoes are actually not even related to the yam.  The first (and my favorite of the two) has a golden skin and white flesh.  The second is that deep copper -colored tuber with the softer, bright orange flesh, commonly used in the traditional holiday dish “candied yams.”  

Either variety, or even a mix, will do nicely for this recipe.  This bisque is not an original idea.  I found it years ago in a magazine (which magazine, I can’t remember) and have made it many times since, with a few of my own adjustments.

The beauty of this soup is that it is NOT sweet.  The potatoes offer a subtly sweet base, but the ginger, lime and chipotle really take the forefront to create a savory soup that can be as spicy as you want it.  

 Ingredients:

2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 Tbs Butter
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 Tbs minced garlic
1 Tbs minced ginger
3 Tbs brown sugar
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
7 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup dry vermouth
1 chipotle pepper in adobo (you can find this in a can in the hispanic section of
your grocery store) OR 1 tsp chipotle powder (more if desired)
2 tsp salt
2 cups heavy cream
Zest and juice from 1 lime

*Serves about 10*

Directions:

Heat oil and butter in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until onion is soft, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.

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Add sugar, sweet potatoes, stock, vermouth, chipotle and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until potatoes are soft.
Remove from heat and puree the soup until smooth with a stick blender (you can use a traditional blender, but I find the stick blender makes much less of a mess).
Return soup to a simmer, add heavy cream, lime juice and zest.  Salt and pepper to taste. A sprinkle of chopped pistachios would make an excellent garnish.


Bisque

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Homemade Butter Is Better!

So here it is, our first blog post!  This has been a long time coming, as we have been talking about putting together a cookbook for years.  However, it was Janna who said “I want to start a food blog!”  That idea has now become a reality and we are so excited to get started!

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Janna here!  I’ve been thinking hard about what recipe I want to share first.   I want it simple, yet intriguing…maybe a little inspiring.  So I’ve chosen BUTTER.  Yes, butter!  You will not believe how easy it is to make your own butter.

I had just started working in the kitchen at Hedges Family Estates Winery, with Deborah Culverhouse, the Liason.  Deb (as we all call her) told me we were going to make butter and I thought, seriously?  Where’s the wooden butter churner and the rickety front porch?

Deb pulled out her food processor and some heavy cream and it literally took under ten minutes to make delicious, creamy, sweet butter!  This was only the first of many fantastic things I would learn from Deb.

AMAZING!!!

To make your own butter, you will need:

8oz heavy cream (unpasturized or pasturized but NOT ultra pasturized, I use pasturized, organic, grass fed)

Food processor, stand mixer or hand mixer with a paddle attachment (a whisk attachment will NOT work)

Rubber spatula

Cheese cloth or mesh colander

Very cold water

Fine sea salt

Put cream into mixing bowl or food processor and start on med/high.  Cream will start to thicken and will resemble whipped cream in about 4 minutes.  Continue mixing.

The cream will “break” and the butter will start to separate from the buttermilk at about 6 minutes.  The butter will look dry and grainy.  The buttermilk will slosh out at this point so, use the splash guard attachment on your mixer if you have one.

*Note:  The “ghosty” look of the pictures is just the paddle spinning.  Don’t turn your mixer off during the churning process, even for pictures.  =)

Drain the buttermilk out of the bowl (you can reserve it to use in another recipe).  Press the butter up against the side of the bowl with a rubber spatula, squeezing excess buttermilk out.  Drain off buttermilk again.

Scrape butter into bottom of bowl and add about ½ cup of the cold water.  Turn mixer on low for about 10 seconds.  Press butter against the bowl again and drain water.  Do this 2 or 3 times.

As a last step, to make sure all the buttermilk and water is out, put the butter into a mesh strainer and press with rubber spatula over the sink or a bowl.  Turn butter and press several times.  It may be useful to pat lightly with a paper towel to get all the moisture off the surface of the butter.

*If you don’t have a mesh strainer, you can do what Deborah does and wrap the butter in a cheesecloth and press excess moisture out.

At this point you have delicious homemade butter!  Aren’t you proud of yourself?  It was easier than you thought huh?  I don’t make this every time I want butter because it is a little more spendy than buying it already made, but for some recipes (like homemade bread), no other will do than freshly made butter!  Your friends and family will be completely impressed and will think you were hunkered over the churn all day!!

If you want your butter salted, use a fine grain sea salt and stir it into the butter.  a little goes a long way so start with a very small amount (a pinch) and add to taste.

Enjoy!!

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Update:  1/15/13

Here’s a couple snapshots.  Top: Janna’s butter next to a store-bought stick of butter.  Bottom:  Joanie’s first attempt at butter.  Turned out lighter in color, but still delicious!

JannasButterJoaniesButter

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