Saturday, February 2, 2008

"Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library: Soups; Chicken; Potatoes" - Potato Leek Soup, Rosemary Chicken with Potatoes and Cheese Potato Gratin

Date I made these recipes: January 30, 2008

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Soups by Chuck Williams (General Editor) and Norman Kolpas (Recipes)
Published by: Time Life Books
ISBN: 0-7835-0250-8
Recipe: Leek and Potato Soup – p. 54

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Chicken by Chuck Williams (General Editor) and Emalee Chapman (Recipes)
Published by: Time Life Books
ISBN: 0-7835-0225-7
Recipe: Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes – p. 77

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Potatoes by Chuck Williams (General Editor) and Diane Rossen Worthington (Recipes)
Published by: Time Life Books
ISBN: 0-7835-0275-3
Recipe: Cheese Potato Gratin – p. 59

Okay, before I get to the recipes, let me rant just a little bit about the weather (Yes, again!). How is it people, that we started the week on Monday at 45 degrees (that’s above zero), and by Wednesday, the day I made these recipes, we were at -14 below? I mean…how is that possible???

So I guess timing was everything when I decided to use up some potatoes we had on hand to make soup, potato gratin and roast chicken—all perfect cold weather foods.

I’ve had these three Williams-Sonoma books for years and as I leafed through them, I was pretty sure I made recipes from all three before, but since I didn’t make them for purposes of writing for my blog, I decided to start over.

The only disappointment (to me, not my husband) was the leek and potato soup. It was just missing something, some ingredient that I couldn’t put my finger (or spoon) on. Maybe it was missing an herb, maybe I should have added cream but I didn’t have an “Oh Wow!” moment when I tasted it.

On the other hand, I had to stop myself from eating the entire dish of potato gratin before my husband got home, it was just that good! (You know how that starts—it’s out of the oven and you decide that you have to just “sample” a potato slice, a small one, of course…and then have another and so on and so forth until you have almost snarfed the entire thing) We are blue cheese freaks in this house so we had no trouble whatsoever adding gorgonzola to add some zing to what otherwise would have been an average potato gratin.

The chicken recipe was no slouch, either, as the lemon rub made the chicken very moist and flavorful.

On Saturday, the day I am writing this, the weather is now a sane 28 degrees above zero. The potato gratin is gone, baby, gone to my husband’s great disappointment. We have some shreds of chicken left (not much) and still some soup to go through. And life is good.

Leek and Potato Soup – Serves 8-10
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 lb leeks, white portions only, trimmed, carefully washed and thinly sliced
6 cups chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
2 lb baking potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
Salt and white pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives (for garnish)

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the leeks and sauté just until they begin to soften, 3-5 minutes. Add the stock and potatoes, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Laddle into warmed bowls and garnish with chives.

If you wish, puree the soup then stir in about 1 cup cream and gently rewarm. You might also consider topping the hot soup with shredded Swiss or Cheddar cheese.

Rosemary Chicken with Potatoes – Serves 4
1 chicken, about 3 ½ pounds
1 lemon, cut in half
6 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ cup chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat your oven to 350. Trim any excess fat from the chicken. Rub inside and out with a lemon half. Place 2 rosemary sprigs in the cavity and tuck 1 rosemary sprig under each wing. Place the chicken on its side in a roasting pan and surround with the potatoes. Melt the butter in a small pan and stir in the oil. Brush the butter mixture evenly over the chicken and potatoes and then sprinkle with the dried rosemary and thyme.

Place chicken in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Turn the chicken so its rests on the opposite side. Add the stock to the pan and baste the chicken with the pan juices. Roast for another 30 minutes. Turn the chicken breast-side up, baste with the pan juices and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast until the chicken is tender, another 20-30 minutes.

Transfer the chicken to a warmed platter and surround with the potatoes. Garnish with the 2 remaining rosemary sprigs. Serve the pan juices in a bowl on the side. Carve the chicken at the table.

Cheese Potato Gratin – Serves 6-8
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola
3 pounds white, red, yellow-fleshed or baking potatoes, peeled and cut into slices ¼ inch thick
1 ½ cups half-and-half (Note: I already had cream in my refigerator so I made my own half-and-half; just add milk in equal parts to your cream and there it is).
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat an oven to 375. Brush a 10-inch baking dish with 2-inch sides with melted butter.

In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, basil, thyme, salt, white pepper and Gorgonzola.

Layer one-third of the potatoes in the bottom of the prepared dish. Sprinkle one-third of the herb-cheese mixture over the top. Repeat the layers once and then top with the remaining potatoes. Pour the half-and-half evenly over the potatoes and sprinkle the remaining herb-cheese mixture evenly over the top. Dot with the butter pieces. Butter a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the dish and place it, buttered side down, on the dish.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the top is brown and crusty and the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, 30-40 minutes longer. During the last 30-40 minutes of baking, baste occasionally with the liquid that forms in the dish from the half-and-half and cheese. (Doing this will make the potatoes softer). Sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately.

1 comment:

Kimberly Ann said...

I'll be trying the potatoes. I adore potato leek soup; too bad this one wasn't number one but if you find one you like better, please post it.