Leek and Potato Soup with Homemade Roll

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I spent a wonderful afternoon with my friend D who I call the future mother-in-law for Pon Pon.  She has an adorable son born just two weeks after our daughter and we are hoping that they’ll get married when they grow up.  lol

On the way home, Pon Pon and I took a field trip to Whole Foods Market in Pasadena.  A trip to this giant farmer’s market for mommy is like a trip to Disneyland for kids — it’s an ultimate adventure.  I think she knew this because she slept in her stroller the entire two hours that we were there and gave me the freedom to roam through each aisle for unique finds (LOVE her).

This particular Whole Foods is pumped on steroid, a two-story affair packed with amazing things you never knew we needed but you suddenly can’t live without, like organic leeks.  I brought home two stalks of these green onion-looking vegetable (among few other items which cost me $100) and made leek and potato soup for dinner.

Leek and Potato Soup
(Serves 4)

Ingredients:

2 large leeks, chopped (Only use the white part.  Make sure to wash thoroughly.)
2 medium-size potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 garlic clove, chopped
4 cups water
1 cup milk (I used 2% fat)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper
3 teaspoons all-purpose flour (optional)
1 teaspoon green onion, chopped (for garnish)

Direction:

Saute the leeks and potatoes with olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until the leeks become translucent.

Add water and bring to boil. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low.

Using an immersion hand blender, puree the vegetables until completely smooth. If you don’t have a hand blender, you can use the regular kind. Be careful, as the liquid is piping hot.

Reduce the heat to low and add milk. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Optional: Since this recipe doesn’t use cream, the soup is a little on the smooth size … but you can use flour to thicken the soup, if you like. Simply temper the flour by adding a ladle-full of hot liquid to it and stir. Stir quickly and make sure to get rid of all lumps. Add the liquid back into the soup slowly while stirring. The soup should thicken up a bit after a few minutes.

Sprinkle chopped onion before serving.  Serve with crusty baguette or a roll (recipe follows).

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Homemade Dinner Rolls
From Esse, March 2008
(Makes 6 rolls)

Ingredients:

300 g bread flour
5 g dry yeast
100 g granulated sugar
5 g coarse salt
195 g water (at 35 degrees celcius)
10 g unsalted butter (at room temperature)

Direction:

Combine the sugar, salt and water in a bowl, and stir until everything is dissolved. Add the flour and dry yeast and mix with hands. When the mixture thickens a bit (and not too watery), pound it on the side of the bowl until you’re able to form a dough.

Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a floured kneading board for about 10 minutes.

Rub butter onto the dough. Fold the dough and slap it onto the kneading board. Repeat several times.

Put the dough in a greased bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. Let it rest, until the dough doubles in size, about an hour.

Insert a finger into the dough. If the hole closes up, you need to let it rest a little longer.  Release the gas by pushing down on the dough.

Divide the dough into six portions using a pastry cutter or a knife. Roll each dough into a ball and line them on a floured surface.  Cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for about 25 minutes. Insert a finger into the dough. If the hole closes up, you need to let it rest a little longer.

Roll each dough into a ball again and line them on a baking pan, an inch apart. Bake at 390 degree F for about 15 minutes until golden brown.

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Okay, I will admit – these finished rolls aren’t supposed to look like this.  They were supposed to have a lovely golden brown crust … but instead, I got these pale-looking things. I was so bummed when my rolls didn’t brown properly, and they became as hard as a hockey puck!  cry  I still haven’t figured out why that happened, but I’m going to try this recipe again to troubleshoot!

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Other than the outside, the rolls came out pretty good!  Once you slice into it, the crust was perfectly chewy and the inside pleasantly moist.

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