RECIPE: Very Easy Leek and Potato Soup

2018-08-07_11-55-31
Leek and potato soup

A very long time between posts and plenty of new content planned but I thought I’d start with something quick and easy. Both to cook and for me to write up while I get my blogging mojo back into gear.

Here in Adelaide we’re in the depths of winter. After a couple of deceptively sunny days, Mother Nature has spent this week throwing everything at us. Not only has it been cold but it’s been wet too. Great for the garden, not quite enough rain for those involved in agricultural pursuits …

My go-to winter food is soup. I love it. Unfortunately, Andy isn’t such a fan so we don’t eat quite as much of it as I’d like … but fortunately the need to very quickly dream up a meal meant that leek and potato soup, topped with tons of bacon and chives was on the menu. It’s also fortuitous that I’ve just completed a bread making course, thanks to Le Cordon Bleu (details on that to follow) so we had some potato and rosemary sourdough bread ready to go – the perfect accompaniment!

I’ve written about soups before – and this is in the same vein. It’s hardly a recipe – it’s more about the flavour combinations. If you like your soup thicker, use more potato and less water/stock. If you like it thinner … use more water/stock. I think that a good rule of thumb is to cook the soup with the water just covering the ingredients and then let it down if you want to, after you’ve blitzed.

Serve with fresh bread, or toasted bread, thickly spread with butter!

RECIPE: Very Easy Leek and Potato Soup

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • ½ brown onion, chopped
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and chopped finely
  • chicken or vegetable stock
  • bacon
  • chives

Instructions

  1. Warm the olive oil in a big pan and add the chopped onion and leek. Sweat them down until they're relatively soft, but avoid the temptation to crank up the heat, as you don't want them to pick up too much colour.
  2. Add the chopped potato and the stock so that the vegetables are just covered and boil (covered, otherwise you'll evaporate off the liquid!) until the potatoes are cooked. The smaller you cut the potatoes, the less time this will take. Keep an eye on it as it cooks, as even with the lid on you may need to add a bit more liquid.
  3. As the soup is cooking, cut the bacon up into small pieces (lardons, if you like) and fry them off in a separate pan. We like them nice and crispy.
  4. Once the potatoes are soft, turn off the heat and blitz the soup until it's nice and smooth. At this point, add more stock or water if it's looking too thick for your taste. Adjust the seasoning too.
  5. When you're ready to serve, ensure everything is hot, then ladle the soup into bowls, topping with bacon and chopped chives.
https://eatingadelaide.com/very-easy-leek-and-potato-soup/

Cheese and Chive Damper

Cheese & Chive Damper
Cheese & Chive Damper

The cooking (and subsequent recipe-blogging) hiatus induced by the kitchen reno has taken a little while to sort itself out. No sooner was the kitchen vaguely finished than summer meant no one felt like eating, let alone cooking. All the while, recipes were piling up – stashed on the internet or literally, piling up as piles of paper on the new kitchen benches …

So it’s more than time to try, and write about, something new. This recipe was cut from a That’s Life and I’m guessing it was around Australia Day as it’s called ‘Chive and Cheese Aussie Damper’. I suspect that ‘Aussie Damper’ is something of an oxymoron, given that damper is uniquely Australian. For those playing along overseas, damper is basically a soda bread and/or like a gigantic savoury scone. Historically, it was made by swagmen in a campfire and these days it is made by intrepid campers in a camp oven.

Or you can just make it in an oven. Like making scones, the trick is to use a light hand and not over-mix or over-knead your dough. One problem I find with breads like this (and scones) is that raising agents (the most common being bicarb which you add to plain flour), can leave a slightly metallic after-taste. In this bread, that is reduced somewhat (but not entirely) by the addition of cheese and chives. I’ve just had a look at the SR flour I used and it has four different raising agents in it – I wonder if I would have been better off using a plain flour and adding baking powder to it …

The other thing with damper is that it really doesn’t keep that well. Think about how well scones keep – they don’t. Damper is similar – eat it straight from the oven with lashings of butter. Unlike leavened bread, it is quite dense but it’s not chewy.

We probably won’t make this again – as Andy said – there are nicer breads to be made! However, if you want a quick bread to knock up and serve to a hungry group you could do far worse. Obviously, if you’re camping it’s definitely worth giving this a go!

(Oh, and if you’re wondering, the silicone mat I use is a silpain – I love it!).

Cheese and Chive Damper

Ingredients

  • 230g self-raising flour
  • 25g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 50g grated cheese (I used a standard tasty/cheddar)
  • chopped fresh chives - at least 2tbsp but to taste really
  • 3/4 cup milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 160C fan. I used a silpain mat but if you don't have one, line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl, add the butter and, using your fingers, rub the butter in until the mixture is like very fine breadcrumbs. No big lumps of butter!
  3. Add the cheese and chives and lightly mix through with your fingers. You want it well combined but you don't want to compact the cheese!
  4. Season - I added pepper but didn't worry about salt as you can sort that out with the butter later!
  5. Make a well in the centre of the mix and add the milk. Using a knife, mix to a soft dough and then tip out on to a lightly floured bench for a quick knead. Shape into a round and transfer to tray.
  6. Using a serrated knife, divide the damper into 6 portions (cut 1cm or so deep).
  7. Brush with milk and bake for 35 minutes or until tapping the base sounds hollow. I checked after 30 minutes and returned to the oven for another 5.
  8. Serve warm with lots of butter!
https://eatingadelaide.com/cheese-chive-damper/

Patty Mac’s at Adelaide Casino

clean plate
Clean plates says it all …

disclaimer: I was invited to a media dinner at Patty Mac’s.
date of visit: Tuesday 6 February 2018

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve been in, as in actually inside, Adelaide Casino. When I was at uni, my friends and I used to go there quite a bit. Firstly, there was the excitement of actually being allowed in (I was the liability who was ALWAYS asked for ID, so I usually had to go in last …) and secondly, at some point, a mate and I figured out that the cheapest, and best, wedges with sour cream and sweet chilli sauce were to be found there. More recently … Sean’s Kitchen and Madame Hanoi – absolutely I’ve been there – but actually inside the Casino … nope, not for ages.

Apple Slaw
Apple Slaw – $7

So, on a hot Tuesday night, venturing into the Casino to check out the new restaurant, Patty Mac’s, was a whole new adventure in itself. I entered off North Terrace and Patty Mac’s is easy to find – straight up the stairs (OK, past a few glittering poker machines with their distinctive plink-plonk noise). The restaurant is housed in what used to be the station’s conductors’ office. It’s now a bright, light space (and very well airconditioned!). While the interior is by Studio Gram, it’s a lot more toned down (perhaps by that I mean ‘less distinctively Studio Gram’!) than many of their other Adelaide venues. It’s 1950s American diner chic: clean lines, chequerboard floor, and diner quotes adorn the walls.

Cobb Salad
Cobb Salad – $12

The menu follows suit – it’s short and sweet but laden with quick, comfort-style dishes, with burgers and hot dogs taking pride of place. We were treated to a selection of sides and quick specials and then our choice of burger. Anyone with space could also sample a milkshake and we wrapped up with the chocolate cherry pie.

Mac & Cheese Balls
Balls of Fire (mac and cheese) – $7

The restaurant’s strapline is ‘there’s always room for pie’ … this may not be entirely true.

Buffalo Wings
Buffalo Wings – $10.50

Our shared starters were the ‘Balls of Fire’ (mac and cheese balls, with a really tasty Sriracha-ranch dressing – these just edged the wings as my pick), the buffalo wings (maintaining their crispiness despite the clever sweet-sour-spicy marinade and sauce), the Cobb salad and the apple slaw. Both of the salads were great – despite the Cobb being loaded with things like blue cheese and avocado, it still felt really light, with soft juicy chicken rounding it out, and the slaw was very fresh and crisp and not bogged down by a ton of dressing. I’m pretty picky about salad – too often venues drown salads in dressing, so Patty Mac’s gets a big tick from me on this one. If you were hungry, the Cobb salad would work a treat as a light lunch.

Southern Fried Chicken Burger
Southern Fried Chicken Burger – $14

Burger-wise, I chose the Southern Fried Chicken burger – topped with fried chicken, lettuce, tomato and a really tart and crisp red onion pickle. Obviously, chips are on the side. I was particularly pleased that the burger bun was neither falling apart nor soggy – top marks there.

Chocolate Cherry Pie
Chocolate Cherry Pie – one slice is $6

We finished with the chocolate cherry pie. The kitchen brought out the whole pies to the table – they are normally served in wedges with whipped cream. I was pretty full by this point so requested I knife so I could have a slightly smaller portion. After that … I was fully full! The chocolate and cherry pie was delicious – but really ever so rich. Perhaps go easy on the savoury dishes (or duck in for a coffee and pie mid-afternoon …).

Peanut Butter & Salted Caramel Freakshake
Peanut Butter & Salted Caramel Freakshake – $15

So it goes without saying that I didn’t try a shake (sorry, but I took a picture of one). I can imagine children would go MAD for the shakes so, from that point of view, it’s a real shame that the restaurant is inside the Casino and off-limits for anyone under 18.

John, the Casino’s sous chef, stepped out of the kitchen to give us a few insights into the menu and the day-to-day functioning of the Casino. The aim at Patty Mac’s is to produce food that can come to the table quickly. With one eye on the football season (and I guess the Festival and Fringe will have given them a good trial run) the idea is to feed the hungry quickly. Even though the brigade is small the menu has been planned around this. He wasn’t giving away any recipe secrets (unsurprisingly) – so you will just have to go and check the food out for yourself. However, for a fun fact, he did say that the Casino turns out over 700 (SEVEN HUNDRED) covers a day on internal meals alone.

Double Patty Mac's Burger
Double Patty Mac’s Burger – the one that elicits the oohs and aahs – $17.50

Since dining at Patty Mac’s I’ve shown a few friends pictures of the burgers and they always get the same response (ooohs, aaahs). If you love a burger, Patty Mac’s is one place you should definitely check out.

Patty Mac’s
Level 1, SKYCITY Adelaide Casino
North Terrace
Adelaide SA 5000
phone: 08 8212 2811