Monday, May 2, 2011

New Friends and New Flavors - Cooking with Green Garlic: Roasted Poblano and Green Garlic Soup

I’ve decided that I don’t get out enough. All too often I just settle into my day to day rut of housework, cooking (lots and lots of cooking) and blogging. Don’t get me wrong, being a stay-at-home wife and mother is the best job I’ve ever had and blogging helps me get up in the morning, but I’ve started to get a little stale.

For this very reason, when I was invited to join a bloggers’ meet up group a few months ago I was so glad to know that there was a whole group of people in my area that I could commune with. Although we all host food and/or recipe blogs, our interests and angles vary greatly. Most of us host general recipe blogs, but there are also some more specialized sites like dessert blogs, sauce blogs and restaurant review blogs just to name a few. We share some really great food, technical knowledge, maybe just a tiny bit of gossip and most importantly, friendship.

Last week I was invited to meet two of my new friends in beautiful Boulder for lunch. After much discussion, we decided on the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. I don’t want to bore you with too much information here but this little restaurant is breathtakingly beautiful to say the least. The structure itself was a gift to the people of Boulder from their sister city in Dushanbe, Tajikistan and was shipped from there in crates to be reconstructed here. The intricate colors and carvings have to be seen in person to be fully appreciated.

In addition to the lovely atmosphere, the company of Kirsten of My Kitchen in the Rockies and Toni of Boulder Locavore made for a wonderful time which was enhanced by the good food and the luxury of lingering over a hot cup of tea.

Fresh Green Garlic

Before departing Boulder and heading home to the messy wreck that was my home that day, Toni gave us both a couple of bunches of green garlic that she had acquired from one of her favorite farms in Boulder County, Jay Hill Farm. Green garlic or spring garlic as it is also known is immature garlic that is picked before the bulbs form. It looks very much like green onions but with a subtle and pleasant garlic scent and flavor.

Kirsten got right to work with hers and made a beautiful Spring Garlic Risotto (visit her recipe by clicking here). Since we are just coming out of winter here in Colorado and the farmers’ markets in our area have begun to resemble something more like craft shows than fresh produce markets, I didn’t want to waste not one bite of this farm fresh goodness so I took my time deciding what I would cook.

As it worked out, I had so much that I cooked with it all weekend enhancing a couple of old favorites, a blue cheese spread and a red pepper hummus, that we enjoyed on our patio with a couple of tall drinks, and my husband’s new favorite, Roasted Poblano and Green Garlic Soup. Needless to say, with all that garlic we won’t have to worry about colds or vampires for some time to come. Thanks Toni and Kirsten for helping me get out of my rut!

Party on the patio with heavenly Blue Cheese and Green Garlic Spread, Red Pepper and Green Garlic Hummus and homemade Garlic Butter and Parmesan Pita Chips

Bleu Cheese and Green Garlic Spread

3 ounces (84g) blue cheese or Stilton, crumbled
3 tablespoons (45g) butter, softened to room temperature
3 ounces (84g) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 pinch cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly milled black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons green garlic or fresh chives, chopped

Place the blue cheese or Stilton, butter, cream cheese, cayenne, black pepper, thyme and garlic powder in a medium size bowl. Blend with a fork until mixture is light, creamy and thoroughly combined. Gently fold in the parsley and fresh chives. Press into a small bowl that has been lined with plastic wrap film or a decorative serving bowl with the back of a spoon. Cover and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour.

After chilling time, remove from the refrigerator. Serve in the bowl or mound on a serving plate. Serve with crackers, grapes, apple slices or crudites. This recipe is easily doubled or tripled for a larger party.

Red Pepper and Green Garlic Hummus

1/2 medium size bell pepper, roasted with skin, stem and seeds removed, chopped
1/4 cup chopped green garlic or 1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 - 15.5 ounce (439g) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons tahini
Fresh lemon juice to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all of the ingredients in a blender or mini food processor. Process or blend until smooth. Chill before serving.

Garlic Butter and Parmesan Pita Chips

Slice desired amount of fresh pita bread in half then each half sliced into three equal pieces. Separate the front from the back and toss with melted garlic butter, salt and grated Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Lay flat on a baking sheet and bake in a 325 degree preheated oven until the bread is dry, crispy and light brown. Turn heat off and leave in the oven to cool. Serve with hummus.

Roasted Poblano and Green Garlic Soup

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a friend furnish you with green garlic, chop a small bunch of green onions (white and light green parts) and 2 cloves of garlic as a substitute. If your peppers are very mild like mine and you like a little extra spice, roast a jalapeno or two, chop them and add them to the soup with the Poblano peppers.

3 medium to large size Poblano peppers
2 ears sweet corn
2 medium to large size potatoes (approximately 1 pound, 500g)
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch green garlic, white and light green parts chopped, chopping and reserving some of the green tops for garnish
6 cups water
2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable bouillon
1 large bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 small bunch fresh cilantro stems removed and coarsely chopped and divided
2/3 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste
4 corn tortillas
Vegetable oil spray

Place peppers over an open gas flame or under the broiler and cook until skin is dark and blistered on all sides. Remove from the flame and place in a large bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap; set aside for 5 minutes or so. Remove from the container and scrape with a knife to remove all of the charred skin. Remove stems and seeds and finely chop; set aside until ready to use. Place one ear of the corn over the same flame and, watching closely grill the corn until it has dark brown spots on all sides. Cut the corn from the cob and set aside until ready to use.

Roasted Poblano Peppers

Peel and chop potatoes and place in a large stock pot. Add the chopped Poblano (reserving 1/4 of one of the peppers for garnish) onion, celery, green garlic, water, bouillon, bay leaf, cumin and fresh cilantro (reserving a couple of tablespoons for garnish). Place over medium high heat and bring to a boil before reducing the heat to low and covering.

Remove the corn kernels from the uncooked ear of corn and add to the simmering soup with the corn cob itself. Replace the cover and simmer until vegetables are very soft. Remove the soup from the heat. Remove and discard the corn cob and bay leaf before pureeing with a hand blender or, cool to warm before placing the mixture in a blender and pureeing, working in batches if necessary. Add the cream, stir well, reduce heat to low, cover and keep warm.

While the soup is cooking, spray the tortillas with vegetable oil spray. On a flat surface, cut the tortillas in half then in strips in the other direction. Place strips on a baking sheet and place into the preheated oven; cook strips until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove strips from the oven and cool on the baking sheet; set aside.

Ladle equal amounts of the soup into 4 serving bowls. Garnish with green garlic tops, tortilla strips, fresh cilantro, grilled corn and the reserved chopped peppers. Serve piping hot.

Makes 4 – 1 1/2 cup servings
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