Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Okie Peasant Potato Soup #BloggerCLUE

This creamy thick potato soup, seasoned with shallot, garlic and bacon, is sure to warm body and soul on a cold winter’s day. 

One of my favorite days of the month is here – it’s Blogger C.L.U.E. Society reveal day when I get to tell you the clue we were assigned this month – soups and stews - and which blog I’ve been poking around in – the wonderful Eliot’s Eats! I’ve been getting Debra’s recipe posts in my inbox for a very long time, although I am terrible about commenting, so she may not even know that. I just checked the “read” emails in my inbox and this is the weirdest thing but the very first one was from the day I signed up - a message to confirm my subscription – on February 10, 2013! Isn’t that a wild coincidence! It’s our anniversary! Three years of delicious recipes from Eliot's Eats in my inbox!

Proof! Not that you didn't believe me but only because I hardly believe it myself! February 10th! 

I have to tell you that I didn’t even get around to a search for stews because I was bookmarking so many soups to make that I knew the choice was going to be hard enough. Check out the Cheesy Chicken Tortilla Soup that may have won Debra’s husband’s heart or this spicy Furious Five-Spice Noodle Soup with an Asian flair.  I was also loving the way Debra has turned favorite non-soup dishes into soup like these pizza and enchiladas ones. I mean, sometimes you want pizza or enchiladas but sometimes a body just needs soup.  Can I get an amen?

Those of you in the cold areas of the world right now are going to laugh in my face when I tell you that Dubai is cold when we are only talking the late 40s°F (<10°C) at night but remember that we have no heating whatsoever. These tile floors, thick walls and reflective windows are designed to keep us cool during the extraordinary heat of summer but they make it really chilly indoors during the wintertime. Plus I don't seem to own the right clothes. What I needed was a thick, comforting soup so I finally settled on Debra’s mom’s Okie Peasant Potato Soup because it starts with bacon and ends with cheese, and what could be more perfect than that?

Ingredients - Makes about 6 servings.
6 slices bacon
1 1/2 lbs or 680g red potatoes
1 large carrot
1 small shallot (Debra used dried shallots but I don't have any of those.)
3 cups or 710ml chicken broth
3 tablespoons bacon fat
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups or 710ml low fat (but not skim) milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Grated cheddar to serve

Cook your bacon until crispy and drain on some paper towels. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the bacon fat. Chop the bacon with a sharp knife and set aside. I also set aside just a little for use as garnish when serving. I left it pretty chunky.

Cube your potatoes, leaving the peels on. Peel and dice your carrot.

Peel and mince your shallot and garlic clove.

Put one tablespoon of bacon fat in a large pot with the minced shallot and sauté until translucent. Add in the potatoes, carrots and chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Cook until carrots and potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes.

In another saucepan, heat the rest of the bacon fat and lightly sauté your garlic. You don’t want it to brown and turn bitter, but just to soften. Add the flour and whisk until mixture bubbles to cook the flour.

Carefully whisk in milk to make a sauce.

Cook for a few more minutes until the white sauce thickens a little and then remove from the heat.

Use a firm whisk to add the sauce into the potato pot.  Some of the potatoes should break up a bit, thickening the soup even more but make sure to leave some chunks too.

Add in the crispy bacon bits. Cook for a few more minutes and then taste your soup. Add salt if it needs any and few generous grinds of fresh black pepper.

Ladle into warm bowls. Sprinkle on some cheddar cheese (and bacon if you saved some) to serve. And, yes, that's just a little more black pepper. I love that stuff.


The Blogger C.L.U.E. Society - February 2016 participants

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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Spicy Loli - Breakfast Flatbread #BreadBakers

Spicy and savory, flakey and rich, loli is a traditional breakfast in the Sindh province of Pakistan. It's tasty, quick to make and goes perfectly with a cup of hot sweet tea.

More akin to shortcrust than more traditional roti where gluten is developed by kneading, loli dough is made quickly, adding fat to the well-spiced flour, then just enough hot water to make it come together.

Our host for Bread Bakers, Anshie from SpiceRoots challenged us this month to share griddle breads and just with that one word, griddle, my head began to spin. A few years ago, I was reading a great book on bread, Going with the Grain - A Wandering Bread Lover Takes a Bite Out of Life by Susan Seligson, (<Amazon affiliate link) and I could only nod in agreement as the author discussed all the ancient ways that bread making sustains civilizations, whether cooked over hot coals in the desert or the communal brick ovens of northern Africa and Europe, both centuries ago and now. Every indigenous community seems to have its own flat or griddle bread, some more than one. If you are a fan of food memoirs and bread, I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

A quick Google search revealed that Ms. Seligson is indeed correct about the myriad breads, especially griddle and flatbreads since they are the easiest to make at home or in rudimentary kitchens without proper ovens, even outdoors. I was intrigued by loli, sometimes called koki, because it is savory and considered a breakfast bread in its native Sindh. I’m all about a savory breakfast. Another quick search brought me to this recipe on The Odd Pantry, which I’ve adapted to share here.

Thanks to our host, Anshie, for this excellent challenge and also for her advice on loli, specifically 1. make sure the chapatti atta says 100 percent on it and 2. do use ghee; it’s not the same with just oil.

This recipe is quick, easy and makes only two side plate sized flatbreads, perfect for your breakfast any day.

1/2 small purple onion
1 spicy red chili pepper
Good handful cilantro leaves
3/4 cup or 90g chapatti atta (100%) or whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter, plus extra for spreading on the loli while cooking
2-3 tablespoons hot water

Finely chop your onion and mince your chili pepper. Chop the cilantro.

Add the seasonings to the flour in a large mixing bowl, along with the salt.

Mix well making sure to separate the bits of onion and pepper, coating them with flour. Add in the two tablespoons of ghee.

Use a fork or your fingers to mix it into the flour, rather like you are making piecrust, until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.

Add in two tablespoons of hot water and mix again till it just starts hanging together. Add a little more hot water, if necessary, if it’s still too dry to form a ball.

Form the dough – no kneading, remember – into two balls.

Roll or press them out with your hands, one at a time, into rough circles. I found that mine stayed together better on the griddle if I pushed in on the sides after pressing the dough out, to sort of even out the edges. Tiny bits tried to fall off the first one as I turned, but the second loli was perfect.

Very lightly score the dough circles with a sharp knife.

Transfer the first dough circle onto your hot griddle and cook it for one minute. I put it scored side down on the griddle, to help it cook through.

Carefully turn it over with a big spatula and spread the top with some ghee. Cook for a minute on that side.

Turn it over once more and spread a little ghee on the other side. Cook for another 30 seconds to one minute or until it’s golden on both sides. You can turn it again, if you need to.

Repeat the same steps with the second dough ball. You now have two loli flatbreads to enjoy with a cup of hot sweet tea, which is their traditional accompaniment in a Sindhi breakfast.


Are you a fan of griddle breads? Check out all the other regional specialties the Bread Bakers have for you today!
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send me an email with your blog URL to

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Impossible (Coconut) Pie #FoodieExtravaganza

Plenty of eggs, milk and coconut, with just a little flour, this pie makes its own crust as it bakes. Impossible, you say? I don’t know how but it works!

Just about six years ago, I saved a recipe on the internet. By which I mean, I copied the text and the URL and put them both in a Word doc and filed it under Recipes/Sweet in my computer. I have no idea what original search brought me to The Impossible Pie, but the title intrigued me. The original recipe was on a .au registered website written by a man named Gourmet Jack, which no longer seems to be in operation, more’s the pity. He had a sense of humor and some great recipes there, as I recall.

As you all know, baking more pies has been one of my recent personal resolutions for the last few months, starting with joining FridayPieDay back in May last year. Well, things are about to get serious this month! I am starting out today with The Impossible Pie for Foodie Extravaganza and I’ll have at least two more pies for you in February, once again for Friday Pie Day and then on the last Sunday of the month, Sunday Supper is celebrating pies, both sweet and savory. And who knows what else in between once the momentum gets going. I can hardly wait!

But first, to the pie at hand. This guy is rather like coconut custard, but it's got the soft texture of a cheesecake, without the cheese, of course. Parts of it are almost flan-like. The side crust and top are golden and buttery, perfectly complementing the tender interior. Hats off to Gourmet Jack, wherever he is! I’ve made a few adaptations, like adding a little baking powder and doubling the coconut, but this one is still unmistakably his.

4 large eggs
2 cups or 475ml cold milk
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1/2 cup or 65g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup or 60g butter, plus extra for buttering the pie plate.
1/2 teapoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups or 230g sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat your the oven to 350ºF or 180°C and prepare your 9.5in or 24cm deep dish pie plate by greasing it liberally with butter. The deep dish is essential. If all you have are shallow pie pans, use this recipe to make two thinner pies.

Put all the ingredients in blender, except the coconut. I suggest putting the eggs in first and the flour in last so you don't end up with a clump of flour stuck to the bottom below the blades of your blender.

Blend at high speed until thoroughly mixed. Gourmet Jack says to count to 10 and it's done.

Add in the coconut and blend again for a few seconds.

Pour the mixture into your buttered deep dish pie plate.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until edges and top are golden brown. The very middle will still be a little bit jiggly when you take it out of the oven, just like a cheesecake, if you’ve ever baked one of those. It's really puffy when it first comes out.

Cool completely on wire rack before attempting to slice and lift out of the pie plate.

The pie firms up nicely as it cools. The top also sinks down, but don't let that bother you.

It occurs to me that it's been a very long time since I've shown you a photo of my furry helper. Both in the kitchen and for every photo shoot, he's always supervising. And looking out for fallen food so he can help clean up. He's a very tidy Boxer.


Many thanks to our Foodie Extravaganza host today, Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm. Without her pie promptings, this Impossible Pie would still be languishing in the archives of my computer recipe files, saved for nothing two computers and three countries ago. And what a shame that would be!

Check out all the other lovely pies we have for you today, both savory and sweet!

Foodie Extravaganza celebrates obscure food holidays or shares recipes with the same ingredient or theme every month.

Posting day is always the first Wednesday of each month. If you are a blogger and would like to join our group and blog along with us, come join our Facebook group Foodie Extravaganza. We would love to have you!

If you're a reader looking for delicious recipes, check out our Foodie Extravaganza Pinterest Board! Looking for our previous parties? Check them out here.


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