Column by Ali Carter, WPGA Auxiliary Member
For months, I have been looking forward to giving a cooking demonstration at the Wisconsin Ag Women’s Summit.
By the time you read this, the day will have come and gone, but as I write this column, I find the event just days away.
I am SUPER excited, a-n-d, perhaps just a teeny bit nervous. Despite the nervousness, I jumped at this chance to talk about cooking, meal preparation and potatoes (some of my favorite things!) This was an opportunity that I simply could not turn down and I am grateful for it.
Today, to prepare for the demo, I decided to run through both recipes and figure out the logistics of prepping and assembling food in front of a live audience without the benefit of my normal kitchen appliances. In the process, we took some photos so that I can share with you one of the recipes I will be demonstrating.
This Lightened-Up Loaded Baked Potato Soup recipe is from the WPVGA website, www.EatWisconsinPotatoes.com.
I encourage you to check out the site often. It has an abundance of great recipes from which to choose.
The soup is delicious and for the most part healthy. Paired with a salad, it makes a fast and nutritious meal to serve your family.
My biggest tip for easy assembly of any dish that requires bacon is to keep cooked and crumbled bacon available in your fridge or freezer to pull out and use when needed in recipes such as this one.
My mother-in-law, Kathy Carter, does this by baking the bacon in the oven. Place strips of bacon on a baking sheet or roasting pan and put the pan into a cold oven. Set to 375-degrees and cook the bacon for about 20 minutes.
Kathy often keeps the extra bacon in a baggy in the freezer and simply pops it in the microwave for a few seconds when a recipe calls for bacon. Thanks to Kathy, I recently began using this trick myself at home.
Storing pre-cleaned and pre-chopped veggies available in the fridge is also a major time saver. Having the broccoli ready to roast quickly and bacon that only needs re-warming, brought my prep time down to about 20 minutes from start to table.
Three of our children are next to me in the kitchen as I write this, all intently focused on finishing off the last of the soup. The meal has received approval from all three. To me this is a definite sign of a successful recipe and I very much look forward to sharing it with the ladies at the Summit!
6 medium white potatoes, diced
8-ounces (or 2-½ cups) frozen cauliflower
1 head broccoli, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 leek, washed and chopped thinly
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic, divided
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (I chose to use chicken broth)
2 cups – 2% milk
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
5-ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese*, for topping
5-slices center-cut bacon, microwaved and crumbled for topping
Chives, chopped for topping (I used green onion today)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Fill large pot with potatoes and salted water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 minutes. When potatoes have finished cooking, drain water and set potatoes aside in bowl or colander.
While potatoes are cooking, line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. To prepare broccoli, remove bottom part of stem and slice into bite-sized florets leaving an inch of the stem intact. Place broccoli on prepared baking sheet, lightly drizzle with 1-teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with pinch of salt and ½-teaspoon garlic. Roast in oven for 20 minutes until crispy.
Heat 1-teaspoon olive oil over medium heat. Sauté leeks, crushed red pepper and garlic until leeks soften, about 1-2 minutes. Add cauliflower and vegetable stock, increase heat to medium-high and cook until cauliflower is soft. Remove pot from heat, and add potatoes, milk and ½-teaspoon salt.
Using an immersion blender, (or transfer soup to regular blender), puree soup until smooth and creamy.
To serve, ladle one cup of soup into a bowl and top with cheese, bacon, chives and roasted broccoli. Enjoy! Makes 10 servings.
Note: Boil or microwave broccoli for the topping if you do not want to fire up your oven for roasted broccoli.