I always look forward to our weekly cooking ritual together, but I especially love a rainy weekend because it gives us extra reason to stay in and fill our house with the fragrances of home cooked food. On Sunday, there was a mélange of deliciousness filling the air: cookies in the oven, leeks cooking in butter, sweet potatoes, and frying bacon.
Our latest cooking adventure began with a classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, then later in the day, with Caleb and Sadie running (and crawling) around the house, I made a batch of sweet potato bisque with bacon crumbles – this is a show-stopper of a recipe I nicked from a class at the California Culinary Academy years ago.
When Caleb and I were pulling together the ingredients for the chocolate chip cookies, he asked “Momma…if you eat raw eggs, will you die?” I smiled and told him that there’s a chance he might get a belly ache, but likely he wouldn’t die. He proceeded to lick the whisk. Still alive! We beat the wet ingredients for about 10 minutes until they were fluffy and the sugar was well incorporated. After adding the remaining ingredients and the chocolate chips, we scooped out our batter; put the cookies onto the baking pan, then into the oven. I tend to under bake my cookies slightly. I want them to be golden, but soft to the bite. The house smelled so good while they were baking and the cookies came out of the oven golden brown and just the right consistency. I asked Caleb what he thought of our cookies as he was quietly eating his (with a glass of cold milk at his side) and he simply responded, “yum-yum.”
Sunday was also a soup kind of day and with a pound or so of extra sweet potatoes in the cooler, I was inspired to tap my memory for that amazing sweet potato / bacon bisque recipe. I hadn’t made the soup since taking that class, didn’t come home with a recipe written down, but managed to recreate it today by recalling all of the amazing flavors of sweet potatoes, beef broth, thyme, leeks, and bacon fat that married so well together. Top it off with bacon crumbles and you get that eyes-rolling-in the-back-of- the-head- transcendent-floating-on-a-cloud feeling. Just keep a handy defibrillator close by!
It was a pretty perfect weekend. Despite the dreary weather, we had a great time cooking at home, among other fun, rainy day activities.
The cookie recipe we used came right off the bag of chocolate chips that I purchased at Trader Joe’s. No need to reprint. As for the soup, here is the recipe I put together from memory:
Sweet Potato Bisque with Bacon Crumbles
None of these ingredients are exact. You’re going for a medium-thick, creamy soup that has a balance of flavors.
2 lbs of baked (roast in oven on cookie sheet for about 1 hr), skinned sweet potatoes – cut into 1 inch cubes (feel free to add or substitute yams)
2 leeks (discard green part) wash and dice white part
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
8 cups beef stock
1-2 cups of milk (makes soup lighter than with cream)
2 bay leaves (remove before blending)
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
6-8 slices of bacon (save bacon fat)
Salt and white pepper to taste
Melt butter in large stock pot and add diced leeks and cook until almost translucent. Add chunks of sweet potato and stir. Cover with stock, add bay leaves and thyme then bring to a boil – simmer for 30-40 minutes. Turn off heat and add milk. In a frying pan, cook bacon until crispy and then transfer bacon onto a plate w/ paper towel. Add bacon fat to soup (to taste). Add salt and pepper to taste. Use hand blender (or do small batches in blender) until creamy. For extra fancy bisque, strain soup through sieve. Feel free to add more liquid (stock or milk) to thin out, if needed. Crumble the bacon into small pieces, put in ramekin, and add to soup at the table.
(Click on image for a video of Sadie’s performance)