Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Kielbasa and Kale Soup

It looks like spring is finally edging it's way in for good - and what better way to celebrate than with a bowl full of vibrant colour and flavour! This Kielbasa and Kale Soup is packed with carrots, potatoes, and white beans in addition to its namesake ingredients, and packs a spicy, smoky punch too.

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You might be surprised to know that my family eats soup and stews year round. Lunchtime in the summer is often just as hectic (if not more so) than it is during the school year, since we either have the littles over all day, the garden needs constant attention, or mom is running off somewhere or other. Having filling, delicious meals on hand is something that never goes out of season! Given that the warmer months are here (hopefully to stay!) I wanted to bring the colours of the season into this bi-monthly batch with lots of kale, celery and carrots. These vegetables were accented with hearty sausage and potatoes, creamy white beans, a hefty pop of garlic and a richly flavoured homemade chicken broth.

The star of the show, for me at least, is the smoked paprika. I own three varieties of smoked paprika, which I love to use in the summer to amplify the flavour of meals either cooked on the grill or not. Selefina Spices' Spanish de la Vera Smoked Paprika is the perfect addition to burger mixes, mayo, ketchup, deviled eggs and pasta salad - and I'd wager it would make grilled corn butter pop too. Letting the soup simmer (and even sit overnight before reheating) allows the flavour of the paprika to infuse fully, making every bite memorable.

Some notes on variations and alternate ingredients:

  • You can use turkey or beef kielbasa in place of the traditional pork, or even cooked Polish sausage. I haven't tried vegan sausage in this but it should work as well, or leave it out completely.
  • If you don't have hot smoked paprika on hand, mix 1 1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika with 1/4 tsp of cayenne to make your own.
  • If you don't want the spice of the hot paprika, use sweet smoked paprika 1:1 for the hot paprika. 
  • Any waxy potato will work - I used Yukon Gold, but white or red potatoes would work too.
  • Vegetable broth can be used in place of chicken, if you don't use low sodium taste the soup and add salt to taste
  • Start with 9 cups of broth and add if you need the soup to loosen up.
  • Kidney beans, brown lentils, lima beans and navy beans will all work. You want about 5 cups of cooked beans if you're cooking from dry.
  • You can use any leafy greens instead of kale - Savoy cabbage or mature spinach are both good.
  • This soup freezes well - ladle cooled soup into freezer-safe containers and store up to 3 months.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Brigadeiro-Filled Chocolate Cake

A comparatively un-fancy yet apparently quite delicious "haha you're older" consolation prize for my sister this year. Complete with Brigadeiro (Brazilian fudge) filling trying to escape and questionable looking polka dots on the sides, it wouldn't be a birthday cake if there wasnt a decoratimg adventure story alongside it!

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I'll admit, I'm a little disappointed in myself that I wasn't able to achieve a fancy-pants cake for the birthdays this year. Normally, I go all out and put together something that, if I may be so bold to say, is gorgeous. However, life was in a constant state of upheaval this year, so (upon consultation with the birthday girl) I took a less-involved approach to decorating this time around. However, the cake itself more than makes up for the plainer appearance!

The star of the show here is by far the rich, thick and indulgent brigadeiro that makes up the filling. If you aren't familiar with this treat, it is essentially a mix between truffle and fudge, made with sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder and rolled in sprinkles. When I say it is a rich filling, it is rich. But a birthday is a once a year deal, so whole-hog it was!

Once you have the filling made - a time consuming and somewhat meticulous process that is well worth it in the end - the rest of the cake is easy! I have multiple chill steps in the assembly instructions due to the filling's tendency to want to escape, but I have to tell you that brigadeiro mix is perfectly acceptable scooped on top of a single layer cake (or cupcakes, or between cookies...). Due to the richness of the cake and filling, small slices are encouraged - even the chocoholics here were more than satisfied.