Smoky Split Pea Soup

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So, the recipe began with The Minnesota Farmer’s Market Cookbook I am reviewing for my book review blog. I will note the adjustments I made to the recipe.

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 10 coffee beans
  • 2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3–4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 yellow onion, diced (The cookbook called for red, I don’t have any on hand.)
  • 1⁄4 cup olive oil (This seemed like a lot, but I decided to trust the recipe. It is the right amount.)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1⁄2 cup white wine (The recipe calls for vermouth, but I didn’t want to buy something when I had white wine which worked perfectly well.)
  • 2 cups yellow split peas
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar

Directions:

Heat the olive oil, add the thyme, red chili peppers, and coffee beans. Add chopped yellow onion, salt and pepper, two bay leaves, and smashed garlic. Add salt and pepper. Cook on medium low until onions are tender, but not caramelized.

Add white wine and turn heat to medium. Cook ten minutes or so, until alcohol is cooked off.

Toss in the split peas, salt, pepper and water and turn heat up to a low boil for about an hour to 90 minutes until the peas are tender. Check frequently, stirring so it does not burn or stick to the bottom.

Using a slotted spoon remove the bay leaves and coffee beans and let cool. The book does not mention doing this, but it just makes sense. However, I missed one coffee bean (it must have been a small one) so it got blended up in the blender, hence a few tiny brown flakes in the soup. This was not enough to ruin the soup, but I think blending all the beans into the soup would be a disaster.

Blend in batches in a magic bullet, blender or with immersion blender.

So this soup is magical, rich and creamy with no dairy, smoky and rich in flavor without bacon or ham. Those coffee beans were an intriguing idea and they worked a treat. The splash of balsamic vinegar gives it a fresh and light lift that is what you taste first before it deepens to the smoky umami of the peas and ends on the gentle heat of the peppers.

 

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Jamaica Jerk Cole Slaw with Pepitas

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So this is going into my regular rotation and will be made again and again and again and again and again. It’s a flavor sensation as they say.

First, I love cabbage. It’s my favorite vegetable and I would eat it ever more often that I do, but I already eat it more than I should as it tends to upset my stomach a bit. If not for that it would be perfect, sharp and peppery in its own self and so ready to blend with other foods, to accept and incorporate seasonings and dressings. Delicious cooked or raw, hot or cold and with all that, it’s inexpensive and keeps well stored in a cool, dark place. So yeah, it’s great stuff. But wow, this makes it even better.

  • 1/2 head of finely chopped cabbage
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup pepitas
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 1 TBSP white wine
  • 2 tsp Jamaica Jerk seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

So, I cut up about 1/2 a head of cabbage, about 8 cups of cabbage. I cut the onion in thin slices. I heated a cast iron skillet on a low medium with NO oil. I added the sliced onions and stirred them steadily so they did not get any char. I wanted a light caramelization that sweetened the onions without softening them too much. That’s why no oil and the medium low heat.

In another dry pan, I toasted the pepitas until they began to pop and turn toasty brown.

When the onions and pepitas were cool, I mixed them in with the cabbage.

I mixed the rice vinegar, white wine and the Jamaica Jerk and the bit of sugar. I mixed them together well, poured on the salad, put a lid on the bowl and shook really hard because there’s not a lot of dressing to coat everything.

I stuck it in the fridge for a couple hours so the vinegar “cooked” the cabbage. Every time I happened to walk by I shook it some more because there really is not any extra dressing, so it needs some shaking.

This made 8 servings and you know what? The last serving did not sit in a pool of dressing. This kept the salad nice and crisp, but rich in flavor. Jamaica Jerk is spicy, so adjust to your taste. It leaves a delicious wonderful aftertaste, too.

 

 

Fruit Fusion Gumbo

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I asked friends to suggest names for this one. It’s a delicious fruit salad made with plums and cucumber which are botanically a fruit.

So I cut up a cucumber and 3 plums. There were two different kinds of plums, hence the different colors. I chopped up about 2 TBSP of yellow onion. Dumped them all in a plastic container and then made a dressing.

Dressing: Mix together. Buckwheat honey takes a long time to mix in but keep at it, it will dissolve. You can add more vinegar if you like. There is no olive oil or anything so it’s not a vinaigrette. It just seems to me that the juices in the fruit really do not need oil. Pour the dressing on the fruit. Put the lid on the bowl and shake it up. Refrigerate  for an hour or so and it will be delicious.

  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp of chile powder
  • 2 tsp of mustard
  • 2 tsp of buckwheat honey and
  • rice vinegar, about 1/4 cup

 

This made 6 servings. There are things that get better and better the longer they sit, so making a single serving would be silly.

Alaskan Cod Poached in Fennel Broth

Alaskan Cod Poached in Fennel Broth

So this was more effort than my usual meal since I actually had to make this broth before I could poach the cod, but it was so worth it. The fennel broth imparted a delicate hint of fennel, nothing overpowering and cod needs something light and delicate. It was delicious. Good thing, too, as the first time, I forgot to take the picture. So I made it for lunch the next day and took pictures but forgot to make sure they were in focus. So, 2 days later for my third meal, I finally got the pictures. While this makes one serving, the broth is usable multiple times if you strain it after using it. It should be good for four days or you can freeze it and use it to poach chicken, fish, or vegetables.

So first you make the broth. This took a little over an hour.

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Sauté onion, celery, carrot and fennel until they change color.

Start with 1 stalk of celery, 1 carrot, 1/2 yellow onion and half the stalks and fronds from a fennel bulb. Clean and chop into thin slices.

Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a sauce pan to medium, add the veggies and stir. Cook until they change color then add 1/2 cup of white wine, 1 tsp of thyme, 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds, salt, pepper and the rest of the stalks and fronds, chopped up finely. Simmer.

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Add water and wine to the sautéed vegetables and bring to a boil, then simmer.

Add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until reduced to about 2 cups of liquid. Cool and strain.

Heat the broth to a simmer in a small sauce pan and then put your filet in the broth to poach. Make sure it is completely covered. Like all fish, do not overcook. It will take about  7 minutes more or less, depending on the size of the filet. It should be flaky and opaque.

While the broth was heating, I made an easy little sauce for the fish. I took 3 grape tomatoes and quartered them lengthwise and put them in a dry sauce pan on high to get a tiny bit of char. Then I added 2 tsp of chopped onions, salt and pepper, and 1 tsp of butter. I cut 4 olives into slices and added them. I let it all cook until tender and the tomatoes were breaking down and added a splash of white wine.  I turned down the heat and let simmer until the fish was done.

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Lay down a nice sauce (tomatoes and olives) and serve with a vegetable on this side (cucumbers).

I served it with some slices of cucumber with salt, pepper and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar on the side. I laid down the sauce and placed the cod filet on top.

While the Swede in me thinks nothing in the world can compare with some torsk sautéed in butter with a bit of nutmeg, this is a delicious, light and flavorful alternative. Definitely a better use of the stalks than compost.

 

Salad with Chicken, Grapes and Pear with Tarragon Pear Vinaigrette

Pear & Chicken Salad

I made the vinaigrette while chopping the ingredients for the salad.

In a small sauce pan, I added 2 tbsp of olive oil and 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, diced. I let the onions sauté until they were tender. Meanwhile, I cleaned and chopped 4 leaves of romaine lettuce, 1 small stalk of celery, a handful of green grapes (1/2 or so) and about 1/2 cup of cooked chicken (removed from a roast I made earlier in the week).

I also chopped up a Bosc pear. It had ripened unevenly, so only a portion was ripe and the rest was not. This happened to inspire the dish. I had planned to just chop the pear up on the salad and add some oil and balsamic vinegar. But now I needed to do something with the stubbornly unripened part of the pear. I put the ripe chunks of pear on the salad. The rest I reserved for the salad dressing. I added a bit of pepper and finished up the vinaigrette.

So now my onions are nice and soft. I added the stripped off leaves from two tarragon stems. Then I added the chopped up pieces of pear. I let them sauté for a bit before adding the fresh-squeezed juice from 1 lemon and a bit of salt. I continued to let them simmer until tender and then mashed the pears up with my fork. I thought about pureeing the mix, but was too hungry to get my Magic Bullet out and puree. So, i just mashed a bit with a fork and added 2 TBSP of white wine vinegar – I went by taste more than volume, adding until it was light and fresh. Then, just for a bit of color and earthiness, i added about 1 tsp of finely chopped fresh parsley.

This is a subtly flavored vinaigrette. The pear adds a mellow sweetness, the onion a bit of heat, the lemon brightens it up and the tarragon is just heaven brought down to earth and infuse in a plant. The white wine vinegar just marries all those flavors into a wonderfully light vinaigrette. This made enough for 4 large salads, so i dressed the salad I made and stored the remaining vinaigrette for some more lovely salads.

 

 

Steak and Watercress Salad

Steak & Watercress Salad

Tip Steak was on sale for $4.49/pound yesterday. Combining that with the sale on watercress, I was able to make this delicious salad for just over $4.00 which is a great price for steak and salad – particularly when it’s this tasty.

First I heated the skillet to medium and added 1/2 TBSP of olive oil. I tossed on the tip steak and added some fresh ground black pepper and salt. I let it cook for about 3 minutes on one side, turned it and let it cook about 2 minutes on the other. This was a thin steak and I had to take care not to overcook it. I removed it to the cutting board and let it rest. After it rested, I cut it into strips. Resting is important to keep the juices in the steak – keeping it moist, but also preventing the juice from dripping all over and making your salad messy.

While the steak cook, I sliced of one slice of red onion and chopped it up, making about 2 TBSP of chopped red onion. When I removed the steak from the skillet, I put the onions in to cook. There was still plenty of oil left so I didn’t need to add more.

In a bowl, I added 1.5 TBSP of olive oil, 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, 1 TBSP of vinegar, the juice from 1 fresh lemon and fresh ground pepper and salt. I stirred it up and when the onions were done, I added them to this for a hearty and tart onion vinaigrette.

I rinsed the watercress, dried it and cut off the stems. I layered it on the platter, spread the slices of steak on top and then added the onion vinaigrette. I shaved a few pieces of parmesan on top to add a bit of mellow flavor.

It was delicious. The Worcestershire sauce in the vinaigrette toned down its tangy bite. That with the parm were a great balance to the dressing and the watercress while the beef was rich in flavor and very tender.

I decided to cost it out. The two main ingredients were only $2.65, but with the fixings for the dressing, etc. it came to $4.20 – more than I first thought, but still a great price for a delicious and fulfilling lunch.

$1.40 Steak
$1.25 Watercress
$0.06 Red Onion
$0.25 Olive Oil
$0.85 Lemon
$0.13 Worcestershire Sauce
$0.20 Parmesano Reggiano
$0.06 Vinegar
$4.20 Total

Simple Turkey Wrap

Turkey Wrap

Fast and easy comfort food you can eat with your hands!

In a small pan, add 1/2 tsp of olive oil and sautee 1 tbsp of chopped onion, add 3 ounces of ground turkey, salt and pepper and a dash of garlic powder and let it brown, breaking it into small pieces as it browns. Add 2 TBSP of green salsa and 1 TBSP of ranch-style dressing and stir. This makes two wraps.

Heat flat, ungreased griddle on medium.

Place half of the mix in the middle of a large flour tortilla, add a handful of chopped romaine lettuce and about an ounce of shredded pepper jack to each tortilla. Squeeze fresh lime juice all over the lettuce and cheese. !/2 of a fresh lime will do both wraps. Roll into packet and repeat for the other tortilla. Place on the griddle and heat until browned on each side.

This has such a tasty blend of creamy and spicy flavors from the ranch-salsa sauce. The lettuce stays firm and adds a pleasant crisp freshness to it.

Ham & Egg Salad Sandwich

Ham & Egg Salad Sandwich with Soup

Considering that there are egg salad sandwiches, ham salad sandwiches, egg sandwiches, ham sandwiches, ham & egg sandwiches and ham and eggs, I wondered why I had never seen and egg and ham salad sandwich. Resolving to address that lack, I mixed up a sandwich for lunch the other day.

I already had hard-boiled a half dozen eggs for salads and breakfast, so they were sitting nice and cold in a bowl in my fridge. I also had a peeled onion in the fridge that I had used in a few things and cut one 1/4 inch slice off it and diced it up. I chopped up one baby dill and added that. I sliced off about 2 ounces of ham and chopped it into cubes. Then I peeled a boiled egg and quartered it and cut the quarters in half. In a small bowl I mixed a TBSP of mayo with a dash of apple cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp of mustard, salt, pepper, a sprinkle of cayenne and a couple shakes from the celery seed jar. I mixed that up and stirred into the ham, egg and onions and spread on a toasted ciabatta. I served with the Chicken Tortellini Soup from the day before.

It was tasty, but doesn’t supplant a plain egg salad sandwich which is one of my favorite sandwiches of them all.

Tomato-Zucchini Tortellini

Tomato-Zucchini Pasta

In a saute pan, add 1 tbsp olive oil, 2 diced garlic cloves, 2 tbsp chopped onion and 1 serrano pepper diced small. Saute until tender and add 3 chopped mushroom and 6 oz of ground turkey. Saute until brown.

Start water boiling for tortellini. Add and cook until they all float.

Add 1 diced tomato and 1 chopped zucchini and juice of 1/2 fresh lemon to the mix in the saute pan. Cook down to a sauce and stir in cooked tortellini.

Bacon, Beef Tongue and Barley

Bacon, Beef Tongue and Barley

The first thing you have to do is cook the beef tongue. Put the tongue in a pressure cooker, add water until it’s just covered with liquid. Add 1 onion, about 5 cloves, a cinnamon stick, a few cloves of garlic and salt. Cover and pressure cook for 35 minutes. Leave the lid on while it cools, when the pressure has dissipated, you can remove the lid with no pop of steam, but the tongue will still be warm enough that your can remove the outer skin easily without burning yourself. You don’t want to try to remove the skin when it’s cold – it will be far too difficult.

I cooked the barley. I generally use a 4 to 1 ration for barley. I wanted one cup of cooked barley so began with 1/4 cup of dry barley and cooked it in 4 cups of water for about 30 minutes. If you like barley as much as I do, you could make it big batches and keep in the fridge for salads, breakfast barley porridge and for casseroles. It’s far cheaper than rice or pasta and has more toothiness when you eat it and a much nuttier flavor. It’s also more nutritious besides being tastier. Seriously, you can get a bag of barley for a dollar or less – and you can’t beat the flavor.

When the barley was nearly done, I cut up and sauteed a two slices of bacon with a chopped onion and 2 garlic cloves, I added 1 chopped red pepper and cubes of the beef tongue (4 ounces). I then added 1 chopped tomato and stirred, cooking until everything was done and served on a bed of barley. This makes two servings, so I set half aside for the next day.