Friday, December 31, 2010

Split Pea Soup

Happy New Year!
This is a very simple, healthy soup.

1 lb. split peas
3 medium or 2 large carrots, diced
1 celery heart, leaves included, diced
2 medium or 1 large onion, diced
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 dried bay leaf
3 qt. water
1 t. fresh finely minced thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

The idea is to have equal amounts of mire poix (carrot, onion, celery).

In a large pot, sweat the mire poix in the olive oil until soft. Add bay leaf.

Add garlic and continue to cook one minute.

Add split peas and water. Simmer for 1 hour. Puree (in a blender) 2 cups of the soup mixture with the thyme then return pureed mixture back to the pot. Continue to simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Don't be shy with the salt.

In this recipe, it may seem that the ratio of vegetables to split peas is rather high. This is because there is no animal fat and/or chicken stock used. I hope you enjoy this healthy alternative, skipping this time the ham hock and high sodium.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Brioche Love

Brioche with Tart Cherries and Candied Orange Peel

This recipe can also make a plain brioche. Just omit the cherries and orange and add one T. sugar.

Candied orange peel: see lavender sugar post (June) for candying technique. Peel of one large orange and the same amount of sugar and water as the lavender sugar recipe.

In a KitchenAid bowl:
2 t. dry yeast
1/2 c. warm (not hot) water
Let rest for 5 minutes.

3 1/2 c. AP flour
3 T. sugar
1 t. salt
1/8 t. nutmeg
5 eggs

Mix on low for ten minutes...

Until smooth.

8 oz. unsalted butter (cubed)
1 c. tart dried cherries
1/2 c. candied orange peel or 1 T. fresh orange zest

Mix smooth (about 2 minutes).

Put dough in a ziplock bag. Refrigerate dough for twelve hours (overnight).

Remove the dough from the bag. The dough will be very sticky. Flour your hands and form into a ball. Put the dough into a buttered and floured loaf pan, round or rectangle.

Let rise and come up to room temperature (about 30-40 minutes).
Egg wash and bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes (or until 200 degrees internally).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

French Green Lentil Salad

1 lb. du puy lentils
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 carrot, can be left whole and not included in the finished dish, or diced and remain in.
1 celery rib, can be left whole and not included in the finished dish, or diced and remain in.
1 small onion, can be left whole and not included in the finished dish, or diced and remain in.
1 bay leaf
sprig of thyme and/or parsley

In a large pot, simmer all of the above ingredients for about 25 minutes(or until the lentils are tender). Drain the lentils and cool slightly.

2 shallots, finely minced
2 T. fresh tarragon, finely chopped
3 T. chives, snipped
1/3 c. sherry vinegar
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 T. salt

Note: You may need to add more olive oil and/or vinegar to taste. Should be deliciously tangy.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

My All Time Favorite Appetizer

I serve some sort of this combination at almost every party I host. These are two of my best versions:

Valdeon, marcona almonds and farmer's market raw honey with fig crostini.

Fourme d’ambert, toasted hazelnuts and farmer's market raw honey with crusty bread.

Place the cheese (1/2 lb.) on a platter or wooden board. Pour 6 oz. honey over half the cheese. Then the nuts (1 c.). Serve with bread.