From harvest to table ~ what's cooking now?

This blog shows where all those garden goodies I grow end up. I call this little eating area next to the stove my "chef's table" because at all the best restaurants it's a privilege to be invited to dine in the kitchen where the chef reigns supreme. So here I am "reigning" and you are all invited. :-D

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Split pea soup

As often as I make it, as often as I mention it in blog posts, as many pictures I show, I realized today that I've never actually done a post about MAKING split pea soup.  

Go figure.

Oh HERE I've posted about using the hand blender to turn the cooked soup into a luscious smoooooth velvet soup.

But not one that actually shows what goes into the soup.

So here ya go.  (Not just for you, you'd be amazed how often I look up my own recipes!)

It's pretty simple:

Sort 1# (2C) dried split peas for debris, rinse, and soak overnight, changing water half way through.

Drain and rinse the soaked peas.

What I usually do next (but not this time because I FORGOT!  Senior moment... *sigh*) is cover the peas with liquid (a mix of stock and water) so the peas are about 1/4" covered).

Then I would bring them to a boil and start skimming off all the white foam.  This is how you get rid of more of the phytic acid that the overnight soaking released.

After THAT I would add all the goodies:

1C each: carrots, celery, onions.  Then 1/2 of whatever amount of ham I had on hand, reserving the rest for later.

Then the obligatory bay leaf, garlic granules, thyme & chipotle powder (I do like my food spicy!).

Then just bring it all back to a boil, turn it down to simmer (watching now and then to keep the liquid from evaporating.

This batch took nearly 3C of liquid.  The veg will add it's own liquid as it cooks.  

When is it done?  Well, here is this batch after simmering for 1 hour (1st pic).  The veg now melt in your mouth.  The peas do not. They need a little more time.

(2nd pic) Look at this just 45 min later.  Now the peas themselves have pretty much 'melted' and there is clear liquid on top through which creamy peas bubble up.  A quick test for tenderness and everything is soft and lovely.  A good hand whisk would make this into nice soup.  But a hand blender just whips it into green ambrosia!

After the whisk/blender, I add the reserved ham.  It adds texture and more flavor to the soup.  Truly, this is my favorite of my bean & velvet soups.  Maybe that's why I never posted about it before.  It's so simple and so frequent this winter that it's ordinary - like making oatmeal for breakfast.  And who would want to read about that?  LOL  

(Here's something that should have been obvious, but it took me some time to figure this out.  OLD PEAS AND BEANS NEVER REALLY RE-HYDRATE/COOK COMPLETELY.  Since I've been making pea soup so often lately and buying peas a lot, I see now that peas I'd kept for *mumble* months/years made poor soup.  Today's split peas (soaked) cooked up in 1.75 hours - tender and delicious.  Maybe if I stored beans/peas in airtight jars when I bought them, they might be good after a year or two.  But now I try to use bagged beans quickly before they start turning into stones.)

There!  THE difinitive post about split pea soup.  (Except that I forgot to skim foam before adding veg - oh well.  Noted! LOL) 

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Once again I've been hankerin' for something NOT in a bowl.  Hey, don't get me wrong.  I LOVE my soups, stews and sauces.

With the disappointments in the gluten-free bread quest, I tried something less ambitious: Flatbread.

I found a 6-pack of GF spinach/garlic flatbreads and fired up the George Forman to make a quesadilla.

Got the usual suspects: turkey, cheese, green pepper strips, onion and pickled hot pepper chips.

Some assembly (I used only the swiss cheese, BTW) and grilled up lunch.

Pretty tasty.  After all you really need out of flatbread is to keep the stuffing in place, not some kind of flavor bonanza.  Still the spinach/garlic flavors did come through and I liked that.

A couple days later I made up another one.  I was out of Swiss, so used American cheese.


I forgot that processed cheese stuff is so easily melted that most of it oozed out of the quesa!  Could have been an even bigger mess, though.  

When I grill sandwiches and some other stuff, I usually level up the grill so to prevent runoff.  I hadn't this time -- until I heard the first *hiss*.  Whoa doggy!

It wasn't a total disaster.  I propped up the legs. The cheese browned up lovely on the grill, peeled right off, and made a nice chewy addition to the final quesa.

There are 2 more flatbreads left.  I may try a wrap next time.  Stay tuned.

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Monday, January 26, 2015

15-bean soup - just missed the mark

Decided to make up a bag of that 15-bean soup mix that Hursts sent me (to replace the contaminated bag).

As usual, I soaked the beans for 20-24 hours (changing the water half-way).  

The next morning I drained the beans and rinsed them thoroughly.

Next I covered them with water - but only to cover.  Beans cook quicker in less water - has something to do with availability of soluable proteins.  The less water, the denser concentration of those proteins to get back into the beans.  

After simmering the beans for a couple of hours (as it turned out, far too less time), I added the rest of the goodies:

The obligatory bay leaf, 2 small potatoes, 3 carrots, 1/2C of hot peppers & 1/2C green pepper.  I also strained and added 1C of my frozen San Marzano tomatoes.

Then herbs & spices (garlic, marjoram, chipotle powder and 2T of lemon juice).

That simmered up until the veg were soft and the broth had picked up enough starch from them to get nice and creamy.

Mom was here so I prettied up the serving with dried parsley and some blue corn tortilla chips.

The flavor was wonderful.

The beans themselves, however, could have used more time.  See, when I would do a 'done' test I stupidly kept tasting the big beans (kidney, butterbean, pinto) and they cooked up in about 2.5 hours.  Thinking they were ALL cooked was my mistake.

Those little beans (chickpeas, black beans) were not cooked enough.  

So this reminds me why I haven't MADE 15-bean soup for a long while.  

It's because the difference in bean cooking.  I mean the lentils are done in an hour. But by the time the chickpeas, etc are done, the lentils have just about melted into mush.

From now on my bean soup will probably be just great northern or pinto.  They seem to take about the same length of time and the resulting soup would have much better texture.

Be that as it may, neither of us left anything in our bowls, nosirree.  :-D

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