Split Pea Soup

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The longer you go without blogging is similar to going without exercise or making pie crust. It seems more daunting and doesn’t come as naturally. You have a squishy butt and empty countertop. I’ve experienced all three of these recently. While trying to make my coworker a pie, I rolled out my dough onto the counter right above the dishwasher that was running. The steam melted the butter chunks so quickly, I had to peel it from the hot counter. The crust grew tough. Whatever happened to baking pie for a living? Oh, right.

I got a 9-to-5 job managing restaurants for a food delivery startup in downtown Seattle.

I used to have my hands in dough daily and drift into my own thoughts, usually crafting a blog post or article to pitch. I would stroll the short walk home and have half the day to sit at my computer to transcribe the thoughts I had while sifting flour and pulling pies from the oven.

Now, I sit at my computer every day and instead, I stare at spreadsheets comparing enchiladas to burritos to quesadillas – not that I am complaining.

In an attempt to get back to last December – when I was writing an article about holiday cheese balls – I made split pea soup.

Thomas Keller, who’s book this is from, seems to overcomplicate many of the steps. What should be a really simple pureed soup is made fussy. There were several moments where I grew frustrated and went rogue. My boss used to work for him at The French Laundry, and today she said her few grey hairs are from him. Surely, if you follow his recipe exactly, you will be salt-and-pepper-chic. I preferred not to prematurely grey and instead found a much simpler, likely as good, version.

So here I go, blog post #5 billion, which really feels like #1 again.

Serves 6-8//A much simpler version than Ad Hoc at Home’s

  • 3 tablespoons canola or olive oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped leeks
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onions
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 smoked ham hock (about 1 pound)
  • 3 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 pound (about 2 cups) split peas, rinsed and picked for stones
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups peas (2 pounds in the pod) blanched (optional)
  • 1/2 cup creme fraîche
  • Mint leaves

Heat the oil in an 8 to 10 quart stockpot over medium heat. Add the carrots, leeks and onions with a generous pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the vegetables are tender.

Add the ham hock and chicken stock, bring to a simmer, and continue to simmer for 45 minutes. Remove about half of the cooked stock vegetables and toss.

Add the rinsed split peas and bring to a simmer once again. Cook for an hour, or until the split peas are completely soft.

Remove the soup from the heat. Take out the ham hock and set aside. Season the soup with 1 tablespoon of vinegar and salt to taste. Use an immersion blender (or transfer in batches to a blender) to puree completely.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper or vinegar if necessary.

Keep on low while you pull the meat off the ham hock, tossing the fat and skin. Cut the ham into small pieces and stir into the soup (or reserve some to put on top).

Serve the soup with creme fraîche, chopped mint and extra ham hock. If it’s spring time and you can find fresh peas, sprinkle those on top as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple, Pear and Cranberry Pie

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Since I last posted, I had my last day as a professional baker, got a job working at a tech company that connects local restaurants to people in offices who want lunch, joined a new fitness community that twerks for a workout and was featured in the food + drink section of The Seattle Weekly.

In late February, my two pie muses representing the East and West Coasts came together to join me for a pie class and drink. We bantered back and forth about pie apples and the future of food writing. Kate Lebo, my Washington pie princess, and Ellen Gray, my best pie soulmate from New Jersey, made the perfect pitch for Seattle Weekly.

I emailed food + drink editor Nicole Sprinkle and a couple weeks later had a spread. The night before the issue went on the stands felt like Christmas Eve. On my way to work on 1st ave., I skipped over to the news stand to grab a fresh copy. And then another.

Nicole later told me my article had been in their top ten for overall views that week. A proud moment? Ah, yes. To honor the great muses in my life, here is Kate Lebo’s pear and cranberry pie recipe that I made for Christmas last year and never posted. The golden brown beauty was a treat on our Christmas dinner table. Though my mom was a skeptic, I promised her Kate knows her sweet to tart ratios.

Makes 1 pie//Kate Lebo

  • 1 double pie crust
  • 2 Gravenstein or Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • Juice of 1/2 medium lemon (about 1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped candied ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Big pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons of flour
  • 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • Egg white wash (1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Follow your pie crust recipe and refrigerate for at least an hour. Roll out the bottom crust and place it into a 9-inch pie plate. Tuck the edges into the pie plate and trim the edges. Refrigerate while you make the filling.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Put the apple and pear slices in a large bowl with the lemon juice. Stir in the cranberries, granulated sugar, candied ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Taste the filling and adjust to your preferences.

(In Kate’s pie classes she says if you don’t want to eat the whole bowl of filling on its own then it needs adjusting. Add lemon. Add spice.)

Stir in the flour and set aside.

Roll out the top crust and retrieve the bottom crust from the refrigerator.

Pour the filling into the bottom crust and rearrange it in the plate as necessary to reduce air pockets. Dot the filling with butter. Drape the top crust over the filling. Trim, tuck and flute the edges. Cut steam vents in the middle of the pie. Brush the crust with the egg wash, and sprinkle it with turbinado sugar.

Bake the pie in the middle of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 35 to 45 more minutes, until the crust is dark golden brown and the filling bubbles.

Cool for at least an hour before serving.

Vanilla Pear Galette with Mascarpone

Happy New Year!

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Contrary to my hermit personality, I went out on New Years Eve. I even had people over. We dressed up, took pictures in front of a white sheet, ate cheese and popped champagne. I wore a velvet dress and gold heels. Tommy arrived wearing a tie adorned with rockets.

2014: Year of the donut
Some things never change. We can’t take a normal photo.

Though Tommy and I pulled out our best dance moves at the club, the best part of the day was eating this pear galette with Julie. We had our late-afternoon coffee to rev up for the evening and paired it with forkfuls of flaky pastry. I used a galette dough recipe by Kate Lebo and stuffed it with sliced pear tossed in Vanilla Bean Purely Syrup. Purely Syrup is a line of organic syrups made in Northern California. Though they are intended for cocktails, I used it for baking. Why not? The syrup added a light sweetness with a touch of vanilla bean.

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After it came out of the oven I topped it with a dollop of sweetened mascarpone and a drizzle of honey. Later we sipped on a drink of 2 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce of pure cranberry juice, 1 ounce of Ginger Root Purely Syrup and a splash of club soda shaken with ice.

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Galette dough//Kate Lebo

  • 1/4 cup sour cream or room temperature cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold butter
  • 1 egg (For egg wash)
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Whisk the sour cream, lemon juice and water in a 2-cup spouted liquid measuring cup and put it in the freezer during the next steps.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and salt. Cube the butter and cut it into the flour using a pastry blender until the butter is mostly pea sized.

Take the liquid out of the freezer and pour in a steady stream into the flour mixture, stopping halfway to toss the dough with your fingers. The dough should hold together and feel a little wet. You may not need all of the liquid.

Gather the dough into a ball, make a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 3 days before rolling.

For the filling

  • 3 pears
  • 1/3 cup Vanilla Bean Purely Syrup

For the mascarpone topping

  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup powdered sugar
  • Honey for drizzling

To assemble

Heat oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove the dough from the fridge and divide it in half. On a floured surface, roll each into a circle about 6-7 inches in diameter.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. I use my pizza stone and flour it. Place each circle onto the sheet.

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Slice pears 1/2-inch thick and toss with the syrup. Arrange the pears in the center of each dough, leaving about a 1-inch border. Fold the border in on the pears, creating an edge.

Mix the egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the edges of the dough. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.

Bake until flaky and golden, about 25 minutes. Watch carefully as this may vary.

Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, whip mascarpone with vanilla extract and powdered sugar.

Remove galettes from the oven. Let cool slightly and move to serving plate. Spoon half the mascarpone onto the top of each galette. Drizzle with honey and serve.

Chard and Sausage Strata

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Christmas morning my mom and I woke up and cleaned the kitchen. I looked down at the dishes I was scrubbing and said, “Mom remember when I would wake up at 6 am Christmas morning and sprint to my presents? I want to feel that sugar plum fairy excitement.”

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Presents no longer seem to give me that feeling like they did when I was a kid, but Christmas brunch does. I pulled my grandmother Bunny’s coffee walnut chocolate chip muffins out of the oven, a sentimental smell permeating the room. My mom made a citrus salad. We bantered back and forth about how much honey to drizzle over the top. My brother and dad knocked on my door. My dad told my mom she really needs to start aging and then they bonded over their mutual plantar fasciitis. (I’m going to get a text from my dad after this post goes up saying yet again I’ve put him on “blast.”)

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We opened our stockings, and I pulled my strata out of the oven. We swooned over the soft, custard center with a crunchy top. The bread was crusty in all the right places with ribbons of chard throughout. Everyone loved it.

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Generally we make Grandpa Mackey’s famous breakfast casserole with white bread and cream of mushroom soup among other things. It’s one of those really bad Midwest treasures that is remarkably satisfying. This year my dad requested that we take it up a notch.

Makes 1 hefty casserole//Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of rustic bread, about 1 1/2 pounds
  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 12 ounces wild mushrooms like shiitake, chanterelle, button or oyster, sliced
  • 1 pound chard, stems removed
  • 2 teaspoons thinly sliced chives
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 12 ounces cheddar, grated
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Cut bread into 3/4 to 1-inch cubes. You should have about 6 cups loosely packed bread.

Place sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spatula. Cook until no pink remains, about 10 minutes.

Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside. To the same pan, add the onion and cook over medium heat until soft. Add the butter and olive oil to the skillet and toss in the mushrooms. Cook until tender and then transfer to a bowl.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the chard and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Drain the chard and plunge the chard into a bowl of ice water. Drain again. Squeeze out as much of the water as possible. Roughly chop and add to the bowl of mushrooms and onions. Add the sausage, bread, chives and thyme. Reserve 3/4 of a cup of the cheese and then stir in the remainder. Transfer the contents of the bowl to the greased dish.

Whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper. Pour over the rest of the ingredients. Use a spatula to press down on the bread and submerge it as much as possible. Sprinkle the reserved cheese over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight.

When you’re ready to bake, remove the plastic wrap and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until the top is golden and the center is firm. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and serve.

Bucatini with Butternut Squash Cream Sauce, Prosciutto and Sage

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This week was nothing short of nuts. First, I got a kidney infection. Then 14 cheeses arrived at my door. Both made my cry. As something of a cheese-fanatic, receiving cheese in the mail is somewhat of a dream. BelGioioso Cheese Inc. sent me a dreamy package containing 7 of their popular cheeses. I used their American Grana to make this bucatini dish, which is now featured on culture: the word on cheese’s website.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ¼ of a yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 8 slices prosciutto
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • ¼ cup half and half or heavy cream
  • ½ cup BelGioioso American Grana, grated, plus more for sprinkling
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • ¾ pound dry bucatini
  • 8 sage leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. With the skin still on, loosely wrap the garlic loosely with foil and drizzle with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Roast for 40 minutes until soft.

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil and ½ tablespoon of butter over medium high heat in a sauté pan (I use a cast iron pan). Add sliced onions and sprinkle with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir frequently until the onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Lower the heat to medium and stir occasionally until they turn a deep golden color and are caramelized, about another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the cubes of butternut squash in a glass 9×13 pan. Drizzle with 1/8 cup olive oil and toss to combine. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of both salt and pepper. Cook until fork tender, about 30 minutes.

Raise oven temperature to 375 degrees F. Lay 8 slices of prosciutto on a foil-lined baking sheet. Crisp in the oven for about 15 minutes, flipping once. Set aside.

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.

For the sauce, squeeze the garlic out of their peels into a blender. Add half of the cooked squash and all of the caramelized onions. Then add chicken broth, cream, cheese and nutmeg. Blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add bucatini into the boiling water, cook until al dente. Drain. Return to pot and toss with sauce and reserved cubes of squash.

In the same pan you used to cook the onions, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, lay the sage leaves into the oil. Cook for about 30 seconds, flipping once. Cool on a paper towel.

To assemble, use tongs to move noodles to individual plates, letting excess sauce drip off back into the pot. Crumble the prosciutto over the noodles. Top with two sage leaves each. Sprinkle with extra grated American Grana and pepper. Serve immediately.

Caramelized Carrot & Leek Hand Pies

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I thought waking up at 3:30 a.m. for my baking shift would be the end of me. Turns out, I love getting home from working at approximately 9:15 a.m., caffeinated, with a day’s work under my belt and a cookie in my bag.

I also thought baking for a living would deter me from baking at home. Wrong again. I happily made these hand pies with half spelt flour, half all purpose. This has become my thing. I love the color spelt gives pastry, not to mention the nutty bite.

After biking to the Ballard Market last Sunday, I ate a hand pie with a salad made of the freshest, crispest greens. While the farmer bagged my greens, another woman broached the stand with a mellow baby flopped in a front pack. The farmer bagging my greens asked the mom if the carrots she was waiting to purchase were to make homemade baby food. The mom said yes, and the farmer gave her the carrots for free saying, “It’s a good cause.”

Makes 6 hand pies//Adapted from The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

For the pastry

  • 1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cups (7 ounces) spelt flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, freezer cold, diced
  • 1/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) sour cream
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 to 2 tablespoons ice-cold water

Begin the pastry by putting the flours, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse. Add the butter and pulse a few times until the butter is crumbly and in the size of peas.

Add sour cream and pulse a few times. Add 3/4 cup of ice-cold water and pulse again. Remove the lid of the food processor and pinch the dough between your fingers to see if it will come together. If the dough seems too crumbly still, add more cold water a tablespoon at a time.

Dump the dough onto a floured work surface. Gather it together and form a flattened rectangle about 5 by 6 inches. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

For the filling 

  • 1 medium large leek (about 14 ounces), white and light green parts only
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh or dried thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup (4 1/2 ounces) soft fresh goat cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Slice the leek in half lengthwise and run it under water to wash. Slice into half moons.

Heat the butter and two teaspoons of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the sliced leek and stir with a pinch of salt. Continue to cook until caramelized and golden. If they are cooking too quickly, turn the heat down.

Put carrots on a baking sheet with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix. Roast until the carrots are soft, about 30 minutes. Remove the pan and sprinkle with garlic and thyme. Return to the oven for about 10 more minutes.

Put half of the roasted carrots (about 1 3/4 cups) into the food processor and puree until smooth. Stir in leeks. Taste for salt and pepper. Gently fold in crumbled goat cheese, leaving it in crumbles as much as possible.

Unwrap the rectangle of dough. On a lightly floured surface, cut dough into 6 equal pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a 8 1/2 by 6 inch rectangle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Put a rectangle of dough down with the short end facing you. Make an egg wash with the egg yolk and one tablespoon of water. Brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around the edges of the rectangle.

Place about 1/2 cup of the filling on the rectangle of dough, placing it closer to one of the short edges. Slightly flatten the filling.

Fold one short edge over the other, folding over the filling. Use a fork to crimp the edges to seal. Trim the edges with a knife if needed to make straight lines. Repeat until all of the hand pies are formed. Place them on two parchment-lined baking sheets. Brush the tops with egg wash and using a knife, cut two little slits into the tops to vent.

Bake the pies until they are golden brown, about 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm.

Chanterelle Ravioli Filling

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There are perks to not having a job. Like having time to have your name taken off the mailing list of all your junk mail. And to play with dough all day. I’m at it again and trying to make homemade ravioli. I have a new respect for chefs in restaurants crafting hundreds of the pillowy dumplings for a night of service.

Someday I will master this art and write a post about it. Until then, I’m making some pretty wonderful and seasonal fillings. This takes advantage of fall’s bounty, with an emphasis of chanterelle mushrooms.

Towel courtesy of local Seattle company True Fabrications.
Towel courtesy of local Seattle company True Fabrications.

Makes about 3 cups of filling

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups quartered and stemmed cremini mushrooms (4-5 mushrooms)
  • 1 cup quartered chanterelle mushrooms (Include stems)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 egg yolk (Reserve the egg white for sealing ravioli)
  • 1/3 cup salty cheese like Parmesan
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add both kinds of mushrooms for about 5 minutes. Add parsley and garlic. Cook for one minute. Remove from heat and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Pulse parmesan in a food processor until it looks like bread crumbs. Add mushrooms, egg yolk, nutmeg and ricotta. Pulse until combined. Taste for salt and pepper.

Refrigerate until ready to use.

Check out my other ravioli here.