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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheesy Jalapeno Biscuits

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I live with a character. She is nearly 6-feet-tall with the greatest legs in Washington state. She has red hair and would describe her own body as looking like a carrot.

Her family is Jewish, but this year they celebrated Hanukkah with a night on the town and ate barbecue pork.

She graduated with a degree in theater. She has more rings than fingers, and hoops dangle from her ears daily.

She is easily one of the most generous people I’ve ever met.

At a Mexican restaurant once, the waitress asked us if we would like our chips refilled and Halle responded, “Oh you temptressss.”

We eat popcorn together. She talks up my cooking abilities. I remind her she is one of the most hardworking people I know.

Naturally, when her 23rd birthday rolled around last month, I had to make something special. She has raved about the biscuits in Portland, ones with spicy jalapenos and the chew of cheddar. I made a take on this, which we happily gobbled up.

Makes 12 little biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives or scallions
  • 1/3 cup sharp provolone or cheddar, grated
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

To form and finish biscuits

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour distributed in rimmed baking sheet
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sharp provolone or cheddar, grated

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 500 degrees. Spray 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Generously spray inside and outside of 1/4 cup dry measure with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, pulse all of the dry ingredients for the dough, until combined. Scatter butter cubes over dry ingredients; pulse until mixture becomes crumbly. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Add grated cheese, jalapeno and chives. Pour buttermilk into dry ingredients and stir with rubber spatula until just incorporated.

To form and bake biscuits: Using 1/4 cup dry measure and working quickly, scoop level amount of dough; drop dough from measuring cup into flour on baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, forming 12 mounds. Dust tops of each piece of dough with flour and form into balls. Tap off excess flour and place into the prepared cake pan. Arrange nine balls around the outside of the pan and three in the center. Brush the tops with melted butter, being careful to not flatten them. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of cheese. Bake five minutes, then reduce temperature to 450 degrees. Continue to bake until biscuits are a deep golden brown, about 15 minutes longer. Cool in pan two minutes, then remove and serve, preferably with more butter.

Puff Pastry with Dijon, Ham and Sharp Provolone

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Congratulations to Lee for winning my cheese giveaway. She wrote a hysterical rap about her need for our favorite dairy friend. I will admit, when I was thinking about how someone could qualify to win a box of cheese, I was looking for entertainment.

The first entry came in one day, and I chuckled, scrolling down my phone. I busted through the door and proceeded to rap it out loud to Tommy. We laughed and I said, “Keep ’em comin’.” And they did.

Though all were wonderful, Lee’s took the cake. Alana, my brother’s girlfriend, took second place. I will reward her when she comes home from NYU for Christmas.

What else have I been doing with my seven mighty cheeses? I made this quick puff pastry and filled it with a layer of Dijon, ham slices and BelGioioso’s sharp provolone. Though the pastry didn’t have hundreds of layers like a croissant, my friends were impressed. We carved up the fatty rectangle, eating it with our fingers and washing it down with red wine.

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces (2 cups), unbleached all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 pound sliced ham
  • 1 cup grated sharp provolone

Cut 8 ounces (2 sticks) butter into a small 1/2 to 1/4 inch dice. Place on a plate and refrigerate while preparing remaining ingredients. Measure the water and dissolve the salt in it.

Coarsely dice remaining 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter. Add flour to food processor. Add the remaining butter. Pulse until combined, about 10 pulses.

Add the plated cold butter and pulse only once or twice more. Add water and pulse 3 to 4 more times, just until the dough forms a ball. I used my hands to finish forming the ball once it started coming together.

Flour your work surface. Shape dough into a rough rectangle and place between two large pieces of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin over the plastic wrap to create a rectangle about 12 by 18 inches.

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Peel away the plastic wrap and flip it over so the exposed pastry is on the flour. Then peel away the second piece of wrap. Fold the sides in, making a 6 by 18 inch rectangle. Roll it up from one of the 6-inch ends.

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Make sure the ending flappy part is rolled under the dough, making the top smooth.

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Press the dough into a square and refrigerate for an hour to firm.

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Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Take dough out from fridge and cut in half. Roll each ball out into a rectangle about 6 by 12 inches. Spread with a layer of dijon mustard leaving a one-inch border. Layer with ham. Sprinkle with sharp provolone.

Make egg wash with egg and 1 tablespoon water. Brush borders and layer the other pastry on top. Pinch the edges closed with your fingers or a fork. Brush the whole pastry with egg wash. Cut a few vents in the top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown. Let cool slightly and cut.

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.

Parsley & Scallion Savory Scones

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Having just finished my first shift working at Irwin’s Neighborhood Bakery & Cafe, I’m posting my sort-of-whole-wheat-scones to celebrate. I will be mostly baking at Irwin’s, but today I learned the art of being a barista. I tried my hand at latte art, successfully and accidentally making a tooth design with foam.

Situated on the corner of Badgley and 40th street, the robin’s egg blue bakery serves many regulars. Liz, the patient soul who trained me, knew nearly everyone who came in by their name.

These particular scones were an accident in my own kitchen. I tried following another recipe but didn’t have most of the ingredients, so I just winged it and ended up loving the nutty, wholesome flavor of whole wheat flour. The subtle tang of lemon is somewhat surprising, but I think it’s what makes them special. I’m a sucker for most anything savory and baked with scallions. They’re great fresh out of the oven on their own, or split in half and spread with butter or goat cheese and sprinkled with sea salt.

Makes 12 scones

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine white flour, wheat flour, sugar, salt, pepper, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut the butter into the dry mixture using a pastry blender, until the butter is in the size of peas or smaller.

Stir the lemon zest, scallions and parsley into the dry mixture. Gradually add the buttermilk, stirring until the dough comes together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead with your hands until it comes together into a ball. Divide the dough into two parts, and pat each piece into a flat round about 1/2-inch thick. Cut each round into six wedges.

Place the scones on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Baked until golden, about 20-25 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack and 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.