Shrimp Feta à la Neil

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This is a recipe I’ve had for years, and know I made it at least twice. Making a recipe more than once for me is a rarity, even more so in the early cooking years because there was always another recipe to make, another technique to learn. And more to taste.

We loved this dish, my husband and myself. Pasta with shrimp, ricotta, vegetables, red sauce, and cheese. Yes, this was before I learned that one doesn’t combine seafood and cheese. Well, in this case I don’t care what the “rule” is, cause this is fabulous.

According to the writing on the taped-up magazine cutouts, this recipe was from Better Homes and Gardens, October 1984. I tried to find it online, which I thought would be easy with its name, but no. However, there are many variations of this recipe, so I guess a lot of folks, including those from NY Times cooking, have ignored the seafood-no-cheese rule as well.

Obviously I loved the recipe because I gave it four stars. I just wish I could find out who Neil is. Or was. I doubled the recipe, because it’s that good.

Shrimp Feta à la Neil
printable recipe below

12 ounces fresh shrimp, peeled, cleaned
6 ounces linguine
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup ricotta
1/4 cup snipped parsley
1/8 teaspoon salt
Dash black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 ripe tomato, seeded, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup crumbled feta
Cayenne pepper flakes, optional

Rinse shrimp and place on paper towels to dry.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

Combine the egg and ricotta; Stir in the parsley, salt, and pepper. Toss the warm pasta with the ricotta mixture. Turn into a greased 9” pie plate; press onto bottom and up sides to form a “crust.” Set aside.


In a 10” skillet, heat the oil and butter. Add the garlic and basil and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, onion, and red bell pepper. Cook over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes more till vegetables are just tender, stirring occasionally.

Add the shrimp, chopped tomato, and salt. Cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes or till shrimp is just done, stirring occasionally.

Combine the water and cornstarch; add to shrimp mixture. Cook and stir till thickened and bubbly.

Turn the shrimp mixture into the pasta crust; spoon tomato sauce atop. Bake in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the mozzarella and feta on top.

Bake 5 more minutes or until cheeses melt.

Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

I sprinkled the dish with cayenne pepper flakes.

If you’re making this in the summer, you can always add some basil chiffonade. I just thew a few little leaves on. The dish is quite messy as it is.

In the future, I might add the cheeses, or at least the grated mozzarella to the pasta and ricotta mixture, because the melted cheese on the shrimp hides them.

And speaking of the pasta with the ricotta mixture – divine.

I will definitely be making this dish again, maybe with a few tweaks.

 

 

Chile Colorado

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I got this recipe from Wesley Avila’s cookbook called Guerilla Tacos, published in 2017. It’s probably one of the most conservative recipes in the book, but I just had to taste the sauce.

The chef certainly proves that tacos can pretty much be made with anything, highlighting in his recipes some with uni, foie gras, mussels, sun chokes, and more. As Mr. Avila states in the introduction, “A taco is a blank canvas.”

Over the years I’ve made lots of Mexican and Southwestern “stews,” but I’ve never made chile Colorado, so it was a perfect recipe, and one that wouldn’t revolt my husband. (I have to admit I didn’t enjoy uni when I first had it.)

The book is fabulous, but to me, it’s mostly because of the story Chef Avila tells, from his childhood with Mexican-born parents, his mother dying, to his time as a teamster, then attending culinary school, working at a fine dining restaurant, then finally with a food truck, called, not surprisingly, Guerilla Tacos.

Although of Mexican heritage, Mr. Avila makes sure the reader understands that the recipes in the cookbooks are “not “authentic” Mexican food. “The truth is there is no such thing as an authentic taco. “Taco makers have always known this.”

Chile Colorado

3 pounds beef, in one piece, like a hanger steak
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
8 Roma tomatoes, chopped, seeded
1 cup husked, rinsed, and halved tomatillos
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 dried pasilla pepper, stemmed and seeded
2 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 dried chile morita, stemmed and seeded
2 bay leaves
1 cup water
16-18 corn tortillas, warmed
2 red onions, very thinly sliced

Trim the meat, and cut into 1/2-by-2-inch pieces, like you’re making fajitas. Season with salt and pepper.

In a 10” cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Working in four batches, sear the beef until it is browned, about 2 minutes per batch. You don’t want it cooked too much, just coated with oil and browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to another container.


In the same pan, over medium heat, sauté the yellow onion and cumin seeds until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. (I added another tablespoon of oil first.) Add the tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, all 3 dried chiles, and bay leaves and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatillos are cooked and the chiles are soft.


Turn the heat to a medium-low and add the water to keep it saucy. (My sauce didn’t require any water, perhaps because I used a lid to cook the tomatoes and tomatillo mixture.) Transfer to a blender and process to make the sauce as smooth as possible. I added about 1 tablespoon of concentrated tomato paste because my Roma tomatoes were not super ripe.


Return the meat to the pan and cover with the sauce.

Serve family style, with the tortillas and red onions, and let everybody make their own tacos.

I noticed a couple of mistakes… nothing huge. But for one thing, why worry about it the beef is from an intact piece, rather than, say, 2 flank steaks? Since you’re going to be cutting it up anyway?

And, Mr. Avila writes to add the pasilla, and dried chiles to the pan, when all three chile peppers used in this recipe are dried.

I also would have preferred a weight of tomatillos, but I know the outcome plus or minus an ounce of tomatillo isn’t crucial. Just some editing issues.

This chile Colorado sauce was a hit. Not much heat, which can always be added, but a lot of depth of flavors.

And, a big thank you to Greg, from Sippitysup.com, for telling us all about Guerilla Tacos.

Potato Beet Salad

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In 1992, we took our young children to Grand Cayman island in the Caribbean. As all tourists do there, one day we took a boat out to swim with stingrays at Stingray City, followed by picnic on a beach of a local island.


So, what do I remember from this adventure? The creamy potato and beet salad. As well as fresh conch.

I have no Caribbean cuisine resources, so I decided to just make up the recipe. And it’s good.

What I enjoyed on that tropical beach was a tangy, earthy, creamy mixture of potatoes and beets. And now I can have that again, without the beach.

Potato and Beet Salad

6 medium-sized white potatoes, peeled or not
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup good mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 cans whole beets, lightly rinsed and well drained
2 shallots, minced
Chives, for serving
Hard-boiled egg halves, optional

Cut the potatoes into fairly uniform 1/2 – 3/4” size cubes. Bring a pot of water to a boil on the stove. Toss in the potato cubes and salt. Cook until just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool in the colander.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, Dijon, lemon juice, salt, and white pepper. Whisk until smooth and set aside.


Place the somewhat cooled potato cubes in the bowl with the mayo mixture and stir gently to combine. This allows the potatoes to absorb some of the creamy mixture.

Cube the beets into similar sized cubes as much as is possible, and toss into potato salad. I also let them sit on paper towels until I used them.

then add the shallots and fold in. Pinkness is okay, and will happen, but don’t overstir.


I actually used a ring to make the salad look less than it is – a creamy mess of a salad!


To serve, sprinkle the salad with chives.

Encircle the salad with egg halves, if desired.

I always think potato=based salads need more salt, so serve it as well.

Think of this salad with grilled shrimp, or chicken or sausage… just about anything.

Even beet haters, or people who think they dislike beets would love this salad. There’s nothing not to love!

I know it was almost 30 years ago when we took this vacation, but why do I look alien to myself?!! Who is that??!!!

Tinto de Verano

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One day during quarantine when it was too hot to be outside, I happened upon a show called Amy Schumer Learns to Cook. Now I do like Amy Schumer, but this cooking show, where she partners with chef-husband Chris Fischer, shows Amy from a totally different perspective.

I had to google Chris Fischer, and he’s no line cook at Applebees. From Martha’s Vineyard originally, he inherited the family farm, and started the Beetlebung Farmer’s Market, which includes a restaurant. Oh, and he is a James Beard award winner for the Beetlebung Farm Cookbook. The name Beetlebung kind of gives insight into the humor that bonds the two of them.

So, the guy know his chops. And for the show, he attempts to teach his wife basic cooking during their quarantine. Great concept. They’re really cute together, lower left pic. This drink requires a red vermouth called Noilly Prat, pictured below right.


This refreshing drink is reminiscent of sangria, but simpler, and not as alcoholic. It translates to “red wine of summer.”


I estimated the amounts by watching Ms. Schumer pour the first three ingredients into her pitcher. Feel free to adjust according to your taste. I don’t know what it’s “supposed” to taste like!

Tinto de Verano

1 bottle of Spanish red, chilled
2 cans Fresca, chilled
1 cup Noilly Prat rouge, chilled
Juice of 1 lemon
2 oranges, one juiced, one sliced

Pour the wine and Noilly Prat into a large pitcher.

Add the juiced lemon and orange and stir well. Toss in the sliced oranges, and save some for the glasses.

Add the fresca at the last minute. You want the tinto de verona nice and bubbly.

I added ice to two glasses instead of adding ice to the pitcher. I didn’t want it watered down, and it was hot hot hot outside.

The verdict? A perfect ratio of wine, bubbly, and sweet vermouth. I like the citrus flavors as well.

I think I might enjoy this a little bit more than traditional sangria, but I’ll continue to test…

The only negative, is that Amy Schumer Learns to Cook is only four episodes. I want more!

Cacio e Pepe Salad

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At the end of a certain magazine about People, which I only read on planes and road trips, there are recipes provided typically by chefs, sometimes by celebrities. I seldom take notice, except when something unique really pops out, like David Chang’s bacon fried rice. And that was a HIT!

This time, it was a cacio e Pepe salad, which was intriguing, since it’s well known as a pasta dish.

The contributor is Stefano Secchi, who I’ve never heard of until now, but he chefs at the New York City restaurant Rezdôra, in the Flatiron district. Even though this is called a salad, he serves it as an appetizer.

I was only capable of taking these terrible photos when I initially saw the recipe, because I was in the back seat of a car headed to Nashville, but they were enough to piece together the recipe!

All I needed was Little Gem lettuce, and a girlfriend came through for me!


Cacio e Pepe Salad

1/4 cup canola oil
1 ounce Pecorino cheese, grated
1 ounce Parmesan, grated, plus 1/2 ounce shaved
1/2 cup water ( I used 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons mustard
4 heads Little Gem lettuce
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

Process the oil with the grated cheeses, water, lemon juice and mustard, just until emulsified, about 20 seconds.

Spread about 3/4 cup of the dressing on the cut sides of lettuce halves on a plate.

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle on the pepper.


Add the shaved Parmesan.

So much like a Caesar salad, if truth be told, but oh so good.


Full disclosure: I subscribe to People magazine. Yes, I do.

Buffalo Jerky

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My husband was given some beef jerky by a golf buddy one day. He came home and insisted that I try it immediately, because it was “that good.” Well, it was good, in fact great, and neither of us has ever been a beef jerky fan before.

As you can tell from the feature photo, this jerky isn’t in flat and narrow strips that take about an hour per inch to chew. These are lovely tender bits of tasty meat.

The jerky recipe requires three steps – marinating, dehydrating, then smoking.

Start with 7-10 pounds of meat. Golf buddy recommends Black Angus choice sirloin steaks, about 1 1/2″ in thickness. Also London broil is a good choice – anything lean.

For fun, I purchased lean buffalo sirloin steaks from D’Artagnan, one of my two sources for high quality meat.

Slices the meat crosswise into pieces 1/4″ thick. If the slices are any thinner they dry out too fast. The meat was still partially frozen to help me slice more consistently.

Then golf buddy slices those into smaller, bite-sized cuts, but I left mine in the short strips. My total meat weight is 8 pounds.

Golf buddy’s recipe is a mixture of Allegro Original Hot and Spicy Marinade and Teriyaki marinade, one bottle of each, then your favorite barbecue sauce and Sriracha.

I’ve never tried the Allegro brand, so I purchased both. Head Country is my favorite bottled barbecue sauce, and we’re all familiar with Sriracha!

Use a very large bowl to prepare the marinade. Obviously you can create whatever kind of marinade you want, if you make your own sauce or have bottled favorites. Personally, I’ve never liked commercial teriyaki sauce, but since I did taste this beef jerky and loved it, I’m going with golf buddy’s recipe.

The dry seasonings golf buddy recommends include onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper. I used a lovely coffee and garlic spice mixture from Trader Joe’s that my friend gifted me. I thought it would be a great addition.

Submerge all of the strips of meat in the bowl of marinade. I transferred the meat to a 2 1/2 gallon zip-loc bag. Let the meat sit overnight or up got 3 days in the refrigerator.


Bring the meat close to room temperature, then place the pieces on foil-covered jelly-roll pans, without any strips overlapping.

Heat the oven to 180 – 200 degrees and place the pans of meat in the oven to dehydrate slightly for 30 – 45 minutes. I used my oven on convection bake at 180 degrees, and dried the meat out for a total of 1 hour. It helps to pat the marinade off of the meat before it goes in the oven also.

Pre-heat the smoker to 180-200 degrees F, and prepare hickory chips for the smoke. We use a Bradley electric smoker.

Following the dehydration step, place the meat on the smoker’s racks, greased, and smoke for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

This jerky is really flavorful and not overly dry like commercial jerky, which requires an extra set of teeth.



I’ve noticed that some marinade recipes for jerky include liquid smoke, which I personally don’t like. In those recipes, there isn’t a smoking step. So I must admit that I love the dehydrating and smoking combination to create this buffalo jerky.


If you’re not going to eat the jerky right away (be careful – it’s addictive!) then use a vacuum sealer and refrigerate or freeze.

Salad with Beans and Sausage

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I was recently reading some of my French cookbooks, with the intention of having a French food night with friends, hopefully sooner than later. I’ve previously done this with Indian and Chinese cuisines, serving about 8 different dishes each time, just for the love of those cuisines.

When I was reading Patricia Wells’s book Bistro Cooking, I spotted a recipe I’d bookmarked years ago. I just had to make it.

It’s a salad of dressed greens, topped with warm white beans, warm smoked sausage, then topped with pistachios and chives. Sounds incredible, right?!

From Ms. Wells, “I’m crazy about composed salads, anything with a healthy bed of greens, on which you layer a mixture of full-flavored ingredients.” She was inspired to create this salad after a “mid-fall lunch at Paris’s Quai d’Orsay.”

She recommends using lingots, French white beans, and saucisse de Morteau, sausage from the Jura. And she suggests a young red, just slightly chilled, perhaps a Saumur-Champigny from the Loire.


The closest I found were sausages from Toulouse, the same sausage used in Cassoulet, and I substituted flageolets for the lingots, cause they’re French and in my pantry and I couldn’t find the French ones, which are a white kidney bean. Who knew?!

Salads aux Lingots et Saucisse de Morteau Quai D’Orsay

Beans:
10 ounces dried white beans
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 bay leaves
Several sprigs of fresh thyme
Salt

Dressing:
4 shallots, minced
1/3 cup lemon juice
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt

Sausage:
10 ounces smoked pork sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
Several sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 cup dry white wine

Salad:
2 cups young curly endive, cleaned, dried, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup salted pistachio nuts
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives

Rinse the beans. Place them in a large saucepan and add cold water to cover. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, remove the pan from the heat. Set aside, covered, for 40 minutes. Drain the beans, discarding the cooking liquid. Rinse the beans and cover again with cold water. Add the oil, bay leaves, and thyme and bring just to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook over medium heat until tender, about 1 hour. The beans should not be mushy, rather cooked through but firm. Add salt to taste.


Whisk the shallots with the lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream and whisk until blended. Season to taste. (I just used a jar.)

Drain the beans thoroughly. Add half of the dressing to the beans/ set aside and keep warm.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, being careful not to pierce it. Add the thyme, bay leaf, onion, garlic, and wine, and bring just to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Drain. Set aside and keep warm.

Place the greens in a large, shallow salad bowl. Pour on the remaining dressing and toss gently.

Divide the greens among 4 large plates, spreading the greens out and pressing them down to lie flat. Place several spoonfuls of the beans in the center. Cut the sausage into thin slices. Arrange them in a fan-like fashion around the edge of the beans.

Sprinkle with the pistachios and chives.

Serve warm.

White beans would have definitely been prettier, but this salad was spectacular.

Olive-Brined Chicken Thighs

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My girlfriend recently told me about her tried-and-true recipe for fried chicken, which begins with marinating chicken in pickle juice. I have been so intrigued by that and curious about the flavor the juice imparts. She’s promised me to make it when I visit next time, and I can’t wait.

I started thinking about pickle juice when I was perusing my jarred items in my refrigerator the other day (doesn’t everyone do that?!!) and I saw a jar of brine saved from olives. I do this for my son-in-law, who is the dirty martini drinker of the family.

My mind went from olive juice to chicken, as in, marinate chicken in the brine, and then follow my friend’s second step which is to marinate with buttermilk.

I have 3 friends who swear by marinating chicken in buttermilk, and it’s a popular Samin Nosrat recipe as well. There’s something about the acid in the buttermilk that tenderizes the chicken, whether you’re planning on frying or roasting or whatever.

So, this is what happened with my olive brine and buttermilk experiment.

Olive Brine, and Buttermilk Marinated Chicken Thighs

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, about 2 1/2 pounds total
Salt and pepper
12 ounces olive brine
12 ounces buttermilk
Garlic pepper
Olive oil


Place the thighs in a baking dish or ziploc bag. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the olive brine and marinate in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Remove from the brine and pat dry on paper towels. Place in another baking dish or ziploc bag, and fill with buttermilk. Refrigerate for another 24 hours.

Remove the chicken thighs to paper towels to drain.


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F while the thighs warm up a bit.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a baking dish that will comfortably fit the thighs. Season them with garlic pepper. Right before baking, drizzle some olive oil over the chicken thighs.

Bake until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F. This took my oven approximately 25 minutes. If you want more browning, use the broiler for a few minutes.


Remove the baking dish from the oven, and place the chicken on a serving platter. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic pepper, if desired.


I made some carrot and pea fritters to pair with the chicken, mostly for some color and texture.

I mixed together 75% crème fraiche and 25% Kewpie mayonnaise for a creamy condiment. A little Sriracha was tempting, but I decided to keep everything mild in order to highlight the chicken.

Have you ever tried Remoulade in a tube? It is excellent.

No condiment is really necessary. I just like condiments.

The chicken was super moist, and tasted just like olives. It doesn’t look like much, but wow.

I didn’t realize the olive brine would impart so much flavor!

The marinated chicken could have also been grilled.

I’m certainly convinced about what buttermilk does for chicken as a marinade. But I also like olive brine’s part in this chicken. Next time? Pickle juice!

Strawberry Pie

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A while back I posted on Avocado Pie, a recipe given to me by a friend during my college years in the 70’s. He was one of three male classical musicians who shared a beautiful home in Santa Barbara, California.

I moved away from, S.B. in 1978, but retrospectively, I know one of them had the AIDS virus. It saddens me to think back on all of the beautiful and gifted gay men I’d known who most likely died from the horrid disease.

In this particular house there was also a young woman renter who was working on her PhD in Russian Literature. And oh, she was brilliant. I could talk to her for hours, soaking up her insane intelligence, all while listening to Beethoven’s Pathetique in the background…

It’s so sad that in my life I’ve moved so often, and maybe out of self-preservation, I’ve not been good at staying in touch. I so wish I could know where she is and what she became, because I know she’s somebody really special. But the reason I bring her up from this time in my life, is that we actually shared a joy of cooking. Or, maybe I should say I had a joy of eating, because I hadn’t started cooking seriously yet.

And it is from this girlfriend that I got her hand-written recipe for strawberry pie. (Isn’t it funny that some brilliant people have the worst handwriting?!)


The crust is made with saltines. I remember being a bit skeptical, since I was already a food snob at 20; my only familiarization with saltines was that they were for sick people. But once I tasted the pie, I knew it was a keeper.


Strawberry Pie with Walnut-Saltine Crust

Crust:
17 saltines, crushed
1 cup white sugar
Approximately 1 cup walnut halves, chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla powder
3 egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a deep-dish pie pan. And I mean grease the hell out of it.

Place the crushed saltines in a medium bowl. Add the white sugar, chopped walnuts and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, place the egg whites, and using an electric mixer, whip the whites until peaks form. Add the saltines, sugar, walnuts, and vanilla, and using a spatula, fold everything together.

Place the mixture in the pie pan, and spread around to shape into a crust.

Bake for 25-30 minutes; crust should be firm.

Let the crust fully cool before continuing with the pie filling.

Filling:
3 cups sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon sugar
8 ounces whipping cream

Place the berries in a medium-sized bowl and toss with the sugar. Let them sit for 30 minutes.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form. Place the cream in the crust, overlapping the sides. I used a whipper, hoping the cream would look better. It didn’t.


“Plop” the strawberries on top and serve immediately.


What I forgot is how challenging it is to get a slice of pie intact onto a plate. What a mess.


Next time I might form the crust into a 10” disc, baked on greased parchment. Or maybe even cut out squares to serve as a “cookie” served with the strawberries and cream. Ideas?


The slightly sweetened strawberries plus the cream, plus the nutty meringue crust pieces – fabulous.

Maybe I should put this recipe in the “Why I Don’t Bake” category!

Split Pea Soup

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Split pea soup. Easy. Cheap. Satisfying. Healthy. Well, depending how much sour cream you dollop on top…

My husband reminded me that he could eat split pea soup every day. The foods I could eat every day are in a very different category, but this soup is what he loves, so I make it for him, although obviously not often enough… and why not? For 99 cents and a little time, a hearty soup is hardly an effort. Plus some ham hocks.


Even though the weather is getting warmer, split pea soup with ham is still a springtime soup in my mind, but certainly satisfying during cold months as well. Here is a recipe I used to make my husband happy.(Trust me, he’s never unhappy with the many meals I continue to prepare for him. But I do like cooking for an appreciative soul.)


Split Pea Soup with Ham

16 ounces dried split peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 ham hocks
8 ounces diced ham
Sour cream, optional

Soak the split peas in warm water for about 4 hours, then drain before starting the recipe.

Add the olive oil and butter to a Dutch oven and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and give it a stir, then immediately add the soaked split peas and chicken stock. The broth or stock should cover the peas by at least 1/2 inch.


Add the seasoning, and bring the stock to a boil. Place the 2 ham hocks in with the peas, cover the pot, then simmer the peas for about 45 minutes; you can’t overcook the split peas.

Let the soup cool, either overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature. Remove the hocks and try to remove all of the ham bits from the bones. Set aside to use as garnish. If you choose, use an immersion blender to blend the soup smoother. It’s just prettier that way, but optional.

Add the diced ham to the soup, and heat. Then taste for seasoning.

Serve the hot soup with sour cream and the chopped smoked ham.

This soup could also be made with chopped carrots and/or potatoes.

When my daughters left home, they knew how to cook a pot of legumes, lentils, beans, and split peas. I think I taught them that cooking doesn’t have to cost a fortune, as well as the fact that home cooking isn’t difficult.