Not my mother’s split pea soup

It is a grey day in Millbrook today. Gisli, our 7-year-old Icelandic sheepdog, took off this morning to consume rotting carcasses in the woods and ignored me while I stood on the deck screaming his name over and over again into the wind. Eventually he’d make it back smelling like Yuck. But I wanted to go to yoga to shake off my already dark moody Sunday blues. This canine f*7k you caused an escalation to my mood’s darkness.

Dean suggested split pea soup. It is a green color which is a good contrast to the grey outside, so I agreed to make it. An added bonus was using the chukkar stock I made yesterday. Chances are you don’t have chukkar stock and for some reason this made me feel better. I have something other people don’t have. I realize I’ll suffer for my obnoxious self-centeredness later, but at that moment it made me feel better.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 c split peas
  • 2 quarts chukkar-vegetable stock* (in the most likely scenario that you do not have chukkar stock, you can use chicken stock)
  • 1/2 medium sweet onion finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery finely chopped
  • 1/3 c. small diced kolbasà, Ukrainian salami (bacon or pancetta are fine too)
  • 1 small potato
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • few grinds white pepper, or to taste
  • salt
  • butter/olive oil

Over medium heat bring stock to a boil and turn off. Meanwhile melt 1T butter in a medium sized pot over medium heat and saute the onion for 3 minutes. Add celery and a couple pinches of salt and saute another 3 minutes. Add kolbasà or what ever pork product you’ve selected to use and saute for another 3 minutes. Add peas stirring to combine and add 4 c. stock. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered stirring occasionally for an hour or so, adding more stock as needed to keep things bubbling along.

Add thyme, white pepper, salt and taste.

Wash, peel and cut potato into a small dice and add to the pot. Cook stirring often for another 20 minutes. Add liquid and adjust the seasonings.

Serve with crusty peasant bread or buttery croutons.

What is a chukkar?

A small tasty bird shot by people who like to shoot things in game preserves. Most of the time those (mostly) men don’t eat what they shoot, so the preserve has lots of birds in the freezer. I roast and eat them… that is a superfast meal because the little bird only takes 20 minutes to roast to perfection. A post for that will come later.

Makes one quart

  • 3-4 chukkar carcasses
  • 1 carrot cut into several pieces
  • 2 celery cut into several pieces
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • clove garlic
  • 5 peppercorns
  • 1 star anise
  • bay leaf
  • 6 cups water to cover everything

Put the carcasses, onion, garlic, celery, carrot into 2 quart pot, add cold water and bring to a boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to simmer, add peppercorns, star anise, bay leaf. Simmer uncovered for 3 hours. Check stock periodically and you may need to add a cup or two of boiling water to keep the water level up.

Remove from heat. Let cool slightly and strain through cheese cloth. If not using in the next 24 hours, freeze it.

Cucumber and avocado salad, Japanese-style with pickled ginger, wasabi and soy

Cucumber, avocado, soy sauce, pickled ginger

At around 8:45 p.m. in Millbrook it was 9ºF outside and I was staring into the refrigerator. I closed it and stared at the door where my my shopping list was hanging (see below). I saw that eel was still on the list – obviously I’d forgotten to take the list with me on my last trip to Adams because there were things crossed out like cereal and red onion* and chocolate – I thought, “Gee, I wish I’d remembered to pick up frozen eel. All my food problems would be solved with a bowl of eel and sushi rice.”

I stared at the collage: the sloppy  list, the dog, the cheese labels, Douglas dressed up as a dancing woman, the weird homemade magnet Dean made and I fantasized about Zutto’s eel hand roll: I’m dipping the roll into the little tub of soy and wasabi and then taking a bite of pickled ginger. Oh! (the little surprised voice from the Wii machine went off in my brain). I was really craving a soy-wasabi-ginger combo. I had a cucumber and avocado so why not make a salad version without the seaweed and rice and eel? So I did and it was good.

Vegetables

  • Cucumber, peeled and diced
  • Avocado, small dice
  • cabbage (optional), slivered
  • onion, thin slivers (what ever variety you like)

Sauce:

  • wasabi in a tube, small squeeze
  • soy sauce, 2-3 T
  • rice vinegar, 1-2 T
  • vegetable oil, 1-2 T

Topping

  • sesame seeds, toasted
  • pickled ginger, chopped

Method

  • Put all the salad vegetables together in a bowl. Add oil and mix.
  • Mix together the soy sauce, rice vinegar, wasabi together in a small, blue and white, Asian bowl bought in Chinatown. Add sauce to the salad and toss.
  • Add the picked ginger and toss
  • Add the sesame seeds to top

Eat

*Are Red Onions Getting Stronger?

Maybe my tolerance for raw red onions is dropping. I thought they’d add color to the salad and, while they can be really good in a salad, be conservative in application. I had them in my Japanese-style salad but put in too many and now I’m an onion head. Haaaaaaaaaaaa.

Brussel sprouts and whole wheat pasta, a happy-go-lucky couple

Who knew that whole wheat pasta and cabbage like substances are perfect partners? I love this pasta because it is super fast and cheap. If I have a cabbage, I use it instead of the b-sprouts. If all I have is soba, I use that.

I like my pasta dishes that have a greater ratio of vegetable matter to pasta. So you can adjust accordingly. Sometimes I get inspired and I add stuff to the dish, like dried cranberries and toasted walnuts. But you don’t have to. You can make this a super simple dish. I guess you could also asianify* it, that will be for another day.

For two people.

Ingredients:

7-9 Brussel sprouts, ends cut off, sliced fairly thin or quarter of a large white cabbage sliced in long 1/4″ strips
Garlic, 2 cloves or more, minced
Salt and pepper
3-4 oz Whole wheat pasta (see serving amounts on package)
2 T Olive Oil or butter
Pecorino Romano (or Parmegiano)
Toasted walnuts (or pine nuts), chopped up
Dried cranberries (optional)

Prep:

  • Boil water, add salt, add pasta.
  • Heat the fat over medium, add the cabbage and the garlic and saute until lightly browned and cooked. If you need some liquid in the bottom of the pan because it is getting too brown, take some a tablespoon of the pasta liquid and add it to the center of the pan. Add salt and lots of black pepper.
  • Reserve a little pasta liquid.
  • Drain the pasta, add to vegetables, toss around and add the cheese. Toss in a few dried cranberries. Add a little olive oil. Divide between dishes and top with walnuts.

Eat.

*Abuse of language alert!