pea-soup-finalThe holiday trimmings are all packed up, the deep fryer is clean and up on the high shelf of the pantry, and any sweet has been devoured.  Things are back to the dull roar of life, and the house seems lighter and breezy.  My wallet is also feeling lighter, but my butt is heavier.  So it is time to put a lid on all unnecessary spending and indulgences.  Fair well, oh luscious garlic mayonnaise, good bye cream puffs, au revoir pommes frites.  Hello 2010 and austerity.

Well, that is not exactly going to work well with me.  The reality is to find economic meals that are “planet-sustainable” (that’s my kids talking) and delicious.  Which brings me to soups: split pea soup in particular.

What I like about thick soups is that they can become an easy meal, especially if you have made the soup ahead of time and have freeze it.   With my split pea soup (which I turn into a concentrate by reducing the liquid) I have had enough soup for 11 -12 servings.  Delicious, filling and low in calories, it is a perfect lunch for me.  And if you don’t think that it, along with fruit and a beverage, will be enough to get you through the day, add a spoonful of oat bran and flaxseed just before serving and mix well.

HEAVENLY SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 ham bone or ham hock

2 packets of dried green peas – approx. 2 lbs.

1 onion sliced finely

3 peeled potatoes,  rough chopped or sliced

3 peeled and chopped carrots

6 cups of water

6 cups of chicken stock, bouillon or broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

Oat Bran and Flax seed optional

DIRECTIONS:  Prep – 10 minutes, Cooking Time 1 ½ hours

In a large pot add water, chicken stock, peas, ham, onions, carrots, and potatoes. Using a medium setting,  cover and boil for ½ hour, then reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour.  Before serving either use a potato masher (easy to clean) or an immersion stick blender just enough to mash up the potatoes, however leaving some texture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  If you want more fiber, add 1 teaspoon of oat bran and fax seed. Serve hot with croutons or oyster crackers (unless you’re on a diet, like me).  Give the dog the ham bone or strip the hock of the fat and give Fido the remains.  Woof, woof!

pea-soup-1pea-soup-2

Keep soup on simmer for another hour.  Soap will get very thick.  Cool down and place thicken mixture in plastic container.  Refrigerate or freeze.  To make a bowlful of soup, get approx. 1 – ½ cups of refrigerated split pea mixture and mix in ½ cup (approx) of chicken broth, bouillon or stock.  Microwave for 2 ½ minutes. Again season to taste, and for more fiber, add oatbran and flaxseed.

During the later part of the fall and into the winter, local area beets are readily available.  They are very easy to grow and stay crisp in a refrigerator for months.  I always love their sparkling colors and crispy taste.  This recipe guarantees that beets will be a big hit with you and your family.  You can cook the beets ahead of time. If you want to boil the beets, I suggest cooking them in the microwave (10 minutes on high with a microwavable lid and ½ cup of water on the bottom of the container) , otherwise cooking beets takes about one hour.  For this recipe the beets can be boiled  (one hour  – cover with a lid) or even better, roasted for a more complex taste.

INGREDIENTS

5-6 medium size beets

Olive oil

3 hard boiled eggs – sliced or chopped

Blue cheese dressing made in the SaladSuccess container but replace blue cheese with  gorgonzola cheese

¼ cup chopped walnuts –  optional

1 apple such as Fuji, peeled and chopped (optional)

Lettuce to line the salad bowl – mesclun, Boston or Romaine

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Wash beets, scrub skins and remove greens (use for stir fry.  Place beets in a baking dish, and drizzle olive oil on the beets.  Toss the beets to cover all sides with the olive oil.  Bake until a knife can easily cut the beets, usually for 45 – 60.

Line a bowl or a platter with salad greens.  Slice beets and place on top of greens. Add eggs, walnuts and apples.  Pour dressing over salad.

gratersI know, it’s two days before the incredible Turkey Day, and my mind is on pedicures, (really).  Not just pedicures, but that little egg grater call Ped EggTM has been looming on my mind.  The Ped Egg was initially developed to file away heavy skin of heels and toes.  In the genetic pool, I’ve seem to inherit nasty, thick, rapid growing calluses on my feet.  Now that is more information than you need to know.

The good thing out of this is that I’ve tried every product to remove the calluses and finally found a little file/grater called Ped-Egg which does a wonder job getting rid of my nasty little problem.  Watching my daughter trying to grate a small portion of parmesan cheese and making a mess, I realized that Ped Egg would be perfect.  It is also perfect for garlic, nutmeg, citrus, almost any substance that you need to grate small amounts and easily capture.  The only thing to beware is that Ped Egg is mostly from plastic which will keep that wonderful garlic smell forever.  So buy yourself several Ped Eggs and go experiment.  Luckily they come in 3 colors; pink, light blue and white.

Talk about grating, when I need large amounts of finely grated items, my first choice is my mother’s french cheese grater.  Truly a bizarre contraption, it quickly grates chucks of cheese, nuts and other foods.  The only problem is that it takes up to much room in my small kitchen, which is why it is still at my mother’s house.  I love the Microplane TM rasp for quick, medium size jobs but have been disappointed with their small rasp (it’s in the photo along with the large rasp) – I can’t seem to make it work as well as their large rasps.  But for a fine tiny job, the Ped Egg is wonderful .

Enough about graters and rasps.  Let’s talk about food, and a great cranberry recipe.  Here is one of my favorites.  Every year I buy a large bag of cranberries and make a huge pot of the this recipe.   Cranberry sauce freezes well, so put most of it in plastic containers and freeze for another day.  However if you are DESPERATE, Trader Joe’s makes a good cranberry sauce that isn’t too sugary sweet.

Madeira Cranberry Orange Relish

You can experiment and try using Chardonnay or a Merlot wine instead of the Madeira.

INGREDIENTS

1 pound washed cranberries

2 cups of sugar

½ cup of good Madeira

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

½ cup of orange juice

1/4 cup of finely chopped almonds or hazelnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1. In a large heavy pot combine all the ingredients except the nuts.  Cook until the cranberries pop open (approximately 10 minutes).  Skim the foam.  Cool down

2.  Serve the relish in a lovely dish and garnish with the nuts.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy the holiday.  Don’t forget to use your SaladSuccess Salad Dressing Shaker and eat lots of wonderful salads.

breadbowl1By Saturday, I had it.  Too many times we went to Urgent Care; Mom swore she had heart pains which turned out to be pains from a fall  and Suzanne washed her contacts out with the wrong cleaner, thus burning her epithelial cellular layer of her eyes.  Too many times I drove kids around, too many interruptions and too little time for me to get the things done that I had on my list.  I really wanted to work on my family tree and hem my new suit  jackets and pants.  Nothing I wanted to get done got accomplished.  So when it came to dinner time, I panicked.  I hadn’t defrosted any meats or fish, and no little grey cells in my brain were coming alive and printing out a menu.

Then I remembered Clam Chowder Bowls.  Christie loves going to San Francisco and getting a bowl for lunch.  Not only is the soup delicious and warming, there is the afterlife of the meal which she gets to pull apart the sourdough bread and chew the bread with the remnants of the soup.  Plus, I know how to cheat on clam chowder, and by using a favorite can brand,  I add some ingredients, and voila, gourmet clam chowder in 10 minutes.  So here is the skinny.

Clam Chowder Bowls for 4

INGREDIENTS

4 sourdough bread rounds

3 cans of Snow’s New England Clam Chowder (condensed**)

3 cans of low fat/regular milk

1 bunch of finely chopped parsley, no stems

¼ cup of white whine

½ lb of sliced mushrooms

1 onion finely sliced

DIRECTIONS

Turn the sourdough bread rounds into soup bowls by slicing the domed top and hollowing out the inside of the bowl (don’t hollow out too much of the sides) just you would do a pumpkin.

Follow the directions on the back of the Captain Snow’s chowder can.  This will become a rich soup using 2% milk, so it will become incredibly rich with regular milk or half & half. Add the wine.

Sauté the onion and mushrooms in a small pan.  I use olive oil but butter is fine.

Once the onions and mushrooms are sauté (onions should be limp and translucent, mushroom should be soft), place them into the bottom of each bowl.  Add the soup and garnish with parsley and a tab of butter.  Serve immediately.  Excellent with a glass of white wine (I really needed it on Saturday) and a mixed green salad.  Don’t forget the vinaigrette using your SaladSuccess salad dressing shaker.

*** If you can’t find the clam chowder in the condensed form, use the regular can (but you will need double the amount and should adjust the recipe accordingly).

Many users of  the SaladSuccess shaker have been asking for salad recipes to go along with the dressing,  I guess we all get tired of lettuce and a few wedges of tomatoes, cucumber slices and carrots.  Once of my favorite salads is Belgium endive salad, which is simple, and elegant.  Around this time of year, I get cravings for endives (my husband hates them, which is great since they are expensive and he won’t touch them) and have endive salad marathons at lunch time.  Make sure that you use Reggiano Parmesan cheese – it intensifies the flavors of the endives with the vinaigrette.

INGREDIENTS

Belgium endives – one or two (endive lovers) per person.  Don’t count the kids, it is an acquired taste due to the bitterness of the endives.

Reggiano Parmesan – about 10 beautiful long slices

Sherry & Shallots vinaigrette

DIRECTIONS

First chop off the thick, hardcore end of the endive.

I like to rough chop the endives so that they make little curls.  That way it is easier for the dressing and parmesan to get mixed with the vinaigrette.  However for a more elegant look, you could peel the leaves of endives.

Decorate with the cheese.

When ready to serve, shake the sherry & shallot dressing in the SaladSuccess shaker and pour over the salad.

Here is another southwestern rendition of ranch dressing, this time with chipotles, limes and cilantro. Has a delightful clean fresh taste and it’s great as a dressing or a dip.

INGREDIENTS

Mayonnaise

Buttermilk or sour cream

4 large spoonfuls of parmesan cheese

4 large spoonfuls of lime juice

4 large spoonfuls of pureed chipotle peppers

1 large spoonful of cilentro

1 spoonful of minced dried onion

1 spoonful of cumin

1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced

2 dashes of salt

1 dash of cayenne

DIRECTIONS

Mayonnaise to the ½ blue marks on the SaladSuccess Shaker

Buttermilk or sour cream to the top of the blue vinegar line

Add the rest of the ingredients

Shake vigorously and chill for ½ hour or more.

Reshake before serving

Once again, don’t squeeze out the dressing through the poppet top; just unscrew the top and pour over your salad.

Well, let’s turn up the heat.  And the spices.  You can use any taco seasoning with this recipe.  I myself have a large bottle of McCormick Taco Seasoning that I bought at Costco, but the best I found was Chef Andrew Cohen’s Southwest Spice Seasoning.  Give a call at Malabar Trading Company at 831-469-8233 to order.  Warning, these packets are small so order enough.  This dressing is not only great while eating chicken wings, but also on a green salad with jicama, cheddar cheese, sweet red peppers and of course, avocado slices.

INGREDIENTS

Mayonnaise

Buttermilk or Sour Cream

4 large spoonfuls of taco seasoning

1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced

2 dashes of salt

2 dash of cayenne pepper

DIRECTIONS

Mayonnaise to the ½ blue mark on the SaladSuccess Shaker

Buttermilk/sour cream to the top of the blue vinegar line

Add taco seasoning, garlic, salt & cayenne pepper

Shake vigorously and chill for ½ hour.

Reshake before serving

Once again, don’t squeeze out the dressing through the poppet top; just unscrew the top and pour over your salad .

Fried Chicken with Ranch Dressing, it’s an American classic.  Here is a simple and wonderful way to make Ranch Dressing for chicken or for a mixed salad.  I especially love it over beets.  If you want it with a  richer taste, then replace the buttermilk with sour cream.  Delightful, either way.

INGREDIENTS

Mayonnaise

Buttermilk

4 large spoonfuls of Parmesan cheese

2 large spoonfuls of dried parsley

1 spoonful of minced dried onion

1 clove of garlic, pressed or minced

2 dashes of salt

1 dash of pepper

DIRECTIONS

Mayonnaise to the ½ blue mark on the SaladSuccess Shaker

Buttermilk to the top of the blue vinegar line

Add Parmesan cheese, dry parsley, minced dry onion, garlic, salt & pepper

Shake vigorously and chill for ½ hour.

Reshake before serving

Once again, don’t squeeze out the dressing through the poppet top; just unscrew the top and pour over your salad.

Vinegared dishes in Japan are called sunomono as su means vinegar in Japanese. Sunomono has a light, clean taste and goes with many types of dishes. Try this dressing on finely sliced cucumbers (get out the mandoline), a bit of daikon (Japanese radish), scallions and carrots.  If you want to be adventurous, put few tiny raw scallops and a slice of raw salmon, along with a little dollop of crab meat (steam these if you’re squeamish). Then sprinkle with sesame seeds.  This recipe is from a fabulous web site, www.edibleparadise.com and was contributed by Chef Andrew Cohen, Chef in Residence, Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets.
INGREDIENTS
Rice vinegar
Dashi (see below)
5 large spoonfuls of sugar
DIRECTIONS
Rice vinegar to the ½ blue mark on the SaladSuccess Shaker
Dashi to the top  vinegar line
Add sugar
Shake vigorously in the SaladSuccess Shaker
Pour over salad
In small bowl, whisk all ingredients vigorously until sugar goes into suspension.

Chef Andrew has provided a dashi recipe at Edible Paradise.  Dashi is the stock used in Japanese cuisine.  It’s made with kelp and bonito flakes, all available at Asian markets. Instant dashi powder is also available at stores. Use it if you are time-limited. Usually, about 1 tsp of dashi powder is used for 3 to 5 cups of water. Just follow the instructions on the package.

I love poppy seed dressing over tart apples such as Pippin or Granny Smith, various finely sliced cabbages, and a couple handfuls of chopped walnuts.  However you might try it on baby spinach leaves, paper-thin slices of red onion, mandarin oranges, dried cranberries and almond slivers.  It’s that sweet/sour mix that is so exciting for our palates

INGREDIENTS

Oil – canola or vegetable

White wine vinegar

4 large spoonfuls of honey or sugar

2 spoonfuls dry mustard
2 large spoonfuls poppy seeds

A dash or two of salt

DIRECTIONS

Oil to the ½ blue mark of the SaladSuccess shaker

White wine vinegar to the ¾ blue oil mark

Add honey or sugar, dry mustard, poppy seeds and salt

Shake vigorously in SaladSuccess shaker

Chill and shake again before serving (you’ll need to open the top or else the poppy seeds with clog the poppet top)