Saturday, February 25, 2017

Golden Split Pea Soup with Ham

This recipe was provided to me by Ralph Childs' mother, who came to our home in 2009 and showed me how to make it. She called it Swedish Yellow Split Pea Soup and her handwritten recipe is shown below. It's still a winter favorite at our house and I make it every year. It tastes great and is hardy enough for dinner during the cold winter months in Chicago. Until recently I didn't realize the recipe was not on the blog, so here it is.

Julian's Golden Split Pea Soup with Ham
She said "This soup is usually served with beer and a good rye bread.  A meaty ham bone will provide bite size pieces of ham to add to the soup before serving.  I buy a slice of ham and cut it up and add to the soup when it is finished if the ham bone isn't meaty enough."

Katherine Childs with Wayne Kaba
enjoying a cocktail while we wait for the soup to cook.
Even if you don't have a ham bone, you can still make this soup. I usually purchase what our store calls 'ham steak' which has a small round bone in the center. Even without it you can just substitute a couple smaller pieces of ham to cook with the base, reserving some additional pieces to put in the soup at the end so you have some chunks of meat in each serving. I've even used a bit of bacon to make the stock browning it slightly with the onion. The recipe is also easily cut in half if you are not cooking for a hungry crowd.

Ingredients (serves 8 adults)
In Momma Childs own Hand
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
8 cups chicken brother (or water)
16 ounces split peas, yellow dry preferred
1 large bay leaf
1 large ham bone, with some meat on bone
3/4 tablespoon dill weed, dry
3 teaspoons salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
1 large celery stalk, cut up
3 medium white potato, cut 1" thick
Extra pieces of ham to finish
parsley or cilantro, to garnish (optional)
sour cream, to garnish (optional)

Instructions (with revisions by Julian)
Rinse the yellow split peas in a strainer.  Cut any dark rind (skin) from the ham that remains on the ham bone.  While some meat on the bone is good, set aside any additional meat to add to the pot at the end.

In a large Dutch Oven over medium-high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the the peeled and chopped onions and saute until just becoming tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken broth or water along with the ham bone and turn to high. Bring the pot to a low boil and add the split peas and bay leaf. When the broth returns to a low boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook covered for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Add the dill weed, salt and pepper to the pot and remove the ham bone.  If any meat remains on the bone, pull it off and add back to the broth. Simmer 45 minutes longer stirring occasionally.

Add the cut up celery and cook for an additional 15 minutes.  Add the cut potatoes and increase temperature to a low boil.  Cook until tender, about 20 additional minutes.  Stir in any remaining bite size portions of ham during the last 5 minutes before serving.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to serving bowls and add parsley/cilantro and/or sour cream for garnish.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pan Grilled Pork Chops with Cognac Cream Sauce

Once you learn to make some basic pan sauces, you can modify and use those for many other dishes. Today I'm making pan grilled pork chops and I've modified Julia's classic cognac cream sauce she uses for beef fillets for this recipe.

Julian's Grilled Pork Chop with Mustard Cognac Cream Sauce
Mustard pairs well with pork, so I often use this recipe for the sauce. When selecting chops, I prefer a t-bone pork chop 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick. You could also use a bone-in strip cut version. I prefer bone-in chops simply because they have more flavor.

2 pork chops, bone in preferred
Pinch of granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup Cognac
1 small shallot or onion (about 2 tablespoons)
     very finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
freshly cracked pepper
Kitchen Bouqet browning sauce (optional)

Wash and dry the chops. Sprinkle one side with a pinch of sugar. In a medium sized skillet (cast-iron preferred) over moderately high heat, melt the butter and olive oil. As soon as the butter and oil are hot, place the chops sugar side down in the pan. Cook 4-5 minutes then turn and cook the other side until the chops are cooked through (another 4-5 minutes) and an instant read thermometer shows 145F.  Once done, remove the chops to a plate, tent with foil and set aside on the stove top to keep warm.

Move the skillet off heat, add the Cognac to the pan all at one time and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match or firestick. Stand back, even a small amount of Cognac will initially make a big flame. Gently shake pan until the flames die.

Return the pan to medium heat and add the shallot/onion and the butter. Stir for 2 minutes or so until soft and lightly browned. Add the mustard and stir in. Add the cream and bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. If you prefer the sauce to be more brown, add a couple drops of Kitchen Bouquet and stir in. Add the chops back to the pan, turning them in the warm sauce and serve. Spoon remaining sauce over plated chops.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Spaghetti

If your tired of the red ragu, then give this simple fast dish a try. Sea scallops are easy to procure and prepare. Spaghetti is a favorite world wide. Combine the two for a flavorful dinner.

Julian's Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Spaghetti

Ingredients (4 servings)
24 medium sea scallops
      Thawed if previously frozen.
Paper towels
Sugar, granulated white
Vegetable oil

1 pound dry spaghetti
4 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/3 cup white wine
Fresh basil (substitute dry)
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Line a plate or cutting board with 2-3 layers of paper towels. Set the scallops on the paper towels and blot dry with more paper towels. Uncover, and salt heavily. Turn and salt the other side. Don't be concerned about using too much salt as this will be washed away before cooking. Cover with another paper towels, press down gently and set aside for 30 minutes. Line another plate or board with 2-3 layers of paper towels, and transfer the scallops to the new plate, turning them over as you go. Cover with another layer of paper towels discarding the wet towels from the original plate. Gently press the paper towel down onto the scallops and set aside for another 30 minutes. This process removes excess moisture, which inhibits browning.

Rinse the scallops in colander to remove excess salt and drain.  Line a plate or board with paper towels once again and lay the scallops on the paper. Blot with a second towel and let sit for 5 minutes as you heat oil in the skillet over medium-high heat and bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Place the dry pasta in the boiling water and stir until submerged.

Uncover the the scallops and sprinkle with a light coating of sugar. This will aid in browning. Add the oil to a non-stick skillet set over high heat. When the oil is shimmering hot and nearly smoking, add the scallops sugared side down and cook 2-4 minutes until will browned. Turn with tongs and cook another 1-2 minutes until they are medium rare in the centers. Remove to a plate and keep warm on the stove top.

Reduce heat to medium, add the butter and garlic to the skillet and stir to cook the garlic for 1 minute. Add the white wine and stir cooking for 2-3 minutes and the liquid is reduced by half. Add the cooked spaghetti to the skillet and combine with the wine sauce. Sprinkle in some shaved cheese and the basil. Plate each portion and add six scallops per person. Sprinkle with additional cheese and serve.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Brussels Sprouts - Shredded and Sautéed

Some people do not like Brussels sprouts, but preparing them this way seems to make everyone a fan. Perhaps there is something about the vegetable that reminds people of cabbage heads. Whatever the case, when I use this technique, they seem to be enjoyed by all.

Julian's Brussels Sprouts - Shredded and Sautéed
Ready for the table.
I got the original idea from chef Sara Moulton. This is a modified version of her recipe. Unlike baking or boiling, a fast cook in your skillet and these are ready. The recipe calls for pancetta or bacon, but I've even used diced hard salami. Any of these meats will give the dish a nice flavor. I' using a food processor for speed in the recipe below, but you could slice them with a mandolin or sharp knife.

Ingredients (4 servings)
2-4 ounces pancetta or bacon
1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1 large carrot
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Finely chop the pancetta or bacon. Wash the carrot and sprouts. Trim the sprouts and discard loose or dark outer leaves. Fit a food processor with the slicing blade. Push the Brussels sprouts, a few at a time, through the chute with the blade in motion. Change to the shredding blade and shred the carrot into the sprouts.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta/bacon and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Add the sprouts/carrot and cook, stirring and turning regularly for 5 minutes. Pour in the vinegar and increase the heat to high. Season with salt and pepper and stir until the vinegar has evaporated. Serve warm.