Archive for February, 2012

February 26, 2012

Southern Twist | Black-eyed Pea Hummus

I made a whole mess of black-eyed peas and had plenty of leftovers.  And to me, black eyed peas are already so creamy, that they almost just beg to be made into a hummus.  With only four ingredients, aside from the aforementioned peas and saltpepperoliveoil, it’s a snap to fix.

And I have to say, this batch came out even more velvety than I could imagine.  I think it was the generous use of tahini along with an already willing bean.

It was all gobbled up in no time flat.

Black-eyed Pea Hummus

3 green onions, thinly sliced

3 large cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled

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February 24, 2012

My Most Favorite Soup | Spicy Senegalese Peanut

This is truly and honestly my most favorite soup of all time.  It is creamy and comforting, spicy and flavorful.  It is African-influenced.  It is at once modern and familiar.  And while you’ll need a handful of spices (have you been building your spice cabinet?), the technique is simple and fairly quick.

I first came across this soup years and years ago when I lived in New Jersey.  Montclair, with its “winter views” of Manhattan, had an outpost of what was, for a brief shining moment, a wonderful little soup shop.  Initially, it was really great.  But then, the original owners dropped out after making a cookbook, someone else took over.   You know the story.  This shop was in a teeny what-used-to-probably-be-a-closet-for-maintenance-equipment underneath railroad tracks.

But this soup.  The combination of leeks and curry and peanuts and spice and goodness, well, it was worth it what I seem to recall being like nine bucks a bowl.

Here’s my take on all the warm toasty soup goodness with none of the pesky cost.  Enjoy it when it’s chilly and you want to skip the meat for a night or four.  This makes plenty.

Spicy Senegalese Peanut Soup, makes a whole bunch (inspired by a recipe in The Daily Soup Cookbook)

1  12 oz bag of roasted, salted peanuts (this is the size of a bag from Whole Foods)

2 T vegetable oil, (or preferably peanut oil)

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February 19, 2012

French Crush | Pâtisserie Lallier

I have a new pastry crush.

It’s on Michelle from Pâtisserie Lallier.  She is a French-taught (Le Cordon Bleu, natch) pastry chef that has an almost mystical way about guimauves (that’s marshmallows to you and me).  Her Crème de Violette ones are particularly swoon-worthy.  The chocolate ones already have a loyal following.

And wouldn’t you know, she is lovely in every way else, too.  I met her recently when she and I judged at Taste of OSU, and after that I just seemed to keep bumping into her.  She is bright, kind and amazingly hard-working (she’s a full-time banker) all the while making marshmallows and pâtisseries and all manner of laminated doughs practically in the middle of the night for her Pâtisserie.  She also has a penchant for local ingredients, even making pawpaw Madelines each September.  She’s a girl after my heart.

She is debating a jump to full-time Pâtisserie work because it’s what’s in her heart and

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February 16, 2012

Mix This | Georgian ‘Curry’ Mix

ImageIn Georgian cooking, Khmeli Suneli is a spice mix that can be used as a dry rub or as an enhancement to soups and stews. It is essentially a curry, since it’s just a mix of spices.  You can choose to use all dried ingredients, or include some fresh, if you have it or it’s in season.

I used this in a mixed braise with lamb and short ribs (expect a post about that soon).  But it would also be great mixed with some olive oil and bread crumbs as an herb crust on chicken or fish.  Or sprinkle in a heaping tablespoon once you’ve sweated down some onions as a base for soup.

It’s fragrant, beautiful stuff, with forgiving measurements.

Persephone’s Khmeli Suneli

Mix equal parts dried of (I used a tablespoon each):

Whole fenugreek seeds

Bay leaf (I used 2 huge ones)

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February 13, 2012

Sharing History | Stuffed Cabbage

This is hardly even a post about cooking.

It’s a post about what what to do when you want to help.  When things happen in life and I feel like I want to hug and cry and help,  I cook.

And often, because I feel such a connection with meals, the thing to be cooked just comes to me.  This time it was the humble stuffed cabbage.

When I was little, stuffed cabbage was a comforting dish that my mom would make on Sundays.  When I was newly married and a fish out of water in New Jersey, it was the dish my mother-in-law and I connected over at Paul’s Diner in Mountain Lakes.  Turns out, she loved it, just like I did.  She grew up with her mother making them, as well as serendipitously being at a diner on the rare day the kitchen made them.  In Texas we don’t have much of a diner culture, but I really grew to love this aspect of New Jersey.

As she explained it, every diner had its own schedule of when things were made and you kind of needed to be a regular to figure it all out.  We happened to be there on a Monday, during lunch and we both decided saw and decided immediately that we’d have the cabbage.  She grew up with cabbage rolls being served with copious amounts of mashed potatoes.

This was not something my mother did. 

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February 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday | Tapping Maples at Flying J

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Playlist included Mr. Sun, by Kina Granis.

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