Saturday, November 15, 2008

Split Pea Soup

This is my Mom's recipe for Split Pea Soup.  It is another simple, healthy, frugal meal, similar to the Simple Lentil Stew.  It is good with sandwiches or salad, and any of the breads I've blogged about so far.  

Split Pea Soup (Serves 2-4)
4-5 cups water
1 cup split peas
2 carrots finely diced
2 stalks celery finely diced
1 small onion, finely diced
1 cup noodle style pasta (elbow macaroni, spaghetti , angel hair, or whatever)
pinch of celery seed
salt and black pepper to taste
  • Place water and split peas in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until peas begin to soften, 25-35 minutes.
  • Add carrots, celery, onion, and seasonings.  Depending on what type of pasta you use, you may want to add it now or wait a few minutes.
  • Cook until all ingredients are tender/done, about another 10-15 minutes.
  • Watch pot closely, and simmer with lid tilted, as split peas have a tendency to boil over easily.  Towards the end of cooking, you may need to stir frequently to prevent burning.
This soup is one of my favorite meals.  I think it is best eaten when freshly made.  It tastes fine leftover, but has a tendency to turn into a split pea brick in the refrigerator.  If you do have some left, you will need to add a little water when reheating.  Whatever pasta I choose, I always add a 2 oz. (one) serving.  I used penne this time, so I added it with the veggies since it takes longer to cook.  The recipe should make approximately 4 cups of soup at 175 calories per cup.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Oatmeal Bread

I found this recipe on the back of a bag of King Arthur Bread Flour.  This is the first bread recipe I've tried from King Arthur, and the first one I've ever used oatmeal or raisins in.  I think it is going to be every bit as good as they said!  My husband has already tried some and given it his stamp of approval.  King Arthur describes it as a tender, high rising bread that makes wonderful sandwiches and great toast.  I would have to agree, it seems just right, and I can't wait to try it for my breakfast toast.

Oatmeal Bread
3 cups King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
2 teaspoons instant yeast or 1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm milk
3/4 cup raisins or currants (optional)
If using active dry yeast, dissolve it in the warm milk before combining with the remaining ingredients.
  • In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all of the ingredients, mixing to form a shaggy dough.  Knead dough, by hand (10 minutes) or by machine (5 minutes) till it's smooth.  Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow it to rise for one hour.  It will become puffy, although it may not double in bulk.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled surface, and shape it into a log.  Place the log in a lightly greased 9x5-inch loaf pan, cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, till it's crested 1 to 2 inches over the rim of the pan.
  • Bake the bread in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190 degrees F.  If the bread appears to be browning too quickly, tent it with aluminum foil for the final 10 minutes of baking.
Here is what the dough looked like after kneading, but before any rising.
As you can see, I added the optional raisins.  I used fat free milk, since that's what I had on hand.  I let the bread rise for the full 1 1/2 hours the second time.  I mixed the dough in my Cuisinart food processor and kneaded it by hand.  You may want to oil your hands and work surface lightly before kneading, this dough seemed very sticky to me at first and that helped keep me from adding too much flour during kneading and shaping.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dorie's Chocolate Chunkers

When I first picked up Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking: From My Home To Yours, this was the first recipe that really caught my attention.  I knew I would have to make these cookies!  Mine look nothing like hers, but I'm sure they taste every bit as good.  My Official Cookie Taster (my husband) says they are really good.  The only problem I ran into was not having enough chocolate chips.  So I used 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips instead of a whole cup.  I didn't have any bittersweet chocolate either, so I used 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips (4 oz.) and 2 oz. of unsweetened chocolate instead of just one.  The cookies didn't spread as much as I expected they would, but otherwise they seem to have turned out just right.  I use a tablespoon sized mini ice cream scoop whenever I make drop cookies, and using that I was able to get 40 cookies out of this recipe.  It probably would have been a few more than that if I hadn't run out of chocolate.

Chocolate Chunkers

1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 cup store-bought chips or chunks
6 oz. premium quality milk or white chocolate, chopped into chunks, or 1 cup store-bought chips or chunks (I used Ghirardelli white chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped nuts, preferably salted peanuts or toasted pecans
1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or finely chopped moist, plump dried apricots (I think sweetened dried cranberries would work well also)
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  • Sift together flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder.
  • Melt butter, bittersweet chocolate, and unsweetened chocolate in a double boiler (set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water), stirring occasionally just until melted.  Chocolate and butter should be smooth and shiny, but not so hot that the butter separates.
  • Remove the bowl from heat and set on the counter to cool.  Working with a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes, until they are pale and foamy.  Beat in the vanilla extract, then scrape down the bowl.
  • Reduce mixer speed to low and add the melted butter and chocolate mixture, mixing only until incorporated.  Scrape down the bowl again.
  • On low speed, add the dry ingredients.  Mix just until the dry ingredients disappear into the dough, which will be thick, smooth and shiny.  Scrape down the bowl, then add the semisweet chocolate chunks, milk (or white) chocolate chunks, nuts, and raisins.  You will have more crunchies than dough at this point.
  • Drop dough by generous tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between the mounds of dough.   Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes.  The tops will look a little dry, but the centers will be soft.
  • Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool.  When cooled, if the chocolate is still gooey and you'd like them firmer, just refrigerate for about 10 minutes.  
My cookies were not gooey, but tender and moist on the inside.  I baked them for the full 12 minutes.  I'll definitely be making this one again!  The next thing you know, there will be nothing but crumbs left.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Gourmet Black Beans and Rice

I found this recipe in my mom's little handwritten book of recipes many years ago, and it was one of my favorite dishes when she made it.  I think I must have copied it down for myself when I was about 15 or 16.  I've started making it fairly often and it is delicious and simple. I usually serve the black beans over brown long grain or basmati rice as you see here.

Gourmet Black Beans - serves 4-6
1 cup (1/2 pound) dried black beans (sorted, rinsed and soaked overnight per package directions)
3-4 cups water (I usually use 4 cups, use less if you prefer your beans with less liquid)
1-4 tablespoons of olive oil (I prefer only 1 tablespoon)
1 large onion, chopped
1 4 oz. jar pimientos
salt to taste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Drain soaking water off beans, combine beans and water in saucepan.  Cook beans until they are just becoming tender, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  
  • Add remaining ingredients and simmer until desired doneness is reached, 20-30 minutes more.
  • Serve over rice.  It is very good plain, or with a little cheese or sour cream.  I usually leave out the onions since my husband doesn't like them and add some onion powder to enhance the flavor.  If dividing the recipe four ways, the beans are about 135 calories per serving (approximately 2/3 cup each) the way I made them.