Green Pea and Ham Soup


Recipe 13 of 103

How about some soup?

PeaSoup01

photo by Jenny

Creamy, earthy, sweet and savory green pea soup with lovely chunks of smoked ham hock. April has you make a ham stock with smoked ham hocks. So lets chat about ham hocks for a moment. The ham hocks you get at a regular grocery stores are smoked and cured, usually all bone, very little meat and that weird overly cured pink color making them very salty. If you can avoid these, please do so, this way you can control the flavor of your soup and it won’t taste like curing salt. Try to find fresh smoked ham hocks, whole foods whole paycheck has them or most good butchers should too. Cooking beans all day with the cured smoked hocks works very well, they stand up to each other much better, but for this soup, you want the delicate pea flavor to shine.

Here is what you will need

For the Broth/Stock

2 pounds meaty smoked ham hocks

1/2 medium spanish onion or any yellow onion

3 small celery stocks

1/2 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

1 head of garlic, halved horizontally, not peeled

1 fresh bay leaf or 1/2 a dried bay leaf

6 black peppercorns

Combine hocks, veggies, bay leaf, peppercorns and 8 cups of water in a stock pot and simmer for 4 to 5 hours. hamstockThe meat on the hocks should be tender and falling off the bone. Remove the hocks to a big bowl, strain the cooking liquid through a sieve into the same bowl and let the hocks cool in the liquid. When the hocks are cooled, remove all the meat, discarding any fatty hard bits. If you’re lucky and you get hocks with the skin still on them, reserve the skin after cooking and crisp them up in the broiler for a crunchy garnish. Since the hocks I got weren’t cured they needed some salt. I salted mine and crisped them in the broiler. You can make the broth/stock a day or two ahead. hamhockmeat

For the Soup

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 medium spanish onion or any yellow onion

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 teaspoons maldon salt

1/2 cup dry white wine, sauvignon blanc would work nicely

five finger pinch of fresh mint leaves and more torn leaves for finishing

2 10oz packages of frozen peas

extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

3 -4 tablespoons creme fraiche

PeaSoup02

photo by Jenny

Melt the butter in a large pot, add the onions, carrots and salt. Cover and cook, stirring every now and then until onions are creamy and carrots are tender but still firm. about 15 minutes.

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photo by Jenny

Add the wine and bring to a boil. Let the wine boil until it’s all but gone, about 5 minutes.

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photo by Jenny

Add 4 cups of broth (freeze the remainder for another batch of soup) bring to boil. Look at that lovely ham hock broth!

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photo by Jenny

Add the mint and frozen peas. Cook at a simmer for about 5 minutes until peas are warmed and tender.IMG_3264Puree soup with an immersion blender right in the pot or transfer in batches and puree in a blender. Add the ham chunks (save some for garnishing) back into the soup and simmer until the ham is warmed. Check seasoning, depending on how salty your hocks were, you may need more salt.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, black pepper, a few mint leaves, chunk of ham and a big dollop of creme fraiche. YUM! nothing like home-made soup.

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Asparagus with Parmesan Custard and Prosciutto

Recipe 5 of 103
She had me at custard….sweet or savory I love custard. Creamy, silky, decadent custard, throw in some salty prosciutto, crispy asparagus on grilled bread. done 🙂

You can make the custard a day or two ahead, or make a ton and always have it in your fridge for a quick bite of lusciousness. Here is what you will need for the custard. This recipe will serve 4 for lunch or 8 for small bitescustard13/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup whole milk

2 spring garlic gloves or 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped

1 ounce freshly grated parmesan buy good parmesan reggiano and grate it yourself

1/2 teaspoon maldon salt

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325˚

Combine the milk and cream, pour half into a small sauce pot, add garlic, parmesan and salt. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1 minute, take off heat and blend until smooth. I used an immersion blender for this step, right in the pan, you could just whisk it or get your blender out, do what works for you. In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolk, whole egg and the remaining cold cream/milk mixture.hotcold Carefully whisk the hot into the cold, very slowly drizzle the hot mixture from the sauce pot into cold mixture in the mixing bowl, whisking vigorously so you don’t scramble your eggs. When both are combined pour into two 1 cup custard gratins or one 2 cup gratin, what ever you have will work. Ready a bain-marie aka water bath for baking, get some water boiling. Set a kitchen towel in a large baking casserole, place filled gratins in casserole and fill with boiling water about half way up the gratins like this.bainmarieThe kitchen towel prevents the gratins from vibrating and causing bubbles in the custard. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until custard has set, edges should be firm and the middle a bit wobbly. bakecustardLet the custards cool in the bain-marie, they will continue to set up. At this point you can keep these covered in fridge for a day or two.

On to the next step, here is what you will need.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

16 asparagus spears, the thickness of a pencil, woody bottoms discarded

maldon salt

10 to 12 small tender basil leaves

1/2 a lemon (optional)

6-8 this slices of prosciutto

grilled rustic bread or baguette

parmesan custard

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan, get it smoking hot, add asparagus and quickly toss to sear on all sides, sprinkle with maldon salt. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat, make sure not to over cook the asparagus, you want it to have a little crunch left in it.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny – check out my cool tattoo designed by my amazingly talented husband

Add basil leaves, making sure they get some time in the oil to crisp up.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

When the basil has crisped up a bit, rest on top of the asparagus so it doesn’t wilt away to nothing.  Slice up the bread of your choice and either grill or toast it.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Now its time to assemble this lovely little snack. I like the custard to be more room temp then super cold. Spread a spoonful of custard on your grilled bread, top with asparagus, prosciutto and basil.

photo by Jenny

photo by Jenny

Enjoy! All these elements together make for an amazing bite. The custard is so rich and decadent. The cheesy garlicky flavor is addictive, I will admit to snagging spoonfuls from the fridge several times a day while researching this post. Its all April’s fault! Thanks to Jenny for the food porn pics and thanks to April for introducing me to a new love, Parmesan Custard. 

Pasta Salad w/ Chicken

It was totally amazing super warm weather this weekend, so I thought a cool Pasta Salad dinner would be easy and appropriate for outdoor dinning. We are just starting to deal with our backyard, in regards to setting up a space to kick it. We finally got some outdoor furniture !!  Love it.

I was winging it when I made this, so I’ll do my best to relay the recipe as best as I can.


2 chicken breasts on the bone with skin
1/2 lb pasta, your choice.
1/2 cup each of chopped gold, red and orange bell peppers.
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1 cup rough chopped blanched green beans
1 cup blanched petite peas-rock fresh peas if you’ve got them, if not use frozen-never use canned peas-ever.
Salt and pepper 


Dressing
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3  rice wine vinegar
2-3 tablespoons  lemon juice
1-2 tablespoons minced shallots
Salt and Pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400. Rinse and dry your chicken breasts, drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Bake in an oven safe dish for about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your breasts. Skin should be browned and juices will run clear from the cooked chicken. 



Set aside to cool for deboning. 
Get your pasta water boiling in a large pot and add enough salt to the water so it taste like the ocean. 
In a smaller pot, but not tiny, boil more water for blanching, salt this one normally, not like ocean.
While the waters are boiling, get to chopping the bells, green onions and shallots. When the smaller pot has a good rolling boil, add the frozen peas for 4-5 minutes only, strain out with a slotted spoon and set aside. I should have a picture here for you but I don’t, sorry. When you get all the peas out, then add the green beans – you may want to trim them, it’s your call – boil- blanch these for 5-6 minutes, strain these and set aside. 



Add your pasta to the salted ocean like water and cook as long as package says to al dente.
All these steps can be done on your own time frame.No rush, it all hangs out to wait for the final mix up.
I let the veggies cool to room temp, then I’ll add them to a big mixing bowl with the bells and onions, while I get the chicken deboned.



Add the chicken meat, torn into bite size pieces to the mixing bowl with the raw and blanched veggies.
Time for the dressing.
Whisk the oil, vinegar, lemon and shallot together. Vinaigrettes are a very personal thing to me. Make them to your taste. It all depends on the available ingredients. If I have Meyer Lemons, they lead the charge for flavor. You may have a super amazing olive oil that you love. Make it taste the way you like it. Keep in mind pasta salad absorbs a lot of dressing, so don’t be shy with it. Salt and pepper it as you go until it hits the spot for you. I’m way into white pepper and mineral salts right now, they rule !! Try them.


Pour dressing over the entire mixture, mix really well and let sit for a while before serving.



Super yummy cool meal for warm weather ! ENJOY.