Split Pea Soup, Split Decision

When it comes to the standard way of making things, or trying something new, my husband and I are typically at odds.  For Peter, lobster has to be served steamed in a shell, shrimp can be with a cocktail sauce or in scampi.  You can’t have pizza with goat cheese and you certainly can’t have pea soup without green peas.  Until now that is, because I live by a different set of rules.

Let me just give you a little background on this.  I grew up with pea soup.  It was always a staple when we had leftover ham.  It was green and thick and not very appetizing.  So it was a huge mistake on my part, when I mentioned after our ham dinner, the idea of making soup.  It turns out, much to my dismay, that he loved pea soup.

Well, I half-thought about it and when I was at the market, I picked up a bag of split peas.  Peter would be so surprised if I actually made this for him.  But visions flashed before me of the thick green paste and I immediately scrubbed that idea and threw the peas back on the shelf.  I started to walk away and out of the corner of my eyes I saw a bag with split yellow peas.  That’s right….YELLOW peas.  I never had them before, but after looking at the back of the bag and the recipe idea it gave, I thought I could make it work.  It was a good compromise.

That weekend, since it was cold and definitely feeling like a soup day, I decided to give it a try.  I cooked my ham bone down and reserved the broth and although I did refer to the bag recipe, I did change the recipe quite a bit to make it more my style.  This was working!

pea soup 016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flavor was really good and the texture of the broth was more like a vegetable broth.  I was so happy because I thought his was something I could eat and Peter would love that we had split pea soup.  I really believed this was our soup of compromise.

Until my husband sat down to dinner that is.  He took a bite and it wasn’t so bad.  He took another bite and it was ok.  The third bite, he decided to tell me that pea soup was meant to be green and mushy.  This simply was NOT going to do.

pea soup 011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So once again we were at odds.  I loved it and he did not.  He wanted his green thick mush and I liked the texture more like a broth.  And it’s okay.  It’s okay if he doesn’t like it, because he doesn’t have to love everything I make and he has his standards.  But I will probably make it again and he will probably eat it again and complain again.   And have another two helpings again.

Do you really have two helpings if you don’t like something?

 

The Best Meatloaf

Meatloaf.  We all have our favorites.  The funny thing is our favorite is typically the one we make ourselves.  If someone makes a meatloaf, it’s always the best and you can’t tell them any different.  I have to include myself in that segment of the population.  My husband and I each have our own meatloaf recipe and of course we each think ours, individually,  is the best.

Until last night that is.  We have thrown away our respective recipes and we now have the best meatloaf recipe.  Ev-VER-rrrrr!  Well, in our own humble opinion, that is.

IMG_6700

Meatloaf is as subjective a topic as a macaroni and cheese recipe.  We all have that recipe that our mom made, one that has passed down through the generations, or even one that we have created ourselves based on what we like and don’t like to add in.  There is not one recipe that is exactly the same as someone else’s.  Meatloaf is a personal odyssey of originality and taste, a symphony of meats, cheeses and vegetables.  That is why we all love it and we all love the one we make ourselves.

This particular recipe, adapted from a show I saw on the Food Network, was in a category of the best eaten comfort foods. The meatloaf had been selected by Ina Garten  from Tavern 1770..  Since it was meatloaf it seemed almost mandatory that I make my own personal stamp on it, and so I did.

IMG_6708

Although my husband thoroughly coated his with a layer of ketchup, we both agreed that this was the best we had ever made or had.  I will, however, have to be understanding of the fact you may not agree with our opinion..  You may not even want to try this recipe because you might still hold on to the fact that yours is the best….and perhaps it is.  But I would challenge you to give this a try….just for something different.  It’s full of flavor, moist and hearty all at the same time. And,  I can assure you, that while you may not think it’s the “best” in your home,  you will still want to keep it as a really good back-up.

Be forewarned, the next time someone asks me if I have a good recipe for meatloaf, I am going to say yes.  Yes, I actually do have the best meatloaf recipe.

 

Sunday Dunk

It was a Sunday afternoon and it was cold and rainy.  Fall was definitely here and the weather was definitely matching my mood.  Football games were on and I really didn’t want to spend my day cleaning (even though we all know that is what I should have done), so I started focusing on what I could make for dinner.  When in doubt, cook.

It was a perfect day for comfort food, but I wanted something different from my standard go-to pasta dish.  I didn’t feel like soup and I was really over cooking chili.  And then that momentary flash-back occurred and I remembered the garlic show I had seen the day before.  There were a couple of dishes that I liked but didn’t like either of them enough to make one.  I did however like parts of them enough to combine them and create a dish that was exactly what I was looking for.  A warm, comforting, sit on the couch and dunk dish.

IMG_5938

Who doesn’t like garlic?  This was a perfect combination of a warm soup, a hearty dish and the feel good that you get from a pasta.

IMG_5940

You could easily pour this over pasta or rice, even mashed potatoes and make a nice dinner out of it. For me, however, sitting there dunking my crusty bread loaf into the roasted garlic yumminess was the inside tailgating atmosphere I had been looking for.

IMG_5943

The Patriots won a great game and much to my husband’s disappointment the Giants lost….again.  It can’t get any better than that.

 

Tomato and Onion Pie

There is nothing better than tomatoes.  I love walking to the garden and picking a sun-kissed tomato off the vine, sprinkle it with a little salt and bite into it, tasting the acidic sweetness and feel the juices run down my chin.  Or, I slice them and place them between two pieces of bread with gobs of mayonnaise.  I purée them into sauce or bake them into a dessert tart tatin.  There are just so many ways to enjoy ripe tomatoes.

And now we have tomato pie.

I remember a few years ago at a girls’ night having my first taste of a tomato pie.  A friend had brought it and I’m ashamed (or happy?)  to say I went back for seconds and wanted thirds, it was that good.  After that night I never really thought of it again unless I’d see a recipe about it.  I would rip it out of the magazine and add it to the stack of “someday I’m going to make this” pile.

This year was different.  From the moment we planted the garden, I decided I was going to make a tomato pie.  Of course every time I thought about it we were eating something else or not at home.  Finally however, last weekend I put my foot down and I made ” The Pie.”

It was like the sun had risen, the stars came out and fireworks lit up the sky.  I don’t think a word was spoken between us because we were just too busy eating.  In fact with my son and husband at the helm, leftovers didn’t exist since the entire pie had been eaten.  This definitely is one of those recipes that you will make over and over and always get rave reviews on.

So, while you’re standing in your garden and feeling the warmth of the sun,  tomato juices running down your chin and staining your shirt, remember to save yourself a few of those tomatoes so you can make a Tomato Pie.  It will be well worth the sacrifice.

Pulled Pork BBQ with Piquant Sauce and Classic Southern Slaw

Hot, lazy days and nights when you sit out with a fan and hope for a bit of a breeze.  Lightening bugs and children squealing with delight as they catch one in a jar.  Sweet tea and rockers on a porch, family picnics and pork barbecue.

It’s summer in the south.

Coming from the north I had never really had barbecue until i moved here almost 26 years ago.  Ever since that time I first held a pulled pork sandwich in my hand, I have been in love with it.  The vinegar sauce dripping down my fingers, the hot spice subtly controlled by the coolness of the rich coleslaw resting on top.  It was that first bite that made me realize I was destined to live in the south.

I have tried to make it many times over the past years.  Once I almost got it right and then somehow lost the recipe and it’s been a struggle ever since, trying to recreate it.

Until now.

Once again, I have gone back to my friend, Patrick Evans-Hylton’s cookbook “Dishing Up Virginia” and gotten the most incredible tasting recipe for dinner.  It was not what I expected when making it because of the ingredients, but definitely worth keeping it as written.  I want to tell you when you make this, open all the windows and doors because the flavorful scent of pork mixed with onions and garlic wafting throughout the home will make it almost impossible to wait the five hours it needs to cook.   I don’t recall how many times that day I almost dove head first into the oven.

The pork just fell apart, and it was so moist.  I cannot tell you in words how tasty this was.  With every bite I couldn’t wait for the next one.  To quote Patrick from his book and this recipe, ” No doubt other states do remarkable things with barbecue, but this Virginia recipe that combines tradition and time with spice and smoke is unequaled.”  So very true.

Eating dinner with my husband that night, I had the feeling there was a red checkered tablecloth on the table, grandma, grandpa and all the cousins were arriving with their pot luck and the fireflies were lighting up the evening.

Summertime in the south.  It can’t get any better than this.

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

I was looking through a magazine the other day and there was a photograph of an appetizer that really interested me and I wanted to try.  It was a jar that was half filled with pimento cheese and topped with a bacon marmalade.  I’m sure there are variations of this everywhere, but I have never seen one.  My only problem was,  there was no recipe.  Thank you to the internet and cookbooks,  it wasn’t an issue.

Let me regress for just a moment.  I have to say that I think bacon should have its own food group.  Let’s face it, everything is better with bacon.  And I know,  even all you diet fanatics will agree with me.  Face it….what’s a few more miles to run when you have bacon on your plate?  You know it’s worth it.  Bacon has found its place in our world.  We have chocolate with bacon, bacon and eggs, bacon candy, bacon wrapped everything……. and now, we have bacon marmalade.  Yes, after making this, I will tell you that this is worth the extra five miles you will have to run. Pair it with pimento cheese and another five or six-mile run and we have a winner….. and you will thank me for it!

The Piquant Pimento Cheese was from my friend Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new cookbook, “DISHING UP VIRGINIA”.  For the past several weeks I’ve had an obsession with making pimento cheese and I’m not sure why because I’ve not been one that really ate pimento cheese.  Having made this however, I am now a huge fan and will use this in so many ways, because it is that good.

The bacon marmalade was adapted from a couple of online recipes, the stronger part coming from Lance Mayhew.  I looked more to his idea because he had bourbon in it and seriously….what could be better than that?    This turned out to be everything I imagined it would.  In this we have bacon smokiness, sweet, salty, and a little kick.  I could not only see this with the pimento cheese on a cracker but on a burger,  with the pimento as a grilled cheese sandwich, on a steak….you name it.

Try this recipe, buy Patrick’s book and definitely combine everything you make with bacon marmalade.  Bacon…the new food group.

 

 

Potato Salad with Blue Cheese and Bacon

Summer is right around the corner and with that comes the parties and picnics and family get-togethers.  And of course you always have to have that proverbial dish to pass.  Most people bring a potato salad.  I have to say I never did because I just didn’t like potato salad.  Potatoes and mayonnaise….not what I would call an appetizing combination.

Now I have to eat my words…or potato salad in this case.   I’ve had this recipe for such a long time,  I want to be honest and tell you I don’t really remember where I copied it from.  Perhaps it was from a Southern Living magazine?  I know it sounded good at the time which is probably why I wrote it down in the first place, but it was potato salad and therefore, it was filed and forgotten.  I have since pulled it out and made it several times and wondered,  how is it I never liked potato salad?!

This salad has an amazing punch of flavor.  You know the potatoes are there, they enhance the salad.  And yet, they hang back and it’s okay they aren’t the only star in the dish.  They share the limelight, and they’re fine with it.  Every bite seems to taste a bit of savory, tangy, crunch and creamy.  It’s made a potato salad believer out of me.

So bring on the picnics and the family get-together.  I have the proverbial pass the dish potato salad that will be the star of the party.

Pin It on Pinterest