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Split Pea Soup on a Cold Winter Day – Easy and Filling


First winter back in the frozen north … and they told me it doesn’t snow here, where I chose to live … uh huh … warmest area in Canada …  oh sure … There are icicles on my car!
And so … the fireplace is on and I have 2 smoked pork hocks simmering on the stove. Smells like bacon cooking. I don’t know about you but I LOVE the smell of bacon and really LOVE eating it too! My comfort food – well, one of them. The love for bacon is so intense that I must limit myself to devouring a pound of bacon (yep, in one sitting), to a maximum of 4 times per year. Who can have just 3 slices? Not me!

Back to the pork hocks (bone in) … They are simmering with about a tablespoon of black peppercorns and six small bay leaves in 16 cups of water. If you’re making a pot of something, make a big pot! Whether it’s soup or stew or sauce, it doesn’t take up much more time and it freezes well for a quick dinner or lunch. Mine go into 4 cup, sealable, glass jars and are stacked in the freezer.
My apologies. Another digression … bear with me, please. Back to the soup.

My mom used to make the tastiest pea soup and she gave me the recipe. The miracle is that I managed to find it amongst all the papers in my storage locker! Here it is.

Mom’s recipe:
8 cups of water
2 bay leaves
6 – 8 peppercorns
1 lb. washed, split, dry green peas
1 large carrot – chopped
1 medium onion – diced
1 stalk of celery – diced
salt to taste
1 ham bone with some meat on it.
Toss all into a pot and simmer for 8 to 10 hours. Remove ham bone, take off meat and add back to soup. Remove bay leaves.

Really? That’s it? Doesn’t sound like much … definitely wouldn’t be enough to freeze … Hmmm …

And so … after a slight tweak … my recipe for a really big pot of soup:

1.7 Kilos (about 4 lbs of smoke pork hock)
6 smallish bay leaves
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
16 cups of purified water (Hate the chlorine taste in my soup. Yes, you can taste the difference!)
Simmer (on low heat – #3 on the dial) for 4 hours.
Let cool. Place in refrigerator. I don’t have the time to make this in one day. 🙂
Next day, remove pork hocks, skim off fat, fish for all the peppercorns and bay leaves or if you have another really big pot, use a sieve and pour the liquid/stock through. Separate the meat from the fat and bone. Dice up the tender morsels (must taste to be assured of the flavour). Add to stock.
6 – 8 carrots – depending on how much carrot you enjoy, keeping in mind this will make about 16 bowls of       soup.
3 – 4 stalks of celery (same tip as the carrots)
1 1/2 large onion
8 cloves of garlic
3 lbs of dried, split peas (washed up)
Chop up the veggies to the size you like. Add all the remaining ingredients into the stock. If the water has evaporated too much, add more (purified).
Do Not add any salt as the smoked pork hocks are salty enough. If you can’t find smoked hocks use a ham bone from the butcher.
Allow to boil and then lower to a simmer for about 1 hour or more, until the peas are mushy.

Make a nice salad. Some gluten free garlic bread. Enjoy!

Cool to slightly warm before placing in jars for the freezer. If you freeze this soup in smaller containers, it makes a delicious, warming, light and filling lunch to take to work!

After the holidays eating light and healthy is a relief for your digestive system and will help you to lose those holiday pounds! Soup and salad is heartwarming, tasty and filling, while being light and easy to digest. Just choose your salad dressing carefully! 🙂

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Addendum to MC Veggie Puffs … :)


Well … I added 5 eggs (whipped), about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 1 cup of coconut flour (slowly – add a bit, mix … etc.), 1/4 cup quinoa flakes, 1 tsp. salt and for some reason I had the idea to add 1 tsp. of baking powder.

1st photo – the consistency you want to have – the wooden spoon stands up and you can make a definite hole in the mixture without any of it running in. Dryish not too dry. Still quite wet when you are rolling it but does stick together.
IMG_2469
You then proceed to roll them into little balls and flatten out a bit, placing into the pan with the coconut oil. Oven is at 350℃, ready to go. I made 48 in the second pan and 35 in the first – just jammed them a bit more in the second pan, (was getting tired of rolling!).
And here we are:

IMG_2471
Five are already missing … must do a taste test … 😉

They will be a perfect grab and go snack!
The rest – yes, there was MORE mix … I put into an 8 x 8 pyrex dish and it is cooking now. This is the one I will be sampling for the next few days!
Definitely a keeper recipe as they smell delicious, taste divine – puffy, spicy but not too much, just a hint of warmth and notes of curry and will go well with any number of dips/sauces or just a quick bite, straight out of the fridge when you are on the go.
Next time, I will reduce the amount of coconut flour and add mashed potato and cauliflower, see what the difference would be. When I do, I will let you all know!

These would go well with a Salsa Verde, Tsatsiki (made with Toffuti Sour Cream), or a Mango Chutney/Salsa.
Wine pairing: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Rosé, Beaujolais Nouveau.
Happy Cooking!

Multi-Cultural Veggie Puffs?


Christmas is coming and so is company, one being a vegetarian … What to make?
Made my list of food must haves and requests. Placed a couple of coolers outside (it’s cold enough for them to sub in for the refrigerator), to hold the extras, such as the turkey and the 25 pound bag of carrots (a deal I couldn’t resist) and have begun cooking.
Here’s the list for your inspiration:

Miso soup (to warm the belly upon arrival – it’s chilly here)
Turkey with stuffing and gravy (my favourite!)
Sweet Potato Pie (with mini marshmallows – a request made in a pleading tone which I couldn’t resist … against my better judgement but oh well, marshmallow topped sweet potatoes, once a year, isn’t going to hurt … right?)
Broccoli and Cauliflower salad (easy and delicious – also a request)
Peas and Carrots (a standard)
Roasted Beets (requested with cloves/garlic/vinegar)

Kourambiedes – (Greek, almond shortbread, covered in icing sugar that takes all bloody day to make – but well worth the effort. Even though I can’t partake). Don’t have a choice here … it’s a must!
Melamacarona – (more Greek cookies – not as labour intensive as above but still a lot of work!). Also a must.
Chocolate cake – There’s a Birthday involved as well as the Holiday meal. (Gotta feel sympathy for those born right at Christmas time … )

A lot of food for Christmas dinner, yes and probably enough for leftovers the next day. But … what to have on hand for grazing/snacking? Something simple to make, easy to grab and eat, straight from the refrigerator/cooler (wherever it will fit – I’ll get to that later), and healthy?
Houmous, always good in a pinch, very easy to make – it takes more time to clean up than to make the dip. It’s on the list.
Devilled Eggs? Nope. Too much work – not enough time to enjoy the company and they don’t stay fresh for long.
Hmmm …
Gigantes? Greek style, Delicious giant white beans in a flavourful tomato sauce. Lasts for days in the refrigerator but does need warming … Nope, they’re  off the list.
Pakoras? Okay, I’ve never made them but they’ll go well with the houmous and … they will last and can be frozen beforehand, thawed as needed! Bingo!

And so, this is how this recipe which was supposed to be Pakoras (recipe isn’t quite done yet … I’ll keep you posted today as the making of the “puffs” progresses), began …

Shopping at the grocers’, I spy a 1 kilo bag of baby zucchinis on sale for $1.00! Steal of a deal! But what to do with 1 kilo of zucchini? I can’t eat all of that … In the food processor it goes, mushed zucchini poured into a freezer bag and then popped into the freezer …
Okay, so it’s not going to be Pakoras … but I do like the idea of the Indian flavours instead of plain zucchini puffs … Hmmm …
What do I have on hand? Onions – check, Red Peppers – check, Garlic – check, Indian spices – got them. Off to buy a bag of Red Split Lentils, eggs and cilantro – sounded like a good combo … No?
This morning:
Not knowing exactly what I am doing, I pour the thawed zucchini mash into a pot – it’s very liquidy … so I pour in the lentils and turn the stove on to low … add more lentils, stir … add more lentils, stir (all told, about a cup and 1/3) … Turned off stove and let sit.
Finely chopped the carrots – about a cup, 2 large red peppers, a large head of garlic and the cilantro … the onions have just come out of the freezer where they were placed to cool off a bit before chopping (it prevents teary eyes). Added the carrots and peppers to the zucchini and lentils. Placed the garlic in a pan with about 2 tbsp. of olive oil and a whole lot of turmeric, cumin and coriander. This is what it looks like so far …
Oh God I hope this works …

The photo on the left is the zucchini mash (what else would you call it?), and the one on the right is a mound of spices with garlic waiting to be fried – for 20 seconds and then added to the pot.
So … here’s my next steps …
Quick fry spices/garlic and to mash.
Finely chop onions and toss into the pot.
Finely chop cilantro and figure out how much to add to this mix? mash?
Whip 3? 4? eggs and add in (hope the mash in the pot has cooled enough!)
Melt coconut oil onto a cookie sheet (one with sides), it’s chilly here and the oil hardens … the perils of living up north …
Add coconut flour or quinoa flakes until mixture firms up enough to roll into small burger shapes – a flat “meatless” ball.
Bake in a 350℃ oven … cross fingers and hope for success …

For a list of accompaniments (sauces/salsas and wines), see the excerpt or Facebook.

Will keep you posted on my Facebook Page – simplyyummy123.
https://www.facebook.com/SimplyYummy123-139865369835/
Wish me luck!

Best Turkey Burgers Ever!


Delicious! Child Friendly

Delicious! Child Friendly

Turkey burgers are so versatile. The flavour, depending on the herbs/spices used, can be akin to a christmas turkey (sage, gravy topping), or a tropical treat (coriander, pineapple/pepper salsa) and everything in between. Burgers can be cooked and frozen for future quick meals, packed for lunches, made as a “meatloaf”, after work-out snack (provides a blast of protein), and of course, made into a delicious burger with your choice of trimmings!

The Basics:

2 lbs (1 kilo) of Ground Turkey (I prefer turkey breast. Either white or dark turkey meat can be used)
4 Fresh Carrots – grated – not too fine.
1 Large Red Pepper – diced (small)
3 – 4 Sticks of Celery – diced (small)
1 Large Onion (yellow, white, red … your preference) – diced (small)
4 – 8 Cloves of Garlic – minced. (Amount depends on size of cloves & how much garlic flavour you enjoy).
3 Large Eggs – beaten
1 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. Mayo (Make your own or add your favourite)
*1 Cup Quinoa Flakes
*1/4 Cup Coconut Flour – if necessary, add a little more when mixing.
1 1/2 Tbsp. Dried Thyme
1 Tbsp. Dried Basil
1 Tbsp. Paprika
Optional:
1 Cup Cooked, Diced Bacon – Not Crispy or it won’t dice properly

Those are the basic ingredients.

*If you cannot find Quinoa Flakes or Coconut Flour, use TOASTED gluten-free bread. Not toasted, the bread becomes soggy and melts into the mixture, not providing any firmness. Coconut Flour absorbs a lot of the moisture before and during cooking. Be careful how much extra you add.

In the past I have experimented with Corn Meal, Mashed Potato, Quinoa (cooked), Rice (cooked, different varieties), Gluten-free Bread (toasted) and various gluten-free flour mixes. None provided the texture and firmness I was looking for, although mashed potatoes and the bread came close! Experiment and let us know what you come up with!

Once, while in a rush, I placed all the veggies in a food processor – the result – soggy burgers that fell apart … never doing that again!

Suggestions for 3 different Flavours: BBQ, Roast Turkey, Tropical

BBQ:

Add:
1/2 to 1 Tsp. of Cumin
1 Tsp. to 2 Tsp. Chili Flakes or dried Chilies (Poblano, Ancho, Chipotle) – depending on the heat of the chilies used and how hot you like it.
Although I love the heat of chilies, too much can reduce the flavour components of the whole meal, i.e. … your mouth is on fire and you can’t really taste anything!
1 Tbsp. Honey or Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp. Gluten Free Tamari/Soya Sauce/Bragg’s Liquid
1 Tbsp. Black Pepper
2 Tbsp. Tomato Paste
1 Tbsp. of your favourite Gluten Free Mustard

If you do not have the honey, tamari, tomato paste or mustard, add 2 – 3 Tbsp. of your favourite BBQ sauce.

Sage Burgers:

Add:
2 Tbsp. Dried Sage
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – minced
2 Tsp. Black Pepper
1 Tsp. Cumin

For added colour and flavour, toss in a handful of dried cranberries!

Tropical Patties:

Add:
2 Tsp. Coriander
1/4 Tsp. Curry
1/2 Tsp. Dried Hot Pepper
1 Tbsp. Dried Coconut
2 Tbsp. (or more … up to you) Grated Sweet Potato
1/4 Cup Finely Diced Pineapple

Method:

Place Turkey in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle herbs/spices on top. Add beaten eggs. Add the binder (quinoa/coconut flour, etc.). Lastly, add the diced/minced veggies. Mix well. Form into patties. Place on greased (coconut oil) cookie sheet. They can be placed quite close together as they do shrink a little. Cook in a 350℉ oven on the middle rack. Depending on the thickness of the patties, cook for about 30 minutes. The Turkey burgers do not gain much colour when cooked – a little golden and that’s all.

Yield: 10 Large Patties

Two of us finished these in 24 hours! They are delicious and so easy to snack on – directly from the refrigerator – just one more bite … and soon another patty was devoured. Doubling the recipe provides extras for freezing or lunches. The patties keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days (If they last that long!) For freezing, layer each patty with wax paper and freeze in a sealed bag. Only freeze as many together that you will need for a meal.
Pressed for time? Make this into a meatloaf – grease a meatloaf pan and firmly pat the mixture in.

Gravy, Mango/Pineapple Salsa, Cranberry Sauce, Fig Compote … any of these may be served with these burgers.
Sweet Potatoes/Yams are a favourite side dish. Wash well, slice into 1/2 inch/1.5 cm, lay on a cookie sheet, pour extra virgin olive oil, orange/pineapple juice, GF tamari over top – just enough of each to “wet” the slices. Sprinkle paprika over each slice. A dash of cinnamon on each slice works well for the children. If you love garlic, as I do, add some peeled cloves in the pan – yum!

ENJOY!

One Pan Chicken Dinner! With a Side of Green Beans!


Easy Chicken Dinner – one pan.
Place rinsed chicken breast or thighs in pan. Drizzle EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) all over. Add Wine (red or white) OR orange juice OR lemon into the pan. About 1/2 cup of wine or 1/4 cup juice. Chop (chunky pieces) up potatoes or cauliflower, carrots, onions (just a bit), garlic (lots!) and add to pan. Mix with the juice/wine and oil. Cover the chicken in Dijon mustard – be liberal. Sprinkle entire contents of pan with paprika (lots), cumin (just enough to have a sprinkle – more on the chicken), black pepper, thyme, if you have fresh rosemary, add a 2 or 3 sprigs for extra flavour. Add capers on top of the chicken, it’s okay if a few roll off. Add lots! They are delicious with Dijon mustard. Bake/Roast covered at 350℉ (180℃ or Gas Mark 4), for approximately half an hour (half the time). Uncover and cook until done – browned. Bone in chicken will take about one hour. Boneless will take less time. Cover for only half the time!
Enjoy with a salad or a side of green vegetables!
And here’s a green vegetable idea I made up the other day …
Green Beans, fresh or frozen, whichever you can find! As many as you need – approx. 1/2 cup per person.
Crush some cashews or used slivered/sliced almonds. About 1/3 cup per cup of green beans.
Sesame oil to generously coat pan.
Balsamic vinegar or Lemon juice or Orange juice. Tsp. of Balsamic or 1 tbsp. of Lemon or Orange juice per cup of Beans.
Coriander – crushed.
Black Pepper – a sprinkle will do.
Garlic, chopped. Doesn’t have to be diced up small. Chunky will do. As much or as little as you like.
Fresh Cilantro, Parsley or Basil, chopped up and added after other ingredients have begun to cook.
Add all ingredients into a pan, medium-low heat. Cover for 5 – 10 minutes (depending on how much you have in the pan). Remove cover, add fresh herbs, increase heat to medium-high and stir-fry until done. About another 5 minutes.
Optional: Red Pepper – diced. One Hot Pepper, fresh or dried, cut in half. Only 1 hot pepper, first time I made this, I added 3. Love heat but not THAT much!
Sun-Dried Tomato – about 1 tbsp. per cup of beans … tomatoes will dilute the flavour of the beans if you add too many.
A few fresh green/spring onions … scallions, chopped fine and sprinkled on the beans before serving.
This green vegetable dish would be great on a date night – I’ll tell you why in the book!
Which wine to serve? A crisp Sauvignon Blanc, an unoaked Chardonnay or a Pinot Noir … 🙂
Enjoy!

New Year, New Beginnings … New Book!


Happy 2015! It’s a new year, a new beginning and a new book!

So … You Want to Get Laid Tonight?
A how-to guide for a romantic dinner that won’t have you watching TV afterwards!

What happens after dinner … in the bedroom, the living room or, heck!, on the kitchen floor … is up to you … provided you are with a consenting adult!

What the book will do is offer a selection of Romantic, Erotic foods, how to cook and eat them, the setting, the food, the fun, the ideas … date friendly (sex enhancing) dinners and more!

Tantalizing aromas, sauces glistening on your lips, nibbling a tasty morsel offered, finger licking and lip wetting deliciousness …

Whew! Need a moment …

Okay, back to the food …

Garlic, usually a no-no for romantic dinners, will be on the menu … too many excellent qualities in garlic to exclude it. How you cook the garlic is the key.

Cucumbers, parsley, lemons are great breath fresheners (after the garlic)! Let me show you how and why.

Spicy, Sweet, Sour, Savoury, Salty … a cornucopia of tastes … Kiss as each new flavour is sampled … sharing flavours with a kiss is so erotic!

There will be plenty left for a midnight foray to the kitchen too … All you do is follow the DIY guide and have fun! 😉

All Gluten and Dairy Free … of course!

Stay tuned! More to come …

Melamakarona – Greek Christmas Cookies


My favourite cookies … I began making these cookies with my Yaya (Greek grandmother) and Mom when I was a little girl.  Although they are traditionally dairy-free, they are not gluten-free.  This year I am taking a leap of faith and making them with a gluten-free, cake & pastry flour … will post results – good or bad!  These cookies can be made up to two weeks in advance, stored in the refrigerator, in a tin, with wax/parchment paper between the layers.  This recipe makes lots of cookies – up to 6 dozen – and they disappear quickly, which is why I make two batches.  One batch two weeks before the 24th and one the week before!  If possible make these with a friend/family member … They do take a while to prepare and company always helps the time go by … 🙂

Melamacarona:
6 Cups Cake & Pastry Flour
1 Cup Crushed Walnuts (crushed to a flour consistency)
1 Tsp. Baking Soda
2 Tsp. Baking Powder
1 Grated Orange Rind
4 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon (or more)
3/4 Tsp. Ground Clove (NO more)
Pinch of Salt … 1/8 Tsp. (or less)

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

1 1/2 to 2 Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 Cup Warm (Room Temperature) Orange Juice
1/3 Cup Brandy
3/4 Cup Sugar (Berry Sugar)

Mix “liquid” ingredients in a large bowl. Slowly begin adding dry ingredients until a soft but not sticky dough is formed. Form cookies by rolling a small amount in your hand and shaping into a short, plump, sausage looking lump. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. When all the cookies are rolled, delicately pinch the ends and squeeze gently toward the middle of the cookie. Now you will have a somewhat diamond shaped cookie. With the fork tines gently flatten the tops of all the cookies – only the top, not the whole cookie. Bake for 15 minutes in a 350° oven.

Set out wax paper (or parchment paper) sheets on the table. Crush 1 to 2 cups of walnuts and sprinkle over the sheets of paper.

Consistency of crushed walnuts.

Consistency of crushed walnuts.

Syrup:

1 Cup of Fragrant Honey
1/2 Cup of Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup (my Canadian addition)
2 Tablespoons Brandy
1 1/2 Cups of Water
1 Whole Navel Orange, small one – sliced
1 Whole Lemon – sliced
4 Sticks of Cinnamon
10 Whole Cloves
4 Whole Nutmeg

Bring the liquids (including syrups), to a boil and immediately remove from heat.  Add in the orange/lemon slices and whole spices.  Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 1/2 an hour and no more than 1 hour.  Must be quite warm for cookie dipping!  When cookies are ready to be dipped, with a slotted spoon remove the fruits & whole spices.

Walnuts:

Crush 1 1/2 cups of Fresh Walnuts in a food processor.  Sprinkle liberally over several sheets of wax paper.  I spread the wax paper, overlapping each piece, over a 4 x 4 foot (1.1 x 1.1 metre), square section of my kitchen table.

Once cookies are removed from the oven and have cooled for 2 – 3 minutes, dip them in the syrup ,

Simmering syrup - remove oranges, lemons & whole spices before dipping cookies!

Simmering syrup – remove oranges, lemons & whole spices before dipping cookies!

roll them over, remove and place on walnut covered sheets of wax paper. Sprinkle more crushed walnuts over all. When cooled arrange on a serving dish with more crushed walnuts under and atop the cookies (use the walnuts left on the wax paper).  Save remaining walnuts and syrup (in separate containers) to use on other desserts – Apple Crisp, Honey Cake, Walnut Cake or as a topping for Sweet Potato Pie!

Melamacarona!

Melamacarona!

That’s it … Enjoy!

ps. after all this work, when clean up is done … have a brandy with tea and a cookie. You deserve it! 🙂

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