Ham and split pea soup

Ham and split pea soup

Christmas Eve dinner in our house is traditionally an orange glazed spiral cut ham with sweet potatoes and green beans. The ham makes great leftover sandwiches, but when all the large slices are gone and you get close to the bone, all there’s left are small pieces of ham, that’s when I love to make my easy ham and split pea soup.


Ham and split pea soup

I like to dice all the ingredients the same size, that makes for even cooking and easier eating. You can of course, chop them larger if you like a chunkier soup. I also have in the past added diced potato, but that is optional.
It’s always nice to have something crunchy to dunk into any soup. I like to serve slices of grilled ciabatta bread on the side, just simply brushed with olive oil and toasted in my panini maker. You can also put the slices of bread in the oven at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until golden (but keep an eye on them).
Ham and split pea soup
Ingredients    (6 servings)                                 metric conversion                     print recipe
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, diced small
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked ham, diced small (see note)
  • 1 pound green split peas, rinsed
  • 8 cups chicken stock (recipe) or vegetable stock (recipe
  • 1 dried bay leaf
Directions
  1. In a large soup pan or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, carrots and celery, salt and pepper. Sauté until softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the diced ham, stir and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the green split peas, chicken stock and bay leaf.
  5. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered for 1 hour or until peas are soft and broken down. Check periodically to make sure liquid doesn’t evaporate too quickly. If it does, add more stock or water to thin it out.
  6. Test for seasoning and adjust, because there is salt in the ham we only added salt once.
* To make this soup vegan/vegetarian, omit the ham and use vegetable stock

Storage: The soup will keep in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 5 days, or up to 3 months in the freezer.

Ham and split pea soup



New Year’s Eve drinks round-up

New Year's Eve drinks round-up

New Year's Eve drinks round-up
1. Cider pomegranate smash from Cheers to Clara Persis


New Year's Eve drinks round-up
2. Fruit martini with cherries from  A Splash of Vanilla
New Year's Eve drinks round-up
3. Berry Gin Fizz from Yours Truly
New Year's Eve drinks round-up
4. Peppermint white Russian from The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie

New Year's Eve drinks round-up
5. Cranberry Mojito from  We are not Martha

New Year's Eve drinks round-up
6. Sage Ginger Prosecco Cocktail from Local Milk

New Year's Eve drinks round-up
7. White chocolate raspberry kiss from  A Year of Cocktails

New Year's Eve drinks round-up
8. Pomegranate Sparkler from Love you, Mean it
New Year's Eve drinks round-up
9. Kahlúa Cocoa Martini from Garnish with Lemon
New Year's Eve drinks round-up
10. Butterbeer Jelly Shots from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen

Why you need a fat separator for chicken stock

OXO fat separator
So it’s the day after Christmas (Boxing Day if you’re in the U.K, Australia and Canada). The cooking is over and the food was a success. I did get some great kitchen  gadgets for Christmas, but the one item in my kitchen that always saves me is my OXO fat separator for chicken stock. I make a huge batch of chicken stock every week because I’m always making something that requires chicken stock and I’ve yet to find a store bought stock that rivals mine. 


THE most important part of making stock is being able to skim the fat that accumulates on the top of the liquid, because no one wants to feel an oil slick on their tongue. This is where this great invention comes in. As you can see in the photo above, the spout is connected to the bottom of the jug. That is because fat rises, and when you add liquid to the jug, the fat rises above the spout, so the liquid pours from the bottom leaving the fat on top of the liquid.  Brilliant.

The other genius part to this jug is the stopper that goes into the spout. You do this BEFORE you pour liquid into the jug, that way it prevents any of the fat getting into the spout and ensures that your first pour is pure stock and has no fat in it. You can see this clearly in the photo above. 

I would just like to point out, this is NOT a paid ad of any kind and there is no link to the OXO website. This is just a food blogger raving about a kitchen gadget that makes a cooks life easier. 

What I would also like to ad, is the customer service that OXO provides. When I moved a year ago, I mis-placed the stopper, this is when I realized what an integral part this little thing played in the whole process. So I contacted OXO to see if I could buy the stopper from them as I could not find them for sale anywhere. They told me they do not sell them separately, however, they would, as a one-time courtesy, send me a replacement at no charge. This is the kind of customer service that one expects from a large company. Lo and behold, a week later, a new stopper showed up in the mail. My original stopper was black, so I was excited that they sent me a new red one, just to jazz up my jug.

So in closing, I would like to share with you my recipe for chicken stock.

Roasted sweet potatoes and apples in maple sage butter

Roasted sweet potatoes and apples in maple sage butter

Here’s a great Christmas side dish. You’ve got sweet, salty and buttery all one 1 plate. Does it get any better?


Roasted sweet potatoes and apples in maple sage butter           print
(4-6 servings)   

Ingredients                                                                          

  • 2lbs of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 medium gala apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F
  2. In a mixing bowl, add the potatoes and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix until coated.
  3. Spread onto a sheet pan and roast for 10 minutes.
  4. Turn the potatoes and continue roasting for another 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium heat melt the unsalted butter and add the apples. Sauté until brown on 1 side, turn and brown on the other side.
  6. Add the chopped sage and maple syrup, transfer to a mixing bowl.
  7. Remove the potatoes from the oven and add to the apples, stir until the potatoes are covered with the maple butter. 



Christmas pudding with brandy cream

Christmas pudding with brandy cream


Traditionally the great British traditional Christmas pudding was a labor of love, I think that’s why my mother used to buy them instead of making them. The recipe would consist of a lot ingredients, soaking dried fruit overnight and steaming the pudding for 8 hours, what madness. 

So after much research, I came up with a recipe with fewer ingredients, healthier (no vegetable shortening) and make individual puddings that take only 35 minutes to bake in the oven, instead of 1 large pudding. The mixture can be made 3 days in advance and kept cool in the fridge, so you can just bake them off  Christmas Day and serve them  nice and warm  with  brandy cream. 
Brandy cream is the traditionally accompaniment to the Christmas pudding, it just adds a nice creamy addition to the pudding

Christmas pudding with brandy cream



Ingredients (makes 16 muffin size puddings)    metric conversion       print recipe
  • 26 ounces mixed dried fruit (I used golden raisins, dark raisins, dried cranberries)
  • Zest from 1 medium orange
  • 2 bags black tea
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 7 ounces/14 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1 oz dark chocolate, finely grated

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl add boiling water to the 2 teabags, allow to soak for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the teabags.
  4. Add the sherry  and the brandy to the tea.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add all the dried fruit and pour over the sherry, brandy tea mix and stir.
  6. Allow the liquid to come to room temperature.
  7. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for 1 hour.
  8. In a large mixing bowl whisk the butter and brown sugar until light and creamy.
  9. While whisking add the eggs, one at a time until mixed.
  10. Add the flour, ginger, nutmeg, breadcrumbs  chocolate and mix until combined.
  11. Drain the dried fruit and add to the flour mixture, stir until combined.
  12. Brush 3 muffin pans with the melted butter.
  13. Using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon, divide the mixture between all the muffin pans, flatten the tops and make them even.
  14. Cover the muffin pans with parchment paper.
  15. Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of each pudding comes out clean.
  16. Allow the puddings to cool in the muffin pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a cool rack.
Store leftover puddings in a plastic container with lid. To reheat, put the puddings in a microwave-safe dish. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 1 minute.


Brandy cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar (use 3 if you like it sweeter)
  • 3 tablespoons brandy

Directions

  1. In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients (the cream will whip faster if it is really cold)
  2. Whip the mixture until it develops soft peaks.
  3. Serve on top of warm or room temperature puddings.


Christmas pudding with brandy cream


Kumquat marmalade

Kumquat marmalade

Kumquats, they’re mini oranges with an interesting name. There are 3 varieties of the fruit, in this recipe I’m using the oval. They also come in round and the Jiangsu variety which can be round or bell shaped. 

In the process of making this marmalade, I couldn’t help think about spreading it on a lovely warm scone with clotted cream, think I might have to make some.

If you’re like me and you prefer marmalade that is not too chunky, you will need to chop the Kumquats very small. They also have seeds and removing them is quite a tedious task, so I found that if you cut them lengthwise you can see the seeds and remove them easier. If you find when you cut them, that the white pith inside looks really dry, remove it.
To save yourself from chopping madness, I found that putting the halves in the food processor and pulsing, makes for a much quicker process than trying to finely chop by hand. This is also helps release some of the juices and oils from the zest.
Kumquat marmalade
Another handy tip: when you are ready to transfer the marmalade to your jars, pour the marmalade into a glass measuring jug, that makes for easy transfer into the jars.
Kumquat marmalade
Ingredients (yields 32 ounces)        metric conversion           print recipe
  • 12 ounces Kumquats
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 3 cups fine sugar
  • 1 candy thermometer (see note)
  • 4 jars with lids, sterilized ** (see note)

Directions
  1. Cut the Kumquats lengthwise and remove any seeds and dry pith.
  2. Add to the food processor and pulse until very small.
  3. In a medium saucepan, add all the ingredients.
  4. Stir until combined over medium heat.
  5. Attach candy thermometer to the pan.
  6. Cook for 20-30 minutes or until the temperature reaches 220 degrees F/104 degrees C on the candy thermometer.
  7. Skim any foam that is on the top.

* If you don’t have a candy thermometer, place a small plate in the freezer for an hour before you start. To test if the marmalade is ready, drop  a little onto the plate and if it gels, it’s ready.

** To sterilize the jars, wash with warm soapy water and rinse well. Arrange the jars and lids onto a baking sheet and leave in a preheated, 175 degree F/80 degree C oven for 25 minutes. Or, boil the jars and lids in large saucepan of boiling water for 15 minutes. Allow to dry completely.
 Kumquat marmalade