Thursday, February 21, 2013

Blackeyed Peas with Cornmeal Dumplings - Serves 4 and they'll want more

The only thing I can say is, "I'm sorry".  Life has been busy, busy with my job and it's going great.  I take all these pictures of food that I plan to post yet I can't seem to find enough time to sit and write up a story to go with them.  Last night, I had dinner with a dear friend whom I haven't had dinner with since last year.  As we were catching up and going over all that's been going on in our lives, she proceeded to tell me of a wonderful dinner she prepared for great friends.  Preempting with "you've probably already done this" (which, like, I may have but when people say that to me it takes the " I'm so proud of you" moment away from me, that I think of you and your accomplishment, when you say that you've prepared a meal. So STOP already!), she went into all the detail of this pretty incredible dinner she masterminded all by herself.  It took her all day and once she served the meal, she wasn't to impressed with her meal.  Well, she may not have been happy with the outcome, but, it was her guests responses that made those feelings disappear, which, is why I cook.  I may not like what I present sometimes but, if someone who eats my food literally moans and groans as if they were with their favorite movie star, then that makes all the work and preparation worth it my friends.  And, that's why YOU should spend more time in the kitchen.  I mean really, who doesn't want to relish in that kind of moment?  At my age, those moments are what make moments and that's worth slaving over the stove.


2 slices hickory-smoked bacon
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3 cups unsalted vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) bag frozen black-eyed peas (about 2 3/4 cups)
3.4 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup buttermilk
Hot sauce (optional)


1. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; finely chop. Remove 1 tablespoon drippings from pan; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add 1 cup onion to remaining drippings in pan; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add stock, 1 1/2 cups water, salt, pepper, and peas to pan; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 35 minutes or until peas are tender, stirring occasionally. 
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, green onions, cornmeal, and baking soda, stirring with a whisk. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add bacon, reserved 1 tablespoon drippings, and buttermilk; stir until a moist dough forms. 
3. With moist hands, gently divide mixture into 12 equal portions. Drop dumplings, 1 at a time, into pan; cover and cook 8 minutes or until dumplings are done, stirring occasionally. Serve with hot sauce, if desired.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Truffled Lentils - serves 4

 As a sigh casts over me, I am relieved and ready for 2013.  As each day went by during the break, I knew in the back of my mind that I needed to get a recipe out however, time got the best of me.  When most were excited to have school start again, I was relishing in spending time with the kids and cooking all the way.  I even mastered two Call of Duty games with my son.  I'm quite the renegade when it comes to a remote control and my son thinks I'm pretty cool to boot.  I also took the time to watch Season 2 of Downton Abbey, which, if you haven't taken the time to watch, give yourself the gift of watching because it is by far the best show on TV.  My daughter taught me how to strum the basic cords on a guitar and as I played, horribly, she danced.  And, a good friend twisted my arm and had me hooked, for 3 (or more?) hours of "Dance Moms".  (That show is crazy.) 

All in all, it was kind of sad to see the kids go back to school.  But, as I watch them grow and as I grow older, these times together are few and far between.  Whether it's shooting at targets in the backyard, taking long bike rides, snuggling in bed to watch a movie or even making a pie without my help (like I could have saved it), before I know it, they will be off again and attending college or wanting to spend their time with someone other than me. So, 2013 will be that of togetherness and possibly, just possibly, I will play a whole song on the guitar by next Christmas.

2 tbsp. olive oil
½ cup cubes (¼ inch in size) of slab bacon, about 3 oz.
1 tsp. sherry vinegar, plus more to season
1 carrot, peeled
1 celery rib, cut in half
1 onion, quartered
1 cup Pardina lentils
1 herb sachet containing 1 to 2 sprigs sage, 3 sprigs thyme, ½ tsp. black peppercorns, 1 tsp. dried guindilla pepper (or substitute red pepper flakes), tied in a cheesecloth bundle
1½ cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. white truffle oil
½ cup finely grated Idiazabal, a Basque sheep’s milk cheese (or use manchego or pecorino), about 1½ oz.
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
4 eggs
4 slices pata negra ham (or substitute Serrano)

In a large pot, heat olive oil over mediumhigh heat. Add diced bacon and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add sherry vinegar to deglaze pan and allow it to reduce for about 1 minute.
Add carrot, celery, onion and lentils. Add herb sachet and cover with 1½ cups water and the chicken stock. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer until lentils are tender and cooked through, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove carrot, onion, celery and herb sachet and discard. Season to taste with salt, pepper and sherry vinegar.
Over medium heat, stir in truffle oil, add cheese and stir until completely incorporated. Remove from heat and gently fold in the butter.
Meanwhile heat 4 cups of water with the white wine vinegar over high heat. Use a whisk to create a whirlpool in the water, then crack the eggs into a cup and slip them into the water one at a time. Poach until set, about 3 minutes.
To serve, divide the lentils between four bowls, top each with a slice of ham and a poached egg.