Poached Tilapia

Poached fish is a simple technique for can cooking lean fish like tilapia, cod, sole, haddock, snapper or halibut, as well as fatty fish like salmon or trout.  Poaching preserves moisture and adds flavor without adding fat — though you may want to serve poached fish with a sauce made from the leftover water.

~POACHED TILAPIA~

Ingredients:

  • Filet of fish
  • Large skillet
  • About 4 cups of water, fish stock or vegetable stock
  • 1 Lime (1/2 sliced and the other 1/2 left for juice)
  • A few sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 White Onion (sliced into “coins”)
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1-2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1-2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of either Sea Salt or Kosher Salt

Preparation:

  1. Start by making a series of shallow, diagonal cuts on the skin side of the fish fillets. These cuts prevent the fillet from curling during the poaching process.
  2. Heat the liquid on med-low until it reaches the point of almost simmering– the liquid should be hot but NOT boiling.
  3. Add the fish to the hot liquid, skin side down.  The fish should be covered completely by the liquid.
  4. To this, add the sliced onion, minced garlic and lime slices.
  5. Cook for about five minutes or until the fish is just done without being overcooked. (It should just have reached the point of becoming opaque and is no longer translucent.)
  6. Carefully remove the fish and the onions– set aside. Cover the fish to keep it warm while you do the next step of preparing the sauce.
  7. Remove the lime slices and discard.
  8. Cook the liquid over high heat until it has reduced by half.
  9. To the reduced liquid, add 1-2 Tablespoons of butter and whisk into the liquid.
  10. Next, add the same amount of all-purpose flour to the mixture (equal amounts flour to butter)
  11. Whisk until flour is cooked and mixture has thickened (it should smell more like toasted bread rather than “doughy” when the flour has reached the point that it is cooked).
  12. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Place the fish on a plate and garnish with the onions that you set aside.
  14. Top fish with the sauce, garnish with some freshly chopped cilantro, lime juice and an extra pinch of salt (sea salt if you have it; if not, then Kosher salt will do.)

*Instead of making a white sauce to top the Tilapia, you could instead top with a Roasted Salsa Verde (or a Basic Salsa Verde) which you can make ahead of time.  You can serve the fish with rice, pasta or on top of a bed of fresh spinach.

fish

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Egg-topped Pasta

     This might, at first glance, seem a bit odd, but it’s really delicious!  You can basically start with ANY olive oil-based sauce, add pasta and vegetables and top with an over-easy egg for a simple and hearty meal.  Here’s what I made just the other night:

Ingredients:

  • Whole-wheat angle hair pasta (cooked al dente)– I used about 8oz
  • 1 Cup of fresh arugula
  • 1 Cup of fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes (cut in half)
  • a few leaves (to taste) of fresh sweet basil (sliced thinly)
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic (thinly sliced)
  • 3 Tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • grated parmigiano reggiano cheese (to taste)
  • Eggs (one for each bowl of pasta served)

Preparation:

  1. In salted, boiling water, cook pasta until it is al dente
  2. Once cooked, strain the pasta and set aside.
  3. In a not-stick skillet, heat olive oil over med-low heat and add sliced garlic (be sure to watch the garlic closely so that it doesn’t burn) and heat until you can start to smell the cooked garlic (it shouldn’t take long)
  4. To the hot garlic-oil add the fresh spinach and arugula
  5. Add a pinch of Kosher salt and a bit of freshly cracked pepper
  6. Using tongs, turn the fresh greens in the oil so that they start to wilt just slightly.
  7. To this, add the tomatoes and the strained pasta and fold all ingredients together, coating the pasta with the olive oil and (as best you can) evenly distributing the greens and tomatoes among the pasta.
  8. Place pasta in bowls and set aside.
  9. In the same non-stick skillet, add just a touch of olive oil (or you can use butter) to the pan and heat to a medium-high heat (not too high as olive oil has a low smoke point and can burn easily!)
  10. Cook your eggs “over-easy” and season with salt and pepper.
  11. Once cooked, place the hot eggs on top of your pasta (one for each bowl of pasta served)
  12. Top with grated parmigiano reggiano  and fresh basil
  13. Serve immediately as you want the yolk to remain runny when you cut into it so that it runs down over the pasta, adding flavor and substance to the sauce– as it sits atop the hot pasta, it will continue cooking, so you really want to be quick about serving!

*To this recipe, some people like to add crispy bacon– delicious addition!egg-topped pasta

Roasted Salsa Verde

This salsa is great with chips, as a topping for grilled fish, as a base for chicken enchiladas– it’s a MUST-HAVE, GO-TO Tex-Mex sauce that can be used in a variety of ways!  This particular recipe is a rather involved process starting from scratch and roasting all the vegetables.  For a simpler version, try the Basic Salsa Verde.  If you DO decide to the time to make this roasted version, you’ll come to appreciate complexity and layering of flavors!

Ingredients:salsa-ingredients1

  • One pound of fresh tomatillos
  • 8-10 cloves of fresh garlic
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 large jalapeño pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • Juice of 4 limes (or about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
  • 1-2 Tablespoons ground cumin*

*I suggest toasting whole cumin seeds in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes (making sure to keep the seeds moving around so as not to burn one side) and then grinding the seeds with a mortar and pestle– this will give you more of smokey flavor than just using pre-gound cumin. But, if you’d rather not take the time, regular ground cumin will work just fine.

tomatillosalsa9Preparation:

  1. Start by peeling and rinsing the tomatillos– they will be sticky, so be sure that all the mud/dirt is rinsed off of them.
  2. Peel garlic cloves (trying to keep them intact if possible)
  3. Peel the onion and quarter it.
  4. Wash the jalapeño pepper– don’t feel the need to take the stem off or the seeds out; just leave it whole.
  5. Place all of the prepared vegetables in a roasting pan, drizzle with vegetable oil, and sprinkle with salt.
  6. Roast vegetables at about 425°F for approximately 30 minutes (or until the vegetables are starting to brown and are softened to the point that they could easily be punctured by a fork).
  7. Once the vegetables are done roasting, take the stem off of the jalapeño pepper (it should be so soft that it can easily just be slipped right off), and put all ingredients into a blender.
  8. To the vegetables, add cilantro, lime juice and cumin.
  9. Blend until smooth.

*Make sure to taste the salsa and add more salt if needed.  Also, if you would like to tone down the spice of the salsa, you can add plain yogurt or sour cream to the mix and blend it in– this will make the salsa creamy as well!

salsa-verde-3-602x399

Flavor Profile: TEX-MEX

Tex-Mex+Neon+Sign

~ Essential Spices and Herbs ~

Cumin Powder
◦    This aromatic spice is of the carrot family and can be described as a rich, earthy flavor. Cumin, originating in the Mediterranean, is used in almost every Tex Mex dish, from taquitos to refried beans. Sprinkle cumin powder on tortilla chips and pop in the oven for a delicious seasoning.  **Try toasting whole cumin seeds in a skillet and ground with a mortar and pestle– it will bring out a smokey flavor!


Chili Powder
◦    This flavorful spice varies in taste from mild to extremely hot. Chili powder has little aroma, but can pack a punch in soups, taco meat or sauces. Made from grinding various dried red peppers, chili powder can also have a smoked flavor to complement pork or carne asada.

Paprika
◦    Paprika is Hungarian for “flavor.” A mild spice, this deep red powder is cultivated from a variety of red capsicum peppers. Sweet to taste, paprika can be used as a Tex Mex topping on pizzas or tortillas or mixed into chili to even out the hot flavor.

Adobo
◦    The word adobo means marinade in Spanish. Sprinkle on Mexican cheese for adobo topping, use to spice Tex Mex pasta or pizza recipes or marinate meat for spicy adobo main meals. Combined adobo is mixed in many different ways and can include parsley flakes, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin powder, achiote powder from annatto seed and lemon or lemon pepper.

Chipotle
◦    Chipotle spice is a mixture of spices used for seasoning fajitas, tacos or meats such as poultry or pork. It is a combination of chili powder, dried cilantro, cumin, Mexican oregano, basil, garlic powder, thyme and crushed chipotle pepper. This spice can also be mixed into salsa for a more mild, earthy condiment.

Azafran
◦    Otherwise known as Mexican saffron, azafran possesses a pleasantly bitter flavor, and most dishes require only a small amount. To use, dissolve first by crumbling a small amount in hot water. Frontier European saffron is an excellent substitute in dishes that call for azafran.

Coriander
◦    The dried seeds of the coriander plant yield a different taste than coriander (cilantro) leaves. Ground coriander seed is used in breads, cakes, and other desserts, as well as in savory dishes such as soups and stews (especially chili), and with meat and game. The whole seeds are also used; dry roast them to enhance their flavor.

Cinnamon
◦    Cinnamon was first introduced to Mexican cooking by the Spanish, and it’s most often used in beverages (such as chocolate drinks). You’ll also find cinnamon in rice pudding and chorizo sausages. Mexican cooks use both the sticks and ground cinnamon, (Remove the sticks before serving.)

Cilantro
◦    Cilantro, although an herb, is used to spice many Tex Mex dishes. With its fresh, pungent flavor, cilantro’s green leaves are a key ingredient when making salsa and Tex Mex vinaigrette salad dressings.

Mexican Oregano
◦    Different from Greek or Italian oregano, the flavor of Mexican oregano is somewhat more savory-like, instead of the piney hint of rosemary flavor in “regular” oregano. The flavor complements many dishes including pinto beans and soups. **Oregano leaf is more desirable than powdered oregano, and in some recipes, the directions call for lightly toasting the oregano leaf before adding to dishes.

Thyme
◦    Thyme has a dry, fresh, pungent flavor that complements the heat in many Mexican dishes. You’ll find it in Mexican soups and sauces, salads and dressings.

10 Essential Chinese Spices and Sauces

china

1: Soy Sauce
Widely considered one of the world’s oldest condiments, soy sauce is a fermented soy bean product. It was probably first discovered more than 3,500 years ago in China as part of the process of preserving fish. It’s used in seafood, meat and vegetable dishes and as a base for other sauces, like teriyaki.  Soy sauce is available in a number of varieties: light, dark, low-sodium and blended. Blended soy-based sauces incorporate other Asian herbs and spices, like garlic, five-spice powder and ginger for added flavor.

2: Sweet and Sour Sauce
Sweet and sour sauce awakens your taste buds by incorporating two strong flavor perceptions into one sauce. Thick, rich and often a vibrant cherry red color, sweet and sour sauce can minimize the greasy flavor of fried foods, enhance the delicate texture of vegetables and boost the flavor of mild meats.  If you want to make this traditional sauce, there are a number of options available to you. Although most recipes will use some form of vinegar — like white vinegar, red wine vinegar or rice vinegar — for the sour side of the sauce, the sweet contribution can come from sugar, corn syrup, fruit juice, marmalade or jelly, depending on the recipe involved.

3: Sesame Oil
A couple of drops of light, fragrant sesame oil can add a lot of taste and aroma to wok dishes. It’s also light enough to work well in cold dishes, dressings and dipping sauces.  Sesame oil is available in both cold-pressed and toasted varieties. Cold-pressed oil has a lighter flavor and is almost colorless, making it a good addition to salad dressings, while the toasted variety has a nuttier, smoky flavor.  Use sesame oil sparingly. Its flavor is distinctive and can easily overpower other ingredients.

4: XO Sauce
XO sauce probably isn’t something you’re going to find in a typical fast-food Chinese restaurant. Instead, it’s considered to be one of the nation’s more highbrow condiments. Originally developed in southern China, the “XO” name can be attributed to XO Cognac, a well-known, high-end liquor, which happens to be a main ingredient in authentic, homemade versions. Don’t worry too much about letting the kiddos enjoy the manufactured variety, however. Most commercially produced XO sauces mimic the taste without any of the actual alcohol.  The sauce can also include red chili pepper, ham, dried scallops and dried shrimp, depending on the chef’s or manufacturer’s recipe. It’s generally enjoyed with a variety of dishes, including dim sum, sushi, squid, vegetables and many types of stir-fry recipes.

5: Black Bean and Garlic Sauce
When it comes to Chinese black bean and garlic sauce, a little goes a long way, thanks to the salty, bold flavor it’s known for. Most amateur chefs prefer to purchase the pre-packaged variety because the preparation is quite lengthy. In fact, the black soybeans used in most recipes are fermented for about six months before they can be pureed and seasoned with other ingredients, like flour and ginger.  In general, only a spoonful or so of the sauce is necessary when preparing your favorite stir-fry recipe.  Once opened, the contents of the can should be refrigerated to prevent spoilage.

6: Ginger
Ginger is an indispensable spice that can add heat and delicate flavor to meat, vegetable and fish dishes. Ginger is sold fresh, powdered, pickled and candied.  For a subtle, fresh flavor with a peppery aftertaste and flowery aroma, pass on the dried variety and choose a chubby fresh specimen from your local produce market. Ginger is like a knobby beige root with a papery covering. Once you’ve stripped off the outer layer, the light yellow, fibrous flesh can be grated or finely chopped and included in either cooked or cold foods.  Ginger freezes well — just tightly seal it in

7: Hoisin Sauce
Lovers of Peking duck or mu shu dishes have already developed a healthy appreciation for hoisin sauce, also known as Peking sauce. Thicker than your average sauce (think a ketchup consistency) hoisin sauce is extremely versatile and is commonly used as a dipping sauce, marinade for barbecued meats or an ingredient in stir-fries.  Although it does have a slightly spicy kick to it, hoisin sauce is beloved for the sweetness it lends to dishes, thanks to ingredients like sugar, sweet potatoes, soybeans and wheat flour.

8: Five-Spice Powder
Five-spice powder packs a powerful flavor wallop. It has a simple base — just five ingredients — but a couple of them are unusual in most Western cooking. You can’t get the punch of five-spice powder with any substitution, and a small amount can wake up the flavors in vegetables, meats, starches and fruits.  The basic blend is comprised of star anise, fennel seed, Szechuan pepper, cinnamon (or cassia) and cloves. Although you can make a serviceable five-spice powder by using equal amounts of all ingredients, there are a number of variations that use more of one or less of another to create subtle differences.

9: Oyster Sauce
Most commonly used to add a briny twist to noodle dishes and vegetable stir-frys. Known for its dark brown color and smooth consistency, the main ingredient of this flavorful sauce is minced oysters and the juices contained therein. Extra ingredients typically include sugar and soy sauce.  Although oyster sauce is prized for its seafood friendly flavor, experts recommend avoiding the cheaper, plastic-bottled variety in favor of higher-end versions in glass containers. Simply put, the less you spend; the “fishier” you can expect the sauce to taste. Once the bottle has been opened, be sure to store it in the refrigerator to help it last longer.

10: Duck Sauce
Duck sauce suffers from an identity crisis of sorts, considering that it’s actually made primarily from plums — not duck, as its name implies. The sauce does have a relationship with the delicious fowl, though, since it was developed for dipping bites of roast duck. But you don’t need to stifle the possibilities of duck sauce with its namesake bird, since it’s actually also commonly used with chicken and beef dishes In fact, most Americans recognize the sweet and spicy orange sauce as the substance egg-rolls are commonly dipped into.  Typically, plums are the main ingredient, though many recipes also incorporate peaches, dried apricots, bell peppers, vinegar, ginger and sugar. Combined, the ingredients give duck sauce its trademark sweet, tangy taste that Americans and lovers of authentic Chinese cuisine have grown to love.

Thanks to  HowStuffWorks.com  for the info!

Flavor Profile: Classic French Cuisine

frenchHere are some basic spices and herbs used in French cooking.  This is just a starting point and some good tips.  Ultimately, cook what you like and what tastes good to YOU!

Poultry Spices
Salt and pepper are the primary spices in the vast majority of French cooking. Chicken dishes are prepared most often with mustard, paprika, garlic, ginger, thyme, basil, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Mustard also rates high in turkey dishes, along with garlic and parsley. Cumin is an important seasoning for orange duck.

Red-Meat Spices
Beef French-style invariably is seasoned with bouquet garni, which is a bundle of herbs including bay leaf, parsley and thyme; other popular spices are garlic, rosemary, ginger, saffron and mustard. Lamb is often prepared with cumin, cayenne, tarragon, mint, thyme, bay leaf, basil, tarragon, parsley, ginger, coriander and cloves. Roast pork recipes include laurel and nutmeg.

Seafood Spices
Fish dishes are typically prepared with paprika, saffron and ginger. Scallops, a favorite seafood, are cooked with basil, thyme, white pepper and garlic. Herbs de provence are spice mixtures in two varieties often used in cooking seafood: either thyme, marjoram, rosemary and savory, or tarragon, chervil, fennel and lavender.

Vegetable Spices
Zucchinis and other squash in French cooking are often seasoned with combinations of clove, thyme, basil, garlic, nutmeg, parsley and chives. Thyme and bay leaf are favored for potatoes, and many tomato-based dishes rely on garlic, parsley, brewer’s yeast, oregano, thyme and basil.

Spices for Fruit
Various fruits are used for sauces and deserts. Favored spices include mint and vanilla. Bananas are cooked with ginger and rum extract.  In Canadian/American-French cooking, cinnamon is often used with apples, but this is not so in traditional French cuisine.

Dessert Spices
From chocolate cakes to fruit crumbles, French desserts are flavored with many spices. These include: vanilla, almond extract, lemon and orange zest, nutmeg, cardamom, salt–and, surprisingly, pepper.

Bouquet Garni
A French herbal mixture. It consists of a collection of herbs, gathered together and tied into a bundle or sachet in cheesecloth, or directly tied together when using fresh herbs. It is used to enhance the flavor of stews, broths or stocks

Classic Ingredients of Italian Cuisine

italia

Most people think of tomatoes and bread when discussing the basics of Italian food. But did you know that tomatoes were not a staple in Italy until they were introduced into Europe in the 16th century? Before the introduction of tomatoes it was common to see Italian cooks using flatbread, olive oil, garlic, fish, game meat, cheeses, and seasonal fruits and vegetables in their cooking. Now tomatoes, cheese, and pasta create the base for most Italian dishes. Even Italian desserts commonly use creams and cheeses to create rich textures and flavors.

Cheeses and Herbs
Cheese is a vital ingredient in Italian cooking. Some of the common cheeses include asiago, gorgonzola, mozzarella, parmigiano-reggiano, pecorino, provolone, and ricotta. Many of these cheeses are dry and used to shave over pasta dishes or sprinkle into a cheese mixture. Cheese mixtures are often flavored with popular herbs such as parsley, oregano, and basil. Italians also frequently use capers and bay leaves.

Italian Spices

  • CORIANDER  [coriandolo]
 Crushed coriander seeds are used in various meat dishes, particularly lamb and pork.
  • GINGER [zenzero]
 This spice is rarely used in Italian cooking, except in the region of Apulia and Basilicata in southern Italy, where it is very popular.
  • NUTMEG [Noce moscata]
 The Italians are fond of this spice, both in sweet and savory dishes. Ground nutmeg has none of the fresh flavor and aroma of the freshly grated kind, therefore whole nutmegs should be bought and grated directly into the dish at the time of cooking. Nutmeg is a common ingredient in ravioli and dishes which contain spinach or cheese.
  • PEPPER [pepe]
 Black peppercorns should always be used. Grind them fresh at the time of cooking or serving; never use ready-ground pepper.
  • SAFFRON [zafferano]
 This is used mostly in risotto and in fish soups and stews. Saffron is very expensive and therefore used sparingly. Saffron threads are probably the easiest and most economical way of using saffron: they should be steeped in a little warm water until the color and aroma are extracted; the water should then be strained and added to the dish.
  • SALT [sale]
 Sea salt is used throughout Italy. Coarse sea salt rather than table or cooking salt is the type to use.
  • VANILLA [vaniglia]
 Vanilla is a popular flavoring in sweet dishes, and vanilla sugar sold in sachets is frequently used with ordinary sugar to give flavor to cakes and pastries. The Italians use vanilla pods (beans) rather then essence (extract).

Italian Herbs


Fresh herbs are normally used in Italian cooking.  If not using fresh herbs, they should be stored in the freezer or hung up to dry in a cool, airy place away from damp. Once dry, they should be stored in airtight containers.

  • Basil (basilico)
 There are numerous varieties of this spicy, aromatic herb, but sweet basil and bush basil are the most common. It is used mostly in dishes that contain tomatoes, and in salads, soups and on pizzas. Freshly chopped basil should be used whenever possible, as dried basil makes a poor substitute. If buying dried basil, however, always choose the sweet kind; its flavor is much less pungent than other varieties.
  • Bay Leaves (lauro) 
Bay leaves are used as a flavoring for casseroles, soups and sometimes roasts.
  • Borage (borragine) 
Borage has a flavor not unlike cucumber. It grows all over Italy, and is used both as a flavoring and as a vegetable. Ravioli is stuffed with borage in Genoa. Borage leaves are also served like spinach or dipped in batter and deep-fried as fritters.
  • Fennel (finocchio)
 Fennel is used in three ways in Italian cooking. The bulb, known as Florence fennel or finocchio, is used whole, sliced or quartered as a vegetable, and either braised or baked au gratin. It is also chopped raw in salads.  Fennel seeds are a common flavoring in spiced sausages and other cooked meats, Finocchiona salame being the best known of these.
  • Juniper (ginepro) 
The berries of the juniper bush are used in pork and game dishes and in marinades. If they are to be included in a dish such as a stuffing they should always be crushed first. Use juniper berries sparingly as their flavor can be bitter if used in too large a quantity.
  • Marjoram, Sweet (maggiorana)
 This herb is sometimes used in soups, stews, vegetable and fish dishes. If necessary it can act as a substitute for oregano.
  • Oregano (origano)
 This is also known as wild marjoram. It is an essential ingredient in many Italian dishes, including pizzas, sauces and casseroles, but its flavor differs slightly from one region to another.
  • Parsley (prezzemolo)
 Italian parsley is the flat-leaved variety as opposed to the curly “moss” variety common in Britain and the United States. Flat-leaved parsley can usually be found at continental stores, where it is often called “continental parsley”. Its flavor is far more pungent than curly parsley, and for this reason it is generally used as a flavoring in Italian dishes rather than as a simple garnish. For Italian recipes where parsley is specified, try to obtain the flat-leaved variety; other parsley can be used as a substitute, but the flavor of the finished dish will not be quite the same.
  • Rosemary (rosemarino)
 The Italians are very fond of flavoring lamb and suckling pig with rosemary. It is also used liberally in soups and stews. However it is wise to treat this herb with a little caution, since its distinctive flavor can easily overpower ingredients with more subtle flavors.
  • Sage (salvia) 
Sage is commonly used in liver and veal dishes.

Bouquet Garni

Bouquet Garni ~ a French herbal mixture. It consists of a collection of herbs, gathered together and tied into a bundle or sachet in cheesecloth, or directly tied together when using fresh herbs. It is used to enhance the flavor of stews, broths or stocks. There are two versions – a dried version and a fresh version.

Fresh Version:Bouquet_garni_p1150476_extracted
1. Gather together fresh herbs, making sure they have long stems.
For a traditional bouquet garni, the herbs should consist of 3 sprigs of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme and 1 bay leaf. (2 sprigs of fresh rosemary is optional)
2. Tie the bunch together with kitchen twine and leave a tail that you can use to haul the bunch in and out of your pot.

Dried Version:
1. Gather together dried herbs.bouquet garni
Mix together 1 tablespoon parsley, 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 bay leaf. (1 teaspoon of rosemary is optional.)
2. Wrap in a cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine, again leaving some length for hauling in
out of the pot.

 

How to use a bouquet garni:
These can be used in making soups, stocks and sauces. Place the bouquet in the liquid at the beginning of cooking and leave in until right before serving. Some classic French dishes that these are used in include:

• French onion soup
• Brown Windsor soup
• Pot au feu
• Poule au pot
• Carbonnade flamande
• Lapin chasseur
• Blanquette de veau
• Ossobuco
• Bouillabaisse
• Court-bouillon
• Boeuf bourguignon
• Cassoulet

Remember: there is no generic recipe for bouquet garni, but most recipes include parsley, thyme and bay leaf. Depending on the recipe, the bouquet garni may also include basil, burnet, chervil, rosemary, peppercorns, savory and tarragon. Vegetables such as carrot, celery (leaves and stems) celeriac, leek, onion and parsley root are sometimes included in the bouquet. You can feel free to use whatever you’d like to infuse flavor in your soup, stock or sauce depending on your taste– feel free to improvise!

Provence Potato Gratin

Thanks to Cooking.com for the following recipe!

Provence Potato Gratin

Contributed By: Jeanne
Active Time:  1 Hour
Total Time:  2 Hours
A lovely side potato dish to accompany Daube du Bouef or other beef dish. Add a Caprese Salad, a green vegetable of choice and a rich red wine for an elegant dinner.

INGREDIENTS

Yukon Gold, Red or White Potatoes, amount depending upon number of servings you want.
Creme Fraiche (made with 2 cups heavy cream, 2 cups sour cream)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
DIRECTIONS

Make Creme Fraiche several days ahead in a crockery bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 to 36 hours to thicken. When it reaches desired thickness, refrigerate until ready to use.
Peel and slice potatoes. Layer in buttered shallow casserole dish – potatoes, creme fraiche, lightly salt and pepper on each layer. Bake, uncovered in 350 degree oven for approximately 2 hours or until tender.

Split Pea (w/Ham) Soup

      This recipe calls for ham/ham stock, but it can easily be made into a vegetarian dish by using vegetable stock.  If you prefer the vegetarian version, just disregard any steps that mention the ham.  I like to make the meaty-version whenever I have leftover ham at Christmastime. 

  • Soak about a pound of dried split-peas overnight in a large bowl of water.green split peas
  • The next day, take your ham and place it in a large pot.  Fill the pot with water (making sure to cover the ham) and cook, covered, over low heat for a few hours– until the meat is falling off of the bone.
  • Strain the liquid from the pot and set aside.
  • Put the meat aside to cool– you will be cutting it up and adding it to the soup at a later point.
  • Next, strain off the liquid from the beans that have soaked overnight.
  • Place the beans in your pot and add the ham stock that you have just made.
  • Add a bay leaf and a bit of pepper, and then cook the peas over medium heat for about an hour.
  • You’ll notice that, as the peas cook, there will be foam that forms on top of the liquid.  Simply skim this off as it forms.  Eventually, the foam will stop forming.
  • As the peas are cooking, mince a few cloves of garlic (about 3-4), and dice up some white onion (about 2 cups) and carrots (about 1 cup).  You can also cut up some potatoes to add to your soup if you’d prefer a more stew-like soup.
  • Once the peas are soft, remove the bay leaf.  Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until the consistency is smooth.
  • Add about a teaspoon of dried oregano (or 1 Tablespoon of fresh oregano if you have it) and the other vegetables, and cook, covered, over low heat until the carrots and potatoes are soften.
  • While the soup continues cooking, turn your focus back to the ham.  Remove all bones and dice up the meat into bite-size chunks.
  • After the vegetables have softened, add the diced ham back into the soup and turn off heat.  After the soup has cooled enough for you to taste it, you’ll want to taste to make sure that it doesn’t need any additional salt.  The ham (or vegetable stock) will often be salty enough to flavor your soup.
  • (If needed) Salt and Pepper to taste.

ham split pea spoup