21 February 2012

Split Pea Soup with Cumin Seeds

The common cold: exciting side effect of temperatures changes, bane of modern medicine, butt of this telling joke...

A man went to see his doctor because he was suffering from a miserable cold. His doctor prescribed some pills, but they didn't help. On his next visit the doctor gave him a shot, but that didn't do any good. On his third visit the doctor told the man to go home and take a hot bath. As soon as he was finished bathing he was to throw open all the windows and stands in the draft. "But doc," protested the patient, "if I do that, I'll get pneumonia." "I know," said his physician. "I can cure pneumonia."

Luckily my doctor prescribed rest and supplements for my immune system rather than pneumonia, so I immediately came home and made chicken soup. I made the stock directly with a whole chicken so the meat would get falling-off-the-bone-tender, then made the soup with onions, carrots, celery, and lots of garlic, parsley and some fresh ginger added near the end for the maximum in vitamin strength. I definitely recommend it if you're under the weather (even better if you can get someone else to make it for you)!

Only in France would a baker sign his bread like a Picasso!

I've been trying a new kind of soup pretty much every week these days. Latest in this delicious craze has been Heidi's amazing Vegetarian Split Pea Soup. This is one of those recipes that's insanely cheap, insanely easy to make and insanely delicious. (Check out 101 Cookbooks in general for more of those kinds of recipes. Heidi's good at them!) I added cumin seeds to this soup and I think the flavor worked well.

serves 2-3 people

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
a pinch of sea salt
a pinch of cumin seeds
1 cup dried split peas
3 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1-2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (you can reserve the zest for garnish if you love lemon)
a few pinches of paprika
more olive oil to drizzle

Heat olive oil in a pot over med-high heat. Stir in onions and salt and cook a couple minutes, until the onions are soft but not brown. Add the split peas and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the peas are cooked through but not mushy (about 20 minutes).

Using a cup measure, put about 1/2 cup of the soup aside. Puree the rest of the soup. Stir the reserved soup back into the puree. This technique gives the soup a little bit of texture. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste.

Serve in bowls drizzled with olive oil and topped with paprika and a bit of lemon zest.

03 February 2012

Bayonne Ham Sandwich with Roquefort and Apple

A cold snap here has left Parisians shivering in their fashionable coats and reaching for their leather gloves. Yesterday the metro was slowed because of ice and people are generally at a lost as to how to keep warm. I am in my winter happy place. Ok, so it's in the low 20s and windy, but it's finally sunny! No rain boots, no more mid-season jacket. I finally have on my winter coat and the cute hat I bought in Bryant Park when I was in NYC over Christmas. When I wake up, the sun is rising and sending all sorts of beautiful colors across the sky. I'm onstage until the end of February and rehearsing two other shows. I play soccer every afternoon with kids I babysit for fun and exercise. Right now, life is good.

I've been trying to make all of my meals at home these days, even when they need to be simple and quick. When I absolutely have to eat on the run, I bring something with me. I gave up on buying sandwiches that are more expensive and not nearly as good as mine, and started having fun with all sorts of variations. This is one of my recent favorites.

Bayonne Ham Sandwich with Roquefort and Apple

French bread
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Two slices Bayonne ham or prosciutto
2 Tbsp Roquefort (or other blue) cheese
4 thin slices of apple (I used golden delicious)
fresh ground pepper

I know you all know how to make a sandwich, but just for the sake of being thorough...
Spread the mustard on the bread. Lay on the ham/prosciutto, Roquefort and apple slices. Grind pepper to taste. Close sandwich and eat!