Thursday, December 15, 2011

Split pea soup with bacon, if you're into that sort of thing

Even though it's unseasonably warm for December (low of -1ºC on December 15? Really?) I'm already craving soup like crazy. This is something I threw together with a bunch of ingredients from my house.

1 cup dried split peas, rinsed very well
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dry mustard powder
1 medium onion (peeled)
1 medium carrot (washed and peeled)
1 medium potato (washed, unpeeled)
4 cloves garlic (peeled)
dash of summer savoury
salt to taste
dash of balsamic vinegar
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped up raw peameal bacon (Canadian bacon, for you non-Canadians)

Let's do it!
After rinsing the peas VERY WELL (otherwise they'll be bitter), throw them in a soup pot with a well fitting lid with enough water to cover it, plus an inch. Add the bay leaf and mustard. I didn't measure the water because you will keep adding it as needed throughout the cooking process. Bring to a boil then simmer on low for 20 minutes, slightly covered, stirring every few minutes or so.

While that's going, prepare your veggies and chop them coarsely. Put them in a food processor and chop as finely as possible. If you don't have a food processor, buy one. Or chop them finely by hand. Or grate them on a cheese grater. Put a little oil in a pan and fry up the bacon, then add the veggies and fry that up for a few minutes. You don't need to cook it through, just enough to deepen the flavour. Or something. Hey, maybe this whole process is unnecessary. I don't know.

Put the veggie and bacon mix into the simmering soup, add a dash of summer savoury (maybe 1/3 tsp?) add enough water to cover everything plus a bit more, then cover and let it simmer for an hour or so. Make sure you check every once in a while to stir it and add water if it gets too thick.  

Season with salt and a bit of balsamic.

Lunch it up!
The husband is not a fan of soup, so I have this stuff all to myself! Mwahahah!!

After letting this cool in the fridge overnight, I separated it into three containers, containing about 2 servings each. Two of the containers are meant for the freezer, and one is meant for lunch. In the freezer ones, I put cling wrap tightly on the surface of the soup and pushed out any air bubbles. This will help it keep from being freezer burnt. Then I wrote in dry-erase marker* what it was and the date. If you're lucky enough to have access to a freezer at work, these are great to have in a pinch. If you're unlucky enough to have coworkers who steal food, maybe write "special diabetic meal" or something on it. Either way, ready to eat soup in the freezer can be a real godsend.

I know this says "ham", they're close enough for this purpose, nerds.

The soup would go well with some toasty bread or a salad. Or nothing. It's really good on its own.

*If you have wet-erase markers, use those, as the dry erase rubs off too easily.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Less lazy Vietnamese Sub

As promised, here is a recipe for a less-lazy Vietnamese sub, otherwise known as Banh Mi. If you live in a city that has Banh Mi, you are very lucky. When I was a kid, my mom used to be able to get them for a dollar each from Chinatown. She would buy them by the grocery bag full so that my brother and I could stuff our little faces when we got home from school. From my understanding as a non-Vietnamese face-stuffer, it seems that these subs have a few key ingredients: Vietnamese-style bun made with both wheat and rice flour, liver pate, mayonnaise, protein of some sort, pickled vegetables and fresh cilantro You can also hit it with some sriracha if you like it spicy.

I've decided to make mine with roasted pork belly as the protein.

1 Vietnamese bun
1 heaping teaspoon of liverwurst (the only pate in the store without dairy)
1 heaping teaspoon of mayonnaise
3 slices of pork belly (recipe to follow)
some pickled daikon and carrot
handful of fresh cilantro

Pork belly ingredients: 
a piece of raw pork belly that was maybe 12" x 6"
1 tbsp 5 spice powder
1/2 tsp salt

Let's do it!
Pork belly takes about an hour and a half - two hours to cook. It's worth it.

Take the pork belly, rinse and dry it with paper towel. Cut off some of the fat from the bottom (meat side) if you want. There is a ton of fat on the skin side, but we need it.

With a sharp knife, score the skin in a 1" criss crossed pattern, but don't cut into the meat. Make sure your knife is sharp, you probably want to use a chef's knife, not a serrated one. This is a really annoying process, but necessary if you don't want a big piece of hardened skin you can't eat. Mix together the salt and spice powder, then rub into the meat.. all around it, into the crevices... Just get it in there. Place the meat on a pan and roast in the toaster oven (or oven). If you have the option, set it on broil (only the top burner going) at 400ºF. Roast for one hour. After one hour, check with an instant read thermometer to see if the meat is at 160ºF. If not, roast it for another 30 minutes at 350ºF. Keep doing this until it reads 160ºF.

Let it cool on the counter, then cut it into slices.

Lunch it up!

Cut the bun in half and take some of the inside bread out to make more room for deliciousness. Spread pate on one side, mayo on the other. Fill with cilantro and wrap up in foil. Put the pickled daikon and carrot into an airtight container. Put the pork in another container. I like to heat up the pork a bit before putting it in the sandwich. By all means, you can put this all together if you like, but I sort of like to keep things separate. I also only made pickled daikon because I'm not a huge fan of pickled carrots.