Well….. Another week or so has passed for your Favorite Catgirl… and surprisingly, with the arrival of March, the weather has started shifting…. tentatively… teasingly…. ever.. so.. cautiously… towards a warmer and more spring-like feeling. This Monday, on my day off, I could stand it no longer and opened up the kitchen window over my sink (After first making very certain my screen was intact and in place…. No crazy Spring escape for Ting-ting!! No way, no how….) and reveled in that amazing smell that Spring, (or at least almost Spring) has.
While taking that all in, it struck me just how much time lately I’ve been spending in the kitchen at home. As a cook, I spend all day in a kitchen at work, mind you, but most people are amazed that I usually don’t do all that much cooking at home. Or at least that’s how it’s been for a long, long time….
Wanna know why? Then naturally, you’ll want to “Read On”….. (and just maybe find a yummy surprise!!)
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been a cook….. Despite just how much of a lil’ tomboy I was back then, the “Kitchen Fairies” had still chosen to bless quirky lil’ me with the love of food and all things domestic and “kitchen-y”. Even if Mom never liked the kitchen all that much, I still managed to learn a lot from both of my grandmas… and always loved spending time fixing up an amazing variety of yummy food with them all those years ago. It was hardly surprising then, that when I left college and wanted a job for extra money…. just for a semester or two, mind you…. I ended up working in a restaurant and that “couple of semesters” turned into 15 years and a full time career.
Still… as the job became a career…. and I grew into a single woman living in a tiny apartment, cooking for the sheer fun of it just sort of stopped somewhere along the line. Mostly I always told myself there wasn’t much need for it anymore…. Cooking for one was just too much of a hassle, and it became easier just to either eat at work or pick up take-out “something” when I was too tired to do anything else. There were a lot of years of that… until recently.
Now that Carolyn and I are living together, I find myself drawn back to the kitchen and the old joy of working with food now that I’ve got such an appreciative mouth to feed besides my own. Not only is the cooking itself more fun, but every now and again I get the added treat of Carolyn, slipping in warm and close behind me, her arms around my waist as she peeks over my shoulder while I work away at the stove or counter. It makes it all that much more fun, knowing she finds it all so interesting (and sexy…. Hehehe!!). So…. lately I find I shop more for food with purpose… and even spend time thinking up more new crazy recipes than I have in a long, long time. Given that… it seemed only right somehow to celebrate that rebirth of an old treasured interest by sharing some of those recipes with you here at the Litterbox…..
So… here goes. We start off with this week’s Monday night meal, “Yellow Split Pea Soup with Portuguese Chourico, Spanish Style”.
This particular soup sort of snuck up on me after a visit to the store rewarded me with a chance to grab some fresh chourico sausage, something that is fairly hard to get in my neck of the woods on a regular basis. Having happily bought a couple of pounds (some to eat now… some to freeze for later), I only later pondered just what use I might actually put it to. A quick check in my pantry found 2 lbs of dried yellow split peas, and after a bit of thinking the idea sprang into my mind to see just what would happen if I took those peas and did a version of the old French Canadian Ham and pea soup with a more Spanish twist.
Combine the following in a large heavy bottomed pot:1 lb. Spicy Portuguese Chourico sausage, cut into ¼ in. slices. 1 Clove minced garlic 2 cups of thin sliced onion 1 cup course chopped carrots 1 cup course chopped celery 1 cup crimini mushrooms 2 tablespoons butter (or bacon drippings, Neko’s personal preference… Yummy!!)
Cook over medium high heat, stirring as needed, for a few minutes until the chourico starts to render a bit, onions are translucent and vegetables soften slightly. De-glaze pot with 1 cup of Madeira wine. Then add spices:¼ teaspoon thyme 1 good pinch of ground cumin 2 Bay leaves 1 (or 2 if you are bold like a certain crazy Catgirl….) good splashes of hot pepper sauce 1 pkg. Goya Adobo seasoning Salt and Black Pepper to taste
Cook a couple of more minutes, to combine flavors a bit, then add 2 quarts of rich chicken stock. Bring it all to a boil and add 2 lbs. of Yellow Split Peas. Bring back to a good simmer and allow to continue to simmer for an hour or so, stirring occasionally until peas soften and begin to break down. Add 2 chunked medium tomatoes (or a single 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes). Simmer for another few minutes and serve!!
If you’ve done it right, it should be about the most amazingly yummy and exotic looking pea soup you’ve ever had, filled with spicy goodness and great with garlic rolls….. It will make about 1 gallon of soup… probably more than most people need, but for me it means I’ve plenty for Carolyn and I, as well as plenty to share with Sam and the people at work the next day. For those of you with fewer mouths to feed, simply cut the ingredients roughly in half or freeze the remainder for a rainy day. Remember… “Soup is good food!!”
Hope you enjoy making some for those you love as much as I enjoyed making it and telling you all about it. Like as not… If you all enjoyed this one, I’ll share some more of my culinary experiments as I get the chance in the future. Till next time out “Meow, meow, for now o’ Gentle Visitors!”