Saturday, June 27, 2009

Split Pea Soup with Pancetta and Almonds

If you want a more prominent pancetta flavor in your soup, chop some up and add it to the mirepoix (celery, carrots, onion).


  • Carrots, chopped
  • Celery, chopped
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Onions, chopped
  • Bay leaf
  • Potatoes, diced and divided
  • Split peas
  • Cumin seeds
  • Mustard seeds
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Coriander seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Black Peppercorns
  • Almonds, crushed
  • Pancetta, cubed
  • Sage


  1. Sauté the first four ingredients in a stockpot until carrots are tender
  2. Add bay leaf and most of the potatoes, reserving some for added texture later on
  3. Mix well and add some water to the pot
  4. Mix in the split peas
  5. In a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the cumin, mustard, fenugreek, coriander, fennel and black peppercorns
  6. When stock pot reaches a steady boil, start adding the spice mixture a little at a time, mixing between additions – reserve about a teaspoon of the spice mixture
  7. Add salt, if desired
  8. Stir the soup occasionally so as to avoid burning the bottom
  9. When split peas become tender, start a sauté pan on another burner medium-high heat
  10. Grind the almonds in a spice grinder
  11. When sauté pan is hot, add crushed almonds and reserved spice mixture, mixing frequently to avoid burning
  12. When the almond mixture is nice and brown, remove them from the pan and set aside
  13. Sear the pancetta in the sauté pan
  14. Add a little broth from the soup to the pancetta pan
  15. Add the reserved potatoes to the pancetta pan and mix thoroughly
  16. Add more broth to the pancetta pan if it becomes too dry
  17. When pancetta is thoroughly cooked and potatoes are tender, add a cup or two of the broth to the pancetta pan and simmer
  18. Add the crushed almonds and sage to the pancetta pan and mix thoroughly
  19. Let simmer until sauce thickens
  20. By this time, the soup should be just about ready. If the peas are really tender, remove the bay leaf
  21. Using a hand blender, blend the soup into a smooth puree
  22. Add the pancetta mixture to the soup and simmer for a few minutes
  23. Serve hot

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Chili con Carne


  • 1 - 1 1/2 c. kidney beans
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • Black pepper
  • 6 - 10 green cardamom pods
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 10 - 12 cloves
  • 1 T cumin seeds
  • 3 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz) can chipotle peppers in adobo
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 T cayenne (optional)


  1. Soak the beans in plenty of water overnight
  2. Sauté the onion and garlic in extra virgin olive oil for a couple minutes, then add the beef and a couple good rounds of freshly ground black pepper, cook through
  3. Strain the grease from the beef mixture
  4. In a small sauté pan, dry roast the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and cumin seeds until fragrant (only a minute or two)
  5. In a large pot on medium-high, mix the rinsed beans, beef mixture, spices, tomatoes, chilies, bell pepper and a couple cans worth of water
  6. When the pot has reached a good boil, reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for two hours, occasionally stirring and adjusting seasoning and water levels as necessary

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Gyro (Better Version)

I just made gyros again today, but changed it up a bit. This version takes quite a bit longer from start to finish, but it is most definitely worth it! I'll also include my own pita bread recipe as well. I've included measurements this time, but they are estimated so just use your own judgment if something doesn't seem balanced.

Lamb Ingredients
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 t. cumin seeds
  • 1/4 c. onion, finely diced
  • 1 T. mint, finely chopped
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 6 lb. leg of lamb

Additional Ingredients
  • 1/2 c. red onion, finely sliced
  • 1/4 c. red wine
  • 1 c. heirloom tomotoes, diced
  • Feta cheese
  • Pita bread (recipe in previous post)
  • Tzatziki (recipe in previous post)

Day 1 Directions
  1. Combine the lemon, cumin, onion, mint and oregano in a small mixing bowl and mix well - this will be the marinade for the lamb
  2. Salt and pepper the lamb, to taste
  3. Rub the marinade into the lamb, covering all sides
  4. Set lamb in a baking dish and cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator overnight
Day 2 Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. Transfer the lamb to a rack with a walled cookie sheet beneath to catch the juices
  3. Place the rack in the oven and cook lamb for 1 - 1.5 hours, or until lamb has reach desired wellness
  4. Remove the lamb from the oven and transfer the rack to a clean walled cookie sheet
  5. Using a spatula, scrape the drippings from the first cookie sheet into a sauté pan
  6. Heat sauté pan to medium-high heat, adding onions when scrapings begin to sizzle
  7. Sauté onions until tender
  8. Splash some wine into the sauté pan and let reduce
  9. At this time, the lamb has most likely completed its post-roast cooking and will be ready to be sliced into thin pieces
  10. Layer the fresh pitas with tzatziki, onions, feta, lamb and tomatoes


  • 1 c. natural Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 - 4 Garlic cloves
  • Black pepper
  • 2 T. Mint leaves, julienned
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  1. Put the yogurt in a strainer lined with cheese cloth
  2. Grate the cucumber into the strainer with the yogurt, mix
  3. Allow yogurt and cucumber to drain overnight
  4. Roast the garlic cloves with black pepper and a splash of olive oil until golden brown and very tender
  5. Combine the yogurt and cucumber mixture with the roasted garlic, mint leaves, lime juice and freshly grated black pepper
  6. Mix the tzatziki well, you may have to crush or blend the garlic so there are no large chunks

Pita Bread

This is an easy recipe for those interested in making their own pita bread.


  • 1 T. butter, melted
  • 1/2 t. dry yeast
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. white flour
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 T. mint, finely chopped
  • Black pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 500
  2. Combine the yeast, butter and 1/4 c. tepid water in a small bowl
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine remaining dry pita ingredients
  4. After the yeast has been given the opportunity to rise (~5 minutes or so), add to the mixing bowl and mix well - add more water or flour as necessary
  5. Knead the down until it is smooth and elastic
  6. Set aside in a lightly oiled, covered bowl let rise for 45 - 60 minutes
  7. On a baking stone, roll out the pita dough into small circular pita shapes
  8. Bake the pitas for 3 - 5 minutes. You should see them puff up like balloons
  9. Remove pitas from oven and place on cooling rack - if desired, cut a slit along side a portion of the edge to create a pocket (I usually omit this step and simply roll the pitas as-is around the filling)

Friday, June 5, 2009


My version of the traditional Greek sandwich.


  • Onions, finely sliced
  • Lamb meat, thinly sliced
  • Red wine
  • Pita bread
  • Heirloom tomatoes, diced
  • Feta cheese, crumbled

  1. In a pan, sauté onion in butter until translucent
  2. Add lamb to pan and brown
  3. Add a little red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan for any stuck flavors, and reduce
  4. When sauce is of desired consistency, remove from heat
  5. Create sandwiches by filling pita with meat, tomatoes, cheese and tzatziki