Curried Split Pea Soup

Curried Split Pea Soup

Curried Split Pea Soup

This is a great soup. Spicy and rich tasting but low in calories. Easy to make too. It can be made thick and served as a dal over rice. Use more or less curry powder depending on taste. I like it with naan, I get frozen at the grocery store. It heats in a minute or two.

Curried Split Pea Soup

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 onion chopped

2-3 garlic cloves minced

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

2-3 Tablespoons curry powder

1 Serrano chili seeded and minced

2 cups split peas

4 cups chicken stock

1-2 handfuls baby spinach

lemon quarters

1. Sauté the onions in the butter in a Dutch oven until wilted. Add the garlic, cumin, curry powder and Serrano stirring till fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Stir in the split peas and chicken stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer for 35-35 minutes so peas are cooked.

3. Blend to desired consistency with an immersion blender, adding water if needed.

4. Stir in spinach. Serve when the spinach is wilted. Garnish with lemon.


Pork Scaloppini with Artichoke Hearts


Pork Scaloppini

This is a simple yet elegant meal. I would make it with veal but my budget said no to that. I had my butcher cut the pork cutlets this time. But you could purchase a pork loin roast and cut 1/4 inch slices then freeze the rest for later. I had frozen artichoke hearts but canned will do in a pinch.

Pork Scaloppini with Artichoke Hearts

8 1/4 inch slices of pork loin

2 eggs

3/4 cup flour

Zest of one lemon

1Tablespoon olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

2 cups artichoke hearts [thawed if frozen, drained if canned]

2 cloves garlic minced

juice of one lemon

1-2 Tablespoon butter

small bunch of parsley chopped

2 Tablespoons capers drained

1. Pound the pork pieces so they are an even thickness. Season with salt and pepper.

2. In one bowl whisk the eggs. In another mix the flour and lemon zest. First dip the pork in the egg then into the flour to coat.

3. Heat the olive oil and Tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Saute the pork in batches. Remove to a plate.

4. Add more olive oil to the pan if needed. Add the artichoke hearts and heat through. Add garlic and stir till fragrant.

5. Stir in lemon juice and butter over low heat.

6. Add pork back to pan to reheat through. Garnish with parsley and capers.

Cissie says,” 1st choice would be a California Old Vine Red Zinfandel, Red Zinfandel pairs nicely with artichokes. 2nd choice is a crisp Sancerre from France”

Hank says,”  I would recommend a crisp american pale ale with all of these fresh flavors.  The citrus notes of the pale ale will even more brighten the lemon and fruity qualities of the dish.  Try a Two Brothers Sidekick, Stone Pale Ale or Dale’s Pale Ale.”

Skirt Steak with Smoked Paprika Butter

Skirt Steak with Smoked Paprika Butter

Skirt Steak with Smoked Paprika Butter


Skirt steak is one of my favorite cuts of beef. It has a deep beefy flavor. Skirt is from the diaphragm, under belly of the cow. Many people think it is tough but if properly cut it is just fine. Skirt steak is often used for fajitas or stir fries, but we like it simply cooked and sliced.

Skirt Steak with Smoked Paprika Butter

11/2 pounds skirt steak cut into 4 inch lengths to fit in skillet

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Tablespoon butter

2-3 cloves garlic minced

11/2 teaspoons hot smoked paprika

1. Sauté the steak over medium high heat so it browns well to the doneness you prefer.

2. Remove the steak to a plate to rest.

3.In the same skillet melt the butter over medium low heat. Do not allow to brown.

4. Add garlic and paprika, stir until aromatic.

5.Slice the steak against the grain and drizzle the flavored butter over all. Serve.

Hank says,”I would normally say that a quality brown ale would hit the spot with a steak but I think that the addition of the paprika and the qualities of skirt steak would actually stand up nicely to a barley wine.  I would go with J.W. Lees Harvest Ale or one of the barrel aged variants of this beer.  J.W. Lees ages their Harvest Ale is Laguvulin scotch, Port, Calvados or Sherry casks.  All very interesting and quite a treat!”

Cissie says,”For the skirt steak I would opt for a California Napa Valley Cabernet, 2nd choice is  an Old Vine Red Zinfandel to match the spicy hot paprika.”




The abundant summer harvest calls for gazpacho. This cold summer soup uses tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and herbs and nothing beats it on a hot summer evening. I never make it quite the same and vary the ingredients depending on what is available and what I will be serving it with. Sometimes we have it before the main dish and sometimes we have as the main dish with just cheese and bread.  Here are some basic guidelines to play with. You will want everything diced small so every spoonful has several flavors.

Tomatoes- Tomatoes are the base of the soup. They should be the freshest and most flavorful you can find. I like to use heirlooms I find at the farmers’ market since I don’t have a garden myself. I use 2-3 different varieties to get the richest flavor. The tomatoes should be cut into small pieces. If I am making it for company I will peel and seed the tomatoes and dice them, but the family does not always get that special touch.

Vegetable juice- I prefer vegetable juice thinned with water for my “broth” I have played with using chicken or vegetable broth but wasn’t fond of it. I find tomato juice to be too thick. Vegetable juice and water in a 2 to 1 combination seems perfect to me.

Peppers- Now we are having fun! Any combination of hot and sweet peppers that you think will be good will work. I use whatever catches my eye for the sweet ones. 2-3 depending on size. Dice them small. The hot ones can get tricky. You want some spice but not too much. Jalapeños or serranos are good bets, use 1 or 2, minced. But experiment. It is better to need to add hot sauce at the table that to have it too spicy.

Cucumber- 1 whole cucumber diced is usually good. I leave the skin on and seeds in. The cucumber cools everything down and the gazpacho is not complete without it.

Onions- Red onions or green onions are my first choices. Yellow onions can be too strong so go easy with them if they are all you have. Sweets like Vidalias are too sweet and break down quickly. Cut the onions into a nice dice.

Other veggies- Sometimes I will add celery. Corn can be a nice addition right off the cob raw. I don’t like carrots as they are too crunchy.

Additions- 1-2 cloves of garlic grated are a must. Juice from a lemon or lime adds some needed acid. A tablespoon of vinegar would work as well.  A nice drizzle of olive oil is welcome to add a pleasant mouth feel. The herbs are where you can really have fun. The options include fresh basil, cilantro, parsley, thyme, oregano,chives and tarragon. Be careful if you choose to use more that one herb to balance the flavors. I decide what herb to use to compliment what I will be serving with the gazpacho.

Some people add croutons, sour cream or crème fraiche as a garnish. This does not appeal to me but you may want to try it.

Fresh Tomato Pasta

Fresh Tomato Pasta

Fresh Tomato Pasta

This is the ultimate summer pasta. Fresh tomatoes and a few extras tossed with some penne. I had a variety of cherry tomatoes but any just picked tomatoes will work. I always look for heirlooms at the Farmers’ Market (I am not lucky enough to have a garden) and mix the sweet ones and the tart ones for a one of a kind flavor. This dish will only disappoint if you make it with average grocery store tomatoes, but many groceries now work with local farms to bring in fresh local produce. The leftovers, if there are any, are great for breakfast cold the next morning. I like penne with this but your favorite pasta will work great.

Fresh Tomato Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes

3 cloves garlic grated

1/2 cup olive oil

Bunch basil sliced

1/3 cup Greek olives pitted and chopped

2 ounces goat cheese crumbled

Cooked pasta for 4

1. Combine tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil, olives and cheese in a bowl. Let sit for 1/2-1 hour.

2. Toss with pasta. Serve.

Cissie says,”For the Fresh Tomato Pasta I would pick a light style Italian Chianti . I would also use a  Barbera or    a Valpolicella , both are  Italian varietals which work so nicely with tomato based dishes.”

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Dill Pickles

Fun and easy! These are crunchy and flavorful. The proportions and seasonings are flexible. The one important piece of advice is to use a plain salt. Most recipes will call for canning salt but any salt without additives will work. Particularly avoid salts with anti-caking additives. These additives can compromise the quality of the pickle. I used a plain sea salt. Once the pickles cure for 48 hours or so they will keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 months. But they will get eaten first.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Special equipment : 2 jars (I used empty pickle jars)

3 cups water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 Tablespoon additive free salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon whole brown mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seed

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon white peppercorns

2 bay leaves

2 whole cloves

1. Bring all of the above ingredients to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

Small cucumbers to fill two pickle jars, sliced or cut into spears

6 cloves of peeled garlic

2 smallish bunches of fresh dill

1. Put 1 bunch of dill and 3 garlic coves in each jar. Pack with cucumbers.

2. Pour  vinegar mixture in each jar to cover. There may be some leftover. Try to divide the spices between the jars.

3. Let cure 48 hours in the refrigerator. As long as they are refrigerated the pickles will keep for 2-3 months.

Black Bean and Rice Salad

Black Bean and Rice Salad

Black Bean and Rice Salad

Black beans and rice is a favorite meal at our house. This is a version I make in the summer when it is too hot to cook. I make the rice in the cool of the morning and make the salad after it has cooled. I serve this as either a side dish or main course.

Black Bean and Rice Salad


3 cups cooked brown rice

1 15 ounce can black beans drained and rinsed

4 green onions chopped

1-2 jalapeños

Small handful cilantro

Combine salad ingredients


1/4 cup white wine vinegar

3 cloves garlic grated

Zest of 1 lime

1 Tablespoon cumin

Hot sauce

1/2 cup olive oil

1. Whisk vinegar with garlic ,zest, cumin and hot sauce.

2. Whisk in the oil.

3. Toss dressing with the salad.