Fruited Crostini and {Warming To Your Soul} Split Pea Soup

I am heading out the door again this morning. Back behind the wheel to burn up about 500 miles of road. This one is the most delicious and wonderful of my recent jauntings. I am headed to Columbus, Ohio to attend the wedding my most beautiful and amazing business partner, Lauren. She and her handsome beau, Ryan, are tying the knot on Saturday- and it is going to be a time. It will be a blessing to me to be in the presence of their love and share in their pronouncement of devotion. Truly a blessing.

What’s even better for me is that for the first time I won’t be hitting the road alone. My beautiful fiancée, Pam, will be with me. I am SO thrilled. She flew up from Louisiana last week, dodging between floods, power outages and fuel scarcity- to settle safely and warmly in my little apartment in the sky.

You might ask who is doing Lauren’s cake, and the answer is there are many hands in this one. Paola, Lauren’s assistant baked the cake, I am finishing the icing (I’m surprising Lauren with butter cream, she thought she had to contend with fondant) and driving it out, we are stashing it in the kitchen of Columbus cake expert and friend, Jan Kish, then Ruth Drennan, another dear friend and cake baker, will be decorating and finishing the cake. This is one wedding where there will be dancing and laughter and much good food eating. It’s really the best thing EVER!

As I write it’s 5:00 am, and the snow had been falling all afternoon evening here. A bitter slap in the face on the heals of Sandy- which was not welcomed in the least. My heart goes out to my dear NYers who have been struggling this week, only to be hit with another set back. So many without heat- this has really got to suck. (pardon the French, but seriously, what other word??)

So to add just another comfort food to the growing list, some warm hearty split pea soup. Nothing extraordinary here, except for the accompanying biscuits. To offset the smoky and earthy tones of the soup I made a salty and sweet cracker/crouton to go with. It’s the same recipe as the Seeded Rosemary Fig Crackers, just baked in an 8″ square pan and exchanging equal amounts of chopped dried apricots, poppy seeds and flax seeds. I sliced them a little thicker too. BTW, a slice of sharp cheddar on top of this would be a divine addition.

So I’m off to hit the highway.

Stay tuned, I am expecting some very exciting news today or tomorrow- and when it’s official I’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, keep warm and carry on.

 

Seeded Rosemary Fig Crackers

I’ve become a little cracker crazy. Crackers and cheese have always been a weakness of mine, so it’s no real surprise. I’m just having a grand time making different versions of different types. It’s just insane how quick and easy they are to make (ok the matzoh were a little bit of work), but look how beautiful these are!
My “herb garden” that I have growing in a window box on my sill is flourishing quite remarkably well. So much, in fact, that I have to trim it back (read: whack it back) every few days. Such things as Mint and Lemon Verbena are slipping into ice tea glasses on a whim- delightful!
In amongst my thyme and lemon balm, and the aforementioned mint and lemon verbena, there is a rough tuft of rosemary- also in need of some pruning. So that became the impetus here.
But the real impetus is the preparations for the weekend. I’m heading out of the city tomorrow to go visit my dear friend Kate Kennedy at her B&B Gosling Pond up in Kenoza Lake, NY. It’s an easy drive out of town to her property of 6 acres, a lake and her brood of animals. Kate just adopted 4 young quail to replace her beloved Pat, who passed recently, and I can’t wait to meet them. They are quite the mascots and Kate has a beautiful passion for them.
Kate is an amazing designer and artist and a friend of mine for more years than either of us would probably like to admit. She was definitely a big supporter of my early days in the East Village when I was getting my cake business up and running. It’s exciting to see her branch out of the city (well she’s been there for awhile now) and get into this new venture.
I also love what Kate is doing with the B&B by supporting local agriculture and local food artisans. Eggs from one friend down the road along with breads and baked goods from another, are a part of her breakfast fare. She has people come from far and wide to visit with her, along with a few celebs that need discreet getaways.
I promise to take photos over the weekend and share.
So all this was a roundabout way to say that I am putting together a little hostess bag for Kate and my seedy crackers will fit right in. I taste tested them, as shown above, with some Mangego and a drizzle of truffled honey, and creamed goat cheese with sliced strawberries.  The crackers have a great texture from the seeds, and the fig give it a little chewiness and sweetness. Really good.
Seeded Rosemary Fig Crackers
made 100 slices for me
 
2.25c AP flour
2t baking soda
.5 t salt
.5c honey or agave
2c buttermilk
1.5c chopped dried figs
.5c pistachio nuts
.5c pumpkin seeds
.25c flax seeds
2T fresh chopped Rosemary
 
Preheat oven to 350˚ and grease 2 3×8″ loaf pans
 
In medium bowl combine buttermilk and honey. Warm slightly in microwave for 1 minute to melt honey into buttermilk
 
In large bowl combine flour, soda, salt and the nuts- leave the figs aside for a moment.
 
Stir in the buttermilk and give a quick few strokes- then toss in the figs. The acid in the buttermilk and the backing soda will react. It’s important not to over mix here, just mix until incorporated.
 
Carefully spoon into baking pans and bake approx 30 mins until golden and tight to the touch.
 
Allow to cool completely and reduce oven temp to 275˚
 
With a fine serrated knife slice the loaves into thiiiiiin slices and place on cookie sheet. No need to grease the sheet.
 
Toast in the oven for approx 15 mins then flip over for another 5. Keep an eye on this since the thickness of the slices will determine the actual time.
 
Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Shiksa Matzoh

Ach! can I tell you? I’ve been dying to make matzoh for years now, years I tell you- so why was I waiting? What was so important that I had to put it off to now?

Nothing but a good impetus.

For many, many years I hosted Easter at my loft. Two long tables were placed in the middle of the space and I would run small vases of bright flowers down the middle. Tucked in amongst the blooms I placed my china bunnies and birds and nests.  I always really loved Easter because the menu is completely open. The traditions are all ours and who can resist the pastels and the colors?

20-30 people would gather around the table. My favorite thing to make were small potato nests that I filled with two little bocconcini and nestled amongst tender lettuces. So beautiful!

And the desserts! A chocolate cake in the shape of a lamb with white buttercream icing, lemon tartlets, homemade ice creams and long before they were fashionable- homemade marshmallows.

However this year my lamb mould did not see the light of day. Instead my kids and I will be joining my cousin Patty and her fiancé’s family who are all Jewish. Since we will be having dinner on Sunday, and since it’s not quite Passover- Patty is calling it East-over, which as she said, “Sounds better than Pass-ster”.

So, getting my Jewish on, I decided to make matzoh. Shiksa Matzoh. I’ve been dragging this recipe around for so many years I hate to admit it. A super simple thing to make, I just never got around to it.

After covering myself in flour and working out the kinks of matzoh making, I finally got a flan into the oven- my family’s little tradition that I will bring to the table. There is room and a place for all things.

I am not a follower of a faith per se, but I whole heartedly believe in resurrection and rebirth. Raising my glass to growth and starting anew! Happy Holiday all!
Homemade Matzoh
makes 12, 8-10″ matzoh
 
1.75c flour
.75c water
pinch of salt
 
 
Mix the flour, water and salt in a bowl until it comes together into a dough.
 
It will be a little on the sticky side. Knead for a quick 2 minutes. Then let rest.
 
Heat oven to 450˚ If you have a pizza stone it works great here. I used my cast iron grill pan, which worked beautifully. (seriously, I use that pan for just about everything)
 
On a floured surface roll out the dough into crazy thin circles. Prick all over with a fork to prevent them from puffing when baked.
 
Using a spatula lay the dough onto the pan in the oven and bake for just 2-3 minutes until just starting to brown.
 
Remove and cool on a cooling rack.