Sunday, June 5, 2011

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Cilantro-Lime Yogurt

Still going with my idea of cooking from the pantry as much as possible, I remembered that I had some coconut milk left over from the coconut-curry jasmine rice and recalled this curried split pea soup. Bam, easy, easy, easy. It's an excellent quick meal, done within an hour, counting all the prep time. One small bowl is enough to satisfy, starting with the thick pureed texture to the curry flavors to the tangy notes of lime and cooling effect of the yogurt in the creamy garnish.

Yellow Split Pea Soup with Cilantro-Lime Yogurt


  • olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 cup diced peeled potato
  • 1/2 t gingerroot, minced
  • 2 T chopped garlic
  • 3/4 cup yellow split peas
  • 1 t red curry powder
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 1/4 dried jalapeno flakes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 7 oz. unsweetened coconut milk
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 T chopped cilantro
  • 2 t lime juice
  • grating of lime peel
  • hot sauce
  • salt and pepper


  1. Saute the onion in olive oil over medium-high heat for 1 minute, then add the carrot and cook until the onion is soft and translucent. 
  2. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the potato and stir to coat.
  3. Add the split peas, curry powder and turmeric and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add the jalapeno flakes, 1-1/2 cups of broth and coconut milk, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and let cook until the peas are soft, about45 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more chicken broth if it seems too dry. 
  5. After 45 minutes, taste to check seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed. 
  6. Puree the soup with a stick blender to achieve the consistency you like, adding more broth to suit your preference.
  7. Make the cilantro-lime yogurt by mixing the yogurt, lime juice, lime peel and chopped cilantro in a bowl. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a drop or 2 of hot sauce.
  8. Garnish the soup with a dollop of the yogurt.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Cheddar-Dill Biscuits

Biscuits were one of the first things I made myself when I was about 11, and by "made," I mean assembled from a box of Bisquick, just add milk and butter and presto, you've got biscuits. The results, lumpy-looking golden little bites of deliciousness with that distinctive bite of baking powder, were a bit homely, but totally satisfying.

Still, it was that accomplishment of having mixed together fairly authentic ingredients in a bowl, gotten messy up to my elbows mushing it all together, shaping them and then sticking them in the oven that had me hooked on the magical alchemy of cooking and baking.

I will never pass up a biscuit, ever. I love the flaky biscuits that fall apart into layers; I love the doughier baking powder biscuits; buttermilk, powdermilk, cheese biscuits, biscuits drenched in butter, I love them all. I have been searching for the ultimate from-scratch biscuit recipes for every type of biscuit.

This recipe has that nice baking powder bite to it, and the cheese and dill pair together so well. Cut these open while still hot, add a slice of sharp cheddar cheese and a few slices of a really sour dill pickle, and you have a terrific little sandwich bite.

Cheddar-Dill Biscuits

Makes about 9 biscuits

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 2 T buttermilk powder - I like the Saco brand 
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1/2 T sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar
  • 2 T fresh dill
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • melted butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or a silicone baking mat, otherwise be sure to use an insulated cookie sheet.* See Notes
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, buttermilk powder, baking powder and sugar in a large bowl.
  4. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  5. Add the chopped dill and shredded cheese and mix well.
  6. Pour in the milk and mix with a fork until well incorporated and the dough starts to form a cohesive ball. It will still be sticky.
  7. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by folding over until it feels smooth, then pat it down into a rectangle about 3/4 in. high
  8. Cut with a biscuit cutter, cookie cutter or a drinking glass.
  9. Place round on the prepared cookie sheet and bake for about 10 - 12 minutes.
  10. Brush with melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven and eat.

I made these this weekend without the cheddar and dill and used a regular cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. When I pulled them out, the bottoms were fairly dark - ok, ok, they were burned on the bottoms, although the tops were that perfect golden brown and they were absolutely the ideal texture inside. I actually quoted Yosemite Sam "Mah biscuits are burnin'! Mah biscuits are burnin'!" and then I laughed. Then I scraped the bottoms as best I could. The biscuits were a base for chicken fricassee anyway, so they were definitely salvageable.

At any rate, that's why I recommend the Silpat baking mat or some other silicone mat.

Can I confess something? I have always had the same problem with cookies. Until I bought a Silpat mat, the bottoms of my cookies always, ALWAYS burned, sometimes even when I used insulated cookie sheets. It was maddening. I think that it's probably because I use butter instead of shortening, and butter's melting (and therefore burning) point is way lower than shortening's so you have to be careful not to scorch things laden with butter.

Since I've started using baking mats, both the Silpat one and a straight silicone one my mom bought for me, I never burn cookies or biscuits or pirozhki. This is totally not a paid endorsement (hah, I wish!), I'm just saying that I have had excellent luck with a thick, silicone-based baking mat. If you do a lot of baking, it is totally worth the investment, I think.
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