Leftover Ham? No Problem!

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Our family likes, no requires, ham for our Christmas and Easter dinner celebrations. I am fine with that, a precooked ham that only needs minimal heating is a pretty easy meal prep and it allows me to focus more attention on sides and baking desserts!

The problem comes days later, when everyone is tired of having ham sandwiches to use up the leftovers. I have made several versions of this ham and lentil soup. I posted one version last year that incorporated corn, which gave the dish a nice sweet flavor. But this year I decided to tryout some thick cut bacon and dill. The result: Wow! This is a keeper 🙂

I started by baking 3 strips of thick cut bacon in a 400°F oven, on a small baking sheet.

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When the bacon was nice and crispy it was drained, chopped and set aside for later.

While the bacon cooked, I added 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and heated that in a dutch oven. I then add a medium, diced onion and one leek, also diced. Why a leek and not celery? Because I detest celery! I know, who doesn’t like celery? Me, and I am doing the cooking so….

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the onion and leek are cooked until it begins to brown

Next into the pot went the carrots, potatoes and dill

Water, salt and pepper were added. The pot was covered, and the vegetables cooked until tender.

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The rest of the liquid, lentils and cooked ham were added and cooked until the lentils were tender.

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When the lentils were ready it was just a matter of stirring in the final ingredients and heating through. The peas, bacon and yogurt went into the pot. The yogurt acts as a thickener and makes the soup creamy.

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Next a big bowl and spoon are needed. I garnished with a little bacon and dill that I had reserved, and voila!

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This version is a keeper! If you try it let me know what you think. I am always looking for a way to improve on this 🙂

 

Ham, Lentil and Dill Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Bacon and dill add a unique twist on this hearty soup with a complex flavor that only gets better with time.

Credit: invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

-2-4 slices of thick cut bacon

-1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

-1 Medium yellow onion, small dice

-1 Leek, chopped

-3 Tablespoons dill, chopped

-1 pound carrots, small dice

-1 pound yukon gold potatoes, small dice

-1/2 cup water

-1 teaspoon kosher salt

-1/2 teaspoon black pepper

-4 cups low sodium chicken broth

-1 and 1/2 cups water

-1 cup dried lentils

-~10 ounces of cooked ham, small dice

-1 cup frozen peas

-3 Tablespoon plain yogurt ( I prefer Greek yogurt)

 

Directions

  1. Place the bacon strips on a sheet pan and bake in a preheated oven set at  400°F until crisp. Approximately 12-15 minutes. Drain, chop and set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and leek; cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is golden, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, potatoes, dill, 1/2 cup water, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are just soft, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken broth, 1 1/2 cups water, the lentils and ham; cover and bring to a simmer. Uncover and cook until the potatoes are tender and the lentils begin to fall apart, 12 to 15 more minutes.
  5. Stir in the peas, yogurt and diced bacon. Ladle the soup into bowls.
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7 Days, 7 Photos Challenge, Day 5

“Seven days. Seven black and white photos of your life. No people. No explanation. Challenge someone new each day”.

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Today I would like to tag Arbie to take up the challenge!

His and Hers Ravioli

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A couple weeks ago I posted a picture on Instagram of a ravioli dinner my husband and I had before a training run. A short time later, my mother-in-law told me that they had seen the picture and my father-in-law was bugging her to make a ravioli dinner for them. Here’s the problem, my MIL doesn’t eat cheese! And, in a cruel twist of fate, neither does our daughter! Many a time food has gone back to the kitchen at restaurants because a shred of cheese dared to touch the plate! This is a big deal people.

As it turns out, it is near impossible to find a prepackaged ravioli from a grocery store that does not contain cheese-tortellini, yes-but not ravioli. Of course, in another cruel twist of fate, my FIL loves cheese, and since they have been married for 50+ years, they obviously have figured out how to deal with this issue! In an attempt to be helpful, I brilliantly said “I will make you some ravioli with and without cheese!”

And then my quest began. It has been, at least, 5 years since I attempted to make fresh pasta, and it wasn’t a huge success at that time. I did learn a few things however. For example, the pasta should be rolled as thin as possible, but not too thin that the filling will burst out. I also figured out that even fresh pasta noodles need time to dry before going into the water. Oh, and not vigorously boiling water either! I had the best results, all those years ago, when I brought the water to a heavy boil and then lowered the heat before adding the noodles. I finally settled on a plan of action: I would prepare the filling first then work on the pasta dough, that way I could split up the work into more manageable chunks and troubleshoot along the way.

The filling. I wanted to use a meat filling because half the ravioli batch would not have cheese and I felt it needed some heft to it. Perhaps in the future I can work on a vegetarian option, but for now I wanted to stick with what I know. I looked at a number of recipes and settled on a chicken and pork combination. I browned 3/4 pounds of ground chicken and 3/4 of a pound of ground pork in a few tablespoons of olive oil. Each batch of meat was drained and split between two bowls.

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I then sautéed 1/2 of a yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, spinach and sage. This mixture was also divided.

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At this point the mixtures are identical

One bowl was selected for the addition of goat cheese and gruyere. Now is the time for salt and pepper. The cheese mixture received 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper and I added 2 teaspoons of salt (since there was not addititonal salt from the cheese) and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to the non cheese combo.

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I next passed both filling preparations through a food processor so that the filling could be placed into the ravioli. I was careful to process the non cheese filling first, so there would be no chance of “cheese contamination” to the non cheese mixture.

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The top bowl has no cheese, the bottom has both goat cheese and the gruyere.

The fillings were covered and stored in the refrigerator for later assembly with the pasta.

The pasta. I prefer the taste of pasta made with semolina flour, although all purpose and 00 flour work well too, if you can find it. Generally, pasta is made by creating a well in the flour and salt mixture followed by the addition of eggs, water and oil to the middle of the well. A fork is used to slowly bring the sides of the flour into the center. This is done to give the flour time to adsorb the moisture. Once a ragged dough forms you begin kneading the dough by hand until it is a soft, smooth ball.

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This works fine, but it does make a huge mess. I decided I would let my mixer do some of the work for me. I added the flour and salt into a the mixing bowl and used the dough hook attachment to stir on low speed. A well was naturally created, I poured the eggs, water and oil into the well and mixed on low speed until the flour was slowly incorporated into a loose ball. Then I placed the ball onto the counter, with the reserve flour and continued kneading by hand.

 

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The kneading incorporated an additional 1/2 cup of all purpose flour and took about 12 minutes. The result was a smooth and soft ball of dough that needs, at least 30 minutes of bench rest to allow the gluten to relax. I covered the dough and let it rest for 1 1/2 hours.

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I worked with 1/4 of the ball at a time, making sure to keep the rest of the dough covered. I have a very simple, hand crank system for pasta making.

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I think I bought this from Bed, Bath and Beyond. It clamps to the bench top and has 7 settings. I began on the widest setting (7 on my machine), taking care that both the pasta rollers and the dough were heavily floured. The dough was passed through the rollers, floured, folded into thirds and passed through again. This helps to further knead the dough and helps to form the rectangle shape. I then lowered the width of the rollers and passed the dough through several times. The dough no longer should be folded at this point. Just keep passing the dough through the thinner setting (to about settings 3 or 4) until the desired consistency is acheived.

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Thicker dough from widest settings

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Thinner dough sheet from setting 4

I used an inexpensive ravioli mold, small rolling pin and pasta cutter to form the ravioli.

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I laid one sheet over the mold, filled the depressions with ~1 teaspoon of either filling, covered with a second thin pasta sheet and rolled to cut the dough with the small rolling pin. I had to go over the mold several times with the rolling pin and make the final cuts with the pasta cutter. It took awhile to get this down, but once I had practiced with a couple dozen I figured out a system that worked for me.

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Brushing the pasta with an egg wash helps the second layer of dough adhere

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Then I just had to repeat this for a total of 10 dozen ravioli! I laid them in a single layer (or they will stick together!) on a parchment lined sheet pan to dry for an hour or so. After that you can cook them or freeze them. I put the single layer sheet pan in the freezer for an hour, after that they can go into a bag without sticking together.

The next day was the taste test! I decided to pair this with a simple tomato based sauce.

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I began by sautéing both red and yellow grape tomatoes in olive oil

 

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Then added corn and capers

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finally arugula, pine nuts, lemon juice, lemon zest, basil and the ravioli that had been added to lightly boiling water. A sprinkle of basil finished it off.

Now to taste it!

 

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It was actually pretty good! Could it be better? Always! I would suggest adding some red pepper flakes for some heat, or maybe some apple cider vinegar to brighten it up a bit. I will try that next time. The good news is that I have plenty in the freezer to continue experimenting and combining flavors. Do give this a try with your favorite fillings and let me know! I will be taking both versions to my in laws next week to see if they like them, I hope they do!

His and Hers Ravioli

  • Servings: about 10 dozen ravioli
  • Difficulty: moderate to advanced
  • Print

Fresh pasta from semolina flour provides the perfect canvas for your family's favorite flavors. This recipe is extremely versatile and the extra steps are well worth the effort!

Credit: Invisible-no-more.com

Ingredients

For the Filling:

-2 Tablespoons olive oil

-3/4 pound ground chicken

-3/4 pound ground pork

-1/2 yellow onion, finely diced

-2 garlic cloves, minced

-2 cups fresh spinach

-2 teaspoons sage, chopped

-2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

-3 oz. gruyere, grated

For the Pasta:

-2 1/2 cups semolina flour

-1/2 cup all purpose flour plus more for dusting

-1 teaspoon kosher salt

-4 eggs

-4 Tablespoons water

-4 Tablespoons olive oil

-1egg, broken up for an egg wash

For the Sauce:

-1 pint each red and yellow grape tomatoes

-1 Tablespoon olive oil

-2 ears of cooked corn with corn removed from the cob

-4 oz. fresh arugula

-3 oz. pine nuts, toasted

-2 Tablespoons capers

-Zest of 1 lemon

-2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

-2 Tablespoons of basil, chopped

Directions

  1. Prepare filling. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a cast iron, or heavy bottom pan. Brown the chicken and the pork until no longer pink in the center. Break up large chunks as you stir. Drain and divide equally into two medium sized bowls.
  2. Add the onion to the pan and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add the spinach and sage and heat until wilted. Divide equally between the bowls.
  3. To one bowl add: goat cheese, gruyere, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. To the other add 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
  4. Process the mixtures separately in a food processor until a finely ground consistency is achieved, cover and refrigerate. Make the ravioli.

Prepare the pasta:

  1. Place flour and salt in a bowl of a stand mixer and, using a dough hook, mix on low until a well appears in the flour. While this is happening, beat the eggs, water and oil in a liquid measuring cup with a pour spout.
  2. With the mixer on low, pour the liquid into the center of the well and allow the dough hook to slowly incorporate the flour into a ball.
  3. Turn the slightly sticky dough out onto a well floured counter and continued kneading by hand. Incorporate the additional 1/2 cup of flour as you knead to achieve a smooth and soft dough. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes to an hour.
  4. After the dough has relaxed, pass 1/4 of the dough through a pasta maker or roll out by hand. Continue rolling until a thin sheet of pasta has been achieved. You will need to move from the widest setting for the rollers to one of the lower settings (not the lowest). Do not make the pasta too thin or it will tear due to the filling.
  5. Lay one sheet over the ravioli mold pan, if using, and fill the pockets with ~1 teaspoon of filling. Lightly brush the pasta with the egg wash then lay another pasta sheet over the filled pockets. Press the two sheets together to remove any air bubbles.
  6. Place finished ravioli on a parchment lined pan, in a single layer for, at least 1 hour, to dry. Cook immediately or place in freezer for 1 hour, then transfer to a freezer bag for longer storage.

For the Sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Slice the tomatoes in half, lengthwise and heat in the oil. Add the corn and cook for a few minutes.
  2. At the same time, heat a large pot of water for the ravioli. Be sure to use enough water for the amount of pasta you are planning to cook, and salt the water heavily.
  3. Lower the heat on the tomatoes and add the pine nuts, and capers. When the water for the pasta begins to boil, lower the heat and add the frozen ravioli. They will take between 5 to 8 minutes to cook.
  4. When the ravioli are done add them to the sauce and add the lemon juice, lemon zest, pine nuts and fresh basil, toss gently to coat the ravioli.

 

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I miss food: Dreaming about my last meal!

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I am having a colonoscopy today, in about four hours. It is not my first and won’t be my last, as I have rotten personal genetics in this respect.  If you have had the pleasure then you are fully aware that fasting the day prior to the procedure is required. One thing I learned yesterday, while feasting on popsicles and jello, is that my Instagram and Facebook are all full of images about food! I always knew my feeds were culinarily loaded, maybe more so than others in my non-blog world, but I really thought there would be other photos. Sure, there was the occasional sponsored messages and pics of people skiing-still snow in our mountains. But, 97% (yes, I did an actual calculation) was food related! Where were the runners, climbers and gardeners in my life when I really needed them! As I sit here this morning, drinking the last assignment from my doctor and watching Good Morning Football to prepare for the NFL draft, I find myself dreaming of all the food I can have after 2pm today. My thoughts keep drifting back to the Ham and Lentil soup I made for my “last supper” on Monday night.

This is a pretty straight forward soup that gets better each day as it sits in the fridge. I followed the recipe close to the original, except I rarely measure anything when making soup.

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I also rarely use celery in my soups as I just don’t love it! I will substitute with leeks or fennel, depending upon the overall flavor profile. For this soup I chose leeks. I also added more potatoes, carrots and peas than the ratios stated in the original recipe. I routinely use plain greek yogurt for thickening my soups as I prefer that to high fat sour cream, which this recipe already specified, so that worked well too. I did add some white wine to deglaze and subtracted that amount out of the total recommended liquid volume, but that is just me and not necessary-the recipe would be delicious just as written!

In my opinion, all soups and stews need a good salty roll or bread for dipping. And, by now you have probably guessed that I love to make my own bread. But this was a bit of a last minute decision the other day and I did not have any bread proofing on the counter for this meal. So, I  went to a handy and tasty short cut I use all the time. I use frozen dinner rolls from throllse store, my preference is Rhodes dinner rolls. I take the amount I want, place them into a baking dish, cover and pop them into the oven on proof (this is 100°F). They are fully proofed in about 3 hours, then go into a 350°F for 20 minutes. I brush them with melted butter, while they are still warm and sprinkle with fleur-de-sel and thyme. I just use any herb that complements the soup, sometimes rosemary or sage are a better choice. My family loves them, and will specifically requests these rolls, there are never any leftovers and I get to have that fresh bread taste in less time.

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So this is where I am at now-dreaming about rolls and soup. The reality is I will get a banana right after the procedure and slowly be able to work my digestive tract up to normal over the course of the day. I will run and climb later this week (can’t wait to get my life back!)

Next up for culinary: I am thinking about cinnamon apple babka!