Sunday, December 22, 2013

Pea Soup and Pigs in Blankets - Hearty Winter Fare!

Darrell wrote down his recipe for pea soup for a friend who purchased a picnic ham from us. Thought I'd share the instructions here:

Darrell's Pea Soup

Pigs in Blankets made with some of our
Berkshire Breakfast Sausage links and pastry crust
make a great accompaniment to pea soup!

I’ve never written the recipe for pea soup down before, I’ve always just made it.  Unlike most pea soups, I like some whole dried peas as well as split peas.  When I make it, the batches are in increments of pounds.  A 1 pound batch has a pound of whole peas and a pound of split peas, a 2 pound batch would have 2 pounds of each, etc.  Because I have a 25 quart stock pot and a love of pea soup, I can make up to a 5 pound batch but I need to have a good bit of ham and at least 2 ham bones (from previously baked hams) for a batch that size.  Pea soup also freezes well; a few quarts of pea soup in the freezer are one of the requirements for making it through the winter.
Making the soup
The whole peas need to be soaked overnight.  Pick them over, taking out the any bad ones or any pea-sized pebbles that may have made it into the bag.  Put them into a pot and cover with a couple inches of water.  You can’t have too much water; you can have too little.  Let stand overnight.
The next day, drain the peas and cover with fresh water.  If you have an abundance of chicken stock on hand, use that instead – it builds a whole new flavor layer in your peas.  You should have at least an inch of liquid above your peas.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about an hour or less, depending on how firm you’d like the peas in the soup.  Keep an eye on them and add more water/stock if necessary.
Meanwhile, for each pound of peas, take a medium sized onion and 2 or 3 large stalks of celery.  Dice the onion and celery.  Sweat the onions in a suitable amount of olive oil, cooking oil or butter (depending on your preference) and when they’ve started cooking a bit, add the celery  Cook until the celery is just getting tender.  To this, add as much salt, pepper, and dried thyme as you’d like for the batch of soup.  By adding the spices to the celery and onions, you’re getting them incorporated into the fat which will carry them throughout the soup a little better.  I use about a teaspoon of salt, ¾ teaspoon of pepper, and about ¾ teaspoon of thyme.  Sometimes I use a bit of dried oregano.
Put this mixture into your soup pot (different than the pot in which you’re cooking the whole peas), along with the split peas (no need to soak these), 2 quarts of water or chicken stock per pound of peas, then add a couple cups of chopped carrots, the ham (along with the bone if you have it), 1 bay leaf per pound of peas, and the cooked, drained, whole peas.  Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until it’s suitably done.  The split peas should pretty much turn into a puree and the whole peas will retain most of their structural integrity, depending on how long you cooked them.  I like to leave them a bit al dente during their boil so that they retain their shape and have a little tooth to them.  As the soup approaches doneness, taste it and adjust seasonings to your preference.  Take out the bone and strip any residual meat from the bone (it has probably fallen off) and take out the bay leaves.
At this point it is ready to serve.  Being Dutch, I think the perfect accompaniment is a couple of good Pigs in a Blanket (Dutch Soul Food).  For the truly decadent, you can finish the soup by stirring a dollop of cream into it in the bowl.  It doesn’t need it but worse things have been done to Pea Soup.
Some people also like a couple of potatoes in the pea soup, I don’t.  You can also substitute any good pork sausage for the ham.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thanksgiving Craziness and Goodness!

Well, this post is only a little over a week late - we've had so much going on, haven't had time to recap some new Thanksgiving goodies! Between out-of-town family around all weekend and a Holiday Market I went to with some of my cards and calendars, it was pretty hectic.

Photo: Charles Masters
On Thursday, with one side of the family, we brought the Fall Harvest Salad again, as it was greatly acclaimed and completely devoured last year. Then, as a potato dish, Darrell had found this Mashed Potato Casserole recipe which is so simple and SOOO good - the crusty parmesan/panko topping really made it wonderful, and the cream cheese instead of milk rendered it ultra creamy. My one change was to use Redskin potatoes, as that's what we had on hand.

I made the potato casserole Thursday morning while he worked on the dessert, which was a berry/apple crisp (cranberries and blueberries) with an oatmeal crisp topping, which was served with a home-made ice cream that he created. He had previously made Dolce de Leche from a gallon of fresh milk, made an apple cider reduction with cooked apples in it, and stirred all that goodness through some of his cooked custard French Vanilla ice cream. It was amazing!

Darrell also somehow whipped out a batch of Parker House rolls to take along - the entire kitchen workspace was covered in pots, pans, supplies and food in progress. I actually had to assemble the potato casserole on the kitchen table, darting into the kitchen to put the pot of potatoes on the stove to cook and then getting them drained, while dodging Darrell working on breads and desserts at the same time. Somehow we managed to not have any disasters or major squabbles!

I also made a corn pudding the night before, while getting the salad basics ready, from a recipe my friend Joan had shared:

Corn Pudding Recipe from Joan
2 cups corn
2T flour
1/2 tsp Salt
3T butter
3 eggs
2T sugar
1 3/4 cups Milk
Joan said, "I blend everything but the corn in the blender, then mix in corn and dump in casserole, bake at 325 for 45 minutes. You can also add dried parsley, dried onions, etc., according to your taste."

I (Conni) did not use the blender, but mixed the butter (melted) and the dry ingredients into a roux in a bowl, to which I slowly added and blended the milk, then added the eggs (which, looking back, could have been beaten well before hand, but didn't really matter). Then the corn (frozen corn from our summer garden - so sweet!); and I decided to use a half teaspoon of herbs de provence as a seasoning, before putting it into the baking dish. It was so custardy-creamy with all that sweet corn goodness, and the herbs de provence really added a nice touch.

Additionally, to this Thursday feast, we brought a Butternut Squash casserole - roasted squash, mashed to smoothness with a potato masher with butter, salt, and brown sugar, topped with pecans that had been oven-toasted in a little butter/brown sugar mix. The crispy sweet pecans were a great counterpoint to the creamy mashed squash. This is a great make-ahead dish, too, like the corn pudding. There's only so much craziness our little kitchen will stand on Thanksgiving morning!

Apparently this Thanksgiving we were all into "creamy", as this describes the potatoes, the squash, the corn pudding AND the ice cream dessert!

Then on Friday, with the other half of the family, we did a good-sized turkey, stuffed with Darrell's great sausage and sage stuffing, mashed potatoes, garden corn, and pumpkin and mince pies for dessert (with ice cream on the side!). We also had home-made fresh cranberry relish made with oranges and Granny Smith apples, and some home-made apple sauce. The leftover turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy went into the Turkey Pot Pies to stock in the freezer for easy winter dinners - so simple to put one in the oven before braving a blizzard to do the chores, returning to have it nearly finished, crusty and piping hot!

Pot Pies are now safely in the freezer, as I cooked down the carcass for broth, blended all that good pot pie gravy with the broth, potatoes, leftover stuffing and a quart of our home-canned chicken stock. Then I cooked the last of my garden carrots (the lovely, earthy smell of fresh carrots not long out of the ground is so sweet and tantalizing!), cut up the turkey, added some of our frozen corn and some store-bought frozen peas.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Plan ahead for your Thanksgiving Leftovers!

This is a post from one of the recipes on our Chicken/Poultry Recipe page - a timely reminder to plan ahead to actually HAVE lots of those yummy leftovers, what to do with them to enjoy a taste of Thanksgiving all winter long, and a little advice on how you can hang on to your leftovers :-). And, should you need lard for that great pie crust, or any pies for the holidays, we have leaf lard available for rendering!

Coach Stop Farm Turkey Pot Pie
(or, what to do with those Thanksgiving leftovers!)
Turkey, cut into bite-sized pieces
Mashed Potatoes
Turkey Gravy
Other veggies to taste
Chicken broth or broth from turkey carcass

Prep (leading up to Thanksgiving): get a very large, fresh  turkey from a local provider if you can . . . as large a bird as you can fit into your oven. Make your favorite stuffing to fill this bird – make lots of stuffing and bake any extra in a casserole dish. Make mashed potatoes and gravy and corn to match this bird (as if the whole thing will be devoured on Thanksgiving), and then invite as few people to Thanksgiving Dinner as you can get away with and not be drummed from your family.

After the meal, store all leftovers (the gravy, the stuffing, the potatoes, corn, and the meat) until you are ready. However, I find it most efficient to strip the bird and cook down the broth from the carcass immediately, then store the resulting meat and broth.

Strip all turkey meat off the carcass, putting all meat chunks in one pile and bones with scraps on them in another.

Broth:  Put the bones and other scraps into a large pot (the carcass will have lots of flavor from the stuffing, as well as the meat). Cover with water and cook off broth. Strain out bones (I like to do this with a slotted spoon so that I leave flavorful meat and stuffing IN the broth. If you don’t wish to make broth from the carcass, just buy whatever chicken broth you prefer – starter paste, bouillon, canned . . . you may need some of this on hand anyway, when you get to the pot pie mixture part.

The Pot Pie mixture:
In a large pot or mixing bowl, put your leftover turkey (cut into bite-sized chunks), leftover corn, frozen carrots (or cook some carrot slices from fresh until not quite done), frozen peas, and any other veggie you might fancy in a pot pie. Mix up these items and make sure the balance of ingredients looks good to you.

Pot Pie Gravy:
You’ll need a blender or food processor or a strong arm:
The broth you cooked down or bought
Leftover gravy
Leftover stuffing
Leftover mashed potatoes

The potatoes and stuffing thicken the liquids (broth and gravy), and add flavor, so that your pot pie gravy is thick and savory.

Using your blender or food processor, blend amounts of the stuffing and potatoes with the broth and/or gravy you have. You want a fairly thick, stew-like consistency so your pot pie filling will not be runny.  Pour your blended gravy over the turkey/veggie mixture you have in your pot. Stir the gravy through thoroughly and evaluate again – too thick? Add a little broth.

So, now you have your filling and can fill up pie shells (2-crust pie - see our recipe below). Use disposable aluminum pie plates and put your bottom crust in, add filling, put on top crust, pierce and seal. We cover the pies with aluminum foil and place them into large freezer bags for freezing. When we want to eat one, we heat the oven to 425 degrees and bake the pie from frozen for about an hour and a half. Loosen the foil cover before placing in the oven, and remove it entirely for the last half hour or so for browning up. When the liquids bubble through the air vents in the top crust, it’s done! Depending on your quantity of leftovers, you should be able to get quite a few pot pies for your freezer.

Pretty Near Foolproof Pie Crust Recipe (from Darrell):
2 ½ cups flour*
1 ½ teaspoons salt
½ cup lard**
½ cup butter**
1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 egg

Mix flour and salt together.

Beat egg, add water and vinegar – keep in refrigerator until ready.

Have lard and butter very cold, cut butter into small pieces, cut both into flour with pastry cutter.  Don’t over blend.  Then, using a fork, toss in water mixture until all the flour is incorporated.  This recipe will make a two crust pie or two single crust pies.  Divide the dough in half, press into disk shape, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.  Will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.  If you’re going to make the pie right away, refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling it out.  The key is to keep it cold.
If you are going to bake a pie right away, having it cold will make it flakier.  If you’re blind-baking the crust, refrigerate for an hour before putting the parchment and beans in and baking.

* a note about flour.  I get my best results with this pie crust if I use pastry flour.  You can use all-purpose flour just as well.  It won’t be quite as flakey as with the pastry flour but it will still be an above average pie crust..  I have also used bread flour in a pinch but to keep it from getting a bit tough (because of the extra gluten and protein in the bread flour) you have to have a very light hand and keep everything very cold.  I wouldn’t recommend cake flour as it probably wouldn’t hold together as well but then again, I’ve never tried it.

** Most often I use lard and butter because butter has a bit of water in it that explodes into steam when you put it in the oven and the pie crust is just a little flakier. Also, butter flavor is never a bad thing.  You can use a cup of lard, omitting the butter, and get an excellent crust.  You cannot use a cup of butter, omitting the lard, and end up with a good crust at all.

Using this recipe for Pot Pies:  When we make pot pies, we use the 9 inch tin disposable pie plates that you can get in large quantities at GFS.  We also make large quantities of pot pies.  What I do is double the pie crust recipe, then divide it into 6 pieces, enough for 3 pot pies.  Any more than that and my pastry cutter won’t handle it, not to mention my arms.  If you have a food processor, you can probably cut the fats into the flour with that but I don’t have a food processor so I don’t know that for sure.  When you make 3 pies out of this crust it is just a little thinner, but still enough and you don’t have to make as many crusts.  When you’re faced with 15 to 20 pies and cutting in the fats by hand, thinner gets acceptable pretty quickly  Also, since you’re probably going to freeze these, you can go from mixing the dough to rolling it out without chilling.  It will get cold enough in the freezer.  Just use a light hand and handle the dough as little as possible.  My grandmother would save all the scrap dough from making pies and put it all together to use for the next crust.  I’ve always found that that makes for a tough crust. I just practice my rolling pin skills to make the crust almost exactly the right size and then tuck it together so there aren’t trimmings.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Parmesan Chicken Noodle Corn Casserole

We had some leftover chicken breast after baking a cut-up bird earlier in the week. We also had taken the leg pieces at first and did a fried chicken dinner using some of our lard - yummy! 

Anyway, I've posted this recipe before, but it is a fabulous recipe and really good comfort food on a chilly fall or winter night, so I wanted to post it again. Works with turkey, too - dark or white meat or both!

4 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey
4 cups dried noodles (bow tie pasta works well!)
15 oz. corn, frozen or canned
1 can cream style corn
2 cups carrots (fresh or frozen – if frozen, thaw, if fresh, cook ‘til tender)

3 T butter, melted
1 medium onion, diced (approx.. 1 cup)
1 stalk celery, diced (approx.. ½ cup)
1 garlic clove,  minced
¼ cup flour
2 ½ cups milk
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon minced sage
1 tablespoon minced thyme
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

3 cups bread crumbs
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Cook dried pasta in appropriate amount of water until tender, turn off heat and let stand. If you’re using frozen corn and/or carrots, you can drop them in this pot to thaw. I like to let the pasta absorb a little more liquid before draining. If you drain it immediately, the pasta will then absorb too much of your sauce while heating and the casserole will be drier than it should be.

While pasta is cooking, using a 4 quart pot, start the sauce by melting the butter, then sauté onions and celery until tender; add the minced garlic and sauté another minute.

Add the flour to this mixture, and stir well; then add milk slowly, stirring constantly. Bring sauce to a boil and cook for 1 minute.

Turn off heat, add herbs, salt and pepper, corn, creamed corn, sour cream, carrots, chicken broth, Parmesan, chicken and noodles.  Mix until well combined.

Pour casserole mixture into a greased 3 quart casserole pan.  In a bowl, pour the melted butter over the bread crumbs (I use diced bread crusts from homemade bread) and mix well.  Spread the bread crumbs evenly over the casserole. You can also sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.  Cover with foil  or a lid and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until bubbling, remove the lid and bake another 10 minutes.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Adventures in Pickling - fun in the summer garden!

We had too much cabbage and broccoli in the garden this year to use fresh, so I gave some of each away, and decided to try pickling some for a change. I've made sauerkraut in the past from cabbage, but was somewhat disappointed in the results. So this year, I found a recipe for pickling cabbage that calls for strips of red bell pepper, which I don't care for, so I substituted julienned carrots (also from the garden). There are several recipes for pickling cabbage that include carrots, so how bad could this be? We'll sample it in a few weeks to see how it turns out, but the cabbage looks nice and fresh - hoping it retains a little "crunch"!

Then for the broccoli, I decided to use the recipe we've used for several years for pickling asparagus - it's spicy and tasty! Have to wait a couple of weeks to sample the broccoli, too - let the pickling brine work its magic!

Corn, Tomato & Black Bean Salad - sooo yummy!

This time of year is when we totally savor the fruits of the garden, especially the corn and tomatoes! Last night's supper was some of our Andouille Sausage Links (from our Berkshire hogs) with Corn, Tomato & Black Bean Salad. I had picked a bunch of corn and cooked it the night before, cut it off the cob and had it chilled in the refrigerator. Last night, I rinsed the black beans, added tomatoes and red onion and made the lovely dressing that has honey and chili powder in it - what a great combo! This savory-sweet, cold salad was a great complement to the spicy sausages!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mushroom & Andouille Sausage Soup

For our retail pork offering, we had some sausage processed as "andouille", which is used a lot in spicy southern cooking, especially Cajun/Creole. We wanted to try some of it ourselves, so went searching for recipes calling for andouille sausage.

This recipe comes from this link for Southern Food and made a great "chilly, rainy night" supper for us.

This is a delicious creamy mushroom soup with a little cheese and chunks of andouille sausage. Feel free to use another variety of smoked sausage in this recipe.

      1 tablespoons vegetable oil
      12 to 16 ounces andouille sausage, halved lengthwise then thinly sliced
      16 ounces sliced mushrooms
      4 tablespoons butter
      4 green onions, thinly sliced
      1 clove garlic, mashed and finely minced
      1/2 cup flour
      3 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth
      1 cup heavy cream
      8 ounces shredded mild Cheddar cheese
      dash ground nutmeg
      1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
      salt, to taste
      chives, parsley, or sliced green onion tops, for garnish

In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute the sliced sausage in the oil over medium heat. Transfer sausage to a plate and add mushrooms to the drippings left in the pot. If needed, add a little more oil. Cook, stirring, until mushrooms are tender and lightly browned. Add the green onions and garlic; saute for 1 minute longer. Pour mushroom mixture, with any liquids, into a bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in the same pot. Stir in flour until blended and bubbly. Stir in the broth and cook, stirring, until thickened. Add the cream and cheese, stirring until melted. Add the sausage and mushroom mixture back to the pot. Stir and add nutmeg and pepper. Taste and add salt, as needed. Heat through.
Serve with more green onion, snipped chives, or chopped parsley for garnish.
Serves 6.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pickled Asparagus - YUM!

Last night I pickled 6 pints of asparagus spears - the season is coming to an end and I wanted to get some done before, suddenly, there's not enough to work with. We've been using a recipe we found online at, but have made some alterations to suit ourselves.

First, and probably most importantly, there does not seem to be enough vinegar called for - it asks for 1 2/3 cups to put up two pints. I tripled the recipe for 6 pints and ran short of pickling liquid, so I made a note to increase the vinegar for 2 pints to 2 full cups.

Second, we found another reference to putting a clove of garlic into each jar, which works out great.

And finally, the 2/3 cup of sugar made our first batch (two or three years ago) a little too sweet, so I have a notation on the recipe to use 1/3 cup per 2 pints. You can be the judge of how sweet you want it.

The red pepper flakes make it fairly spicy, so you can judge your own usage - on a scale of 1 "mild" to 10 "hot", I'd put this at about a 4 or 5.

These make a great snack, and a jar of pickled asparagus is a great Christmas gift to someone!