I was in need of fresh flowers for home yesterday so I did a quick run through the Market stalls for a bit of inspiration. This solo bucket of daffodils being a sure sign that Spring is really coming. The sweet, sweet delicate yellow petals a welcome sight for the eyes and the soul.
My post the other day for brioche croutons mentioned pea soup, and I have had requests for it since. This is a quick pea soup that I have seem versions of done by different chefs on the Food Network, but most recently saw Ina make her spin on it. I thought this fit in nicely with the post from yesterday. This really is quite easy, but it turns out yummy enough to serve as the soup course for a rather formal dinner. Or just soup while you watch your favorite show. I love the versatility–the high/low of it all. Here is my version.
In a large pot add a big knob of butter and sauté a large chopped up sweet onion. The bigger the onion the better. Once done, add 2 boxes of the best chicken stock you can find. If you have homemade, by all means, use it. Bring to a boil, then add a 2 pound bag of frozen peas and cook for 5 minutes until the peas are tender. Take off the heat, add a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Let cool. Once cooled, take an immersion blender and pulse until smooth, but still slightly thick. If you don’t have an immersion blender stick, a counter blender will certainly do the trick. Once the consistency you like, reheat, adding a 10 ounce box of frozen petit peas and cook until tender. I like having the blended soup, but also like getting the small peas running throughout. Add a dollop of sour cream or creme fraiche when done. Top with croutons if you have made them. Not necessary, but you will be extra happy if you did.
Truly, the easiest. For your shopping list–a large bag of peas and a small box of petit peas from the freezer section. 2 boxes of chicken stock, one large sweet onion. A bit of salt, a bit of pepper and a few spoonfuls of sour cream or creme fraiche. That is it. Enjoy!
I am happy to report that we just received another round of signed bookplates from Ina. I love selling books that are signed by the author. It just makes them extra special. My fondness for Ina runs deep, as most of you know. To be able to sell her amazing cookbooks signed by her–even better. They make such great gifts. The colorful spines adding a hit of color to any kitchen or bookshelf they grace.
The beauty of a hand written note is a very powerful thing. In our world of e-mails, texts & tweets, receiving a note written by hand has become so rare. I received the above note from a new vendor asking me to stop by and see them at a show. Just the gracious act of them taking the time to send such a lovely piece of correspondence made them go to the top of my list of appointments. Notes do not have to be lengthy. Actually a few well crafted, thoughtful sentences will do. But it is the thought and the act that carries such importance. Think of the joy you will have spread when the recipient opens the mailbox to a handwritten envelope and note by you.
Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts. If you remain true to them, your world will at last be built.
We had a marvelous loaf of brioche that for whatever reason did not get finished before it started to get a tad stale. This is the perfect time to whip up a quick batch of croutons. Easiest damn thing really. I had made a pot of pea soup and thought the brioche croutons would be tasty heaped on top for a little extra flavor. That was also the reason to polish up the English soup spoons from the post yesterday.
Heat oven to 375 while you cut up the brioche into bit sized pieces. Layout on a baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper. Take a chunk of Parm, and with a microplane or grater, grate a layer over the bread. With a spatula or large spoon mix all around. Repeat above process so everything is nicely coated. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, checking along the way, for the level of crunchiness you desire. I don’t love my croutons super hard, and the sweet softness of the brioche lends itself to these being on the softer side. Your call. Once out of the oven and into a bowl, grate another layer of cheese on top. These are also a great addition to a salad, or just ‘as-is’ for a little snack if you are feeling a bit peckish. Enjoy!
Happy Saturday, TKW
In keeping with the beauty of an object from the post yesterday, I snapped this photo after I freshly polished these soup spoons we found on a vintage buying trip to London years back. Simple objects can bring back such great memories and give such pleasure. Standing at the sink polishing each spoon, I remembered the day we found them, the feel of being in London and the excitement of vintage shopping for the entire day. For a moment I was transported. Polishing silver can certainly do that. We have used these spoons every time we have served soup since that trip. That is why I love purchasing things when traveling–they become such a lovely reminder.
Ahhhhh technology. I woke up this morning and my WordPress app on my iPhone was completely different and not loading. I am tapping this post out on my iPad, which I have never done before. Fingers crossed this gets to you….
Objects can add so much character to a room. The above boxes fashioned out of old logs and thick branches fit into that category. We have been carrying the log boxes at Watson Kennedy for quite some time. Each is truly a one of a kind work of nature. Every so often I am drawn to one and have to bring it home. Ahhhh, the temptation of the shopkeeper.
But what I am drawn to is the uniqueness of each one. Singly, or massed together, they bring a bit of nature inside. The sun was shining so brightly the other day, the pair nestled together on our dining table, adding so much to the environment of the room.
The newly redesigned T magazine arrived this Sunday in The New York Times, and the wait was so very worth it. With Deborah Needleman at the helm, I knew it would be in good hands. The cover story about Lee Radziwill as told through man-about-the-world & designer Nicky Haslam was insightful on many levels. The photos of her Paris apartment were stunning. A lovely feature of the London home of interior designer Rose Uniacke by my pal Rita Konig was incredibly pleasing with all the amazing shots of the grand home, but also in the way Rita captures a visual story through words. A ‘Take Two’ with Chelsea Handler and Oscar de la Renta where each reviews the same item was witty indeed. The magazine was filled with page after page of visual interest. I can hardly wait for the next issue. That, in my mind, makes for a real winner. A new stack of magazines to save has begun… The magazine fitting right in on our coffee table among one of the ‘T’s from our collection.
I love to cook, but I really have only taken to it with seriousness in the last 10 years. The first 15 years of being together, Mister Sive was the cook of the majority of the meals. I have learned a tremendous amount from watching him in the kitchen. He is a very intuitive cook, while I am more of a recipe guy. He is also a baker extraordinaire. The post today is for my favorite dessert of all-time, the dessert bar that he whips up from whatever we have around, or whatever strikes his fancy. This morning’s post is from TPS.
Dessert bar is a staple in the Watson Sive household. “I never say ‘No’ to a bar!” is TKW’s reply whenever I ask if he’d like this particular dessert treat.
I love what I call “anything-but-the-kitchen-sink” recipes, for which variations are limited only by imagination and what’s in the larder. Tonight’s bar version includes milk chocolate chips (a must for the Teds), shaved coconut (providing a nice crunchiness), raisins, walnuts, some chipped dark chocolate Dove bar, and slivered almonds. Dried cherries, chopped apricots, pecans, and oatmeal are other common and fond ingredients around here.
Beat well 1/2 cup of soft butter, 1/2 cup of brown and 1/2 cup of white sugar. Add one large egg and an optional teaspoon of vanilla (almond extract gives a punch if you’d like) and beat until light and a bit frothy. Add 1 cup of flour, and then your fixins, about 4-5 cups total. The ratio of batter to fillings may strike you as too little: don’t worry, the focus of these treats is the dried fruits and nuts, and while the buttery batter is yummy, its main purpose is to melt and spread and suspend the filling. When mixed, spread with your hands in two tart pans. This is a bit like playing w/ Play-Doh! When complete, the batter will be quite thin. Bake for 18 minutes at 375 and cool just a few minutes. The finished bar will be at about 1/3 inch thick, with a great mix of crispy, crunchy, and chewy. Pop the bottom from the sides of the tart pan, slice, and enjoy!
Thank you TPS for sharing this recipe so others can enjoy it as much as I do. I think baking is a bit like magic, as it always amazes me that the above photo of ingredients turns into the photo at the top of the post. Give this one a go. You will not be sorry. I am having a piece of bar right now with my coffee and I am in heaven.