Saturday, November 27, 2010

Accidental Split-Pea Soup in the Rice Cooker

This past month has been pretty tumultuous. September and October were busy in a way where I could give myself long, extended cooking breaks while taking refuge in the fact that my time was being spent virtuously. I still use that excuse when it comes to taking dinner breaks to eat with friends (combining guilty-pleasure social time with non-guilt-inducing sustenance time). Now, however, I've been too busy - exhausted, really - such that most of my precious little downtime is spent in recovery, i.e. staring slack-jawed at the computer screen until I notice the time and wonder what I've been up to. This is generally followed by forgetting to pack a lunch and getting Tim Horton's. Timmie's gift cards are on my Christmas list now out of sheer necessity.

I have tried a few good recipes since my last update, like ratatouille, squash fries or squash seeds in the oven; or the gumbo, cream of carrot soup or excellent beef stew that I made in the Crockpot. The ratatouille and gumbo, along with mujadara, tend to be go-to recipes for me, although I've no idea how my cooking got so exotic (or soupy). My roommate, a meat & potatoes girl, is always wondering about my food experiments.

My 22nd birthday was earlier this month. I got an ang pow from my parents for $50, and, fortuitously, this happened the same week that Canadian Tire had their $90 Kitchenaid Handheld Immersion Blender on sale for... well, you can guess. I was kind of conflicted, since I usually don't spend that much on one item in one go (I'm cheap), but in the end it was KITCHENAID. You win this round, Canadian Tire. I used it for my carrot soup, to which I added a roasted red pepper, ginger and coconut milk, and it worked like a charm. An aggressive charm (like Tyler Durden!), and one I was worried might crack the Crockpot, but still.

 I've not done groceries for the past few weeks, so I didn't have the lentils I needed for mujadara. I'd just thoroughly burnt a batch of caramelised onions in the Crockpot and wanted to prove to myself it was worth it after all. A site told me that split peas could be substituted for lentils in a pinch...

And that's when the madness started.

There were a number of factors behind how I ended up staying up last night cooking several pounds of beans. The first thing that needs to be said is that I'd just napped from 5 to 10pm and so wasn't going to sleep for a while, anyway.

My waning supplies also had a lot to do with it. As a hoarder, I'm not likely to run out of food for another 2 weeks if I really want to push it (I don't... well, maybe just a little). I'm low enough on vegetables that my fruit & veg needs are down to tomatoes, frozen juice, and tinned fruit for the next little while. Ironically, I had tons of protein anyway due to all the meat I never bother to defrost. But beans it was going to be, durnit. At any rate, I was starting to get a craving for hummus.

And I was tipsy. This generally plays out in two ways once I get back to my room: ordering pizza or whipping up something weird. This time, I did both. You better believe the pizza was weird, too.

Rice-cooker beans are super easy, more so than slow cooker beans, in my opinion. You wash a cup of beans, throw them in, and then add water 2.5-3" (higher is better) over those. I was adding a strip of seaweed to them at first, mostly because there's not much you can do with stale seaweed, but it tasted better without it. I also added a couple coriander seeds and peppercorns, and little bits of bay leaves.

These are the batches of pulses I made:
  • chickpeas - 2h
  • Navy beans (labelled "white pea beans")- 1h - 1h15
  • black turtle beans - 80 minutes or so
  • split peas - 45min
After they were done, I added salt and let them sit in their broth on the 'Warm' setting of the rice cooker for about 30-60min.

By the time the split peas came around, I was ready to cede defeat and go to bed... until I tasted them and it transported me back to Newfoundland in my memories. They were freaking amazing. They tasted like they were on their way to becoming split-pea soup.

So I decided they could be - but it could wait. I put the rice cooker on 'Warm' and went to sleep 'til noon and only polished off the soup just now.

To shorten my long story, here is the recipe. I devoured most of this just by myself, so it may be a bit small quantity-wise.

The Easiest Split Pea Soup You Can Accidentally Make
1c yellow split peas (this is the kind my grandmother uses, so other kinds are dead to me)
broth/water to fill rice cooker up to the 4 cup mark
a splash of olive oil to keep the liquid from foaming over
a plastic spoon to stick between the lid and the pot when the liquid keeps foaming over anyway
2 coriander seeds
2 peppercorns
1/2 bay leaf
salt (I use a sea salt grinder) to taste

1. Wash peas before putting into rice cooker. Throw out any floaters or weird ones.
2. Fill the rice cooker with all other ingredients except salt.
3. Cover most of the way, using the spoon to create a gap between lid and pot.
4. Turn on cooker, and cook for 45 minutes. Stir, and add salt to taste (~1/4 to 1/2 t)
5. Continue to cook for 15-45 minutes, depending on what you want the texture of the peas to be like; I like it when it gets mushy, so I cook it longer. If it become too thick (it totally did), just stir in broth.

This, like the first time I used juice in making overnight oats, had me rolling my eyes back in my head going "OMG it's so freaking good", though a bit more profanely. Screw using ham hocks, I don't even know what a ham hock looks like. This dish was made even better by the fact that this was just a random bag of split peas that had been sitting at my parents' for at least a year, and I hadn't even been sure it would work.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to call my mum and gloat compare notes. Maybe figure out how to make doughboys to really get my Newf on with this soup.

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