Welcome to my kitchen

A while ago, I realized I was serious enough about bread baking to stop diddling around with the 3-packs of yeast from the grocery store, or even the small jars for a small fortune. So I pulled up my big girl pants, and ordered "A Pound Of Yeast". It's in my freezer, and I use it regularly, and I guess that makes me "A Baker". Even though I always said "I can't bake". So, join me on my journey, and let's see what that pound of yeast makes, and where we go next....

Friday, April 29, 2011

Got ham?

OK.  If you celebrated Easter, you likely have leftover ham.  LOTS of leftover ham.  And by this point in the calendar, you're really, really tired of ham sandwiches.  I have some ideas.  Unfortunately, no pictures, because, well, *I* cooked my Easter ham on Wednesday, so I've only had ham sandwiches once, and this weekend I'll be dealing with the face-off with the leftovers.  You guys are probably already into a smackdown mode with 'em.

So I offer a few suggestions.

First of all, don't toss that ham bone.  If you're not wanting soup right now, or a pot of beans, wrap that sucker securely in plastic wrap, then foil, or...better yet, vacuum seal it, and toss it in the freezer.  In September, when the weather chills, a pot of split pea soup, or Navy bean soup, or red beans and rice will fit the bill, and you'll have a hammy, meaty treasure stashed away to jump start that meal.  And for goodness' sakes (literally), leave some meat on the bone.  That'll REALLY give you hammy, meaty goodness in that soup or pot of beans.

Then, you can always freeze slices of ham, again, well wrapped in freezer bags, or vacuum bags, for when you want a quiche, or frittata, or pasta with ham sauce, or pizza topped with ham, or....whatever your imagination conjures up.  Ham lends a smokey savoriness to so many things, it's always great to have a baggie or two of ham slices in the freezer.

For the short term, however, here are a couple of tried and true recipes I'll be making in the near future.  In fact, I see the...

...Ham Noodles on my dinner table tomorrow.  Just use your imagination to see the visuals of these !  You can do it, I know you can.

Ham Noodles
(no idea on servings, maybe 4-6 for the full recipe)

Ham stock
1 meaty ham bone (I found this optional...I just used chunked ham meat, simmered that for a while and skipped on by.  But I bet it would be fabulous with the ham bone, if you wanted to sacrifice it to the meal.)
Water to cover, or about 6-8C if just using ham meat (adjust to the number of servings you're planning on)
1 chopped onion, fairly large dice
2-3 celery stalks, again fairly large dice, include leaves if you have them
2-3 carrots, you've got it, fairly large dice

"Noodles" (actually, probably closer to dumplings...)
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk
4 tblsp. vegetable oil

Simmer ham bone (or ham meat) half an hour over med.-low heat.  Remove bone if used, and pick meat off.  If using bone, add additional ham to taste.  Return ham to pot.  Add chopped onion, celery and carrots (add as many veggies as you like, and as the stock will hold.  It's really all to taste in the broth).

Make the "noodles".  Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Knead 4-5 times.  Divide in half, and roll 1/8-inch thick on lightly floured board.  Cut into 1x1&1/2-inch strips.

Drop "noodles" into simmering broth.  Simmer, covered, about 1/2 an hour, or until "noodles" are done.  The broth will thicken considerably.  Season to taste with ground black pepper and salt if needed.

UPDATE 4/30/11--Now that I've actually made this again, a few notes that will help you, if you choose to try this great dish.  You will want, for the full recipe, at least 8 cups of water, regardless of whether or not you use the ham bone.  The "noodles" will take up a great deal of broth while they cook, and you still want a fairly "wet" stew at the end.  When you turn the "noodle" dough out after mixing in the bowl, flour your board pretty well.  The dough is sticky.  And flour your rolling pin as well.  A pizza cutter works really swell for cutting the "noodles", much easier than using a knife.  And, finally, after you add the "noodles" to the broth, cover the pan, so that the condensing steam will help cook the top of the dough.  This dish is honestly true comfort in a bowl.

For something a little shall we say, "lighter" how about a nice ham salad, served on buttery, flaky croissants, or maybe slices of brioche?  *THIS* is probably on the menu for Monday....

Ham Salad
4 servings

1&1/2 cup chopped cooked ham (about 1/2 pound)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp. grainy mustard
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. Tabasco-style hot sauce
Sliced cornichons to taste (can substitute thinly sliced dill pickle)
Thinly sliced Vidalia or other sweet onion to taste
8 slices bread (or 4 croissants, halved)

Place ham, mayonnaise, mustard, Worcestershire and hot sauce into the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until it is all finely chopped, but not pasty, about 6 or 8, 1-second blasts.

Divide the ham mixture over four slices of bread, or the bottom of the four croissants, and top with the pickle and onion slices.  Top with the remaining bread or croissant tops, and serve.

Hmmmmmmm.  Actually, those ham salad sandwiches would've been great to serve at a Royal Wedding party this morning.  That's the story of my life, a day late, and way more than a dollar short.

Hope you can use these two ideas for beating the last of that Easter ham into submission !

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