Thursday, November 3, 2022

 Rick’s Split Pea Soup with Smoked Ham Hock


I like to make this when the weather gets cold. It’s cheap eats, but good! The ham hocks come in packages of three or four (also sold as “smoked pork hocks.”) The trick is to put them in individual freezer bags and freeze them, so you always have them on hand. You can defrost them in the microwave. This is an easy and delicious soup.


1 lb. bag dried green split peas, rinsed

1 TBS olive oil

1 smoked ham hock, about a pound

1 yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

8 cups chicken stock

½ tsp dried thyme leaves



In a cast iron Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil over medium high heat and brown the ham hock on all sides for about five minutes (I use tongs.). Remove the ham hock to a plate. Put the onion and garlic in the pot and sauté for about five minutes. Don’t burn them. Add the carrots, and stir for a minute or two. Then add the chicken stock, half of the split peas and the thyme. Return the ham hock to the pot. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, partially cover, and let it get happy for about an hour.

Skim the foam off the top. Remove the ham hock to a plate. If you have an immersible blender this is where it shines. Purée the soup until it is nearly smooth. You can also do this in the blender. Add the remaining split peas and return the ham hock. Simmer for about an hour or until the split peas are tender. I take the ham hock out about ten minutes before the soup is done to let it cool. I cut it up into small pieces, discarding the fatty pieces. Put the ham hock pieces back in the soup for a few minutes to reheat. Serve soup with crusty bread, oyster crackers, or croutons. Enjoy!


(Photos by R.L. Floyd, 2022)

Rick’s Greek Moussaka

MoussakaOne side of my wife’s family is Greek and we all enjoy Greek food.  This recipe is always a hit. A rich lamb tomato sauce between eggplant layers and topped with a rich feta bechamel sauce makes a great main course. Add some stuffed grape leaves and a real Greek salad and you have yourself a meal.


For the lamb sauce:

2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil (Greek if you have it.)

1 lb. ground lamb

1 large yellow onion chopped

3 cloves garlic finely chopped

3 14 oz. cans chopped tomatoes

¼ tsp. ground allspice

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon dried mint

Salt and pepper to taste

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/3 inch slices

For the bechamel topping:

3 tbs. unsalted butter

3 tbs. all-purpose flour

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated


Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add onion and cook, stirring until soft, about 4 minutes. Add lamb and cook stirring until no pink remains. Break up clumps with a wooden spoon. Add the allspice and cinnamon and stir to incorporate. Add tomatoes with their juices and the mint, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a strong simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Oil 2 cookie sheets and place eggplant slices on them, lightly brushing them with olive oil. Broil 4 inches from flame for 4 minutes. Turn slices over, brush lightly with olive oil and broil for 4 minutes. You may need to do two batches.

Oil a 9 by 13 oven-proof baking dish and line the bottom with half the eggplant, overlapping the slices slightly. When the lamb sauce is finished spoon it over the eggplant, and place the remaining slices on top of the sauce overlapping slightly.

Move rack to middle the oven and pre-heat it to 375 degree F.

In another saucepan melt the butter over medium low heat and add the flour, whisking for 3 minutes. Add the milk in a steady stream while whisking for about 5 minutes until sauce thickens and no lumps remain. Add the crumbled feta and whisk until it has melted into the sauce. Remove the sauce from heat and cover. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then pour in the beaten eggs while whisking until they are incorporated into the sauce. Pour the sauce over the baking dish to cover the top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the bechamel sauce is lightly brown. Let the dish sit for ten minutes before serving.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022


Rick’s Favorite Black Bean Salad

Black bean saladHere’s another easy hot weather summer dish. It’s a quick side dish or can even be a meal. Your good garden or July farmstand produce will make this dish sing.


1 good sized ripe tomato

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

The kernels of a cooked ear of corn, or it’s frozen equivalent

½ red bell pepper, chopped

½ red onion, peeled and chopped

1 cup of fresh cilantro (coriander) washed and chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped fine

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste


Whisk the olive oil and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Put all the other ingredients in a food processor and chop but not puree.  Add the dressing. Put this in the refrigerator to get happy, but it is also good at room temperature.

Black bean salad 2


Rick’s Summer Gazpacho

Gazpacho 1These last few July days have been too hot to cook. The good news is that the summer harvest of fresh produce is here, and it is a good time to make Gazpacho. I make this every summer when the tomatoes are ripe. My neighbor gifted us a cucumber, and my own parsley is in. I grew the jalapeño pepper in a pot.

You can make this in food processor, a blender, or with an immersible blender. It’s easy, but make it in time to have it in the refrigerator for a while, and put your bowls in the freezer to give them a chill. I like my gazpacho fairly chunky, but you can process it the way you like it. This recipe has no bread in it.

Gazpacho 2


2 lbs. ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded and cut into small pieces.

½ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 small onion, chopped fine

1 TBS tomato paste mixed with one cup cold water

¼ cup sherry vinegar (or good red wine vinegar if you don’t have sherry)

1 big clove of garlic put through a garlic press

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped fine

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste


Working in batches process all the ingredients in turn and place in a large bowl. Add the tomato paste and water, the vinegar, and the olive oil. Put in the refrigerator for an hour or so.

Serve with good crusty bread and chilled dry Rosé.

Gazpacho 3


Rick’s New England Lobster Bisque

IMG_6138Lobsters have been pricy this summer, but they had a sale this week at the grocery and I picked up a couple. They were delicious. I’d never made lobster bisque before, but I researched a few recipes, and came up with this for our lunch.

The first thing you need is foresight, so you save the lobster shells after your feast, and save the water you cooked them in, and any drawn butter you dipped them in. And pick up some heavy cream at the store. This recipe is for two but can easily be doubled.


The shells from two cooked lobsters.

½ stick of butter (divided)

1 small onion chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

A sprig of fresh thyme, or ¼ teaspoon dried

1 Bay leave

1 cup dry white wine

1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

4 cups water the lobster was cooked in

1 cup heavy cream


Put half the butter in a Dutch oven or sturdy deep pot and melt over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, carrot, garlic, Bay leave and thyme and saute, stirring for about 5 minutes until the veggies are soft.

Add the cooked lobster shells and stir for another 5 minutes. Add the wine and the tomatoes and bring to a boil. When it boils turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the water, bring to a boil. Again, when it boils, turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove the shells and Bay leave from the broth and put the broth through a food mill (I had to dig mine out of the garage) or put it in a blender to puree. Bring the broth back to a boil, add the remaining butter, turn down the heat and add the cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!


Rick’s Summer Spaghetti with Uncooked Tomato Basil Sauce

Pasta 3We’ve been cooking variations on this recipe on hot summer days for decades. The original “Silver Palate Cookbook“ had a version that called for Brie, but  we felt that was too rich for a hot summer dinner.

We only make this in late summer when the good local tomatoes come in, and we have fresh herbs in pots ready to go. You do have to cook the pasta, but the rest is uncooked. I combine all the other ingredients in a pasta bowl earlier in the day and let them get happy.

Pasta 1


2 big ripe fresh tomatoes, chopped

¾ cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella

2 big cloves of garlic, finely chopped or put through a garlic press

1 cup fresh basil leaves, snipped into shreds with kitchen scissors

½ cup of fresh Italian oregano, stems removed, snipped into shreds with kitchen scissors. (Optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound spaghetti or other long pasta

Parmesan cheese for grating


Earlier in the day put all the ingredients except the pasta in a large bowl, stir to combine and let sit out at room temperature.

Bring water to a boil, cook pasta, saving a cup of pasta water. When the pasta is al dente or to your liking, drain without rinsing, and add to the pasta bowl. Stir to combine. Add some pasta water as needed to get the right consistency. Serve onto plates and grate Parmesan cheese to taste.

Some crusty bread, a cool salad, and some chilled dry Rosé would round out this easy and tasty summer meal.

Pasta 2

Monday, June 6, 2022


Rick’s Summer Tabbouleh Salad

TabboulehI had never had tabbouleh until I met my wife’s family in my early twenties.  It was a staple of their summer picnics and I loved it. I seldom make it, as I was reminded yesterday by my unopened Bob’s Red Mill Bulgur with a 2012 sell-by date. A quick trip to Guido’s for new bulgur and I was ready. We had friends over for a Mediterranean dinner last night. We started with pita, hummus, feta and mixed olives, some nice Rose from Provence. Then I made grilled marinated butterflied leg of lamb and grilled veggies with the tabbouleh. Summer dining on the back porch at its best!


1 cup bulgur

2 cups boiling water

4 ripe tomatoes finely chopped

½ red onion finely chopped

½ cup fresh mint finely chopped

½ cup fresh dill finely chopped

1 cup fresh parsley finely chopped

The juice of one lemon

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

A dash of ground allspice

Salt and pepper to taste


Put the bulgur in a good-sized bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Invert a dinner plate over the bowl and let it sits for 30 minutes. Strain the bulger through a big fine sieve until most of the water is gone. Return the bulger to the bowl. Add the chopped ingredients. Make a dressing by whisking the lemon juice and olive oil until it thickens. Add to the bowl. Season with salt, pepper and allspice and toss well. Serve at room temperature.