Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Quick Tuesday Supper

I love to cook. I cook a lot, and often. Sometimes, I just want something quick and easy, and last evening that was it. I had been emailing back and forth with my sisters about Bean Soup, a recipe my Mom and Dad created a l-o-n-g, long time ago. I started my website and blog one year and 4 months ago, and in all that time I have not made Bean Soup. It is one of my favorite things in winter. The main reason I couldn't just run to the kitchen and put on a pot of soup was because I had no leftover ham bone (with a bit of meat left on). Usually, whenever I have a ham bone left, I freeze it until such time as it is needed. In the last 24 years since being with my current husband, the use of a ham bone has been divided between My Mom and Dad's Bean Soup, and his Mom's Famous Baked Beans. The last couple of times a ham bone was available in this house, it went to make Baked Beans.

Creamed Ham and Peas, on Toast
Thus, my quickie dinner of last evening. I needed a ham bone. Therefore, I needed a ham! I went out and bought one. I mean, after emailing about it for days, I just want that soup. Now I had a ham and I needed to make dinner. A quick and easy dinner with many kinds of leftovers, such as ham, turkey or chicken, and even canned tuna, is to make a cream sauce or bechamel, and add in some meat and vegetables. My husband and I love peas, so peas was my choice last night. Another of my Mom's easy dishes was Creamed Tuna and Peas, basically with this same recipe. I loved that, growing up. My husband will not eat tuna, so I just don't make it just for myself.

When making this meal of Creamed Ham and Peas, no salt is needed in the recipe, as the ham is salty. If making this dish with turkey or chicken, some salt will be needed. I don't believe Mom ever added salt to her Creamed Tuna and Peas, but when using canned tuna and peas, there is plenty of salt there, also.

Creamed Ham and Peas being made

Creamed Ham and Peas

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk +
1 cup water (or use total liquid amount as 1 1/2 cup milk)
2 cups diced ham
1 1/2 cups frozen peas

In a skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add in the flour and stir with a spoon or spatula to completely combine the two. Off the heat, add in the evaporated milk and stir to completely combine the butter and flour roux with the milk. Back on the heat, add in the water and stir constantly, until the mixture thickens and is bubbling. (This is your basic Bechamel Sauce).

Add in the ham and the peas, stirring so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan, until the mixture is completely heated through. Easy!

This kind of creamed meal can be served over toast (and we all know what that is called), or over pasta or rice. It can be made and placed in a casserole with some grated cheese over top and baked for 20 to 30 minutes until bubbly. It can be combined with pasta, placed in a casserole and topped with buttered bread crumbs and baked as stated. In other words, this kind of dish is just plain versatile. It can be dressed up by adding in some shredded cheddar or jack cheese to melt while in the skillet or it can have some cream cheese melted in. Since it was already late when I got to making the dish, I made it at its most basic. I just wanted to point out that it can be embellished in so very many ways.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.