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Posts Tagged ‘beans’

You complete me

I love eating meals consisting of beans and rice.  They’re wholesome, they’re hearty, and together, they become a complete protein, which is handy when meat has become altogether unappealing, as it has in the last few months for me.  So this is our version of the Cuban-inspired dish, which may not be perfectly authentic, but is (as my dad often says) “delish, nutrish, makes ya feel ambish!”

Black Beans and Rice

And for the record, sacrilegious and unconventional as it may be, I’ve discovered that a bowl of leftover black beans and rice topped with feta cheese will make me smile all afternoon!

For the Beans

  • 1 cup dried black beans
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • pinch chili flakes
  • salt
  • olive oil

The day before cooking, soak the dried beans by placing them in a bowl and covering them with a couple inches of water.  Leave on the counter to soak over night.

The next day, pour off the soaking water and give the beans a rinse.  Place the soaked beans in a heavy-bottomed pot and, again, cover with a couple inches of water.  Add the garlic, chili and onion.  Bring to a gentle simmer, skimming any scum that rises to the top.  Simmer until fully cooked.  Remove from the heat and season with salt and a drizzle of olive oil.  Set aside.

Finishing the Beans

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • healthy pinch of chili flake
  • 1/2 teaspoon mortared coriander seed
  • 1/2 of a 14-ounce can of whole, peeled, tomatoes plus 2 Tablespoons of the juice
  • 2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • salt to taste

Using an 8 to 10-inch saute pan set over low heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook gently, covered,  until it is mostly translucent.  Add the garlic, chili flake, coriander seed, and tomato, breaking up the tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.  Continue to cook, covered until soft.

Using a slotted spoon, lift the black beans out of their cooking liquid and add them to the onion mixture.  Add a little bit of the cooking liquid if the onions have begun to dry out.  Pour in the vinegar and cook gently, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.  Taste for salt.

For the Rice

Use the water to rice ratio that comes with the specific rice you are using.  The brown Basmati rice I use calls for 2 cups water per 1 cup of rice, however, I always use about a 1/4 cup less water than is called for because I like the firmer texture.  That being said, you can, of course, use white rice, so long as it’s a long-grain variety.  And while I’m at it- a couple notes about the rice…1) using a short-grain rice here will be utterly disappointing because short-grain rice cooks up fairly sticky.  You’ll want the rice grains in this dish to be dry and separate.  2) If you’d like to try to get more brown rice into your diet, I highly recommend trying long-grain brown rice.  I find the texture to be light and pleasant,  similar to that of it’s white counterpart.  The only brown rice I knew as a kid was the shorter-grained variety and I grew to detest that gummy mass that found it’s way to my plate!

  • 1/4 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice (I use brown Basmati)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, divided
  • 2 sprigs marjoram, chopped
  • 3 sprigs parsley, chopped
  • water
  • salt

In a small, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat, melt 1/2 Tablespoon of butter.  Add the onion and cook gently until it is translucent.  Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook for about 2 minutes.  Pour in the rice and stir for about 2 minutes, coating it with the onion-tomato mixture.  Add the correct amount of water and bring to a simmer.  Add salt to the simmering mixture and taste the liquid to be sure that the amount of salt is correct.  Immediately turn the heat down to low, cover with a lid, and cook until the rice is done, based on the package instructions. When the rice is fully cooked (I always peek), turn off the heat and allow the rice to rest, covered for at least 10 minutes.  Stir in the remaining butter and chopped herbs.

Bringing it all together

Place a spoonful of rice on the plate and top with the beans!  We love to add avocado and sometimes I’ll cook up a batch of garlicky chard or spinach to serve along side.  And sometimes when we’re feeling bad, we’ll cook the whole thing in bacon fat instead of butter and olive oil- and that’s a treat!

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So there we were…sitting on the couch…watching baseball…(watching The Yankees)…on a ridiculously hot day…eating a Cobb salad…and I thought to myself…I feel so American right now.  And it was fun.  And we hooted and hollered as Derek Jeter tied Lou Gehrig’s record for 2,721 hits…and I wondered if the neighbors could hear our cheers.  And never having been a sports fan in my life, I thought… I could get in to this.

But please.  Don’t get your hopes up about Fantasy Football.  I just don’t think I have it in me.

For our Salade Americaine

I used “Little Gem” lettuces which are a cross between a butter lettuce and romaine.  You could easily use either one with tasty results.  I then made a creamy dressing using creme fraiche (but you could also use a combination of buttermilk and sour cream).  I minced some tarragon and stirred it into the creme fraiche.  Then I added a few splashes of champagne vinegar and a few glugs of extra-virgin olive oil and lots of freshly ground black pepper, and whisked it together.  I tossed the lettuce with some of the dressing and put it on the plate.

I placed a spoonful of black-eyed peas on one side, some diced Jack cheese on another side, and a huge dollop of caponata on another side.  Tomatoes went smack-dab in the middle.  More dressing drizzled over the whole thing, and mmm, did it hit the spot.

What?  Caponata isn’t American?  Creme fraiche either?  Harumph.  We live in a melting pot baby!

Oh, come on.  I know I left out the ham…so call me a bad American.  But I think you’ve heard my rant on rules already…

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Soaking dried beans

It’s a simple thing, but….do you know how to soak dried beans?

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Just put them in a bowl and cover them with 3-4 times as much water, by volume.

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So long as you rinse them first, you can go ahead and use that soaking liquid for cooking.  It’s best to let them soak for at least 3-4 hours.

 

 

 

 

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Then just put them in a pot, cover them with about twice as much water by volume, add aromatics such as bay, garlic, onion, carrot, celery, chili pod… Gently simmer until they’re tender, adding a bit more water if necessary. Salt them only when they are done, allowing them to cool in the salted liquid.

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By the way, these beans are from that fabulous bean guy, Rancho Gordo, who is based in Napa.

 

And I think they look like my cat, Daisy.

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Oh, dear.  It looks like I may have caught her in the middle of something.  Carry on.  Chop chop.

 

 

 

 

…And by the way, that’s Peru in the foreground pretending she’s unaware of the inappropriate behavior taking place behind her. Prude!

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P7200002I came across this lovely salad on Heidi’s beautifully photographed blog, 101 Cookbooks, and I’ve been aching to make it ever since.  See, I love dill.  It’s one of those things that I actually carry on my lap on the way home from the farmer’s market so I can pick it up, hold it to my nose and just breathe it in…all the way home!  Now I know that most people associate dill with things like salmon and potato salad, but in my household growing up, we had it with tuna.  Only tuna.  That was it.  So to this day the first thought that comes to mind when I see big bunch of dill at the market is, “Gee, I could really go for a big ol’ tuna sandwich!”  So of course, we flaked a little tuna on top of this salad for our dinner.  How could I resist?

This is my adaptation of Heidi’s delicious salad.  Her rendition includes a little brown sugar or honey for a touch of sweetness, but I found it was a little too sweet for me.  Click on over there to see how she does it.

I used the little pebble-sized Navy beans, but you could use any white bean….or any other bean for that matter!

My version of Heidi’s Bean, Carrot and Dill salad

  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 bunch of young (but not toooooo small) carrots
  • 3 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh dill
  • 2-1/2 cups cooked white beans
  • 1/3 cup chopped, toasted almonds
  • extra-virgin olive oil for dressing the salad
  • pure olive oil for cooking the carrots
  • kosher or sea salt, to taste

Toss the red onion with the juice of one lemon, and a good pinch of salt and allow them to macerate for about 30 minutes, while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Give your carrots a taste.  If the skin is bitter, peel them.  But if not, leave the skin on…there are lots of nutrients in there!  Slice them into 1/4-inch thick rounds and saute them in a large saute pan in a single layer over medium heat. Toss them only every few minutes so that their surfaces become lightly browned. And don’t forget to give them a pinch of salt as they’re cooking.

Pour the beans and the dill right into the saute pan, along with the carrots.  Cook them over medium-high heat until they are warmed through.  It’s okay if they begin to brown slightly in spots.  It adds a delicious dimension of flavor!

Place the macerated onions into the bottom of a large bowl.  When the beans and carrots are ready, pour them on top of the onions.  Give the whole mixture a gentle stir, and squeeze in the juice of one more lemon along with a few glugs (2-3 Tablespoons?) of extra-virgin olive oil.  Allow the salad to sit for about 20-30 minutes so that the flavors begin to marry.  Taste, and add salt if necessary.

Just prior to serving, toss in the toasted almonds.

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chicken bake #1Another fun “find” from my beloved Mr. Oliver.  I love finding ways to use a variety of veggies in one dish, and chicken thighs are practically a staple around here ’cause they’re so darn cheap and delicious.  This was so good the first time around that I promptly called my parents to suggest that I bring it over for the upcoming Birthday Extravaganza-part deux (Laura, Dave and a belated Father’s Day).  And happily, they accepted.  It’s a great one for dinner parties because it can be fully prepared earlier in the day and then popped in the oven at dinner time.  We served it with thick slices of bread to sop up all the extra juice.  Yum.

Baked Summer Chicken Stew adapted from Jamie at Home
serves 4

  • 2 pounds new potatoes, washed and partially peeled (I like a little skin!)
  • 4-8 each, boned, skin-on chicken thighs, depending upon their size
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed, cut in half, and drizzled with olive oil
  • 1 medium heirloom tomato or 1/2 pint plum-sized tomatoes, cored and scored on their bottoms
  • 1 medium hand full green beans or yellow wax beans, trimmed
  • 4-8 sprigs oregano, leaves plucked
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat and slice each thigh into 3 strips.  Preheat a saute pan over medium heat, and brown the chicken, skin-side down until golden.  Set aside.

Place potatoes in a medium-large pot of cold, salted water, and bring to a simmer.  Cook until they can be easily pierced with a paring knife.  They’ll need about 20 minutes to cook, depending upon their size.  When they are done, remove them from the water, and set aside. While the potatoes are cooking, you’ll prepare the rest of the veggies….

Dump the heirloom (or plum tomatoes) into the simmering potato water  for 5-10 seconds, to loosen the skin.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. When cool, remove the skin and discard.  If using a large heirloom tomato, you’ll need to dice it.  Leave plum tomatoes whole.

Dump the beans into the simmering potato water and cook until tender.  Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

By this time, the potatoes should be nearly done.

In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Choose a baking vessel that will easily hold the stew ingredients in approximately one layer. First add the potatoes, crushing them lightly with a spoon, then add the chicken, skinned tomatoes, beans, and oregano.  Drizzle the vinaigrette over, and toss everything very gently with your hands, distributing it evenly in the baking dish.

Place baking dish in the pre-heated oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

Carefully remove from the oven and sprinkle the cherry tomatoes over the top.  Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or until the tomatoes have softened and the chicken is cooked through.

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I would hereby like to thank the sun for finally coming out from behind those clouds.  Both my garden, and my disposition are more cheerful now.  Grazie, and good night.

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Attending the Saturday farmer’s market is good for my soul.  I love it no matter the season.  It just always seems to fill whatever void needs filling.  I welcome the rain and wind in the winter, when fewer people attend and a sense of peace and quiet pervades.  The crowds are lighter and I can wander easily.  In the fall, I find the crisp air refreshing, and the vibrant root vegetables a glory to see.  The spring brings the crowds, but it also marks the beginning of short-season crops like asparagus, peas, and cherries.  I always buy as much as I know we’ll eat, not wanting to waste a moment of their short-lived bounty.  And here we are on the eve of the summer solstice.  Summer squash is everywhere, as is basil, and the first tomatoes are making an appearance.  It’s this time of year when I know that I must put a limit on the amount of money I bring with me, because I tend to want to buy one of everything.  And I love coming home and spreading it all out on the kitchen counter and thinking about what I’ll do with it all.

This past week, we put together a wonderful summer vegetable stew, inspired by a recipe I found in Local Flavors, by Deborah Madison.  The ingredients can and should vary, depending on what you find.  It’s a perfect place to use up late-season, starchy peas, tough, mature, green beans, or little odds and ends that don’t have another home.  Choose enough veggies to accommodate the number of people you plan to serve.  Use things like potatoes, peas, green beans, carrots, onions, summer squash, fresh shelling beans (need to be precooked), garlic, herbs, sweet peppers, and tomatoes (fresh or canned). It looks fairly ordinary, but all the flavors meld together and become absolutely delicious.

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Summer Vegetable Stew

  • Prepare your vegetables depending upon their shapes and sizes.  For example,  young carrots might be split down the center, patty-pan squash could be cut into wedges, green beans cut into bite-sized lengths,  young potatoes halved, and onions sliced into wedges held together by their roots.
  • Warm some good olive oil with a bay leaf in a non-reactive dutch oven, or large casserole.  Add onion wedges, a few garlic cloves, a few sprigs of herbs, and a sprinkle of salt.  Cook gently, covered until they just begin to soften.
  • Add the dense, longer-cooking vegetables like carrots and potatoes.  Give them a sprinkling of salt.  Add a little water to help them steam, cover and cook for, maybe, five minutes.
  • Add the remaining vegetables and give them another sprinkling of salt.  If you’ve used canned tomatoes, you’ll want to use some of the liquid.  Cover again, and allow them to stew.  Check it in a few minutes to make sure that there is enough liquid in the pot.  If not, add water and maybe a little white wine.  There should be liquid that comes at least 1/2 way up the depth of the vegetables.
  • Allow the vegetables to stew gently until everything has become tender.  Pay special attention to things like carrots and potatoes, which will take the longest to cook.  It’s okay if the green peas and beans become drab in color.  This isn’t an al dente dish.  Their texture will become smooth and tender
  • When the stew is ready, taste it for salt and stir in a handful of roughly-chopped basil.  Spoon it into bowls and enjoy.

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