Saturday, March 28, 2009

Black bean soup

Did I say, in that last post on "veggie chili," that I make soup out of the leftovers? Well, I do.

Basically I just puree the leftovers with the cooking broth from the black beans, sometimes adjusting the seasoning with a little more salt or cumin.

Garnishing with sour cream and chopped cilantro is completely optional, though delicious.

Occasionally it will wind up a little thin, texture-wise, but fear not. I got a great little trick from (where else?) a Deborah Madison cookbook to thicken this soup: whisk in a couple of tablespoons of masa harina. (That's the corn flour treated with lime that you use to make tortillas from.) It adds a really nice flavor dimension as well as the thickening.

Oh, and regarding blenders: I have a hand-held "stick" blender that I've been using less and less. I don't know if it's just gotten old, and sort of worn out, or what -- but I really think that the standard countertop blender is more effective. Only problem is, it is more of a chore to wash.

I don't have a fancy one, either. It's an Oster that cost about $30 in about 1992, bought, if memory serves, at the Montgomery Ward in Morgantown. But it is effective for pureeing soups.

A final note: there's no picture with this post because this soup may not be the most photogenic thing going. Delicious, but kinda plain.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Beans and rice, redux

In my house, there is a dinner we eat easily once a week. Over the years, its name has evolved. Once it was "tacos" or "veggie chili." Then it became "Permission" (as in, "permission to eat junk food for dinner," because we'd scoop it up with chips that had cheese melted over them.) Its current iteration is "chips and cheese" because that's how the kids think of it. They also love the sour cream we serve as a condiment.

But, um, in recent months, I've been trying to watch what I'm eating a little more closely, and I decided I don't really need to gorge on chips and cheese, delicious though they are. So I've been experimenting with other sides to go with the veggie chili so I don't have to fill up on the chips. I'm trying to treat them as a garnish or whatever, instead of the main dish!

Polenta works well, as do potatoes boiled then combined with sauteed onions and chili powder.

But today I decided to make rice.

I've been relying more and more on cooking my own beans instead of canned, and that results in lovely broth that I often use to make soup (more on black bean soup in another post). But there's a recipe of Deborah Madison's where she uses the black bean broth to cook rice. It's not perhaps the prettiest thing going, but it is tasty.

"Veggie chili"

I usually use black beans, though kidney or pinto beans also work, as does a combination.

1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp oregano
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 to 1 cup diced canned tomatoes, including the liquid (or salsa)
3 cups or so of cooked beans (or canned)
salt to taste

Saute the onion in oil for 10 minutes or so, then add the corn. Let it thaw and even get a little browned. Add the spices and garlic and stir constantly for a minute or two. Add beans and tomatoes, and simmer for as long as you have. I often add some bean broth to make it a little juicier.

Oh, and I used corn from the freezer from the farmer's market last summer! As I said earlier in the week, I've finally been using all the local produce I froze last summer.

The rice is pretty standard: saute a little onion and garlic plus 1/8 tsp anise seeds with a cup and a quarter of rice and 1/2 tsp of salt. Add 2 cups bean broth and bring to a boil; turn down the heat and let it simmer till done.

Leftovers of this veggie chili make a great base for black bean soup. But I'll write about that in another post.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Indian-inspired dinner

Okay, I'll get that top picture out of the way right away. People sometimes ask me how I cook so much with small children in the house. That picture provides one of the answers: those are brown mustard seeds that Anne was playing with while I cooked. You wouldn't believe how long she enjoyed those for . . . or how long it took me to clean up afterward. This was about three weeks ago and I'm still finding them around the kitchen.

The second picture is the sort of standard red-lentil dal that I make -- I used to make it a LOT, but then Arij kind of lost interest in it so I don't make it as often. It's almost not worth posting a recipe for, because you could find it in any number of cookbooks, but what I do is this:

Red lentil dal

1 cup red lentils, sorted and rinsed, then cooked in 2.5 or 3 cups water till soft
1 large onion, chopped
(1 T minced ginger -- I don't always have it on hand, so I don't always include it)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T Penzeys sweet curry powder
salt to taste

Saute the onions in a couple of tablespoons of oil till nicely soft and browned -- then add garlic and ginger (if using). Stir constantly and keep cooking for another minute or two, then add the curry powder. Turn off heat and stir all this into the cooked lentils.

This time I also added a cube of frozen eggplant from last summer into the simmering dal. It kind of melted in and nearly disappeared, but still provided some depth of flavor.

Potatoes with Indian spices

This time, I sauteed twice as much onion, garlic, ginger and curry powder, and then kept half of it out to combine with the cubed, boiled potatoes.

Green beans

This recipe I adapted from one that Phantom Scribbler gave me. It is seriously yummy.

I made it with Drumlin Farm green beans from the freezer -- they have been delicious!

2 T oil
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 lb green beans
1/4 cup water
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar

Heat the oil and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Have a lid handy, because those mustard seeds pop everywhere! Fry for a couple of minutes; add the beans and stir fry for 2 or 3 minutes. Add water, cover, and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Uncover, raise heat to boil off any remaining water, and add remaining ingredients.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Blueberry pancakes

These are pretty standard pancakes (from an old edition of The Joy of Cooking) that we have used for years, with the addition of BLUEBERRIES FROM THE FREEZER. (That is, from Honey Pot Hill.)

It's funny, it takes me until about March to start realizing that I froze all this wonderful produce for a reason, and I need to use it! Whee! Arij has been requesting these so much that, alas, the blueberries are gone. Next summer, I'm going to freeze more. Well, I will if I can convince Arij to help me pick them ;-)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Beans and rice

Isn't this a beautiful combination of food? I feel I can't post the recipes, because I make them more or less verbatim from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen, but I had to post the picture, and I'll describe the dish. If you're desperate, email me and I'll send you the recipe, but I feel weird posting HER recipe without permission.

Basically it consists of a "sauce" for the black beans with onion, cilantro and coconut milk, and then you use the other half of the can of coconut milk as part of the rice cooking liquid. I think it's saffron making it yellow, though maybe it's both turmeric and saffron. (It's been awhile since I made this.)

The pickled red onions on top are so delicious and make a nice contrast in flavor and texture.