Sunday, February 22, 2009

Trader Joe's 17 Bean and Barley Soup

You may be thinking that I'm obsessed with dried beans these days. And you may be right. Actually, I bought this dried bean soup mix a while ago from Trader Joe's, and was waiting for bell peppers to get to a reasonable price before I made the soup. At last, today bell peppers were on sale for $2/pound at the co-op, so today was the day for soup! I don't understand why this soup, clearly made for winter, calls for bell peppers, but so it goes.

2 cups TJ's Bean and Barley Soup Mix (why the bag provides about 3 cups of soup mix I'm not sure)
64 oz vegetable broth (made mine from scratch, not sure exactly how much I ended up using)
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
1 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp dried basil
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1 can TJ's canned tomatoes (I used about 15 oz of a can of crushed tomatoes)
salt and pepper to taste

Soak beans overnight in a large pot of water, then rinse and drain. Pour 4 cups of broth into the pot with the beans. In a separate pan cook onion, celery, carrot, pepper, basil and garlic in olive oil until soft. Combine this mixture with the remaining ingredients into the bean pot and cover with more broth. Simmer covvered for about 1 hour to desired tenderness. Be sure to occasionally check liquid level and add more broth if necessary. Salt and pepper to desired taste. Makes about 8 hearty servings.

Aren't these beans beautiful?

I tried to convince Karen that the beans themselves looked lovely, even before cooking. Believe me now?

This soup is fine. Not great, not bad. Good bean and veggie soup, nothing fancy. I added a dollop of sour cream to mine, which was great. I think it took a bit more than an hour before the beans were soft -- I actually was worried for a while that they would not cook completely and I would have to fish the hard beans out of the soup, but it ended up okay in the end.

Black-Eyed Pea Curry

Shout out to Nicole on this recipe! I bought dried black eyed peas and was so pleased to find in this recipe that, unlike my experience with black beans, cooking with black eyed peas from dried works out splendidly. I soaked them overnight and they were moist in the morning, so plump that I actually ate a few before cooking them.

This plate of Indian salads shown on Smitten Kitchen looked so appealing, I knew I had to try one. I had everything I needed for this recipe already in my house except for the tomato (I mean, really, why would I have a tomato just sitting in my house in February?!), so it made the most sense for a first attempt.

Black-Eyed Peas in a Spicy Goan Curry
Adapted from Ruta Kahate via, 6/8/07

Serves 4 to 6

1 cup dried black-eyed peas or two 15-ounce cans, drained
2 tablespoons, canola oil
1 small yellow onion, minced (about 1 cup)
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, finely ground
1/2 teaspoon finely grated garlic (about 1 large clove)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated ginger (about a 1-inch piece)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (I always start with the half the suggested cayenne, and then decide if it needs more. Mine didn’t.)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, finely ground
1/4 cup minced tomato (1 small tomato)
2 cups (or 1 cup if using canned peas) hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste if using canned peas
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice

If using dried black-eyed peas, rinse and soak them in enough water to cover for 6 to 8 hours. Drain.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat and saute the onion until it turns dark brown, about 8 minutes. Add the coriander, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne and cumin, and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomato and stir over low heat until it disintegrates.

Add the peas and mix well. Pour in the hot water, if using, add the salt and sugar, and bring to a boil.

Turn the heat down to low, cover, and simmer until the peas are cooked through, about 20 minutes. If using canned peas, simmer for only 10 minutes (it is essential to simmer the canned peas, too, so that all the flavors blend better). Stir in the coconut milk and simmer uncovered for another 8 to 10 minutes, again allowing the flavors to come together.

Add the cilantro and lemon juice, simmer for 1 minute more, and remove from heat. Serve hot.

The taste of this curry is wonderfully sharp, and it went well over brown rice. Also, it's vegan! Next time I might use a bit less additional water and see if it thickens up enough to stand one its own. In this version, I really felt like the rice was necessary to sop up all the curry juices. With less water, I could see it standing on a plate on its own, as shown in Smitten Kitchen.

Nicole, let's make the whole plate in New York!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bachelor Tofu Sandwiches

Got this recipe out of a Deborah Madison (swoon!) cookbook called This Can't Be Tofu.

Bachelor Tofu Sandwiches

1 carton firm tofu, drained
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2-3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large red or yellow onion, cut into 14-inch slices
4 big mushrooms, sliced as thick as the onions
8 slices bread
Mustard and horseradish

Slice tofu crosswise into 8 pieces, slightly less than 1/2-inch thick. Set them on paper towels and blot. Don't worry about the tofu getting really dry. It will dry as it cooks.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet. Brush with 2 teaspoons of the oil and add the tofu. Cook over medium-high heat until golden, about 6 minutes on each side. Douse with the Worcestershire sauce and turn the tofu once. Continue frying until the sauce is absorbed and the tofu is laced with a fine glaze. Turn off the heat and season well with salt and plenty of pepper.

While the tofu is cooking, place a 10-inch skillet over high heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil. Add the onion and mushrooms. Saute until seared and nicely browned, 5-7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Toast the bread if desired. Cover with mustard and horseradish (fresh tomatoes and mayo would be good here as well). Add the tofu slices, top with the onions, close, press and dig in.

This sandwich was surprisingly good, even though there's nothing green in it, which usually is part of my definition for a good sandwich. I used four slices of tofu on mine, and portobellos, which made it a pretty substantial deal. Very easy, and super quick ... I would definitely make it again. I also think it can be hard to envision tofu working in a sandwich, but this makes the cut.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw

Another recipe from Smitten Kitchen that looked appealing. She wrote that it was a quick meal, though it ended up taking me a while to put it all together. I bought premade coleslaw from the co-op and doctored it up as the recipe indicates, though I also minced some red onion and added that as well. I had also gotten mini tortillas, which I thought she had used also, but turns out not so much. Their mini-ness made the cooking a bit trickier. I also had made the black beans from dry, not from the can, for the first time, which made it feel like more of a process. Definitely need to perfect my bean-making skills.

Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice
2 cups coleslaw mix or shredded cabbage
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 white or yellow corn tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Hot sauce

Place beans and cumin in small bowl; partially mash. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix 2 teaspoons olive oil and lime juice in medium bowl; add coleslaw, green onions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer. Spoon 1/4 of bean mixture onto half of each tortilla; cook 1 minute. Fold tacos in half. Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Fill tacos with feta and slaw.

These turned out good, a bit tricky to assemble, but delicious to eat. Made a few for dinner and a few extra for lunch today.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Portabello Chipotle Sandwich

The Moosewood Restaurant New Classics cookbook has been on my shelf for years, and though I regularly find good recipes while skimming, I rarely cook out of it. Changing, starting now!

I love the idea of portabello mushrooms as the main ingredient in a sandwich, and Moosewood has three different versions beginning with the same mushroom prep. Then you just add mushroom to your sandwich and customize depending on what you're craving.

This was a lot simpler than I expected upon first glance; I think it took about twenty minutes all together. I did make only 1/2 a recipe, but easy nonetheless.

Portabello Prep
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves
dash of salt and pepper to taste
4 portabellos, rinsed and dried

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl and set aside.
Remove the stems from the portabellos and slice the caps into 1/2 ro 3/4 inch thick slices. Brush the portabello slices with the oil mixture and arrange on a baking sheet.
To roast, bake on one side for 4 to 8 minutes, then turn with a spatula and bake for 4 to 8 minutes more, until tender and juicy.

Portabello Chipotle Sandwich
2 tablespoons chipotles in adobo sauce
6 tablespoons prepared mayo
2 tablespoons lime juice

Mince the chipotle peppers. Combine them with the mayonnaise and line juice in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

4 multi-grain or other whole grain rolls
4 fresh lettuce leaves, rinsed and dried
4 sliced cooked portabellos
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, cut into 8 slices (I left this out, as tomato season is months away yet)
2/3 pound sliced mild cheese

Slice open each roll, and spread with about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of the dressing. Place a lettuce leaf on one half. Layer on 1/4 of the portabellos, 1/4 of the sliced red onions, 2 tomato slices, and a slice or two of cheese.

This sandwich is good! I just ate one for dinner and plan to bring another for lunch tomorrow. I really love the chipotle flavor, and with the mushrooms and cheese, it makes for a hearty meal.

Cabbage, Apple, and Walnut Salad

Smitten Kitchen has complied a great list of all the salads she's written about since starting the blog. While skimming through, I spotted this one, made as a detox for post-Thanksgiving. I've never made a cabbage-based salad, and rarely (I'm going to work on this!) make my own dressing, so this looked like a good starter project.

Cabbage, Apple, and Walnut Salad

1 small savoy cabbage
1/3 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
½ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or heavy cream (like Smitten Kitchen, I used sour cream)
2 apples (any crisp, tasty eating variety, such as Sierra Beauty, Granny Smith, or Fuji)
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Tear off and discard the tough outer leaves of the cabbage. Cut it in half and cut out its core. Slice the halves crosswise into a fine chiffonade.

Toast the walnuts in the oven for 8 minutes. While they are still warm, first rub them in a clean dishtowel to remove some of the skins, then chop or coarsely crumble them.

To prepare the dressing, mix the vinegar with the lemon juice, some salt, and a generous amount of pepper.

Whisk in the olive oil and then the creme fraiche or cream. Taste and adjust the acid and salt as desired.

Quarter, peel, and core the apples. Slice the quarters lengthwise fairly thin and cut these slices lengthwise into a julienne. Toss the cabbage, apples, and walnuts (and blue cheese, if you’re using it) with the dressing and an extra pinch of salt. Let the salad sit for 5 minutes, taste again, adjust the seasoning as needed, and serve.

I didn't feel like employing my mediocre cutting skills to cut the apples quite so beautifully as she did hers, but it tasted great nonetheless. Smitten Kitchen says it serves six, but to be honest, I ate pretty much all of it in one sitting for dinner. Good, good stuff. Making your own dressing is a small project, but feels like a big accomplishment, especially in a salad where you really don't do much else but chop for the rest of the meal.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rainy Day Soup - Vegetarian Style!

This soup is one of my specialties, one meal I can make without a recipe every time, the one I pull out when friends are sick or the weather outside is frightful. I wanted to make it for a group of friends last week when a few were getting sick, but the original version, which I swiped and adapted from Weight Watchers, calls for chicken sausage and chicken broth.

Now the broth I'd be happy to switch out for veggie, but the chicken sausage in this recipe is crucial. The spicy flavor of the soup comes directly from the andouille flavoring in the sausage, and without it, the entire soup would be land and would lack that kick that makes it a good healing soup. I wanted to make a vegetarian version, but didn't think I could find an acceptable sausage replacement.

But behold! The local co-op serves us well. I found a vegetarian chipotle sausage to use for the soup. It's a big grainier than the chicken version, and waaaay spicier. I usually add some hot sauce at the end, but this version didn't need it at all.

1 yellow onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg spicy andouille or chipotle sausage, chicken or veggie (usually comes 4-5 sausages to a pack), sliced in thin rounds
6 cups or so of broth
1 baking potato
1 bag baby spinach
hot sauce, optional

Add the onion to a soup pot and cook on medium-high until it gets soft. Add the garlic, cook for a minute or two.

Add the sausage until it is browned in some places.

Add the broth. Don't need to boil, just get it really hot.

Once the broth is hot, remove the skin from the potato and grate the potato directly into the soup, using the smallest grating option. (This is the amazing part of the soup -- the potato melts and gets kind of creamy!)

Once the potato has melted a bit, add the spinach to the broth. Let it wilt a bit.


You can add salt and pepper along the way too, I'm just never sure how much I add.