Black Bean and Vegetable Stew

Judging by the empty shelves in the dried bean and legume aisle of our grocery store, beans are everyone’s go-to ingredient for cooking in a crisis. I’ve been using them a lot in soups and stews, because one-pot meals are easy, nutritious and comforting — just what we need right now. This black bean and vegetable stew is great ladled over some white or brown rice, but it would also be tasty with fresh tortillas, garlic bread, or just as a stand-alone dish.

If you don’t want to use dried beans, you can substitute 3 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed (reduce simmer time to about 20 minutes). To make a vegetarian version, omit the bacon, use olive oil to saute the vegetables, swap in vegetable broth and add 1 tsp smoked paprika.

Adapted from The Splendid Table’s Cuban Black Bean Stew.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

3 slices thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
3 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1 lb dried black beans
1 cup water
Juice from 2 limes
Salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Soak the beans in about 4 cups of water. You can do this overnight or use the quick soak method: In a large bowl, pour 4 cups of water over the beans, cover and let sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

In a large pot over medium high heat, cook the bacon until the fat has rendered and the bacon is starting to brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve about 1 tbsp of grease and discard the rest.

Add the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and jalapeño and saute until the onions and celery are translucent. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, then deglaze with about 2 cups of the chicken broth.

Stir in the spices, beans, reserved bacon, remaining broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.

Test beans for doneness. If they have not softened enough, give them more simmer time in 10-minute increments (add water as needed). Cooking time for dried beans varies widely by age and quality, but it typically shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.

Stir in lime juice, salt to taste and cilantro. Serve over rice.

Pictured: Descoware Flame Dutch Oven, Pyrex Spring Blossom 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Grab-It Bowl

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner 2019

Corned beef and cabbage is a must for any St. Patrick’s Day feast. And if haven’t cured your own corned beef, you’ve gotta try it! It really is pretty easy if you plan ahead — like brining a turkey, but for 5-7 days. The one special ingredient you need is curing salt (sodium nitrite), also known as prague powder or pink salt (not the same as Himalayan pink salt). It’s easiest to purchase online — I bought this one a couple years ago and it will probably last me forever.

Typically corned beef is made from brisket — but any tough cut will do (must be suited for long, slow cooking, like a pot roast). So this time I’m trying it with a chuck roast. That has led to a slight hiccup in my menu planning: Because the roast is thicker than a brisket, there’s no room for cabbage in my slow cooker! Consequently I’ve added a mustardy coleslaw to the lineup, which I think complements the corned beef pretty well.

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day menu:

  • Home-Cured Corned Beef (roughly based on this curing recipe and this cooking recipe)
  • Mashed Potato Casserole with Cheddar and Green Onions (recipe)
  • Braised Collard Greens (recipe: Braised Winter Greens from Cook’s Illustrated‘s More Best Recipes)
  • Mustardy Cabbage and Apple Slaw (recipe)

Pictured: Corning Ware Green Macrame P-332 Roaster, Corning Ware April DC-1 1/2-B Designer Casserole, Pyrex Spring Blossom 043 Oval Casserole, Pyrex Verde 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl

Antipasto Salad with Lemon Garbanzos

Garbanzo beans are one of the stars of this tangy, vibrant salad, so I amped up their flavor with a simple marinade of lemon juice, parsley and salt. Most of the other ingredients can be adjusted to taste: For example, while salami is one of the things that puts the “antipasto” in an antipasto salad, it can be omitted for an equally delicious vegetarian version.

Make sure all the salad ingredients are thoroughly drained and/or patted with a towel so they are as dry as possible before combining.

Serves 10-12

Ingredients

For the dressing:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
2 tsp whole- or coarse-grain mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
pinch cayenne

For the lemon garbanzos:
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 2 lemons
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
1 tsp salt

For the salad:
1-2 romaine hearts, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/2 small red onion, chopped
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
8 oz fresh mozzarella balls
6 oz pitted Kalamata olives
4 oz whole or thick-cut dry salami, cut into small chunks
12-15 pepperoncini peppers, sliced
2 oz shaved Parmesan cheese

In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld. (Note: This recipe makes more dressing than needed for one salad; refrigerate the excess and use within 1 week.)

In another bowl, toss the garbanzos with lemon juice, parsley and salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours, stirring occasionally to distribute the marinade.

Drain the garbanzos, then combine with the rest of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with dressing to taste and serve.

Pictured: Pyrex Verde 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl

Easy Chickpea Curry with Kale

Recently my daughter and I were making a curry dish from a kid’s cookbook, and I couldn’t help but modify it to my own liking. Plus, there were so many problems with the recipe: It called for a single leaf of kale (is that ever enough for anything?), used way too much salt, listed a bake time of 20 minutes (no baking was actually involved), and was illustrated with a drawing of a red onion that looked exactly like a rutabaga (which just didn’t inspire much confidence!).

So I was pleasantly surprised when our version turned out very tasty! The recipe is designed to be kid-friendly, so it’s not spicy, and lends itself to some kid help along the way. My daughter particularly enjoyed tearing up the kale, rinsing the garbanzos, measuring the water and spices, and stirring the pot.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 tbsp canola oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tbsp mild curry powder
1 tsp salt
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes (undrained), torn into pieces
2 15-oz cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water
1 bunch lacinato kale, torn into bite-size pieces (discard stems)

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, saute the onion in oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Stir in the curry powder, salt, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and water. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes more. Add salt to taste.

Serve over rice.

Pictured: Descoware Flame Dutch Oven, Pyrex Spring Blossom 471 Casserole

Sweet & Smoky Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I like sweet potatoes, but I’ve never been a fan of that ubiquitous Thanksgiving casserole involving sweet potatoes, sugar and marshmallows. Instead, I lean toward the savory side — sweet potatoes are sweet enough on their own without all that extra sugar, after all.

In this recipe, chipotle adds a smoky flavor that is subtle enough to complement most other Thanksgiving dishes. We’ll be enjoying it tomorrow with turkey and all the trimmings.

 

Ingredients

3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 chipotle pepper (canned in adobo sauce), minced
1 tsp adobo sauce
1/2 tsp salt

Using your preferred method, cook the sweet potatoes until fork tender. (You can boil or steam them, or use a sous vide machine if you have it: Sous vide is a handy technique because you can attain perfect doneness with very little effort. I cooked my sweet potatoes with the sous vide for 45 minutes at 194 degrees – basically this recipe, minus the seasoning.)

In a small saucepan, combine the butter and cream and cook over low heat until the butter is melted.

Mash the sweet potatoes with the butter and cream in a large bowl. Add the lime juice, chipotle, adobo sauce and salt and continue mashing until smooth.

Pictured: Pyrex Town and Country 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware French White F-12-B Casserole, Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-89-B Lipped Saucepan

No-Cook Cranberry Relish

If you need a change of pace from traditional cranberry sauce, this tangy no-cook version is an easy and delicious way to bring something new to your Thanksgiving table. The texture is more like a relish or salsa than a sauce, but it pairs just as well with turkey. I’ve also seen it layered over cream cheese to serve as a spread with crackers.

Ingredients

2 lbs fresh cranberries
2 navel oranges
1 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced (or grated)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped mint

In a food processor, pulse about half the cranberries until they are coarsely chopped, then transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Remove the zest of one orange with a vegetable peeler, chop the zest into smallish pieces, and add to the food processor. Using a sharp knife, remove the peel and pith from both oranges. Then cut the orange sections away from their membranes and add the sections to the food processor. Add the rest of the cranberries, the ginger and sugar and pulse until finely chopped.

Combine both sets of chopped cranberries, add the mint and stir until well mixed. Cover and refrigerate overnight before serving.

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Pictured: Corning Ware Floral Bouquet Third Edition A-1 1/2-B Casserole, Pyrex Spring Blossom 401 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 2 403 Round Mixing Bowl

Yeasted Lemon Zucchini Bread

We are lucky enough to have wonderful neighbors who share produce from their vegetable garden year-round. So when they brought over a monster zucchini recently, I decided to make some zucchini bread. But not just any zucchini bread!

While I love traditional zucchini bread — usually a quick bread leavened with baking powder — there is something really satisfying about baking yeast breads. The smooth feel of well kneaded dough, watching it rise, shaping it — not to mention the physical work and patience required. Plus, you can’t beat the soft, fluffy texture!

So I set out to make a yeasted zucchini bread, something with the flavors of the traditional recipe and just a touch of sweetness, like a breakfast bread. It’s delicious served warm with plenty of butter!

 

Ingredients

3 1/2 cups bread flour (stir your flour before measuring to loosen)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium)
2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup lukewarm water
2 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
cooking spray

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and yeast. Add the zucchini and lemon zest and stir to incorporate. In a separate bowl, combine the water, honey and olive oil, then add to the flour mixture.

Knead until smooth. I like to do the bulk of the kneading with an electric stand mixer using the dough hook attachment (for about 4 minutes), and then finish it up by hand. The dough starts out a little wet, so add small amounts of flour as you go (not too much) to keep it from sticking to your hands. The end result should be smooth and slightly tacky, but not sticky. (King Arthur Flour has a nice kneading tutorial here.)

Oil your bowl with cooking spray and place the dough inside. Spray the top of the dough, then cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel. Let rise in a warm place until roughly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead gently for about a minute. Shape into a sandwich loaf (see this King Arthur Flour tutorial) and place into an oiled standard loaf pan. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a cotton towel and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Bake until golden brown and internal temperature registers at 190 degrees, about 45-60 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Let cool another hour before serving.

Pictured: Corning Ware Blue Cornflower P-315-B Loaf Dish, Pyrex Yellow 404 Round Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Spring Blossom 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl