Runner Cannellini Beans with Black Truffle Oil

10th May, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Sides, beans, easy, vegetarian

This was inspired by a wonderful side dish served by a friend at one of our yearly gatherings. He was in a Spanish mode at the time, and presented a lovely meal accompanied by a dish of beautiful warm judion beans, dressed very simply with olive oil and a little salt. The large white beans had a wonderful, buttery texture, a delicious flavor, and were absolutely delightful served in this simple way.

I’ve been looking locally for dried judion beans, with no luck. A call to Rancho Gordo, however, found a wonderful replacement; runner cannellini beans. Their current supply (can we call it a crop if it’s already dried?) is large, supple, and thin skinned, with a delightful flavor, and that smooth buttery texture I was chasing. Fantastic! Here’s a slightly revved up version, with a little black truffle oil adding an earthy but sophisticated charms to this simple dish. Read more…»

Smoky Yellow Eye Beans

2nd May, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in KosherKitchen, beans, easy, vegetarian

Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo calls these Yellow Eye beans, “A ham hock’s best friend.” He’s not wrong. This bean, with its thin skin, beautifully velvety texture and lovely toasty, almost smoky flavours, practically begs to be paired with pork. They’re also great for baked beans, and Steve says they make a great alternative to common navy beans in Senate Bean Soup. It’s a wonderful bean.

But, I wanted to do something for my vegetarian and kosher-keeping friends that would deliver some similar flavors in a meat-free way. It starts with Alejandra’s Sweet Chipotle Pickles, which are absolutely fantastic. With a jar of these, a bag of Yellow Eye beans, and a few other ingredients, magic happens. The chiles bring a sweet, smoky, spicy character to the party, and the beans, with their earthy goodness, are more than happy to play along. You can substitute Great Northern beans if you must, but it really is worth tracking down the Yellow Eyes. Read more…»

Alejandra’s Sweet Chipotle Pickles

28th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Chiliheads, easy

The chipotle is a beautiful thing; a dried, wrinkled morsel of spicy, smoky goodness, full of flavor and pungent aromas, and ready to add depth to many dishes.

Chipotles begin life as lovely, deep red jalapeños that have been left on the plant to ripen fully. When the fruit has begun to give up its moisture and is wilting slightly, it’s harvested, and smoked in a closed chamber over wood fires, drying and preserving it, and imparting that distinctive and wonderful smokiness.

The morita variety (Spanish for “little blackberry”) is a lovely dark reddish purple pod. This is the typical variety of northern Mexico, and the one most often found in the United States. It is not smoked as long or as deeply as the ahumado variety, so its flavors are more subtle and fruity. They’re easy to find in any Mexican grocery, and many supermarkets will have them in hanging plastic bags.

Daniel’s neighbor, Alejandra, a wonderful cook, introduced him to these fantastic sweet pickled chipotles, and graciously shared the recipe with us. They’re fantastic with huevos rancheros, or on a burger, or used to spice up a grilled cheese sandwich. Try them in an egg salad, or with some lime juice, cilantro and chopped onion as an addition to some simply cooked beans. Or, add some zest to a quesadilla. Read more…»

Orecchiette with Sausage & Grapes

26th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy, pasta

I was describing this dish to a friend the other day, explaining that, yes, grapes and Italian sausages really do work wonderfully together, and found myself getting hungry for it. I knew what was going to be for dinner!

The sweet, slightly tart grapes really enhance the flavors of the sausage, and add a wonderful textural element to the dish. It’s a fairly quick dish to put together, especially if all the preparation is done prior to turning on the gas.

To my palate, sweet sausage, adding in some heat by toasting red pepper flakes in the oil, offers a better balance of flavors than using hot sausage, and brings more life to the party. The orecchiette (little ears) pasta is a perfect vehicle for the sauce, and makes a lovely presentation. The yellow bells add wonderful flavor – red or orange will do just as well. It’s a great dish for a spring supper, and the kids will love the grapes! Read more…»

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Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

23rd April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Sides, easy, vegetarian

It seems no one is ambivalent about Brussels sprouts; people love them or hate them. Personally, I think the reason more people don’t enjoy them is because, as children, they were tortured by mushy, overcooked sprouts, bitter and reeking of foul smelling sulphurous compounds. It wasn’t the sprouts’ fault. It’s time to forgive the little green globes, and find a place in your heart, and your diet for them.

Sprouts are a wonderfully nutritious vegetable, and all they require to offer their goodness is a little tenderness, a little care in preparation, and no ovecooking!

Here, we blanch the sprouts before roasting to cut down on the cooking time. Then, the sprouts are tossed with a little olive oil, balsamico, thyme, salt and pepper, and roasted in the pan to caramelize them and bring out their wonderful sweetness. Read more…»

Cauliflower Masala Soup

31st March, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Soups, easy

This soup is dead simple, delicious, delightfully fresh and aromatic, and wonderfully healthful. It’s a fantastic way to add another veg to your day without having to chew it. The secrets to this recipe are the spices, and the freshness of the ingredients. Don’t overcook, or the cauliflower will lose some of its delicate sweetness.

Cauliflower is a member of the Brassicaceae family, along with cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and some leafy greens, like kale and collards. It’s high in vitamin C and folate, and is loaded with phytonutrients believed beneficial to human health. To top it off, its delicious raw, cooked, or pickled.

When choosing your cauliflower, look for one that’s tight, bright, firm and evenly colored. Medium sized heads are best, as they can become tough and strong tasting when they get too large. Remove the leaves and stems, and either discard, or put in the freezer for use later in a vegetable stock.

On to the soup! Read more…»

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Playing the Ful

11th March, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy

When I was in Egypt, I fell in love with the cuisine. Who wouldn’t? Wonderful spices, beautiful vegetables, great seafood, fresh lamb, goat and pigeon, brilliant green olive oils, all brilliantly seasoned, simply cooked, and served with delicious breads! It was really fantastic. (I could go on for hours about the roasted pigeon I ate while looking down from a rooftop over the old part of Cairo.)

In Qurna, a small village not far from Luxor’s west bank, there was a little shop across the road from my flat that always had a big copper pot of fava beans, Ful Medames, buried in the ground over hot coals. I’d often wander across the road,for a bowl of these fragrant beans, along with some fried ta’miyya (Egyptian falafel), flat bread (‘eish masri), and a drizzle of olive oil; a delicious, hearty breakfast. Delightful! Read more…»

Rocking the Tabbouleh

2nd March, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy

Traditional tabbouleh is a wonderful Levantine parsley salad dish, generally made from bulgar wheat, seasoned with mint, lemon, olive oil and fresh green onions and tomatoes. It’s wonderful and healthful, and many variations can be found all over the middle-east. Remember, though, it’s a salad dish, with grain, not a grain dish with salad. The parsley really should feature prominently.

I’ve turned up the volume a little, and brought some new flavours to the more traditional, while still retaining its original spirit. Arugula brings a slightly peppery flavor, and preserved lemon offers a delightful, almost floral character. The sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, add a nice textural element and a little more intensity.

A suggestion of mint, green onions and tiny grape tomatoes complete the salad. It’s great as a side, or when served with a little feta, it can be the foundation of a lovely light supper. Read more…»

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When You Have Lemons

12th February, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy

Why not make puttanesca?

The family was stricken by full-blown, under-the-weatherness in the form of nasty head-colds. Fortunately, I’ve managed to avoid taking this one on. So far. I attribute my state of provisional well-being to my evening dram of single-malt, or maybe to the gallons of tea I’ve been drinking daily, or perhaps to my own intensely stubborn nature combined with the fact that I truly hate colds.

But, what to feed them? Chicken soup is the prototypical prescription for colds, and it has been shown to exhibit seemingly miraculous healing properties, but I didn’t have a pile-o-chicken wings handy, and no one wanted to wait the hours for really good chicken soup, anyway. I needed a fallback plan. Spaghetti a la Puttanesca! Much loved, huge flavors, and with a little spice, not bad for what ails. Read more…»

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Tomato Cream? Yeah, Baby…

9th February, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in easy

Over the years, I’ve grown weary of wimpy tomato cream sauces. It seems like every time I’ve ordered something in a restaurant with a tomato cream, I’ve gotten something so ridiculously “subtle” as to be almost tasteless, the only thing tomato about them being the pale pink/orange hue. No more. Time to embark on the campaign for real tomato cream!

Sunday, my friend Ben was coming to dinner, so I decided to see what I could do to build an intensely delicious cream sauce that would satisfy my love of deep, tomato goodness in a rich, silky, sumptuous form. Ben is a great guinea pig; he loves great food, and I can always count on him to give honest, critical feedback. My family is arguably somewhat less trustworthy in this respect. Trembling in fear that the temperamental chef will go berserk if they offend his delicate sensibilities, they’ll usually find something nice to say, unless I completely lose my mind and serve them some sort of kitchen nightmare. Which I try to avoid. Really.

Their diplomacy is probably wise. It keeps me from calling a strike. They know which side of their ciabatta is buttered.

The results were fantastic, so there’s a new recipe up for Fusili with Tomato Cream. Give it a go. I think you’ll love it. Ben did.

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