Category: Beans

Might Be in the Top 10

July 13, 2011

As a food blogger, the photography portion is not my strong point.  I know this.  I consider myself to be on the low side of decent.  I’m better than many and worse than many.  I am at peace with my place in the food photography world.  When I have the time and some creative juices are flowing, I may take a picture that is better than decent.  But most of the time I am rushing, fighting against the waning light or the ticking of the clock and my husband’s appetite and patience.  You might notice that my sweet shots tend to be better than my savory.  That is because I can shoot cookies the morning after I have made them and when I don’t have anyone wondering when we are going to be ready to eat already.

I mention this now because it is truly a shame that I don’t have the skills or the tools to make this dish look more exciting than it does in these photos.  You might look at them and think, “Chickpeas – yum.”  You might look at the recipe and think, “That’s it?”  Have you been reading this site for a while?  Do you trust me?  You know I am not prone to hyperbole, right?  That I am the first to admit when something does not live up to my expectations or didn’t turn out right, or was just so-so?  I have to say, this is one of the best dinners I have made in a while.  And if we are talking about dinners that take next to no effort, then this might be Top of 2011 So Far.  Randy, who always says, “Thank you for a nice dinner” but often just plows his way through his plate without fully appreciating what is there, said no fewer than six times, “Oh wow this is yum!” and got up to get his own seconds.  Except there were none!  (Hint: Double the recipe!)

How is this possible?  It’s shallot, a few dried herbs, chickpeas, broth and lemon juice.  Oh, but wait.  There are also some slow roasted tomatoes and slow roasted cloves of garlic that make an appearance just before serving time and those two things add so much depth, such savory umami-ness, almost creaminess to this dish.  I am no stranger to slow-roasted tomatoes or to roasted garlic.  But I would never have thought to include them in a chickpea stew and shame! on! me! for not doing this sooner.

So, I made two mistakes.  Mistake #1 was that I opted out of making a full batch of the tomatoes.  My thinking went along the lines of “why on earth do I need to buy 8 pounds of tomatoes and have 5 jars of slow roasted tomatoes and garlic in my refrigerator?”  Silly silly Dana.  If I had made the full batch, we could have this dinner once a week which would make both of us very happy.  I could also use those tomatoes and garlic in all manner of things.  Mistake #2 was not listening to my gut when it told me that 325º is far too high for slow roasting anything.  Sure enough, after about an hour the edges of the tomatoes were starting to turn one shade of brown past caramelization and I pulled them out.  Sometimes I feel this blog exists so that I can make mistakes so you don’t have to…

One Year Ago: Fresh Pea Soup with Pea Jelly
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Bars
Three Years Ago: Raspberry Cream Sandwiches

Lemony Chickpea and Oven-Dried Tomato Stew
Adpated from Food & Wine
Serves 2-3

I think this was originally meant as a side.  If you are making it as a main, I would definitely double it, even for 2.  Leftovers would be amazing but I wouldn’t know since we didn’t have any.  Because I didn’t have enough tomatoes, I added some sun-dried ones as well to bulk my stew up.  Don’t be tempted to skip making the oven-dried ones though.  Trust me.  Finally, I sprinkled a bit of chopped mint over top for color – normally I use parsley but I was out.  We both liked the flavor of the mint so that is a keeper step.

Olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ tsp. dried oregano
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp. crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
3 cups vegetable broth
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup Oven-Dried Tomatoes, coarsely chopped, plus 4 garlic cloves from the jar
2 tbsp. chopped fresh mint

Place a large saucepan over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the shallot along with a large pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the chickpeas, oregano, bay leaf, and crushed red pepper.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the herbs are fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add the broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Simmer the stew over moderately low heat until the broth is reduced by half, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the Oven-Dried Tomatoes and the garlic and simmer for 5 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf.  Season the stew with salt and serve over with rice or with crusty bread.  Garnish with chopped mint.

Oven-Dried Tomatoes
Makes 2½ pints

8 pound firm but ripe plum tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise
½ cup olive oil, plus more for packing
2 heads garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
12 large thyme sprigs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 250º and position 2 racks just above and just below the middle of the oven.  Working over a medium bowl, pry the seeds and pulp out of the tomatoes and discard.  Pour ¼ cup of the olive oil onto each of 2 very sturdy, rimmed, light-colored baking sheets.  Arrange the tomatoes, cut side down on the baking sheets and scatter the garlic and thyme all around.  Make a tiny slit on each tomato.

Bake the tomatoes for about 45 minutes, until the skins begin to wrinkle.  Shift the pans from top to bottom halfway through.  Carefully pinch off the skins.  Flip each tomato and bake until the surface looks dry, about 1 hour.  Flip the tomatoes again and continue baking until the surfaces look dry but the tomatoes are still slightly plump, about 2 hours longer.  Season the tomatoes with salt and pepper and let cool completely.

Discard the thyme sprigs and peel the garlic cloves.  Layer the tomatoes with the garlic in five ½-pint jars.  Add enough olive oil to cover the tomatoes by at least 1 inch.  Slide the blade of a knife along the side of each jar to release any air bubbles.  Seal the jar and refrigerate for up to 2 months or freeze for up to 6 months.


May 6, 2011

Before I get to today’s post, I just wanted to let you know that I have added a few classes to my calendar.  If you have ever wanted to learn some baking skills, using four different doughs and one batter, check out my class 4 Doughs, 1 Batter.  It is sure to be a fun and delicious class!  Details on the classes page.

Is it Friday yet?  I thought this week would pass very quickly.  Saturday marks the two year anniversary of doing yoga retreats with my friend Jen.  Because I can no longer be trusted to keep track of my calendar in my brain, I planned a trip away with Randy and some friends over the very same weekend.  So, for the fist time in 12 retreats, I will not be on Bainbridge getting my yoga on.  Before you cry for me, I will be in Napa getting my sun, wine, spa, and food on – so I will not be suffering greatly.  But I treasure those retreats and the amazing people who attend them.  I will be sad to miss the group.

I could not leave Jen in a lurch food-wise so I offered to make the food anyway.  Usually, I have the better part of a week to get ready for a lunch for 25 people – this time it was compressed.  Menu planning, shopping, cooking and food delivery all had to happen within a span of a few days.  In other words, I had a whole lot to get done before that plane left with me and a large glass of wine on it.

So, with much to do and not a lot of time to do it in, I figured the days would fly.  And then on Sunday, Spencer, my four-year old, decided to try and go down a slide with a plate of food in hand.  He fell and fractured his wrist.  A buckle fracture, which is not that severe, but still pain, an x-ray, and a splint.  Oh, and a very mad little boy who did not want to be injured and did not want to show his friends at preschool his fancy splint.

On Tuesday, I got the call that Graham, my six-year old, got pushed at school and went head first into the white board.  The words “gash” and “scar” were used and it was all I could do to hold it together.  Back to the pediatrician we went where we learned that it had been cleaned well, did not need stitches, and would most likely not scar.  But our doctor did reinforce my belief that if he had lifted his head even 1 millimeter as he hit, he would have lost his eye.

By that night, the persistant stuffiness in my nose that I was trying to believe was allergies turned into a full-blown cold.  Much nose blowing, coughing, and mouth-breathing ensued.

So my week did not fly.  It dragggggged.  I had too much to do; cooking for Saturday, trying to prep for classes I am teaching next week, planning for future classes, attempting to stay on top of my day to day, and my family – including me – was falling apart around me.  Food was starting to feel like work.  This happens to me sometimes.  My art, the thing I love most to do, becomes no fun.  And it’s not like I can walk away – we all need to eat.  Three times a day preferably.

It is times like these that I reach for nourishing dishes.  Nurturing and nourishing.  Of course, I always want to nourish, it’s just sometimes I need it.  The inspiration for this recipe comes from a book called Plenty and no, it’s not the Ottolenghi one.  Believe it or not, I have two cookbooks called Plenty, both written by English authors.  This Plenty, like the other, is a treasure of seasonal, healthy, interesting recipes.  Unlike Ottolenghi’s, this Plenty features plenty of meat.  But it is the rare cookbook that I am happy to put on my shelf, even though I can only make a small percentage of the recipes.

I tweaked this recipe significantly.  I probably could have just made it up myself and it would have been just as lovely.  But with my stuffed up head and my slightly dented heart, it was nice to have a little guidance.

One Year Ago:  Gianduja Gelato and Spaghettini with Mushrooms, Asparagus, and Tarragon
Two Years Ago:  Niçoise Salad and Mexican Brownies

Kaye Korma Curry
Adapted from Plenty
Serves 4

I used asparagus for something green in this dish because I had some in my refrigerator.  Not quite right – too vegetal.  Try using a small handful of trimmed green beans or 1 small chopped zucchini instead.

Canola oil
2 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 inch piece fresh garlic, peeled and minced
½ tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
8 ounces fresh tomatoes, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled, halved, and sliced on a diagonal
1 pound red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can “lite” coconut milk
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro

Place a Dutch oven, or similar pot, over medium heat.  Pour in just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and then add the mustard seeds.  Once they start to pop, immediately add the onion along with a large pinch of salt and stir well to coat.  Cook until nice and brown, then add the garlic and ginger.  Sprinkle in the ground spices and cook, stirring frequently, until nice and fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and chickpeas.  Stir and cook for 4 minutes to soften the tomatoes, adding a little bit of water if things are sticking.  Pour in the coconut milk and season with salt and pepper.  Bring the curry to a light boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot.  Cook until the vegetables are just tender, adding more water if the mixture seems too dry, about 20 minutes.  (At this point the curry can sit for several hours.)

Add the peas and cilantro just a few minutes before serving.

Ten Years Later

March 28, 2011

Do you have a best friend?  If so, what does that mean to you?  Is it someone who has seen you through a rough patch?  The friend you have known the longest?  A person you talk to each and every day?  What makes your best friend best?

I was always the person with a few close friends, not lots and lots of acquaintances.  I preferred it that way.  I would rather spend an evening with someone I really know than the first-date feeling of a casual acquaintance.  But somehow, I have found myself with many amazing friends – real true friends.  All of whom I really know, all of whom I would love to spend an evening with.  They come from different parts of my life – high school, camp, college, previous jobs, PEPS groups, preschool co-op, kids’ friends, etc.  It is a big circle.  But, if pressed, I do have to say that there is one “best” in there.

Lauren and I don’t talk everyday and I don’t see her nearly as often as I would like, but we have a strong and special bond.  We have been friends for 15 years.  She is a talented, creative, beautiful, smart, funny woman.  She is a straight-shooter and also very compassionate.  She is extremely loyal and supportive.  Just about everything you would want from a best friend.  I have been lucky enough to share many meals with her and her amazing husband John over the years.  Because I have an incredible memory for food (but not for, say, where I left my keys), I remember so many of the dishes we have made for one another.  She made this soup for me a long time ago and I have been meaning to make it ever since.

When I tasted this soup, it was a revelation.  How could something that took next to no effort and with so few ingredients taste so complex and delicious?  I asked her for the recipe, she made a copy for me, and then it sat in my soup notebook for oh, about ten years.  No exaggeration.  I would notice it from time to time and think to myself, “I’ve really got to make that soup”, but it never seemed to fit into a menu I was planning.  Now that I have made it, I will be planning menus around it.

I tweaked this recipe a bit.  The original calls for 2 tablespoon of soy sauce giving low-sodium as an option.  I use tamari in my cooking and WOW! did it make the soup salty.  And brown.  Fortunately, as the beans cooked, I had to keep adding more and more water so by the time I puréed it, the savory balance was just right.  I will suggest you use one tablespoon and add more to the finished soup if it needs it.  If you don’t want to garnish with peanuts, roasted sliced almonds would be nice.  You will want a bit of crunch in there.

One Year Ago: Blueberry Sour Cream Torte
Two Years Ago: Individual Coconut Blueberry Pound Cakes

Spicy Chickpea Soup with Cilantro and Peanuts
Adapted from Self
Serves 4-6

The cooking time for this soup will depend on how fresh your dried beans are.  Start with 8 cups of stock or water, you might need to add more if the soup gets too thick.

1½ cups dried chickpeas
1 tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, finely diced
8 cups vegetable stock, or water
1 tbsp. hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
1 tbsp. Tamari or other soy sauce
¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Soak dried chickpeas in water to cover overnight.

Drain the chickpeas and rinse well.  Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until starting to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.  Add chickpeas, vegetable stock, hot pepper sauce, and soy sauce.  Cover loosely and simmer until chickpeas are tender, anywhere from 1-3 hours.  Purée soup either using an immersion blender or a conventional blender (be careful when blending hot liquids).  Sprinkle each portion with chopped peanuts and cilantro.

Beans and Rice

December 27, 2010

Beans and rice.  What does that mean to you?  Meager food?  Hangover meal?  Food you cook when you have no money?  Side dish only?

I myself love beans and rice and have no problem making a meal out of it.  And not because it’s cheap.  Of course, it can’t be just white rice and canned re-fried beans, although if you put enough salsa and guacamole on a dish like that, I would not complain.  Black beans have a special place in my heart because they starred in one of the first “real” meals I ever cooked.  (Cue the story music…)

The year after I graduated college, I moved back to Seattle and lived at home.  I got a crappy job – one that I certainly did not need my brand new shiny degree for, and tried to plug back into the Seattle scene after four years away.  The advantages to living at home were many, not the least of which is that I got to eat my mom’s cooking.  She has always been a good cook, but during the time I was away at college, she also converted to vegetarianism.  It opened so many doors for her creativity and her food got really good.  My mom is territorial in her kitchen, so I was not helping her prepare any meals, but I think I learned by osmosis.  And I certainly learned to deeply appreciate the act of sitting around the table as a family and eating good, healthy, homemade food.

Just as I found an apartment and was preparing to move out, my parents took a trip to Europe.  My brother Michael, who is eight years younger than me, was still in high school and they asked that I stay with him and make sure he didn’t starve.  At the same time, my college friend Darcie was visiting and another couple from college was coming through town as well.  I realized that we all needed to eat and it was time to get in the kitchen.  So I did what my mom always did.  I got out her notebooks and cookbooks and spread them out on the table.  I chose three dishes that sounded good to me and I wrote up my shopping list based on the ingredients needed.  I shopped for the groceries and made the food, all the while being mildly surprised at how natural it all felt.  I lived in Paris for a semester during college and cooked for myself, but it was just me and I made the same four things over and over.  This time there was more responsibility and it came easily.  More importantly, everyone loved the food.  I realized that I could cook.

That little boost of confidence is what got me on the path to loving food and loving cooking.  I remember one of those first three dishes well and it starred black beans that had been simmered low and slow on the stove.  Up until that point, I had not known that beans could taste that good or could be something I craved.  The rest of the dish was a little odd so it did not stay in my repertoire, but I’ve been making similar beans ever since.

I make a fair amount of Mexican food because both Randy and I love it.  (In fact I am teaching Vegetarian Mexican Food class in March.  Find out more here.)  Whatever I make as a main, I always make beans because they are truly my favorite part of the meal.  I have eaten my share of either boring or excessively greasy restaurant rice, so I enjoy making it more to my taste at home.  Last week, I didn’t have the energy to take on burritos or enchiladas but really needed some beans and rice, so I made the rice heartier.  It was my intention to roast two poblano peppers, chop them up, and use them in the rice, but mine had gone south.  I wanted some kind of spicy bite so I opted for canned chiles instead.  If you happen to have poblanos in your refrigerator (doesn’t everyone?), I think they would be awesome here.

Oh, and by the way, don’t forget to tell me what your favorite holiday gift was.  You can win some awesome Vosges chocolate.  Check it out here.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter (or Caramel) Candy Mini-Brownie Cups
Two Years Ago: Penne with Greek Style Vegetable Marinade

Hearty Beans and Rice
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4-6

Epazote is a delicious herb and can easily be found in the Penzey’s web site, but it is not necessary here.  For the beans, you control their consistency.  I like mine a little soupy but you can make yours drier by not adding as much water.

For the rice
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried epazote (optional)
1½ tsp. ground cumin
1 7-ounce can diced chile peppers, drained
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water
1 cup grated Cheddar cheese
¼ cup “lite” sour cream
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt

For the beans
Vegetable or canola oil
1 red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2 tsp. cumin
2 cans black beans, drained

Serve with guacamole and salsa.

Prepare the rice
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly oil an 8×8 glass or ceramic baking dish.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and a large pinch of salt, and sauté for 5 minutes, until soft but not brown.  Add the garlic cloves, oregano, epazote, and cumin and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.  Add the chiles and corn, and rice and give it a good stir to coat the grains with the fat and the vegetables.  Pour in the water and bring to a boil.  Turn the heat down to low, cover, and cook undisturbed for 20 minutes.  Remove the cover, fluff the rice with a fork, then cover for another 5 minutes.

Remove the cover and carefully stir in the cheese, sour cream, and cilantro, trying not to mush the rice too much.  Taste for salt, adding more if necessary.  Scrape the rice mixture into the prepared pan, cover with foil, and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 20 minutes.

Prepare the beans
Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan and then add the onions and red bell pepper plus a large pinch of salt.  Sauté for 5 minutes, until soft but not brown, then add the garlic and the cumin.  Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.  Add the beans and about ½ a cup of water and turn the heat to medium-low.  Cook, stirring occasionally and adding more water as necessary, until the beans are hot and a bit soupy, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste.

Lunch with Friends

July 8, 2010

Here is something you probably hear over and over.  Food bloggers are a friendly and fun group.  I live in a city where there are so many good ones and I have had the good fortune to meet some wonderful people locally just through keeping a blog.

Also, just in the last year, I have had lunch with Stacey in New York, Erin in Boston, Allison in San Francisco, and Ele and Hilary in London.  (Is it crazy ridiculous that I have traveled that much this year?  This is not usually my life.)  These are all women who, previous to our lunches, I had never met in person, just through their writing.  In every single case, I was delighted with the women I met and look forward to a chance to see each and every one of them again.

When I mentioned to Ele and Hilary that I was coming to London for one day, they immediately responded that we should go to Ottolenghi for lunch.  The restaurant is named after the owner who is originally from Israel.  He has turned his amazing food and aesthetic into a thriving business with four locations and a weekly column in the Guardian.  He himself is not a vegetarian but his column and his most recent cookbook is.

Periodically I have mentioned my imaginary Dana Treat restaurant.  You know, the one that is only open from 10-3pm?  The one where there I get to make whatever I want, change it up daily, where everyone loves my food and pays me well for it, and very nice magic fairies appear out of nowhere to do all the clean-up?  That restaurant.  Well, I would love my place to be a little like Ottolenghi.

Imagine.  Clean white space.  Big communal table and lots of little ones.  Huge bowls of the daily sides and salads that the servers come and take from throughout lunch.  Gorgeous and rustic sweets arranged just so – the kind you wish you had time to make yourself.  I could learn a lot from Ottolenghi – we all could.

Fortunately, there is that cookbook!  Actually there are two.  I bought the brand new one, Plenty, while in San Fransisco and then Ele and Hilary bought me the first one at the end of our lunch (so sweet!).  Please don’t ever quote me on this (and Randy! avert your eyes!) but I kind of feel like I could throw away all my other cookbooks and just cook out of these two books for the rest of my life.  They are that good.  Plenty is a wonder to behold.  The look of the book, quality of the paper, and the photographs are enough to justify the price, but then the recipes!  Swoon.  All vegetarian and all sound amazingly delicious.  The first book, Ottolenghi The Cookbook, features some meat and fish recipes but with plenty for the vegetarians and also has breads and sweets.  I’ve started with this book.

I have only been home for nine days, and already I have made three things from it.  All amazing.  This dish isn’t going to win any beauty contests but it was so incredibly tasty.  Thin pasta, rice, caramelized onions, and lentils make for a very brown dish so I would highly recommend making the (very tasty) tomato sauce to top it.  I don’t always like sweet flavors in my savory dishes, but the touch of cinnamon was most welcome here.

One Year Ago: Coconut Bars
Two Years Ago: White Beans with Roasted Tomatoes (still a fave, and yes, I made the same cake this year)


Adapted from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook
Serves 4-6

Being an English cookbook, all his measurements are in grams and milliliters.  In addition to changing that, I also played a bit with the proportions a bit.  I have found the Kitchen Pro app on my iPhone incredibly helpful.  There are lots of components here but the onions and the sauce can be done days ahead of time.

1 cup lentils
1 heaping cup basmati rice
2 oz. angel hair pasta, broken in to 2-inch pieces
1 2/3 cups vegetable stock or water
½ tsp. grated nutmeg
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
4 tbsp. olive oil

Spicy Tomato Sauce
4 tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 red hot chiles, seeded and finely diced (I used a jalapeño)
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
1½ cups water
4 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cumin
¼ cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Start with the sauce.  Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and the chiles and fry for 2 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, water, vinegar, salt, and cumin.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until slightly thickened.  Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the cilantro and then taste.  See if you want more salt, pepper, or cilantro.  Keep hot or leave to cool; both ways will work with the hot kosheri.

To make the kosheri, place the lentils in a large saucepan and then cover with cold water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  The lentils should be tender but far from mushy.  Drain in a colander and set aside.

In a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the raw pasta, stir, and continue frying and stirring until the pasta turns golden brown.  Add the rice and mix well until it is coated in the butter.  Now add the stock or water, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover, and then reduce the heat to a minimum and simmer for 12 minutes.  Turn off the heat, remove the lid, cover the pan with a clean kitchen towel, and put the lid back on.  Leave like that for about 5 minutes; this helps make the rice light and fluffy.

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and sauté over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until dark brown.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

To serve, lightly break up the rice with a fork and then add the lentils and the onions.  Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.  Serve hot with the tomato sauce.

« Older Posts Newer Posts »