Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fun with Refried Beans

I’ve been on a kick to bring down cholesterol and fat in general…  I love refried beans as an anchor for any kind of Mexican type meal whether in as a side dish with rice or as part of a recipe.  Using a mixture of beans gives wonderful flavor and is a great way to use up the odds and ends of legumes you have hanging around.  This recipe is inspired by my pressure cooking hero, Lorna Sass, who I could not cook without.  This recipe is lightened up with the vegetables and does not include any extra fat, other than what you’ll need in the pressure cooker.  You may do this on top of the stove in a large heavy bottomed soup pot, simmering on low until the beans are soft 2 to 3 hours, in which case you may eliminate the olive oil.

1 lb 13 bean soup mix or mixture of any beans you have on hand
2 lg carrots cut half
2 lg celery stalks
1 onion, cut in rough pieces
4 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs Korean ground red pepper (optional)
1 tea Kosher alt

Rinse the bean mix and place in a large bow.  Cover with enough boiling water to cover by 2”.  Let sit for an hour. 
Drain the bean mixture and put in a 6 qt pressure cooker along with 8 cups of water and the rest of the ingredients along with 8 cups of water.  Close the lid and bring to full pressure then turn heat down to low, cooking for 35 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let the pressure release naturally.  Once the pressure is released, ladle the liquid remaining on top of the beans into a separate container.  The idea is to keep the thicker liquid with the beans to make the final dish.  Reserve for another use (vegetable stock, etc.).  Discard the bay leaves. 
Transfer the beans, vegetables, and cooking liquid to a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan.  Using a potato masher, smash up the beans and vegetables until uniform.  No need for precision, a rough mash will do.  Heat over medium low heat stirring frequently.  Gently simmer until thick.  Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper. 

I love these for brunch in tostadas:

Brunch Tostadas

½ c grape tomato or other tomato chopped,
¼ c bell pepper, chopped
2 tbs cilantro, chopped
1 scallion, sliced
4 large eggs
1 ½ c 13 Refried Beans or your favorite refried beans
4 corn tortillas
¼ c shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese

Mix the grape tomato, bell pepper, cilantro, and scallion in a bowl.  Set aside.
Heat a large saucepan filled with about ¾” water until simmering.  Gently crack each egg into a small bowl, then slide gently into the simmering water, swirling the water with a slotted spoon.  Cover the pan and turn off the heat.  Let sit for 5 minutes.  When ready to serve, gently lift each egg out with a slotted spoon and carefully drain on a clean towel or paper towel.
In the meantime, heat the 13 Refried Beans in the microwave or in a small saucepan.
Heat the tortillas over a flame or in a dry skillet.
To assemble:  Place 2 tortillas on a plate,  top with a dollop of the beans.  Sprinkle with a bit of the cheese.  Top each tortilla with a poached egg and the tomato mixture.  Serve with hot sauce.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spicy Stewed Black Eyed Peas and Baby Limas with Corn Quesadillas

This recipe is inspired Baby Lima Soup with Chipotle Broth from Super Natural Cooking reposted by 101 Cookbooks’ Heidi Swanson.  While the original recipe is wonderful as is, I wanted to make a heartier, spicier dish.  Plus, I wanted to adapt it for the pressure cooker.  Don’t panic, you can still do this on the stove top, see recipe notes.  If you are faint of heart, you can eliminate the chipotles and use smoked paprika…

For the stew
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs unsalted butter
1 lb frozen pearl onions
1 head garlic, peeled and separated into cloves
½ tea course sea salt
½ lb black eyed peas, quick soaked
½ lb baby limas, quick soaked or large limas
4 chipotles, in adobo about ½ a 7 oz can
8 cups beef broth
2 cups water

Coarsely chop the chipotles, set aside along with the sauce.  Heat the olive oil and butter in a 6 qt pressure cooker over medium flame.  Once the foaming subsides, add the pearl onions and garlic, no need to thaw the onions.  Stir occasionally until slightly browned. 

Add the beef broth, water, chopped chipotles and the baby limas.  Clamp on the lid and raise heat.  Bring to high pressure.  Once pressure is reached, turn down the flame and maintain pressure for 10 minutes.  Release the pressure according to manufacturer’s directions. 

Add the black eyed peas, close pressure cooker and bring back to pressure.  Cook another 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat and let pressure release naturally. Once the pressure is released, check tenderness of the limas and black eyed peas.  If still too firm, simmer gently uncovered for another 10 to 15 minutes or until beans are the desired tenderness.

To serve, squash the garlic cloves with the back of a spoon and stir in.  Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Serve with the corn quesadillas and salsa – optional.

For the corn quesadillas
12 corn tortillas
12 slices Monterey jack cheese
12 sprigs fresh cilantro
Salsa - optional

Place a large cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Assemble the quesadillas by sandwiching a piece of cheese and a sprig of cilantro between 2 corn tortillas.  Toast until browned in the dry cast iron skillet turning once.

Serves 6

To cook on the stove top, change cooking times to 30 minutes each.  Or use a crock pot and cook on low for 2 or 3 hours.  To make vegetarian, use a strong mushroom broth rather than the beef broth.  I wouldn’t use water or a light broth, you need something robust.  For a super quick stew, you can also substitute the giant lima beans for the baby ones, in which case, add the black eyed peas and giant limas at the same time and cook under pressure for 10 minutes then release naturally.  If you are not a chile head and don’t like spicy food, you can substitute smoked paprika for the chipotles.  I would add to taste, starting with a teaspoon and also add in a tablespoon or so of tomato paste.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Galangal Shrimp and Vegetable Stir Fry

I love the stir fried vegetables with shrimp you can get in Chinatown in Boston.  You know the kind with the clear garlic ginger sauce, not the brown soy sauce kind or the black bean kind, but have never seen a recipe for it.  I’ve been recreating it in my head for a long time and finally gave it a whirl.  This didn’t end up too spicy even though Dan and I were coughing and sneezing through the whole cooking process.  Thank goodness we had a warm spell and could open the windows!  It has a nice warm heat from the galangal and jalapeno.  While you may substitute fresh ginger for the galangal, it’s worth looking for since it has a slightly different taste which I just love.

¾ lb jumbo shrimp shelled and butterflied
1 egg white
3 to 4 tbs corn starch, divided
2 to 3 tbs galangal, fresh grated, divided
1 lb baby bok choy, separated into leaves
½ lb Chinese mustard greens, cut into 2” pieces
1 red bell pepper, strips 2” x 1/3”
2 large jalapenos cut into thin rings
1 large carrot, strips 2” x ¼”
4 scallions in 1” pieces
½ lb snow peas, stems removed
1 garlic clove, grated on microplane
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 ½ tbs tequila
2 tbs peanut oil, divided
½ tea Kosher salt or to taste

  • Place the shrimp in a medium bowls, mix in the egg white, a pinch of Kosher salt,  and 1 tbs corn starch.  Grate in 1 tbs galangal (I use my course Microplane.  Set aside.
  • Mix the chicken stock or broth with 2 tbs corn starch, 2 tbs grated galangal, Kosher salt, and tequila.  Set aside.
  • Have all the vegetables prepped and ready to toss into the wok.
  • Heat a large wok over high heat.  Add 1 tbs peanut oil and swirl to coat bottom of the wok. 
  • Add the shrimp being careful to keep them separated so that they cook quickly.  Once they have begun to turn pink and are almost cooked through, remove to a bowl and set aside.  Don’t worry that they aren’t fully cooked yet, they will finish cooking later.  Scrape out any egg white mixture that remains in the wok.
  • Add another tbs of peanut oil to the wok then toss in the carrot, stir around for half a minute, add the baby bok choy.  Stir fry for a minute or two then add grate in the garlic.  Add in the red pepper strips and jalapeno rings.  Stir fry for another minute or so.  Continue stir frying and add in the Chinese mustard, toss around for a few minutes then add the snow peas, scallions, and the reserved shrimp.  Once the snow peas are just tender crisp and the shrimp cooked through, slowly add in the stock mixture, stirring all the while.  You may not need all the stock, you don’t want tons of sauce with this.  Stir around until just thickened, turn off the heat.  Serve with steamed white rice.

Serves 4 to 6

Substitute fresh ginger for the galangal.  Substitute Chinese wine, or dry sherry for the tequila.  Use another assortment of vegetables adding them in order of decending cooking time.  Use scallops or thinly sliced strips of chicken breast instead of the shrimp.  Use vegetable stock in place of the chicken stock to make vegetarian.  Make more or less spicy by adding serranos, Thai chiles, or no chiles at all.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

View from China

I never thought I'd be international, but this is too funny.  One of my co-workers is traveling to China and checked out the blog.  Here's what he saw!
Like Steve Martin said, "I'm somebody"...

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Black Pepper-Crusted Wine-Braised Short Ribs with Garlic and Turnips

Today was such a beautiful day, had the windows open which the kitties really loved.  I wanted to make some short ribs I had chilling in the freezer when Dan suggested this recipe.  Thought it was a perfect recipe since the notes say “ When you sear this pepper-encrusted meat, it’s going to create some very powerful smoke; you might want to temporarily disconnect the smoke detector, and make sure that your exhaust fan is turned to high.”  How could I NOT make this?  This is from Chris Schlesinger & John Willoughby’s How to COOK MEAT, which I highly recommend.

Dry off the meat with paper towels.  (If you don't have short ribs, I'm sure you could use another cut of beef that likes to be braised such as blade steak which would be delicious but not as rich or fattening)  Salt generously, the roll in tons of cracked black pepper.

Some of the vegetables - I couldn't find regular turnips, so I used a gigantic rutabaga.  Also, I used pearl onions in addition to the chopped onions.  

Mmmmm, any recipe with 20 cloves of garlic has got to be good, right?  When you brown the short ribs, don't pay any attention to the comments from the armchair chef's in the house...  I'm really glad I had the windows open and the ceiling fan going.  The fumes!  wow...

You should end up with something that looks like this.  Then remove the excess fat from the pan, add a little olive oil and saute the pearl onions, chopped onions, and whole garlic cloves.  I had to add 2 bay leaves, just because I had fresh bay leaves from my tree in the dining room.

After the onion mixture is browned, add the tomato and turnips, cook a few more minutes.  Add wine and beef broth, then bring to a simmer.  Add the short ribs back to the pan and simmer again.

 Cover and place in a preheated 300 degree oven.  After an hour it looks like this. 

Check the meat again in 30 minutes.  Cook until the meat is tender.  Then remove the meat to a bowl and cover.  Gently remove the vegetables to another bowl using a slotted spoon and also cover.  Carefully skim off the fat from the remaining pan juices.  A gravy separator is great for this. It is amazing how much fat there is on short ribs.  I had just under 5 lb that I used in the recipe.  When I had the broth separated from the vegetables and meat, there was about 6 cups of broth.  There was at least a cup of fat that rendered out of the ribs, incredible.  Taste the broth and carefully correct the seasoning adding salt and pepper as needed.  I like to take the meat off the bones and cut into large pieces.  The meat I had was not very uniform, so each portion would be uneven if served on the bone.  Serve with hunks of fresh crusty bread, a salad & a great glass of wine.  I'm having mine over polenta, but you could serve with any sort of potato, egg noodles, or rice.  See....

With  some salad of giant and fresh baby Lima beans...