Beans & Rice

This was a kitchen happening–not really a recipe with given quantities of anything–just because I wanted rice and beans. Everything is flexible, depending on your taste and how many servings you need. (I wanted to have some extra to put in the freezer for quick side to grilled meat.)

It’s SO hot here that cooking just isn’t very appealing even with air conditioning on. One of my solutions is to eat things can be prepared without turning on the stove. I did this in the Krups multi-function pot that I love and use in so many different ways. (Tomorrow I’ll be using it to make tuna confit since my supermarket had lovely tuna medallions on a really special sale. That will keep me in tuna for my summer salads for a bit.)

Black Beans & Rice with Chorizo

Ingredients

  • rice (about 1 cup)
  • olive oil (healthy dollop)
  • onions, chopped (lots)
  • black beans
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • canned diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • red pepper flakes (dash)
  • pimenton (dash)
  • Mexican oregano (good healthy pinch)
  • pork chorizo (about 1/2- to 3/4-pound fresh)
  • water or extra tomato juice/V8 juice as needed for the rice

Preparation

  • Sauté onions in olive oil until translucent and starting to soften
  • Add red pepper flakes, pimenton, oregano, salt and pepper and sauté until the spices are aromatic
  • Add chorizo and sauté until it starts to turn opaque
  • Add canned tomatoes
  • Add rice and black beans (canned or frozen)
  • cook until rice is tender

Ô¿Ô

It’s hot and humid here, and I was being particularly lazy, despite my desire for food so I did this in the multifunction pot. I did make this as easy as possible–frozen chopped onions, canned tomatoes, and frozen black beans (these from 13 Foods) but Stahlbush Island Farms also has black beans and brown rice that make a good starting place for this. The result with frozen legumes is much better than with canned, though those will work as well.

A note on the oregano–it was Mexican oregano which is definitely not the same as Greek or Turkish oregano. If you don’t have Mexican oregano, then I would substitute thyme or cilantro. I can’t get my head around the Greek or Italian with this mix of flavors.  The pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika) adds a bit of smoky flavor.

I first measured my rice so that I’d know how much liquid needed to be added to have it cook to proper doneness. Everything else was added (as indicated) by the dash, dollop, or pinch.

The chorizo that I used was fresh, made in-store from my Harris-Teeter supermarket, and not in casings so all I had to do was break it up into the pot to sauté.  Couldn’t get any easier. If you can’t find “loose” then just remove from the casing, or put the whole sausages in to make this a meat-centric dish.

Everything was sautéed using the rice cooker setting with the lid open. Quite quick and easy although it does require a little attention. Once the tomatoes (with juice) and beans were added, with just a bit of spicy V8 juice to give enough liquid to cook the rice, the lid was closed, and I went away to do something else–until my meal was done. The caveat here is that you do need to be sure that the amount of liquid is appropriate for cooking the rice–too much and you’ll have “blown out”, mushy rice; too little and it will still be crunchy–you’ll need to add more liquid and continue to cook until tender.

Quantities and totally flexible–maybe you like more rice than beans–or the other way round. I love lots of onions, but if you don’t, then just don’t use many.  The proportion of chorizo depends on how meat hungry you are–it can vary too, from almost a seasoning to a lot. Next time I make this I will add just a bit more than I used this time, although it was quite good this way.

A son gôut!

Ò¿Ó

Advertisements

Dandelion greens for supper

soon to be supper

soon to be supper

Yesterday, it was sunny, a bit breezy, but warm enough to have the doors and windows open (in spite of the pollen).  Today, that warmth and sun is somewhere else, so I needed some sort of cool weather, one-pot meal.  (One-pot particularly since I’m right in the midst of a big indexing project, too.)  My rapid trip through the local Harris Teeter left me with a lovely big bunch of dandelion greens, and a pair of Sicilian sausages to play with.  Add onions, red bell peppers, and a little garlic and it will be supper.

Although the  dandelions are blooming (and that’s good–my bees will be here soon) I didn’t go out and forage for the greens.  I took the wimpy way out and bought them.  But they still taste good.

The dandelion greens from the supermarket are going to be older, tougher leaves than I’d pick were I out foraging.  The really young  leaves can be used as salad greens, uncooked.  These need cooking. Whether cooked or raw, dandelion greens are bitter–in a good way that makes them pair particularly well with the “sweetness” of Sicilian or Italian sausages.

Sicilian sausages

Sicilian sausages

The Sicilian sausage is similar to Italian, but has orange added so  it is “brighter” and not quite as “sweet” as Italian, nor as spicy as hot Italian, but the contrast between the sweet spices of the sausage and the bitterness of the greens is lively–certainly not bland.  Since these sausages are not hot, I added some hot red pepper flakes when I was seasoning the greens.

The sausages were browned (as described by Nigel Slater in his Real Food:

all in the pot

all in the pot

Very, very slowly and gently in a bit of olive oil.  (If you’re cooking for one, at least get some of his books from the library–they’re fun, easy reading, and have some good advice about food, and cooking in general, and one particularly.)

I added two medium onions thinly sliced, a red bell pepper cut into strips, and three large cloves of garlic (chopped), to sweat with the sausages for a bit, and finally, the chopped dandelion greens (with the very bottoms where there was only stem and no leaf removed with a hefty  pinch of kosher salt.  No extra liquid is required as the onions and peppers will give off some liquid, and the moisture left on the greens after washing is enough for cooking in the covered brasier. The domed lid will accommodate that pile of greens until they wilt down to not much volume like most greens.

Other than a pinch of kosher salt, garlic, and the red pepper flakes, I didn’t add other herbs or spices as I thought the seasoning of the sausages was enough contrast to the bitterness of the greens.

sausages and greens

ready to serve

I would really have liked to add some cannellini beans, or other white beans, but since I’m trying low-carbohydrate eating to lose some weight, I just couldn’t do it–though it was tempting, and I love beans. (A small display of will power, here.)

As you can see, there’s no recipe for this–you just use peppers, onions, and greens so that it looks right, keeping in mind that greens do really cook down to less than you expect when you look at them raw. I would have used a smaller amount of vegetables had I been adding the cannellini (or garbanzo) beans to this–or added another sausage.

That second sausage and the rest of the veggies have been popped into a heavy-duty freezer bag, with as much air removed as possible, to await another chilly, rainy day when I need something warming to eat–my version of the TV dinner.

ÒΔÓ

Wine?  But of course! Nothing really fancy. Just part of a bottle–my last one unfortunately–one of my favorite “everyday” Chateau d'Oupia Les Heretiques, IGP Pays de l'Herault, France labelwines: Chateau d’Oupia Les Heretiques.   It’s a blend of old-vine Carignan (90%) and Syrah (10%) that has some bright clean, cherry, plum, and spice that goes nicely with a lot of my casual cooking–even just a burger, or just sipping without food.  It’s also in the price range to make it “everyday”. It’s time to go to the Wine Cellar at Sutton Station and get some more of this.

plate of sausage, veggies

A son goût!

 

Those little “goodfellas”: Brussels Sprouts and Hot Sausage Tortiglioni…

I haven’t made this yet–but I love sausage and I like Brussels sprouts. Since I do a lot of cabbage and greens with sausage, I want to try this, so I’ll just share it.

Flora's Table

Brussel sprout and hot sausage tortiglioni

2 Servings

Brussels sprouts are not very popular in my country and they certainly weren’t on my family’s table. I don’t think I can recollect one time that I ate them in my house or anywhere else in Italy.

Things started changing a couple of years ago when I decided to host my first Thanksgiving’s dinner. During my “due diligence” period, in my quest for dishes traditionally served in the US for that holiday, I found out that Brussels sprouts were a must as a side dish, stir-fried or roasted, preferably with bacon or pancetta and even with raisins.

Little by little my acquaintance with these little guys turned into a beautiful friendship and now I’m totally in love with them for several different reasons.

Brussel sprout and hot sausage tortiglioni

First, their appearance – because no matter what they say, appearances still count! 🙂 Their vibrant green has the magical power to put me in a…

View original post 483 more words

Baked Eggs and Black Pudding Hash

I really didn’t “do” St. Patrick’s Day–but I’d love to have had this. Love black pudding!

Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide

I see Irish eyes a smiling I see Irish eyes a smiling

There are many high quality pre-packaged black puddings on the market. Finding them in the states is a difficult task and always expensive.

For a long time I had planned on making it from scratch but finding a butcher who sells fresh blood is impossible. All those vampire shows and movies where every corner has a butcher selling fresh blood are more of a myth than the vampires themselves.

By chance we found an authentic English restaurant in Little Rock that doubles as a grocery store stocked with true biscuits, bangers, sauces and other English specialties including black pudding.

Baked Eggs and Black Pudding Hash

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lb red potatoes diced small
  • 8 ounces black pudding quartered and diced
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 1 jalapeno diced fine
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp mace
  • 6-8 basil leaves sliced into ribbons
  • 10-12 grape tomatoes…

View original post 126 more words

Turnip greens…

Loose mustard greens

While having leisurely Sunday morning coffee I was browsing through the Huffington Post and discovered a presentation on rediscovering mustard greens (though I didn’t realize that they were lost or misplaced). If mustard greens need rediscovery, then perhaps turnip greens need rediscovery (or just discovery) too. One of my favorite things to do with heartier greens (those that need longer cooking, unlike spinach) like collards, mustard, kale, dandelion, or chard is to braise them with sausages for a one-pot meal that is easy to make in any quantity–and reheats and freezes well.

Just recently I was the happy recipient of a LOT of turnip greens from a gardener who likes the bottoms–the turnips and not the green tops. Some of these were older–so a bit spicier, with some of the “horseradish” tang that you find in mustard greens as well.

Even though it was warm weather, I had just started an intense indexing project and wanted some easy food–braised greens with sausage.  No need for a recipe and certainly not labor-intensive or needing a lot of attention while it cooked. (I thought about using the pressure cooker, or the slow cooker but just did this on the stove-top this time)

hot italian sausage IMG_6092I started by dicing and sautéing a large onion, then added a mix of sweet and hot Italian sausage, removed from the casings, to brown lightly.  Of course it needed garlic–about half a dozen large cloves, minced. (The garlic mellows a lot during cooking.)  Since the greens had their own “heat” and I had used hot Italian sausage, I didn’t add the hot red pepper flakes that I would have used with other sausages, or other greens–e.g. kale or collards.

Once the garlic had sautéed enough to become aromatic, I added the washed and cut up greens (still wet from washing) and a can of diced tomatoes. In a tightly lidded pot, I left this over low heat until the greens were almost tender–about 45 minutes. (Since these were older turnip greens, I did remove the stems before cooking.)

In went one can (rinsed) of pinto beans (not on the low-carb diet, but…) and continued to cook about 30 minutes more to let the beans pick up some of the flavor of the greens and the sausage. Home-cooked dried beans would have been better, but since I didn’t have any of those in the freezer, and hadn’t planned ahead–canned ones had to do for now.

And there you have it, a quick supper, and a couple of servings for the freezer for several more quick, comforting meals.  Since the greens were spicy, the sweet Italian sausage added a nice counterpoint. I’m glad to have some tucked away in the freezer since I suspect that will be the last of the turnip greens for the summer–as the weather gets hotter the greens get a bit more assertive. If I’m lucky and there are more, I’ll probably do this again, but omit the hot Italian sausage. Or think about doing this with lamb sausage…so many possibilities, and so easy–and reasonably healthy as well.

All you need to add is a glass of a nice sassy, robust red wine, and maybe some good crusty bread (if you’re not on a low-card diet). A son goût!

Trying to keep the New Year’s resolutions…

I’m really trying to keep my New Year’s resolutions, though sometimes I think that I should simply resolve each year to try to do better on keeping LAST year’s resolutions.  But it’s a new year, new start, so here goes!

I’ve just gotten back from the grocery store–with only one thing that wasn’t planned–That was a veggie that I’ve never seen in this Harris Teeter before–a Boniato (Cuban sweet potato). While I gripe loudly and constantly about how crowded the grocery store always is on Sundays, it’s what seems to work for me–so I gripe and still shop on Sundays–unless I ran out of milk on Saturday!

The grocery shopping took a bit longer than usual, but I went with the idea of doing some meal planning on the hoof.  (I like to shop by what looks good and what’s on special, so meal planning at home doesn’t necessarily work for me.) I went with a set number of meals in mind–and the meat (at least vaguely) in mind, then walked around looking to see what was on special, and what looked good–in other words,  produce and meat.

Knowing that we can expect some cooler weather over the next week did influence my shopping, and so did the fact that I’m still knee deep in course prep for the medical terminology courses that I’m teaching.  I need cool-weather dishes that I can pop into the oven (Römertopf is out on the counter–and I can scarcely believe that I’ve not posted about cooking something in them before this.)

The result of my meal planning on the fly was this and I’m going to keep you posted on how well I succeed with this–hoping for some peer-pressure here:

  • It’s really too-warm-for-the-season weather here today, so I’m having something light (and “leftover”)–cod re-warmed with the tomato sauce that I brought home from the Italian restaurant, and cauliflower and black olive gratin (had all the ingredients in the fridge except the cauliflower.  I purchased enough for one good-size serving from the salad bar–cheaper than a whole head of cauliflower when I know part will likely go to waste.)
  • Lamb (shoulder chops to be cut up) braised with veggies–in the Römertopf–with an under-appreciated vegetable–turnips.  Personally I love them raw too, and like the sweetness that they add to soups, so they get used a lot.  Doesn’t hurt that they store so well either.
  • Chicken thighs to roast (most likely Römertopf  again) with some root vegetables (have carrots, turnips, parsnips, and some cabbage).  There will be at least two meals from the chicken thighs.
  • Since I have some lovely ham stock (courtesy of a friend sharing ham and the ham bone with me) I’m going to make some bean and kale soup for one warm cozy supper.
  • While I was perusing the New York Times Health section and stumbled onto a recipe for a turnip gratin that is a possible for a side dish with some of the chicken.
  • Then last, but not least, is a fresh black pepper and onion sausage that most likely headed into the Römertopf with some potatoes, to be accompanied by some cabbage that’s been quickly microwaved with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil.

After my meal planning, I’ve got a couple servings of meat (chicken thighs and pepper-onions sausages) that are flexible and should lend themselves to other things if my appetite doesn’t fit my plans.  The sausages could always end up in another “one-pot” dish.  There are also some salad makings in the fridge, and some fruit (Fuyu persimmons, apples, and oranges) for dessert.

One of the things that I like about recipes like those for the cauliflower-black olive gratin and the turnip gratin, is that even though they say “serves 6” they are SO easy to cut down to size for single-serving cooking.

So that’s my plan for this week–regular cooking that is healthy, and doesn’t promote waste from things that just don’t get used.  There are some lunches to be made during the week since most of my courses are online this term–meaning I’m home to fix brunch or lunch for myself.  Maybe that Boniato will fit there.

I’ll be posting more about these meals, but, please, wish me luck with the New Year’s resolution!  Now, off to the kitchen to do the cauliflower-black olive gratin to go with my cod in tomato sauce!

Dandelion greens

I finished my teaching week this afternoon and found myself in need of an attitude adjustment.  It’s been a busy, hectic week but I still can’t figure out what I supposedly accomplished in all that business.  Still laundry to do and other household chores….

dandelion greens bunched in the Harris Teeter produce department

dandelion greens

In prowling through the grocery store (my local Harris Teeter) the other day I found absolutely lovely dandelion greens.  I haven’t had dandelion greens very often since I was a kid growing up on the farm.  Then they were a springtime treat–the young tender ones in a wilted salad with bacon dressing.  I thought that I’d try them in a one-dish meal based on a recipe from Jacques Pepin’s Shortcut Cook–quick, easy, and in the comfort-food category.  I decided that a good complement to the bitterness of the dandelion greens would be Siciliansausage which Harris Teeter makes in the meat department.  It’s a bit like Italian, but spicier and with much less fennel.

fresh store-made sausages

freshly made sausages

Remove sausage from casing, brown; add chopped onion and continue with the browning, then add a couple of garlic cloves, minced.  Add the chopped dandelion greens, stems about 10 minutes before the leafier parts (still wet from washing), cover and simmer. Depending on the spiciness of the sausage you might want some red pepper flakes. This particular sausage is strongly enough flavored that I did not add anything else.  When the greens are almost cooked, add some cooked pinto beans (in this case I’m resorting to canned ones). For a change from beans, add some diced potatoes to cook with the sausage and the greens.

Finish with a tiny drizzle of good fruity extra-virgin olive oil and it’s good to go, add some of my homemade oat bread, and ripe and fragrant Bartlett pears.

It’s certainly easy, reasonably quick–it takes about 15 to 20 minutes for the greens to cook, but it sure does contribute to attitude adjustment!  (Sorry, no pictures–it’s not photogenic.)  It’s good for single-serving cooking since I can buy the sausages individually, and if I’m using mustard, kale, I can buy those loose in the amount needed I don’t have leftovers.  If there is more than I’m going to use at once, I’ll take out some of the sausage and greens to be used later, perhaps as an omelette filling.

A son goût!