Category Archives: Beans

Chicken Tomatillo Chili

I can’t stand soup when it’s hot outside. I often see coworkers enjoying soup for lunch all the year round, and I’m sweating just thinking about it if the temp outside is above about 75 degrees. (But I’ll drink hot coffee on an August morning, unless I’ve made cold brew coffee the night before. I’m weird, I know.) But now that it’s cooler, I’ve been incorporating more soups again.

I am the biggest fan of a soup that satisfies as a meal. Sure, simple starter soups are delicious, but I still have to make something else to accompany them. A stew or chili is substantial. Filling. I can also freeze leftovers and have soup ready for me to grab and take to the office for lunch. This chicken tomatillo chili not only meets these requirements, it’s also a budget stretcher, thanks to the beans. It’s a big bowl of comforting, warming, hearty deliciousness.

Chicken Tomatillo Chili (gluten-free, dairy-free)

1 lb tomatillos, cut in half

2 medium yellow onions, sliced

6 garlic cloves, peeled

2 Hatch (similar to Anaheim or Big Jim) chiles (you can also substitute other fresh chiles, just mind the heat and adjust accordingly)

1 14-oz can whole tomatoes

1 3 ½ lb chicken, cut into pieces, breasts removed and set aside

6 c water

2 t ground cumin

1 t ground coriander

1 t dried oregano

2 t chipotle chile powder

1 t smoked paprika

1 t salt

¼ t black pepper

2 ½ c cooked black beans (or 2 cans, drained)

2 ½ c cooked white beans (or 2 cans, drained)

2 ½ c cooked pinto beans (or 2 cans, drained)

½ c chopped cilantro

Preheat broiler. Place tomatillos, sliced onions, garlic cloves, and chiles on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil for 5-7 minutes or until the skins of the tomatillos and chiles are blackened. Remove from broiler and allow to cool. Peel the skins from the chiles, and remove the stems and seeds. (It’s a good idea to do this with disposable [non-latex if you have a latex allergy] gloves on.) Place tomatillos, onions, garlic, chiles, and the can of whole tomatoes (with the juice) in a large soup pot. Add the chicken pieces (reserving the breasts) and the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 30 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and simmer for 20 minutes longer.

Using tongs, remove all of the chicken and place on a platter to allow to cool. Meanwhile, add the cumin, coriander, oregano, chipotle chile powder, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to the pot and puree the broth and vegetables using a stick blender, or a regular blender in batches. Add the beans.

Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove the meat and shred with your fingers, and place back into the pot with the beans. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until flavors meld. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve garnished with cilantro.

Serves 8-10.

Radish Top Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potato (with Black Beans, Red Pepper, and Shiitakes)

Okay, well, as you can tell by the photo, this sweet potato is stuffed with more than just that simple radish top pesto I made the other day. (See, I told you it was good for lots of things!) There’s all sorts of delicious, nutritious goodness stuffed in there – specifically black beans, shiitake mushrooms, and red bell peppers. It’s a filling, healthy, meatless mish-mash of flavor. Perfect for a quick little meal, or a side dish – whichever you prefer.

Never stuffed a sweet potato before? Well, don’t you fret – it’s not hard. In fact, this version of a stuffed sweet potato is just one of many (and exists merely as a result of my desire to utilize the available produce hanging out in my fridge). Hallie over at Daily Bites made a Broccoli and Walnut Stuffed Sweet Potato a while back, Gena from Choosing Raw has a super-healthy Kale and Quinoa version, and Kate from Eat, Recycle, Repeat shared a Bacon, Mushroom and Onion version as well as a sweet Chestnut, Apple and Coconut version over at Paleo Parents. Clearly, we love our sweet potatoes out there in the blogosphere!

Personally, I am partial to my version topped with my radish top pesto. That fresh, creamy pesto added a lovely flavor and texture that married all of the other ingredients together wonderfully. Back in the day, I would have reached for cheese as an easy way to achieve that result – now, it’s liberating to find new ways to combine flavors and textures and still satisfy the way cheese used to. I would be lying if I said there weren’t days when I miss cheese, but with flavors like this, those days are few and far between.

Next time you’re looking for an easy meal idea, try stuffing a sweet potato! This version, with smoky beans, sweet bell pepper, and the rich umami of the mushrooms, topped with pesto, is definitely a win in my book.

Print Recipe

Radish Top Pesto Stuffed Sweet Potato (with Black Beans, Red Pepper, and Shiitakes) (gluten-free, vegan, grain-free)

2 large sweet potatoes, baked until tender (bake in 375 degree oven for about 40-50 minutes)

1 T olive oil

8 oz fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 14 oz can black beans (I like Eden Organic), drained

1 t ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Radish Top Pesto

Bake sweet potatoes. While they are baking, add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and bell pepper. Saute until the mushrooms soften, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté another minute or until garlic is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small saucepan, heat black beans over medium-low heat, adding ground cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally until warmed through.

Once sweet potatoes are baked through, cut a slit in each sweet potato. Open enough to expose a good amount of the flesh inside. Season with a bit of salt, and then top with mushroom-red pepper mixture and black beans. Finally, top with a healthy dollop of radish top pesto.

Serves 2.

Moroccan-Inspired Vegan Quinoa Skillet

I tend fall into a rut where I prepare meals in a somewhat traditional style (a protein, plus a veggie or two, maybe a starch such as rice or potato, or a salad), especially during the week. It’s simple, I don’t have to think or follow a recipe, it pleases those picky eaters that don’t always like a bunch of different vegetables mixed together, and I can easily customize each plate to some degree - meaning I can take my double-helping of whatever veggies are on the menu and everyone is happy. But when I am feeling more creative, I love to combine flavors and mix things. When time is no obstacle, this often results in complex dishes like menudo, curries, cassoulet, or stews. These generally not only take time, but also create more dishes than I’d like to tackle on a weeknight. So what’s an inspired girl to do to incorporate a lot of flavor without a lot of time or dishes?

Make a one-skillet dish! I came across Heather at Gluten-Free Cat’s Moroccan Yukina Savoy and Red Quinoa Skillet, and it intrigued me. A quick, filling, protein-and-veggie-packed meal that could be made in a single skillet? This was not only doable, but it sounded delicious. Of course, I tweaked it a bit, adding some additional spices (Which I realize makes it not as simple, but I have an arsenal of spices in my kitchen, so I love to put them to use. If you’d like, you can just use cumin and paprika, or come up with your own spice combination.), substituting swiss chard from my garden for the yukina savoy, and substituting raisins for the apricots. I also used regular quinoa rather than the red, because I only had a teensy bit of red quinoa left in the pantry. What resulted was a comforting, fragrant, filling dish that not only satisfied my hunger for complex flavors, but was stress-free to put together. In addition, the leftovers made for an amazing lunch.

Unlike so many “one-dish” meals that either require other “starters” or “accompaniments” (such as a salad, bread, etc) to complete the meal, this dish truly does stand alone quite well. I did find that a fresh orange at the end of the meal served as a perfect dessert, however. Unfussy, yet completely satisfying.

Moroccan-Inspired Vegan Quinoa Skillet, inspired by Gluten-Free Cat

1 c quinoa

1 T each paprika and ground cumin

1/2 t each ground turmeric, cinnamon, ground ginger, cayenne, and freshly ground black pepper

1 t salt

2 T olive oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 c sliced carrots

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lemon, zested and juiced

1/2 c raisins

1 c cooked white beans (I used navy beans)

3 c vegetable stock

1 large bunch of swiss chard, chopped (about 3 cups)

1/4 c chopped fresh parsley

1/4 c sliced almonds

Place the quinoa in a bowl and cover with water. Set aside.

Mix together all of the spices in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat a large, heavy skillet to medium heat (I used my cast iron skillet). Add onions, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 6-7 minutes or until onions are soft, but carrots are still just beginning to soften. Add in the spices, lemon zest and juice, raisins, beans,  and stock. Drain the quinoa, add it to the skillet, and stir. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and allow to simmer, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes. Add in swiss chard and stir, and cover again with the lid and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until chard is wilted. (If the quinoa is too dry, add a bit more stock or water.) Remove lid, stir well, and serve, garnished with parsley and sliced almonds.

Serves 4 generously.

Daring Cooks: Vegan Cassoulet

 Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

I have always wanted to make cassoulet. It’s rich, comforting, and perfect for a wintry day. However, lately I’ve been focusing on lighter fare. (In addition, I looked at the challenge for the first time this week, and didn’t think I could spend the time needed, or get the duck legs I wanted, in time.) So while I will definitely make the traditional cassoulet one day soon, this month, I opted for a lighter, quicker version of the dish. I opted to go for a vegan cassoulet, and confit some garlic cloves.

The cassoulet came together relatively quickly. (I did opt to cook my own beans from dried, rather than canned. I used Stephanie’s slow cooker instructions, so the beans were ready when I came home from work. I think they taste better than canned, and they tend to be more digestible. An added bonus – they’re much lower in sodium.) This is one relaxing dish to make. As the aromatic vegetables cooked, the aroma was so comforting – a myriad of leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic wafted through the air. The act of slowly stirring beans in a pot soothes me – it’s not stressful, high-speed cooking. This is love in a pot.

My favorite part about the dish though had to be the breadcrumbs. I will have to confess – the gluten-free bread I used was not vegan. I had frozen Udi’s to use up – so I made breadcrumbs from that bread. (Udi’s uses eggs) However, you could use Carrie’s lovely vegan gluten-free bread and make it completely vegan. These breadcrumbs were so deliciously crisp, with the inticing bite of the garlic and freshness from the parsley. I snuck spoonfuls while in the kitchen. These breadcrumbs balanced the creamy beans perfectly.

All in all, I didn’t miss the rich components of a traditional cassoulet (or what I’d imagine it would be, I have never actually eaten it). This was so satisfying (and healthier). I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Vegetarian/Vegan Cassoulet
Vegetarian Cassoulet by Gourmet Magazine, March 2008

(Note: we didn’t actually make this recipe, but we’re sure it’s a good one!)

Ingredients:

3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide (25 mm) pieces
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
4 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (1 gm) ground cloves
3 (19-oz/540 gm) cans cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 qt (4 cups/960 ml) water
4 cups (960 ml) (300 gm) coarse fresh bread crumbs from a baguette
1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (12 gm) chopped garlic
1/4 cup (60 ml) (80 gm) chopped parsley

Directions:

1. Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch (13 mm) pieces, then wash well (see cooks’ note, below) and pat dry.
2. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon (2½ mm) each of salt and pepper in a large heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with rack in middle.
4. Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated.
5. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
7. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth.
8. Season with salt and pepper. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.

Masala-Spiced Adzuki Beans and Brown Rice

 

You might think, judging by my last two posts, that I have been chowing down on nothing but sweets. Not so – not lately, anyway. Truth be told, I made both of those desserts – the Nanaimo bars and the banana pudding – weeks ago. (Besides, the Daring Bakers challenge made me do it!) Lately, I have been working on healthier, cleaner eating – for a variety of reasons. First, to see if I can alleviate some lingering symptoms that I’d hoped would disappear after going gluten-free, but haven’t. Secondly, to restore balance. As I become more in tune with my body, I realize that those sugary treats, while delicious, can be the death of me sometimes. At night, they call me from the kitchen, begging me to indulge in their sweet delights. So if/when I fall into their trap, I have to take a bit of time to step back and show the sugar who’s boss. For the past week, I’ve been following a clean detox diet. No, not starving myself with only lemon water to sustain me. (Don’t worry, Mom!) Just eating very simply and lightly, incorporating a lot of raw produce (hello, green smoothies!), and removing a lot of potential “trigger” foods from my diet temporarily to observe how my body reacts. So far, so good. The hardest part was cutting out the caffeine, honestly. I don’t drink a great deal, but boy, those 2 cups of coffee in the morning were badly missed for the first few days!

Anyway, this dish is likely the most complex recipe I’ve made in the past week, just because of the myriad of spices, but don’t let that deter you. Once you throw everything together to simmer, it’s a pretty simple dish. (After all, beans and rice is just about as humble as it gets.)  You could use a variety of beans for this recipe (although you might have to alter soaking and cooking times), but I like adzuki beans because they cook up relatively quickly and are very easy to digest. They’re slightly sweet, (and so are often used in sweet treats in Asian cuisine) which pairs well with the garam masala and cayenne. And of course, this dish packs a good amount of fiber and protein. It just also happens to be vegan and gluten, dairy, and corn-free. Most of all, for a chilly, dreary winter day, this is a comforting dish that won’t weigh you down.

A quick word about kombu. Kombu is a variety of dried seaweed often used to make dashi, and can be found in the Asian section of groceries or at a specialty store, or online. What I love about kombu is that when simmered with beans, it improves their digestibility and lessens the (ahem) side effects. It also works as a flavor enhancer, adding a bit of umami to the dish. If you haven’t had the chance to cook with it, give it a try. Same with this twist on the good ‘ol standby – beans and rice. You might be pleasantly surprised on how delicious healthy can taste!

Masala-Spiced Adzuki Beans and Brown Rice

1 t garam masala

1 t cumin seeds

1/8 t cayenne

2 T olive oil

½ medium yellow onion, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

4 carrots, peeled and diced

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ t fresh turmeric, minced (can substitute dried)

2 c butternut squash, cubed

1 c adzuki beans, soaked for 2 hours, drained and rinsed

1 piece kombu

3 c water

Salt to taste

¼ c cilantro, chopped

1 c brown rice, rinsed and steamed

Place garam masala, cumin seeds, and cayenne in dry skillet and toast over medium heat until fragrant. (Be careful not to burn!) Remove and crush/grind with a mortar and pestle.

Add olive oil to a large saucepan or dutch oven and bring to medium heat. Add onions, celery, and carrots and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add toasted spices, ginger and garlic and sauté for another minute. Add squash, beans, kombu, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover, and cook for 1 hour or until beans are tender. Season with salt generously to taste. Serve with brown rice and garnished with cilantro.

Serves 3-4.

Ham and Red Bean Soup

Growing up, I wasn’t fond of ham. I wasn’t a picky eater, but ham seemed so salty to me (So did bacon. Honestly, I wasn’t much of a pork eater back then). Now I understand that one ham is not necessarily like the other, and some can be quite delicious – not too salty, just a tad sweet, and full of that wonderful porkiness. This year, for Christmas dinner, I chose a spiral-sliced ham. It made Christmas dinner much easier to prepare, so I could focus on other dishes and relax. On purpose, I chose a ham that was twice as large as we needed to feed our small group, just so there would be plenty of leftovers. Leftovers for my parents and my brother to take home, leftovers for my husband to happily snack on (okay, I snacked a bit too!), and leftovers for soup. Because if there is a ham bone, there must be soup.

I opted to make this soup entirely out of what I had left over in my fridge and pantry. I had small African red beans, (Really, that’s what they’re called. I bought them at an African grocery, asked the lady at the counter if they were called something other than “African Red Beans” – as this was what was on the package. They looked like Adzuki beans, which I realize are not African - but she said “They’re red beans.” I’m going with it.) so I opted to use them instead of a more traditional Navy bean or split pea. With the addition of some leeks, celery, carrots, garlic, and herbs, we were in business. After softening the vegetables in some olive oil and allowing the soup to simmer for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, the house filled with the aroma of savory, beany, hammy soup.

I felt that this was one of the best bean soups to grace my kitchen. The ham gave the broth a big meaty boost, and the beans were creamy and released a silky texture to the soup. It was deliciously rustic, perfect for this long stretch of cold days we’ve had lately. And like any good bean soup, it reheated beautifully for my lunch the next day. Am I venturing into the “too many soups” category yet? I hope not. I plan to crank out a few more before the winter is over.

This soup is hearty enough to serve as a main course. I paired it with gluten-free crackers, but you could always opt for gluten-free biscuits, or a nice winter salad.

 

Ham and Red Bean Soup

3 medium leeks, green tops and ends cut off and discarded, washed well and sliced thinly (reserve one green top)

3-4 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

1 t coriander seeds

1/2 t black peppercorns

1 t cumin seeds

1 T olive oil

3 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T tomato paste

1 lb small red beans, soaked overnight and rinsed

Bone leftover from ham (or you can substitute smoked ham hocks)

Water (approximately 10 cups)

3 c diced cooked ham

1 t ground chipotle chile powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Take the thyme sprigs and bay leaf, and wrap the reserved green leek top around. Tie with butcher’s twine to secure. Place the coriander seeds, peppercorns, and cumin seeds in the middle of a coffee filter or small piece of cheesecloth, and tie into a bundle using butcher’s twine. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add leeks, carrots, and celery. Saute for 5 minutes or until softened. Add garlic and saute for another minute. Add tomato paste and saute for another minute. Add the beans, ham bone, the herb bundle and the spice bundle, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, partially covering. Allow to simmer for 1 hour.

Add the diced ham and chipotle chile powder and stir in. Allow to simmer until beans are soft and are just beginning to break open, another 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Adjust seasoning to taste. Remove ham bone and pull any remaining ham from the bone and return to pot. Remove herb bundle and spice bundle, and serve.

Serves 4-6.

 

Lentil and Sausage Stew

 This time of year, decadence reigns. Buttery, cheesy, rich – these are flavors welcomed in December. Chocolate-dipped, whipped cream-topped, caramel-filled? It’s the holidays; why not? And of course, only the prettiest and most elegant will do – perfectly shaped cookies and pretty cakes adorn most food blogs right now. Not that I’m pointing fingers; after all, I posted the most decadent hot chocolate ever just a few days ago, and I have plans to start baking cookies very soon – after I can stop drooling over others’ holiday recipes and narrow down my own “to do” baking list!

But there are many days in December that aren’t holidays. Many of the days in December we are rushing about and stressed, struggling to balance the preparation for celebrations in addition to our daily duties. Those days call for easy meals that still warm the soul and nourish our bodies. Those meals don’t have to be decadent (in fact, it’s best for our health if they aren’t!), and they don’t have to be fancy. Sometimes, simple and rustic is best. A lentil and sausage stew can be perfect for such a day.

I haven’t found many lentil recipes that I’ve truly been in love with. Yes, they’re healthy, full of fiber, a good source of protein; but most of the times, I’ve been on the fence about lentils. Apparently, I just haven’t looked hard enough. This stew changed my mind about lentils – the flavor is so big and bold in this stew that I couldn’t help but enjoy a rather large bowl. The jalapeno sausage brought just a hint of heat to the broth, but the vegetables and parsley truly brightened the flavors, and the smoked paprika added an additional depth. This was a stew I could make again and again. Which reminds me, I still have some left over. Lunch tomorrow? I think so!

Lentil and Sausage Stew, adapted from Good Life Eats

1 T vegetable oil

12 oz jalapeno smoked sausage, diced

½ large yellow onion, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks celery, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ t fresh thyme, chopped

2 T sherry

3 c chicken or vegetable broth

2 c water

2 c dried lentils

1 t salt

½ t black pepper

1 t cumin

½ t smoked paprika

1 bay leaf

2 carrots, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice

1 c spinach leaves, packed

¼ c fresh parsley, chopped

In a large pot, add oil and bring to medium heat. Add smoked sausage and brown, 4-5 minutes. Remove, leaving as much of the oil in the pot as possible. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until tender, 7-8 minutes. Add garlic and thyme and sauté another minute. Add sherry and scrape up any brown bits at the bottom of the pot. Then add broth, water, lentils, and seasonings and bring to a boil. Add sausage and carrots and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer partially covered for 30-45 minutes, or until lentils and vegetables are tender. Stir in spinach and parsley and serve.

Black Bean Brownies

black bean brownieThis recipe is from the archives. These brownies were made for my mother for her birthday dinner back in March, but as I was thumbing through my recipes (you know, the ones that I have stowed away with the best of intentions to post) I stumbled across them, and decided they were just too good not to share with you. Besides, they are full of fiber, gluten and sugar-free. But aside from health benefits (if you can call it that – this still is, after all, a brownie), these babies are brimming with rich chocolate flavor. (And if you’re wondering, no, they don’t taste “beany” at all!) They make a wonderful, simple dessert as is, but they could always be adorned with a ball of ice cream on top (for my Mom’s birthday, I used them as a base for a hot fudge sundae). I found this glorious recipe from Heidi at 101 Cookbooks, who found it through Ania Catalano’s Baking with Agave Nectar. If these brownies are any indication of how awesome Ania’s recipes are, perhaps I need to pick up a copy of this book myself!

Black Bean Brownies, adapted from Ania Catalano

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 c unsalted butter
2 c canned black beans, drained well
1 c walnuts, chopped
1 T vanilla extract
¼ c (granulated) instant coffee
¼ t sea salt
4 large eggs
1½ c light agave nectar (or honey)

 Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line an 11- by 18-inch (rimmed) baking pan with parchment paper and lightly oil.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes on high. Stir with a spoon to melt the chocolate completely. Place the beans, 1/2 cup of the walnuts, the vanilla extract, and a couple of spoonfuls of the melted chocolate mixture into the bowl of a food processor. Blend about 2 minutes, or until smooth. The batter should be thick and the beans smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup walnuts, remaining melted chocolate mixture, instant coffee, and salt. Mix well and set aside.

In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer beat the eggs until light and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the agave nectar and beat well. Set aside.

Add the bean/chocolate mixture to the coffee/chocolate mixture. Stir until blended well.

Add the egg mixture, reserving about 1/2 cup. Mix well. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1/2 cup egg mixture until light and fluffy. Drizzle over the brownie batter. Use a wooden toothpick to pull the egg mixture through the batter, creating a marbled effect. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the brownies are set. Let cool in the pan completely before cutting into squares. (They will be soft until refrigerated.)

 Makes about 28 3-4 inch brownies.

Update: I am so excited about the flexibility in this recipe. A Dash of Sass created a raspberry brownie cake with this recipe, and it looks absolutely amazing! I was so inspired, that I’m in the process of making this for my mother-in-law for her birthday!  Check it out – it looks divine!

Vegetarian Bean and Pumpkin Chili, plus a Gluten-Free Cheddar Serrano Biscuit

veggie chili

Dear Summer: It’s not that I don’t love what you bring…bountiful produce, long days, and barbeque parties by the pool. I love these things, I really do. It’s just time to move on. As you always do around here (in Texas), you overstay your welcome, and you don’t allow Autumn enough time to play. So please, let’s just part ways for the year. No hard feelings? I’ll welcome you with open arms next June, I promise!

It’s 95 degrees today here in North Texas. Hot and humid. There is a cold front in sight, they say, bringing cooler temperatures for the weekend. In my mind, it can’t get here fast enough. Apparently, my appetite agrees. My husband and I have been craving cool-weather dishes, as evidenced by my last few posts. (Shepherd’s pie just doesn’t cross most people’s minds when it’s hot outside.) When I was planning meals this past weekend, I decided upon a vegetarian chili – cool weather or not. Even if it won’t act like fall outside, I can still pretend, right?

This chili will likely reappear at our home in some version several times in the coming months. It was a snap to make, with minimal prep the night before, and a long, unattended simmer in the slow cooker. (Not to mention it was super-budget friendly!) Once it was nearing dinnertime, I had so little to prepare, I decided that an attempt at a gluten-free biscuit was needed.

Last week, I came across a gorgeous gluten-free biscuit recipe from Shelley at This Primal Life. (Shelley has a wonderful blog filled with healthy, gluten-free, grain-free recipes.) Gluten-free biscuits? Yes, it can be done. These babies were tender, with a delicious, cheesy flavor, and a very mild bite from the peppers. Oh, man. They were a dream. And for those of you that are watching your carb intake, these are right up your alley, as they’re made with almond flour. These are about as healthy a biscuit as they come, but you’d swear they were sinful. And they paired with the chili perfectly.

So if it’s still hot where you are, then feel free to pocket this recipe for a few weeks, until the air is crisp and those chili cravings set in. Or do like we did, and pretend.

For the chili:

1 1/2 lbs mixed variety of dried beans (I used yellow eye, African red beans, and flageolet – but I would think a mix of black, kidney, and pinto beans would work well)

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree

2 serrano chiles, minced

3 chipotle chiles in adobo, minced

4 c vegetable stock

1-2 c water

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 1/2 T cumin

1/2 cinnamon stick

2 t ground coriander

2-3 t salt (taste)

1 1/2 T chili powder

Several dashes of Tabasco

Garnishes:

Shredded cheese (omit or use dairy-free cheese if dairy-free/vegan)

Cilantro

Sour cream

Rinse the beans, and soak overnight. Rinse again and place beans in slow cooker. Add rest of ingredients and stir well. Cook on low for 8 hours or until beans are tender. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve topped with desired garnishes. Serves 8.

cheddar jalapeno biscuit rounds

For the biscuit rounds, adapted from This Primal Life:

3 c almond flour

1 t baking soda

big pinch of salt

6 oz of cheddar cheese, grated

2 fresh serrano chiles, minced

3 eggs

1/4 c sour cream

1/2 c water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine almond flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Mix in grated cheese and serranos. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, sour cream, and water. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until they just come together. Drop batter in large spoonfuls onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly browned on top. Makes 12 rounds.

Hungry for more? This recipe and other Slightly Indulgent recipes are available on Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, as part of the weekly Slightly Indulgent Mondays, and also is linked to Miz Helen’s Chili Cookoff!

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Exploring Texas BBQ

smoker
When you talk about Texas food, one of the first things that comes to mind is barbecue, specifically, barbecue beef. After all, Texas is the place of long cattle drives, of cowboys, of chuck wagon cooking on a campfire. But ask a native Texan to define barbecue, and you’ll receive as many answers as there are miles of wide open spaces in Texas. Folks from the east will tell you barbecue means pork shoulder and pork ribs, with a healthy helping of sauce. From the south and along the border? Barbacoa (head of the cow) is popular, served in corn tortillas. In Central Texas, at famed places such as Kreuz Market in Lockhart, pork was smoked simply, with post oak to flavor, never with sauce. German-style sausages were also smoked and enjoyed. And of course, beef brisket was king in West Texas, as it is all over the state. Obviously, Texas barbecue can mean many things, depending on the Texan.

As I just recently purchased a smoker, it seemed only natural, as a native Texas foodie, that I attempt to prepare a sampling of the various barbecued meats from the Lone Star State. In addition, I recently read through Robb Walsh’s “Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook”, which excited me with the thoughts of beautifully smoked meats. However, once Foodbuzz contacted to me and let me know I was selected for this month’s 24, 24, 24, a slight panic set in. I had limited experience with the smoker…what had I gotten myself into? In an effort to gain confidence,I immediately re-read Robb Walsh’s book, researched the best ways to smoke the various cuts of meat, requested the advice of several friends, and made a game plan. I organized recipes, did some shopping, sent out invitations to family, and made a schedule, and of course, a menu.

The Menu:

West Texas Brisket

East Texas Pork Shoulder

East Texas Pork Spare Ribs

Central Texas Smoked Bratwurst

Barbacoa (with tortillas, salsa, cilantro, onions and lime)

Mom’s Texas Potato Salad

Texas Coleslaw

Ancho Barbecue Sauce

Pineapple Barbecue Sauce

East Texas Blackeyed Peas

 

Pork shoulder and ribs smoking

Pork shoulder and ribs smoking

The cooking started Friday evening, and continued almost nonstop until 5 PM Saturday. (Friday night was more passive cooking than anything. I say passive…the barbacoa was in the oven. I should have been able to sleep through the night. But instead, I woke up several times, thinking “Is the oven on? I don’t smell the barbacoa. Oh no, what if I woke up in the morning and it’s been sitting cold in the oven? I’m screwed! Must get up and check.” I’d walk into the kitchen, check on the oven…still on. Peek inside. Looks good. Go back to bed. Repeat several times until 7am.) I started the smoker at about 9am, so I’d have plenty of time to get a good fire going. I had decided to smoke with oak only. Getting the temperature to stay around 250 degrees was a bit tricky at first, but after a while, I learned to combine larger logs with smaller ones at varying times with success. During the day, while babysitting the smoker, I prepared the sauces and side dishes. (My Mom graciously prepared the potato salad and brought it to my house, saving me some considerable time and kitchen space. Her potato salad is a deliciously creamy, mustard and mayo combination that goes with any barbecue.) I was pleased when the meats were coming to temperature on schedule, and everything was just finishing as everyone started to arrive.

We were expecting about 24 people, so we had extra tables and folding chairs all over the house. (I have a lot of tables and chairs – Thanksgiving and Christmas are often celebrated at our house, so I’m prepared.) It was all pretty casual (the norm for our family), so everyone just found a spot to sit and chat until time to eat.

And eat we did! The brisket was flavorful, with a good 1/2 inch ring of smoke around the outside of the meat. The pork shoulder and ribs had a succulent smoke flavor, and the ribs fell away from the bone. The sausages were slightly smoky, but not so much that the smoke covered up the seasonings. Of course, the sauces were enjoyed on every kind of meat. But the barbacoa was the talk of the night. Most had never eaten barbacoa, and a few decided not to try it (I suppose the idea of eating cow head was a bit much for some!), but everyone had questions. “Were there eyeballs?” “Can I see a picture?” “How did you cook it?” And of course, we ate our fill of potato salad, coleslaw, blackeyed peas, and a “Sock It To Me” cake that my sister-in-law brought. My niece brought some strawberry cupcakes, complete with M&Ms on top, that the kids thoroughly enjoyed.  

All in all, I felt it was a successful party. I was glad that my family was so willing to act as guinea pigs in my first big barbecue with the smoker. (But then again, who will turn down free food?) I would have liked for the brisket and pork shoulder to be a bit more moist, so this will be my goal for the next barbecue. My idea to remedy that? More frequent use of a mop – one with a higher oil content. We also prepared way too much potato salad and blackeyed peas – next time, we’ll cut those recipes down by half. (I did share with you a recipe for the blackeyed peas for a smaller crowd.) But after everyone had their fill, I think the conclusion was clear. No matter what kind of Texas barbecue is being served, we love it all. Every last bite.

Barbecue Rub (adapted from Saveur magazine, June/July 2009) – I used this on the brisket, ribs, and pork shoulder.

3 T kosher salt

3 T dark brown sugar

2 T paprika

1 T garlic powder

1 T onion powder

1 ½ T mustard powder

3 T black pepper

1 t ground coriander

1 t ground cumin

 Mix in a jar. Store for up to 6 months.

 

Mop (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

8 oz brown sugar

16 oz canola oil

1 stick butter

8 oz white vinegar

5 oz Worcestershire sauce

Large dash celery salt

6-7 cloves garlic, smashed

3 onions, cut into large pieces

3 lemons, cut in half

Combine all ingredients in a large soup pot, and add enough water to bring total about halfway up the pot. Bring to a simmer on the stove. Mop onto meat every 30 minutes to an hour with a basting brush or cotton mop.

 

 

Sliced brisket (photo courtesy of Rowland Chambers)

Sliced brisket (photo courtesy of Rowland Chambers)

West Texas Brisket

 1 8-10 lb untrimmed beef brisket, cut in half

 Barbecue rub

Barbecue mop

Night before: Rub brisket generously with rub. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate. Day of: Set up smoker for indirect heat with water pan. Smoke brisket, fat side up, mopping every 30 minutes, for 6-7 hours or until temperature of meat reaches 185 degrees. Remove from heat, and tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Slice off the fat cap from top, and slice brisket thinly across the grain. Serve with ancho barbecue sauce.

Serves 8-10 people.

 

East Texas Pork Shoulder (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

1 bone-in pork shoulder roast, 4-5 lbs

6 T barbecue rub

Barbecue mop

Night before: Season the pork roast with the rub, and wrap with foil or plastic wrap. Day of: Set up smoker for indirect heat with water pan. Smoke pork, mopping every 30 minutes, and turning, for 4-5 hours or until temperature of meat reaches 170 degrees. Remove from heat, and tent with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Slice or pull pork from the bone, removing big chunks of fat as you go. Serve on sandwich rolls with pineapple barbecue sauce.

 Serves 6-8 people.

 

 

Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

Smoked Pork Spare Ribs

East Texas Pork Spare Ribs

 6-7 lbs pork spare ribs

 Barbecue rub

Barbecue mop

Night before: Sprinkle rub over ribs lightly. Cover with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Day of: Set up smoker for indirect heat with water pan. Smoke ribs, mopping every 30 minutes, and turning, for 3 1/2 hours or until meat begins to fall off of bones. Remove from heat and tent with foil for 5 minutes. Cut ribs apart and serve with pineapple barbecue sauce.

 Serves 5-6 people.

 

Central Texas Smoked Bratwurst

4 lbs of your favorite fresh bratwurst sausage (I got mine at the meat counter at Sprouts)

Set up smoker for indirect heat with a water pan. Sear sausages over direct heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute on each side. Move to indirect heat and smoke for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from heat, and tent with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Slice on diagonal and serve.

 Serves 6-8 people.

 

 Barbacoa is traditionally cooked by wrapping in maguey leaves, banana leaves, foil or a canvas bag, and buried in an earthen pit with hot coals. However, as most of us don’t wish to dig a pit in our yard, (and in the restaurant business, the health department forbids it, save a few places that have been grandfathered), there are alternate ways of cooking the barbacoa. Most no longer use smoke at all. The oven makes a good alternate place to cook the barbacoa.

Barbacoa Tacos

Barbacoa Tacos

 

Barbacoa in the oven

Barbacoa in the oven

Barbacoa (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

1 cow head, skinned and cleaned

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Garlic powder to taste

Chili powder to taste

2 onions, peeled and cut into quarters

 8 cups water

Sprinkle cow head all over with salt, pepper, garlic powder and chili powder. Rub spices in. Wrap head in aluminum foil (you may need an extra hand for this), and place in large aluminum roaster pans. Place in oven at 250 degrees for 12-24 hours.

barbacoa after cooking

barbacoa after cooking

When barbacoa is done, pull cheek meat off, and remove the jaw bones. You’ll find another large piece of meat inside. Remove any other large chunks of meat you can find. Cut away excess fat and cartilage, but don’t clean the meat too thoroughly. (Some fat in the barbacoa is tasty!) Skin the tongue and break the tongue meat into small pieces as well. Wet the meat with some of the cooking liquid to keep moist. Serve with accompaniments as tacos.

Makes about 4-5 lbs of meat. 

 

Accompaniments (photo courtesy of Rowland Chambers)

Accompaniments (photo courtesy of Rowland Chambers)

 Accompaniments:

Corn tortillas

Lime quarters

Diced onion

Cilantro, chopped

Salsa pequin (recipe follows)

 

Salsa pequin (adapted from TasteofTx.com http://www.tasteoftx.com/recipes/salsa/pequin.html )

1 28 oz can whole tomatoes

2 t garlic powder

1 t kosher salt

4 T dried crushed chile pequin

1 medium onion, quartered

 Add all ingredients together in food processor. Blend until desired consistency. Allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving. (I let it sit overnight.)

 

potato salad

Mom’s Potato Salad (adapted from, well…my Mom!)

30 medium potatoes

30 hard-boiled eggs, 26 diced, 4 sliced

2 c Miracle Whip or mayonnaise

1 c yellow mustard

1 large red onion, diced

2 c diced dill pickles

salt and pepper to taste

A few dashes of paprika

Boil potatoes until tender. Drain water and allow potatoes to cool. Peel and cut into 1-inch chunks. Add potatoes, diced egg, Miracle Whip, mustard, onion, and pickles into a large bowl and gently mix. Salt and pepper to taste and mix. Lay slices of egg on top of potato salad as decoration. Sprinkle with paprika.

Serves about 30.

 coleslaw

Texas Coleslaw

½ c extra-virgin olive oil

½ c white vinegar

1 t salt

1 t ground black pepper

1 t celery seed

1 t sugar

1 t coarse ground mustard

¼ t cayenne pepper

1 medium head of green cabbage, shredded

3 large carrots, shredded or julienned (I used my julienne peeler)

1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

½ red onion, thinly sliced

Combine oil,vinegar, salt, pepper, celery seed, sugar, mustard and cayenne. Toss with the cabbage, carrots, apple and onion until well mixed. Allow to mellow in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

Makes about 8 cups.

 

Ancho Barbecue Sauce (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

1 T olive oil

2 c chopped onion

7 cloves garlic, chopped

1 c ketchup

½ c Worcestershire sauce

1/3 c brown sugar

¼ c cider vinegar

¼ c lemon juice

1 ½ T coarse ground mustard

Salt to taste

 Soak the anchos in water for 30 minutes or until soft. Reserve water. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat and add onion and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes or until wilted. Add ketchup and anchos and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients plus about ½ cup of ancho soaking water, and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the mixture from heat and allow to cool. Place in food processor and puree. Before serving, add up to 1 cup of meat drippings and reheat. (do not store sauce with meat drippings)

 Makes about 4 cups.

 

Pineapple Barbecue Sauce (adapted from Robb Walsh’s Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook)

2 c pineapple juice

¼ c cider vinegar

¼ c Worcestershire sauce

1/3 c wheat-free soy sauce

½ t salt

1 ¼ c ketchup

1 T coarse ground mustard

1 c chopped onion

½ t Chinese five-spice powder

1 ½ T Tabasco sauce

3 T molasses

1 lemon, sliced thin and seeded

 Combine all ingredients in saucepan and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until onion and lemon are soft. Remove lemon, and remove sauce from heat. Allow to cool. Puree sauce in food processor. Reheat before serving.

 Makes about 4 cups.

 

East Texas Blackeyed Peas

4 slices bacon, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

1 lb fresh or frozen blackeyed peas

2 c chicken broth

water to cover

Heat large saucepan to medium-high heat. Add bacon and cook for 5 minutes or until bacon starts to render fat and crisp a little. Add onions, garlic, and jalapeno. Saute for another 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft and bacon is cooked through. Add blackeyed peas, chicken broth, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until peas are tender. Serves 6-8.