Archive for the ‘ingredients’ Category

20 Minute Cider Black Beans with Bacon

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

A confession: I avoided black beans for nearly a decade, after being scarred by my mother’s frequent cooking of them during my high school years. Thanks to the open floor plan of my childhood home, the scent wafted throughout the house relentlessly. I don’t know why it was so offensive at the time, but just the mention of black beans made me nauseous for years after I left home.

Fast forward a few years, with a new baby in the house, and it became unavoidable as I researched real food options for babies that I would, in fact, have to learn to cook black beans. (Black beans are a good source of protein, iron, magnesium and folate.) It was one thing to order black beans on the side when out to eat, but I still shied away from making them at home.

cider black beans with bacon

Recently, the boy requested that we start observing “Taco Tuesday.” Now, he doesn’t eat tacos, but that didn’t deter him from the idea. He figured I’d make him a quesadilla and the rest of us would have tacos. For week one, I made these cider baked beans and pork carnitas. Week two I had less time, so used chicken breast for the meat — but the boy was so excited about the beans that he decided to try a bean and cheese “taco” (really, more like a burrito). And last night he asked for it again — so I think we have a winner on our hands. Now, I also used bacon in the beans — so it’s not a meatless recipe — but it won praise from my previously bean-adverse husband as well.

You could use dried beans and cook this the slow way — but thanks to my favorite Eden Foods canned beans (BPA-free and no added salt), this can be ready in 20 minutes flat. Just enough time to warm tortillas and prep the other taco fillings and accompaniments. (I think half the reason the boy requested taco night was for the all-important tortilla chips and salsa.) Thanks to the Washington Post, whose recipe for cider baked beans inspired me to add the sweet boiled cider here.

Recipe: Cider Black Beans with Bacon

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons boiled cider*
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch salt and black pepper

Instructions:

In a Dutch oven or large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add beans, stir and cook one minute. Add boiled cider and water and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring just once or twice, for about 15 minutes (until most of the liquid is absorbed). Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with brown rice, tortillas, and thinly sliced peppers, shredded carrots or other favorite vegetables. Makes 4 servings.

[*Note: if you don't have boiled cider on hand, replace the boiled cider and water with fresh apple cider. Alternatively, you could swap it for pure maple syrup.]

Do you have a theme dinner night at your house?

Clementines for the Holidays

Thursday, December 10th, 2009

It’s no secret that citrus is one of the reasons I could never live on a 100% local diet — at least not without moving back to California first. As soon as the weather dips near freezing, I start stocking up on grapefruit, oranges, Meyer lemons or, my favorite, clementines. As much as possible I buy organic citrus from Florida, but for clementines it’s the real thing, all the way from Spain. (I actually spotted those newfangled California “Cuties” at Whole Foods the other day, but stuck with the Old World variety.) When I was a kid, we always got a clementine in our stocking, and devoured it while waiting for Christmas breakfast to be ready. I’ve planned to do the same for the boy, but considering how many clementines we eat in the weeks leading up to Christmas, I’m not sure it’s quite as special a treat.

Today I had a meeting near one of my favorite restaurants in the city, Jaleo, so I stopped in for lunch. Imagine my delight to see the “Clementina Festival!” sign in the window. I couldn’t resist and enjoyed a three-course clementine lunch. First up, seared clementines with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and microgreens. Simple yet bursting with flavor. For the main course, seared squid with artichokes and clementines, the citrus contrasting perfectly with the silky squid. And then dessert. Clementine ice cream atop clementine curd, with some almond/graham cracker crumbs and fresh clementine slices — drizzled with olive oil. Perfection. It was like being transported to sunny Spain for an hour, and left me inspired to do more than just eat our way through the box of clementines straight up. The clementine curd in particular has me pondering a clementine tart … stay tuned.

Do you cook with clementines? What’s your favorite way to use them?

Clementina-web-banner

If you’re in DC, the Clementina Festival continues at Jaleo through December 20.

At Market: Cantaloupe Soup with Ham and Basil

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

(Don’t forget, it’s National Farmers Market Week and the Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets photo contest is now open!)

For a good portion of my life, I hated cantaloupe. I would eat honeydew and watermelon without a second thought, but carefully, obsessively, pick out any orange-fleshed melon pieces from fruit salads. When the foodietot and melonFoodie Tot was born, the husband and I agreed to introduce him to foods we hated without prejudice and let him form his own opinions. (That meant bananas and canteloupe for me, and many green vegetables for the husband.) I’ve learned to cope with bananas ripening on the counter, despite my continued abhorrence of the sight and smell of brown spots, but was surprised to discover last summer that sweet, locally-grown cantaloupe is actually enjoyable. People often assume that melon is less nutritious because of its high water contents, but in fact cantaloupe is loaded with beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, potassium, folate and fiber, making it a nutrition power house. It’s peak melon season now locally, and most produce stands at local farmers markets offer an array of melons in shades of orange, yellow, green and red. Pick one that is still firm to the touch but smell the stem end to test for ripeness — the sweeter the better.

Of course my Italian heritage demands that I serve melon draped in prosciutto, and the Southern Maryland/Virginia melons found at our local farmers markets are perfectly suited for the task. Inspired by tomatoes melonsthat classic sweet-salty pairing, I decided to try my hand at a cantaloupe soup. We ventured out in the rain to the West End Alexandria market Sunday — because Foodie Tots are not fair weather market fans — and the dark, gloomy day put me in the mood for soup. This simple soup could be served warm or chilled. It’s topped with crispy prosciutto-style ham and fried basil leaves. I can’t call this toddler-approved as the foodie tot spit it out in a fussy refusing to eat rebellion, but if your kid is in a less finicky mood I suspect they might at least be slightly intrigued by this sweet, orange soup.

Recipe: Cantaloupe Soup with Ham and Basil

cantaloupe soup recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 good sized cantaloupe (4 cups, cubed)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 slices prosciutto-style ham
  • several small basil leaves

Instructions: Heat oil over medium heat in stock pot. Cook onions until soft and translucent (but not browned). Add melon and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes, until melon falls apart when prodded with a spoon. Season with just a tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cool before blending in blender in small batches, or in pot with a stick blender. Serve warm or chill for several hours to serve cold.

Before serving, thinly slice and chop ham into small pieces. Fry over medium high heat until browned and crispy. Remove from heat and pat with paper towel to remove excess oil. Cook basil leaves in the ham’s drippings until translucent and crisp (do not stir), remove carefully. Sprinkle ham bits and basil leaves in center of soup before serving. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

one local summer 2009This, along with a Cibola Farms buffalo steak and sauteed Swiss chard from our CSA, is our featured One Local Summer meal of the week. Our squash blossom succotash crepes earlier in the week were also all-local. We’re now celebrating National Farmers Market Week with a market menu every night — stay tuned for the highlights. And be sure to grab your camera when you head to the market this week to enter the Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Market photo contest! Just upload a picture to the Flickr pool by Sunday, August 9.

At Market: Squash Blossom Succotash (and get ready for Farmers Market Week!)

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

July at the Markets: Summer harvest is in full stride now at the Alexandria/DC markets, with sweet corn, summer squash, and the first heirloom tomatoes making their debut. Blueberries and raspberries will soon be gone, and early varieties of apples are already turning up.

I intended to make Oyamel’s squash blossom soup with my recent market bounty, but instead decided to make a succotash to fill some buckwheat crepes. Sort of a repeat of last summer’s Chesapeake Crepes, with the addition of okra and the blossoms. I picked up okra and multicolored jalapeños at Sunday’s West End Alexandria Market, and the squash blossoms I scored two-for-one from Westmoreland Berry Farm as it was getting close to closing time. The bicolor sweet corn came from Long Meadow Farm at last Wednesday’s King Street Market.

Cooking with squash blossoms: Sure squash blossoms look pretty and have a heady sweet fragrance that screams summer, but are you wondering what to actually do with them? They have a mild flavor that benefits from a simple preparation – stuffed with goat cheese or ricotta and quickly fried is a classic Italian dish, but you can also use them in soups or other dishes more like an herb. The blossoms are very delicate and are best used the day of purchase. If you don’t get to them that day, be sure to put them in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook them, pull the flower open gently to avoid ripping and be on the lookout for little, uh, critters (the downside of buying organic) while you pinch and gently remove the stamen. Then carefully fill and fry or bake for stuffed blossoms, or slice them up for this recipe.

Recipe: Squash Blossom Succotash

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ears corn, kernels removed
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 pint okra, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 4 squash blossoms, thinly sliced
  • 4 leaves basil, torn
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Instructions: Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add corn and jalapeño and cook several minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add okra. Cook 3-4 minutes until corn is beginning to brown and okra is just tender. Stir in tomato, squash blossoms and basil and cook 1 additional minute, then remove from heat. Sprinkle with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.

To make crepes: prepare buckwheat crepe batter and cook crepes on one side. Flip and sprinkle cooked side with grated cheddar cheese and a large spoonful of succotash. Cook about a minute and fold, then remove from heat. I folded the toddler’s in half like a quesadilla. He doesn’t usually eat tomatoes and had never eaten okra, but he devoured this and asked for more. I have to give credit to Mr. Tom’s cheese, it makes everything go down easier. Enjoy!

More squash blossom recipes:

Farmers Market Week is coming! National Farmers Market Week begins Sunday, August 2. Visit a farmers market near you and let me know what’s new! See something unusual? Ask here and I’ll tell you what to do with it.

At the Winter Markets, Sunchokes, Brussels & Quince

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008

While not all of us get to enjoy sunny weather and fresh local citrus year-round, you may be surprised at the variety of local produce that’s still available even into December. Here in the DC area, apples and pears are winter mainstays, along with sweet potatoes and other root vegetables. Greens and other vegetables are greenhouse-grown, keeping them on the market tables long after the first frost. December is an ideal time to sample some of the aged cheeses that might be available, as cheeses aged several months come from cows (or goats or sheep) milked at the peak of summer’s green grass season. This is also the time to check out your farmers’ prepared items that you might have skipped over in the heyday of summer. Locally, Toigo, D&S Farm and Bigg Riggs offer homemade pasta sauces, salsas, jams and more that will speed up your dinner preparations but offer the continued assurance that they contain the best of local, all-natural ingredients.

In Alexandria, the Del Ray Farmers Market season officially ended this past weekend, but Toigo Orchards will be returning through December 20 and Tom the Cheese Guy and Smith Meadows Farms will be coming through the winter. The Old Town Alexandria market is year-round.

In the District, the Penn Quarter FreshFarm market continues for two more weeks, through Thursday, December 18. Of course, the biggest selection continues to be at the Dupont Circle Market, where I recently came across sunchokes and leeks from Next Step Produce which I used to make this wonderful seasonal soup. Quince are another seasonal specialty, currently available from Toigo. Last year I made a quince-cranberry sauce with them, but for now they are freshening up my refrigerator (they pack a potent sweet aroma!) while I try to decide what recipe to try next.

For those local, I’ve prepared a Google Map of markets continuing through December and beyond. (With thanks to the Washington Post’s farmers market guide.) Outside the Beltway? Check Local Harvest for a winter market near you.

And please share, what favorite winter item have you cooked with recently?