Archive for the ‘proteins’ 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?

Middle Eastern Grilled Goat Kabobs

Monday, August 1st, 2011

{This is, obviously, a not-so-meatless recipe. Check back next week for a fresh and seasonal Meatless Monday recipe.}

As a devotee to all-things-dairy, I was excited to spot the “Goaterie” blog party mentioned on Twitter. Of course, there’s more to goat (or from) than cheese, so it seemed time to give the meat a try. Fortunately, I knew right where to turn for “happy” goat meat — Painted Hand Farm at the Bloomingdale Farmers Market in DC. When I asked which cut of meat would be best for cutting up, I was steered towards the leg — more meat than the shoulder. I bought two small leg pieces and headed home to research recipes. I originally had a curried dish in mind, but the Middle Eastern kabob recipe jumped out at me. I had read complaints about goat meat’s toughness, so I employed my favorite tenderizing marinade: yogurt. In this case, goats-milk yogurt, of course. The result was quite tasty — grilled to medium rare, the meat was still tender and moist. It has a flavor somewhat in between that of lamb and chicken, and in fact, goat meat has less saturated fat than even chicken. I used my favorite purple bell peppers from the market, but you can use any color you prefer.

middle eastern grilled goat kabobs

Recipe: Middle Eastern Grilled Goat Kebabs
Adapted from Blue Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1/2 cup goat milk yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 pounds trimmed goat meat, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into chunks
  • 6 bamboo or metal skewers
  • pita bread

For yogurt sauce, layer the following in a small bowl:

  • 1/2 cup goat milk yogurt
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • several leaves fresh mint, chopped

Instructions: Heat small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and stir until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Grind cumin in mortar; add garlic, salt, pepper, oregano and cinnamon and grind to a paste. In a large bowl or 1-gallon plastic bag, mix the spice mixture with pomegranate molasses and yogurt.  Add goat meat and rub to coat pieces evenly with the marinade. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. While meat marinates, soak bamboo skewers (if using) in water.

Preheat grill to medium-high. Remove goat from marinade. Thread goat pieces and pepper pieces on to skewers. Grill, turning frequently, for 5-7 minutes for medium-rare. Serve with yogurt-tomato sauce and warm pita bread. Makes 3-4 servings.

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This post is being shared with the Goaterie event hosted by Creative Culinary and La Fuji Mama. If you’re curious about cooking with goat meat, check out Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough.

Panzanella with Cannellini Beans

Friday, August 6th, 2010

Looking for a no-cook summer supper idea? How about one that uses up almost-overripe tomatoes and stale bread? Panzanella is an Italian summer salad that is best made with the ripest summer tomatoes you can find — and the perfect way to use those tomatoes sitting on your kitchen counter.

Panzanella can be served as a side dish or the main course — because I was serving this for Meatless Monday, I added cannellini (or white kidney) beans to boost the protein content. A good quality cheese — parmigiano reggiano or my personal favorite, a sharp pecorino — is a great finishing touch. Because I use canned beans to save time (see note below), I like to cook them with a little garlic first to add flavor. You can omit that step if you prefer, or if you’re more organized than I and cook dried beans ahead of time.

Recipe: Panzanella with Cannellini Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 loaf day-old Italian bread
  • 1 15-ounce can cannellini beans*
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 large, very ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh basil, thinly sliced
  • parmigiano or pecorino cheese
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus 1 tablespoon for the beans)
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • sea salt and black pepper

* I use Eden brand organic, BPA-free canned beans

Instructions: Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and spread on a baking sheet in a single layer. Toast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 5 minutes.

In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium low. Cook garlic for 2-3 minutes, until soft. Rinse and drain the canned beans, then add them to the pan, stirring to combine with the garlic. Cook on low for 5 minutes.

In a large salad bowl, pour the bread cubes, cooked beans, tomatoes and basil. Separately, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper to make a vinaigrette. Drizzle over the salad and toss gently to combine. Let the salad sit on the counter for 15-30 minutes to let the flavors meld before eating. Just before serving, grate some cheese over top. Makes 4-6 servings. Enjoy!

Note: this recipe depends on juicy tomatoes to moisten the salad — if your salad seems dry, add additional olive oil and vinegar to taste.

Pork Two Ways: Carnitas Tacos

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

The husband and I spent our college years in Southern California, and we frequently find ourselves craving authentic tacos. We’ve identified a few local establishments over the years, but I’ve also discovered it’s fairly easy to make great carnitas (roasted pork) at home. The main ingredient is time, but other than browning the roast in the beginning and then shredding the meat part way through, all the work is done in the oven. (Or on the grill, if you like.) You can also cut the meat into cubes, but I prefer it shredded. If you finish the carnitas the same day you roast the pork, it will keep a couple days in the fridge to make an easy weeknight meal — I had enough to freeze half for another time too.

The boy loves Mexican food, but typically sticks to quesadillas and burritos. He insisted he didn’t like tacos, so I made him a “taco pocket” instead … a.k.a., burrito, with veggies on the side. I suspect I may get him to warm up to tacos if we make fresh, kid-size tortillas, but that’s a project for another day.

Recipe: Pork Carnitas Tacos (& Taco Pockets)

Ingredients:

for tacos:

  • tortillas
  • shredded romaine lettuce
  • thinly sliced red peppers
  • salsa verde
  • sour cream

for “taco pockets” (a.k.a. burritos):

  • tortillas
  • brown rice
  • black beans
  • shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Transfer the roasted pork to a shallow roasting pan. Shred the pork, using two forks, into large segments. Trim excess fat as you shred. Top with the salsa and roast for 1 hour, turning over once. Top should develop a crisp, carmelized crust, while interior remains moist. Remove from oven and serve with warmed tortillas, sour cream, sliced bell peppers, lettuce and any other desired accompaniments.

Kid-Friendly Taco Pockets: For the taco pocket, warm a tortilla in a skillet over medium heat. In the center, layer rice, beans, pork, and cheese. Fold in sides, then ends, to make a rectangle-shaped pocket. Place back in skillet and warm about a minute on each side to melt the cheese. To avoid toddler troubles, I serve the veggies next to it but you could certainly add peppers inside if that’s not an issue in your house.

For more on pork carnitas, read David Lebovitz’s (a fellow Cali ex-pat) tale of serving carnitas in Paris.

Dinner Twice: Cuban Pork Two Ways

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

After getting through the first trimester of my pregnancy, where we relied on take-out dinners far more frequently than usual, I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of daily cooking and adopting some new strategies that’ll make it easier to get dinner on the table when dealing with two kids underfoot. My favorite trick: cooking a Sunday supper that can be re-purposed into different quick meals during the week. This has the added benefit of stretching the budget for local, pastured meats.

First up, Cuban roast pork. Pork shoulder is a less expensive, higher fat cut of meat that benefits from a long cooking time. Once prepped and placed in the oven, you can head out to the playground for a while and let it cook. I served the pork, sliced, with brown rice and black beans cooked with bacon and garlic. If you can’t find a blood orange, a regular one will do.

Recipe: Cuban Roast Pork

Ingredients:

  • 3 to 4-pound pork shoulder (also called Boston butt)
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 blood orange, cut into eighths
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 ounces salsa verde
  • 1 bottle Mexican beer

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season pork generously with salt, pepper and a touch of smoked paprika and set aside. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium high heat. Sear pork until browned, 4-5 minutes on each side. Spread onions around and under pork, and arrange orange slices around pan. Add bay leaves, salsa and the beer. Cover and cook in oven for 2 hours. Remove lid and cook 1 hour more, until pork falls apart when prodded with a fork.

Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Cut out excess fat, and slice a portion for the first night. Serve with rice, black beans, fresh cilantro and additional orange slices.

Prep for Night 2: Shred remaining pork, using two forks, and removing excess fat. Refrigerate shredded pork. Check back Thursday for the second recipe: carnitas!