Michelle and I have several meals over the next couple of days for which we need black beans. We decided to go ahead and make a big pot of frijoles negros using two pounds of dry beans. Recipe plans include corn and black bean salad one night and to be refried with our shrimp fajitas and breakfast burritos plus enough should be leftover will go with our soup dreams.
If your beans are old, it may take longer for them to cook. After 6 hours in the slow cooker, if your beans are still rocks, consider putting the still tough beans in a One Pot or pressure cooker for 15 minutes.
Cuban Style Black Beans in the Slow Cooker
2 lbs dried black beans
2 medium onions, quartered
5-6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 bell pepper, quartered
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Soak beans overnight in a bowl with enough warm water to cover the beans plus 2 inches.
Drain and rinse the beans. Place them in the slow cooker with the quartered onion, bell pepper, garlic cloves, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Pour in 8 cups water and stir gently to mix.
Turn the slow cooker on high. Check to make sure water level stays above the top of the beans. Warm water before adding any into the slow cooker. Skim off any foam during the cook. Beans are done when tender but not mushy and that can take from 4-6 hours, depending on your slow cooker.
Discard the bay leaves. Strain out the vegetables and place them in a food mill or food processor with 1-2 cups of beans and about a cup of the bean liquid. Process to liquify then add back into the beans and stir to combine. Add in the vinegar and sugar and continue to simmer for 15 minutes to thirty minutes. Taste for seasoning.
Serve with rice or use as a base for soup or in a corn and black salad (recipe here).
I went to the Crescent City Farmers Market on Saturday and found some beautiful Creole tomatoes. These tomatoes have a wonderful taste because they are grown only in the River Parishes of Louisiana, so they don’t have to travel far from the field to reach my plate.
I used the new-to-me bread machine from Michelle’s mom to make the dough for some French bread. I relied on the recipe from the Fleischmann’s Bread World website. It wasn’t the prettiest loaf of bread I’ve ever made, so no pictures of it.
While the dough was rising, it was time to toss together diced tomatoes with some basil, olive oil and salt. For about two large tomatoes, you’ll need about a 1/4 cup of high quality olive oil, about 1/4 cup of fresh basil, cut in a chiffonade (stack the leaves, roll them like a cigar and slice thinly). Add in a few generous pinches of coarse sea salt like Fleur de Sel and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Stir and let sit for the flavors to come together.
I took the bread from the oven and, once it had cooled, I cut it into rounds. Those, I lightly brushed with olive oil and then toasted them on a grill pan (to make pretty grill marks). While still warm, I rubbed them with a raw clove of garlic. Then, I mounded on the tomato and basil mix and ate until I was fit to burst.
Oh, the taste of summer!
It has been quite chilly these past few days, so I decided to make some soup. In my freezer, I had some corn taken off the cobs grown in Michelle’s grandfather’s field. James Earl Clark passed on last summer and his kindness and generosity is greatly missed.
You can make this vegan by eliminating the bacon, using oil instead of the butter and using a vegetable stock. Better yet, consider boiling the corn cobs after you’ve removed the kernels in a large pot to make a corn stock instead. Replace the cow’s milk with soy milk.
For extra rich soup, replace the milk with heavy cream. The soup will need more stirring during the final cook to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
3 slices bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 cups sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
4 cups chicken broth (for vegetarians, use corn stock)
1 ½ cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper.
3 tablespoons yellow corn meal
¼ cup water
Add bacon pieces to a large dutch oven and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. They should have rendered their fat but not be crispy. Place in the diced onion and potato and stir well. Cook for about 10 minutes, until onion is translucent and potato has softened. Add butter and corn. Stir and cook until butter melts. Pour in chicken broth and milk and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce heat to low. In a a small mixing bowl, combine cornmeal and water. Pour into the chowder. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
Ladle 3 cups of the soup (being sure to get lots of the onion, corn and potato) into a blender and puree. Return to soup and stir to combine. Taste for seasonings.
Serve with sourdough bread or another hearty, crusty bread.
I know, I know, another post on vegetables. You think I had turned 50 years old and finally realized I needed to eat (a little) better.
I don’t know about you but I grew up eating limp and soggy boiled broccoli, tossed with butter mask the funky flavor. I graduated to steaming it but would still sometimes overcook it to a sulfuric tasting mess if I got distracted putting the rest of the meal together.
These days, I’ve found that roasting in the oven gives me more leeway before overcooking as it browns before overcooking, so your nose knows. Additionally, the roasting gives it a sweeter, almost nutty flavor.
Tossed with a little garlic and lemon and you have a very tasty side dish!
Lemon Garlic Roasted Broccoli
2 medium heads of broccoli
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Zest of half a lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cut broccoli into florets and pile onto a rimmed baking sheet.
Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic, salt and pepper. Use your fingers to toss, then spread out over tray in a single layer.
Bake for about 20 minutes until the tips of the florets are slightly browned. The broccoli should be tender crisp and cooked through.
Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle over the lemon juice and butter. Toss to combine. Scatter lemon zest over and serve.
It was a bit cold last night, so rethought going outdoors to cook dinner. Instead, I cooked the shrimp on the grill pan on the stove top. The timing is the same.
I used my go to cheat – a bottle of Cajun Power Garlic Sauce on the shrimp. This isn’t a hot sauce but so well seasoned that it goes well with chicken, pork, seafood and even vegetables.
It was good to have friends over to enjoy the meal. Jess, Julie and Nancy helped warm up the house with laughter and good conversation. And, thanks again to Kenny for leaving the gallon jug of margarita’s – they were a hit!
1.5 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup Cajun Power Garlic Sauce
If using wood skewers, soak them in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling.
In a bowl, mix the shrimp with the Cajun Power Garlic Sauce. Toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate until ready to grill, up to 2 hours.
Skewer shrimp and place on a medium hot grill or a preheated grill pan. Grill about 3 minutes per side or until they are opaque throughout.
I placed the shrimp on a bed of mashed sweet potatoes – quite a tasty accompaniment and a switch from the pasta I would have usually served with them.
Mashed Sweet Potatoes
2 lb. sweet potatoes (roasted and peeled), warm
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Roast sweet potatoes in a 350 degree F oven for 45 minutes or until done. Scoop out interiors and place in a bowl.
Mash together sweet potatoes, butter, milk, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Taste and add more brown sugar, cinnamon or salt, if needed. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Place warm sweet potato mixture on plates. Arrange shrimp on top.
I’ve been making snacks all weekend (Spicy, Chili Cheesy Dip, Cocoa Cinnamon Sugar Roasted Chickpeas, Circles and Squares). I couldn’t stop there, so I grabbed the bag of shelled edamame and got to work.
Salty Garlicky Roasted Edamame
1 bag frozen, shelled edamame
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
Thaw bag of frozen edamame in a strainer. For a quick thaw, run frozen edamame under running water. Spread thawed edamame onto a towel to dry.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, salt and garlic. Stir in edamame and toss to coat. Spread the edamame onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, shaking the pan regularly. Edamame is done when it is browned and crispy.
Store in an airtight container.
Optional: toss with 2 to 3 tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese while stir warm.
As much as it might surprise regular readers of my food blog, I don’t always have cream in the house. I do have whole milk, though, so I was able to do a cheat on one of my corn recipes.
Using corn that Michelle cut off the cob and frozen in pint bags, I made some delicious creamed corn. It was thick and rich and no one missed the cream.
2 cups corn off the cob (2 cans)
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup whole milk, divided
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
In a medium skillet, combine corn, butter and 1/2 cup milk. Place over medium heat. Add the flour to the remaining 1/2 milk and whisk to combine. Pour flour mixture into the corn and stir well. Add in the salt and pepper and bring to a simmer, stirring regularly, making sure to scrape the bottom so the milk doesn’t burn.
After about 10 minutes, the mixture will have thickened. Taste for seasonings and serve.
I know, I know! I’m doing a salad post. Trust me, when you see what is in it, you’ll enjoy it, too. And, if it helps, I served this with a medium rare ribeye steak.
This recipe covers enough spinach for 4 salad eaters, so I would double it if serving more.
Wilted Spinach Salad Dressing
1 teaspoons bacon grease
1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
Heat together in a small saucepan and pour over salad right before tossing and serving.
For the salad itself – baby spinach leaves, 2 slices of bacon (chopped), 2 green onions (sliced), 1 hard boiled egg (chopped), 1 cup mushrooms (sliced) and 1/4 cup pecans (chopped).
We had a shrimp boil last night and, since corn goes well with shrimp, we decided to make corn fritters to go with the sea’s bounty. What resulted was closer to corn latkes or savory corn pancakes but they were super corny and delicious.
If you don’t have fresh corn, use frozen kernels.
Corn Fritters AKA Corn Latkes
4 ears fresh corn (about 2 cups)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 small onion, grated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon corn starch
pinch cayenne pepper
½ cup vegetable oil, or more as needed.
Using a sharp knife, cut ears of corn lengthwise through the kernels to remove them from the cob. Using the back of a knife, scrape any pulp and corn milk from cobs into the bowl.
Divide corn in half and run one of the halves through the blender to puree. Mix all the corn back together in a medium bowl. Stir in cornmeal, egg, flour, milk, onion, salt and cayenne pepper. Mix well.
In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Drop 6 tablespoons of batter into hot oil. Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fritters to a plate lined with paper towels. If necessary, add more oil to skillet and heat until shimmering then fry remaining batter. Serve fritters immediately.
There is something deeply satisfying about elevating a common dish with a couple of uncommon ingredients. Potatoes are an awesome palate to work from, especially when you’ve got a bottle of truffle oil and some parmesan cheese just waiting to be used.
The fries come out crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside with a flavor profile reminiscent of a top quality bistro or steakhouse.
2 russet potatoes
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon truffle oil
freshly grated parmesan cheese to taste (about 1/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Scrub and then slice potatoes into wedges. Place in a large mixing bowl.
In a small bowl mix together the spices. Coat the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with spice mix. Toss again to coat completely.
Spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Use a spatula to flip the fries over. Return to oven and cook 15 minutes more or until cooked through.
Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Toss with the truffle oil and parmesan cheese and serve warm.