Tag Archives: Beans

Frijoles Borrachos

Frijoles Borrachos

Happy Friday!! Today we are wrapping up Christmas Gift Week, a week where I have showcased some of the food/cooking related stuff I was given for Christmas this year! Once again, thanks to my lovely family for the sweet gifts – I love them all!

frijoles borrachos

Today we are showcasing another cookbook; this one I received from Matt’s parents: The Latin Road Home by Jose Garces. Of course y’all know Chef Garces; he’s a Latin-born restaurant chef that rose to common knowledge status when he competed on and won Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef several years ago. This book he released a few years ago is quite excellent.

frijoles borrachos (Mexican drunken beans)

The book walks you through Latin food of several different countries, with each country being a different section and each section divided by region or city. Garces gives detailed recipes, plus essays on the food culture of each country and region/city, peppered with personal anecdotes. He takes us through Ecuador, Spain, Cuba (which includes a chapter on Miami), Mexico, and Peru. I suppose it’s predictable that the first recipe I made came from the Mexico chapter, but never fear, I am quite looking forward to exploring the other sections as well.

Frijoles Borrachos

Frijoles Borrachos is a classic Mexican dish, which is translated as “drunken beans.” It’s freakin’ delicious. Even reheating the leftovers in the microwave makes your kitchen smell intoxicating. The dish will feed a small army, and your army will love it. Try it soon!

And now we will of course recap my week of enjoying my wonderful Christmas gifts!

First up, my parents gave me a square doughnut pan, so I made these decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter Doughnuts. Wowsers.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Doughnuts

 

 

 

 

 

Secondly, I made these utterly insane Bacon and Hazelnut Buttermilk Caramels for my friends, using my brand new candy thermometer from my sis and a new cookbook from my mom. There were no words for the caramels. You just have to try them.

Bacon and Hazelnut Buttermilk Caramels

 

 

 

 

 

And thirdly, I used some homemade blackberry jam from my mother-in-law to make, for the first time ever, homemade toaster pastries (Pop Tarts – and yes, I’m calling them toaster pastries because Pop Tart is a brand name and a trademarked term). These Blackberry Jam Toaster Pastries were amazing. There is absolutely no comparison between homemade and store bought in this instance.

blackberry jam toaster pastries

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and I also threw in a bonus post this week – I did a guest post for my friend Shaina, who’s visiting New Orleans this week. I made her some Creole Meatball Po’Boys and they were outstanding! Get the recipe at her site, and check out the rest of her awesome blog!

Creole Meatball Po'Boys

 

 

 

 

 

{One year ago: Maple Glazed Baby Back Ribs}

Source: slightly adapted from The Latin Road Home by Jose Garces

Ingredients:
4 cups dried pinto beans
4 thick-cut slices bacon, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
12 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
1 (28 oz.) can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with juice
2 (12 oz.) bottles of Mexican beer, such as Negra Modelo
1 quart chicken stock
1 lb. plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:
Soak the beans in a large mixing bowl in cool water covered by 2 inches overnight.
Drain and rinse the soaked beans. Combine them in a large saucepan or Dutch oven with enough water to cover by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat to simmer and cook about 90 minutes. The beans should be not quite tender, still a bit dry on the inside.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon over medium heat in a large skillet until just crispy at the edges. Stir in the onions, garlic and jalapenos and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and beer and stir to combine. Continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 to 20 minutes.
Shut off the heat on the skillet and pour its contents into the stockpot with the beans. Add the chicken stock and stir to combine. Simmer until the beans are tender, 30 to 40 minutes more.
Just before serving, fold in the plum tomatoes and cilantro, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Heads up, you’ll likely need a lot of salt as this is quite the large pot of beans.

Garbanzo Bean, Lentil, and Vegetable Stew

garbanzo bean, lentil, veggie stew

Happy Friday everyone! Today we wrap up Winter Stew Week by being good and eating our vegetables, like mom said we should. In deciding what kinds of stew to make for this week, I wanted to be sure and have a vegetarian option in there, but of course didn’t want it to be bland. Or too light. I mean, it is stew after all. This legume-and-potato-filled bowl really fits the bill on all counts. Very hearty and filling, without weighing you down. And it comes together much more quickly than beef stew, yet tastes like it slow cooked all day. Win!

Garbanzo Bean, Lentil and Vegetable Stew

So now let’s recap Winter Stew Week.

First up, I could not do a theme of stew without including a classic beef version. This one was delicious, and included some dark greens for our health!

Red Wine Beef and Chard Stew

 

 

 

 

 

Next up, we ventured down South for a classic: Brunswick Stew! Easy, hearty, delicious.

brunswick stew

 

 

 

 

 

And yesterday we had a Spanish-inspired fish stew, which was light, healthy, and very scrumptious.

fish, fennel and saffron stew

 

 

 

 

 

I hope you enjoyed this week and this gave you some good ideas for what to make on those bitterly cold days when you need something earthy and cozy. Also, be sure you check out some other stew recipes from the blogosphere!

Garbanzo Bean, Lentil and Veggie Stew

Recipe Round-Up:
Cabernet Braised Short Rib Stew from How Sweet Eats
Guinness Beef Stew from The Texan New Yorker
Slow Cooker Tex-Mex Chicken Stew from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures
Fish and Zucchini Puttanesca Stew from Closet Cooking
Spicy Calamari Stew with Garlic Rubbed Ciabatta Toasts from The Texan New Yorker
Crock Pot Chickpea, Butternut Squash, and Red Lentil Stew from Eat Live Run

Source: adapted from The Bon Appetit Cookbook, edited by Barbara Fairchild

Ingredients:
2 tbs olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large sprig of rosemary
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp caraway seeds
½ tsp cayenne
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 cups vegetable stock
½ cup water
1 cup dried lentils
1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup chopped Yukon gold potatoes
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 (10 oz.) bag of baby spinach

Directions:
Heat the oil in a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and carrot. Sauté until softened. Add the rosemary, garlic, tomato paste, coriander, caraway seeds, and cayenne. Stir for 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the stock, water, and lentils. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover the pot, and let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are mostly cooked. Add the beans, potatoes, and parsley. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked.
Stir the spinach into the stew. Let it wilt, about 3 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed. Ladle into bowls and serve; but don’t forget to fish out the rosemary stem!

Black Eyed Pea and Chorizo Soup

Black eyed pea and chorizo soup

Happy New Year!!! Here’s hoping your celebrations were fun, happy, and safe. We played things low-key this year, just stayed home, did some cooking, and watched my Baylor Bears lose the Fiesta Bowl, a bowl game they were favored to win. Oh boy….

Despite that, I’m feeling incredibly happy and thankful today, because on this exact date last year, I awoke with a very bad case of the flu. Today I awoke feeling perfectly fine. I’ll take it!

I have discovered only in recent years that this is a Texas and some-of-the-Deep-South thing, but growing up we always ate black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Apparently they are supposed to bring good fortune in the coming year. I have no idea the origin of this tradition, but I figure it can’t hurt, so I made this utterly delicious soup on New Year’s Eve. A soup that makes your house smell sooooo amazing and warms your belly and soul on a cold, icy, blustery, winter day (the likes of which we are apparently supposed to have until Sunday).

black eyed pea and chorizo soup

A few recipe notes: the original recipe calls for pureeing much of the soup ingredients, namely the veggies and spices. I knew that, but then I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing and tossed the onion into the crumbled chorizo. Oops. As you can imagine, we had a chunkier soup. Which worked just fine and was delicious. Of course I’m linking to the original recipe to give source credit, so if you’d rather have a smoother soup, definitely check that out. Second recipe note – you are looking for Mexican chorizo for this soup, not Spanish or Portuguese chorizo. Mexican chorizo is raw, usually in casings, and is sold in the refrigerated meat section of the grocery store, or behind the butcher counter. Spanish and Portuguese chorizo is cured, ready-to-eat, and is not refrigerated when sold. Make sure you get the correct kind. And I think that’s it! Enjoy, and Happy New Year!!

Black Eyed Pea and Chorizo Soup

Source: adapted from The Homesick Texan

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon lard or vegetable oil
1 lb. Mexican chorizo, removed from casing
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
6 cups chicken stock
15 oz. canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
3 (15-oz.) cans of black-eyed peas, drained
8 oz. pepper Jack, shredded
1/2 cup finely crushed tortilla chips
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnishing
2 tablespoon lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnishing
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Sour cream, for garnishing

Directions:
In a large soup pot, heat the lard or oil over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook, breaking it up with a potato masher or sturdy spoon, until it is crumbled and no traces of pink remain. Add the onion and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes more, or until the onion is translucent.
Add the chipotle powder, cumin, oregano, and allspice; stir to combine.
Next add the chicken stock, tomatoes, and black eyed peas. Bring the soup up to a low boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the soup from scorching on the bottom of the pot. You can skim off the fat if you please, too.
Add the cheese and tortilla chips. Let the soup continue to softly simmer about 3-5 minutes more, to melt the cheese and incorporate the tortilla chips. Add the cilantro, lime juice, and black pepper. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed. Remember the chorizo is plenty salty, so you may not need much.
Serve in soup bowls, garnished with cilantro, lime wedges and sour cream as you please.

Hummus {the Classic}

Classic Hummus Dip

Here’s a story for you – it’s about the time I ruined my perfectly good Oxo Good Grips rubber spatula… and probably ate part of it too! It all began when I ignored my kitchen instincts.

making hummus

As an aside, instincts have been shown to be not a sixth sense or divine revelation, but the result of experience. So it’s usually a good idea to follow them, especially if you’re dealing with something you’re good at or have some expertise in. So when I saw a recipe that said to make hummus in the blender, my instinct said “No, you should use your food processor.” My reasoning was that chickpeas are fairly thick and dense, and they would have more room to groove in the food pro. But the recipe said blender! It said blender! So I went with the blender.

chickpeas in the blender

And my instinct proved correct. The blender (my blender anyway) wasn’t quite equipped to puree all those garbanzos. It jammed up and wouldn’t catch the top third of the vessel. So I kept stopping the machine, using my wonderful spatula to scrape it down, and was getting nowhere. So, with the machine still running, I gingerly stuck my spatula in and scraped as the blender was running. It did work, in the sense that the chickpeas all got pureed, but predictably I scraped too low, and the blade caught the spatula.

Hummus

It took a few little chips out of the end, small enough so that I wasn’t able to fish them out, but big enough chips that the spatula was forever ruined. May he rest in peace. Oh, and the part about eating some of the spatula? Yeah, that was because it was late, I was tired, and this was dinner. So I pressed on, and hit puree again until the mixture came together. And there were undoubtedly little chips of rubber spatula in there, little rubber chips that likely got consumed on a pita chip. Oh well. No one died. (Perhaps Oxo will start advertising them as non-toxic when swallowed!)

Pioneer Woman's Hummus

But I am sharing this recipe with instructions to use your food processor, thus sparing you from eating some of your nice spatulas!

Hummus

Source: slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond

Ingredients:
3 (14.5 oz.) cans chickpeas, well drained
3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
Juice of 2 lemons
½ cup tahini
1 tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp cayenne
Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
½ cup to 1 cup cold water (yes I used the entire cup!)
2 tbs olive oil
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:
To your food processor (or blender, but you know where I stand), add the chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice, tahini, cumin, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Process the mixture, pouring in the water as you go, starting with ½ a cup and adding up to 1 cup as necessary.
Once it is to your desired thickness, add the olive oil and give it a final pulse. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
Place the hummus in a serving bowl and garnish with parsley. Serve with pita chips, tortilla chips, veggie sticks, whatever you want!

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar and tortilla chips

A few months ago, I had the following exchange with my darling husband, who you’ll remember is not from Texas.

Matt: What’s Texas caviar?
Me: Black-eyed peas.
Matt: Oh, I thought it was veal testicles.
Me: ???????

What can I say, the man leaves me speechless sometimes……

black-eyed peas

Texas Caviar is actually a salad-esque dish of black-eyed peas and veggies; it’s eaten either with a spoon as a salad/side dish, or with tortilla chips as an appetizer/dip. It was created in the 1950’s by a woman named Helen Corbitt. Corbitt moved from New York to Dallas to become the food service director at Neiman Marcus, an upscale department store.

assembling Texas caviar

The New York native was understandably unfamiliar with the humble legume, but quickly discovered its deep roots and beloved status in Texas. She came up with this dish and began serving it at swanky gatherings and chic hotels. When she served it to some wealthy patrons at Austin’s Driskill Hotel, it was dubbed Texas Caviar, and the name stuck.

making Texas caviar

It’s a delicious, healthy and filling dish. I was happy to finally make it for Matt and let him see what the fuss is *really* all about (as well as what it’s not about). I can report that he is now a big fan of the humble black-eyed pea recipe. With tortilla chips, of course.

So now I proudly present to you official, legit Texas Caviar.
With no veal. And no testicles.

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar with tortilla chips

Source: The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

Ingredients:
2 (15 oz.) cans of black-eyed peas, drained
4 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
3 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and diced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lime juice
1 generous tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Tortilla chips, for serving

Directions:
In a large bowl, stir together the black-eyed peas, scallions, cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and cumin. Stir into the black-eyed pea mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 4 hours. Serve cold with tortilla chips.

Red Kidney Bean Curry

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This is Part Three of my Favorite Food Bloggers Series!

The Way the Cookie Crumbles is a wonderful food blog run by Bridget, who lives in New Mexico with her hubby and cats. Bridget cooks and bakes, prefers baking over cooking, and takes gorgeous pictures of her scrumptious food.

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Bridget and I have a lot in common: we are both married, both thirty-something, both cat lovers (seriously, check out her About page for pics of her cats – they are so beautiful!), we both eschew boxed baking mixes, and we share a dislike of green bell peppers.

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I absolutely love Bridget’s writing. She is so charming and down to earth. When you read her blog, you immediately wish you could grab a drink with her, and imagine just laughing and chatting all night. Since Bridget lives in New Mexico, of course she is an enormous fan of hatch chiles; in one way that makes me love her even more, and in another way, it makes me a little jealous, seeing as I can never find hatch chiles in New York. But her blog is a terrific resource if you happen to have a bunch of hatches stashed in your freezer that need to be used up.

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Something Bridget does occasionally that I just love and appreciate is to compare different recipes for the same dish, like sugar cookies. She makes up all the different batches, taste tests them, and writes about her findings in specific detail. I so admire her for doing that kind of thing, and we all definitely benefit!

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Bridget claims she is more of a baker than a cook, but she’s an outstanding cook too, as is evidenced by this Red Kidney Bean Curry. Matt and I both loved this dish. I was immediately drawn to it just by reading the title of the recipe – I do not associate kidney beans with Indian cooking at all, so I loved the idea of taking an ingredient we associate with one cuisine (Cajun/Creole) and treating it in an unexpected manner (Indian curry). The result was delicious, and will leave you wondering why you didn’t think to make curry out of red kidney beans sooner.

A quick side note: I think I overdid the spices when I made this dish. I tend to get lazy and not measure spices very accurately, and I think I may have “over-measured.” So I added about a cup of chicken stock to absorb them, and it worked just fine. Try this one soon, it’s fantastic. And definitely check out Bridget’s fantastic blog if you have not already done so!

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Other amazing-looking recipes of Bridget’s I considered making: Crescent Rolls; Vegetarian Lasagna

Read the rest of this series!  Part One    Part Two    Part Four
Part Five    Part Six    Part Seven    Part Eight    Part Nine    Part Ten

Source: lightly adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
1½ teaspoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with juice
2 (15-ounce) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable or chicken stock, if needed
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
In a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and jalapeno and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion just starts to brown at the edges, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste and spices; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juice, the beans, and the salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; if you notice that you have no liquid to boil, add the stock here; once boiling, then decrease the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, taste for seasoning, and serve over rice or with naan. I served over rice, but I bet naan would have been fantastic.

Greek Salad with Chickpeas

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I have been dealing with a migraine since Saturday, thus explaining my absence. I’m extremely fortunate that migraines are a once-a-year thing for me; if you are someone who gets them more frequently, my heart goes out to you. These things are really not fun. Does anyone have any tips or tricks to mitigate them? I’ve tried cold compresses, Excedrin migraine, caffeine, and the doctor gave me Vicodin, which I hate because it knocks me out and leaves me quite unproductive.

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Anyways, let’s chat Greek food for a minute! I used to detest it. My first introduction was a long time ago – it was my sister’s birthday and she picked a Greek restaurant to celebrate. I thought the place smelled like vinegar, and what on earth were those nasty-looking grape leaf things?? Oh and they had octopus on the menu – who would eat that???

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Fast forward ten-plus years, and my views on Greek food have undergone a complete 180 degree reversal. I love it, I can’t get enough of it, and actually eating Greek food in Greece is high on my bucket list. There’s a lovely Greek restaurant in my neighborhood, and I’m close to being on a first-name basis with the wait staff, we go there so often. And yes, grilled octopus is now one of my faves!

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Greek salads are now one of my favorite dishes on earth. I think I could eat one once a week and not tire of them. They are usually served in restaurants as a side dish or as the starter to a meal, but I added protein in the form of chickpeas and made it a main dish. It was awesome; so healthy and happy! Or at least that’s how it made me feel…

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Source: adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers

Ingredients:
3 tbs red wine vinegar
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp dried oregano
Pinch of black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups sliced romaine lettuce
1 Kirby cucumber, chopped bite-size chunks
2 plum tomatoes, cut into wedges
About 16 kalamata olives, pitted
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Directions:
Whisk together the vinegar, salt, oregano, and black pepper in a small bowl. While whisking, stream in the olive oil slowly and whisk until the mixture is emulsified. Set aside while you make the salad.
Fill a serving bowl with the romaine. Arrange the cucumbers, tomatoes, and olives on top. Pour the dressing over all. Add the feta and chickpeas. Toss to combine. Serve immediately.

Slow Cooker Refried Beans

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It probably goes without saying that refried beans were a large part of my diet growing up, what with all the Tex-Mex I indulged in. But what might surprise you is that I don’t have many memories of eating them at home. It was usually restaurant and Taco Bell fare.

After moving to New York and discovering the scarcity of Tex-Mex restaurants, I learned to make the cuisine at home. But the refried beans portion of the meal usually came from a can, I’m sorry to say.

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I did attempt them from scratch once, a few years ago, but it qualifies as a Bona Fide Kitchen Disaster, as hours of soaking and boiling the beans left them still crunchy and inedible, and marked probably the first (and hopefully last) time I ever ate enchiladas without a side of refried beans. That little incident drove me right back to the canned stuff.

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Fortunately, I have since discovered the magical awesomeness of cooking dried beans in the slow cooker. So now I will never need the canned stuff again! Okay, I probably shouldn’t make such a bold statement – we all get in a pinch sometimes. But I’m so happy to have this method available, because these refried beans are the real deal, y’all!

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Your family and/or guests will swear you had them flown in from the best restaurant in Mexico. Or maybe San Antonio. They are so amazing and do not remotely compare to the canned stuff. And speaking of guests, I served these at a dinner party last weekend which is why I have no pictures of the prep or raw ingredients. My apologies. But they are too good not to share.

If you enjoy Mexican and/or Tex-Mex food, I highly urge you to try these. It’s very easy, and the recipe makes a ton, so you can eat off them all week. Black beans can be subbed in for pinto beans if you prefer.

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Source: slightly adapted from The Mexican Slow Cooker by Deborah Schneider

Ingredients:
1 lb. dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over
7 ½ cups water
1 ½ tsp chile de arbol powder or crushed chile flakes
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbs lard or canola oil
¼ cup finely diced white onion
1 small garlic clove, minced

Directions:
Combine the beans, water, chile de arbol, salt, and black pepper in your slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the beans are very tender. When the beans are done, shut off the heat.
In a large skillet, heat the lard over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Remove skillet from the heat. Add 1 cup of the beans and their liquid to the skillet. Mash to a smooth paste with a potato masher. Return the skillet to the heat and continue to add the remaining beans, 1 cup at a time, mashing them until smooth after each addition and adding liquid as needed. When all the beans are mashed, add any remaining cooking liquid necessary to thin to the proper consistency. The beans should be thick but not stiff. Serve hot, sprinkled with Cotija cheese, Monterey jack cheese, scallions, raw minced white onions, cilantro, or plain, whatever you want.

Red Beans and Rice

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Earlier this week, Matt and I took a romantic getaway to New Orleans. We were there for four glorious days, enjoying sixty-degree temperatures, beautiful architecture, drunk college students, art galleries, and some of the most scrumptious and amazing food you can find anywhere. I do seriously believe that New Orleans boasts possibly the best food in the United States.

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This was an anniversary trip for us. Not our wedding anniversary, but the anniversary of meeting each other. We met on March 12, 2003, at the Tropical Isle, on Bourbon Street, in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s a long story. 😉 So for our ten-year anniversary, of course we had to return to the scene of the crime.

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NOLA is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite places to visit. I first went there with my family as a kid. It was a brief stop on a road trip returning from Orlando, and even then I thought it was a neat place. I visited several times during my twenties and twice now in my thirties. And isn’t it funny, I find that in my twenties, the trip held much more emphasis on drinking than eating, whereas in my thirties, I am much more interested in eating than drinking. I guess I’ve just matured. Or something…

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Anyways, there was much deliciousness enjoyed on this trip. I had shrimp and grits at Mr. B’s Bistro (part of the Brennan’s family of restaurants); fried green tomatoes (twice!), pralines, praline cheesecake (oh my), alligator sausage at the French Market, turtle soup (the best thing ever – try it if you have never done so), crawfish etouffee, gumbo, the BEST buttermilk pancakes of my life – seriously!, bread pudding, two po’boys, and fried cheesecake. Yes, fried cheesecake. Uh huh.

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I also tried hog’s head cheese for the first time (interesting…) and of course I was the typical wife who kept sneaking her fork onto her husband’s plate! So I also had some fried chicken, the best jambalaya I’ve ever tasted, a bite of muffalletta, some biscuits and gravy, and crawfish cake eggs benedict.

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And I can’t forget, we also dined at Emeril’s New Orleans, which was truly a fantastic meal. At Emeril’s I had a life-changing appetizer of buffalo duck wings. Oh lerd… there are no words. I then ate a delicious salmon dish and some whiskey pecan cake for dessert. Also, I had a few bites of Matt’s decadent chocolate peanut butter pie.

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Oh New Orleans….. such a foodie paradise. Ironically, I did not have the NOLA classic I’m blogging today, probably because I had made and eaten it a couple weeks prior. But I could have. I saw it on many menus down there. And it’s delicious. So make it soon and enjoy!

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Source: adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, January & February 2010

Ingredients:
Kosher salt
1 lb. dried kidney beans, rinsed and picked over for rocks
4 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 bell pepper of any color, seeded and chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
Fresh cracked black pepper
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
6 cups water
8 oz. andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and chopped into a 1/4-inch dice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
3 scallions, sliced thin
Hot sauce, for serving
2 cups long-grain white rice
1 tbs unsalted butter
3 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
Dissolve 3 tbs salt in 4 quarts cold water in a large mixing bowl. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
Place the bacon in a large Dutch oven and heat to medium. Stirring often, cook the bacon until crisped and the fat has rendered, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. To the drippings, add the onion, pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne, and some black pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Stir in the beans, stock, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and keep at a good simmer until the beans are just soft and liquid begins to thicken, 45 to 60 minutes.
Stir in the sausage and red wine vinegar. Cook until liquid is thick and beans are fully tender and creamy, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and additional red wine vinegar, if needed.
Meanwhile, make the rice.
Heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the rice and stir to toast and coat with the butter. Add the water and salt, and raise the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to low. Steam for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork when done.
Serve the beans over the rice, sprinkle with the scallions and put on a few dashes of hot sauce, if desired.

Tex-Mex Cheesy Chicken Tart

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I returned home from spending a few great days in Texas late last night. I had planned to share a blog post with you yesterday, for a macaroni and cheese no less, and I figured I would have plenty of time to write it in transit. See, I booked my flight somewhat last minute, thus dooming myself to a non-direct flight, and I had what was supposed to be a three hour layover in Philadelphia.

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But the general northeast experienced heavy winds and snow yesterday, and my plane sat on the runway for ninety minutes in Houston, after being delayed over forty-five minutes already. So I literally had twenty-five minutes to catch my flight in Philly, and if you’ve ever been to the Philly airport, you know that is quite a feat to undertake. Good lord that airport is awful. But undertake it I did, by sprinting with a large backpack and carry-on suitcase, and made my flight to New York with five minutes to spare. All this to say, my blog post did not get written!

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So I’ll blog that one later today, and give you this one in the meantime! Travel troubles notwithstanding, I had a lovely time visiting my sister and brother-in-law, my nephew, and my newest niece, three-week-old Claire (or Baby Care, as she is known to her two-year-old big brother). It was so fun and I’m so glad I could help out a little. I’m a tad exhausted though – I don’t know how all you parents do it! I think I’ll stick to being an aunt (for now anyway).

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Being an aunt really is the best, though. You can break all the parenting rules with impunity, like bribing them with presents so they’ll think you’re cool, and letting them run in the living room or throw rocks at you simply because they think it’s fun. They are so sweet and adorable, even when they lie to you and tell you that they are allowed to use that word or that Mommy does let them jump on the guest bed. I don’t care, I love them all. 🙂

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Since I was recently in Texas, I thought Tex-Mex fare would be appropriate for today’s post. I suppose this is really French and Tex-Mex fusion, since it’s kind of like piling up traditional nacho toppings in a tart shell – a tart shell that happens to resemble a corn tortilla more than pie crust! Seriously, it’s the simplest tart shell you’ll ever make. Mix masa harina with warm water and salt, then press it into your tart pan and … ta daaaa! You have a tart shell! No rolling pin necessary. Try this one, it’s delicious. And think fondly of your nieces and nephews when you do!

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Source: slightly adapted from Cowgirl Chef by Ellise Pierce

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups masa harina
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste, divided
1 1/4 cups hot water
2 (15 oz.) cans black beans, well drained
2 tbs canola oil
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups shredded plain rotisserie chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey jack cheese
A small handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Good-quality jarred tomato salsa, for serving

Directions:
Make the crust first. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Grease an 11-inch tart pan.
Whisk the masa harina and salt together in a medium bowl. Slowly add the hot water and mix until combined. The dough should be firm yet moist, and not dry, crumbly or sticky. Add the dough to the tart pan by pinching it out and spreading the little balls of dough all over the bottom of the pan. Using the bottom of a sturdy, flat-bottomed drinking glass, flatten the dough into an even layer onto the bottom and sides of the pan. Cover the dough with a piece of parchment paper. Add dried beans or pie weights, and bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust is firm. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Make your refried beans. In a medium bowl, smash up the drained beans with a potato masher. It’s fine if they’re still a little chunky. Preheat a skillet large enough to hold all of the beans over medium heat. Add the oil, then the garlic and cook for one minute, just until fragrant. Now, add the beans, cumin and a pinch of salt to taste. Cook, stirring, until the beans are dry, about 5 minutes. Set aside to let them cool a little bit.
Assemble the tart. Evenly spread the beans on the bottom of the tart shell, then add the shredded chicken. Top with the cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes.
To serve, top with the chopped cilantro, then cut into wedges. Serve the salsa alongside.