Dec 20, 2012

Braised Pinto Beans & Shiitake Mushrooms

Back before Hurricane Sandy, I went to Tokyo for a week for work. Luckily, I was able to to have most afternoons (and several evenings) to myself when I could explore that exotic city -- definitely the most foreign place I've ever been to. Never having been somewhere where I couldn't at least read the street signs, it was a totally new experience for me and one I hope to be able to share with the vegetarian at some point in the future!

Of the culinary delights, I of course indulged in fantastic sashimi (it's so hard to eat it back in the States
now!), udon and lots of tea. Not being able to speak the language, I mostly ordered by pointing at various items on a menu so half the time I didn't really know what I was eating: not something that bothered me in the slightest!

My favorite afternoon in the city was spent in the company of Mom's best friend from high school, who happens to live in Tokyo. She took me around kappabashi, "kitchen town", where we wandered in and out of various kitchenware, restaurant depot and dried goods stores. Of the delicacies I brought home, the largest was a package of dried shiitake mushrooms. I could smell them even through the plastic and they sat on our hutch waiting to be used.

The opportunity presented itself last week as I scanned my brain for what to braise my newest batch of beans with. Mushrooms! I exclaimed. I soaked the shiitakes all day and then when it was time to make dinner, I was also rewarded with the soaking liquid which turns into a fantastic stock (I've since used it several times). Serve these over linguine. Leftovers? We had them over spaetzle one day and as part of a mixed green salad the next. I recommend a rioja alongside. Bon appetit!

Braised Pinto Beans & Mushrooms

Soak mushrooms in a bowl of clean cold water for at least 1 hour, ideally 8 or overnight. Drain and slice thinly. Save soaking liquid and use as mushroom broth.

Heat oil and butter together in a pan over medium heat until butter is melted. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms and saute 8 minutes, until onions are soft. Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomato sauce, paprika, beans, salt, pepper, broth and fennel seeds. Cook another 15 minutes, until beans are warm and soft has thickened slightly. Garnish with oregano and serve warm.


Dec 17, 2012

Braised Black Beans with Potatoes

When we first moved in together (and it became clear that I was the more comfortable in the kitchen), the vegetarian assured me that he would never expect me to have dinner on the table waiting for him when he got home. And he's been wonderfully true to his word! In fact, some of our happiest memories have been cooking together.

But these days I've been getting home first most nights. And with the vegetarian leaving the house at sunrise five days a week, dinner gets pushed earlier and earlier. Not to mention the fact that winter braises take longer to cook than a quick summer salad! And so one night last week when I knew that I'd be home first, I pulled several ingredients out of our cupboards and refrigerator (along with some fresh potatoes) and made these black beans. I also made some cornbread so that, when the vegetarian came home, it smelled like baking. As Cher said in Clueless, "Whenever a boy comes, you should always have something baking." Serve with a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon. Bon appetit!

We shared this post with Gluten Free Fridays. Head on over and check out all the other great entries!

Braised Black Beans with Potatoes

Rinse beans in a colander and drain well.

In a heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms and peppers and cook 5 minutes, until fragrant. Add beans, Cabernet, broth, Cajun spice mix and salt. Stir well, lower heat to medium-low, cover and cook 15 minutes, until beans are soft.

Add onions and potatoes. Replace cover and cook 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Partially remove lid and cook another 10 minutes until everything is soft. Season with pepper. Enjoy!


Dec 5, 2012

(Re) Braised Pinto and Cannellini Beans and Onions

Even though it's still technically fall (and it's actually warmer than it was for most of November), the calendar says December and that puts me in mind of winter, particularly braised dishes. And so, this month, that's the majority of what I'll be cooking -- vegetarian (and gluten-free) braises. While beef (and other meats) are what first come to mind, braising doesn't have to mean "meat". It just means cooking foods in liquid over a low temperature for a nice amount of time. "Low and slow," as they say. And braised beans and vegetables are delicious. So while I do miss pot roasts and briskets, this month we'll be exploring what else we can braise.

My first thought when I picked this month's "theme" was: "But I just made braised beans!" And, wanting something easy, I decided to use that recipe as my starting point. But, being me, I tweaked it a bit the second time around.

First off, I still had plenty of cooked pinto beans so I wasn't about to make another batch. That would just be wasteful, you see! Also, the vegetarian and I have been trading a cold back and forth for the last few weeks so I wanted to inundate us with onions to try and finally blast it out of us.

So I devised a way to quickly braise the already-cooked beans. This works equally well with canned beans if you don't have any homemade on-hand. And if you don't like onions, feel free to reduce them. This makes a LOT of onions, so much so that they become a main component of the dish rather than just a seasoning. Serve over mashed steamed potatoes with Cabernet Sauvignon. If, like us, you have leftovers, make a stir-fry with bean threads. Bon appetit!

Braised Pinto and Cannellini Beans and Onions
Heat broths in a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients (I used a roasting pan over 2 burners) over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute 3 minutes. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Add beans and allspice, reduce heat and simmer 8 minutes (if you have a big enough lid you can cover your pan but it's not necessary). Garnish with parsley. Enjoy!