Mar 13, 2013

Refried Beans Without the Refry

As I'm sure many of you do, I get e-mailed recipes. Lots of them; I just keep subscribing to various newsletters from recipe sites. Unfortunately, I never get around to reading most of them but every so often a recipe catches my eye and I bookmark it, saving it in a folder titled with the appropriate month in which to make it (I do so try to cook seasonally).

These pinto beans have been on the waiting list for quite a while. We cooked them last month (in the slow cooker -- my favorite way to make beans) and then they sat in that folder waiting for me to finally have time to write them up. Today is their lucky day!

Now, you may be confused by their name (and I admit that's why I clicked on this recipe in the first place when I saw it on but, amazingly enough, this do taste a LOT like refried beans. However, since they have neither oil nor butter, they're exceedingly low in fat. They're also really versatile. They have a bit of a kick from the jalapeno and we used them mostly in Mexican preparations, but I'm sure you could use them in any preparation that calls for cooked beans. And, considering we still have a tupperware full of them in the freezer (they freeze beautifully), that's probably what we'll do!

Make these into a Bean Salsa, add them into Marco Polo Salad or Quinoa Pepper Jack Macaroni and Cheese, serve alongside Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting or turn them into Sour Cream Bean Enchiladas or Chili. Really, the possibilities are endless. Bon appetit!

Refried Beans Without the Refry
adapted from

  • 3 cups dry pinto beans
  • 1 7-inch piece kombu
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 15 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 teaspoons garlic parsley salt
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 9 cups water, plus additional for soaking beans
Place pinto beans and kombu in a pot full of fresh water. Let them soak 8 hours, or overnight.

Drain beans and place them, kombu, onion, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper and cumin in a slow cooker. Add 9 cups water and stir to combine. Cook on HIGH (yes, really) for 8 hours. 

Once beans are cooked, strain, reserving the cooking liquid (it makes a wonderful broth for soups or rice). Using a potato masher, mash beans (and onion and kombu if desired), adding in as much broth as you want. You can also leave the beans unmashed and mix them with the onion and kombu, first chopping the aromatics so they're easier to combine. Enjoy!


Mar 7, 2013

Crusty Spinach, Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato Bread Rolls

I know what you're thinking. Have I gone off my rocker? What happened to being gluten-free? That, dear readers, is the beauty of these rolls -- they are gluten-free. And sugar-free. But they don't taste it. The vegetarian's been heating them up for after-work snacks and every time I bite into one my first thought is: "I'm cheating; I'm so going to regret this." But of course I'm not. And I don't.

They're also my most successful venture into gluten-free (and yeast) baking to date! How can it contain yeast and still be sugar-free? The sun-dried tomatoes have enough sugar that the yeast feeds off of them without any sugar necessary! And a successful gluten-free free adaptation of a "normal" recipe that I had bookmarked but couldn't imagine being able to try. What recipe, you ask? This one from Sass & Veracity, a blog I happened to stumble upon while on my endless search on how to sneak more cooking greens (like spinach) into our diet.

And these fit the bill perfectly. Have them plain, as a snack, with a plate of Burrata & Tomatoes, an Asparagus Tortilla, Sungold Tomato & Cannellini Bean Dip or Watermelon, Feta and Arugula Salad. And of course a glass of Research Cab. Bon appetit!

Crusty Spinach, Feta and Sun-Dried Tomato Bread Rolls
adapted from Sass & Veracity

Pour two inches cold water into a pot and add spinach. Place heat on high and steam 5-10 minutes, until spinach is wilted. Remove and drain. When cool, wrap spinach in a clean dishtowel and ring out excess moisture. Set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together yeast, salt, spinach, feta and tomatoes. Place egg whites into a measuring cup and add lukewarm water until you have 3 cups of liquid. Stir into the spinach mixture. Add flour one cup at a time and stir gently with a wooden spoon just until combined. Cover bowl with a clean dishtowel and place in a cold, turned-off oven for 2 hours to rise (this is always the scary part for me!).

After dough has risen (phew!), prepare your baking pan: place a sheet of parchment paper on it and sprinkle with cornmeal. Now divide your dough into ten even-sized pieces. The dough will be a little sticky but easy to work with (at least mine was). If you need to, sprinkle with a little bit of extra flour. Roll (in your hands) into a ball, then place on your prepared baking pan. Repeat nine more times with the rest of the dough. Place in the oven for 30 minutes to rest.

Remove pan from oven and allow to rest an additional 30 minutes. Place a tray (I used a roasting dish) on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 450F.

After dough has rested sufficiently, dust the tops of the rolls with flour and snip an X into the top of each with clean kitchen scissors. Slide the baking pan with the dough into the oven, on an upper shelf. Fill up a measuring cup (or two) with VERY hot water -- as hot as your tap can get. Pour this water into the dish at the bottom of the oven. Close the door quickly (you're creating steam to help the rolls cook evenly. Bake 20 minutes. Cool before serving. Enjoy!


Mar 1, 2013

BED: Trout (or White Beans) with South Indian Spices

Is it March already? Doesn't February always disappear just when you've gotten comfortable with it? Or is that just me?

Anyway, I have a wonderful recipe to share with you today (complete with a vegetarian adaptation that uses the same spices) and, if you're making the trout component, an even more exciting cooking technique!

Back when I regularly cooked omnivore food, fish was one of my specialties. Fast and easy to cook, I could always adjust my seasonings to suit my mood. I realized this month, as I planned the menu for our monthly cooking adventure that I hadn't made fish in quite a while. So I resolved that it was time that changed. Wanting to combat the winter doldrums I've been in, I decided I wanted this fish to have a bite ... and lots of garlic. Interesting spices always make me think of Indian food so I went back to The 4-Hour Chef and adapted his recipe for Trout with South Indian Spices, including a wonderful Ginger-Garlic Paste made from scratch. (There's still more of the paste in our fridge -- any suggestions on how else we should use it?)

As for the vegetarian, he loves these flavorings as well, so, while I made the fish, I tossed a couple of cans of white beans with the same marinade ingredients and baked them in the same oven for the same amount of time. Formal directions are below. We also served this with basmati rice and gremolata and had an amazing whiskey butterscotch pudding for dessert. A Falanghina was a delicious accompaniment. மகிழ்ந்து உண்ணுங்கள் [bon appetit]!

Trout (or White Beans) with South Indian Spices
inspired by The 4-Hour Chef

Combine garlic, ginger and water in a cup or mixing bowl. Using your immersion blender, process until they've all combined into a smooth paste.

Combine 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste, vinegar, turmeric and salt in a bowl.

If making the fish, place it in a heavy ziploc plastic bag and add the marinade, massaging it well into the flesh. Marinate at least 8 hours.

If making the beans, add them to the bowl of seasonings, stir well and let sit for at least 15 minutes so marinade can permeate.

Preheat oven to 400F.

If making the fish: Remove it from the bag and place on a plate, flesh-side up. Now comes the fun part (I made the vegetarian stay in the other room while I did this): insert a skewer through the fish's mouth and rest its length along the fish's body. Balance 3 skewers along the width of a baking pan. Gently flip the fish over and rest its skewer on the other 3. Repeat with the second fish (and any others that you want to make; you may need to use more than one pan, depending on the size of your fish and your pans).

If making the beans: Place beans and marinade in a baking dish and stir well. I used a loaf pan.

Place beans and/or fish in the oven and bake 12 minutes. Serve with the lime juice drizzled on top. Enjoy!