I work a 9-5 type of job so Saturday & Sunday are my days off and I tend to use them for food prep. This includes the soaking and cooking of dried beans which tend to take more time than I have to spend on dinner on any given week day. I like to buy more beans than are called for in whatever recipe I’m tackling, cook them all, and freeze the unused portion for another meal the following week. This way I get twice the bang for my single buck of time.
For kidney beans I buy about a pound of dried beans, put them in a container twice as big as the bean content, cover them with water, put the lid on, and pop them in the fridge overnight. When it’s time to cook, strain the beans out of the soaking water (as it has oligosaccharides in it which were released by the beans during soaking and can lead to digestive discomfort). Place the strained beans into a pan at least twice the volume of the beans and add about ten cups of water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer and put on a timer for 40 minutes. At that point try one bean for doneness. If there’s still a tiny bit of crunch to it, let them continue to cook for a minute or two (or five- whatever it takes).
When the beans are cooked to my liking I shut the heat off and add about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, give them a stir, and let them sit for just a couple more minutes to absorb some of that flavor. Next, strain out the cooking water (make sure to check your recipe to see if you need to reserve that flavorful H2O) and place the cooked beans in storage containers in the fridge or freezer. This method results in a firm (I hate mushy beans!) bean with a hint of salt that is great in soups or stews or even just to snack on.
If you are going to eat the beans as a side dish where they are the star of the show, rather than in a soup or stew where there are lots of other flavors coming together, consider cooking them in stock rather than in water.
New Year’s Day provided us with a freebie day off in the middle of the week. Besides random household chores, I decided that the best use of this time would be to cook a few dishes that we planned to eat in the coming week so that we buy ourselves time in the evenings for the next few days by having dinner already prepared. The bigger benefit being that these dishes are ones that get better with time- the kind that soak up dressings, and age with grace. A soup, some roasted vegetables, a dressed rice dish….
1 1/3 cups uncooked wild rice
4 cups chicken stock
4 medium carrots, quartered and sliced thin
2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1 leek, sliced thin
1 3-inch piece daikon, halved and cut into thin strips
1 small purple-top turnip, peeled, halved, and cut into thin half-circles
1 cup thinly cut cabbage
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sunflower (or other mild) oil
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon barley miso (we found a great 3-year dark handcrafted right in Conway, MA by South River. Organic too!)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium pot, add the rice and return it to a boil
Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked through, about 50 minutes
Meanwhile, bring a large fry pan up to a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of sunflower oil and all of the sesame oil, then toss in the carrots, celery, leek, daikon and turnip and get a nice brown on them. If they begin to get too dark, turn down the heat and cook them until they’re al dente
When the veggies are cooked, add in the cabbage. It’s cut nice and thin so it should soften up quickly
While that’s cooking, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, garlic, remaining tablespoon of sunflower oil, ginger, miso and crushed red pepper until blended
When the rice is cooked, add it to the pan with the vegetables (or, if you’re out of space in the pan you can do this in a large serving or mixing bowl) and pour in the dressing, stirring to incorporate all ingredients
Miso-ginger wild rice with carrots, cabbage, daikon and turnip
If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried at least 10 different recipes for granola- each of them ok, but not something that you want to make… and then make again. With this recipe I’ve tweaked it a few times until I found the balance that makes me happy. It’s slightly crunchy, a little salty, it has the chew factor, it has texture, the little bit of sweet offered up by the dried fruits, and a teeny bit of heat, ’cause, well, why not? So without further adiue….
3 Cups rolled oats
1/2 Cup whole raw cashews
1/2 Cup chopped raw cashews
3/4 Cups unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/4 Cup grade B pure maple syrup
1/4 Cup canola oil
3/4 Teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon cayenne
1/3 Cup dried cranberries
2/3 Cup raisins (I like variety so I use 1/3 Thompson, 1/3 golden, and 1/3 red flame)
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees F
In a 1 Cup liquid measuring cup combine the maple syrup, canola oil, kosher salt, cinnamon and cayenne- give it a real good swirl around in there
In a bowl, combine the oats, all of the cashews, and the coconut
Add the liquid to the solid and combine the mixtures as evenly as is possible so that you can’t see any bog, dry clumps at all
Spread the mixture out on a jelly roll pan, evenly, and cook for an hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to achieve an even brownesss
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes, then add the cranberries & raisins
Store in an airtight container in a cupboard for up to 1 week. Enjoy dry or with your favorite milk (cow, goat, soy, almond, hemp)
While flipping through my most recent edition of National Geographic Traveler I came across this 1-page article on Socca (chickpea flour crepes). Seeing as the picture indicated that this Socca (which I had never heard of before) was a food, I decided to read on. The ingredient list was simple: chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt. The intent seemed ideal: to be in rough shards, eaten with your fingers. How could I go wrong? So I tried it.
The batter is fairly thin- much like crepe.
There are several options for cooking these- under a broiler (in a fry pan), on a very hot baking stone, stove top. I opted to make my first three on a baking stone, preheated in a 500 degree oven, and the last in a cast iron pan so that I could see the difference.
Broiled socca: crispy edges and nicely cooked center
I served these as a gluten-free flatbread type of side to lemon-pepper chicken and green salads topped with crispy-fried mushrooms, roasted red peppers and cheddar cheese.
Socca makes a great app or accompaniment
2 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt (or more if you really want to taste it)
Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, garlic, thyme, and salt. Let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours
Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone in it
Give the batter a quick whisk and ladle a quarter of it into the skillet
Switch the oven to Broil and let it go for 5-10 minutes, until the top is browned and the socca is cooked in the middle (yet still tender) and crispy around the edges. Use a spatula to remove it from the stone