Slow Cooker Black Beans
I do not do cold or wet very well and for the last several days of misery, I’ve been craving some hot, hearty, black bean soup. I love thick black bean soup, just about a stew, something that will stick to you and shield you from the icy talons of wind.
Soups like this are mostly improvisations. The basic ingredients are the black beans, the smoked ham, the aromatics, and the spices. From there one can add or remove ingredients to meet your tastes or culinary requirements. (The ham / pork component can be replaced with dark meat chicken and liquid smoke, or the meat component can be dropped entirely and replaced with a heavy mirepoix or other aromatics.
I know I’ve done a few bean posts over the last month, but they are easy to cook, fairly healthy, and very cost effective, one slow cooker of beans will feed the lair for several days, as opposed to a slow cooker of stew that will be consumed in less than a day.
16 Bean Soup
Today is another working day in the lab. Correcting all the mistakes I made yesterday, and making fresh ones for tomorrow. So food will need to the hearty, hot, and plentiful. I’m thinking beans, but maybe not my usual beans, a mix say 16 beans. Soaked overnight, and slow cooked with bacon, andui sausage, and the trinity of onion, celery and green pepper.
This is a good, simple, healthy meal for a winters day. It’s delicious and full of protein and fiber and low on cholesterol…you can’t loose. And it’s cheap, a good thing considering the current economy.
This can be made vegetarian, in fact vegan, but I really will need real meat protein, so I’ll also go with chicken stock as a liquid.
Soup is a food that is made by combining ingredients such as meat and vegetables with stock, juice, water or another liquid. Hot soups are additionally characterized by boiling solid ingredients in liquids in a pot until the flavors are extracted, forming a broth. Traditionally, soups are classified into two main groups: clear soups and thick soups. The established French classifications of clear soups are bouillon and consommé. Thick soups are classified depending upon the type of thickening agent used: purées are vegetable soups thickened with starch; bisques are made from puréed shellfish or vegetables thickened with cream; cream soups may be thickened with béchamel sauce; and veloutés are thickened with eggs, butter and cream. Other ingredients commonly used to thicken soups and broths include rice, flour and grains.
Cajun Red Beans and Rice
As the projects roll on, I need a dish that can cook without a lot of care, I also need a dish that will be hearty and tasty.
Trolling the panty, I have some “Sangre de Toro”, A classic red bean of Mexico. Whether it’s New Orleans red beans and rice, chili or just a bowl of beans, I think Sangre de Toro (or “Bull’s Blood”) is a tremendous bean. Dense and meaty, it has a good pot liquor and can be used whenever red beans are called for.
Red beans and rice is an emblematic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine (not originally of Cajun cuisine) traditionally made on Mondays with red beans,[ vegetables (bell pepper, onion and celery), spices (thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf) and pork bones as left over from Sunday dinner, cooked together slowly in a pot and served over rice. Meats such as ham, sausage (most commonly Andouille), and Tasso ham are also frequently used in the dish. The dish is customary – ham was traditionally a Sunday meal and Monday was washday. A pot of beans could sit on the stove and simmer while the women were busy scrubbing clothes. Similar dishes are common in Latin American cuisine, including moros y cristianos and gallo pinto.
Red beans and rice is one of the few New Orleans style dishes to be commonly served both in people’s homes and in restaurants. Many neighborhood restaurants continue to offer it as a Monday lunch special, usually with a side order of either smoked sausage or a pork chop. While Monday washdays are largely a thing of the past, red beans remain a staple for large gatherings such as Super Bowl and Mardi Gras parties. Indeed, red beans and rice is very much part of the New Orleans identity. Jazz trumpeter and New Orleanian Louis Armstrong’s favorite food was red beans and rice – the musician would famously sign letters “Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Louis Armstrong”.
I will break with tradition and use brisket rather than tasso (ham), as I have a half cut that should be used.
Lentils Soup / Stew
I’ve been recovering from the flu, by pushing on several projects for different clients and as such have not had a lot of time to cook or post. While at lunch yesterday, I happened into a local soup shop. The smells were incredible, but one emerged from the melange or aromas to peak my interest. Smooth, yet with a hint of exotic spice, I did spend some time tasting the various soups to find it was a thick lentil soup, almost a stew. The most amazing thing, no meat. While it was very good, I feel it could be outstanding with the use of homemade chicken ot beef stock..
Lentils have a short cooking time and a distinctive earthy flavor, used in preparation of inexpensive and nutritious soups and stews all in almost all corners of the planet. They are frequently combined with rice, which has a similar cooking time. A lentil and rice dish is referred to in the Middle East as mujaddara or mejadra, they can be cooked together as khichdi, a popular Indian dish. Lentils are used throughout India, the Mediterranean regions and the Middle East.
For many vegetarians, lentils have long been part of the diet as a common source of protein. Usually, lentils are boiled to a stew-like consistency with vegetables and then seasoned with a mixture of spices to make many side dishes such as sambar, rasam and dal, which are usually served over rice, or with flatbread.
To prepare lentils, first one sorts them for damaged lentils, stones and such, rinses them until the water runs through and comes out clear, soak the lentils for an extended time and discard the water. The lentils are then boiled in water or broth. They may be cooked on the stovetop, or in a slow cooker. Cooked lentils will usually require thinning: adding more hot water or broth to the cooked legumes until the desired final consistency is reached.
Cold nights, warm days, lovely weather for cold and flu. Time to kick the sick, and get back on top.
So, I’m making soup today, a nice hearty warming soup, full of beans, veggies, beef stock, bacon, and pasta.
Pasta fagioli , meaning “pasta and beans”, is a traditional Italian peasant dish that is now a frequent menu item throughout the world. Like many other Italian favorites including pizza and polenta, the dish started as a peasant dish, due to cheaply available beans and pasta.
It is made using cannellini beans or kidney beans and some type of small pasta such as elbow macaroni. The base is generally olive oil, garlic, minced onion, and spices, along with stewed tomatoes or tomato paste, or traditionally, in home recipes, the leftover sauce from Sunday marinara. Some variations do not include tomatoes at all, and are made from a broth.
Butter Garlic Noodles with Miso (miso-udon)
One of the more annoying facts of the lair is the ever changing culinary landscape. I can deal with vegetarian, I can cope with a vegan “no-dairy” lifestyle, (for varying amounts of life), but when one of my loyal critics decides to go “wheat-free” as well, things start to get dicey.. (I believe may basic comment was, “Ok, your dinner is on the bar. And the bottle opener is on the back bar, put away your empties.)”
So when said “friend” needed a snack, I looked to rice noodles, with a Garlic / Chili / Margarine sauce.
To complete the insult, my offering was judged to be “lacking”. Many glances at the knife-rack, and considerations of garbage bags, and multiple dumpsters.
Instead a re-run of the same dish, and a close examination of the refrigerator turned up a Asian staple, that meet all the “dietary requirements”, and would add “Umami”, with out meat or dairy… Such a miracle working culinary swiss knife is miso.
Miso is a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley, and/or soybeans with salt and the fungus kōjikin, the most typical miso being made with soy. The result is a thick paste used for sauces and spreads, pickling vegetables or meats, and mixing with dashi soup stock to serve as miso soup called misoshiru, a Japanese culinary staple. High in protein and rich in vitamins and minerals, miso played an important nutritional role in feudal Japan. Miso is still widely used in Japan, both in traditional and modern cooking, and has been gaining world-wide interest. Miso is typically salty, but its flavor and aroma depend on various factors in the ingredients and fermentation process. There is a wide variety of miso available. Different varieties of miso have been described as salty, sweet, earthy, fruity, and savory. The traditional Chinese analogue of miso is known as dòujiàng.
Mame miso, or “soybean miso” is a darker, more reddish brown. This is not as sweet as some other varieties of miso, but has some astringency and good umami. This miso requires a long maturing term. Mame miso is consumed mostly in Aichi prefecture, part of Gifu prefecture, and part of Mie prefecture.
And just to make sure my appreciation of his critique of my food as appreciated, I replaced the green chilies with an equal amount of Habenaro.