Sunday, September 19, 2010

Hearty Tomato Beans and Rice

As the summer months recede and the weather cools I feel drawn to savoury, warm meals that help stave of the chill that will only grow stronger in the coming months. Nova Scotia has a funny habit of wholeheartedly embracing each new season, roasting us in the summer and the only inkling you'll have that autumn is on its way are the cool nights. September, with the beginning of school would always bring jackets that were fine as long as you weren't moving but just a bit of running on the playground caused you to heat up, aggravated by the jacket. This is the perfect meal for this transitional time, it takes little energy throughout the day because it is prepared in a slow cooker but it's hearty and warm enough to get you through the night.

The adzuki beans, also known as azuki beans, are a smaller bean with a subtle nutty flavour that are most familiar in the form of red bean paste in various dim sum dishes. I originally hunted down these beans to make one of my favourite treats, red bean steam buns, but since I never got around to it I used a cup for this dish. If you plan on using dried beans, be aware that one cup of dried beans equals three cups of rehydrated beans so I'd be careful about going overboard. I always have the best of intentions when I buy my big bag of (cheap) dried beans; I am also woefully spontaneous and whenever I want to cook beans I am in need of them immediately. There is an obvious problem with these conflicting aspects of my personality. To quickly rehydrate beans, as opposed to that dreadfully slow process of allowing them to sit overnight in a bowl of water, bring beans (at a ratio of 1 to 4) to a boil for 2 minutes then lightly simmer for 1.5 hours.

The Recipe

1 cup dried adzuki beans - 3 cups cooked
1 cup dried soldier beans - 3 cups cooked
1 cup brown rice
1 onion, coarse chopped
2 tomatoes, coarse chopped
2 cups chicken stock
6 cups water
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
S & P to taste

1. Rehydrate the beans (or cook if you are like me). It is not advisable to put the dry beans into the slow cooker because they simply won't cook in time.

2. Layer the rice, onions, tomatoes and beans in the crockpot. Top with the chicken stock and water. I like to reserve the spices and such until near the end of the cooking time. Cook on high for 4 hours.

3. Add the sugar, spices and soy sauce and mix it up.

4. Serve with a dollop with plain yogurt (the weird glob in the picture above). Enjoy!

The spices and sugar are, as always definitely to taste. The amount I added originally was perfect for me but when Mr. came home from work he added a touch more sugar and salt to his bowl.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

School Lunch: Veggie Pasta in Poppyseed Dressing

This was actually a dinner in the midst of summer but I really think it would translate well into a child's lunch, provided you included an ice pack. You do want your kids to have a lunch and not be the kid with the weird mom who gives stinky lunches, right? Unless your kid won't clean his or her room, then have at it mean mama (or daddy) and do as you will. Included on this dinner plate are fried green tomatoes which are delicious but I don't suppose they'd translate well to a school lunch.

I don't suppose it's obvious that you ought to prepare vegetables your children will eat. I have a secret for you, if you keep giving your kid veggies, they'll eat them. Really. Miss N never eats the carrot sticks whenever I put out a platter of hummus but since we have a ton of carrots thanks to our CSA I've been putting them in her lunch. Miss N has eaten those carrot sticks every single day. Be resolute about your children's health and it will happen.

The Poppyseed Dressing

3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup plain yogurt
half onion, diced
1 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. Poppyseeds
salt to taste

A note: If you do not have buttermilk or you have little people like mine who cannot tolerate cow's milk, use your usual milk and add about a teaspoon of lemon juice.

1. Stir all ingredients together. Allow to rest for a bit for the flavours to marry (isn't that precious?).


Your choice, chopped into bite-sized amounts

1. To blanche, cover in boiling water and allow to sit for a few minutes until the colour becomes vibrant and they just start to become tender.

Toss together with some cooked pasta, the vegetables and the dressing. The hardboiled egg comes in so that the little person in your life will have a punch of protein for energy. If you are so inclined, feel free to chop the egg onto the pasta.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Chicago Style Steak w/ Spatzle

A warmth spreads before the hit of spice breaks on the tongue. The steak is tender and yields easily under knife, a line of bright pink running through its centre. I am not a big steak eater, it is often too heady for me, I much prefer the muted undertones of lamb or the springy flavour of pork but this steak, prepared by Mr. was phenomenal. To cool, at the side was spatzle, swirled in goat mozzarella and smokey Hungarian paprika.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hurricane Pizza

A hurricane swept across our provinve this afternoon and before Earl had a chance to knock out our power, Mr. And I rushed to get a pizza together. As we all know, cold pizza is delicious and while it would be piping hot for lunch, if need be dinner could be a little less warm.

The hurricane was largely anti-climactic for us, the power flickered once and the neighbour's near dead tree stayed upright. In any case, I had the bathtub full of water and who knows how many jars filled with water tucked in the fridge.

I slightly adapted the recipe for pizza dough from "The Art of Sicilian Cooking" by Anna Muffoletto.

A note: The recipe is written for mixing the dough by hand and while that would have been the case, my mom gave Mr. and I a stand mixer for our anniversary (yay!).

1 envelope active dry yeast (I used 1 tbsp.)
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup lukewarm water
1/4 tsp. salt
3 1/2 cups flour (I used 1 less)
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 450.

1. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Let stand 5 minutes to bloom. The temperature of the water is very important, too hot or cold and it kills the yeast. Fingertip warm.

2. Pour 1 cup lukewarm water into bowl. Add 2 1/2 cups flour and the salt. Mix until it forms a ball. At this point Anna directs to add remaining flour, I did not.

3. Allow to rise, the recipe allots 1 hour but I had a hurricane on the horizon. Perhaps 20 minutes, it was sufficient.

Top with whatever you like and bake for 12-15 minutes. Enjoy!