October 19, 2010

Sweet & Spicy Black Bean Soup

I was craving cornbread. V's brother suggested black bean soup via Facebook and I set off to find the most delicious black bean soup I could find. Plain old black bean soup sounded kinda blah so I chose this recipe as a starting point.

I cheated a bit because I was too impatient to make my own black beans or to let canned ones stew for a while for added flavor. Instead I bought Trader Joe's Cuban black beans in a can because they are already a little bit spicy. If you want to stew your own or spice up a regular can of black beans, check out the original recipe that I linked to above! I also omitted chipotle powder because I didn't see any at the store and I added bacon and chicken andouille sausage to the mix.

Here is the recipe as I made it:

Sweet & Spicy Black Bean Soup

2 cans black beans (Trader Joe's Cuban black beans were perfect!)
4 slices of bacon, diced
2 spicy chicken andouille sausages, diced
1 1/2 onion, 1/4 inch dice
2 celery stick, 1/4 inch dice
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons medium heat red chile powder
a few shakes of cayenne pepper and garlic powder
14 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 cup frozen corn
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 lime
Cilantro, minced for garnish

Cook the bacon and sausage in a large soup pot until brown. Remove from pot and set aside.

If needed, add some oil to the pan and toss in the onion, celery, and sweet potato. Saute until lightly browned, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, chile powder, cayenne, and garlic powder along with some salt and pepper. Saute a few minutes more.

Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, bell pepper, corn, and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. Puree 1/2 of the soup. Return to the pot. Add the lime juice and add salt and pepper as needed. Serve with cornbread!

2010-10-11 sweet and spicy black bean soup 006

This recipe made a ton of soup, a giant pot that my boyfriend and I ate all week. It was perfectly spicy, a hint of sweetness from the corn and peppers, and it was extremely delicious. It tasted even better the second day. Cornbread was a perfect accompaniment, and I will definitely make this again!

October 12, 2010

Beef and Sweet Potato Stew

The lovely and generous V gave me a crock pot! It was my turn to host Mad Men Monday so I decided to use my new slow cooker to make a hearty beef stew. The only thing I had made in a crock pot prior to this was pot roast, so making a stew was kind of new and I was a little unsure about seasonings, etc.

I searched the internet high and low and found this recipe on Taste As You Go. I liked the idea of using sweet potatoes and made a few modifications. Here is the recipe as I made the stew:

2 pounds stew beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
olive oil
1 large white onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 14.5-ounce can beef broth
1/2 cup beer
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon dry nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 cup frozen green beans
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Brown beef on all sides, working in batches if necessary.

Place sweet potatoes in the base of a preheated 4-5-quart slow-cooker. Layer on the browned beef, onions, garlic and ginger. Pour in beef broth, beer, and Worcestershire sauce. Sprinkle in nutmeg and thyme.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.

Remove about cup of the broth and place in a bowl. Whisk in heaping teaspoon of flour until there are no more lumps. Add the broth and flour mixture back to the slow-cooker. Add frozen green beans and cook the stew for an additional 15-20 minutes.

2010-09-20 007

I served with cous cous, but bread would have been better. The sweet potato didn't come through as much as I would have liked, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it! Definitely was a satisfyingly hearty cold evening meal.

October 5, 2010

Ratatouille Throwback

In my fourth year of high school I was in french class and one of our assignments was to partner up and make a classic french recipe. My partner decided upon ratatouille and well, it sounded french to me. When we made the recipe I kept expecting there to be a grand finale but it turned out it was just a bunch of sauteed vegetables. I was underwhelmed thinking we picked the most unexciting recipe possible. Maybe it had something to do with being raised a vegetarian and more veggies was the last thing I needed to see. Some years later I have a much different take on this classic french recipe. I realize now that its beauty is in its simplicity. Paired with some crusty french bread and a glass of red wine and the meal feels downright decadent.

My inspiration for this comes from it being french week over at The Kitchn. DP and I took the opportunity to pick up a bunch of fresh veggies at the Kruger Farms roadside stand here in St. Johns and I was set. The recipe I got from The Kitchn was perfect, no revisions needed. I served this with some homemade garlic bread and a glass of red wine. Natch.

Dad's Authentic Ratatouille
Source - The Kitchn

Ingredients (feel free to play with proportions as this is a more or less situation):

2 large eggplants, peeled and cubed into 1-inch cubes
6-8 zucchini, coined
3 bell peppers, roughly chopped (red are classic, but use what you have on hand)
5 cloves garlic, whole
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 yellow onions
1 bay leaf
3-4 sprigs thyme (fresh thyme is the key to making this Ratatouille taste right)
1 can whole tomatoes or 4 large tomatoes that are nice and ripe
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a large pot sauté the onions in olive oil until brown, then add peppers and allow to soften. Stir in whole garlic cloves, tomatoes and bay leaf and turn heat down to a simmer and leave for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pan, sautee eggplant and zucchini (they tend to get mushy if you throw them in with everything else but that can be good too and is easier than dirtying a second pan) until browned and softened.

Add the zucchini and eggplant to the simmering pot along with the sprigs of thyme and some salt and pepper (to taste) and allow to simmer at least another 20 minutes. Simmer longer if you want the flavors to really get good, or just reheat it the next day and you'll have the same effect.

Add the minced garlic on top or serve with some extra garlicy french bread as I did. And don't forget the red wine.


Separate but equal


All together now


The grand finale I was waiting for