Braised Brussels Sprouts

February 23, 2007 at 11:21 pm (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cook's Illustrated, Cruciferous rich, Quick weeknight recipe, Vegetable dishes)

I really love brussels sprouts when I get them at restaurants, but I haven’t been too successful preparing them myself. I’ve tried roasting them, but I haven’t quite mastered it yet–they’re usually undercooked in places, burnt in places, and a bit dried out–still tasty, but not ideal texture-wise. So I thought I’d give braising a try. Cook’s Illustrated says braising is the best way to cook sprouts. They claim it yields sprouts that are crisp, not-too-bitter, and attractively green-colored, plus it’s very fast and easy.

  • 1 pound brussels sprouts, small, firm, bright green, rinsed with stem ends and discolored leaves removed. Sprouts larger than 1.5 inches in diameter should be cut in half.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Bring sprouts, water, and salt to boil in 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Lower heat, cover, and simmer (shaking pan once or twice to redistribute sprouts) until knife tip inserted into a brussels sprout center meets no resistance, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain well and serve.

Serves 2 to 4.

My Notes:

I used 1.25 pounds sprouts, since that’s what I had bought. I thought they were a bit too salty, although Derek added salt. Also, I cooked them for 8 minutes, and they were just a tad overcooked. Maybe I had the heat too high? Next time I’ll probably shut them off after just 5 minutes and let them steam for a few more minutes. Overall, though, I liked this preparation. The sprouts were indeed crisp, sweet, and bright green, and tender rather than hard or burnt. I added pepper, but would like to experiment with other seasonings.

Rating: B
Derek: B-

Update Dec 2011:  I made this recipe again, but again it didn’t work very well.  The sprouts at the bottom (the ones submerged in the water) ended up overcooked and the ones at the top ended up undercooked.

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Mashed Rutabaga

February 13, 2007 at 10:09 am (C (1 star, edible), Cruciferous rich, Derek's faves, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, Root vegetables, Starches, Vegetable dishes)

Derek had some rutabaga puree at the Hopleaf, that he loved. I tasted it and thought it was okay–it certainly had a great thick, rich, luxurious texture. I decided to try to make something similar at home, and I thought a good place to start would be the mashed sweet potato recipe from the the Cook’s Illustrated The Best Light Recipe cookbook, since those sweet potatoes also ended up thick and luxurious. Here is that recipe with rutabaga in place of the sweet potato

  • 2 pounds rutabaga (2 large or 3 medium), peeled, quartered lenghtwise, and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted
  • 6 Tbs. organic half-and-half
  • ground black pepper
  1. Combine the rutabaga, salt, sugar, and water in a 3-quart saucepan. Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the rutabaga fall apart when poked with a fork, 35 to 45 minutes.
  2. Off the heat, mash the rutabaga in the saucepan with a potato masher. Stir in the melted butter and half-and-half with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Season with pepper to taste.

I only had 1.25 pounds of rutabaga, so tried to adjust the recipe accordingly. I used about 1/4 tsp salt, the whole tsp. of sugar (since I figured rutabagas aren’t as sweet as sweet potatoes), about 1/2 cup of water, no butter, and 4 Tbs. half and half. This made about 1.75 cups of mashed rutabaga.

My Notes

After about 30 minutes the rutabaga was pretty soft. I mashed it with a potato masher but the puree was quite wet, not the thick luxurious texture I was going for. I turned the heat up and removed the lid to try to evaporate some of the excess moisture. I guess I should have used less water to begin with. Also, I chopped the rutabaga into large pieces, but in retrospect I think I should have left them even larger, which maybe would have helped with the moisture problem. The final mash was still a bit wet, but Derek loved it. He kept asking for more and more. I had one 1/4 cup serving, and thought it was okay. I liked the rutabaga flavor but not the turnip undercurrent.

Rating: B-
Derek: A

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Guacamole

February 11, 2007 at 1:02 pm (B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cook's Illustrated, Mexican & S. American, Sauce/dressing)

I got adventurous and tried Cook’s Illustrated light guacamole recipe using… frozen lima beans.  That’s right, scary, but true.

  • 1 medium tomato (about 5 ounces), cored, seeded, and chopped fine (about 1 cup) ~ I used canned petite diced
  • 1 cup frozen *mature* lima beans (about 5 ounces) (I accidentally bought baby lima beans. They say in this case it’s hard to skin them so I just left the skins on for the fiber. The guacamole was a tad bit grainy due to the skins.)
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, preferably Haas (about 7 ounces)
  • 3 Tbs. juice from 2 limes
  • 2 Tbs. reduced-fat mayonnaise (I omitted this since I didn’t have it)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (I used 1/4 tsp. It was fine, but prob. would have been fine with 1/2 tsp. as well.)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 medium jalepeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced
  • 1 Tbs. minced red onion or shallot
  • 1 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tsp.)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • fresh ground black pepper
  1. Place the tomato in a small colander set inside a bowl and set aside to drain while preparing the rest of the guacamole.
  2. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a small sauce pan over high heat. Add the frozen lima beans and cook until creamy, about 5 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse under cold water until cool. Pat the beans dry with paper towels then remove the skins by pinching the beans so the skins slide off.
  3. Halve the avocado, remove the pit, and scoop out a quarter of the flesh. Puree a quarter of the avocado, skinned lima beans, lime juice, mayo, and salt together in a food processor until smooth, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
  4. Cube the remaining three-quarters of the avocado into 1/2-inch pieces, and scrape into a medium bowl. Add the pureed lima mixture, drained tomato, cilantro, jalepeno, onion, garlic, and cumin, and stir gently to combine. Season to taste with pepper. Transfer the guacamole to a serving bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the flavors meld, about 1 hour.

Makes 2 cups. They say a serving is 1/4 cup:

70 cal, 4g fat, .5g sat fat, 0 chol, 8g carb, 2g protein, 3g fiber, 210mg sodiumMy Notes:

Cook’s Illustrated says that the guacamole, covered with plastic wrap pressed flush against the surface of the dip, can be refrigerated for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature and season with additional lime juice, salt, and pepper, as needed before serving.  I’m in a bit leery of plastic wrap touching my food, esp. fatty foods, so I just stored mine in a regular tupperware, and it was fine~didn’t brown at all. It lasted fine for two days.  It might have been fine for longer even, but I couldn’t tell you, since after two days it was all gone ).

The adulterated guacamole has more fiber and protein, and less fat than normal guacamole. I think standard guacamole is about 77% fat, but this is about 40% fat.

The flavor was very good~it basically tasted like guacamole. It definitely didn’t taste as rich as normal, but with all the tomatoes, cilantro, jalepeno, garlic, lime juice etc. once it was in my burrito I’m not sure I would have noticed. I gave it to a friend and she said it “tasted very fresh”.  I told her that I put it in a new ingredient and asked her to identify it~she had no idea. Said it tasted like very yummy guacamole to her.

I don’t know if I would make this just to lower the calorie/fat content of guacamole, unless I was eating it with chips, in which case the chips have enough fat already.  I do consider the recipe a keeper though, for those situations where I only have one avocado and want to make a bigger batch for more people! Those things are expensive!

BTW, cook’s illustrated said they tried green peas and asparagus and edamame but they liked the lima beans the best.  They said peas gave it an earthy flavor and too sweet, asparagus watered it down and had a fibrous texture and unappetizing army green color. Edamame worked well to carry the flavor, but gave it a grainy texture.

Rating: B

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Silky Butternut Squash Soup

February 11, 2007 at 8:15 am (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Cook's Illustrated, Isa C. Moskowitz, soup, Starches)

Every cookbook in the world seems to have a recipe for Butternut Squash Soup. They often call for adding fruit like apples or pears, or for sweet seasonings like nutmeg or ginger. Others are very simple and just call for the squash alone. I’m guessing that over time this post is going to get very long. Feel free to send me your favorite recipe for squash soup!

Cook’s Illustrated Magazine Silky Butternut Squash Soup

For this recipe Cook’s Illustrated found that steaming the squash resulted in the best flavor and texture. Adding the squash scrapings and seeds to the steaming water made the soup even more flavorful. Some nice garnishes for the soup are freshly grated nutmeg, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, or a sprinkle of paprika.

Makes 1 1/2 quarts, serving 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 medium shallots, minced (about 4 Tbs.)
  • 3 pounds butternut squash (about 1 large), unpeeled, squash halved lengthwise, seeds and stringy fiber reserved (about 1/4 cup), and each half cut into quarters
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp. dark brown sugar

Instructions:

  1. Heat butter in large Dutch oven over medium-low heat until foaming; add shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add squash scrapings and seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and butter turns saffron color, about 4 minutes. Add 6 cups water and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt to Dutch oven and bring to boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low, place squash cut-side down in steamer basket, and lower basket into pot. Cover and steam until squash is completely tender, about 30 minutes.
  2. Off heat, use tongs to transfer squash to rimmed baking sheet; reserve steaming liquid. When cool enough to handle, use large spoon to scrape flesh from skin into medium bowl; discard skin.
  3. Pour reserved steaming liquid through mesh strainer into second bowl; discard solids in strainer. Rinse and dry Dutch oven.
  4. In blender, puree squash and reserved liquid in batches, pulsing on low until smooth. Transfer puree to Dutch oven; stir in cream and brown sugar and heat over medium-low heat until hot. Add salt to taste; serve immediately.

My Notes:

I made this recipe quite a long time ago, but I remember it being perfect. It tasted just like the “porridge” they serve at Hangawi, an upscale Korean restaurant in NYC. Steaming the squash resulted in a much brighter orange color and sweeter flavor than roasting the squash as in the above recipe. I probably didn’t use all the heavy cream and butter, but I don’t remember how much I actually used. I’ll try it again and report back.

Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Lime

I tried this recipe from Vegan with a Vengeance, except I simmered the squash in vegetable broth rather than roasting it.  In addition to the squash, it calls for onion, a hot green chile, fresh ginger, garlic, maple syrup, and the juice of 1 to 2 limes.  The final soup was bright orange with a reasonably creamy texture.  I did not care for the soup however.  I only used one lime yet still the sourness of the limes dominated, and the sweet earthy squash taste was overpowered.  I did not taste any ginger either.  I wouldn’t make this recipe again.

Cook’s Illustrated Best Light Recipe Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I’ll post the recipe once I get a library card in Chicago and can check the book out again.

My Notes:

As I reported in the thread on roasting butternut squash, I didn’t like these instructions much. The onion burnt at the tips, and the squash burnt a bit too. The resulting puree was very thick, and with a very dark, vegetable-y flavor, rather than the sweet, bright flavor I was expecting. I’m guessing the onion added the unpleasant vegetable flavor, and the burnt bits made it taste so dark. I added the half and half, and it did improve the flavor a bit, but I still didn’t like it that much. So I added 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg, and then it tasted like nutmeg, which was an improvement, but still not great. So I added 1/8 tsp. cardamom and 1/8 tsp ginger. It was okay, but I don’t think I’d make it again when there are so many better butternut squash soup recipes out there.

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Pantry/freezer vegetarian gumbo

February 11, 2007 at 7:57 am (Caribbean, My brain, Quick weeknight recipe, unrated, Vegetable dishes)

It’s hard to get fresh okra in the North, even in the summer. But I love okra so sometimes just give in and buy sliced frozen okra. It’s too wet to make fried okra with it, but it works really well for any kind of stew. Making a stew out of frozen okra is actually super easy and amazingly tasty, and requires no fresh ingredients (although they can be added if you have them, of course).

The “recipe”

I usually just throw one bag of frozen okra (a pound? 3 cups?) in a pot with a 14-ounce can of diced or whole Muir Glen tomatoes (wtih all the juice). I add spices and let it stew for a bit until warm. The spices vary–sometimes cayenne, or paprika, or cumin, or the Turkish seasoning from Penzey’s. I usually don’t add salt as the tomatoes are salty enough. Sometimes I’ll add some onion or garlic to the pot as well, or throw in some frozen corn kernels or diced bell peppers or some lima beans (if I’m feeling adventurous–lima beans kind of scare me).

Last night I added some gumbo file and a heaping spoon of old bay seasoning, which a friend gave me. Both Derek and I really enjoyed it–he said it tasted like gumbo, but since I’ve never had gumbo I can’t really comment.

I’ve followed recipes for vegetarian gumbo from a number of cookbooks, and I’ve always found them really bland. This simple recipe is way better than any gumbo recipe I’ve tried!

You could make this dish with fresh okra as well, but I never do, because it seems like a waste. I usually save my fresh okra for “fried” okra or that great Pakistani dish from Madhur Jaffrey.

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Napa cabbage with mayo, soy, and black pepper

February 11, 2007 at 7:45 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Cruciferous rich, Quick weeknight recipe, Salads, Vegetable dishes, Website / blog)

I found this recipe on the something in season blog a long time ago, but never got around to making it. I bought a massive head of napa yesterday so decided to try it for dinner with leftover tamale pie.


Ingredients:
· 1 small Napa cabbage (or about 4 cups of a larger Napa cabbage) chopped horizontally from the top at 1 ½ inch intervals.
· 1 tablespoon mayonnaise (preferably Spectrum organic)
· 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce (preferably Eden low-sodium tamari)
· ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Directions:
1. Steam the cabbage for about 10-15 minutes until the green part has turned translucent. The outside will be soft, but the center of the stems will retain a nice crunch. Mix the remaining ingredients together in a small bowl until well combined and drizzle onto the cabbage

My Notes:

After 10 minutes there was no crunch left to my cabbage at all. It was overcooked and sloppy. Nonetheless I withheld my misgivings and threw it in a bowl with the mayo and soy. I didn’t realize how wet the cabbage was though–the bowl immediately was full of water, and the dressing was extremely watered down. The cabbage black pepper combo is always one of my favorites, but the mayo flavor actually turned me off. Maybe if I made it again I would use soy mayo–and steam the cabbage for just 3 minutes, and drain it well before adding it to the sauce.

Derek said it wasn’t very good, but did finish off his whole plateful. He especially liked the soy sauce. I guess both of us like cabbage enough to eat even overcooked soggy cabbage.

This made two large side servings I would say–maybe three or four for non-cabbage lovers.

Rating: C

I had more cabbage so I tried a raw version of this recipe:

Ingredients:

. 3 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
· 8 cups of sliced Napa cabbage
. 1/2 jalepeno, minced (with seeds)
· 1 tablespoon organic mayonnaise
· 1 tablespoon soy sauce
· ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

I chopped the cabbage, mixed the dressing, then tossed it. It made about 4 servings of 2 cups each. I really enjoyed it (I ate like 4 cups of it!). I was still a bit uncomfortable with the mayo taste though–if I make this again I’m going to try some other type of fat. But the basic recipe was quite good. A little spicy from the jalepeno, very vinegar-y, and nice and salty and peppery. I served it with barbecued tempeh and mashed rutabaga, and they all went together very well.

Rating: B
Derek: B

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Jicama Salad

February 11, 2007 at 7:38 am (Caribbean, Mexican & S. American, Quick weeknight recipe, restaurant inspired, Salads, unrated)

We had a jicama salad at Frontera Grill yesterday for brunch. It was made of long fat rectangles of jicama, small squares of pineapple, and long juliennes of cucumber, with the peel on. The produce was dusted with a slightly spicy chili powder, and they served it with lime wedges. Both Derek and I enjoyed it–a nice refreshing appetizer. Derek especially liked the cucumber. I thought the three flavors (jicama, pineapple, and cukes) didn’t really meld together–they each kept their separate identity, without really complementing each other. But the three separate identities were so yummy who cares! I tried making it with some Indian chile powder I bought (nothing like Mexican chile powder) and it was delicious. Definitely a keeper. Sorry but I didn’t record amounts. Next time.

Update: I just improvised a jicama salad and it didn’t turn out so well. I use long fat pieces like at Frontera, which were good. But I added an avocado and a grapefruit. The avocado pieces turned to mush when I stirred it and the grapefruit pieces kind of fell apart, and left the whole thing sitting in a huge pool of liquid. The pink grapefruit and greenish avocado left the whole thing looking kind of putrid green color. I added 1/2 jalepeno, and some lime juice, and a bit of honey, chili powder, and salt, then drained all the liquid out. It look a little more appetizing, but definitely not something I’d try this way again.

Update 2: I tried another Frontera Grill version except I didn’t have pineapple so subbed in mandarin oranges. Derek said he liked it better than the pineapple, but I thought it was not quite as good. Just a touch of salt, chili powder, and lime juice worked well–much better than the soggy mush I ended up with last time.

Update March 2010:  I made this with daikon radish instead of jicama.  The radish isn’t quite as sweet as the jicama but it’s a reasonable substitute.  I julienned the cucumber and daikon, and used my “french fry cut” blade for the pineapple  Next time I would use the french fry cut for all the veggies, but certainly for the cucumber.  I made the salad the day before and by the next day the salad was drowning in a sea of liquid.  Maybe if I had cut the cucumber into bigger pieces it wouldn’t have been so bad, but I think it’s probably best to not cut the cucumber until you’re ready to eat, and maybe the pineapple too.

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The quest for the perfect skillet cornbread

February 10, 2007 at 5:47 pm (AMA, breakfast, Grains, Mom’s recipes, Quick weeknight recipe, Soymilk, unrated, Website / blog)

I have tried many cornbread recipes over the years, but have not yet settled on my favorite recipe. I’ll record below some of the many recipes I’ve tried. All recipes are designed to be made in a 9-inch cast iron skillet, and cut into 12 pieces. Typically, rather than making plain cornbread, I pour the cornbread batter over beans to make tamale pie.

This is my mom’s vegan cornbread recipe:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine:

  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup white flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2/3 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1-3 Tbl. sugar

Whisk together in a separate bowl, then add to dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup soymilk or 1 1/3 cups plain yogurt + 3 Tbs. water
  • 2-3 Tbl. oil

Pour into cast iron pan or 9 inch square pan. Mix sparingly. Bake about 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown.

This is a non-vegan but relatively light recipe originally from the AMA cookbook:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Coat an 8-inch-square baking pan or cast iron skillet with vegetable oil spray.
In a large bowl, mix together:

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup white flour
  • 1.5 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbl. sugar

Whisk together in a separate bowl:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 2 Tbs skim milk
  • 3 Tbs oil

Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk gently, until the batter has no lumps. Pour into the pan and smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven until the corn bread is golden brown on top and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 20 minutes. Cut into 12 pieces and serve hot.

PER PIECE: About 112 cals, 37 cals from fat, 4g total fat, 1g sat fat, 18mg chol, 208mg sodium, 15g total carbs, 1g fiber, 3g protein

My Notes:

I had some yogurt I wanted to use up but no egg, so I tried to improvise by substituting 1 Tbs. oil and 3 Tbs. unsweetened soymilk for the egg. I also used stone ground cornmeal, and added 1/2 cup of frozen corn kernels and 1/2 small can of green chilis to the batter. I poured the batter over beans to make tamale pie. After 20 minutes the top was starting to brown nicely but the underside of the cornbread was totally raw. We left it in for another 20 minutes and it was still a bit underdone but very tasty. I’m not sure what caused it to take so long to cook–the missing egg, the stoneground cornmeal, or the chilis and corn?

Take two: I followed the recipe exactly this time, and used the stone ground cornmeal. It baked up just fine in the specified amount of time. So clearly the issue was the egg or the additions, not the cornmeal.

This is a flour-less, gluten-free, very buttery recipe:

This recipe was given to me by my friend Kathy. She found it posted on epicurious, but it was originally printed in Gourmet magazine, as the recipe of Susan Goss, chef at Zinfandel, in Chicago.

Chef Susan Gross says that the secret here is in her cast-iron skillet. Nonstick pans produce anemic, soft corn bread. This recipe also works well with corn-stick or muffin molds, as long as they’re well-seasoned cast iron. If your pan is hot enough, the batter will immediately rise and start to cook around the edges. (The restaurant’s skillets rarely leave the oven.) At Zinfandel, the corn bread is served with a wonderful spread. To make it, combine 1 stick of softened unsalted butter with 2 tablespoons buckwheat honey (another honey or pure maple syrup can be substituted).

  • 1 1/2 cups yellow cornmeal (preferably stone-ground)
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups well-shaken buttermilk
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • Accompaniment: buckwheat honey butter

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Put a dry, well-seasoned 9- to 9 1/2-inch cast-iron skillet in middle of oven to heat. Stir together cornmeal, baking soda, and salt, crushing any small bits of baking soda. Whisk eggs in another bowl until blended and whisk in buttermilk.
  2. Remove hot skillet from oven carefully and add butter, swirling gently to coat bottom and sides of skillet. (If butter begins to sizzle and brown around edges, so much the better.)
  3. Whisk hot butter into buttermilk mixture and return skillet to oven. Stir cornmeal into buttermilk mixture just until moistened. (The batter doesn’t have to be smooth — a few small lumps are good.)
  4. Scrape batter into hot skillet and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Invert skillet over a platter and cool bread at least 3 minutes.

Active time: 10 min, total time: 30 min

My notes:

Kathy and Spoons served this at their gluten-free 2006 Spoons’ birthday extravaganza, and it was delicious. Airy but substantial, with great big pieces of stone ground cornmeal and corn kernels (they added this–it’s not in the original recipe). I tried making it with normal fine-ground cornmeal, and it wasn’t that great. The crumb was very fine and it needed more salt (although I might have mis-measured the salt). Definitely not worth all that butter. I’ll have to try it again with stone ground cornmeal and see if it tastes like Kathy’s.

Update Feb 2012:  I made this gluten-free cornbread again using half masa harina and half “polenta”–a much coarser grind than normal cornmeal.  I cut the butter down to two Tablespoons and didn’t mix it into the batter, just left it on the bottom of the pan.  Instead of buttermilk I used about 1.5 cups whole milk yogurt plus 1/4 cup of water.  I added 2/3 tsp. of Morton kosher salt.  The cornbread came out well.  It had a nice texture and was crisp on the outside.  The flavor was salty and eggy, but pleasantly so.  (I might go back to 1/2 tsp. salt next time though.)  I’ll also add fresh corn next time!

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Tamale pie (Cornbread pie)

February 10, 2007 at 5:18 pm (Alma's faves, B plus (3 stars, like a lot), Beans, Derek's faves, Mexican & S. American, My brain) ()

Look in just about any vegetarian cookbook from the 70’s or 80’s and you’ll find a recipe for Tamale pie. True tamale pie is made with masa, but more often the topping is a simple cornbread. This is a great one-dish meal that’s healthy, filling, and hits the spot when then windchill is -15 and you’re in the mood for some comfort food.

Update 7/7/2019:

I made cornbread pie for lunch yesterday and it was a pretty big success. Everyone liked it, including Alma (at almost 4.5 years). I followed this AMA cookbook cornbread recipe for the cornbread portion, but I didn’t follow a recipe for the bean portion. I first sauteed up some red onion, garlic, green bell pepper, then added some finely chopped tomatoes and frozen corn, and seasoned the whole thing with cumin and a little chili powder and a little crumbled feta cheese, then added 6 cups of (already pretty nicely seasoned) pinto beans including the thick goo (essentially reduced cooking liquid) that surrounded them. I added the cornbread mixture when the beans were simmering, then I baked it in the oven for 20 minutes, following the cornbread instructions. The cornbread pie turned out well. The cornbread wasn’t soggy on the bottom, like it sometimes gets (presumably because the beans were hot when I added the batter, so it cooked the bottom).

In the past I’ve often felt like there was way too much cornbread in comparison to beans, but this time the ratio seemed right, because I added more beans and made a slightly smaller cornbread (only 1.5 cups of total flour not 2 cups). The only problem was that my cast iron skillet was so full it started boiling over a bit in the oven. Luckily I had put it on a baking sheet. But next time I think I will use slightly less beans—3 cups is clearly not enough, but 6 cups was a bit overfull. Maybe 4.5 or 5 cups? This time the cast iron skillet was almost completely full even before I added the cornbread. Next time I want there to be a tiny bit more space. Alternatively, I could try cooking it in cast iron my dutch oven.

The “recipe” as written above made a lot, maybe 8 servings? Derek and Alma and I ate it for brunch and there was more than half left.

Original post from 2/10/2017:

I don’t quite have a “recipe” yet–I tend to just eyeball it. But here’s approximately what I did last night:

  • 1/2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 cups of homemade, lightly salted, black beans, with their juice filling in the measuring cup
  • about 1 cup of Frontera salsa
  • 1/2 can diced green chilies (I put the other half in the cornbread)
  • ground cumin, maybe 2 tsp?
  • chipotle powder, maybe 1 tsp?
  • 3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
  1. I sauteed the garlic in my cast iron pan (I usually add onions too but I was out). Then I added the black beans and mashed them a bit with a potato masher. I added the other ingredients and just let the beans simmer while I made the cornbread.
  2. I preheated the oven to 425, then made the cornbread (I’ll post recipes in a separate post). I poured the batter on top, using a spatula to spread it out evenly. I baked for about 30 minutes.

This came out quite well–the beans were especially tasty. I usually use pintos but the black beans were nice as well. Derek thought the bean to cornbread recipe was too low, but I actually thought it was perfect. Maybe a compromise is to make extra beans and take them out before adding the cornbread, so Derek can have extra beans on the side?

Obviously, this “recipe” needs work, but I think it has great potential.

I made it again using 4.5 cups of canned beans and it still didn’t have enough beans.  I think next time I’ll try 6 cups of beans, and cut the cornbread recipe down from 3/4 cup of cornmeal and flour each to 1/2 cup.

Rating: B
Derek: A-

Historical tidbit: When I made fast food at my co-op in college, this was a regular. I’d get out all our cast iron pans (we had about 5 of them, and some were huge). I’d make an enormous pot of beans and tons of cornbread then fill them all up and bake them in batches. They were always popular, except for one time… I found some cute little red and yellow peppers in the fridge. They were tiny, colorful, and adorable. I thought they were some kind of mini bell pepper, so I threw them into the beans even though I’d already added jalepenos and chipotle powder. I discovered only after making all five enormous cornbread pies, that the peppers were actually habaneros. Many of the members of the co-op prided themselves on their love of (and tolerance for) spicy foods. But no one could down more than one bite of these cornbread pies. Sadly, they all ended up in the trash.

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Soybeans. Not edamame. Soybeans. And the vegan triumvirate.

February 1, 2007 at 5:56 pm (Beans, Dark leafy greens, Grains, My brain, Soybeans & edamame, unrated)

Yes, yes, I know edamame are all the rage, and I like them, I do. But how come no one ever eats good old mature soybeans that have been dried and cooked like any other bean? Personally, I love soybeans. They’re definitely one of my favorite beans. And my very favorite way to eat them is with the great vegan triumvirate. The what?

The Vegan Triumvirate:

  • Nutritional yeast. Your first sniff might induce high school gym locker nostalgia. By the third taste, you’ll be hooked. Hard to describe, but has that umame flavor.
  • Soy sauce. Tofu, tempeh, soybeans–they just aren’t the same without soy sauce. Pour the stuff on–sodium be damned!
  • Olive oil. The fat of the gods for vegans, and everyone else too.

There is no better way to eat soybeans then a big soupy bowl tossed with the vegan triumvirate. Other favorite triumvirate settings:

  • whole wheat pasta. I call this one “dessert.” IMHO, it’s better than any other possible pasta dish you could ever conceive.
  • brown rice. Makes us fight over the brown rice leftovers.
  • un-tumericified scrambled tofu. See my recipe in this blog.
  • nofu. See my recipe in this blog.
  • on bean sprouts.  I know, this one sounds really weird, but it’s good!  The sprouts are crunchy and refreshing, with a mild enough flavor for the triumvurate to shine through.  Actually, I left the oil out on this one, and it was tasty.

I also put the triumvirate on greens, and broccoli. It’s good, but not as perfect a match. Recently I tried it on frozen green beans that I dug out of Derek’s freezer. Despite the severe freezer burn (who knows how long they had been in there) they were actually pretty good. The triumvirate saves all.

Update August 7, 2011:

Nutritional Yeast Goes Mainstream

This just in from Cook’s Illustrated

Despite its clinical—sounding name, nutritional yeast was a big hit for seasoning popcorn, with tasters describing its effect as “tangy,” “nutty,” “cheesy,” and “addictive.” The key is its high level of glutamic acid, the main chemical compound responsible for boosting the umami taste in food.

Now if they would just go beyond popcorn and try nutritional yeast with soy sauce and olive oil!

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