Garlic Roasted Beans

A few weeks ago my friend David made a delicious snack by roasting Garbanzo beans. They were tasty, salty, and crunchy—the three things I look for in a good snack. I ate them with impunity, knowing I was getting protein and folic acid along with my snack-food fix.

Roasted garbanzo beans are a traditional Spanish tapas— but why stop at garbanzo beans? I had a jar of beautiful anasazi Beans so I tried them. I also tried white beans. The garbanzo beans held their shape the best; they went in the oven looking like garbanzo beans and came out looking like garbanzo beans. The other beans opened up as they cooked. This gave them a delicious, airy crunch.

2 cups of cooked beans, drained (I start off with dried beans. Click here for bean-cooking details.)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon of sea salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon of pepper (black or cayenne, I use both)
1 Tablespoon of olive oil (you can actually omit this if you want)

Preheat oven to 375º F.

Toss all ingredients until well coated.

Spread out in a single layer in a baking sheet with sides (if you omitted the olive oil, lightly grease the pan).

Bake for 35-50 minutes (smaller beans will take less time, large beans, more), stirring every 15 minutes or so. When done, they should be crispy.

Experiment with different spices/herbs. Cumin? Rosemary? Wait until after the beans are roasted before you add fresh herbs (or cheese…ymmm). Buen apetito!

The New Spinach?

The New York Times called beets the new spinach. According to the article beets are “nutritional powerhouses, high in folate, manganese and potassium.”

My friend Jan has always liked beets. I did not like them until she made them for me once years ago. I always thought that beets tasted like dirt, but Jan roasted them in orange juice and transformed them into a delicately sweet and only slightly earthy dish. It was a perfect compliment to the pork roast and the cold snowy night.

Recently, Jan further expanded my beet world by telling me that you don’t have to cook beets at all. Grated beets with salt, pepper and lemon juice make an easy, yummy and let’s not forget, uber-healthy salad.

Here’s a version with cabbage (another nutritional powerhouse):

1 large beet or several small ones, uncooked, peeled
1 cup chopped cabbage
1/4 cup apple cider or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon grated horseradish (fresh or prepared)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix honey, vinegar and horseradish.
Grate beets or chop them in food processor.
Toss all ingredients.

Eat up!

Papaya Peppercorns

My friend Bill once told me that I would have made a great pioneer; I sometimes like to do things the hard way and I don’t like to see anything go to waste. That’s why I was excited to learn that you can use the seeds from a papaya. You can scoop them out and eat them fresh. They are sort of like a caper (though not pickled, but pickling them is an idea). They are spicy and slightly pungent.

You can also turn them into peppercorns. I thought this was very cool. The ground papaya seeds’ taste is hard to distinguish from regular black pepper. It’s easy to make and is an exotic pepper alternative.

Scoop out the seeds from a fresh papaya.
Place in warm water and work with hands to remove pulp.
Let soak overnight.
Bake for at 170 (or at the lowest temperature your stove will go) for 60 minutes or until the seeds are hard.
Cool, then place in a pepper grinder and use as you would pepper.

Apparently the seeds have the same good enzymes that the fruit has, so grind away!

Papaya Chutney

A perfectly ripe papaya with lime is a little bit of sunshine in your mouth. Not only that but if you believe the Word’s Healthiest Food Website, it’s a miracle food. It’s packed with antioxidants, vitamin B, carotene; full of digestive enzymes; a good source of fiber; good for your heart; has anti-Inflammatory properties; good for your immune system and your lungs; protects against macular degeneration and rheumatoid arthritis and can be used as a meat tenderizer…how can anyone pass that up?

I noticed huge papayas in the grocery store the other day so I bought one. I admit I felt slightly guilty knowing how far that fruit had to travel, but I swear our farmers market didn’t have any, so I indulged.

chutneyI adapted this recipe from Nourishing Traditions.

3 cups of chopped papaya (you can substitute mango)
1/4 cup of chopped onion
1/2 cup of lime juice
1 Tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
a handful of fresh chopped cilantro (about 1/4 cup; you can also add fresh mint)
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of chopped jalapeno
1/4 cup of chopped roasted red pepper (or regular red pepper)
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of whey

Slice papaya in half, length-wise. Scoop out the seeds and save them.
Scoop out the papaya flesh, leaving the peel.
Mixed all ingredients.
Place in a jar. Slightly pack the ingredients into the jar so that everything is covered with liquid. Add more water if necessary.
Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for two days.
Transfer to the fridge. It should keep for about two months.

You can add papaya chutney to anything- fish, pork, chicken. We topped our shrimp tacos with it last night….ymmmm.

Spicy-Sweet Apple Chips

I think that I was a squirrel in a previous life. Each fall I scurry about loading up at the farmers market, shoving as much winter squash as my little re-usable grocery bag can hold, fearful that I’m not getting enough to last until spring. I get a little panicky.

I was in full squirrel mode when my husband and I went apple picking a couple of weekends ago in the Hudson Valley. Boy, did we do some picking…a hefty bushel. That’s a lot of apples.

We picked some at Stone Ridge Farms. They were crisp, delicious, but not all that pretty. Apparently if you don’t spray apples, they can develop russet, which is a little unsightly but actually sought after by some apple connoisseurs for its spicy characteristics. You won’t find any russet apples at the supermarket.

Next, we went to Mr. Apples. Mr. Apples is another low-spray orchard. The orchard didn’t have the expansive views that Stone Ridge had, but the hand-made signs, colorful proprietor and delicious apples made it worth the stop.

I was very satisfied with our apple haul.

The other day I experimented making apple chips. I tried various versions. Here’s the recipe I liked best:

Spicy-Sweet Apple Chips

Slice a couple of apples very thin. Making them consistent is the trickiest part. If they aren’t consistent, some will taste like chips, while some will be chewy like dried apples, which isn’t the end of the world.

Mix a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a pinch of salt and tablespoon of sugar. Dip the apple slices in the mixture. I just dip one edge. You can also leave them plain, and they will still be delicious.

Line a cooling rack with parchment paper. You can cook them on a lined cookie sheet, but it will take longer.

Bake at 250º for 30 minutes, Turn and bake for another 30 minutes. If the slices are thick, you’ll need to bake them longer. If you have sliced them super-thin, be sure to keep an eye on them. Yes, you CAN burn apples slices even at the low temp of 250º. Until the other day, I would have said that was crazy.

Once they are light brown, remove from the oven and let cool. Be sure to store the apple chips in an airtight container so they’ll stay crisp.

Pistachio Pesto

Purists make pesto by hand using a mortar and pestle. Pesto is derived from the Latin word “pesta, which means “to pound, to crush.” They say that hand-pounding pesto keeps the flavors distinct and it releases more of the oil from the basil, so the pesto is more flavorful.

My husband and I have raced to see who could make pesto faster- me, with a mortar and pestle; he with a food processor. The rule was it had to include cleaning and putting away the food processor. I’m pretty sure I won, but he may remember it differently.

Either way, you can whip up a batch in less time than it takes to walk the dog around the block.

I like to make my pesto with pistachios. It gives it a great color. My husband likes to make his with toasted pecans and jalapenos. Yu-uum. You can follow the basic recipe and experiment with different ingredients.

Here’s what you need:
2-3 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/4- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pistachio nuts
2-3 garlic cloves
a dash or two of cayenne pepper
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

When hand pounding, start off pounding the garlic and coarse salt, then add about 1/3 of the nuts and 1/3 of the basil. I keep one hand sort of cupped around the top of the mortar to keep the nuts from flying out. Keep adding the nuts and basil. Once those are pounded to a very course paste, stir in the oil and cheese last.

With a food processor, just put everything in and give it a whirl.

Chopped basil will oxidize and turn brown. To prevent this, cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil before you store it in the fridge (it will keep, covered with plastic wrap, for about a week).

Pesto is great, of course, tossed in pasta, but is equally as good on chicken, pork, fish or pizza.

I like to make a big batch and freeze it. You can freeze pesto in ice cube trays. Then store the frozen cubes in a bag so you can grab a few when you need them. I usually make small pesto balls (like drop cookies), freeze them on a cookie sheet, then throw them in a freezer bag.

Once winter comes around, you’ll be happy you froze a little bit of summer.

Kimchi

Kimchi is a powerhouse of nutrition, packing tons of vitamins and beneficial bacteria. The kimchi I make isn’t what I think of as traditional kimchi. I recently learned that Kimchi varies greatly from different regions and different seasons. The one I’m going to show you is a version called baek kimchi or literally “white kimchi.” It doesn’t call for fish sauce, fermented shrimp or the red powder that usually gives kimchi its characteristic color. It is a crisp, fresh version.

I have continued to experiment with different vegetables. I’ve used Napa cabbage and regular cabbage. I sometimes use daikon radishes and sometimes use regular radishes. Regular radishes add a nice color. Today, I am lucky to have a hot pepper from Bonnie and Earl’s garden in Virginia. This will add a nice spice. The two important things to include are grated ginger and garlic. Add grated ginger and garlic and whatever vegetables you want and you’ll have a nice fresh kimchi.

You will need whey for this recipe. If you made the cream cheese from yogurt from the previous post, you should have the whey. If you didn’t make the cream cheese, go do that now (click here for the recipe). I’ve seen recipes that substitute more salt for whey, but I think it makes the kimchi too salty, and I love salt so that’s saying something.

Whey is a magical ingredient. It has enzymes that ferment food. There has been a lot written about the health benefits of fermented food. I just like the zing.

Click here for the recipe.

After you have the kimchi in a jar with a tight lid, you leave it out on the counter for three days. Be careful when you open it! It spews like a shaken soda on a hot day. Once fermented, the kimchi will last in your fridge forever or there abouts. I’ve actually never tested that… We go through ours rather quickly. Use it like hamburger helper– add it to some ground-beef and rice and you have an instant Korean meal.

Boo, my kitchen helper

Boo, my little helper

Introduction

Making things is an obsession for me. When I see something, anything, I wonder, can I make that myself? After reading a few influential and inspirational books, The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and thanks to my friend Jan, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I took this obsession to the kitchen.

When I was 10, my Dad told me that if I knew how to read, then I knew how to cook. I’ve been reading and cooking since. I’ve long been cooking from scratch. I find it easy and not as time consuming as one might think. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of label reading and wondering if my bread really needs 30 ingredients or if my strawberry jam really needs high-fructose corn syrup. I decided to find out just how many everyday food items I can make myself. My “Neo-19th Century” cooking has become a daily part of life. I use modern tools, but try to make everyday items like they would have been made a century ago.

This blog will show you how to make kitchen staples. Many items require hours and sometimes days to complete, but the hands-on time will be less than an hour. Some recipes take a little planning, but you’ll see how easy it is to incorporate them into your busy life.

Today I’m going to start two items, cream cheese and bread. The hands on time for today will be less than 15 minutes.

Cream Cheese and Whey

Homemade cream cheese from yogurt is the simplest cheese you can make. Actually it’s one of the simplest things you can make period. It has a bit of tartness to it and a more complex taste than store-bought cream cheese. It reminds me a bit of goat cheese.

One reason to make your own cream cheese, aside from the taste, is the by-product it makes—whey. I’ve found that many recipes in Nourishing Traditions require whey. Whey is the liquid that is leftover from making cheese. It’s loaded with all kinds of good stuff for you. Be sure to save it because I will be making many recipes that require it (kimchee and ginger ale to name two).

Click here for the cream cheese recipe.

No-Knead Bread
I’m also going to start a loaf of bread. I bake this bread at least a couple of times a week. When we start to get to the end of one loaf, I start another one. We rarely buy store bought bread anymore. You can get this bread going in the time it would take you to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Total hands-on time is around 15 minutes, IF you move slowly. I can do it in 10.

This bread takes a day to rise, so you have to plan ahead a bit.

The recipe is from Sullivan Street Bakery. You can get the recipe online here.

Click here for my version.

I’ve tried using whole-wheat flour and a mixture of wheat and white. Adding wheat makes the loaf fairly dense, though still delicious. My favorite way to make it is to use unbleached white flour and a cup of mixed grains. I keep a jar with a mixture of millet, oat bran, oats, wheat berries or whatever looks healthy in the bulk food section.