Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cuban-Style Black Beans

Beans are totally made for the slow-cooker. And for freezing. After the beans are done, distribute between freezer bags and you've got instant yummy side-dishes for the next few weeks. If you like your beans more whole, skip last step of pureeing the beans.

I made these the week I moved and apparently forgot to take a picture of just the finished beans. So instead, please enjoy a reposted picture of my nachos, including these black beans, crumbled feta, and my roasted tomatillo-mango salsa.

Serves 6-8
Total time (excludes soaking beans): 8-10 hours

1 lb dried black beans (do not use canned)
1 large onion, halved at equator, peeled, root end left intact
1 head garlic, halved at equator, skin left intact
2/3 cup diced tomato
1 tbsp kosher salt
4-6 C water
1/4 lb bacon, cut into small dice or pieces
2 Tbsps olive oil
1 Tbsp cumin seeds
2 tsps dried oregano
2-3 bay leaves

In a large bowl or pot, dissolve 3 tablespoons of salt in 4 quarts of cold water. Add the dried beans and soak for 8-24 hours. Drain, and rinse beans. Add the beans to the slow cooker.

In a large skillet, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until  it begins to brown. Add the cumin seeds and toast for a minute. Transfer the bacon and cumin to the slow cooker.

Add the root end of the onion, the garlic head halves, diced tomato, kosher salt, oregano, and bay leaves to the slow cooker. Dice the stem end of the onion and transfer to slow cooker. Add enough water to cover the beans. Put on the lid and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or until the beans are cooked through). Check the liquid level about halfway through cooking time to see if you need to add more--I've found that when I use organic dried beans, I tend to use less water.

Using tongs, remove the garlic, onion, and bay leaves and test for seasonings. If you want your beans mostly whole, skip this last part: take an immersion blender to the fully cooked beans until you reach your desired consistency. I like to puree them just a bit so that some of the beans are still whole and some are pureed. Enjoy the beans over rice, under some grilled pork tenderloin, over nachos, or simply by the spoonful.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Leftover Mashed-Potato Gnocchi

Cooking and ricing potatoes is half the work of making gnocchi, so why not start out with some of those leftover mashed potatoes? This recipe is very easy, but you'll need to watch out for the amount of flour you put in; you only need just enough to make the potatoes roll easily. If you add too much flour, your gnocchi will be heavy. You can make these with any kind of mashed potatoes (parmesan, roasted garlic, or whatever); I've even used mashed potatoes with skins in them.

Makes 2 servings
Total Time: 30 minutes

2 C mashed potatoes
1 egg
1/4-1/2 C all-purpose flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper, as needed

Combine the mashed potatoes with the egg and season with salt and pepper, depending on how seasoned your mashed potatoes are. Add 1/4 cup of the flour, and stir together until well-combined. The dough should form a ball easily and shouldn't stick to the counter when rolled out. If it does, add a bit more flour, a tablespoon at a time.

Gnocchi waiting to be boiled.
Divide the dough ball in half and roll each half into a 3/4-inch rope. Using a sharp knife or a pastry cutter, cut the ropes into small pieces, each about 1/2-inch wide. Shape each gnocchi by rolling it over the tines on the back of a fork.

At this point, you can cook the gnocchi, refrigerate them for a few hours until you're ready to cook them and toss with sauce, or freeze them. When you're ready to cook, bring a large pot of water to boil, season generously with salt, and boil them in 2-3 batches for 2 minutes, or until they float to the top of the water. Remove them with a strainer and toss with a warm sauce of your choice.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Roasted Tomatillo and Mango Salsa

I like a somewhat chunky salsa, but no so chunky as it doesn't stay on the chip very well. My solution here was to puree half of the finished salsa and then combine it with the other half. This is will keep in the fridge for a week; after I've moved I will figure out a good way to can it and then you (and I) can enjoy it year-round!

Nachos with Cuban-Style Black Beans and Feta

Total Time: 15-20 minutes
Makes about 4 cups

1 lb tomatillos, husked and washed
1 lb mango, peeled and chopped
1 C chopped red onion
4-5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 Tbsp olive oil
juice from 1 lime
1 tsp salt
whole fresh peppers that you like (I used 8 Thai bird chilies but you should use whatever you like, according to how spicy you'd like it)

Tomatillos, peppers, and garlic waiting for the broiler.
Preheat the broiler.

Slice the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on the broiler pan. Add the garlic and whole chilies (stems included). Broil for 6-7 minutes, or until the skins of the tomatillos begin to blacken.

Toss the roasted tomatillos into the food processor or blender. Peel the garlic, pop off the stems of the chilies, and add them all to the processor. Add the olive oil, lime juice, and salt and puree.

Pour into a large bowl about half of the puree, add about half of the chopped mango, and toss to combine. Add the remaining mango to the processor bowl with the remaining salsa. Puree again. Pour this into the bowl with the chunkier salsa and combine. Taste and adjust for salt. Refrigerate at least an hour and enjoy!