January 24, 2009

bean patties with mashed potatoes and gravy

There are so many ways to eat beans! These bean patties are one super delicious way. Throw some mashed potatoes and gravy into the mix and you have some serious winter comfort food.

Serving Size: 6

Bean Patty Ingredients:
12 bean patties (6 for now, 6 for later):
2 c. white beans, well-cooked
1 medium onion, diced
1/2 c. yellow corn meal
1 Ener-G egg replacer
1/2 c. frozen spinach, finely chopped
1/8 c. dehydrated tomatoes, minced
1/2 c. water
2 T. canola oil
2 T. barbeque sauce
2 T. apple cider vinegar
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. thyme
1 t. sage
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1/8 t. cayenne pepper

Mashed Potato Ingredients:
3 c. yukon potatoes, cubed
1/2 c. soy milk
2 T. Earth Balance margarine
3 cloves garlic, pressed
1 T. chives
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Gravy Ingredients:
1/2 large red onion, sliced thin in crescents
2 T. canola oil
1 t. thyme
pinch of salt
1/2 c. red wine
1 1/2 c. water
2 T. white all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 t. black pepper

Blend all of the bean patty ingredients in a food processor. Refrigerate for at least an hour so that the mixture becomes cohesive. Take the bean patty mixture out of the refrigerator and form 12 bean patties. Bake the bean patties in well oiled pans for 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Flip the patties with a metal spatual and bake for another 10 minutes or until the patties look golden. Let them cool on wire racks.

While the bean patties are in the refrigerator and later in the oven, work on the mashed potatoes and gravy. Boil the potatoes until they feel soft. Drain the potatoes and mash. Mix in all of the "mashed potato" ingredients listed above.

For the gravy, cook the onion, canola oil, thyme and salt in a sauce pan on low heat until the onions are caramelized. Add red wine and water. Allow to reduce for a few minutes. In a separate cup mix some of the hot gravy liquid with the flour. Add the dissolved flour to the rest of the gravy liquid and simmer until it reaches a desired thickness.

January 18, 2009

artichoke and olive pizza

It's pizza time!

Serving size: 6 (2 pizzas)

Dough Ingredients:
3 1/2 c. flour
1 c. warm water
2 T. yeast
2 T. honey
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt

Optional Dough Ingredients:
2 T. minced garlic
1 T. basil
1 T. oregano
1 T. rosemary
1 tsp. sage

Sauce Ingredients:
16 oz (1 pint) tomato sauce
2 T. olive oil
2 T. honey
1 T. basil
1 T. oregano

Pizza Toppings:
black olives
artichoke hearts
caramelized onions (1 red onion, 2 T. canola oil, 2 T. margerine/butter)

Note that the dough will need around 2 hours to rise, with a good punch in the middle.

My favorite part of making pizza is adding things to the dough, like LOTS of garlic and basil and oregano...and eating the bits of leftover dough...and the smell of the garlicky dough in the oven. We find that making pizza dough in a food processor is pretty convenient, but you can also knead it all by hand or do it all in a bread machine. The best pizza dough recipe that we've found is Mitch's Basic Pizza Dough--I like it because it uses honey. The link includes directions for all three methods.

If you're using a food processor, you can use a dough blade, but the regular blade works just as well, if not better. If you do use the regular blade, you can put whole, peeled, garlic cloves into the machine first and let the machine chop them up. Otherwise you can chop them up yourself or use a garlic press. You can use whole wheat or white wheat or half and half or half corn meal--whatever you like!

Start by putting 1 cup warm water (about 85 to 115° F) in the processor. Add the honey and salt and mix or low for 20 seconds. Add the yeast and stir with a spoon or mix on low. You should start to see bubbles and smell the yeast working. Add 1 cup of flour, mixing again. Add the olive oil and mix again. Add the remaining flour and any optional additions (basil and oregano are my favorites, but I've also done rosemary and sage). Mix on high until the dough balls up, adding more water or flour as needed. Then take the dough out, balling up loose scraps, and knead for 5 minutes (use both hands, rolling the dough forward, trying to seal the seam with your palms on each fold). It's good if you play some loud music and get really into the kneading until you forget you are even doing it. You can try spinning the dough up in the air here; it's pretty fun. Once you've had enough, ball up the dough, closing and pinching the seam closed. Coat the ball with olive oil and put into a metal, ceramic, or glass bowl. Cover with a damp towel (I use warm water to make it damp). You will now let the dough rise for about 45 minutes. Put the bowl in a warm place. During the winter, putting it above the pilot light, or on a radiator, or in a barely warm oven works nicely. If it is too warm, then it will start to bake! After around 45 minutes, the dough should be close to double in size. If not, then double-check your yeast. Punch your fist into the ball to deflate it. Leaving the big fist hole just as it is, let the dough rise for 1-1.5 hours. (The Tassajara Bread Book is a great reference for the "why"s of bread making.)

While the dough is rising this second time, you can prepare the other ingredients. For the sauce, you can use tomato puree or sauce directly from the can or jar, or you can mix in some tomato paste for a thicker sauce. You can also add other ingredients to make a tastier sauce. For this recipe, I put 2 T. olive oil in a saucepan, them added around 16 oz (1 pint) of sauce. Then I added 2 T honey for a sweeter sauce and some spices (1 T. each of basil and oregano). Add some salt here if you like. When the sauce is mixed up and warm, it is ready.

Now is when I caramelize the onion. You may have noticed that we didn't put cheese on this pizza. We find that often, homemade pizza doesn't need cheese to taste good, especially with caramelized onions on it. Cut up 1 onion (the sweeter the better: vidalia or red are nice) into semicircles and cook on the stove in oil on really low heat. Cooking them slowly will allow the sugar in the onion to caramelize. You can also add honey or sugar for even sweeter and more caramelized flavor.

You can get other ingredients ready now too. The pizza in the photo has black olives and artichoke hearts on it. You could also reconstitute sun dried tomatos or dried mushrooms in wine or water. Even in winter the possibilities are endless: fried tofu covered in bbq sauce, indian curry pizza, thai pizza.

After letting the dough rise this second time, roll it out. Before you do so, get the oven heating up to 400 F. The amount of dough made by the ingredient amounts above is good for two medium pizzas. After rolled out, bake the crusts for 5-10 minutes so they don't get too soggy when you add the sauce. Add the sauce and the ingredients and bake some more until the crust is golden brown. You can put olive oil on the crust and more spices on top of the pizza if you like. That is some good pizza!

January 11, 2009

black bean burrito

Nothing says cost effective and delicious like a good burrito! Fresh, local produce may be scarce in winter, but this hearty burrito still manages to be quite lively.

Serving Size: 4

Bean Ingredients:
1 T. canola oil
3/4 c. diced onion (1/2 medium onion)
1 tsp. freshly ground cumin

1/2 tsp. pressed garlic (4 small cloves)
1 c. cooked black beans
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. red wine
1 T. ancho chile (
1 tsp. oregano
1 c. frozen corn
2 T. frozen cilantro
2 T. lemon juice
salt, black pepper, cayenne to taste

Other Ingredients:
2 c. cooked spelt berries


Soak the spelt berries and black beans in separate pots overnight. This is optional but will make cooking quicker the next day. About an hour before you begin to prepare the meal, cook the spelt berries and blacks beans. Drain and rinse the spelt berries and black beans when they are soft enough to eat.

In a small sauce pan add onion, cumin, canola oil and a pinch of salt. Cook at medium heat until translucent or about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add black beans, red wine, water, ancho chile and oregano and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in frozen corn, cilantro and lemon juice. Add salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste. Simmer for at least 5 more minutes until everything is warm.

Steam or microwave the tortillas. On the center of each tortilla add a pile of spelt berries, fancy black beans, salsa and cheese. Fold them up and eat!

Side Notes:
In fall, when corn is bountiful, you can blanch the cobs, strip the kernals and freeze. Cilantro is another thing that you can freeze but since it doesn't hold up well during freezing, we only use in stews or other mushy meals. To avoid creating a giant cilantro block in the freezer, we freeze the cilantro leaves in ice cube trays.

Also, because cooking beans and grains consumes time and energy, it is smart to cook more than a single meals worth. Think about having a variety of black bean and grain meals for an entire week. Hello black bean spread!

January 4, 2009

miso soup

After a cold walk home, miso soup is fantastic because it can be prepared quickly and warm your belly that much sooner. Plus, most of the ingredients can be kept on hand in the pantry and refrigerator, allowing it to be a rather impromptu meal even in winter.

Serving Size: 2

3 c. water
1 T. frozen, minced ginger
1 t. freshly pressed garlic
2 t. "better than bouillon" vegetable base
1/2 c. diced extra firm tofu
2 T. miso paste
torn toasted seaweed sheet as desired

In a saucepan bring water, vegetable bouillon, ginger and garlic to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
Add diced tofu and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add seaweed and stir in miso paste.

Side Note:
It can be difficult to know in advance when you will want to use a small amount of fresh ginger in a recipe. We like to peel and mince our ginger, freeze it on a cookie sheet, and then scrape it into a bag for freezer storage. The frozen, minced ginger works well in soups, stews, and cayenne pepper-ginger tea!