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Archive for the ‘Beans’ Category

I often forget how versatile and easy beans are to work with. Tonight, as I prepared for a meeting at home, I wanted to have a healthy and simple snack for those in attendance that would be satisfying and unique. I didn’t want to make hummus (although I love hummus), or anything with ranch dressing in it. So I googled spicy bean dip and came across a recipe for some spicy Asian bean dip on another blog. It was very popular, and incredibly easy. With a few modifications based on my pantry, this is the recipe I followed:

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Ingredients – serves 8 as an appetizer

dip
-1 cup dried white beans, cooked in a pressure cooker with 3 c water for 35 minutes (you can substitute 1 can white beans)
-2 Tbsp canola oil
-2 tsp sesame oil
-Juice from 1/2 lime
-2 tsp hot sauce
-2 tsp soy sauce
-1/2 tsp curry powder
-1 clove garlic, crushed
-1/8 cup hot water

veggie sticks
-4 carrots, cut into sticks
-3 stalks celery, cut into sticks
-1 red pepper, cut into sticks

Directions

Combine all ingredients for the dip in a food processor or blender, and blend until smooth. I like to add the water last and drizzle it in while the motor spins. Blend for 3-4 minutes, until fully smooth.

Serve with an array of veggies (add any of your favourites!), and you’re sure to have a crowd-pleaser! This also makes for great snacks for work or school.

Have a wonderful week!

-Sitelle

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By March, I’m tired of winter food: the root veggies, onions, and garlic are at the end of their time, and the new spring crops are far from being ready, unless Maple Syrup falls in the category of a proper food!

Instead I’ve been leaning to dried pulses: beans and lentils, which seem to be timeless. This week, I’ve been inspired to create new dishes inspired by Latin American flavours. This dish came together on its own, from simple ingredients, and requires little effort other than remembering to soak the beans in advance. The result is a delicious bean stew, which can be eaten with tortillas, over rice, or even as a soup if you cook it in large volumes of water or broth!

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Ingredients – 4 servings

-1 cup dried kidney beans, soaked for 1 day or boiled, rinced, boiled again, and soaked for 3 hours
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1/2 red onion, diced
-1 jalapeño, finely diced (seeds removed if you don’t like it too spicy)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2 tsp chili powder
-1 stick cinnamon
-1/2 to 1 tsp salt (to taste)
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-juice from 1/2 a lime
-1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (omit if vegetarian, and add 1/4 vegetable bouillon cube to replace)
-1/2 red pepper, small dice
-2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
-1L water

Directions:
Soak the beans in advance. When ready, heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until they become soft, then add the garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon stick and the spices. Sprinkle the salt over the top, and stir, until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.

When the onion begins to brown, add the water, and bring to a boil. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the lime juice and simmer on low for 1-2 hours, covered.

Increase the heat to medium and add the red pepper. Remove the cover, stirring and crushing a few of the beans. Allow to simmer uncovered at a mild boil until most of the liquid is either absorbed or boiled off. The beans stew should become a bit thicker, and there should not be more than a ‘sauce’ when it is ready. Finally, add the cilantro, and if you like the lime feel free to add another spritz or two of lime before serving!

-Sitelle

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With the rush of every-day life it can be difficult to think of new recipes, and although the internet can be very helpful, I find sometimes it prevents me from being truly creative with my own cooking. I love the practicality of being able to be creative on the spot with what ever ingredients are available in the refrigerator and on the shelf. Lately, I haven’t had as much time or opportunities for creativity as I’m cooking for myself only most of the time, as one meal will last me days and days. Today, however, I had the chance to try something new, and it was delicious and fun as well!

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Ingredients: 4 servings (as a meal), appetizer for 8+

Carrots

-6 large carrots, cut into thin sticks (quarters or eighths)
-2 Tbsp canola oil
-2 tsp cumin
-2 tsp paprika
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper

Hummus

-1 generous cup dried chickpeas, boiled and soaked overnight; then skins removed (if you’re crazy like me, but I’m sure it’s not necessary – you can also use canned chickpeas I’m sure)
-1 head roasted garlic (400F oven roasted for 40 minutes wrapped in tin foil)
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp cumin
-2 tsp paprika
-1 tsp (or to taste) hot pepper flakes
-juice of 1 lemon
-2 Tbsp warm water
-2 tsp dried parsley flakes
-1 Tbsp tahini
-1-2 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:

To make the carrots, preheat the oven to 400F. Slice the carrots and place in a bowl with all the seasoning and the oil. Toss until evenly covered and then lay out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer, with no carrots touching (it’s the key to perfect roasted veggies!). Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden-brown. Serve with hummus if you like!

To make the hummus, soak the chickpeas or use canned, and roast the garlic. Then combine chickpeas, garlic, water and tahini in a food processor and process for 2-3 minutes until smooth. Then add remaining ingredients, and process for another 1-2 minutes. Place in serving bowl.

I envision the carrots and hummus would be great as a finger food for a dinner party: just have tooth picks on hand and enjoy!

-Sitelle

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A few years ago now, I spent some time studying in several communities in Belize. It was a lovely experience, and it set off an insatiable desire to live and work in diverse and distinct communities both outside and inside of Canada.

One of the my favourite aspects about travelling is all the different foods I taste, the flavours of each country, and learning to cook the food in different communities. While this recipe is not identical to any I learned in Belize, it is inspired by the sunny, fresh, and wholesome food cooked in a hard-working Maya community in the Southernmost part of Belize in the Toldeo District. The women there taught me simple ways to cook beans which I use to this day. The ingredients are simple, and the result is ever delicious.

I like to make this with many different types of beans, but black-eyed peas are a favourite with the delicate flavour of cilantro and garlic cooked they are cooked in from the start.

Beans

Ingredients – 8 servings

1 1/2 cup black-eyed peas, soaked for 8 hours at least after a boil

1 onion, dinced

3 cloves garlic, minced or pounded in a mortar and pestle

1 jalapeño pepper, minced (remove seeds if you want less spice)

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 cup shredded cilantro leaves

1 cube vegetable bouillon

1 tsp chilli spice

5 cups water

Directions

To soak the beans, place 1 1/2 cups of the beans in 2L of water. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat for 6-8 hours or overnight (if doing overnight, you don’t need to boil them if you don’t want to). Once ready to cook drain and rinse beans.

Dice the onions, garlic, and jalapeño. If you have a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and jalapeño together with the bouillon cube and the chilli spice.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and sauté for a few minutes until it is slightly browned. Add the garlic and jalapeño (and the whole mixture if you did it in the mortar and pestle). Stir and cook for a few more minutes. Add the jalapeño, chilli and the bouillon cube.

When the mixture smells fragrant, add the beans. Stir to coat, and then add the water. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Keep boiling for two minutes and then transfer mixture over to a slow cooker if you have one. Add the cilantro. Cook on high for 3-4 hours.

If you do not have a slow cooker, continue to simmer for an hour or two or until the beans are tender.

You can continue cooking this as long as you wish, and the dish will change accordingly. At first it is somewhat stew-like, and then it will begin to appear like refried beans, with the beans breaking down more and more. You can eat the beans alone, with rice, or in tacos for example! There are really a lot of options! I hope you enjoy these.

-Sitelle

 

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I apologize for the number of sweet recipes I’ve posted of late. I’ll admit I’ve got a fairly good excuse: I’ve just moved to a new place, so my kitchen is totally barren, I did not bring any cookbooks except one, I don’t have easy access to the internet, and perhaps most importantly I’ve moved somewhere where the grocery store carries only half of the things I would normally use (let’s face it, I am actually totally blown away by what I can find in the grocery store in Hay River, although I hear it gets pretty dreary in a few months after the fall vegetables start going bad).

I simply don’t have many of the ingredients necessary to cook interesting savoury dishes, whereas I can bake many, many things simply with flour, butter, and sugar, and the odd other exciting thing such as apples although that’s not necessary, just a perk.

This time, though, we decided to invest in a few more spices, one of them being chili seasoning. With the cold weather approaching, everyone’s cravings have gone towards stews and soups. I’ve had beans done countless ways since I arrived, many times accompanied with bannock. Yesterday, we sat down and made enough chili to last us for a few weeks. What I love about chili is that it’s easy to make and is flexible depending on whatever you might have laying around. What always challenges me, though, is that my pots, no matter how big, are never big enough.

Ingredients – one large pot of chili

1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp canola oil

2 carrots, diced
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cracked black pepper
2-3 Tbsp chili powder

1 can diced tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans (well rinced)
1 can chick peas (well rinced)
1 cup dry lima beans (soaked overnight and skins removed)
1/2 can crushed tomatoes

2 stalks celeri, diced
1 zucchini, diced
4 mushrooms, diced

1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 cup pickle juice (Catherine’s trick)
2 tsp brown sugar

Directions

Heat oil over medium heat in a large pot with a lid. When the oil is hot, cook the onions until they are soft and then add the garlic and spices. Stir, and once fragrant add in the carrots and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Once cooked, add the beans, and finally, add the tomatoes. Increase heat a bit, cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for another 20 or so minutes while you chop the remaining veggies. Add in the pickle juice, soy sauce, and the remaining veggies, as well as the sugar if you want to include it. Simmer for a minimum of 2 hours with the lid almost fully on, and serve alone, with bannock, toasted bread, or on a bed of rice. My favourite is to top it with shredded cheddar!

-Sitelle

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As this post suggests, I am back! I must admit the fast pace of life throws me off a but here, as do all the choices availe in the super-market, and the orderly queues. Oh yeah, and Toronto feels so cold… apparently it is possible to acclimatize to new environments quite easily.

First of all I want to thank Catherine for all her wonderful contributions to Gourm(eh) while I was out of regular internet range. Catherine is alive and well in Kenya now (we traded continents, and spoke today!), and I am back in Canada. Now, it is my turn to share my west African adventures with you.

Actually, for the next little while I have many, many recipes I want to share: both Central America-inspired and Senegambia-inspired, and I hope you will enjoy them as much as I do. I find it exciting to try new styles of cooking, and each of these recipes has so many stories and memories attached I cannot help but be excited to post them!

Akara, or bean fritters, are very common throughout West Africa. I typically purchased them from women frying them on charcoal stoves along the streets who packaged them up in ripped brown paper from flour bags and doused them in spicy sauce. Resisting the urge to eat them right away, I would carry them home and eat them from the comfort of my mat while sharing them with my friends.

Ingredients

Akara

1.5 cups black-eyed peas, soaked in water overnight
1 large red onion
1 jalapeno or scotch bonnet hot pepper
6 black peppercorns
Salt to taste
Oil for frying
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Dipping sauce

50g tomato paste
1 red onion finely sliced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tsp black pepper corns
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup water

Directions

Soak beans overnight in plenty of water. The following day, squeeze or rub the skins off the beans (if a few remain, don’t worry), remove them by dumping the water out of the beans. Keep the beans in a large bowl and pass the water through a strainer to catch the skins. Add more water and continue to remove the skins and wash the beans.

Clean the onions and half the hot peppers in a food processor or blender with the beans and pulse. Pound the pepper corns and add to the mixture, and add the parsley if you want to add a bit of a unique taste. Pulse well, until a you have a thick bean paste. Add salt to taste and the remaining hot pepper if you want the fritters to be spicy (warning: scotch bonnet peppers are very, very spicy).

Heat up about a centimeter of oil in a pan with a lid over high heat. Once heat-waves show up on the oil reduce heat to medium high. Carefully add spoonfulls of the bean mixture into the hot oil. Test it with one first, and make sure to add more only when the oil is bubbling around the bean paste. Cook for a couple minutes on each side, then remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Make Akara dipping sauce (spicy):

Dice the onions and garlic. Heat up the oil in a frying pan and add the onions and pounded black pepper. When the onions begin to become transparent, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Then stir in the tomato paste and cook for a couple more minutes before adding the chopped hot peppers and 1 cup water. Increase heat to medium-high until mixture boils, after which reduce the heat and simmer until at least half of the water has evaporated, and the sauce thickens. Add lemon juice and season with salt.

Pour sauce over fritters, and serve as an appetiser or main course with a salad.

Hope you enjoy them!

-Sitelle (Alias: Ya Ndey)

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With spring in the air, I am increasingly turning to salads for dinner.  One of my absolute favourites is black bean and corn salad. I love how quickly this salad can be assembled.  The sweet corn is a perfect complement to the wholesome beans, while the red pepper and onion add a flash of colour.  Best of all is the marinade of lime juice and cilantro – it allows the salad to burst with fresh flavour.

This salad keeps well for a few days in the fridge, and it makes for delicious leftovers.  Have fun fiddling with the seasoning – depending on my mood, I will often sprinkle some chili or cumin powder over the salad or, for a smooth treat, dice in half an avacado.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Ingredients:

1 can (14 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (14 ounces) corn, rinsed and drained (or substitute frozen)

1/2 red onion, chopped

1 small red pepper, chopped

A large handful of cherry tomatoes, slivered

1/4 cup cilantro, diced

Zest and juice from one lime

Salt and pepper to taste

A generous splash of olive oil, to taste

(OPTIONAL: one or more of the following, to your liking: hot sauce, additional cilantro, a few pinches of cumin or chile powder, half an avacadoo)

 

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  Refrigerate and let stand for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to deepen.  Toss and serve. Bon appetit!

– Catherine

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Baked Beans

Sitelle and I have been negligent of Gourm(eh?) of love.  Sitelle has a good excuse, being in the Gambia and all, while I have just been over-run with my thesis.  But my thesis is now off with my external examiner(!), so I’ve had a little more time to breathe, sleep, and most importantly cook.

When I was little, my grandparents used to throw a Christmas carolling party for our extended family (we’re talking fourth cousins being invited here).  It was an evening of good cheer and off-tune carols, with a delicious potluck feast.  One of my favourite dishes was my grandmother’s baked beans, with just the right balance between salty bacon and sweet molasses.  Baked beans are one of my absolute favourite comfort foods, and I still dream about her baked beans.

I got fed up with canned pork and beans the other day.  So I thought, how hard can it be to make baked beans from scratch?  And indeed, making the beans is easy enough – its all the time in between that tries one’s patience: soaking of beans overnight, boiling the beans for at least an hour, and then baking them slowly for four to five hours.  The end product, however, is certainly worth it – both in abundance and in flavour.  (Although admittedly, not quite as delicious as grandma’s!)

The recipe below is slightly modified from the Joy of Cooking. 

Baked Beans

(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

2 cups dried navy beans (or white kidney beans)

1/2 cup beer

1 onion, chopped

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup chili sauce

1 tablespoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

A few slices of bacon

 

Directions:

Soak the beans overnight.  Drain then cover with fresh water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then simmer slowly, covered, until tender, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 250 Fahrenheit. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking water.  Combine the beans in a greased casserole with the remaining ingredients.  Lay the bacon slices over the beans.

Bake the beans, covered, for 4 to 4 and 1/2 hours.  Uncover for the last hour of cooking.  If they become dry, add a little of the reserved bean water.

Bon appetit!

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Patty pans, also known as scallopini / button squash, are one of my favourite elusive treats of the early harvest season. This year I was seduced by a small box of them available at the market in Ste. Annes de Bellevue, although they were not even on my shopping list. They’re so delicate, and yet have so much attitude at the same time. I love them steamed, blanched (which is how they are made in this recipe), or roasted. Which ever way, as long as it is done for the shortest possible amount of time, results in a delightful and unique taste.

What I like about patty pans (and the green beans which I cooked at the same time) is it’s super easy to make, and so if combined with a rapid main-course recipe, dinner can be made within 20-25 minutes. Sometimes, that is just what has to happen. And, if you’re lucky enough to have some patty pans on hand, not only will the meal be ready rapidly – but it will also look quite nice.

Ingredients – 2 servings

-1 large chicken breast, filleted in two (or two if you are ravenously hungry)
-1 medium-large onion, diced
-1 clove garlic, germ removed, finely minced
-1 Tbsp olive oil
-coarsely cracked black (and red, if you have it) pepper
-pinch salt

-8-10 patty pan squash, washed, and sliced in half if they are on the larger side
-2 hand-fulls fresh green beans, stems removed
-nub of butter
-pinch salt
-squeeze of 1/4 lemon

Directions 

Slice the chicken breast in half. Dice the onion and garlic and set aside. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium heat until warm. Add onions, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the onions from the pan and heat to just above medium heat. Sear chicken when the pan is hot – and generously cover each side while it is not being seared with cracked pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, around 7-8 minutes per side.

In the meantime, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Quickly dip the green beans into the water, and after 1 minute add the patty pans. Rapidly return to a boil, and then strain immediately after 2 minutes. Quickly douse the vegetables in cold water for one second, before returning them to their pan with the nub of butter, the salt, and the squeeze of the lemon.

Once the chicken is cooked through, serve the veggies on the side. This can easily be accompanied with rice.

Hope you enjoy the simplicity of this recipe!

-Sitelle

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Earlier this summer, on a cool evening, my sister Ali treated our family to vegetarian black bean chili.  She had previously taste-tested this recipe on her vegetarian roommate, who loved it.  Our non-vegetarian family also loved it, and despite her suspicious for eating mainly beans for dinner, even my meat-and-potatoes-loving mother thought it was delicious.  This recipe makes a huge pot – so either halve the recipe or freeze the extra for a busy evening!

This recipe comes from Shelley Adams’ Whitewater Cooks (featuring simple, yet flavourful food), based out of Nelson, British-Columbia.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

(serves about 12)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons oil

2 onions, diced

6 carrots, diced

6 stalks of celery, diced

2 zucchini

1 jalapeno pepper, minced finely

1 tbsp garlic, minced

1/4 cup chili powder

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp basil

2 tsp oregano

2 bay leaves

2 tsp salt

1-19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups corn frozen or fresh (canned works fine)

2 cans cooked black beans, drained and rinsed

2-28 fl. oz. cans diced tomatoes

1 bottle of beer

1 tsp chipotle paste (optional)

water and/or stock

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

2 or 3 limes

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large pot, saute onions, carrots, celery, zucchini, jalapeno pepper and garlic in oil until soft.  Add chili powder, cumin, basil, oregano, salt and bay leaves. Saute 2-3 minutes more, before adding chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, beer, and chipolte.

Add water or stock to cover, and let simmer over low heat for about an hour stirring often.

To finish, garnish with cilantro, juice and zest of the limes, and salt and pepper to taste.

Delicious over pumpernickel bread or corn bread or served with basmati rice.

– Catherine

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