Friday, January 29, 2010

Black Bean and Chorizo Soup

I cooked off a pound of black beans in the slow cooker yesterday and I'm going to pick up a pound of Jordandal Farms Chorizo Sausage and make a big pot of Black Bean and Chorizo Soup. You can certainly put your own twist on this, but here's the basics:
1 # black beans, rinsed, soaked, rinsed again and cooked until tender
1 to 2 # Jordandal Farms bulk or link Chorizo Sausage
3 tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 cup diced green pepper
1 cup diced celeriac
2 tsp sea salt
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp fresh ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
3 tbsp chili powder
8 cups broth of your choice (vegetable, chicken, veal, ham, whatever is on hand)
optional: 1 to 2 cups corn; 1 to 2 cups chopped greens (mustard, kale, whatever is on hand); 1 cup cooked rice (brown, white or wild will all work)
zest and juice of 1 lime
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup dry sherry (or 1 cup beer if you prefer)
salt & pepper to taste
In a large soup pot heat olive oil over medium heat then add onions, peppers, celeriac and 2 tsp sea salt. Saute until onions are transluscent. Add garlic, cumin, paprika and chili powder and cook about 2 minutes, stirring to ensure garlic does not burn. Add chorizo and cook until the chorizo is cooked through, approximately 8 minutes. Add broth and beans, and bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Add corn, greens and/or rice (if using). Add lime zest and juice and sherry.
Just before serving, taste and add salt & pepper as needed.
Our favorite way to enjoy: With quesadillas!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Homemade Refritos and Tortillas-comfort food!

Recently while listening to a food podcast I learned that canned foods can leach bisphenol A (BPA) into the food, and can result in health concerns for people---EWW!
I hardly purchase any food from the grocery store, but canned refried beans, pinto beans and black beans are regular staples, mostly because they are quick and easy to use.
It is actually less expensive and healthier to just prepare your own dried beans, so that's what I've started doing.
A few tips on preparing dried beans:
-Always soak the beans 8-24 hours and then drain and rinse them before cooking. Dried beans release toxins and sugars into the water as they soak and to avoid gas and stomach cramps it is best to drain and rinse the beans and then cook them in fresh water.
-You'll want to cook 1 lb (2 cups) of beans in at least 6 cups of water, or more. The beans should remain covered in water at all times during cooking. The more water, the faster they'll cook.
-Bring the beans to a boil for 3 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, or until soft.
-Beans can be cooked in a slow cooker after soaking. Many recipes call for cooking on low for 8-10 hours. I tried this and they seemed pretty tough after 12 hours on low, so I turned up the heat to medium for about 8 hours and then back to low for another 4 hours, so they cooked in the slow cooker a total of 24 hours after soaking for 24 hours. You can speed this up by soaking the beans overnight then turning the slow cooker on medium in the morning and checking it after about 6 hours. As long as you have enough water, you can safely leave the beans on medium all day while you are at work.
Here's my recipe for homemade refried beans, which are great made into Quesadillas with cheese and homemade tortillas (recipe follows):
Homemade Refried Beans
1 lb (2 cups) dried pinto or black beans soaked overnight and drained
6-12 cups water for cooking beans
2 Tbsp butter, oil, bacon fat, etc for cooking with the beans
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced onion
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
3-6 serrano peppers (optional)
3 habanero peppers (optional)
2-3 Tbsp freshly ground cumin
1 diced green pepper
cooked beans
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
In a large sauce or saute pan heat olive oil and then saute onion, garlic and hot peppers with cumin and 1/2 tsp salt until the onions are translucent. Add green pepper and cook covered for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the vegetables are sauteeing, mash the beans with a potato masher, and/or run though the food processor to produce the desired consistency. I like my refried beans smooth so I mashed them first, then ran them through the processor with the lime zest and juice.
Add beans, lime zest and juice, remaining salt and pepper and stir thoroughly. Keep beans covered in warm oven until ready to use, or refrigerate for later use.
Homemade Flour Tortillas: Super just with butter, but great as quesadillas too!
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp lard, vegetable oil or bacon fat
3/4 cup hot water
Sift dry ingredients together, then mix in fat and gradually add water, 2-3 Tbsp at a time, mixing dough between. On a lightly floured surface knead dough for about 8 minutes, until dough is a smooth consistency. Place dough in a covered dough and let rest in a warm place for 20 minutes. Cut dough into 8 pieces and shape into balls, then cover with a damp cloth and let rest 10 minutes before rolling out into 6-8 inch rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Cook over medium heat in a cast iron skillet if possible for 30 minutes on each side. Store cooked tortillas in a covered pan in a warm oven (170-190°) until ready to use.
For Quesadillas: Spread one tortilla with refried beans and top with your favoite cheese and cover with another tortilla. Cook over medium heat in a cast iron pan for 2-3 minutes per side. Serve with sour cream, salsa and jalapeno peppers.
Left over tortillas can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fresh greens at the winter farmer's market

Fresh, Local Greens at Winter MarketJust when you thought you couldn't get any more fresh local greens until spring....along comes the Winter Dane County Farmer's Market.The first market at the Madison Senior Center on Saturday featured Fresh Mesclun Mix from Don's Produce $4 per bagand Frost Sweetened Spinach from Snug Haven $9 per pound.I really missed the farmer's market for the two weeks it was on hiaitus over the holidays and was one of the first ones there on Saturday to pick up some much needed greens.The market breakfast is the big draw when the market moves to the Madison Senior Center, but don't let the line fool you...most of them are there to eat, and you shouldn't have much of a wait if you are there to shop.There is a parking ramp conveniently right next door, so no worries about where to park on cold winter Saturday mornings.There is a great selection of items offered at the winter market at the Senior Center, even though the space is not as big as at Monona Terrace.Here's a partial list of what was offered this weekend:Apples and cider, cheeses, garlic, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots and other root vegetables, pork, beef, chicken, pasties, eggs, pastries, breads, cookies and cheesecakes, pesto and sauces and more.Make time to stop in on Saturday from 8 am - Noon and enjoy the great offerings and support the local farmers and artisan producers during their "slow" time of the year. Happy eating!

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Haze

Have you been to The Haze? No, it's not the fog you were in after over-indulging on New Year's's Shinji Muramoto's latest venture on King Street, in the location where the original Restaurant Muramoto was located. It's strikingly simple, from decor to menu. This is not a place for vegetarians, but locavores delight... The Haze is an Asian/American Barbeque joint featuring meats from local Wisconsin farms. It's a carnivore's delight.

The quaint space has undergone a few changes, and features a tin ceiling, a beautiful wood wall featuring photos from local farms and a large chalkboard menu near the entrance. You place your order at the counter and pay, then your food is delivered to your seats.

Beverage offerings include tap beers and fountain soda. Sorry, no wine or liquor. Portions are plentiful, even on the lunch offerings, so bring your appetite and be prepared for high quality food, well prepared with interesting twists on the originals. Oh, and save room for Dan Almquist's fresh baked desserts!

We tried the Pork Asian Style with Coleslaw, below left, and the Brisket Asian Style with the Seasonal Cheesy Cauliflower side. Both were tender, and delicious. We tried several of the BBQ sauces with each and our favorite was the vinegar based, spicier than the "spicy" BBQ sauce. Our second favorite was the Asian BBQ sauce, which was delicious on the rice. While everything was awesome, the coleslaw was really unique. It almost seemed to have no sauce, but it was fresh and crisp with a very clean taste. Tim thinks it may be some of the best coleslaw he's ever had.

This unique, locally owned restaurant deserves more than just one visit---so stop in soon and enjoy some REAL bbq, asian or american style.

Haze on Urbanspoon