18 November, 2009

Kitchen Confidential, Part 1

I have to write a book report today. A BOOK REPORT.

So instead, I'm going to tell you about the recipes I've been toying with lately. This last few weeks have been cuh-razy. Between the 29th of October and the 14th of November I spent a total of 11 nights away from my own bed, flitting like the social butterfly I used to be from one exciting thing to another. But in between times, I managed to try three new recipes that I'll be using again - or at the very least using as a jumping-off point for more kitchen shenanigans.

The first recipe I tried was a delicious Quick Black Bean Soup from Epicurious.com. Can I just pause here to mention how much I love that website? All amazing recipes, all the time. It's a vortex of hungry-making, and it's going to make my Thanksgiving dinner the talk of all three people who are coming. It may also get me to try making turkey stuffing, but let's not get all excited. There's not a lot on this earth that could change my mind about cooking soggy bread into the body cavity of a turkey and calling it palatable.

But anyway, back to the soup! It was, as advertised, delicious. I did make a few changes, mostly because I hate measuring things (hence why you won't see a whole lot of baking going on in my kitchen...)

My changes were:
1. Use fire-roasted diced tomatoes instead of the plain kind
2. Estimate that 1 1/4 c. chopped onion is roughly 1 white onion and thus no need to measure!
3. Drop in enough fresh thyme to make the onions smell pretty (or at least differently pretty; cooking onions/garlic smells pretty pretty all on its own). Apparently thyme is thyme-less in the fridge, 'cause ours has been there for at least a month and is still fine. My puns, however, are terrible.
4. Discover that there is no chili sauce in the house, nor is there chili powder. Substitute cayenne.
5. Cook for an hour and a half instead of 20 minutes. Didn't seem to hurt anything, and the onions were pretty much dissolved by this time, making blending easier.
5. Salt to taste after blending.

I also learned that my hand-held immersion blender works best when held about an inch above the bottom of the bowl. I think next time I'll cook the onions a little longer to get them glassy and golden - I learned yesterday that turning off the pan and just leaving them in the oil for about 15 minutes works well and keeps my impatience at bay. I might also add some sriracha sauce to the grocery list and try that instead of cayenne next time 'round. This soup would also work well with some fresh corn kernels or maybe shredded chicken in it (after blending) if that's your thing. The chicken I intend to try; let me know how the corn thing goes.

Overall, this is a fantastic and simple base recipe for black bean soup - or with less liquid at the outset, probably black bean dip. I imagine it would work well for white beans too; some comments at Epicurious mention subbing in a can of white beans or black-eyed peas for a can of black. I'll probably switch over to dried beans next time, since they're cheaper. According to the comments, the beans must be soaked overnight and then the cooking time needs to be increased to about 3 hours to make up for the hardness of the beans.

Coming soon: Cream of Crock Pot Chicken - Not as Gross as It Sounds!, and Gitcher Guac. Also, I'm going to start counting things like regular tomatoes, broccoli and such in my "try 300 fruits/vegetables" list because eventually I will run out of my usual fruits and veggies, and then I'll have to start branching out (::shudder::).

101 in 1001 Count:
#18 Try 100 fruits/vegetables (2/100) Fire-roasted tomatoes (canned), white onions
#21 Try 100 new recipes (4/100) Quick Black Bean Soup