Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bean Soup As Good As Travis Griffith's

When I was a young woman, I loved my grandmom's cooking. One of the things she made well was ham & bean soup. When Jeannene was small, her dad did almost all the cooking in their family. It was how he showed love and he was a magnificent cook. He loved to make things like prime rib and shrimp cocktail and other classic dishes. However, he was from Harlan, Kentucky, and his southern roots shone in his cooking, too. He was famous for his biscuits & gravy. He was also well-known for his delicious ham & bean soup. The other night, I made a pot of my own. Upon tasting it, Jeannene said, "Daria. This is as good as my dad's. I wish he were alive again just so he could eat this." She proclaimed it, "Fabulous" and I was very honored to be placed in the ranks with Travis. I think my grandmom would have liked it, too. I served it with corn muffins and slices of Opal apple, a new variety to me, and Jeannene's new favorite apple.

Ham & Bean Soup
16 oz. dried navy beans
2 quarts water
1 center cut ham sliced (1 1/2-2 lb), cubed
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cubes Knorr ham-flavor bouillon (or 4 smaller-sized cubes, such as Wyler)
1/2 c. tomato juice
2 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. brown sugar

Rinse beans and sort through to ascertain that any stray bits of rock or what-have-you have been removed. Place in large soup pot with water to cover and soak overnight. When ready to cook, drain beans and add 2 quarts water. Add all but flour and brown sugar. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 3-4 hours. Mix flour with some of the soup broth and the brown sugar. Add to pot of soup, cover, and cook another hour.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Scrumptious Kidney Bean Burgers

I try to have at least one or two meatless meals every week. My mama & stepdad are vegetarian & I learned growing up that there is a wide world of deliciousness available to vegetarians. Our meal last week of kidney bean burgers, cheesy chile rice, salad with green olive orange dressing, and scalloped pineapple was a perfect example. My friend Kira gave me the burger recipe. It comes together easily and is cheap, to boot!

Kidney Bean Burgers
1/2 c. sour cream (I used light)
2 scallions, chopped
A pinch of oregano
15 oz. can kidney beans, drained
3 tbsp. dry breadcrumbs
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
A good grinding of pepper
1 egg, beaten 

Mix the sour cream with scallions & oregano. Mash the beans and mix in bread crumbs, garlic powder, pepper, & egg. Shape into 4 patties. Fry about 5 minutes per side, until nicely browned. Serve with dollops of sour cream. To be honest, I completely forgot the egg when I made them last week & they held together fine, so if you're vegan, you can omit the egg & sub vegan sour cream. I also had some avocado and cotija cheese on hand, so I added those with the sour cream topping. Serves 2.

Cheesy Chile Rice
1 c. rice
2 c. sour cream 
2 c. shredded Mexican cheese blend (or Monterey Jack or pepper Jack)
8 oz. chopped green chiles
Several drops hot sauce

Cook rice as you usually do. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything but 1/2 c. cheese together & put in greased 2 qt. casserole dish. Top with reserved cheese and bake 15-20 minutes. Serves 4-6. The leftovers are stellar in scrambled eggs or an omelet.

Green Olive Orange Dressing
1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. good olive oil
A healthy splash red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. ground fennel seeds
Salt & pepper
A handful of chopped green olives (Castelvetrano is my preferred variety, but kalamatas are good, too. I got lazy & just used the pimiento-stuffed green olives from a jar & they worked.) 

Mix everything together, whisking to combine well. This is good on any sort of salad, but does better with sturdier lettuces and bitter greens, as it is fairly chunky and fairly assertive. Jeannene's favorite is romaine hearts.

Our pineapple dessert was a deliciously cozy, spicy end to the meal. It's much like pineapple upside-down cake, without the cake. Me, I don't miss the cake. You can do this with any kind of canned fruit you like, but I think pineapple is the best. If you're feeling a little daring and your dining companions don't mind, you might toss in just a smidge of chile powder or cayenne.

Scalloped Pineapple
2 cans pineapple slices
1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 1/2 tbsp. room temp butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put fruit in lightly greased (I do recommend butter for greasing in this case) casserole or cake pan. Mix the other ingredients together & put over fruit. Bake 1/2 hour. This times out well if you pop it in the oven while you eat supper.