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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rajmah - Sara's Indian Chili

So I guess I'm on a bit of a bean kick here. We were over at our friends Sara and Kiran's house not too long ago celebrating Sara's (a different Sara) birthday. Kiran's family is Indian so we were pretty sure that we'd be treated to some Indian deliciousness. Ironically, the Saras made this, not Kiran. Paddy and I were blown away at the flavor...I was even more surprised when Sara sent me the recipe and I realized how EASY it is!!

1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green chili, chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (double if you don't use green chili)
8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
3 cups boiled red kidney beans or 30 oz can of red kidney beans, undrained
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a deep saucepan. Add ginger, garlic, onion, green chili and let sizzle for one minute. 

2. Add the tomato sauce, salt and remaining spices and cook for an additional five minutes, stirring frequently. 

3. Add the kidney beans with water or canned red kidney beans (undrained) plus 1 cup of water, and tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and let cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro.

4. Serve over rice or with naan. A dollop of plain yogurt on top is heavenly.
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Monday, January 21, 2013

Over the Top Potato (and Cauliflower) Soup

My husband is Irish. He loves potatoes. He likes them boiled whole, in their skins. He likes them served on a side plate and he carefully peels the skins and eats them like they're chocolate. I definitely don't love potatoes as much as he does. I do try to make an effort to make them, but it often means mashed, fried, hassleback, or, SOUP. And, par for the course, this potato soup has some extra ingredients that jazz up the potato quite a bit. So much so that this soup got Paddy's ultimate 5-star rating of "Spectacular Bacular!"

*This recipe calls for bacon. I'm very sorry for those of you who do/cannot eat bacon for this is the most important ingredient of this soup. Thick cut is best. Note the two options in #1. I always keep a ramekin of bacon fat in my fridge and use it instead of oil or butter when the occasion calls for it. Great for added flavor in this soup and makes for some really yummy eggs. Obviously, not the best option for daily cooking :)

1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 russet potatoes, peeled, diced
32 oz chicken broth
A few sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup milk
2 tbsp flour
1/2 head of cauliflower florets
1/4 cup sour cream
3 slices of bacon
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Bunch of chives, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 450. Line a cookie sheet with foil.

2. Cook the bacon a large dutch oven. Remove and leave at least 2 tbsp bacon fat in the pan. Alternatively, you can skip this step but use bacon fat instead of oil to fry the veggies. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and potatoes to the pot and let soften for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Mix the cauliflower florets with a bit of olive oil and salt. Place on the cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 30 mins or until lightly browned.

4. Add the chicken broth to the pot with the thyme and bay leaf. It should just cover the veggies, add more if needed. Bring to a boil and then turn it down to medium to simmer.

5. Mix the milk and the flour in a small bowl and add to the pot. Stir well.

6. When cauliflower is done, remove from oven and place in a blender with about 3/4 of the soup. Be careful not to fill your blender to high and use a towel instead of the cover. Blend until smooth.

7. Add the blended soup back into the pot with the chunky soup, add the sour cream and mix well.

8. Serve with a pile of bacon, shredded cheddar, and chives on top.

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Smokey Homemade Baked Beans

Ok, I know what you're thinking...BAKED BEANS? Yup! Something rarely not eaten out of a can but I can assure you, a little extra effort is worth it. I saw this recipe on The Bitten Word, one of my favorite food blogs. They got it from Saveur. These beans are pretty awesome. As awesome as a bowl of beans could be. This is good for a long cold Sunday because while relatively hassle free, they do take a bit of time (6 hours). Your house will smell glorious...until about an hour after you eat them. So it's a good thing there's plenty of delicious aroma to mask the frightful tooting that will ensue.

We paired the beans with some grilled brats and it was glorious.

1 lb dried navy beans
1 medium yellow onion, ends trimmed, left whole
4 whole cloves
8 oz bacon, cut into 1/4" slices
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup molasses
2 tsp dry mustard powder

1/2 cup ketchup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp dark rum, if you have it
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring the beans and 10 cups of water to a boil in a large dutch oven over high heat and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover with a lid and let sit for 1 1/2 hrs. Drain the beans.

2. Heat oven to 250.

3. Place the beans back in the dutch oven.

4. Stud the onion with the cloves and place in with the beans along with the bacon, syrup, molasses, dry mustard, and 3 cups of boiling water. Stir to combine.

5. Cover pot and place in the oven. Cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.

6. Stir in ketchup and vinegar. Cover again and return to oven for another 3 hours.

7. Stir in rum, season with salt and pepper.
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Lemon Earl Grey Bars

I have to admit, I'm not usually a big fruity/citrusy dessert person. If I'm gonna indulge, I usually want chocolate. I tried these squares over the summer and was pleasantly surprised. I loved them and so did the gang at the office. This recipe is from Cooking Light and it's a twist on an old classic.

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tea bags of Earl Grey, divided
1/8 tsp salt
8 TB chilled butter cut into pieces

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup granulated sugar
2 TB all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp lemon zest
3 eggs
1 TB powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. To make crust, line an 8" baking dish with foil that extends 2" beyond the sides. Coat foil with cooking spray. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, 1 tsp tea, and salt in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles a course meal. Press into bottom of dish and bake at 350 for 19 minutes or until lightly browned.

3. To prepare filling, microwave lemon juice on high for 30 seconds. Add remaining tea bag to juice and steep for 10 minutes. Squeeze tea bag dry and discard.

4. Mix the sugar, flour, baking powder, zest and eggs and add to the sugar mixture. Whisk until well combined.

5. Remove crust from the oven, pour filling onto hot crust and bake for 23 minutes or until set.

6. Cool pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from dish by lifting the tin foil. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

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