Black Bean Soup with Chimolata

This is our current favorite soup, finally knocking posole out of the position it’s held for years. It is extremely easy and will be ready in a little over half an hour. Perfect on a cold afternoon, or after a long day at work.

My inner Martha always chastises me for not starting with home-cooked beans. But ya know, real life people.

This soup is good, but what really makes it fabulous is the citrusy-herby dollop of sauce you add to the bowl. I still don’t know what the hell to call it – it’s like a gremolata or a chimichurri in a Sonoran Southwest kind of way. Cilantro, garlic, red pepper flakes, lime zest and juice. Unlike a blob of sour cream that would make this soup feel heavier, the heat, zing, and herbaceousness of this chimolata (hmm…I like that one) really lift this up. It makes the soup hearty, but not heavy. And really dense in flavor.

Himself likes this with tortilla chips. Corn bread or a grilled cheez (or cheese, if you are not dairy-impaired as we are) along with a salad will make this an awesome and easy meal – something we can all use as end of year busyness overtakes our lives.

Make it and enjoy.

This is enough for four. So, dinner and leftovers lunch for two.

Black Bean Soup with Chimolata

Ingredients for the soup:
1 small onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
4 celery stalks, chopped
1 Tbsp. Mexican oregano
½ tsp. Ground cumin
2 Tbsp. chipotle relish, or one whole chipotle en adobo and 1 tsp. of the adobo
3 14.5-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
Broth (vegetable or chicken, about a quart)

Ingredients for the chimolata:
Handful of washed fresh cilantro
3 cloves of garlic
½ tsp. Lime zest
½ tsp. Red pepper flakes
Fresh lime juice

For the soup:
In a large soup pot on medium, add about ¼ c. of water and the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for a few minutes until they start to soften around the edges. Add the remaining ingredients except the broth. Give it a stir, then pour just enough broth over everything to just cover. Too much broth and you’ll have a thin soup.
Simmer for ½ hour or until the veg are tender. Before serving, take the immersion blender to it and blend it all up. I like to leave mine with some chunks of the veg, but do yours how you like.

While the soup is cooking, make the chimolata:
Mince superfine the cilantro and the garlic. Fine, as in almost to a paste.
Add them to a small bowl with the red pepper and lime zest, then add just enough lime juice to actually make it in to a paste. That’s it. (This is going to taste REALLY strong – don’t eat it by itself. Or do, I guess. I’m not the boss of you.)

When the soup’s done, Serve with a dollop of the chimolata. Serious nerms, peeps.

I’ve been forgetting to include the nutritional info of late. Here we go! According to caloriecount.about.com, each of the four servings has:

363 calories
4.2g fat
851 mg. sodium
57.1 g. carbohydrate
17.9g fiber
4.8g sugar
24.1g protein
Plus 17% of your daily calcium, 35% for iron and 26% for potassium.

Rosemary & Thyme Crackers


After making the onion fig jam, it really seemed a shame to eat it with store bought crackers. I looked at my last recipe, but decided to see if the Google had anything new. Found a good one to test from A Sweet Pea Chef; here’s the adaptation.

Of course, I decided to add the fresh thyme after I’d already taken the knoll shots – so let’s just pretend he’s there, maybe hiding under the rosemary trimmed from my plot by the back door.


(Look! It’s a map of Australia – which makes my brain immediately go to Amanda Palmer If you don’t know who she is, this is NSFW.)

This was super easy – mix in the Cuisinart, rest, roll, bake. She has the brilliant idea to rest the dough, since that gluten gets all excited in the mixing stage. The wait will make an easier roll and a non-tough cracker. Just sayin’, don’t rush it.

The first batch I made, I did the 50AP/50WW ratio she suggests, but it was too much whole wheat for our tastes. And it desperately needed salt, even with the sprinkle on top. So this version has a a higher ratio of AP flour, and we think it’s great.

Hope you enjoy.

Rosemary Thyme Crackers

1.5 c. ap flour
0.5 c. ww flour
1 tsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp olive oil (organic, extra virgin if you want to get picky)
2/3 c. water
flake salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling

Mix the dry in the food processor. Add the oil, mix til evenly distributed. Add the water, mix until a stiff dough forms.

Rest it for 30 mins. (To get the gluten to relax so that: a. you can roll it out, and b. you don’t make little rocks.) Preheat the oven to 450*.

Get out two sheets of parchment the size of your cookie sheets. Split the dough evenly, and roll each superthin, like 1/8″, directly on the sheets of parchment you will bake on. Do not flour, the olive oil will keep it from sticking.
Use a pizza or ravioli cutter to make strips about 1.2″ wide.
Take a fork, and pierce the dough all over. This will prevent big bubbles from forming.
Lastly, sprinkle with a nice flake salt/fleur de sel and gently press it in to the dough so it will stick.
Bake about 15 minutes, until they are golden and dry, crispy, and cracker like.
Break the strips in to crackery pieces and enjoy.

Mexican Spicy Carrot Pickles

Mexican Spicy Carrot Pickles
(Zanahorias en escabeche)

I love the spicy carrots on the salsa bar when we go for tacos. So much so, a couple years back I asked The Google for some recipes. I found one that was okay at the time, but haven’t made it since.
We’re having a Fiesta Friday potluck at the office this week. (Because although we appreciate the alliteration of a Taco Tuesday, none of us has the time for an office party on a Tuesday.) I made carnitas and wanted some cebollas en escabeche to go along. That got me thinking about those carrots again. YouTube is overflowing with awesome home cooks making their zanahorias. I always wondered why there was a tiny bit of oil in the pickle juice – and now I know. The veg are lightly sauteed before adding the vinegar. Dur. Makes perfect sense.

My searches also garnered the Spanish dish by the same name, and it was interesting to see the differences – thyme and pimenton, cook the carrots a little longer. No hot peppers. I’m thinking the Mexican version is a post-colonial smoosh – but, hey. I am no food anthropologist. Anywho, this was maybe twenty minutes start to finish. I bet you have the ingredients already. These stay good a couple weeks in the fridge – if they last that long. Make some today to have ready for your Taco Tuesday. You can totally eat these the same day, but they certainly get better the longer they soak in that gorgeous escabeche.

Zanahorias en escabeche
Makes about 3 cups.
1# carrots, peeled and sliced in to ¼” thick diagonal ovals.
3 jalapenos, halved
½ large white onion, sliced in ¼” thick half-moons
3 cloves garlic, slightly smooshed with the flat of your knife
½ tsp. black pepper corns
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. Mexican oregano leaves
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 ½ c. white vinegar
1 ½ c. water
(sal al gusto)

In a large non-reactive skillet on medium, heat the oil, pepppercorns, bay, oregano, and the garlic until you can smell the garlic. Then, add everything but the water and the vinegar. Stir around (you do not want this to brown) for a minute or two until you see the onions are starting to soften. Pour in the water and vinegar, and simmer until the jalapenos are done – they will change from a deep green to an olive green.
While that is simmering, prepare your container. You want something that can handle hot liquid – I used glass with those snappy silicone gasket lids. Just be sure to heat up the container with some hot water before you dump in your pickles. (Just imagine cold glass and hot liquid. Yeah.)
When the jalapenos are done, scoop all the veg in to your prepared container. Then, pour in just enough of the liquid to cover them. You will most likely have extra liquid at the end. Toss it. Or use it to make a vinaigrette.

That’s it. You’re done. Cool it. Label it & pop it in the fridge and enjoy.
PS – all the recipes I saw added salt to these puppies, but I think this is plenty flavorful without. But add some if you like!

Oh, and if you’re wondering about the red onion and the chile de arbol in the knolled pic – I made some cebollas en escabeche at the same time. But those are already a blog post…

Sizzling Garlic Ginger Noodles


Yeah, so this all started because I stumbled across a recipe for Bang Bang noodles. (How do you NOT google something called Bang Bang after you see it? I mean, come on!)

So, they are these amazing-sounding home made noodles. I found this Youtube video with this cute kid making them at home, and the part where he is sizzling the ginger and garlic on top of the noodles just put me in to the obsessive-I-must-have-these kinda frame of mind. But, I am trying to stay away from the wheat flour. But, these noodles sound so damn good. Then I remembered, hey! I’ve got that bag of rice noodle ramens from Costco in the pantry! w00t!! Hey! I also have a bag of ho fun noodles in there! Game on, betches!

Are you ready for some amazing?

If you need supplies for this, btw, go to your local asian market – like Lee Lee. The prices on Amazon are nuckin’ futz. And, if you don’t want to grate your own ginger or press your garlic, the spendy tubes from the grocery store also work just great.

Sizzling Garlic Ginger Noodles for Two
The basic ingredients:
-Two blocks of ramen noodles, or half a 16oz package of ho fun (fat rice fettucine)
-2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
-2 tsp. minced or pressed garlic
-2-4 Tbsp. Korean red pepper flakes.
-¼ to ½ c. hot vegetable oil
-2 c. thinly sliced vegetables (broccoli, carrot, snap pea, celery, cabbage, whole bean sprouts, etc.), or four baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
-Rice vinegar
-Soy sauce
Have everything chopped and ready before you start. Set out two big noodle bowls.
Boil the noodles according to the package directions. The last 30 seconds of cooking, toss in the veg and stir. If you’re doing the bok choy, do it a minute ahead. Then drain.
While the noodles are cooking, heat the vegetable oil until it is really hot – just before the smoking point.
Divide the cooked noodles/veg between the bowls, trying to keep the veg on the bottom and the noodles up top. Sprinkle the noodles with the red pepper, then put the ginger and the garlic (& the green onion, if you have those). Carefully ladle about 2-3 Tbsp. of the super hot oil on top of the ginger/garlic paste. It will sizzle and pop. (Turn off the burner for the oil – that’s done.)
Drizzle with some soy sauce and some vinegar, add any other condiments you like listed below. Stir and eat.


Suggested accoutrements:
-sesame seeds
-sliced green onion
-cilantro leaves
Chinese black vinegar
-sesame oil

This is really filling. And cheap. If you wanted to boost the protein, add some shredded chicken, or a poached egg, cubed or fried tofu, yatta yatta.

Guten apetit and noodle happiness to you.

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Soup. Dammit but I love soup. You get so much for so very little…..

I organized a Stone Soup at the office back in early December, and my department-mates loved it so much, we’ve got an informal ‘Soup Wednesday’ going. One of the gals left her crockpot in the kitchen, and each week someone says, “hey, let’s do such and such this week” – and away we go! Wednesdays are an insane day in my profession, and typically we can’t even get a lunch hour – so this has become quite the awesome tradition. But I digress…..

I was a-Googlin’ for something different and interesting to make next week, and stumbled across the idea of a chickpea soup with Moroccan spices. So, I cobbled together what I liked about all the recipes and what I knew I had on-hand, and gave this a shot for a Friday dinner. Oh, is this good. So, so good. It was maybe 10 minutes of actual work, and about 40 to simmer. The house smelled incredible. And on a chilly night, the warmth of the soup with that gorgeous combination of smoked paprika, cumin and cinnamon? Pure heaven. Make this right now – you prolly have the ingredients in the pantry. I even used my cheap-o Trader Joe’s smoked paprika, not the good Spanish stuff. If you don’t have that, just use regular (sweet) paprika.

I drizzled mine with extra-virgin olive oil, Himself did a dollop of plain Greek yogurt and some cilantro. Some grilled Greek-style pita or a sliced baguette would go superbly with this.

Enjoy! I’m serious – go make this right now. I’m going to try it in the crockpot next Wednesday at the office – wish me luck!

Moroccan Chickpea Stew
Serves 2 seriously hungry people, or not-so-hungry plus leftovers

In your soup pot, saute:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
¼ white onion, diced
3-4 celery ribs, in soup-sized chunks
3-4 carrots, in soup-sized chunks
After a couple minutes, add in:
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp. pimenton ahumado
1 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ c. tomato paste
After a couple minutes, add in:
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5oz) can chickpeas, drained
2 quarts chicken (or vegetable) broth
Simmer for 30 minutes, then use a potato masher and smoosh one side of the pot and add:
1 c. frozen chopped spinach (no need to thaw before)
Simmer 10 more and soup is on, betches!

Serve with: Greek yogurt & Fresh coriander (cilantro), or XVOO, or a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Revision 1/28 – Oops! Forgot the nutritional info! According to the VeryWell.com calorie calculator, if you get 3 servings out of this, each serving has:
323 calories
12.7 g fat
693mg sodium
42.1g carbs (12.5g fiber!)
12.2g protein
and 30% of your iron and 23% potassium for the day

Caldo de Verduras con Chochoyotes

Hey, now. That was quite the hiaitus. I used up my December creative juices on a tamalada and 80 dozen cookies and was enjoying myself so much I forgot to take pictures. This was great for me, but sad for the blog.
So, happy new year! It’s a cold, grey, windy day for the first time in weeks. Which means soup at our house. Caldo de verduras con chochoyotes, to be precise. (Vegetable soup with corn flour dumplings.)

I can just hear you – cho-cho-what? Funny story, that one. Last fall I was making some veggie soup. I grew up with dumplings on stew, and I started to wonder if they had a similar tradition in Mexico – short answer, yes! And I discovered a really awesome blog in the process! (Go check it out!)
With a really fun-to-say name, this is a double win. How can you not smile when you say chochoyote. I mean, come on!
Ready to play?

Caldo de verduras con chochoyotes
serves: 4-6

For the soup:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ small white onion, large dice
3 carrots, peeled and in soup-sized discs
4 ribs celery, in soup-sized chunks
2 zucchini, in soup-sized chunks
3 garlic cloves, coarsly chopped
1 can low sodium diced tomatoes
4 quarts chicken (or vegetable) broth
1/4 packet menudo soup spices Or, about 2 Tbsp. (NOT the ground kind, the dried leafy kind.)
Briefly saute the chopped veg in the oil in a large soup pot. Then add in the tomatoes, broth and spices. Turn to medium-low. This is going to look sparse at first – like a LOT of broth and so few veg. The dumplings will absorb a lot of the liquid, and act as a thickener, too. It will be lovely, swearsies.

Make the masa for the dumplings.
Mix 1 c. masa harina with ½ tsp. salt and ¾ c. warm tap water. This will make a thick crumbly mess. Add 2 Tbsp fat (bacon fat, lard, or crisco – bacon is the best) and with clean hands, knead the dough until it is combined. It should be firm and not sticky, like a play-do consistency. Roll it in to 4 logs about a 1.5” in diameter and 5” long. Cover and set aside at room temp for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, the soup should be at a bare simmer. After the wait, take one of the masa logs, break it in to 5 even pieces and roll each one in to a ball. With your thumb (or an implement, I used the end of my lemon reamer because fingernail marks in the dumplings sick me out.) But I digress. So, put a dimple in each dough ball so that it looks like a little bowl, and gently place each one in the pot. Gently shake the pot to get them to submerge if needed. Don’t stir – they’re super fragile and will just come apart. Repeat this process until all the dumplings are in the pool.

Keep at a bare simmer for 20-30 mins. The soup will thicken and the dumplings will cook. Check for doneness by taking one out and slicing it in half; it should be the same color all the way through. If there’s an uncooked core, just simmer them for five more minutes and check again.

Serve like any Mexican-style caldo – with lime wedges and hot pepper, some oregano or cilantro , maybe some sliced radish – so everyone can season their bowl to their taste.

If you actually have leftovers of this, they won’t last long. This little bowl of love is like a veggie stew with tamales in it. You are going to LOVE this. I promise.

updated 01.22.18 – add “room temp” to resting the masa.

Pecan Brown Sugar Scones

This is the second attempt at these babies. I’ve been trying to capture Himself’s favorite dessert, pecan pie. Although these are not quite there, they are quite tasty. Hopefully a future post is coming that can be called the pecan pie version. Not today, though. If I make one more batch of these this weekend, I am afraid Himself will have my head.

This version is just sweet enough, with a nice crunch from the nuts, and a little hint of salt in the special icing.

These are a little more fussy than my usual, but don’t be scared off. It’s not hard, there’s just a couple extra bits. But hey! That’s what makes these so special. And pretty enough to get rid of the leftovers to the neighbors!
Shall we?

Pecan Brown Sugar Scones.
yield: 16 mini or 8 large

Scones:
2 c. AP flour
1/2 c. dark brown sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling
¼ c. toasted chopped pecans
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ c. ice cold butter
¾ c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg separated, with the whites lightly whisked until foamy.
8-16 pretty pecan halves.

Icing:
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbps. water
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar.

Preheat the oven to 375*.

For the Dry, in a medium-sized bowl mix together:
2 c. AP flour
¼ c. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
Mix, then cut in with a pastry cutter:
½ c. ice cold butter
Set aside, and a small bowl mix the wet:
¾ c. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg yolk.

Mix the wet in to the dry genty until it is shaggy-looking. Turn on to your board/counter, and gently flold and knead until the tough barely holds tegether. With your board knife, cut the dough in to four equal parts, and gently shape and flatten each in to a disc about 6” across and ½” high. On two of the discs, sprinkle:
¼ c. dark brown sugar
¼ toasted chopped pecans.
With your board knife, gently lift one of the plain discs and set it on top of the nuts/sugared disc. (Do the same for the other) Gently press down, they will kind of stick together. Smooth the outside edge so there’s no brown sugar poking out. (Otherwise, the top half will just slide off the bottom half during baking.) Use your board knife to slice each disc in to 8 wedges. (I do halves, quarters, then eighths). Place about ½” apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toss the pecan halves in the foamy egg whites. Brush the backs and tops of the wedges with the beaten egg white, and place a pecan half on each. (Why not the sides? I don’t know the chemistry of it, but essentially it’ll seal the sides so there’s no where for the scone to rise and expand in the oven.) Sprinkle the moist tops with a little more brown sugar. Bake about 15 – 18 minutes until deep golden. Remove from the oven. and place the scones on a cooling rack. When they are just barely still warm, drizzle with the salted brown sugar icing. (And ermehgerd, this icing! I wanted to just eat it with a spoon. This would be amazeballs on a coffee cake. Soooo yummy.)
The Icing:
In a microwave-safe bowl (or 4 cup pyrex!), put:
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbps. water
Microwave until it is bubbling. (Mine took about 30 seconds). Stir in:
¼ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla
1 c. powdered sugar.
Stir. It should be the consistency of a thick icing. Put it in a pastry tube to drizzle over the almost-cool scones. Serve and eat!


Remember to take some to the neighbors!

For the 16-scone version, the nutritional info per scone calculated using the verywell.com site is:
Calories 256
Fat 18.8g
Sodium 132mg
Carbs 19.6g (fiber 2.3g, sugars 5.7g)
Protein 4.3

Jalapeno Cilantro Slaw with Lime


My new favorite coleslaw is easy, fast, zesty and bright. And easy. Wait, I said that. Oh! And no mayo! This is zippy the day you make it, the next day it will have more juice from the cabbage and it will be hotter because the jalapeno has been infusing everything.

We love this with grilled chicken, or pork. As a side with tacos, and actually ON fish tacos. It is super yummy.
You ready? Let’s do this!

Whisk together:
3 Tbsp. mild oil
¼ c. agave sweetener (or 2 Tbsp sugar)
¼ c. freshy squeezed lime juice.
Pour over:
3 c. napa or green cabbage, chopped for slaw
¼ c. chopped cilantro
¼ c. white onion in wafter thin crescents
½ to 1 small fresh jalapeno, in wafer thin rings or crescents.
Toss. Eat. Add S&P to taste.

Nutritional info for four servings (according to verywell.com recipe analyzer).
Cal 164
Fat 10.3g
Carb: 19.1g (sugars 17.2g)
Protein: 1g
Vitamin A 79%, Vitamin C 49% of daily allowance.

Lemony Carrot Salad with Fig & Pistachio


SUMMER! The rains are finally here. It took a long time this year, so long we began to wonder if they would ever get here. But now it is officially summer. Hot, sticky days beg for cold, crunchy salads.

You know how much I love me some carrot salad. It’s a summer staple in our house. I made this one for my mom’s birthday lunch, and loved it so much I’ve made it again and again.
This is an easy-peasy salad, almost like that carrot raisin salad from childhood, but with a grown-up (and mayonnaise-free!) twist.

1# fresh carrots, peeled and grated (about 3 to 4 c.)
¼ c. dried figs, sliced in thin rounds
¼ c. toasted pistachio meats, coarsely chopped
Zest of ½ lemon (1 tsp.)
Juice of ½ lemon (2 Tbps.)
1 Tbsp. agave sweetener (or sugar, or honey)
1 Tbsp. mild vegetable oil

Use a food processor to grate the carrots. Or use children – free labor, quick healers, and all that.

In a medium-sized salad bowl, whisk together the lemon, agave, oil. Dump in the rest, stir and serve. Or, you can stick it in the fridge and eat it later. It is good both ways: crisper with less sauce the first day, crunchy and juicier the next.
This is fantasic for picnics and barbecues (no mayo!), or with a sammie at lunch.
Going with four servings, the calorie calculator at verywell.com says each serving has:
Calories 163
Fat 7.3g
Carbs 23.9g
Fiber 5g
Sugars 14.8g
Protein 3.1g
and…..632% of your Vitamin A for the day!

Green Chili Corn Cakes

Creen Chili Corn Cakes

These are so tender, savory, spicy and sweet, with just a little tooth from the corn kernals. I highly recommend making these immediately for dinner or breakfast. We spread ours with butter and a little drizzle of agave syrup. Total yum. Himself considers them very tasty.

I made these a couple weeks back after I saw a Food52 Instagram post for these masa cakes with cheese and cilantro crema. They looked so very tasty; well, except for the cheese and crema parts in our lactose-impaired household. Modified a bit for our tastes, boy are these amazing. The recipe is brilliant with the addition of some corn starch to the flour – it makes these so very tender.

As always, this recipe needs Hatch green chili. Do not use the mushy tasteless canned things. If you don’t have Hatch, mince up fine a fat jalapeno without the ribs and seeds, but use about 30% less of that than the green chili. And, if you are lucky enough to be able to eat cheese, a sprinkle of cotija on this would be amazeballs.
I keep wanting to see how these would be as a bun for an eggie sammich on a weekday morning, but there are never any left by Monday morning….life’s tough, I know.

Alrighty then, let’s make these mofos:

Green Chili Corn Cakes
Time: 30 m
Yield: about a dozen 3” cakes
Heat your griddle to medium.

Dry – in a big bowl, stir together:
1 c. corn flour (masa harina like MaSeca, NOT corn meal)
3 Tbsp. corn starch
½ c. AP flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt

Wet – in a second bowl, whisk:
2 eggs
1 ½ c. buttermilk
2 Tbsp. oil (mild like Canola or light olive)
4 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 c. grated onion.
½ c. thawed frozen corn kernals
½ c. chopped Hatch green chili

Mix the dry with the wet until combined. You don’t have to be super gentle like with wheat flour, the masa doesn’t have gluten to toughen things up. (Don’t go nuts – there is a little AP in there.) Cook the way you do pancakes. Then happily consume them.

Bon apétit!

The VeryWell.com recipe nutrition calculator says each cake has:
cal: 135
fat: 3.9g
sodium: 366mg
carb: 21.9g (fiber: 1.3g, sugar: 6.2g)
protein: 3.7
and! 75% of your Vitamin C for the day (who knew? must be the chilis?)