In the bookstore the other day I could hardly contain my excitement. I found a used copy of Mollie Katzen’s 2013 cookbook The Heart of the Platefor six dollars! Middle and Early Boomers might remember her Moosewood cookbook.I still have a copy of that cookbook in my collection. There are a few recipes from The Heart of the Plate I want to try. The first one was Peruvian Potato-Bean Stew. But immediately I saw a problem.
I’m not in Peru. 4000 to pick from and the recipe calls for the blue one. Since I wasn’t going to find blue potatoes I figured I might as well just mess with the rest of the recipe too. So here’s my version inspired by Mollie.
Adapted from The Heart of Plate by Mollie Katzen
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground red chili
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, 1/2 inch dice
3 cups cooked Mayocabo beans with cooking liquid
15-ounce can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic and onion
freshly squeezed lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.
Add oil, onions, chili powder, ground chili, oregano and cumin . Gently saute for 5 minutes.
Add the bell pepper, garlic, and salt. Saute for another 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes.. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the bean cooking liquid, canned tomatoes, cover again, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Add the beans, reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are warmed through.
Season individual servings with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
If you like chili you’ll like this recipe. It’s basically a potato and bean chili, no meat. If you cannot find Mayocabo beans use pintos. It won’t taste the same but will still be excellent, kind of like using yellow potatoes instead of the blue ones. Pinto beans will hold their shape better whereas the Mayocabo is creamier and tends to fall apart with prolonged cooking.
For the beans I used a pound dried, rinsed multiple times and soaked overnight. The next day I tossed the beans into a pot, added water to one inch above the beans with about a teaspoon each of cumin, Mexican oregano, garlic powder and a bay leaf.
I am alone this Christmas for the first time. The day started early, another byproduct of the aging process. For months I’ve known that I would be home alone today. The Boss is out of town to experience the joy of Christmas with our first Tiny Human Grandchild and her clan in Providence RI. Our other Number One Son is hiking somewhere in the Colorado Rockies. This Christmas I am home alone with my thoughts and memories.
The funny thing is I really don’t mind being home alone on Christmas. I don’t have a problem being alone. Some people get lonely when no one else is around. That’s not me. You can be in a room full of people and feel lonely. Or you can be alone and feel completely surrounded by the love of family and friends. There are just so many wonderful memories of Christmas all fighting for my attention right now. All day long these memories will begin bubbling to the surface. And believe it or not I just got a Merry Christmas text message from an old college buddy. This simple gesture brings back fond memories of Sweet and Sour Tripe (trust me, you don’t want to know the rest of this story). I can’t stop smiling.
The tree lights are on. Christmas music is in the air. I’m wearing my Life is Good tee with Jake’s dog on it (the one I wear every Christmas). I started a pot of Mayocabo beans early and they might even be ready for lunch later. The smiles keep coming because the memories are surfacing from places and times nearly forgotten. I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel home alone today but I’m fine. I have time to read and write. Dinner tonight will be with friends gathered together for some good food and good company. Believe it or not I just got a message from my stomach. It’s time to make my world famous multi-grain pancakes for Christmas breakfast.
1 can Great Northern White Beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup tahini, organic, unsalted
1 and 1/2 large lemons, juiced
1 tsp pure maple syrup
½ tsp cumin
Salt to taste
The Office Christmas party is at the house this year. I was asked to make some hummus for the event. Since I was going to dirty up the juicer and the food processor I decided to try something different. I made more hummus. There was a leftover baked sweet potato in the fridge. A quick Google search turned up this recipe which I’ll credit as my inspiration.
Bake the sweet potato for around 75 minutes or until soft to the touch. I actually had my potato in the oven for 2 hours at 425F because I forgot about it. Allow to cool and set aside.
Process the garlic first.
Toss everything else in the pool and process until smooth and creamy.
Did you take the skin off the potato?
Find some pita bread or crackers STAT.
The first thing is to avoid any arguments about whether or not you can call this dip hummus. It has no chickpeas so technically it’s not hummus. Google “is hummus without chickpeas really hummus” and take a side. The second thing you have to get used to is the color.
Pink. The dip comes out pink.
Put this hummus out at a party and tell everyone it’s a salmon dip.
Have your smartphone cameras ready for your guests’ reactions.
“Can’t you just put more eggs in it? Besides I have no idea where that recipe is.”
“It’s on your blog.”
Well, it’s here now. Here’s another fine example of something I made at some point in the past but the recipe went AWOL. So here we go (again) and this recipe is as original as any you’ll find online. Overnight breakfast casseroles are all pretty much the same. Some use potatoes, some don’t. I saw one recipe that used croutons instead of bread. Mushrooms and spinach seemed pretty popular. Use what you have on hand and let your palate be your guide.
Xmas Sausage and Cheese Breakfast Casserole
Serves 12 or more depending upon portion size
2 pounds pork breakfast sausage (if you’re in Oklahoma I used half Blue and Gold and half JC Potter)
12 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded (medium, Wisconsin sharp, and NY sharp)
1/4 butter melted
1/2 small red pepper, small dice
3-4 green onions, tops only, diced
The night before:
Cook the sausage in a large skillet and drain the fat.
Add onion and saute until the onions are translucent.
Allow sausage/onion mixture to cool.
Coat the bottom of a 15″ x 10″ baking dish with melted butter.
Spread the bread cubes on the bottom of the dish.
Add the cooled sausage/onion mixture.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and dry mustard.
Spread the shredded cheeses over the sausage mix.
Pour the egg mixture evenly over the sausage and cover with plastic wrap.
Chill in the refrigerator overnight.
The next morning:
Take the casserole out of the refrigerator and allow to sit for at least an hour. It can be cool to the touch but not cold.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Bake uncovered for 50-60 minutes until the top turns golden brown and the casserole is bubbling on the sides.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle the red pepper and green onions on top.
Post Xmas Brunch Observations
You’ll note this recipe does not call for any salt or pepper. You won’t need salt or pepper in the dish. Allow your guests to season as they please. Trust me on this. This dish is quite rich and full of flavor even the salsa and ketchup on the counter never got used. We made Xmas Breakfast Potatoes on the side. This casserole freezes well for quick and hearty meals when you don’t feel like cereal or toast. Make sure you’re feeding a crowd because otherwise you’ll have a lot of leftovers.
Sometimes you have odds and ends in the fridge. Half an onion, two halves of red and green peppers, maybe even some leftover fresh spinach sauteed with garlic in the freezer. No one else is home. So it doesn’t really matter if this thing turns out OK or not.
I hate wasting food. There’s just too many people on the planet who would gladly take your odds and ends, the scraps that might get thrown away. So tonight I made a frittata with what I had on hand. And if it turns out OK, then this recipe stays on the blog.
If not, well you’ll never know it was here.
2 Tbl EVOO
1/2 medium sweet onion, sliced thinly
1/4 red pepper, sliced thinly
1/4 green pepper, sliced thinly
2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, organic, small dice
1 cup sauteed fresh spinach with garlic, drained
1/4 cup half and half
Dried basil, healthy pinch
Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in an 8 inch non-stick pan.
Saute the onions and peppers for 5 minutes.
Add the potatoes and continue cooking until nearly cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add more olive oil if needed to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan.
Add the basil, salt, and pepper. Add oil if needed.
Spread the spinach evenly over the potato/pepper mixture.
Sprinkle Parmesan over the spinach. Be as generous as you like.
Beat the eggs and half and half. Pour over the vegetable mixture.
Preheat your broiler.
Allow the frittata to sit over a very low flame until set.
Place the pan under the broiler to brown the top.
Remove from the broiler and place the frittata on a serving plate.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre | The falcon cannot hear the falconer | Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold | Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world | The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere | The ceremony of innocence is drowned | The best lack all conviction, while the worst | Are full of passionate intensity. -- W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming