The Pandemic Pantry -Lentil Soup

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She Who Must Be Obeyed reminded me again this morning of her Executive Order.  Last night’s dinner was a UFO (unidentified frozen object) that thankfully turned out to be chili.  And with some leftover cornbread from the freezer I was once again in compliance with the order to “clean out the freezer”.   A part of her Executive Order limits me to one grocery trip a week (with a mask, disinfectant wipes, and one store only).  This week’s trip was a calculated gamble on one of those tiny grocery sections housed within a burger/ice cream joint whose name will not be divulged for fear of possible legal action after they hear about this post.

Bad gamble.  I managed to find just five of the nearly 20 items on my list.  I did find some fresh spinach that wasn’t on the list.  A tiny win but I’ll take it.  This is going to be a tough week.  Less fresh foods and a heavier reliance upon pantry items and any remaining UFO’s.

I sauntered into my pantry multiple times and opened the freezer multiple times before I figured out what to make for lunch.  My flash of inspiration came from the jars of beans on the kitchen counter.  I had completely forgotten about the lentils.

Until today.  Here’s my Lentil Soup recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 celery rib, diced
  • 1 very large carrot, diced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • garlic powder
  • pinch dried thyme
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 cup brown lentils, rinsed
  • 2 cups water and 2 cups low sodium chicken broth (approximate)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan, lower the heat to medium and saute the carrot, onion and celery until translucent.
  2. Sprinkle thyme and garlic powder over the vegetables in the pan and saute briefly.
  3. Add lentils and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil.
  4. Drop the heat down to low and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils need more liquid.  Add one cup water and continue to simmer.
  5. Check and stir frequently.  Add either more water or broth to suit your taste.
  6. Adjust your seasonings.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Simmer for a total time of around one hour and 10 minutes.
  8. Serves four.
  9. Or two if you eat half, save the rest for another meal and eat sandwiches/tacos using leftover fillings from the freezer

Tips

Over time I’ve learned how important technique can be for turning out tasty food.  Note the chicken broth is used first, then water.  For a cup of dried lentils you will need about a quart of liquid.  I start with chicken broth (you can sub vegetable broth) and allow the lentils to absorb the broth, then add one cup of water.  The amount of additional liquid will depend upon your personal preferences.  My approach is to add additional broth slowly after the 2 cups broth, one cup water.  Most times I never approach a full quart of liquid.  I like my lentil soup thick.

That half of a fresh onion didn’t sit around long because I made Pete’s Fried Rice without any broccoli.  Instead of broccoli I used half of a green cabbage sliced into strips.  The fried rice turned out just fine.  You have to be flexible nowadays and don’t waste anything.

Here’s my updated list of pantry items.

Pandemic Pantry Items – Updated 04.06.20

  • Canned tomatoes in 14.5 and 28 ounce cans.  Diced, crushed, diced with green chilies and stewed
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Brown and white sugar
  • Dried oregano, basil, and parsley
  • Onion and garlic powders
  • Bay leaves
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Dried pastas
  • Dried beans such as brown and green lentils, pinto, black, adzuki, mayocabo, yellow and green split peas, black eye peas and cranberry
  • Broth, vegetable, beef, chicken
  • Rice – multiple varieties like basmati, brown, Texmati, arborio  and plain long grain white
  • Flour tortillas

Stay safe, stay well.

I think I bought too many bay leaves though.

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Badass Black Eyed Peas

chili madness

I make black eyed peas once a year for New Year’s Day.  For good luck and good leftovers.  Every year I always say to myself,

“Self.  You need to write the recipe down.”

And each and every year I forget.  This year however is different.  A friend asked for the recipe.  So I actually sat my butt down into my chair and started writing.  I think my 2020 version of this recipe is better than in years gone by.  But I can’t be absolutely certain because I never wrote down any other versions of this annual bean concoction.  What I am certain of is the 2020 version is Badass.

Before we get to the recipe there’s a few odd tips and tricks you need to know.

  • The beans needs to simmer for several hours.
  • The beans get an overnight soak in filtered water and you will change the water several times.
  • Everyone in the pool.  I don’t cook the beans separately for this dish.
  • Unlike other chili recipes this recipe has hints of chili.  Don’t try to make this a chili because it’s not chili.

So now that you know not to call these beans a chili here’s how to make it Badass.

4 slices center cut bacon
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp each oregano, smoked paprika, chili powder
1 T Mexican oregano
1 T cumin
1 qt low sodium chicken broth
3 T tomato paste
1 lb black eyed peas
1 lb ground turkey 85/15
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Place the dried beans into a stock pot large enough to hold the beans when fully plumped up.  Rinse the beans with water several times.  Fill the pot with fresh water and soak overnight.
  2. In the morning drain then add fresh water to the beans. Change the soaking water at least twice.
  3. In a large stock pot fry the bacon in the olive oil until the strips are crisp and the fat is rendered.
  4. Saute the onion, celery, and green pepper until softened about five minutes.  Add the garlic and saute another minute.
  5. Add the turkey and brown, breaking up the clumps as you go.
  6. Toss everything else into the pool.  Spices, tomato paste, broth, and beans.
  7. The black eyed peas should be drained and the chicken broth needs to barely cover all of the ingredients.
  8. Bring to a boil then simmer for several hours with the pot partially covered.
  9. Check the pot and stir occasionally.  Add more broth as the peas cook and the dish thickens.
  10. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  11. Yum.  Makes about 10-12 servings.

More odd tips

Don’t add salt until the beans are cooked through and soft.  There is plenty of salt in the chili powder and broth so salt last.  As you adjust the seasonings you may want to add more chili powder and/or oregano.  I tend to use garlic powder (my less than top secret favorite flavor enhancer).

This dish tastes better on day two.

Texas Corn Bread of course.

This recipe is not in the book pictured above.  But I like the cover and I’m hoping the author gets the hint.

For my vegan and vegetarian readers this dish is neither vegan nor vegetarian.  Feel free to make your own veggie version with a nice organic vegetable or mushroom broth.

Three Bean Chili Madness

chili madness

Before we get to the recipe there’s a few odd tips and tricks you need to know.

  • This chili cooks all day long but I didn’t use a slow cooker.  It was a cold day and I was hunkered down in the house.
  • The beans get an overnight soak and are cooked separately first for several hours.
  • You make beans first then add the beans to the meats.
  • Unlike other chili recipes this is very mild.  You add your own heat at serving time.

So now that you know this is a pain in the rump recipe (time wise) here we go.

1 T extra virgin olive or grapeseed oil
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp each oregano, paprika, chili powder, cumin, dried cilantro
1 can (15 oz) no salt diced tomatoes
1 can (15 oz) low sodium chicken broth

1 small can mild green chilies
3 T tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 C each dry Mayocoba beans, pinto beans, and light red kidney beans
1 lb grass fed ground beef 80/20
1 lb ground turkey
Salt & pepper to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste

  1. Place the dried beans into a stock pot large enough to hold the beans when fully plumped up.  Rinse the beans with water several times.  Fill the pot with fresh water and soak overnight.
  2. In the morning drain then add fresh water to the beans.  Bring to a boil, add your soup recipe seasonings, then lower the heat down to a simmer.  The seasoning for the beans is based off my Sopa de Frijol con Vegetal soup recipe.  Substitute the three bean mix for the 100% pintos and leave out the tomatoes until later.  (No salt and the chili powder is also a no salt variety).
  3. Allow the beans to simmer for several hours.
  4. In a different large stock pot heat the oil and saute the onion, celery, and green pepper until softened.
  5. Add the meats and brown.
  6. Add red wine and cook off the alcohol.
  7. Time to toss everyone else into the pool.  Spices, tomatoes, chilies, broth, beans.
  8. Simmer for several hours.  Stir occasionally.  Add more water or broth if the chili gets too thick.
  9. Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, and your favorite hot sauce.
  10. Yum.

More odd tips

Don’t add salt until the beans are cooked through and soft.  The Mayocobo beans will break apart and make this chili creamy and thick (unless you add more broth or water).  The recipe will make approximately eight servings.  I used chicken broth instead of beef broth because I thought I had beef broth in the cupboard, looked and did not find it.  I found the beef broth the next day.  The package was sideways and I didn’t see it.  I used both ground beef and ground turkey because I didn’t buy enough ground beef and the meat to bean ratio was wrong.  I had ground turkey so I used it.  And that’s how this recipe turned into a beef and bird chili.

This recipe is not in the book pictured.  Lucky you.

Herrera’s Bean Soup

The Boss is gone this weekend.  There was a sister get together and I wasn’t invited.  The Boss is a worrier.  She frets about leaving me home alone for the weekend.  I say worry not.  There’s simply something that must be done when The Boss is gone.

Make beans.  This weekend’s mini-project was to recreate the free cup of pinto bean soup you got with every meal at one of our favorite Tex-Mex restaurants.  I know the location we frequented in Carrollton Texas has closed.  Many of the chain’s locations have boarded up and I’m not sure if any have survived.  The Doctor always ordered 13b double beans, no rice.  Each family member has fond memories of the food.  I’m fairly certain there was plenty of lard but we’ll never know for sure.

I started with my basic Sopa de Frijol con Vegetal and used bacon slices to saute the vegetables.  Instead of the canned tomatoes I used a commercially bottled Salsa Casera medium from Mexico (seriously, this should have nailed it).

Nope.  The beans taste exactly like my pinto bean soup with bacon and some spicy tomatoes.  I have failed to replicate Herrera’s bean soup.

Now if I could just find out the brand of hot canned jalapenos Herrera’s used…

Never Been to Peru Potato and Bean Stew

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 Plate for 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.

There are over 4,000 edible varieties of potato, mostly found in the Andes of South America.!

“If you can’t get blue potatoes…”

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
  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add oil, onions, chili powder, ground chili, oregano and cumin .  Gently saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the bell pepper,  garlic, and salt.  Saute for another 5 minutes.
  4. 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.
  5. Add the beans, reduce heat to low and simmer until beans are warmed through.
  6. Season individual servings with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Yum

Random Thoughts

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.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato and White Bean Hummus

  • 1 large sweet potato, baked
  • 3 small whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 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.

  1. 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.
  2. Process the garlic first.
  3. Toss everything else in the pool and process until smooth and creamy.
  4. Did you take the skin off the potato?
  5. 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.

Serving Suggestions

Put this hummus out at a party and tell everyone it’s a salmon dip.

Have your smartphone cameras ready for your guests’ reactions.

Priceless.

 

Wing and Leg Navy Bean Soup

I survived another Thanksgiving and managed to gain just 2/10th of a pound.  But I was unable to escape Texas without leftovers.

In the fridge there was a gallon size baggie with some white, some dark, one leg and one wing from the bird.  Thanksgiving was two days ago.  I had to do something or this would become cold turkey sandwiches (boring).  After a few minutes of anguish I had an idea…soup.

I almost called this recipe “A Wing and a Prayer” because I never put turkey in navy bean soup before.  But since it’s my basic navy bean soup recipe with some roasted turkey parts tossed in the pot I’m sure the soup will turn out fine.

Ingredients

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 qt low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 lb dried navy beans
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 cooked turkey leg
  • 1 cooked turkey wing
  1. Soak the beans overnight in water.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic.  Saute until the vegetables are softened.  Add the thyme and saute an additional minute until the herb is fragrant.
  3. Drain and rinse the beans.  Add to the pot along with the vegetable broth, bay leaf, and turkey parts.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for about 2 hours or until the beans are soft.
  5. Remove the wing and leg.  Allow to cool and remove the meat from the bones.  Discard the bones.  Dice the turkey meat and return to the pot.  Correct your seasonings.
  6. Yum.

The Next Day

This may be the quickest edit to a post ever.  I forgot to list salt and pepper.  But if this is your first visit to this recipe you wouldn’t know that.    When I corrected the seasonings I tossed in some paprika, dried parsley and a little shake of garlic and onion powders.  The Boss also told me to use up the leftovers so in addition to the leg and wing I added about 4 ounces of breast meat.

During the simmer phase keep an eye on the pot.  As navy beans cook the liquid thickens so don’t let the soup burn.  Add sufficient additional liquid to avoid this calamity.  At first I used water.  Towards the end of the simmer I used some organic chicken broth.  In total I may have added nearly a cup of liquid during the cooking process.

The soup turned out yummy.