29 April 2008

Warm Corn and Black Bean Salad

I have to admit, I don't have a musing introduction to this recipe. So, in lieu of that, a few announcements. If you check out the sidebar to the right, you'll see a form to subscribe to Cooking and Booking by e-mail. You'll also see a form for the Food Blog Search, which was put together by several people, including Elise of Simply Recipes, and compiles recipes from over 2,000 food blogs. I've been using it religiously myself, and it's a fantastic tool.

Also, after the results of the poll I posted last week, I'm going to start trying very hard to post reviews of the books that I mention or have mentioned in the past. If there are any that you'd particularly like to see, please let me know. I will be posting the first review on Friday, and subsequent reviews on the subsequent Fridays!

So, without further ado, a warm salad with corn and black beans that is absolutely delicious and incredibly filling.

Warm Corn and Black Bean Salad

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced thinly
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons roasted red peppers, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried (or 1 tablespoon chopped fresh) cilantro
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1/4 cup water

1. In a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, red pepper, and garlic, and saute until the onion is translucent and just beginning to brown. Season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the water, corn, and black beans. Bring to a simmer and cook until the corn is thawed (if it was frozen) and the water is almost completely evaporated.

3. Stir in the cilantro and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve and enjoy! I served mine with a plain cheese quesadilla, but this would also be delicious with grilled chicken or fish, or by itself. A squeeze of fresh lime juice would be fantastic as well.

22 April 2008

Chickpea Fritters (Falafel)

Whenever I'm about to post a recipe that has a very specific name that comes with connotations or cultural implications, I do a good amount of research beforehand to make sure that I don't inadvertently offend anyone or post an inauthentic recipe. So, I have looked through a lot of recipes for falafel recently. Falafel seems to be one of those rare recipes that doesn't have any hard-and-fast requirements. (If you know otherwise, please correct me!)

Normally, falafel is made with ground chickpeas, but I like a little bit of texture, so I decided to hand-mash my chickpeas. I also added some spinach, which was a great flavor and texture contrast to the chickpeas. I didn't make sandwiches with mine, but you certainly could.


1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/4-1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup grated onion
1-2 tablespoons grated garlic
1 can chickpeas
1/2-1 cup thawed frozen spinach, squeezed dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoons flour
Vegetable Oil (for frying)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1. Toast the fennel, coriander, and sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant.

2. Combine the toasted seeds, pepper, salt and cumin in a mortar and pestle and grind until fine and well-mixed.

3. In a large bowl, combine the spice mix, onion, garlic, chickpeas, spinach, flour, and olive oil and mash with a fork until well-mixed. The mixture should be relatively dry and able to hold its shape fairly well.

4. Divide the mixture into about six portions. I used a #20 cookie scoop, and it worked perfectly.

5. Using your hands, shape the portions into patties.

6. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1/4-1/2 inch of vegetable or canola oil until the surface ripples.

7. Coat the patties lightly with the breadcrumbs. If you like, you can season the breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, and cumin.

8. Carefully place the falafel in the oil. Fry for 3-5 minutes per side, until golden brown.

9. Serve and enjoy! I served mine alongside some simple steamed rice.

Currently, I'm reading... The Constant Gardener, by John Le Carre.

17 April 2008

Weekend Herb Blogging #129: Zucchini/Courgette

This week's edition of Weekend Herb Blogging is hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook, and I'll be writing about one of my favorite vegetables, just beginning to come into season around here: zucchini.

Until I started doing a bit of research for this post, I thought (as I think most people do) that zucchini was a vegetable. Little did I know, it isn't! It's a fruit. See? You just learned something!

Anyway, this is one of my favorite ways to prepare zucchini, because it really lets the flavor shine through.

Grilled Zucchini

4 zucchini, washed and sliced either diagonally or lengthwise
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon butter (optional)

1. After slicing the zucchini, preheat your largest grill pan to medium to medium-high. I don't know if this would work on a real grill - the zucchini gets fairly soft and I suspect it would fall apart on the grates.

2. Drizzle the slices, on one side, very lightly with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Put the slices, seasoned-side down, on the grill pan. Drizzle and season the second side. If all of the zucchini doesn't fit, you can work in batches and keep it in a warm oven.

4. Cook on the first side until the zucchini begins to look transparent, about 5 minutes. Turn over. If your grill pan is like mine and has warm and cool spots, rotate the slices around to make sure that all the slices get grill marks on at least one side.

5. Cook on the other side for about another five minutes. If you want to, during the last minute of cooking, melt the butter in the pan - it will flavor the zucchini a bit more.

6. Serve and enjoy!

Today, I'm reading... Of Love And Other Demons, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

15 April 2008

Smashed Roasted Potatoes

I believe I have mentioned my love of mashed potatoes in the past. I can't imagine that I haven't. Anyway, I have a deep and abiding love for all things mashed potato. But, even the best loves can get boring.

So, outside of the ordinary loading and gravies and such, how does one jazz up mashed potatoes? Roasting, of course!

Smashed Roasted Potatoes

4 medium-large Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stick salted butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream (or milk or half-and-half)

1. Toss the potatoes with the olive oil and salt and pepper and spread in a baking pan or sheet.

2. Roast at 450F for 30 minutes, or until very tender and well-browned.

3. Use a fork to smash the potatoes and mix in the softened butter. I find that it's easiest to break the potatoes in the baking pan, then scrape them into a bowl and mix.
4. Add the cream, and wait for the butter to melt.

5. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, serve, and enjoy!

I just finished reading... Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt.

13 April 2008

Recipe Archive


Warm Corn and Black Bean Salad


Beef and Bean Soup with Rice Noodles

Beef and Cabbage Fried Rice
Mongolian Beef

Basic French Bread

Julia Child's French Bread

Danish Braid

Home Fries

Cakes and Cupcakes
Cherry Torte
Coconut-Pecan Icing (for German Chocolate Cake)
Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Party Cake
Mint Julep Cupcakes

Candies and Sweets
Mexican Chocolate Truffles

Chicken and Artichoke Stew

Chicken and Dumplings
Chicken with Basil-Riesling Cream Sauce

Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli
Simple and Juicy Roast Chicken

Dorie Greenpan's World Peace Cookies

Slow Roasted Duck

Salmon with Wine-Butter Sauce

Tilapia with Pureed Chickpeas and Olive Relish

Hors D'ouvres/Snacks
Asian-Style Pork Dumplings

Cheese Puffs
Spinach and Artichoke Mini-Pies

Ice Cream/Sherbet/Sorbet/Gelato
Dulce de Leche Gelato

Homemade Pasta Dough

Macaroni and Cheese with Chicken and Broccoli
Penne with Sausage, Onion and Cranberry Sauce
Dressed-Up 'Mac and Cheese'

Lemon Meringue Pie

Shrimp and Broccoli Rabe Quiche

Spinach and Artichoke Mini-Pies
Squash and Zucchini Tart

Asian-Style Pork Dumplings

Birch Beer Braised Pork
Slow Cooker Shredded Pork

Home Fries

Scalloped Potatoes

Smashed Roasted Potatoes

Beef and Cabbage Fried Rice

Green Onion Risotto
Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
Triple Garlic Risotto

Beef and Bean Soup with Rice Noodles

Grilled Zucchini

Pan-Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Spinach and Artichoke Mini-Pies
Squash and Zucchini Tart
Tilapia with Pureed Chickpeas and Olive Relish
Warm Corn and Black Bean Salad

12 April 2008

Birch Beer Braised Pork

I almost feel bad about posting a recipe for this. Really - it's almost too simple for a recipe. That said, it took me awhile to figure out the best way to go about it, so I'm going to post it anyway.

I had quite the debate with myself over what kind of soda I wanted to use in this dish - root beer, plain cola, orange soda, and ginger ale all came up at one point or another. Eventually, though, I settled on the birch beer for it's complex spiciness. All of them would certainly work, and I'd love to hear about your results if you try any of them.

One last thought before I get into the recipe: The leftovers were delicious!

Birch Beer Braised Pork

1 pork shoulder, small enough to fit in your largest saucepan or dutch oven
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 (2-liter) bottle birch beer

1. Season the pork liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a very large saucepan or dutch oven.

2. Brown the pork on all sides.

3. Add the birch beer to the pan, either enough to cover the pork or then entire bottle.

4. Simmer for about 3 hours.

5. Remove from the pan (carefully!) and shred with two forks. Before serving, pour over about a half-cup of the cooking liquid to keep the meat moist and flavorful.

I just finished reading... Possession: A Romance, by A.S. Byatt.

06 April 2008

Process Post - Croissants

Croissants were, until very recently, at the top of my list of things that I eventually had to make from scratch. I made them over my spring break, and I was very happy with the results. They were a two-day endeavor, but they were absolutely worth it. I used this recipe, and the instructions on how to form them can be found here.

I mixed my yeasty liquid together, and was relieved, as I always am while baking, when it foamed up.

Next, I mixed in the dry ingredients.

The dough started to come together.

By the time it came together completely, it was very smooth. As per the recipe, I kneaded it by hand for a few minutes and wrapped it and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

While the dough was in the fridge, I beat the crap out of three sticks of butter and wrapped them in wax paper, then put them in the fridge also.

When the dough came out of the fridge, it had risen slightly and was spongy and just a bit chilly.

I rolled it out and put the butter in the middle.

I folded the dough like a letter over the butter.

I rolled the dough (and the butter) out again, and folded it like a letter again.

After this, it went back in the fridge for an hour. After the hour, it came out of the fridge and I rolled it out and folded it like a letter, then put it back in the fridge. I did this two more times, and after the final fold, I cut the dough in half so that I could freeze half. I could see all the layers of butter in the dough.

Half of the dough went into the fridge, and half into the freezer. The next morning, I rolled out the dough from the fridge, one half at a time, and cut it into triangles.

I rolled up the triangles and let them rise. I baked them. Slightly too much, unfortunately.

However, overdone though they may have been, they were absolutely delicious. Much better than my usual Starbucks croissants. They were quite a bit of work, but it was soothing to do something that had to be done at a leisurely pace, and it turned out to be a great way to kick off my break. I would definitely make them again, and I can't wait to have the opportunity to use the dough that's still in the freezer!

I just finished reading... The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon.