This week on Food52 I shared my favorite way to cook dried beans and how to stretch a pot of humble beans into a week of family dinners.
I was always intimidated by cooking dried beans. I would either forget to soak them ahead of time (ahhhh!) or keep them simmering in a pot, only to find them undercooked at the end of the day. After a while, I began to shy away from recipes that suggested I try it again.
Discovering the simplicity of preparing dried beans in the slow cooker has thrown my trepidation out the window. You just combine a few ingredients and turn on the machine! A few hours later you have a perfect pot of beans. Life-changing. (But if you don’t have a slow cooker, fear not: I recommend the method outlined in this recipe.)
Click here to read the full story and get four recipes from Feeding a Family including: Slow Cooker Black Beans, Buckwheat Crepes with Delicata Squash, Black Beans & Avocado, Kale & Sweet Potato Tacos on Homemade Corn Tortillas, and Black Bean Quinoa Burgers.
All photography by Elizabeth Cecil.
If you are looking for a last minute homemade treat to wrap up for teachers, babysitters, neighbors, or friends this is it. I have made three batches of Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn this week (book club, birthday party, for us) and am continuously amazed at how quick and easy this recipe is. Essentially, you heat brown rice syrup, stir in some nut or seed butter and a few flavorings then pour it over plain popcorn. After just 6 minutes in the oven (getting all crunchy and sweet) you have this caramelized, slightly salty, dream of a snack. Here’s now to do it…
Cinnamon Caramel Popcorn from At Home in the Whole Foods Kitchen
makes 1 tray that serves 4 to 6
6 cups freshly popped popcorn (see note below)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup
3 tablespoons raw cashew butter (or any nut/seed butter)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more to sprinkle
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Place popcorn in a large mixing bowl; set aside. Add rice syrup to a small pot over medium heat, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, and add cashew butter, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon; mix until smooth. Pour mixture over popcorn, and mix well with a rubber spatula to combine. Spread over lined baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes; rotate tray, and continue baking for 2 to 3 more minutes (watch closely as the caramel burns fast). Remove from oven, and sprinkle with additional cinnamon. Allow to cool completely (if you can resist it!) before breaking into pieces.
If you have any left over, it can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.
Popcorn Note: For 6 cups popcorn, you need to cook about 1/4 cup popcorn kernels. Warm 2 teaspoons coconut oil in a large pot over high heat. Add popcorn and cover immediately; shake pot to coat corn with oil. Continue shaking pot until corn is popping rapidly, then lower heat slightly. Once popping slows to about 2 seconds between pops, remove from heat, shake again, and keep covered until all popping has stopped. Remove lid, measure out 6 cups, and use within an hour, as popcorn becomes stale quickly.
Every couple of years I decide to very spontaneously cut off all my hair. On Tuesday I sat in the stylist’s chair and let go of close to a foot. Dylan’s first reaction was that I look like Mormor (my mom), which I like, and Gray still recognizes me – phew. I’m slowly getting used to my reflection in the mirror and the air on my neck. With the President arriving on island this weekend and August schedules at their most demanding, everyone I know needs a break. So if you have an hour I highly recommend a serious hair cut.
If you don’t have time for a hair cut then…Summer Corn Cakes? I’d like to think the famous summer produce is here to save us from August traffic and busyness. Yes, I almost got taken down in a tomato stamped at the farmer’s market this week but can you really blame us?
Summer Corn Cakes
makes about a dozen
3/4 cup corn meal
3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (plus more for cooking and serving)
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon honey
2 ears of fresh corn (2 cups kernels)
1/2 to 1 jalapeno pepper, minced (depending on your heat taste)
2 large eggs, separated
First, whisk together the dry ingredients – corn meal, flour, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients – melted butter, buttermilk, honey, and the two egg yolks (placing whites in a small mixing bowl). Next, whip the remaining egg whites until they form soft peaks.
Form the batter by first gently mixing the dry ingredients into the wet. Then, fold in the corn kernels and jalapeno. Lastly, gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle pan over medium. Melt a pad of butter in the pan and scoop in 1/4 cup dollops of batter. Cook until golden on one side, flip, and continue to cook. Keep finished cakes in a low warm oven. Serve with extra butter and/or honey.
This summery savory bread pudding brought me great relief this week and not the kind you’d think. I didn’t have a bite of it, not even a nibble, but it set many of my I’m having another baby in 5 weeks fears to rest. A friend welcomed her second baby and I dropped off this bread pudding for dinner. The good news is she seemed okay. Her life looked normal and the relationship with her older son looked similar to it did say..10 days before. I can’t help but worry about how my relationship with Dylan will change. These are our last weeks as just us, two best buds living the good life side by side, which is a very bittersweet reality.
I’ve been savoring our alone time, solo conversations, cozy reading. I’m so excited for him to have a brother, another best friend to add to his world, but I know I’ll soon look back on these last weeks and they’ll feel like a world away.
Savory Bread Pudding with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Corn & Cilantro
from The Fresh & Green Table
2 tbsp unsalted butter, plus more for the baking dish
1 loaf Challah cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, cut crosswise into thin slices
8 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
roasted cherry tomatoes (recipes below)
1 cup fresh sweet corn
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup coarsely grated monterey jack cheese
1 cup coarsely grated aged cheddar
1. Preheat oven to 375. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Rub a 13 x 9 baking dish with a little butter.
2. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, 8 – 10 minutes. Let the bread cool for a few minutes on the sheet and then transfer them to a large bowl.
3. In a small saucepan, melt the 2 tbsp butter over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 1 minute. Scrape and drizzle the butter mixture over the bread cubes, stirring as you drizzle, and toss well. Sprinkle the bread cubes with a little salt and toss again.
4. In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the onion is limp and browned about 10 minutes. Set aside.
5. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, lime zest, cumin, coriander, and 3/4 tsp salt until well combined.
6. Arrange half the bread cubes in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. Top with half of the cherry tomatoes, half of the onion, half of the corn, half of the cilantro, half of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining bread, veggies, and cheese. Pour the egg mixture evenly over everything. Using your hands, gently press down on the bread and veggies to force the custard to evenly surround everything. Let sit for about 20 minutes and gently press down again.
7. Bake in the preheated oven until the bread pudding has risen, is set and dry in the middle, and golden, about 40-45 minutes. Let settle for a few minutes and serve hot or very warm.
Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb ripe medium red cherry tomatoes, halved
Preheat the oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Brush the foil with some of the olive oil. Toss the cherry tomato halves with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, and spread in a single layer. Roast tomatoes until they are browned around the edges and slightly puckered, about 25 minutes.
My family has been on this island for something close to forty five summers and we just bought an air conditioner yesterday. I don’t know if it is the hottest July in forty five summers or the relief I, the very pregnant sister, and Anna, the bride to be sister, just needed to get by.
In any case it feels great and my sister’s wedding is officially tomorrow. There are four houses and countless hotel rooms filled with family and friends scattered across the island. We’re eating a lot, playing a lot, and having a ball. I made us a no-cook dinner before the blessed air conditioner arrived. This summer vegetable “ceviche” was on the menu and is something I will make again.
Ps. Dylan is the only person I know who has fabulous humidity hair. I look like Elvis.
Summer Vegetable “Ceviche”
from Food and Wine August 2013
1 cup fresh baby lima beans (from about 1 1/2 pounds in the pod) or other shelling bean
1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears)
2 nectarines, cut into thin wedges
1 hass avocado, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1 orange bell pepper, finely julienned
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
1. In a small saucepan of salted boiling water, cook the lima beans until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the beans and rinse under cold water.
2. In a large bowl, whisk the lime zest and juice with the olive oil, scallion, jalapeno, and shallot: season with salt. Gently fold in the lima beans, corn, nectarines, avocado, orange pepper, and tomatoes. Refrigeratre the “ceviche” for at least 2 hours. Fold in the cilantro just before serving and serve the “ceviche” chilled.