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.
Our first big snow fall hit this weekend and all I can think about is cooking and eating soup and biscuits so forgive me for another soup suggestion. This Spicy Tomato Soup is from Barabara Lynch and it is spicy. If you don’t love a serious kick of heat I would cut the red pepper flakes in half. At its core, this recipe is a 5-ingredient vegan soup built from simple pantry items. And where there is soup there is dipping. Biscuits make mean dippers – especially when they’re covered with everything bagel seed mix. If you’d rather use your biscuits to hold fried eggs, red onion, cheese, and spinach then I’m not stopping you. We started our fair share of mornings that way too.
Barbara Lynch’s Spicy Tomato Soup
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, peeled, halved, and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste — I used a 1/2 teaspoon and it was almost too spicy for me)
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Crème fraîche, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and very tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, plus the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded, about 30 minutes. (If you’re in a hurry, you can skip the simmer time — just add a bit less water.) Add the basil, season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat, and let cool briefly, about 5 minutes.
3. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a large, heatproof bowl. Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap from the blender lid (the pour lid) and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam from the hot soup to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off).
4. Pour the blended soup through the strainer, pressing on the solids with a rubber spatula or ladle; discard the solids. Taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
5. Return the soup to the saucepan and reheat on medium low until hot. If you choose, serve topped with a tablespoon of crème fraîche.
Everything Biscuits from Small Victories
Makes 12 biscuits
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 teaspoons onion flakes
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-in cubes and chilled
1 ½ cups buttermilk, plus more for brushing
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. (You can skip this if you’d like, since all of the butter in the dough will keep the biscuits from sticking, but I love anything that makes cleaning up easier).
2. In a small bowl, stir together the poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and onion flakes. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk more than you think you should — this isn’t just to combine the ingredients but also to aerate them. Plus, how much easier is it to clean a whisk than a sifter, amiright?? Using your hands, work the butter into the flour mixture, rubbing it between your fingers until the mixture turns into coarse crumbs. Using a wooden spoon, gently stir in the buttermilk until the mixture becomes a shaggy dough — no need to overmix here. Stir in half of the poppy seed mixture.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it out so that it’s about 1 in thick. Using a 2½-in round cutter (or a juice glass), stamp out biscuits as close together as possible. Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them evenly. Pat the dough scraps together (do not overwork the dough), reroll, and cut out more biscuits. You should end up with a dozen biscuits. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill the biscuits for about 1 hour. Baking them from cold will yield flakier biscuits (the butter will be slower to melt and will create more distinct layers); but if you don’t have time, don’t worry—the biscuits will still be very good.
4. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 450°F. Right before baking, brush each biscuit lightly with buttermilk and then sprinkle evenly with the remaining poppy seed mixture.
5. Bake the biscuits until they’re risen and golden, 15 to 20 minutes, turning the baking sheet halfway through baking. Serve warm
What’s happening around here? We cut our tree down / put our tree up, keep making / slurping Heidi Swanson’s Green Lentil Soup, and are playing Town Mountain’s I’m On Fire over and over and over. The winter trifecta. XO
Green Lentil Soup: Curry Powder, Brown Butter, Coconut Milk & Chives from Super Natural Everyday
Serves 4 to 6
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, ghee, or extra-virgin coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
5 1/2 cups vegetable broth or water
1 1/2 cups green lentils or green split peas, picked over and rinsed
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Indian curry powder
1/2 cup coconut milk
Fine-grain sea salt
1 bunch fresh chives, minced
Combine the 2 tablespoons butter, onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large soup pot over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the onions soften, a couple minutes. Add the vegetable broth and lentils and simmer, covered, until the lentils are tender. This usually takes 20 to 30 minutes, but can take as long as 50 minutes.
In the meantime, warm the 3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and let it brown. When it starts to smell nutty and fragrant, stir in the curry powder and sauce until the spices are fragrant, less than a minute.
When the lentils are finished cooking, remove from the heat, stir in the coconut milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and puree with an immersion blender. You can leave the soup a bit chunky if you like, or puree until it is perfectly smooth. Stir in half of the spiced butter, taste, and add more salt, if needed, typically a couple of teaspoons if you used water instead of salted broth. Serve drizzled with the remaining spice butter and sprinkled with chives.
In the November issue of Bon Appetite, Anna Jones shares a few “healthy-ish holiday survival” recipes. If you’re not familiar with Anna Jones this is what the magazine has to say about her: “The former food stylist to Jamie Oliver, Jones has a refreshing food sensibility that we can’t get enough of. Her recipes are practical yet creative, and they’re packed with feel-good ingredients that make the finished dishes more-not less-delicious. And guess what? They’re all vegetarian.”
Anna suggests making this Skillet Phyllo Pie with Butternut Squash, Kale & Goat Cheese for dinner on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. That’s some good advice although we enjoyed it very much as a Sunday dinner last weekend. The recipe is highly adaptable. Try it with Swiss chard or spinach in place of kale. Any squash or root vegetable will work in place of the butternut.
We also made a tray of her Seedy Oat Crackers or “the guiltless cracker” which can be made ahead of the holiday craziness (they’ll keep for up to ten days). Seedy Oat Crackers are gluten-free, and have very little fat. Packed with nutrient-dense seeds and oats, these special crackers leave you feeling satisfied.
Skillet Phyllo Pie with Butternut Squash, Kale & Goat Cheese from Bon Appetite November 2016
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing
2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1/2 small butternut squash (about 1 lb.) peeled, cut into 3/4″ pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch Tuscan kale, ribs and stems removed, thinly sliced crosswise
2 large eggs, beaten to blend
3 ounces Parmesan, grated
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
8 ounces frozen phyllo pastry, thawed
4 ounces fresh goat cheese or feta, crumbled
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 400 F. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, 6-8 minutes. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until almost tender, 8-10 minutes. Mix in thyme and red pepper flakes and transfer to a medium bowl; let cool. Wipe out and reserve skillet.
Add kale, eggs, Parmesan, and lemon zest to squash mixture and gently mix to combine; season with salt and pepper. Layer phyllo sheets inside reserved skillet. Spoon kale-and-squash mixture into phyllo and dot top with goat cheese. Brush edges of phyllo lightly with oil and fold over filling, overlapping slightly, leaving center exposed.
Cook pie over medium heat until bottom of pastry is just golden (carefully lift up on side with a heatproof rubber spatula so that you can take a peek), about 3 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and bake pie until kale is wilted and tender and phyllo is golden brown and crispy, 20-25 minutes. Let pie cool in skillet at least 15 minutes before slicing into wedges.
Do Ahead: Pie can be baked 6 hours ahead. Let cool; store uncovered at room temperature.
Seedy Oat Crackers “the guiltless cracker” from Bon Appetite November 2016
Makes 8 servings
1 cup old-fashioned oats
3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds
3 tablespoons chia seeds
3 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds, and salt in a large bowl to combine. In a separate bowl, stir oil, maple syrup, and 3/4 cup room-temperature water together. Pour over oat mixture; toss until soaked. Let sit 10 minutes to allow mixture to thicken. From into a ball. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, press another sheet of parchment on top, and roll out to 1/8″ thick (the shape doesn’t matter). Remove top layer of parchment. Bake cracker until golden brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully turn over cracker; remove parchment. Bake cracker on same sheet until firm and the other side is golden brown around the edges, 15-20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet, then break into pieces.
3 Ways to Spiffy Up Hot Dogs into Family Dinners, Well Beyond the Cookout by me is up on Food52 today.
Sure, hot dogs are a quick-to-prepare crowd favorite, but can they be a nutritious and interesting family dinner, too? The answer is-thankfully!-yes. Today, there’s a wide variety of farm-raised, grass-fed, all-beef hot dogs that make for speedy, satisfying, and anything-but-boring meals.
So, let’s plan a modern hot dog dinner, one perfect for a busy weeknight. First, visit your farmers market and pick out some locally-grown dogs. If you don’t have luck finding a local source, see the list of quality national brands below.
Next, tell the kids it’s hot dog night and pat yourself on the back when they actually jump up and down in excitement (rather than scowl) over the dinner plans. Pick a cooking method and topping combination from the suggestions below. Maybe you crisp the dogs on a griddle and slather them with leftover chili, or grill them and top with tangy Greek salad. Look to your leftovers and needy produce for hot dog topping and sauce inspiration…click here to read the whole story.
Photography by Elizabeth Cecil.