Daily Garnish’s four bean chilli & pumpkin cornbread

I couldn’t get this dish out of my head as I was menu planning this week. I first made it during vegetarian week 3 or 4 years ago, and while I’ll make it once, eating the leftovers daily until they’re gone, I tend not to put it into regular rotation because we often have beans in other dishes and this dish is ALL about the beans. So for me, this is a super special meal.

Yet it is so simple. The recipe can be found on Daily Garnish’s website. The first thing I made was the cornbread, and I set my darling daughter the task of kitchen hand. It’s a simple mix the dry ingredients in one bowl, the wet ingredients in another, fold to combine and then bake in the oven. There’s no need to elaborate other than to tell you that it is delicious!!! I could eat the whole thing on my own. If you used flax eggs instead of the 2 eggs in the recipe, it could even be vegan, which is something I definitely want to try when I buy some more flaxseeds.

Once that’s in the oven baking, I set to getting the chilli made. I do alter the recipe a bit here, mainly due to our access to ingredients. I fry off a diced onion in some olive oil, add a diced green chilli (seeded to make it kid friendly), 1 teaspoon of garlic and 2 diced red capsicums. Once that’s cooked, I add 4 tins of beans – black, red kidney beans, cannellini beans and butter beans. Then I add 2 tins of diced tomatoes, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon cumin, salt and pepper. Last I add 2 cups of vegetable stock, and then let that simmer in order for the stock to reduce and the flavors to meld together. This of course is vegan, but we always like to serve it with some cheese and sour cream. I was actually thinking this would be wonderful over potato wedges, but realized it too late to do anything about it for dinner tonight.

This is warm and comforting and just what I needed after a long hard day.

Black Bean Burgers

This is a guest post by Aaron, who so generously freed me up from cooking dinner tonight so I could get some work done.

It’s been more than a year or two since we’ve made black bean burgers, and I’m not sure why it’s been so long, because they are so nice!

The burgers are quite easy to make, and you can top them with any of your favourite extras (we used burger cheese, tomato, lettuce and ketchup).

The recipe is easily doubled to make 6 generously sized burgers. Instead of using a fork to mash the pre-rinsed beans, I usually use a stick blender, although in the double batch today I fear I nearly overheated the motor…you need to regularly clear the blade so it can keep spinning freely and not make the motor work too hard, especially if you’re working with a nearly 17 year old appliance!

I added a little salt into the mix as I whizzed the beans, then mixed all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl, stirred in the eggs and added the onion, then finally added the mashed beans, and mixed it all together thoroughly.

I separated the mixture into 6 roughly even sized balls, then, using a small sheet of baking paper, squashed the balls into patties. This part you need to be careful so the patties stay together. I was mostly successful with this. I then gave a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper to the top side of the burgers. I placed the top (seasoned) side down on our nice hot grill to cook the burgers on a high heat, with a little olive oil to help things along. While they cooked I seasoned the ‘new’ top side of the burgers.

After a few minutes I flipped the burgers and waited another couple of minutes before putting some burger cheese on them for the last minute or two of cooking.

These burgers are delicious and our kids (well, the older two) LOVE them, so everyone was happy to have bigger portions than we’ve had before. It was definitely worthwhile doubling the size of them to feed our growing family!

 

My Paris Kitchen: Parisian Gnocchi

Today was definitely a manic Monday! Disaster after disaster, and I was rethinking dinner because I didn’t think we had time to try anything new tonight, but then I thought about the comfort food I was craving and the bottle of wine that needed to be finished and I reverted back to our original plan. And boy oh boy was it worth it!

David Lebovitz continues to impress me with his amazing cookbook, My Paris Kitchen. Seriously there hasn’t been a bad recipe thus far and we’ve made quite a few of them. And every one is worth repeating. I’d never heard of gnocchi made without potato, and when I saw it was made with choux pastry I just thought it sounded so weird! But after I read all the rave reviews on Facebook and after thinking about dumplings sitting in a cheesy bechamel sauce, I knew that this was definitely something worth trying.

So to make the choux pastry you need to melt some butter with salt and water and then as soon as it’s melted stir in some flour until it becomes a smooth dough ball. Put the dough ball in your stand mixer and stir in some eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Then you stir in some dry mustard. Using an ice cream scoop you drop in scoops of dough in boiled salted water and poach the gnocchi for 2 minutes before placing them in a baking dish with parmesan and a melty Swiss cheese and bechamel sauce that you’ve seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. Bake it for 30 minutes and watch the magic happen!

The one criticism I have of David’s recipes has been that he doesn’t really give cues for multitasking. I’d read through the recipe and so had worked out to have the boiling water ready and was working on the bechamel at the same time as I made the choux pastry. I also started preheating the oven at the very beginning and not as I was putting the dish together. It took us about an hour from start to finish, but I reckon if you’d done the recipe step by step it would’ve probably taken twice as long!

David suggests pairing this with a green salad, but we took it one step further and used leftover vegetables from last week and made another chopped salad. It was truly a match made in heaven – the vinegar dressing and the bitter radicchio and the peppery rocket went perfectly with the rich, cheesy deliciousness that was this gnocchi. What a way to end a hectic day!

Food52 Genius Recipes: “Use a Spoon” Chopped Salad

We were invited to a BBQ over the weekend and they asked us to bring a salad – for months now I’ve been wanting to try the chopped salad from Food52 Genius Recipes (the book the Cookbook Club went through in December) and I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. So off I went in search of all the ingredients and once I found them (it took me 3 different shops thanks to the scarcity at the moment of Savoy cabbage and radicchio) I set Aaron to the task of constructing this gorgeous and colorful salad.

It’s made by quick pickling some vegetables (celery and carrots and red capsicum), then once they’re ready, draining them and combining them with the remaining vegetables (cucumber, radicchio, rocket and cabbage) and apple and making a sauce from some of the leftover vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper. Then you finish the salad with goat cheese and toasted slivered almonds.

I’m usually opposed to eating radicchio but in this salad the bitter notes balance so well with the other flavours that I actually liked it. Aaron similarly is not a huge fan of rocket but enjoyed it in this salad. It was the perfect salad for the summer night bbq and we will definitely make this again. The only warning I feel is necessary: the vinegar smell wafts through the whole house during the pickling stage. It actually made me worry that the whole salad was just going to taste like vinegar. But it didn’t and the smell passes. And now to devour the leftovers!

Made in India: Vegetarian Curries and Naan

Tonight we feasted! And I really do mean feasted. It’s been a while since I’ve had my hands on Made in India, I checked it out from our local library in October when Cookbook Club was working through it, but haven’t been able to get it back out since. Now that it’s finally come back around to me at the library, it seemed appropriate that I do a bit of cooking from it, and what better way to start than a vegetarian curry feast.

What we made:

Junjaro – this is a kidney bean curry and when I saw how simple it was to make it seemed like a no brainer, especially since my daughter loves chilli con carne, especially because of the kidney beans. But of course she wouldn’t try it…she’s contrary like that…but the rest of us really enjoyed it. You fry an onion with some cumin seed and a cinnamon stick, and some garlic, ginger, chilli and spices, tomato paste, the kidney beans (I used cans) and some water and let it get saucy.

Inda nu shaak – this is a coconut milk egg curry and it was the most complex of the 3 curries we made because we had to hard boil eggs. Yeah, it was really that hard. You fry off some onions, add garlic, tamarind paste and some spices, dilute it with coconut milk and water (I used a 400 mL tin of lite coconut milk rather than 300 mL of coconut milk and 100 mL water) and add the eggs when they’re boiled and peeled and sliced. The sauce in this one was lovely and sweet and was so nice to soak up with a piece of naan or a spoonful of rice.

Chana Masala – chickpea and tomato curry. Similarly you fry off onions, add garlic, ginger and chilli, this time a can of tomatoes and tomato paste, the spices and then the chickpeas (again from cans). This was probably my least favourite of the 3 curries, but I think that’s because it wasn’t very saucy.

Aunty Harsha’s Naan – the naan, oh my goodness, the naan. So when I got home from picking the kids up from school, I mixed the dough which is a basic bread dough in terms of ingredients, but with yogurt and milk in it, and then after it was kneaded I put it in a covered oiled container to rise until doubled. Then we just split it into 12 portions, flattened it with our hands and used our flat electric grill to cook them. I was so shocked that it actually worked and was distinctly naan bread. Aaron asked if we’re planning to make naan everyday when he found out that the prep time before cooking was only about 5 minutes.

We served everything with plain basmati rice and still have plenty of leftovers for Aaron to take to work for lunch over the next few days. I’m so glad we powered through to make this meal, because to be honest today was an exhausting one, but when you look at everything we made, the hands on time was really not that long at all. This book continues to impress me and next time I think I’d really like to try some meat curries and some of the chutneys…oh and did you know there are some really interesting sounding desserts in there, too?!!

The Food Lab: Eggs Florentine

Today’s Meatless Monday post is from my husband Aaron. Just FYI there will be a lot of Throwback recipes this month as it’s the 1 year anniversary of Food52 Cookbook Club.

There is a confession I need to make – I absolutely LOVE The Food Lab, and everything Kenji does, so I am biased. But I’m biased because his recipes (and ideas behind them) make good sense. There are a bunch of videos of his on YouTube for various things, including one that talks all about eggs. Just ask Jen. After watching said video, I spent the next hour or so telling her all about what Kenji had to say about eggs!

Eggs Florentine is basically a poached egg with cooked spinach instead of ham or smoked salmon on an English muffin covered in Hollandaise sauce. Kenji shows you how to ensure your mayonnaise or Hollandaise sauce doesn’t split. It is probably the easiest Hollandaise I’ve made (and one of, if not THE tastiest). And out of the kindness of his own heart, Kenji gives you two methods to make the sauce – one for if you have an immersion blender, and another for the rest of us with standard blenders/food processors. Basically, you blend egg yolks, lemon juice and hot water, then slowly add melted butter to the blender/food processor to mix all the ingredients, and then season with salt and cayenne (optional). So easy and so nice!  The spinach for the Florentine was cooked with garlic and seasoned with salt and pepper – nice and easy, and nice and quick…and again, very tasty.

As an aside, an awesome tip I got from Kenji on poaching eggs is, if you’re having more than a few friends over for brekky, you can poach the eggs the day before (he may have even said up to 5 days before, but I’d check that before trying it!), put them in iced water and keep them in the fridge, then on the following morning, pop them back into the simmering water for about 30 seconds and they will be right to go! Very handy instead of trying to evenly poach a dozen eggs at the same time.

I’d highly recommend The Food Lab’s Eggs Florentine for a very nice brekky, or in our case, for brinner (breakfast for dinner), as it was fairly quick, easy and VERY tasty.

Two Eggs Florentine

 

Creamy Sundried Tomato & Spinach Pasta

This is one of those recipes that I had on Pinterest for ages before I tried it, but after I did, it quickly became part of our regular vegetarian meals since the kids love it and it literally takes 10 minutes to make. Because I have to cook for a big family though, I’ve obviously had to adapt it from the original recipe in order for it to feed us all.

First, on a back burner, prepare 500 grams of wholemeal pasta according to the instructions (I use spirals because they cook in 6 minutes). While that’s happening, in a large skillet, heat up a little olive oil and brown 1 diced onion and 1 teaspoon of crushed garlic.

Then add 1 cup of chopped sundried tomatoes and 1/4 cup of tomato paste.

Add 2 tins of diced tomatoes and stir to combine.

Add 3/4 cup of light sour cream mixed with 3/4 cup of light Greek yogurt and stir to combine.

Add roughly 3 cups of baby spinach (I just guesstimate – 2 big handfuls) and season with salt & pepper.

Leave that to wilt while you drain the pasta and add it to the skillet, then stir everything together and voila! You are ready to dish up dinner.

We like to top ours with grated parmesan (and lots of red chilli flakes for the adults).

Meatless Mexican

I was so excited to see that you can now buy canned pinto beans in Woolworths that I couldn’t wait to have bean burritos for dinner. (We seriously bought 12 cans of them and also 12 cans of black beans because they were super cheap this week!) This is a meal we do quite often that I’ve adapted from several recipes to easily accomodate vegans, but you can also easily add an animal protein for the meat lovers (or if there’s a crowd to feed). But on Mondays, this is often what it looks like.

Mexican corn cake

It started with this recipe, but my method is much simpler, and instead of butter and milk, I use canola oil so vegans can enjoy it too.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Cook 1 1/2 cups frozen corn with 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes. While this is happening, chuck the following ingredients into a small casserole dish: 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/3 cup masa, 1/4 cup polenta, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tspn baking powder and 1/4 tspn salt. Then add the corn and water and use a stick immersion blender to mix it all together and to break up the corn kernels. Bake in a water bath, covered, for about an hour. I use a large ice cream scoop to serve like you’d see in many Mexican restaurants in the US.

Mexican rice

I got the original recipe here, but I’ve changed it so I can make it in my rice cooker.

Place 2 cups long grain white rice, 1 diced onion, 1 diced green chilli, 1 can chopped tomatoes, 2 cups vegetable stock, 1 Tbspn cumin, 1 tspn minced garlic, and 1/2 tspn salt in your rice cooker and stir together. Let it cook and then devour!

(If you have lemon or lime juice on hand, or fresh coriander, throw some of that on before serving. Usually we make guacamole, but alas there were no avocados at the store, so today we served it plain.)

“Refried” beans

I’m not sure where this recipe originated anymore, but basically it’s another throw everything in and give it a stir recipe. Drain and rinse 1 can of pinto beans and 1 can of black beans and place in a small saucepan. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, 1 small diced onion, 1 tspn garlic, 1 diced green chilli and some salt to taste. Cook on high until the stock has reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Mash with a potato masher or use your stick immersion blender (this helps break up the onion and chilli). If it’s too watery continue to cook until desired consistency.

From here I just set out other staples (chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, tortillas, taco shells and corn chips if I have them) on the table and everyone does what they want. I made myself a bean burrito with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream in a wholemeal tortilla and then had rice and corn cake on the side (sadly our salsa was moldy and we’re out of hot sauce – clearly I’m in holiday mode still). If we’d had guacamole, I would’ve made a cheese quesadilla and had everything else as sides to dip them in. Aaron and my oldest two like to chuck everything into a tortilla as part of their burritos. Or if we have corn chips they like to make nachos and throw everything on top of corn chips and cheese that they’ve warmed together in the microwave.

The only things that make this meal vegetarian rather than vegan are the dairy products that accompany it (ie sour cream and cheese). If we were to serve this meal to vegans I’d simply make sure to have guacamole as a creamy condiment for them and wouldn’t sprinkle cheese on the refried beans like I did tonight.

Pasta with Zucchini and Vegetarian Sausages in Butternut Pumpkin Sauce

So what happens when it’s 5 pm and you realize you forgot to grocery shop over the weekend and you need to come up with dinner quickly? You look through the freezer and fridge and pantry and see what you can conjure up that might go together…

Zucchinis from a friend’s garden which we diced up, seasoned and fried off in a bit of olive oil in a large non stick frypan…

Field Roast Smoked Apple and Sage Vegetarian Sausages which we also diced up and added to the pan to cook with the zucchini…

…and Butternut Pumpkin pasta sauce which we poured over the top and simmered until the spiral pasta (not pictured) was cooked. Then we drained the pasta and stirred it through the sauce and served it all up into bowls with grated parmesan and red chilli flakes on the side for those who were game.

A meatless dinner that I never would have planned, but now that we’ve had it, I’d totally plan to make again!

 

Potato salad

Today’s Meatless Monday post is a guest post by my husband, Aaron. It is a family recipe for potato salad, which was my dad’s recipe, but my mom taught Aaron how to make it after my dad died more than a decade ago. It is one of our summer staples.

Potato salad

G’day! This is one of my favourite things to have in summer – Jen’s dad’s potato salad. Aussie potato salad is usually heavy on the dressing (Aussie mayo which is usually too vinegary), and the potatoes are usually diced to, literally, the size of a die, and  only just cooked through, then run under cold water to stop the cooking process. And bacon. Aussies love a good bit of bacon in their…well, in anything, really. This recipe throws a lot of those things out of the window, but it makes the potato the star, which it should be. And there’s no bacon, which makes it perfect for Meatless Monday!

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 kg washed potatoes, DO NOT PEEL, diced in about 1 inch cubes  (we usually just get the cheapest ones)

6 hard-boiled eggs (that’s too expensive)

1 celery stick (well, probably only half of one), very finely diced

1/2 – 1 cup mayonnaise (try to get American mayo!)

1 Tbspn American mustard

celery seed

salt and pepper

Method

Boil the potatoes (or cook in a pressure cooker for about 20 mins once the cooker is pressurized, then allow to cool naturally) until a fork easily goes into them.

Potatoes in pressure cooker

Slice the eggs with an egg slicer (I usually slice the egg, rotate it 90 degrees in the slicer, then slice it again) and add to a large bowl with the celery, a few shakes of celery seed, the mustard and mayo.

All ingredients except potatoes

Mix these together, then add the drained potatoes and mix (carefully, as the potatoes should be very soft and warm) until well combined, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving (or don’t…).

And there you go. This recipe goes great with anything BBQed, or even just by itself.