Saturday, September 26, 2009

Chipotle Black Bean Soup

I love soup and I love trying new soup recipes. Even with all this soup love, I still turn to the same five soup recipes to make again and again (Minestrone, White Bean Soup, the Sopa de Fideos recipe from Fiesta Vegan, Won Ton Soup, and Chipotle Black Bean Soup).

Chipotle Black Bean Soup

This soup improves with re-heating so I make it in the morning of the day I'm serving it. Then I let it cool and re-heat it for dinner.

Although I put a dried whole chipotle in the photo, I prefer chipotles canned in adobo sauce for this recipe. (Herdez is my favorite brand.) After I open a new can I freeze the entire contents in a ziploc bag. You can also puree the contents before freezing but be aware that chipotles like all other red chiles can stain anything plastic they come into contact with.

Serves 8

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled & diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano, crushed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
2 (15 oz.) cans no-salt added black beans, drained
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can no-salt added diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt to taste
Garnish: Rajas (Strips of roasted and peeled green chile)

Over medium heat in a heavy stockpot saute onions, carrots, and celery in oil until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add oregano, garlic, and chipotle and continue cooking another 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 174 Calories; 2g Fat (11.8% calories from fat); 10g Protein; 30g Carbohydrate; 10g Dietary Fiber; trace Cholesterol; 30mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.
Here's a beautiful rose from the garden of our friends Rod & Joelle. They live in a beautiful Spanish territorial-style home in Valencia County with a large animal menagerie.

Friday, September 25, 2009

My Inadequate Kitchen

I was recently looking at photos of Pioneer Woman's gorgeous kitchen and feeling a bit envious. We moved to NM so DH could get his Ph.D. and years later we are still renting a tiny passive-solar house. (DH refuses to buy another house in NM - long story.) I'm still mourning my beautiful kitchen in Colorado which we remodeled to my specifications; it had a section just for baking and tons of storage.

Anyway I thought I'd photograph the current kitchen in my efforts to declutter. There are some good things about this kitchen - I have about 13 feet of counter space and DH built me the island so I'd have more storage for frying pans and baking sheets. Unfortunately the dishwasher died a few years ago (although DH promises to replace it in a few weeks) and I am seriously lacking in storage. I don't have any other place to store anything - there is no pantry, dining room, or garage in this house.

I am really trying (unsuccessfully!) to keep from putting items on top of the cabinets because everything gets so dusty and gross up there. The only place I really have for my Le Creuset pot is on top of the refrigerator. Another issue I have is a lack of space for my kitchen gadgets. I have 7 drawers in this kitchen which you would think is enough but I still have mugs all over the counters with utensils.

I painted that little homemade red spice cabinet but that is only part of the picture. I have another big drawer full of herbs and spices and a box of medicinal herbs somewhere in one of the cabinets. Because of my lack of pantry I keep most of the flours and grains in the refrigerator - I purchased that Amana bottom freezer model (my 2nd Amana bottom freezer refrigerator) because I needed a better refrigerator than was here originally.

This is the only place to eat; we do pull the table out when we have guests (we can only fit four though). If we have more guests than that we usually do a potluck and eat in the living room or outdoors. The best thing about the dining area is that there are some pretty mountain views. The worst thing is a really awful plastic chandelier above the table; I couldn't even bring myself to photograph it.

I did find some links to words of wisdom about kitchens.

So Your Kitchen is Tiny. So What? Mark Bittman at the NYT
You Must Have a State of the Art Kitchen FAQ from Deborah Madison's site
Small Kitchen Solutions HGTV Canada

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Egg Replacer Experiments

I've used several different egg replacers (Bob's Red Mill, Ener-G, flaxseed mixed with water) in baking and they can work pretty well but I'll occasionally notice an aftertaste or texture issues. I was pretty excited to read about the homemade egg replacer, Eggscellence, in Crescent Dragonwagon's The Cornbread Gospels so I gathered all the ingredients. These ingredients were not inexpensive (especially the xanthan gum) but I'm glad now to be all set for my upcoming holiday baking.

You can make the Eggscellence dry mix and when you're ready to bake you add water and the liquid lecithin. I decided to make the Wholesome Pear-Ginger Muffins with Lemon Glaze from the book using Eggscellence. I could tell immediately it was working differently than other egg replacers I've tried. The muffin batter was more viscous than other egg replacers I've tried.

Crescent is right - this egg replacer is truly indistinguishable from using eggs. The final result for the muffins was moist and delicious! I'm planning on using this next for some yeast bread recipes that call for eggs.

I haven't shown the last few CSA boxes because they were all pretty similar with all the ingredients for ratatouille. Fall is finally coming to NM so this week's box includes oranges and potatoes. I just hope the tomatoes will last a little bit longer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Upcoming Cooking Classes

The wonderful Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Public Library system is hosting some free food & cooking classes this fall. I believe you have to sign up beforehand at the library branch location where the class is going to be held.

Fiery Foods with prolific southwestern cookbook author & cooking school owner Jane Butel
this Saturday September 19, 11:30 am, Cherry Hills Library

Breakfast New Mexico Style with author Kathy Barco - restaurant reviews and book signing
this Saturday September 19, 10:30 am, East Mountain Library

Cookies for Teens - learn how to make– Oatmeal Raisin, Peanut Butter, Chocolate Chip Cookies along with Brownies and a Healthy No Bake Snack.
October 22, 3:30 pm, South Broadway Library

Appetizers for Holiday Entertaining with popular local cooking instructor Gilda Latzky
Saturday October 17 at 2 pm, East Mountain Library

A girlfriend gave me about 10 lbs of pears so I'm busy figuring out how to use them up. Above is a simple salad of pears, grapes, and celery.

I also made the Pear-Cardamom Pudding from the cookbook Extraveganza.

This is the Kemp's Creamy Creamless Corn Chowder from Gourmet magazine - this delicious soup gets it red color from ancho chiles.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Roasting Green Chile Peppers

HERE is an article I wrote on kitchen appliances for the current issue of Costco Connection magazine. Thank you so much to gracious food bloggers Kalyn and Joe for letting me interview them on their favorite gadgets. I'm working on a list of all of my freelance food articles that are available for reading online - I'm waiting for Vegetarian Journal to put this year's articles online as I did a raw southwestern cuisine article with some recipes I really liked.


We've received green chiles the last three weeks from our CSA. Although some other types of peppers can be used without removing the peel, our beautiful New Mexico green chiles usually need to be roasted as the skins are pretty tough.

The best way to do this is in a commercial chile roaster where the chiles are constantly moving and the flames are intense. Most people don't have access to these chile roasters but believe it or not you can buy your own roaster. The second best way is to do this is with a gas range - just place the chiles right on the grates. I just have a electric coil range so I put the chiles directly on the coils. You can also use a broiler, an indoor or outdoor grill, or even a cast iron pan. (I also use the method shown here to roast poblanos and jalapenos.)

To roast chiles, buy the meatiest, thickest chiles you can find. Start by piercing a hole in all your chiles with a sharp knife to let the steam escape. Next turn on the range hood and get as much ventilation in your kitchen as possible. Put a few of your green chiles directly on the source of your heat. In my case I roast them on medium-high heat directly on the electric coils of my stove as seen above.
If the heat is too low you'll end with just parts of the chile roasted and it will be nearly impossible to peel the chile. Don't worry too much about burning them - a little charring is good and the only time I've experienced a chile that was truly burnt is when a chile pepper gets wedged into the commercial chile roaster and the very tip burns. The key to roasting chiles is to keep moving the chiles around to get them roasted all over. Unfortunately most chiles aren't perfectly flat but once you've roasted them on one side they become more pliable so you can use your tongs to flatten them out to char as much as possible of the chile. Do this gently so as not to tear the chiles, especially if you want to keep them whole for stuffing. Enjoy this part of the process as the aroma of roasting green chiles is one of the best things in the world!

Once the chile has been roasted evenly all over (or as much as possible), put it in a covered container for an hour or so. The heat from the chiles will help loosen the skin even further. The photo above shows the chiles after they've steamed further in the covered container. You can see that skin is wrinkled even in parts of the chile that are not charred - that means the chile will be easy to peel. Once they've all cooled, you can put them in ziplock bags for the freezer skins and all. Just thaw when you're ready to use them.

When ready to use your chiles gently remove the blackened peel from each chile. You'll be tempted to do this under running water for speed but you'll get the best flavor if you don't rinse them. I just use my fingers to peel them but some cooks do this with a paring knife.

Food of the gods.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

More Deborah Madison Recipes

I am still working my way through the excellent Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen.

For yesterday, I made the Labor Day spaghetti full of yellow peppers (I used a red one also), grape tomatoes, capers, olives, red onions, and parsley.

I seriously loved the Black Beans with Yellow Rice. I didn't have two cans of black beans so I subbed a can of pintos. The coconut milk and lime braised beans with the saffron rice makes for such a pretty dish.

Here are the Brown Rice-Mushroom veggie burgers full of cashews and pecans topped with some of the leftover pickled red onions from the black bean dish.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo

Today we attended the New Mexico Wine Festival at Bernalillo. Everyone received a commemorative wine glass with their $10 admission. The festival featured 20 wineries from New Mexico along with a section of food vendors and other NM products.

I seriously loved the first band, Atomic Cat. They played some Stevie Ray Vaughan and it was great to sit down in the shade and cool off.

I took this photo right when we arrived at noon when they opened the gates. By the time we left the lines were really long for the free tastings at every winery. I sampled a wine made from chokecherries (very, very tart), a really good Sangiovese from Ponderosa Winery near Jemez, and several different Cabernet Sauvignons.

I brought home a bottle of Red Chile Cabernet Sauvignon from Anderson Valley in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque. I'm always amazed at how well chiles pair with various things - for instance, I love the combo of chipotle chiles with dark chocolate and I've enjoyed both red and green chile beers. The red chile in the wine was subtle and delicious but the best part was the chile kick at the back of your throat after taking a sip. I'm going to save it for our Thanksgiving tamale feast where it will be a wonderful addition.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

White Miso Soup with Vegetables

This is a nice and light lunch. I love to eat simple dishes like this when I feel under the weather or if I've been overindulging. This soup easily doubles or triples as necessary.

My favorite white miso (and the lowest in sodium that I've found) is Mellow White Miso Master Organic.

Serves 2

2 c. water
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced baby bok choy or cabbage
1 Tbsp. peeled and diced gingerroot
2 Tbsp. white miso

2 scallions, thinly sliced
toasted sesame oil
sriracha/hot chili sauce

In a medium pot, place water, onion, carrot, celery, bok choy or cabbage and gingerroot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Place miso in a small bowl, add a little bit of the broth, and stir well to make a smooth paste. Add more broth to thin the mixture, then add it to the pot of soup. Serve in bowls topped with scallions. Add a few drops of toasted sesame oil and/or sriracha to each bowl if desired.

Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 72 Calories; trace Fat (4.2% calories from fat); 2g Protein; 14g Carbohydrate; 3g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 618mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 1/2 Vegetable.

Another mini-watermelon in our CSA box this week from Los Poblanos Organics. The edamame must be as fresh as possible since they are still attached to the plants. I included some add-ons this week - my favorite Valencia peanuts and peanut butter from Portales, New Mexico and some pecans and mushrooms to make the veggie burgers from Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison's Kitchen.
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