Black Bean Soup

It’s been soup weather, and I whipped this up this spicy winner recently for a cozy night in — perfect with a side of corn bread. The knock-out ingredient is the chipotle chile in adobo. If you’ve never had one, a chipotle chile is a smoked jalapeño pepper. It’s got great spice, but also an intensely smoky flavor. They are often canned with adobo sauce (a tangy red sauce) and you’ll find them in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store — likely near the Mexican food items. The chipotle adds a great depth of flavor to this black bean soup, which also incorporates onion, carrot, garlic and fresh jalapeño in the base. All of the flavors cook down together into a hearty, spicy, satisfying soup that’s a perfect main course.

I love the array of accoutrements that often go alongside a soup like this to add different flavor elements — pickled red onions, lime, sour cream, cilantro, avocado and even more jalapeño if you can take it! It’s a fun little smorgasbord you can fan out across the top of the soup for a nice presentation.

TW’s Tips

  • Instead of dirtying a blender, I used an immersion blender to puree the chipotle chiles in a small bowl
  • If you want to add some meat to this (which is what I did), add some chopped up chicken after the vegetables have softened a bit. It does add more moisture to the pot, so you’ll need to let that cook out a bit before adding the wine.
  • The recipe offers a replacement for chipotle chiles in adobo, but in my opinion, nothing can replace them. They are super spicy and smoky and add a depth of flavor you just can’t get from ground spices.
  • This is the perfect occasion to take out your cast iron Dutch oven!
  • To make this vegetarian, just use vegetable stock.

Enjoy!

Black Bean Soup

Ingredients

For the soup:

  • 1 small (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 pound dry black beans (do not soak)
  • 2 quarts mild vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste

For the pickled onions and garnishes (optional)

  • 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
  • Salt
  • Sour cream or Mexican crema
  • Whole cilantro leaves
  • Thinly sliced fresh chiles
  • Sliced avocado

Directions

Empty the can of chiles into a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth, scrape into a container, and set aside. Put on a teakettle of water to boil, and keep hot.

In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

Pour in wine and let simmer until pan is almost dry and vegetables are coated. Add jalapeños and cook, stirring, just until softened, 2 minutes. Push the vegetables out to the edges of the pot and dollop 2 teaspoons of chipotle purée in the center. Let fry for a minute and then stir together with the vegetables.

Add beans, stock, oregano and bay leaves. Stir, bring to a boil, and let boil 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, partly covered, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny, not sludgy. Continue cooking until beans are just softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 hours. Add salt and pepper and keep cooking until beans are soft.

Meanwhile, make the pickled onions, if using: In a bowl, combine sliced onions, lime juice and a sprinkling of salt. Let soften at room temperature until crunchy and tart, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze dry in paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve. If desired, chop coarsely before serving.

Adjust the texture of the soup: The goal is to combine whole beans, soft chunks and a velvety broth. Some beans release enough starch while cooking to produce a thick broth without puréeing. If soup seems thin, use an immersion blender or blender to purée a small amount of the beans until smooth, then stir back in. Continue until desired texture is reached, keeping in mind that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits.

Heat the soup through, taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, drops of red wine vinegar and dabs of chipotle purée.

Serve in deep bowls, garnishing each serving with sour cream, pickled onions, cilantro leaves, sliced chiles and avocado as desired.

Tip
If chipotle chiles are unavailable, use 1 tablespoon each ground cumin and ground coriander. Add to vegetables at the same point in the recipe, in Step 3.

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Risotto with Sausage and Parsley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve been grossly delinquent posting my culinary adventures of late, though it’s not due to a lack thereof! It’s been a whirlwind of a year — quick version, I got engaged! — so while I have been doing more than my fair share of cooking and eating, the blog has been a victim of neglect, with my attention on other (exciting!) things. I’m looking to make a modest improvement in that regard this year, though with our wedding coming up in June, I am going to set low expectations so I can hopefully meet them. Regardless, I am super excited to share some of the things we’ve been cooking and eating…so on we go!

I hope my first post of the year does not disappoint. I just finished eating the leftovers of this delightful concoction (a NYT Cooking recipe), which were just as delicious a few days later: a risotto with sausage and parsley. While a risotto may sound intimidating, and does require some stirring, fear not. It’s so easy, and the results are worth it. I do have to give credit here to my man, Emilio, who did most of the cooking and all of the stirring to bring this to fruition — he’s a risotto master! The key to a perfect risotto is heating the liquid (in this case chicken stock) so it’s the temperature of the rice when you add it, and introducing it slowly, ladle by ladle, and stirring until the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladleful. It requires patience and a little elbow grease.

The end result is a rich, creamy pasta-like dish, with a great savory-salt from the sausage and freshness from the parsley. But if you ask me, the real hero here is the dash of lemon added at the end. It’s just the right hit of acidity — it cuts through the richness of the starch and cheese to give the dish a brightness and pep I wasn’t expecting.

Serve this with a green salad and some crusty bread.

TW’s Tips

  • I doubled the cheese — because you can never have too much cheese.
  • You must get Arborio rice — otherwise this doesn’t work. Arborio rice is a high starch Italian rice that gets nice and creamy as you make a risotto
  • Don’t skip the lemon at the end. Sprinkle with sea salt.

Enjoy!

Risotto with Sausage and Parsley

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 5 to 6 cups chicken stock, ideally homemade
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ½ cup packed and roughly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • ½ of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

Directions

With the tip of a small, sharp knife, slit open the sausage casings. Crumble the meat into a wide, heavy skillet or Dutch oven, and set over medium heat. If the meat is not rendering enough fat to coat the bottom of the pan as it begins to cook, add olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the meat is frying gently, not steaming. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the sausage, and cook, breaking up any large chunks of sausage and stirring occasionally, until the meat is opaque and crisp at the edges, approximately 10 minutes. Remove sausage from pan, and reserve 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat.

Pour the stock into a medium saucepan or pot, and bring to a low simmer.

While the stock heats, return the heavy skillet or Dutch oven to medium-low heat, and add to it the 1 tablespoon reserved sausage fat and 1 tablespoon butter, or 2 tablespoons butter if you don’t want to cook with the sausage fat. When the butter foams, add the diced onion, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until it is soft and translucent, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add the rice, and stir until well coated, adding another tablespoon of fat if necessary. Stir until translucent, an additional 5 to 7 minutes.

Raise the heat under the rice to medium, and add the wine to the skillet. Stir until wine is absorbed, then reduce the heat slightly. Begin adding ladlefuls of hot broth to the rice, stirring constantly and allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next. Cook rice until it is tender but slightly chewy, approximately 20 to 30 minutes. You may not need all the broth. You may need more than you have; if additional liquid is needed, you can use boiling water.

Remove the skillet from heat, and add the cheese, stirring to mix it into the rice. Add the sausage to the rice, and stir again. Taste, and adjust seasonings with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Squeeze the lemon over the rice, and then mound the risotto on a large, warmed bowl. Scatter the parsley over the top, and serve immediately, with more grated Parmesan on the side.

Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

This dish from Food & Wine is beautiful and delicious in its simplicity — really only five ingredients if you don’t count butter, oil and salt and pepper. Of course, that makes the ingredients you pick all the more important — mainly super fresh, high quality scallops. Splurge! It will be worth it. This dish also depends on cooking the scallops exactly right. It’s not hard — the key is a hot pan and critical attention to the clock. Get the pan nice and hot before you put the scallops in — you’ll get a good sear that way, while keeping the interior soft so it melts in your mouth.

Look at that nice sear! The bold flavors alongside make the dish — the nice anise from the fennel, acid from the lemon and the sharp, salty capers. Top with fresh parsley. Impressive but super fast and easy. Enjoy!

Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound sea scallops
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium fennel bulb—trimmed, halved and thinly sliced, fronds reserved for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown on the bottom, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the scallops and cook until just opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.

Melt the butter in the skillet. Add the sliced fennel and capers and cook over high heat, stirring, until the fennel is crisp-tender and lightly golden, 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the fennel around the scallops and garnish with chopped fennel fronds. Serve with lemon wedges.

Spicy Pork and Pineapple

img_7772I love to cook the smaller pork tenderloins that come two to a package. They’re so easy to cook because they’re fairly thin, but the meat is so tender and juicy and flavorful. This Rachael Ray recipe puts those tenderloins to great use in a flavor-packed dish that incorporates sweet and spicy — sweet from grilled, juicy pineapple and a spicy kick from jalapeño peppers, alongside a gorgeous, cumin-spiced pork tenderloin and avocado.

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The key is to get each of these flavors into one awesome bite. I ate this as the recipe calls for, but also tried wrapping it into a taco with some cheese, which was pretty great as well. One of the best parts about this recipe is there are so few ingredients and very little to do on the stovetop, so it comes together really quickly. A perfect weeknight meal!

TW’s Tips

  • You want to cook the pork until it’s medium — not done all the way through. People get weird about pink pork, but it’s delicious and tender and has so much more flavor.
  • The recipe called for quartering the pineapple, but I found it better to slice it thickly so you could get a sear on both sides of each slice but still warm it through.
  • Serve alongside some greens dressed with olive oil and lemon juice.
  • You could even turn this into a quesadilla by chopping up the pork and pineapple more finely and serving alongside some salsa.

Enjoy!

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Spicy Pork and Pineapple

Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pork tenderloins (1 1/2 pounds total)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pineapple, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 1 avocado, cut into wedges
  • 1 jalapeño chile, thinly sliced

Directions

In a small bowl, stir together the cumin, salt and pepper. Sprinkle all over the pork. In a large cast-iron skillet or grill pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pork to the pan and cook, turning, until browned and firm to the touch, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm.

Using the same skillet, add the pineapple and cook over medium heat, turning, until golden, about 8 minutes.

Slice the pork. Divide the pineapple, pork and avocado among 4 plates. Top with the jalapeño.

Turmeric Chicken and Rice

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Helllooo, one-pot dish. This is an awesome take on the basic chicken and rice, taken up a level with turmeric, a great earthy, slightly bitter spice that goes really well alongside the cumin, curry and cinnamon in this recipe. The rice is flavored up with onion, fresh ginger and tomatoes, with some funk from fish sauce. With a little fresh lime to brighten this up, it’s such a simple dinner, and super delicious.

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TW’s Tips

  • Instead of bone-in chicken, I used boneless chicken breasts and cut down the browning time a bit to account for that. I bet this would be even better and more flavorful with skin-on, bone-in chicken though.
  • If you don’t feel like using fresh tomatoes, a can of diced tomatoes would work in a pinch.
  • I cooked this in a Le Creuset, which worked beautifully
  • I served this alongside an eggplant/mint/walnut side — but a green salad would also work

Enjoy!

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Turmeric Chicken and Rice

Ingredients

  • One 4 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • Plain whole yogurt, sliced cucumbers, mint leaves and lime wedges, for serving

Directions

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, melt the butter and sprinkle with the turmeric. Add the chicken skin side down and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned on both sides, 8 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the onion, ginger and garlic to the casserole and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, curry powder, cinnamon, cumin and rice and stir constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pot, skin side up. Add the bay leaves, fish sauce and chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat.

Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Adjust the lid to cover partially and simmer until the rice is cooked, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Remove from the heat, uncover and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve with yogurt, cucumbers, mint and lime wedges.

Pantry Pasta

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Nothing beats a meal you can whip up in under an hour from what you have in your cupboard. Admittedly, this probably ges a little beyond the cupboard for most people, but it’s a really simple list of ingredients, and what you don’t have you can easily pick up at the market.

I’m sort of obsessed with all the awesome flavors going on in this dish from Bon Appetit. First, there’s olives — and Castelvetrano have to be some of my favorites. They’re more mild than your traditional green olive, with a little sweetness to them. I pop them like candy (or the candy corn pumpkins I’ve been gorging on lately…I digress). We’ve got cherry tomatoes, a little red onion, and some spicy peperoncini, then some salty Pecorino cheese on top and fresh basil, and the delicious meatiness of the sweet Italian sausage. So. Much. Happening. And sooo delicious.

I love that the sauce for this pasta is so simple — it’s just the liquid that comes from smashing the tomatoes, a little oil and butter and the pasta cooking liquid. Because there’s so much going on here, it’s the perfect way to make sure the dish doesn’t get overwhelming and allows the flavors to stand on their own. And stand they do.

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TW’s Tips

  • I used fresh cherry tomatoes — make sure they burst in the pan to give it some juiciness
  • Instead of spaghetti I substituted penne — or use any pasta
  • Use fresh basil — store it on your counter with the stem in a glass of water
  • Really seek out the Castelvetrano olives. Most high end grocery stores will have them either in an olive bar or pre-packed in the olive/cheese section.

This reheats beautifully. I can’t wait to make it again. Enjoy!

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Pantry Pasta

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • ½ medium red onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup torn pitted olives, preferably Castelvetrano
  • 1 14-ounce can cherry tomatoes
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • Kosher salt
  • ¼ cup peperoncini, thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces Pecorino or Parmesan, finely grated, divided
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup torn basil

Directions

Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Cook sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, browned, and crisp in places, 5–8 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon. Reduce heat to medium; add onion and olives to skillet. Cook, stirring often, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, mashing tomatoes lightly and stirring often, until juices are slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.
Add pasta and ¾ cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and cook, tossing, until pasta is al dente and sauce coats noodles. Mix in peperoncini, cooked sausage, and another ¼ cup pasta cooking liquid. Then, tossing constantly, gradually add all but ½ cup cheese, followed by butter. Once incorporated, remove from heat and mix in basil. Divide pasta among bowls. Drizzle with oil; top with remaining cheese.

Chicken and Wild Mushrooms

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It’s starting to get chilly here in New York, and this is a great warm-you-up meal to kick off it’s-really-fall. I am a HUGE fan of mushrooms, and this Ina Garten recipe calls for a whole slew of them, alongside some delicious chicken in an awesome wine, sherry, garlic and thyme-flavored sauce. It’s FULL of goodness.

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It’s also a one-pot meal, which makes me happy. I can’t say enough about the beauty of cooking this in a Le Creuset dutch oven. If you don’t have one, it’s absolutely worth the investment. It’s a pure joy to cook in this thing, and it cleans up so easily, you won’t believe it. Because it heats evenly and holds heat well, everything you cook is just better. Period. And it goes beautifully from stovetop to oven. I’m a little obsessed with it.

TW’s Tips

  • Most grocery stores will sell chicken broken down into 8 pieces so you don’t have to do it yourself. It’s a bit cheaper if you’re hacking into it yourself, but paying a little more is worth it if you don’t want to deal with it.
  • You could also use just chicken thighs and legs or any combo that speaks to you.
  • Make sure you get a good sear on the chicken. When you put it in the pot, don’t move it around. Let it sit and get a nice crust on it — more flavor.

Serve this with some rice and a side vegetable, such as my favorite chili garlic broccoli. Curl up on the couch and enjoy!

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Chicken and Wild Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 2 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) chickens, cut in eighths
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 8 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 pounds assorted wild mushrooms, such as porcini and cremini, stems removed and (1 1/2-inch) diced
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
  • 2 cups white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
  • 2 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides liberally with salt and pepper. Place 1/2 cup flour in a bowl and dredge the chicken in the flour. In a large (12-inch) ovenproof pot such as Le Creuset, heat the oil. Add the chicken in three batches (don’t crowd them!) and brown lightly over medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken to a plate and continue until all the chicken is browned.

Add the whole garlic cloves, mushrooms, and thyme to the pot and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the sherry and cook for 1 minute, scraping up the brown bits. Add the minced garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the wine, chicken stock, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a simmer. Add the chicken (large pieces first), cover, and place in the middle of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (about 165 degrees on an instant-read thermometer).

Remove the chicken to a bowl and discard the thyme. With a fork, mash together the butter and 1/4 cup flour and add it to the sauce. Simmer, stirring constantly, over medium heat for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Season to taste (it should be highly seasoned), put the chicken back in the sauce, and serve hot.