Navy Bean and Ham soup

2013-12-27
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Well the holidays are nearly done, and I hate to be this way but I am awfully glad. So much pressure, Christmas, my anniversary, and birthday in a week timespan. Poor planning and in hindsight the events I had control over I would’ve changed, too late now, onward and upward! For Christmas eve I made a duck, and I used the rendered fat to make my au gratin potatoes for Christmas day, to go with our spiral cut ham and roasted beet salad. It was a great meal, but now I am ready to begin a bit healthier regimen to begin the New Year. I did have some ham leftover, you know the parts that aren’t easily accessible off the bone, so I used the rest to make ham and navy bean soup. I used a small organic navy bean, they were advertised as the “cognitive bean” full of vitamin B1, always needing a bit of help with cognitive function I went for them! This soup is easy and super delicious and I am guessing you have most of the needed ingredients in the fridge! A repurposed use of Christmas leftovers, with top notch results!
1 cup of ham, I used what was left on the bone /of our ham, using the bone makes for a rich and simply delicious broth, you could use turkey or leave out the meat as well.
1 ½ cups dried navy beans, or use two cans drained.
2 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh herbs of choice
In a large, thick bottomed stock pot, place rinsed beans covered with water, bring to a boil, rinse again and cover with fresh water filling the pot about half full, add ham on bone or meat of choice, carrots, celery, and onion, and bring back to boil, reduce heat to medium cook 30 minutes or until veggies and beans are tender. Check for seasoning and serve. Easiest soup ever and super delicious! Even better the next day as the flavors meld together if you don’t have ham on the bone or you are using a different meat (smoked turkey wings work great) you may need to use veggie stock to heighten the flavor, the bone in ham is amazingly flavorful in soup, mine had a bit of glaze on it and it worked out amazingly well! Happy New Year!

“Original Momofuku” style Brussels or why I admire David Chang

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I think David Chang is an admirable fellow, he is super successful, unapologetic, self-deprecating, and totally unique. Dave never seems to give in to “norms” or play by the “rules” and he was totally rewarded for this. Classically trained, he uses his skill to highlight the flavors from his culture into a whole new flavor profile entirely. I guess I like that he refused to compromise, that he served his dishes because they taste good, not because the ingredients were trendy, he was loved by patrons and critics for “his” flavors, not because he was handsome or witty, or because he was “camera” friendly. He is the “un Celebrity” chef, in life we get blinded by what we are told or think beauty or success should look or act like, we wear societal “blinders” of sorts. I love when someone is recognized and beloved for their lack of mainstream, idealized beauty and talent. Look past what you think “beauty” or “success” or “fame” is….you might just become who you really are supposed to be, when you make your own rules. Of course “results aren’t typical” but it’s worth a try I think.
This recipe is my take on the brussel sprouts that David Chang served at his flagship “Momofuku” back in the early 2000’s. This dish consisting of caramelized brussels, served with bacon and pureed kimchi became so popular he took them off the menu! I guess it was kind of the restaurant equivalent of “Radiohead” refusing to play “Creep” at gigs. He later revived the idea and does a different version where the sprouts are deep fried and jazzed up with fish sauce, lime, and sciracha. That is the recipe he has published, but I was much more interested in the original, the one that blew New Yorkers out of their chairs, well that and I had two pounds of brussel sprouts I needed to cook before they froze in our rentals home’s less than stellar fridge from the 90’s.
You will need:
2 lbs fresh brussel sprouts, woody part of stem removed and sliced length wise
6 strips of good quality bacon
1/3 cup kimchi, pureed in a blender, hand blender, or food processer
Fresh cracked pepper
A wedge or two of fresh lime
1 13×9 inch sheet pan
This is done on a single sheet pan in the oven, I did it this way to be simple, fool proof, and for easy clean up, his method is on the stove top, but if you don’t want to cook in batches I recommend this route.
Pre-heat oven to 375. Place bacon sliced on pan and cook in oven till crispy about 25 minutes, flip half way through. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels, using the same pan, drain half the bacon grease off, leave the rest and add brussel sprouts cut side down, turn oven up to 400, cook 12 minutes, stir around and cook another 10 minutes until caramelized. Remove pan from oven, and pour on kimchi puree (right on to the sheet pan it will deglaze the brown bits off the bottom, that equals flavor!), stir until all the sprouts are well coated, hit it with some pepper, squeeze or two of lime, and top with bacon. Enjoy! Serves 6 as a side dish.

Vegan Crockpot Fasolakia (Greek Style stewed green beans and potatoes)

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COLD! Ugh, I hate it……I would trade the cliché rain for whatever this bad air quality, bone splitting, frosty snow, gray doldrums this PDX winter has turned into. I miss just being water logged from rain, and when the weather is like it is now, the type of food I want is comfort food, but I also want to try to maintain plant based meals several times a week….is that possible? I say yes and today’s recipe encompasses both, vegan and comforting. As a kid my favorite dish at the Greek festival was fasolakia, which is a slow cooked veggie dish with a good glug or two of rich olive oil, while my sisters would munch diples and loukamathes I would be eyeing their green beans…haha! I also am trying to open my mind to crockpot cookery or lack of cookery (there I go again). For some reason I really detest “crockity” pots, figuring if you have a stove why would you need this silly contraption, cluttering up my already cluttered kitchen. I stay home during the week with my kids (both of which are currently sick, so where usually my six year old is at school, she is now home fighting with her brother between coughing fits) I understand not everyone has this luxury (depending on how you view it of course) so I want to venture into a safe way for working gals and guys can eat great without worrying about setting their home ablaze whilst at work and changing the view of “vegan” cuisine as rabbit food. Nobody wants to dive into cold kale salad when it feels like Jack Frost is robbing you of your humanity. So here it is my first post using a crock pot!
Ingredients put in crock pot in this order:
Glug or two of olive oil
3 peeled and quartered potatoes, I like Yukon gold for this
1 tsp dried oregano
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 pound frozen or fresh whole green beans
1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained, I used these to bump up the protein, you can omit them if you want but I like them in this, makes it heartier.
1 cup water
1 tsp each salt and pepper
Handful of kalamata olives chopped (optional)
Basically put the ingredients in your crock in the order listed, and cook on high for about 2-4 hours or low if you want to start it the night before or before you leave for work. I served ours with couscous, which takes 5 minutes to make and serve, good with a fresh squeezed lemon juice. This is really easy and tasty, and will not be the last of my crockpot experiements!

Pasta with Mizithra, brown butter, and Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

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How do you jazz up squash? Brown butter, cheese, and pasta of course! Roasted butternut squash is a delicious and tasty way to get your veggies but definitely not a full meal by any means. So I decided to pair it up with delicious egg capellini (I found some amazing Italian import dried pasta, the better the pasta the better the dish will be), browned butter, and mizithra and pecorino cheese. The secret ingredient to the famous restaurant version of this is the Pecorino romano, mizithra alone isn’t salty enough for the job so they bring in the “silent” partner and low and behold we give all the credit to what is marketed…in this case mizithra….as with most good things in life there is always someone or something that isn’t credited publically for the overall success of something. I guess this is my way of saying don’t believe the hype, there is always a “Silent” partner who should be credited….but who doesn’t need the acclaim, maybe that is the end of the road on a journey to enlightenment? To be satisfied with the success of another that you may have played a role in……or perhaps this is just a really good winter pasta dish? I’ll let you chose your own adventure on that one. Shall we begin?
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You will need:

For Squash:
• 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 pounds or 8 cups, cubed)
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• Dash smoked paprika
Toss squash with oil and seasoning, in a pre-heated 425 degree oven, roast squash for 40 minutes, until golden brown.
For Pasta:
• 1/2 package dried capellini pasta or pasta of choice, cooked al dente.

• 2 ½ Tablespoons brown butter, (brown butter by cooking over medium heat until it changes to light brown in color and has a nutty aroma)
• 2 Tablespoons mizithra cheese, grated
• 2 Tablespoons Percorino, Romano, grated
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Fresh, flat leaf Italian Parsley
Toss pasta with butter, cheeses, s&p, and parsley. Divvy up pasta into four portions top with butternut squash and eat!!!