Savory Breakfast Fun

I eat savory breakfasts more often than not; usually in the form of leftovers of some kind, even leftover salads and slaws. This bowl of savory bits is much prettier than my leftover salads and it’s fantastic, if breakfasts like this are your cup of tea. It’s sort of like a savory bowl of granola, at least sharing the yogurt part and the (salted) toasted sunflower seeds. Hot sauce stands in for maple syrup and any kind of cooked bean (or grain) provides the heft. My usual greenery (parsley and/or cilantro and scallions) is key and a little diced radish, carrot, kohlrabi or something else crunchy is nice. You could toss in kimchi or capers or any kind of pickles really. . .

 

Of course this would make a nice lunch too. However and whenever you might consume something like this, enjoy! And a healthy and happy New Year to you all!

Cauliflower and Chickpeas

If you have leftover cooked or roasted cauliflower then this comes together in a matter of minutes.

 

Serves 4 as a side or 2 as an entrée topped with an egg

 

1 small-medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and broken into florets
1 1/2 cups (or more) cooked or canned, drained chickpeas
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt
1/3 – 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup Greek or plain, whole-milk yogurt
Olive, coconut or sunflower oil

 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and stir and then cook without stirring for a few minutes to let it brown a bit. Add a splash of water and cover the pan and continue cooking for another few minutes until the cauliflower is just tender when pierced with a fork.

 

Add a little more oil if the pan is dry and then stir in the spices and let cook for a few seconds. Add the chickpeas and stir well and cook until just heated through. Make sure not to burn the spices so turn the heat down if need be. Season generously with salt and serve topped with cilantro and yogurt.

Tasting (Spoons)

The centerpiece of all my cooking classes

If you’ve ever taken a class with me this image will be very familiar. I was lucky to inherit a good number of spoons (beautiful ones to boot) and we use them many times over, all of them, in each class. Tasting as you go is one of the joys and necessities (I believe) of cooking, especially if you’re not exactly following a recipe and working with what you have. Frankly, it’s the simple spoon that probably is the vehicle for more aha! moments in class than anything else.

I’ve been both cooking on the fly with just an idea and a few ingredients for inspiration and have been following recipes (closely even) as I gear up for the beginning of my fall classes. Some dishes certainly benefit from more attention to detail, ratios, and exact ingredients, like this salad which is perfection on a plate and you should make while the cucumbers last.

And I’ve been doing exactly the opposite, like with this salad that I made last week in my typical, bean-loving cook-with-what-you-have approach.

Chickpea salad with tomatoes, basil, sweet onion, hard-cooked egg and a vinaigrette

So I keep pondering the tools and tricks of cooking (at home) and teaching those things. Tasting is key as is having good, fresh produce. . . beyond that, salt generously, try to enjoy the process and the result and keep doing it. And if you want to do all of that with good company and no dishes to wash, come take a class this fall.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

 

 

Chickpeas & Pasta

chickpea pasta plated

I finished teaching my 3-part Eat Better Series just over a week ago. And I missed my students this Sunday, when they didn’t show up for the first time in four weeks. I didn’t miss cleaning the house but I did miss the dynamic, passionate, and rich conversations about food and food in our regular old daily lives–the likes and dislikes of children and partners; the satisfaction in successfully applying a new skill to dinner prep several nights in a row; the beauty of leftovers for lunch; and the joy of pre-cooked beans in the freezer.

You know I’m a big fan of the latter. Those cooked beans in the freezer are a busy person’s lifeline when it comes to dinner. Canned beans certainly work too but the flavor of those home-cooked ones (not to mention minimal cost, lack of BPA traces. . .) is worth the occasional effort of cooking big batches and freezing most for later use.  I think my new pals from the series are as hooked on home-cooked beans as I am now, in part thanks to this dish, which was definitely a class favorite.

So, if you find yourself short on time and with some already cooked chickpeas on hand, make this for dinner. I realized after the fact that it’s a vegan dish. I tend to think most things are improved by adding cheese but I actually didn’t do so in this dish and was amazed by the richness and complexity of flavor in this meal that takes barely 20 minutes to prepare.

Buon Appetito!

P.S. I will be repeating the series in March and have a wait list going so if you’re interested, please let me know.

P.P.S. I’m also launching lunchtime classes in late February, so if you don’t have time for a weekend class and are interested in a shorter, mid-day stint, sign on up!

Pasta e Ceci (Pasta with Chickpeas)

–Adapted from Jamie’s Italy via Dana Treat

Serves 4 (with some leftovers)

This is delicious, fast, easy and nutritious.  I also tend to use the chickpea cooking water for part of the liquid, top it off with water and then add about 4 teaspoons of veggie bouillon to the mix if you have it or just add vegetable stock or just water.

1 onion, peeled and finely chopped

2 stalks of celery, trimmed and finely chopped (use carrot if you don’t have celery or both or neither. . . it will still be great)

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Olive oil

1 sprig of rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped, about 1 teaspoon’s worth or a bit more

1 quart cooked chickpeas (keep the cooking liquid they were frozen in) or  2 14-oz. cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 1/2 cups veggie bouillon or vegetable stock (or mix veggie bouillon into chickpea cooking liquid if you have it and top off with water)

5 ounces tubetti or ditalini or other quite small, stout pasta. 5 oz is about one generous cup if you’re using this kind of small pasta and don’t have a scale.

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a large soup pot over medium-high heat and then pour in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom.  Add the onion and celery (and/or carrot if using) and sauté just until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, rosemary, and red pepper flakes.  Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the chickpeas and the bouillon.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and allow to cook just until the chickpeas are heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove half of the chickpeas with a slotted spoon and set them aside.

You can do this next step of pureeing part of the soup or skip it. It’s great either way. Purée the soup in the pan with a handheld immersion blender, or blend in a blender or food processor if you don’t have an immersion blender.  Add the reserved whole chickpeas and the pasta to the blended part, season the soup with some pepper (it will likely be salty enough because of the veggie bouillon), and simmer gently until the chickpeas are very tender and the pasta is cooked, about 10  minutes. Add more liquid as necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with some good olive oil.

 

 

The Beauty of Winter Veggies

 

Radicchio from Ayers Creek Farm (at the Hillsdale Market every other Sunday throughout the winter)

 

I recently wrote a gushing post about my love of winter veggies for Culinate. But one post is not enough. I haven’t been to the Hillsdale Farmers Market–one of two year-round markets in the Portland area–for 10 days or so. And I missed the other one, which is right in my neighborhood–the People’s Coop Farmers Market–last week. Both are community treasures. And I will head over to the People’s one this afternoon. My fridge, however, is still packed with baseball bat-sized leeks, dense winter squashes, beets, celery root (celeriac), and radicchio  from my last trip to Hillsdale. No matter what the weather the farmers and other  vendors are there with such a variety of produce that I am still sometimes taken aback at our luck of living in this climate. Though I try to grow kale and some greens throughout the winter with little success, it’s actually only partly the climate and just as much the skill, creativity and determination of our regional farmers that enables these beautiful crops to thrive in our wet, temperate climate.

Winter time cooking is often associated with slow-cooked soups and stews, braised meats and the like. However, it’s also possible to throw together fresh, hearty salads this time of year and they are a nice counterpoint to the richer, sweeter flavors of those stews and roasts.

 

Radicchio, Chickpea, and Chopped Egg Salad

 

Yesterday for lunch (and for my husband’s lunch he took to work), I tossed some of this beautiful radicchio with chopped hard-boiled egg, capers, chickpeas (that I had previously cooked and frozen for just such meals) and a lively dressing of garlic, Dijon, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. It was robust, fresh and absolutely delicious.

Happy Cooking and Eating!

Katherine

P.S. My February classes are starting to fill so if you’re interested in the Favorites one or the Rice & Beans from around the World one, sign up online or let me know you’d like a spot. I’ve also just scheduled some lunch-time classes that are going to be loads of fun and shorter and cheaper but with a full meal as usual so check those out as well.

Cooking Beans

Cook with what you have sounds nice but what should/would you like to have on hand? This is a fun and complex question. I’m going to tackle a small fragment of this question today. I’m going to talk about beans, white beans, and cooking them at home. A quick side note about dry beans. Here in the Portland area we are lucky to have a couple of very local sources of dried beans. Ayers Creek Farm sells their beans at the Hillsdale Farmers Market. The quality, flavor, varieties are unbeatable and worth seeking out. Sungold Farm sells pinto beans that are wonderfully sweat and creamy and are available at both the Portland Farmers Market and the Hillsdale Farmers Market. I have also had very good results with dry beans purchased from grocery stores, both bulk and packaged, so don’t let the possible lack of local beans deter you.

 

I love to cook beans. The taste is unbeatable; it’s simple to do once you’re in the habit; and if you cook large quantities at once and freeze them it’s as convenient as having canned beans on hand but with better flavor, less waste, less expense, etc. My routine, since I work from home, is to put several pounds of beans in a big bowl covered with water before I go to bed. The next morning I drain them, put them in a big pot with a couple of bay leaves, a chunk of onion and few peeled, whole garlic cloves and simmer them for 25-60 minutes depending on the bean. Small white ones like the navy beans in this picture tend to cook in about 25 minutes if they haven’t been sitting on a shelf for several years and chickpeas tend to take the longest, 45-55 minutes. When the beans are, salt them generously (like 2 teaspoons for 1 1/2 dry beans) tender turn off the heat and let the beans cool in their cooking liquid. This will even out their texture as some beans inevitable will be a little firmer than others, and improve their flavor. They will not, as counterintuitive as it may seem, disintegrate from sitting in the hot liquid.

For those of you who leave the house every day, you could put them to soak in the morning and then cook them while you’re making dinner. Once cooked, I strain them (reserving the liquid) and put them into pint and quart containers, pour the cooking liquid up to cover them (helps preserve them and it’s great liquid to keep if you’re going to make soup later on) and then freeze them. I do this with white, black and pinto beans and chickpeas regularly. Oh and on the perpetual question of when to salt the beans you’re cooking, I have long gone with the recommendation of John Willoughby from a piece in Gourmet years ago where he debunked the theory of not salting until they’re cooked. So, I salt at the beginning with great results but if you have a different method with which you are happy, by all means stick with that.

So what to do with all those “bean popsicles,” as a student of mine once called them? The frozen beans thaw quickly in a pan over high heat with a bit of water. I just thawed a pint for my lunch in about 5 minutes this way.

 

 

Of course if you have the presence of mind to take them out of the freezer a few hours or a day ahead of time, great. They keep well in the fridge for the better part of a week. So, for the above lunch I mashed some garlic with salt, sautéed for a minute, added a can of tomatoes, broke those up a bit, added oregano and cooked over high heat for a about five minutes. I then added the thawed beans and heated those through. Some black pepper and a little olive oil to finish and voila!  This makes a delicious light lunch or side dish mixed with pasta and maybe some sausage a hearty and quick dinner.

 

 

You could also toss the beans with some tuna, parsley, capers, finely chopped onion and a vinaigrette with plenty of red-wine vinegar and/or lemon juice. (For another local pitch, I love Oregon Albacore available at local grocery stores and farmers markets.) Or you could mash the beans with some lemon zest, juice, garlic, olive oil and a little rosemary or thyme and have a hearty spread. Or you could make a soup with kale, other veggies, sausage and white beans. The options really are vast.

 

 

 

I’d love to hear from you on this subject. Do you cook beans? What do you do with them? Have you found it easy? Too much effort? Not satisfactory? Beans too mushy or crunchy?

Happy bean cooking and thanks for reading!

P.S. I’m going to be teaching a 3-part series in January on pantry stocking and cooking quick meals similar to the ones described above in case you’re interested.

Quick Favorites

I work at home which means I eat lunch at home almost every day. I very much like my quiet lunches on the days Ellis is in school. And recently, I’ve been incorporating tomatoes in all of them. This time of year is so wonderful because with a decently stocked pantry you can make so many wonderful things with tomatoes in a matter of minutes.  The above lunch was an impromptu fried egg, tomato, basil and soft cheese sandwich. The bread is toasted, the egg warm–which gives the basil even more fragrance–and the whole thing is gooey, messy and so satisfying.

I tend to have frozen chickpeas on hand. I cook them (and black beans, etc.) in big batches and then freeze them in a bit of cooking liquid in quart or pint  containers.  Every other week or so I put a container in the fridge to use as needed. The other day I mixed said chickpeas with diced tomato, arugula, feta, olive oil, a little red wine vinegar and salt and pepper. And I had myself a delicious and hearty salad.

And finally, I  made this tomato and goat  cheese tart from David Lebovitz’s wonderful collection of recipes for a recent brunch with friends. It was quick because I had pre-made tart dough in the fridge. The dough itself is quick and easy to make and this recipe doesn’t even mention letting it chill before using so if you’ve got company for lunch  or dinner or brunch, it’s a winner and far easier than it looks.

Finally, two photos just for fun. This is my yellow crookneck squash plant on overdrive even as most of its leaves have already succumbed to the powdery mildew of all summer squash plants at this time of year.

And my dear brother Ben who is getting married on Saturday! I can’t wait!

Last but not least, I am having a great time testing soups but a very difficult time narrowing down  which ones to choose for the upcoming Soup Class on Sunday, October 3rd. A few spots left in that one and the Savory Condiment one in which we’ll be making tomato and onion jam and preserving sweet red peppers. Let me know if you’re interested.

Happy cooking and eating!

Katherine