Monday, September 24, 2012

Slow-Braised Green Beans

What we have here is one of those serendipitous moments that make life so interesting. My brother sent me an email a few weeks ago with a link to this recipe for braised green beans at I clicked on the link and took a quick look. Ok, braised green beans, nothing new but seems interesting enough, maybe someday I'll give it a try.

About an hour later I headed over to Treasure Island and the first thing I saw when I walked in the door was a big beautiful pile of locally grown fresh picked green beans on sale. That's right, on sale. It seemed like fate to me - I had to make that recipe.

Which I did the next day.  I didn't havefresh dill so I used dried thyme, and I cut both the oil and the water in half.  As the recipe directed, I threw everything into the pot, covered it, turned the heat on to medium-low, and let it cook for a couple of hours.

The end result?  Oh, my.  Yep, that's literally what I said after I took the first bite.  Oh, my, indeed.  They were spectacular.  Transcendent.  Concentrated green bean flavor with a smooth, velvety feel and a tart finish provided by the lemon juice and tomato.

That was about a month ago.  I have since made them three more times.  I used fresh dill the next time I made them, and guess what:  I liked the thyme better.  I garnished them with yogurt and they were delicious that way, too.  Most recently, I served them over brown rice and they made for an incredicly tasty meal.

My brother was hoping my sister-in-law or my niece might feel inspired to make them down in Austin.  He's a good cook, but not much of a recipe follower.  I don't think he has had the good fortune to have tasted them yet.  I belIeve I will take pity on him and make them when I am home for the holidays.  It's the least I can do for the poor soul.  I mean, it's not like I'll be jonesing for them or anything . . .

This delectable treat can be served with just about anything.  My next batch will be the perfect companion to the season's first chicken and dumplings. 

Home Cookin Chapter: My Recipes
Makes 4 main or 6 side servings
1-2 lbs green beans, trimmed and snapped into 2-inch pieces
1/2 large red onion, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 cup yogurt, for garnish (optional)

Combine the beans, onions, garlic and tomato in a medium-sized saucepan. Sprinkle the thyme over the beans, crushing the leaves between your fingeres to release the oils, and then season to taste with the salt and pepper. Add the lemon juice, oil and water.

Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat until the beans are falling-apart tender, about two hours. Adjust for seasoning.

Serve over brown rice, garnished with the yogurt if desired.

adapted from this recipe in the "You're Doing It Wrong" column on

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Recalls: Ricotta Salata

I'm happy to report that there was just one new recall this week:

  • Forever Cheese Inc. has issued a recall for all Ricotta Salata Frescolina cheese from a specific production date due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
    The cheese was sold to distributors for retailers and restaurants in CA, CO, D.C., FL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MT, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, VA, WA between June 20 and August 9, 2012. Products were sold to supermarkets, restaurants and wholesale distributors.
    There have been some illnesses reported in relation to the consumption of the cheese. News Release.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Red Lentil Soup with Dried Mango

Here's a lovely twist on one of my favorite soup ingredients. Ever since my first encounter with red lentils in Curried Red Lentil Soup, I have been a big fan. Those tiny little legumes pack a powerhouse of flavor. And unlike most other legumes, they need no soaking and become tender within about half an hour, at which time they kind of disintegrate into a thick, delicious slurry.

Most of the red lentil dishes that I have made have been based on Indian or Middle Eastern cuisines. This version is based on a recipe I ran across in a lovely cookbook that I found when I helped out a friend at the Printers Row Book Fair a few years ago, called Please to the Table, a culinary tour of the vast region of the former Soviet Union. I saw it at a used book stand, thumbed through it for about 5 seconds, and brought it home with me. Of its 688 pages, over half are tabbed with recipes I want to try. So when I was looking for something new to do with red lentils I found a recipe for Armenian Lentil and Apricot Soup that not only looked good, but for which I already had all of the ingredients on hand.

Well, almost. You will notice that the title of this post is Red Lentil Soup with Dried Mango, not apricot. The dried mango is what I had on hand, and I thought it would provide a similar enough flavor profile that I could substitute it for dried apricots. I hoped the lemon juice would provide enough tartness to compensate for that bright tartness the apricots would have brought to the dish.

I was quite pleased with the results. The mango added a lovely sweetness to the lentils. I was not familiar with the idea of using cumin and thyme together and would have thought the unique, rather strong flavors that each possesses would come into conflict, but they did not. The leafy muskiness of the thyme perfectly complemented the smoky muskiness of the cumin.

A word about the ground cumin. I have always been wary of it, and used it sparingly. There is something about the smoky flavor that overpowers all of the other spices whenever I have used it. Then one day I was following a recipe that called for toasting cumin seeds and grinding them. The resulting flavor was bright and fresh, with very little of that unpleasant smoky overtone I so dislike in the pre-ground cumin I was buying. From them on, I have toasted and ground my own cumin seeds and used that instead of the commercial product.

The recipe also called for a regular onion, but all I had was a beautiful red one, which I thought would actually be a better match for the lentils and the fruit. Overall, it is a warm, spicy comforting soup that would make a perfect dinner on a chilly night with a salad and bread, and it is fast and easy to make.
Home Cookin Chapter: Soups and Stews

Serves 6

3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 a large red onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup dried mango, chopped
1-1/2 cups dried split red lentils, well rinsed and drained
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp ground toasted cumin, or to taste
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, then add the garlic and the dried mango. Cook until the onion is soft, about 10 more minutes.

Add the lentils and the broth. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add the tomato, cumin, thyme, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat and either put half of it in a food processer and puree it, then return it to the pot. Or alternately, give it a few passes with a stick blender. Add the lemon juice and adjust the seasonings to taste. Simmer for another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring.

Serve garnished with the parsley.

adapted from Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook, by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman (Workman Publishing, 1990)

Exported from Home Cookin 6.46 (

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Recalls: Lots More Mangoes, Soy and Tofu Products, and Bratwurst Patties

  • Splendid Products has issued a recall of certain lots of Daniella brand mangoes because they have the possibility to be contaminated with Salmonella braenderup. The mangoes were sold at various retail stores throughout the US between July 12 and August 29, 2012.
    Mangoes have been linked to a number of recent cases of salmonellosis in Canada, and may be linked to cases in California and perhaps other states. Although an investigation is still ongoing, out of an abundance of caution Splendid Products is recalling Daniella mangoes in the U.S. The recall is being conducted in consultation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Public Health.
    News Release.
  • Spokane Produce, Inc., is recalling some 128 16-oz containers of Pineapple/Mango Pico de Gallo because they were made with the Daniella mangoes. News Release.
  • Real Foods of Kent, WA, and Charlie's Produce of Anchorage, Alaska is recalling 1,336 cases of 13 products that contain the Daniella mangoes. News Release.
  • Food Lion, Harveys and Reid's have been notified that they are part of the national Splendid Products recall for the Daniella mangoes, and have removed any items containing the mangoes from store shelves. News Release.
  • Taylor Farms in New Jersey has recalled specific codes of specific Wawa products containing the Daniella mangoes distributed to Wawa retail stores in New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. News Release.
  • World Food, LLC in Florida has initiated a voluntary recall on products distributed to retail stores that contain mangoes associated with the recall, mostly in Florida. News Release.
  • BI-LO has recalled Daniella mangoes being sold in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. News Release.
  • Pacific Coast Fruit Company of Portland, Oregon, is recalling multiple types of fresh cut processed items that contain the mangoes that were distributed to retailers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. News Release.
  • Ready Pac Foods, Inc., in Irwindale, CA, is recalling packaged fruit products that contain the Daniella mangoes. News Release.M
  • Winn-Dixie announced a recall of select cut fruit produced by Renaissance Food Group that contain the mangoes. News Release.
  • F&S Produce Co., Inc., from Rosenhayn, New Jersey is recalling a limited quantity of expired products that contain the mangoes. News Release.
  • Manna Organics, Inc. of Newark, NJ has recalled soybean sprouts and tofu products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The items were distributed to restaurants, retailers, and distributors in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois and Texas. No illnesses have been reported to date. News Release.
  • Klement Sausage Company, Inc., of Milwaukee, Wisconsin is recalling about 2,920 pounds of frozen bratwurst patties that may contain pieces of a plastic pen. The pieces were discovered by food preperation folks when they were preparing to cook the patties. No injuries or illness have been reported. News release.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Red Russian Kale, Pattypan Squash and Red Pepper Frittata

It's been a while since I wrote a frittata post, but that does not mean I have not been making them. Au contraire, mes amis. I am still averaging one a week, although this weekend I changed it up and made flaky buttermilk biscuits, yum!

I made this frittata a few weeks ago with some goodies I got at the Green City Market, and it was another success. The pattypan squash made it moist and added some sweetness (yes, sweetness), and the red pepper provided a boost of flavor. I have found that frittatas are a good flavorful way to get more greens in my diet. I try to pack as many vegetables as possible into the egg mixture. It makes for a satisfying breakfast and is tasty at room temperature, so it travels well. Much better for you than anything you could get at a fast food restaurant.

You can find the basic recipe here.

See how to make a frittata here.
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