Monthly Archives: January 2011

Spanish Butter Bean Salad

Butter Bean Tapas and Green Salad

Butter Bean Tapas and Green Salad

There’s a market in Astoria, Queens that has a delightful variety of imported Spanish goods, and butter beans are one of my favorites.  So one night I had a friend over for a Spanish gastronomical excursion, and figured I’d highlight these delicious beans.  This recipe is super-simple and SO tasty. And very good for diabetics and hypoglycemics (read below).

Health Benefits:

Butter Beans (also called Lima Beans) are rich in dietary fiber and, when paired with a grain, are a perfect protein that’s very low in fat.  I could retype in my own words, but this information from World’s Healthiest Foods just says it so well.  Lima beans, like other beans, are rich in dietary fiber. For this reason, lima beans and other beans are useful foods for people with irregular glucose metabolism, such as diabetics and those with hypoglycemia, because beans have a low glycemic index rating. This means that blood glucose (blood sugar) does not rise as high after eating beans as it does when compared to many other foods. This beneficial effect is probably due to two factors: the presence of higher amounts of absorption-slowing protein in the beans, and their high soluble fiber content. Soluble fiber absorbs water in the stomach forming a gel that slows down the metabolism of the bean’s carbohydrates. The presence of fiber is also the primary factor in the cholesterol-lowering power of beans. Fiber binds with the bile acids that are used to make cholesterol. Fiber isn’t absorbed, so when it exits the body in the feces, it takes the bile acids with it. As a result, the body may end up with less cholesterol. Lima beans also contain insoluble fiber, which research studies have shown not only helps to increase stool bulk and prevent constipation, but also helps prevent digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. Just one cup of lima beans will give you 65.8% of the daily value for fiber.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of dried Spanish Butter Beans or large lima beans, dry
  • 2 Tablespoons of particularly delicious and organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 of a lemon
  • 4 tablespoons of fresh cilantro
  • sea salt to taste

Directions:

  • Soak the butter beans for AT LEAST 24 hours.  The longer you soak them, the more tender they’ll be.  I only soaked mine for about 18 hours and had to cook them longer.
  • Cook the beans in about 3 cups of water in a nice boil for about an hour.  Start checking them around 40 minutes – the longer you soak them the softer they’ll get.  When I made them into soup, I wanted them to be so soft they’d puree well.  This time I wanted them to have some firmness to them.  You want some ‘al dente’.
  • Strain the beans and place in a small bowl.  Add the olive oil and white balsamic vinegar, and season with salt to taste.
  • Stir in the cilantro and squeeze the juice of the half lemon over everything.
  • Serve at room temperature.

Enjoy!  My buddy Jonathan and I decided that was one of our favorite parts of our meal.  The recipe feeds two people comfortably as a side dish.  And tastes just as good the next day.

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Bourbon Molasses Apple Pie (with candied bacon)

Bourbon Molasses Apple Pie with candied bacon

The problem with living in the best city in the world is that you can plan a refined night for you and your significant other of theatre and a late supper at a French restaurant, and then end up going to the theatre, then a rock club, then a blues club, then an Eastern European dive bar until the wee hours of morning, all the while proclaiming “we live in the best city in the world!”

Naturally, sleeping in the following morning was required.  And then the long subway ride home had me maneuvering construction-ed lines, packed by panicked tourists who ripped the bag of groceries I had been schlepping for far too many transfers.

But at least I was going home to PIE.  Apple pie, with molasses and bourbon and a bit of candied bacon on top.  As I was groggily hitting the elevator button, the boyfriend remarked that I had yet to bake him a pie.  As fellow dusty bakers can understand, this was less of a histrionically domestic complaint and more a phrase of endearment that had me humming on my way to the grocery.   My day had taken a turn to the apple world.  It’s a sweet world.

This is the third version of this recipe, lovingly entitled “Punch Yo Mama Kentucky Apple Pie”.  From my time on the border of Kentucky, I learned that those people do well with delicious food and honor their bourbon.

In the last two test versions the molasses flavor held its own but there was virtually no bourbon flavor.  So instead of heating the bourbon and molasses to make a glaze (which I found killed the taste of the alcohol) I blended them at room temperature with a little tapioca starch to thicken the mixture.  I also included bourbon into the pie crust, finding that the flavor works well baked in flours.  Previously I candied thick-cut bacon with a molasses / brown sugar mixture and baked it into the pie – this time candied thinner bacon and sprinkled it on when serving to retain its crunch.

The result?  The bourbon flavor came though just enough that you’d notice but not be overwhelmed by it.  I had added no sugar to the apples, and they came out sweet and caramely, and the cinnamon gave them a bit of punch.  The crust was a bit too crumbly on day one, but definitely didn’t distract, and was soft and manageable on day two.  (For a flawless crust try my Perfect Gluten-Free Pie Crust) By far the apple/molasses/bourbon combination was killer!  And the bacon was so crunchy and sweet that the crusts don’t even need sugar.

Notes: You can use regular white flour in the crust, or experiment with gluten-free flour blends you like using. This crust was a bit crumbly – I’d stick to my easy gluten-free crust or Perfect Gluten-Free Pie Crust, including the bourbon instead of water as suggested below.  If going gluten-free, just make sure you have enough starch and xantham gum to pull the flour together.  You can also use butter-flavored Earth Balance and omit the egg to make this dairy-free and vegan.  I’m experimenting with sugars lately, and used just a tiny bit in this, but it really doesn’t matter what kind of sweetener you use.  Yes, the flavor will vary slightly, but that’s one of the beautiful things about pies: make a crust and fill it with fruit and chances are you’re going to be happy.

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 14 small apples, preferably of three varieties
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon
  • 3 Tbsp. molasses
  • 2 tsp. starch (I used tapioca)
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon (preferably two different, pungent varieties – I used Indonesian and Chinese)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, about 1/2 tsp.

For the crust:

  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1/2 cup amaranth flour
  • 1/2 cup sweet white sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1 1/2 tsp. xantham gum
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp. sweetener – I used sucanat, crushed cane sugar, because I accidentally picked it up instead of fructose, which I was going to try using.  I’m still working on which sweetener I like best for health / baking reasons.
  • 16 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp. bourbon
  • 4 Tbsp. ice cold water
  • 1 egg, beaten, for brushing on the top of the pie.  You can also use egg white, melted butter or water.

For the Bacon:

  • 5 slices of thin bacon
  • Your choice of sugar – brown sugar or sucanat will flavor best

Directions:

Prepare the Filling:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Peel, core and slice apples, and let them sit in a strainer.
  3. In a small bowl, mix molasses, bourbon and starch.  Blend with a fork.
  4. Separate the apples onto two cookie sheets with high rims.  Pour 1/2 of the molasses mixture on each sheet, and mix thoroughly with your hands until the apples are coated.
  5. Sprinkle with each tray with 1/2 of the cinnamon and nutmeg
  6. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until just soft while you prep the crust.

For the crust: I use a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.

  1. Place flours, starch, xantham gum, salt and sugar in the bowl and whisk together.
  2. Toss in butter and start to mix on low speed until the butter is cut in, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add the bourbon one tablespoon at a time, and then the water, using only just enough for the dough to pull together.
  4. On a floured pastry board, roll half of the pastry into a disk to fit your pie plate.  I make sure to thoroughly turn and flip my dough so that it doesn’t stick, as gluten free dough can break easily.
  5. Fill the plate with apples, tapping down slightly.
  6. Roll out the top crust, close pie, seal the edges with a fork.
  7. Mix a teaspoon of water with a slightly beaten egg, brush the top of the pie, and sprinkle with sugar if desired (After sampling, the pie was sweet enough without the sugar and would have been prettier if I had omitted it).
  8. Bake for 45 minutes, covering the edges of the pie halfway through to prevent browning, or until top of pie is slightly browned and apples cooked through.

To candy the Bacon:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Fit roasting rack into a cookie sheet and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Place sugar of choice in a small bowl, and thoroughly coat bacon with sugar.
  4. Place on cooking rack and sprinkle more sugar on top of each slice.
  5. Cook for five minutes and, if desired, turn bacon and sprinkle with more sugar.
  6. Cook for five more minutes, remove from oven and remove bacon to a plate to cool completely before chopping into small bits.
  7. Sprinkle on top slices of pie for serving.

Gluten-Free Cow-dairy-Free Mac and Cheese!

 

Okay, so I follow a gluten-free diet.  And while I’m VERY allergic to cow’s milk protein, I can tolerate sheep and goat milk relatively fine.  But I had a HUGE problem finding a recipe for macaroni and cheese that contained NO cow’s dairy.  As I’m not a huge fan of overly cheesy dishes, I’ve never tried to make a recipe of my own.  Until now.

I must say, I LOVE this recipe.  It’s cheesy, but not chewy.  I added butternut squash, so there’s a little vegetable kick to it.  Using three types of cheese gave it a complexity and an enticing blend of flavors.  I’m very happy with the results…

So, here it goes.  Read the recipe in full, cause it contains a lot of steps that culminate in one dish.  The first three (cooking the pasta, roasting the squash and making the cheese sauce) take about the same amount of time, so active prep time really is about a half an hour.

The type of pasta obviously can vary, as can the type of cheeses.  I’d recommend getting one that will melt and blend well (why I used Drunken Goat, which has a texture close to a soft cheddar), one with some classic punch (authentic sheep Pecorino Romano from Italy) and a Chevre to layer in (remember, Chevre melts differently than most cheeses, and doesn’t blend well into sauces).

Ingredients:

  • I package gluten-free pasta, 12oz (I used Tinkyada rice spirals, which won our Gluten-Free Pasta Showdown)
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced in small pieces
  • 1/2 a large white onion, diced in small pieces
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, plus one more tablespoon for cracker crust (I used butter made from goat’s milk – regular butter or ghee would work just as well)
  • 3 Tablespoons gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour, which I find works well as an all-purpose gluten-free alternative)
  • 3 cups fresh goat’s milk
  • 4 ounces soft goat’s cheese (I used Drunken Goat), grated
  • 4 ounces of a dry goat or sheep milk cheese (I used sheep’s Pecorino Romano), grated
  • 4 ounces of Chevre goat’s milk cheese, forked into medium size clumps
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • About 1 cup of gluten-free cracker crumbs.  I used Glutino Original Gluten-Free Crackers, which taste (as far as I can remember) like classic Ritz.  That’s the basic taste you want.

Directions:

  • Take the diced squash and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil.  Spread on one layer on a baking sheet covered in tin foil.  Bake at 400 degrees until just soft, about 25 minutes (I used my toaster oven on the convection oven setting, so it took about 15 minutes).  When done, immediately turn oven down to 35o degrees.
  • Heat a large pot of water with a generous shake of salt over high heat and bring to a boil.  Add pasta and cook according to package directions, until al dente.  When cooked, drain under running cold water until pasta cools, to stop the cooking process.  Mine took about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan on medium/low heat and melt 3 tablespoons butter.  Add 3 tablespoons of gluten-free flour one at a time, whisking thoroughly between additions to dissolve flour.  Cook for approximately 3-5 minutes, whisking constantly.  The mixture will bubble slightly, and turn a beautiful golden color.
  • Add 3 cups of goats milk, again one at a time, thoroughly whisking while adding.  The first cup will sizzle a bit and the flour mixture may clump – so add the milk slowly and whisk constantly.  When all three cups are added, mix in the chopped onion and sage.  Turn heat to low and simmer for about ten minutes.  Stir frequently with a rubber spatula, being sure to gently scrape the bottom of the pan.  Any milk will curdle if burnt.  Gross.
  • In a small bowl, beat the egg.  Temper the egg by adding about a tablespoon or two of the hot milk mixture to the egg, then beating thoroughly.   Slowly add another tablespoon of milk mixture to the egg, beating thoroughly.  Add the entire egg mixture to the saucepan, slowly and mixing thoroughly.  (Tempering basically means that you slowly bring an egg mixture to a higher heat, but progressively so that it doesn’t curdle and cook).
  • Season with salt and pepper to desired flavor.
  • Mix the Drunken Goat and Pecorino cheeses together, and add ¾ of the shredded cheese to the saucepan and incorporate thoroughly.
  • Now I used a 3 /12 quart La Creuset Dutch oven, but you could use a large baking dish and just cover in tin foil when cooking.  Spread the cooked pasta into the pan and toss in the squash.
  • Slowly add the milk and cheese sauce, mixing thoroughly.
  • Fork chunks of the Chevre in and mix into the top layer of the pasta.
  • Sprinkle the remaining Pecorino/Goat’s cheese.
  • In a small saucepan, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, and toss in the cracker crumbs.  Sprinkle mixture over the pasta.
  • Cook for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
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