Monday, January 31, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Whole-Wheat and Honey Hermits

Page 36 in the old book / page 70 in the new book

And now for something new and different…ladies and gentlemen I present the un-chocolate cookie! I actually made these two weeks ago, so I’m a little fuzzy on the details now, but these are quite good if you like dried fruit and nuts. I was worried that they wouldn’t go over well at work since I had hinted before I brought them in that the next cookies would be spice rather than chocolate. Having become accustomed to their weekly dose of chocolate, my co-workers were less than enthused at the prospect. I even received an email that said, “Forget spice”. The day I brought these in though, it seemed every time I passed the author of that email, he had a cookie in his hand. One time I passed him and even got a thumbs up!

The cookies are easy to mix up, though there are quite a few ingredients. The dough reminded me of my mother’s fruitcake batter with just enough to hold the fruit and nuts together. The cookies are loaded with currants, raisins, dates, and walnuts. In fact, they make me think that maybe back when this recipe was first published the cookies might have been considered “healthy”. In addition to the fruit and nuts, they have whole wheat flour (and no white flour), honey, raw sugar, spices, eggs, milk, and….oh yeah, a stick of butter. I had a little trouble keeping them evenly sized as I spooned them out, but these are fairly rustic looking anyway, so I didn’t worry about it much.

Warm out of the oven, these are a real treat – just barely crunchy on the outside, but warm and soft on the inside. A day later they had firmed up a bit, and the exterior crunch was gone, but they tasted great with all those spices, fruits and nuts.

A little off topic, but still on the subject of Maida…I found this 1997 Saveur article about her a little while back and printed it out. I just ran across it again and thought some of you might enjoy reading it. The author paid Maida Heatter a visit at her home and talked with her as she baked a cake. At the time the article was written she was eighty-something and was doing 30 minutes on the treadmill every morning before spending most of the day in the kitchen!

Next week – Connecticut Nutmeg Hermits

Nutrition Facts

Thursday, January 27, 2005

IMBB 11 Round-up - Part IV

OK – here’s the last installment!

Sam’s N-BASH & PEGG (Navy Bean Smoked Haddock & Poached Egg) is something to behold! Sam of Becks & Posh has prepared a beautiful chowder-like dish with navy beans, smoked haddock, potatoes, onion, and peas and a perfectly formed poached egg perched on top. Sam recommends that you use a “beautiful, fresh piece of undyed smoked haddock” which apparently is quite difficult to find, but not to worry – she has provided an on-line source!

Pinkcocoa at Pinkcocoa Tabetai has made some really great looking Okara Pancakes. Okara is the ground soy that is leftover after making soy milk. Turns out it is rich in nutrients and fiber and makes a pretty mean pancake! Pinkcocoa has also created a chocolate variety for all us chocoholics. Now, you might be wondering where in the world you would ever find Okara, but in a later post, Pinkcocoa tells you how to make soy milk yourself from dried soy beans! It doesn’t look at all difficult and not only do you end up with the freshest possible soy milk, you can make yourself some of those Okara Pancakes!

After browsing through one of her cookbooks, Kelli of avoir une famille n’est pas comme un téléroman was inspired to prepare three different chilis and invite some friends over for a chili tasting party! She made Cabin Chili with Meat, Vegetable Chili, and White Chili with Chicken. According to Kelli the white chili was good and spicy and the vegetable chili was slightly sweet from the corn and sweet potatoes. Kelli served this array of chilis with salad, grilled pita and garlic bread. Sounds great!

Jessica of Su Good Eats is another first time IMBB participant with a brand new blog! Her IMBB entry and very first post features a Black-Eyed Susan Cake that is made with black-eyed peas! It’s actually loaded with wholesome ingredients including whole wheat flour, apricots, raisins, pecans, and spices. Jessica thought the cake had great texture and was nicely moist, but that the spices weren’t as pronounced as they ought to be. She has some ideas for an interesting twist on this cake that I hope she’ll report back on!

Reid of ‘Ono Kine Grinz has been eating out a lot lately, so when IMBB rolled around he thought it was the perfect occasion to fix himself a healthy vegetarian meal. His Three Bean Chili is made with garbanzo beans, black beans, red kidney beans, zucchini, Okinawan sweet potato, and onion. The contrast of the sweet potatoes and the spicy seasonings sounds really delicious. I think I’m going to having to try this one!

Over at Chronicles of a Curious Cook, Ellen has prepared some Pinto beans for us. Since IMBB sort of snuck up on her, she used the quick soak method to get her beans going, then cooked them with onion, bacon and a little chili powder. The pintos can be served as-is as a soup or side, or mash them with a little bacon grease and cook down and you’ve got some tasty refried beans! Ellen suggests spreading them on a fried tortilla and then topping it with a little lettuce, cheese, salsa and avocado for a really yummy meal!

Fatemeh of Gastronomie thought she was going to have trouble coming up with something to make for IMBB since she’s not crazy about beans. However, when she started thinking about her favorite Persian dishes, she realized an awful lot of them were made with beans! Lucky for us, as she has decided to share with us her recipe for Khoresht-e Gheymeh Bademjan, or "Eggplant and Lentil Stew". It is a beautiful, savory stew with yellow split peas, beef, onions, and little eggplants topped with crispy potato matchsticks.

Owen at Tomatilla! made two great dishes for IMBB: his own Warm French Lentil Salad and a Tarka Red Lentil Dahl from Madhur Jaffrey. The salad is a mixture of lentils de Puy, cabbage and finely chopped smoked almonds seasoned with rosemary and lemon. The dahl was prepared from a favorite Madhur Jaffrey book and is well loved in Owen’s family!

You have to take a look at Meg’s Zen Chili! Meg at Too Many Chefs prepared White Chili and Vegetarian Black Bean Chili and served them side by side in a really attractive and creative presentation. The white chili has lingots (like navy beans), black-eyed peas, turkey, a chili pepper, and crème fraîche; while the black bean chili has black beans, tomatoes, chili paste, garlic, shallots, and whiskey (!). Individually, each of the two chilis sounds amazing, but as a pair they are irresistible!

Viv of Seattle Bon Vivant was ready for a simple home cooked meal after an eight course feast the night before. The Puerto Rican Style Stewed Beans (Habichuelas Guisadas) she decided to make were just the thing – satisfying in every way! Red kidney beans in a tomato-based sauce flavored with freshly made sofrito, along with butternut squash, capers and olives – what’s not to love?

Those sweet little azuki beans put in another appearance at A La Cuisine! where Clement used them to make Fried Azuki Bean Ice Cream. He’s still perfecting his frying technique, but both the ice cream and Azuki bean sauce can stand on their own and Clement has shared both of his recipes with us. I won’t be frying ice cream anytime soon, but I can’t wait to give his azuki bean ice cream a try!

Pim of Chez Pim has brought us a simple but elegant preparation of flageolets to serve with a roasted leg of lamb. The flageolets are simmered in chicken stock with sautéed onions and garlic and then served with the reduced stock. Follow Pim’s advice and serve the flageolets right under the leg of lamb so that they’ll soak up all that great flavor!

Adam from the Amateur Gourmet made a Winter Bean Soup with cranberry beans, red kidney bean and wheat berries. He wasn’t crazy about the soup the first night and questioned whether he even liked beans. The next day the beans had softened and the flavors melded - Adam ate two bowls. Adam likes beans.

Which (finally) brings me to the last three entries, all of which are posted here on my blog: my Aunt Gail’s recipe for hummus with lots of garlic and tahini; my brother Bob’s post about making baked beans and his treasured antique bean pot (these are the beans I grew up with and they really are the best!); and lastly my Beans and Greens soup which I highly recommend!

Thank you all for participating in IMBB 11. There are so many wonderful dishes here – I really can’t wait to start trying them! By the way – I think the final count was 73 entries!

Update - 1/29/2005

From Kitchen Monkey, a belated beany breakfast - Huevos Rancheros (al Mono). Monkey attended high school in New Mexico and enjoyed Huevos Rancheros in many different restaurants, but it was just a couple of years ago when it suddenly occurred to him that he could make this favorite himself. He has made it many different ways since then, but says that the one he offers us now is the best. He sautees the black beans with fresh tomatoes, roasted garlic and freshly ground cumin and serves them up with the requisite fried eggs and tortillas, a delicious chile arbol sauce, some monteray jack cheese and a little fresh cilantro.

Update - 2/7/2005

But wait, there's more! Another belated entry from Melanie at Gastronomicon. Melanie made some Blazing Vegetarian Chili, which sounds easy, yummy, and healthy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

IMBB 11 Round-up - Part III

Without further ado…Part III!

Molly at Spicetart learned while doing a bit of research on her bean of choice that the Garbanzo is the most widely consumed legume in the world. Her response? “Right on world!” I couldn’t agree more, especially when those Garbanzos are served up in something as tasty as Molly’s Chickpea Tomato Stew with Moroccan Flavors. I’m a sucker for anything with chickpeas and spinach, but add tomatoes, raisins and some sweet and smoky spices and I’d say you’ve got a real winner!

Jeanette from Our Kitchen has brought two beany dishes to IMBB. The first is Sinigang na Pata, a sour soup with a tamarind soup base and featuring fresh ham hocks, green beans, and bok choy. The second is her Clay Pot Pork and Beans, a tempting mix of great northern beans, pork chops marinated in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, caramelized onions, tomatoes, aromatic vegetables, and herbs baked in Jeanette’s beautiful sand pot. Both dishes look and sound absolutely delicious!

Shana (aka owlfish) has found yet another use for that versatile sweet red bean paste. Her lovely individual bread puddings have a layer of chunky sweet red bean paste sandwiched between the bread layers. The “puddinglets”, as Shana calls them, are flavored with a little vanilla and cinnamon and once removed from the oven are topped with some confectioner’s sugar and nutmeg. If you’re not sold already, just take a look at the photo and see how gorgeously puffed and toasty brown they are. Shana, couldn’t you spare just one?

Over at Foodgoat…something tasty every day, Roselle’s Black Bean Mushroom Chili is a tasty mix of black beans, mushrooms, tomatillas (or tomatoes and lemon juice when a snowy day inspires you to dream up clever substitutions for missing ingredients), onions, tomato paste or puree, chipotle peppers, and an assortment of spices. It will warm you and fill you up with its hearty goodness – just the thing on a cold, snowy day!

I had not visited Christina’s blog, The Thorngrove Table, before…but now that I have, I will definitely be going back! She has a fascinating discussion on the history and lore of the fava bean as well as two 15th century recipes for favas. The first is Fresh Fava Beans with Herbs and the second is Puree of Dried Young Fava Beans with Onions, Apples and Sage. Both sound like they would perfectly satisfy the modern palate.

I knew Alice at My Adventures in the Breadbox was going to love the theme of beans, but even I didn’t imagine how much she’d love it! Alice has served up a three course black bean feast! First up is a moist and chewy Black Bean Chipotle Bread, then classic Huevos Rancheros, and finally Big, Bad, Black Bean Brownies. All three offerings look delicious!

Kelli at Culinary Epiphanies says, “Say yes to lentils!”, even if her boyfriend and Monty Python beg to differ! Her answer to them might be called Italian/Middle Eastern/Greek fusion cuisine – her very own Mujadara Frittata. Mujadara, as Kelli explains, is a mixture of lentils, rice and onion. This serves as the base of the frittata, over which the beaten eggs are poured, followed by a topping of Feta cheese. She calls it crazy fusion, I call it yummy!

Alan and Jenny at Sweet & Savory have made Mung Bean Mochi for this IMBB. I love the story of how they decided what to make – sounds like one they may be recounting for years to come. Anyway, their mochi are just gorgeous. This is the third incarnation of these sweet treats in IMBB 11 and with each I have become more convinced that I must track down the ingredients for these and give them a try.

Hana at Kitchen Crusader has prepared megadarra, which goes by many names including mujadara as Kelli referred to it. Hana’s simple and elegant recipe will nourish your body and soul. The lentils and brown rice are seasoned with garlic, bay, cumin, and coriander, and then topped with caramelized onions. Serve it with yoghurt and peppermint on the side and you’ve got a meal. If you’d like a little pork with your beans, do try Hana's Pork and Beans with pinto, navy, AND great northern beans! They are baked (or simmered if your pot can’t take the heat!) together with pork neck and a sauce of tomatoes, onions, herbs and lots of garlic. What a delicious meal!

When Valentina’s hunt for a suitable bean recipe came up short, she put ingredients she had on hand to good use and threw together her very own Purple Bean and Kale Soup. The purple comes from the red cabbage used in the vegetable stock, because when your choice is between red cabbage and pickled cabbage…well, what’s wrong with purple soup anyway? Actually, the finished soup, with great northern beans and kale, looks really great – stop by MeMoiJa and see for yourself!

Zarah from Food & Thoughts managed to break away from her Playstation (hey – her exam is over and she’s on vacation!) long enough to whip up (or should I say whiz up?) some Meatless Vegetarian Meatballs. Just throw some green beans, kidney beans, red bell pepper, garlic and smoked paprika in the food processor and you’re halfway there…Zarah pan fried them and served them with some yoghurt and lemon wedges. They look so good!

Alberto of Il Forno (and father of IMBB!) has prepared an Italian classic – pasta e fagiole. But Alberto’s version is a little different, due in part to necessity and in part to Alberto’s artistry. When he couldn’t find any of the bean varieties typically used for pasta e fagiole in fresh or dried form, Alberto decided to try black eyed beans (or peas). He then took inspiration from the little black and white beans, and decided to tint half of the pasta black with squid ink. The final touch is a crispy garnish of fried pasta. Alberto said he’d “taken care of his bean creative impulses” a little while ago, but his pasta e fagiole in bianco e nero con tria showcases yet more of Alberto’s creativity!

I really hope to wrap this up for good tomorrow night. Thank you all for being so patient with me. Also, I realized today that when I changed the title on the round-up, I changed the permalink as well. I know there are a couple of sites that have links to the IMBB round-up, so I’m posting parts III and IV separately and will modify the earlier post to include links to the later parts. Good night!

Monday, January 24, 2005

IMBB 11 Round-up - Parts I & II

It is finally here! The emails started even earlier than I thought they would, with the first two waiting for me Friday evening when I got home from work. With a big snow storm forecast for Saturday, I was scurrying around that evening and early Saturday to get my errands done and lay in provisions for a cozy weekend at home. But by mid-day on Saturday, with snow falling outside, I settled in to read the early entries for IMBB 11. Wasn’t this the perfect weekend for beans?

The first trickle of email on Friday and Saturday was merely a hint of the onslaught to come! By Sunday afternoon, the deluge was in full swing and I felt like Lucy in the candy factory, reading and summarizing one for every two or three that came in. So here they all are in order of arrival…

The first email was from Lynn of To Short Term Memories, who was headed off for a ski weekend. Lynn made Mame Daifuku, a Japanese sweet dumpling made with sticky rice dough, studded with peas (or beans) and filled with red bean paste. They’re gorgeous and sound delicious – I’ve got to find a source for sticky rice flour!

From Laura at Cucina Testa Rosa we have a warm and hearty soup for these cold days - her grandmother’s Pasta “Fazool”. Loaded with Parmesan cheese, pasta, and Great Northern beans, it sounds like true comfort food. Can’t wait to try it!

When I announced IMBB 11, I said there were no restrictions on the form of beans used – they could be dried, canned, in the pod, sprouted, etc. At that time I never dreamed there was a dish that used bean leaves – but there is and Karen of The Pilgrim’s Pots and Pans has brought it to us. It is a Philippine dish made in her town called Tipé Câmangyáng. In addition to the beans themselves and the bean leaves, it also has pork, shrimp, onions and garlic. It sounds and looks delicious! Karen also has a very interesting post that tries to sort out some of the confusion arising from the various names we give beans in different parts of the world.

I tend to forget that when it is at its coldest here, it may be a blazing summer day in another part of the world. Niki from Esurientes – The Comfort Zone reminds us that beans aren’t just for cold days! She has prepared Summer Clams ‘n’ Beans with baby clams, cannellini beans and mint and enjoyed it with her mom and a beautiful Melbourne summer sunset. It is a beautiful dish and tempts me to give clams a try…

Nupur prepared Pan-Fried Sprouted Lentils, an Indian dish traditionally served with rice and dal. In addition to the sprouted lentils, it has onion, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, cilantro, and an assortment of spices. In addition, Nupur has provided some tips on an easy way to sprout lentils. It looks incredible and I’m going to have to add it to the line-up of things to try!

I have not had pea soup since I was a kid, and at that time it was something I very much disliked (so much so that when cleaning up after dinner, I would try to get the ham bone into the trash before my mom remembered to tell me to save it). I am certain now that I would really enjoy it, but just haven’t gotten around to trying it again. Christine from I like to do stuff has made Split Pea Soup with Ham and has convinced me that I must try it again…and soon! Not only does her soup sound delicious, her method of making it in a crockpot sounds incredibly easy. Unfortunately, there was a little incident…but Christine will have to tell you about that!

Elsa at macbebekin decided to recreate the Spicy Thai Peanut and Black Bean Chili that she recently enjoyed at a nearby sandwich joint. Her efforts paid off and her Thai Peanut and Black Bean Soup sounds spicy, rich and just plain wonderful. She reminds me too that peanuts are also legumes – I hadn’t considered that someone could have submitted a peanut butter sandwich as an IMBB 11 entry!

Gillian of The Queen of Tarts whipped up a Black Bean Soup for this IMBB, her first. She enjoyed her soup (which sounds delicious and evidently was) with some corn muffins.

Maureen from Hungry Mouth is also participating in IMBB for the first time and chose to recreate a dish she encountered during her travels in Greece. It is Gigantes Plaki – a mixture of gigantes, onion, garlic and tomatoes and various herbs and spices that is usually served as an appetizer. Check out Maureen’s post for what looks to be a delicious recipe – also follow the link to see some wonderful pictures and stories of her travels in Greece.

Beans aren’t normally thought of as the makings of dessert, but Santos’ strong suit is definitely her beautiful and elegant sweets (not to mention her beautiful and elegant photos of said sweets!). For this IMBB she has brought us two varieties of daifuku – Strawberry and Persimmon Daifuku. For each the fruit is filled or surrounded with a chunky and sweet azuki bean paste and then wrapped in sticky rice dough. They look amazing and it is worth a trip to the scent of green bananas just to gaze at them!

Dagmar of A Cat In The Kitchen is still recuperating financially from a recent trip to the Maldives and so managed to put together a delicious meal that is filling and comforting from ingredients she already had on hand. She made Red Lentil Soup and Sesame Crescent Rolls. Dagmar may have tired of this soup for the time being, but I suspect many of us will be enjoying it in the very near future!

Over in Germany, Petra of Chili und Ciabatta has prepared Green Lentil Salad with Balsamico and Pumpkin Seed Oil. It is a warm salad of green Puy lentils, onion, garlic and herbs, and little bits of carrot, leek, celery, and scallion. It is dressed with balsamic vinegar and pumpkin seed oil. It sounds (and looks) so good! It is garnished with sprigs of chervil from Petra’s own garden that were picked from under the snow!

Rachel at brown bread ice cream in her first IMBB has given us not just a fantastic little cake, but a wonderful ode to the virtues of soy – no, not its healthy qualities, its YUMMY qualities! She was browsing in a book store and saw a tasty recipe for Soufflé Cheese Cake. Once home, she used the memorized recipe as a starting point, but then completely overhauled it. The result is her exquisite little Fuwa Fuwa Soy Milk Cakey. Another must try!

Anne at Anne’s Food doesn’t like most beans (though I’ll bet she’ll soften her stance after she reads all these IMBB entries!), but did find one bean in Spain that she thought was lovely. The beans she used in her Gorgonzola Risotto with peas, mushrooms and broad beans traveled all the way from Spain, courtesy of her dad, and have been waiting in her freezer for a special occasion like IMBB. She put them to good use in her delicious risotto, which I’m sure was well received by her lucky guests!

Mia at Nosh made not one, but two bean soups. Actually, the word “soup” almost seems too pedestrian to describe her first submission – Potage St. Cloud, a puree of fresh peas, onion, potatoes, parsnip, and carrots seasoned with curry and richened with half and half. Mia’s second offering is Coconut Bean Soup, another beautiful soup with navy beans, red bell pepper, tomatoes, curry, and coconut milk. Both look delicious and either would be the perfect antidote to a cold winter day!

In Paris, Clotilde of Chocolate & Zucchini found a very special bean on which to base her creation. It is the Tarbais bean, grown only in Tarbes and the only bean to be protected by a Label Rouge and regional appellation. Clotilde’s Salade Tiède de Haricots Tarbais à l’Huile de Noix is a simple warm salad that allows the star ingredient to shine. The delicate Tarbais beans are complemented by peppery arugula and dressed with a vinaigrette of balsamic vinegar, walnut oil and mustard. It sounds amazing!

From snowy Wisconsin, Irene of Cuisine Capers brings us a warm and hearty Weisse Bohnen Eintopfen or White Bean One Pot Casserole. This is comfort food of the best kind with white beans, smoked Polish sausage, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and celery and served with rye bread and cheese on the side. It looks and sounds delicious!

Annalyn of Ajay’s writings on the wall brings us her very own Beanie Burgers. Her recipe got its start in a Filipino cookbook, but she improvised a bit and came up with a tasty burger of white kidney beans, potatoes, tuna, celery, carrot, onion, and more. They sound delicious and are, no doubt, good for you too!

Charlotte of Love and Cooking, is in northern California where the first hint of spring is apparently a good price on asparagus! Inspired by a dish served in her favorite vegetarian restaurant, Charlotte put together her own take on Asparagus with Black Bean Sauce. Served over rice, Charlotte’s creation sounds like something to be enjoyed any time of year!

Barrett at Too Many Chefs has come up with a stunning Mexican Black Bean Tart with Cornmeal Crust. I must make this, but I’d rather have it waiting for me downstairs. Right now. Barrett has very helpfully provided some tips on substitutions should you have trouble getting a hold of Chihuahua cheese or Anaheim peppers. He has also suggested a rather brilliant accompaniment…Margaritas!

I’ve always heard that cassoulet was a lot of work, but after reading Tom’s excellent (illustrated) step by step discussion of the two day process, I know it’s a lot of work! I’m sure the lucky souls that were able to share his masterpiece with him would say it was worth the effort! If you haven’t already done so, stop by Butter Pig and judge for yourself.

Babe of Babe in the City – KL has brought us another bean dessert – Red and Kidney Bean Sweet Soup. It is a beautiful mixture of red beans, kidney beans, and sago pearls in a sweet broth that can be served hot or cold. According to Babe, this is easy to make and a favorite in her house!

Derrick of An Obsession with Food, like his friend Tom, also decided to tackle a cassoulet. With his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, Derrick also delves into the origin of the dish and pokes a little fun at the labor intensive process. Despite all the funning, though, Derrick produced a delicious cassoulet, which he served on a bed of braised chard. Not content with a single Herculean culinary feat, Derrick also made an eye-dazzling dessert – with beans! His Black Bean Tuiles are ever-so-thin wafers made with “black bean essence” that are sandwiched with a sweetened cream cheese mixture and topped off with several tasty garnishes. Altogether, a couple of amazing accomplishments!

Like Charlotte, Ronald over at loveSicily also has spring on his mind. He has made a warm Butter and Green Bean Tuna Salad that is dressed with a vinaigrette and served cradled in a frittatina bowl. Both the salad and frittatina are seasoned with lemon thyme and the whole ensemble is garnished with sliced red onion and sprigs of lemon thyme. It’s a beautiful presentation and looks really delicious!

Next up is another cassoulet, but this one is different. Stephanie of Half Baked brings us her Quick Cassoulet made with great northern beans, chicken thighs, and Italian sausage. This may not be the traditional cassoulet, but it sounds delicious nonetheless!

You know, as I write this it is way past my dinner time and you guys are really killing me! Here’s another bean burger that sounds oh so good. Lenn from LENNDEVOURS presents his very aptly named Southwest Blog Burnin’ Burgers. Made with small red beans, corn, onion and breadcrumbs and spiced with jalapeno pepper, chipotle chili powder and Spanish smoked paprika, they look like they would really hit the spot!

Shawn from Everything And/But Nothing prepared an All-American Crockpot Chili for this IMBB and sent along a few lagniappes as well! Her chili sounds delicious with spicy sausage, ground sirloin, onions, peppers, tomatoes and herbs and spices galore. Best of all you throw it all in the pot early in the day and it cooks long and slow so you can savor the aroma all day. Shawn prepared some Stewed Black-Eyed Peas for New Year’s, which also sound yummy, and has links to several other recipes in her post.

You’d think that falafel would be terribly healthy, but the truth is they’re usually fried and have quite a different reputation. In fact, someone I know once referred to them as a vegetarian’s cheeseburger. Nicole from baking sheet recognized this and decided to remedy the situation by baking her falafel. Her Oven Baked Falafel look scrumptious and browned beautifully in the oven despite the fact that they have practically no fat. With “handfuls” of parsley and cilantro, they have a lovely green hue and, I expect, great flavor!

Linda from At Our Table prepared a lovely White Bean Risotto with great northern beans, Arborio rice, Asiago cheese, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. Linda’s no fuss approach appears to yield fantastic results – the risotto looks rich, creamy and absolutely delicious!

Requia of Chez Requia made a New Year’s resolution to participate in the next IMBB! So even though she has been terribly busy lately, she managed to find time to make a beautiful dish of Rice and Brown Lentils with Sesame and Parsley. It looks like a snap to make and with its mixture of colors and textures should be quite yummy!

Stay tuned – lots more to come! If you don’t see your entry here, please don’t worry – I have 23 more entries, not including the ones posted on my blog. Oh my gosh – my GMail notify is dinging at me again – make that 24!

P.S. - Mondays with Maida has been postponed - I hope to get it posted later in the week (if I ever finish this round-up!)

Part II

I’m well rested and ready to dig into some more beany delights. Are you ready? OK then, off we go…

First stop is Moira’s brand new food blog, Who Wants Seconds? For her first IMBB Moira has prepared a delightful salad with not one, but two beans! Her Puy Lentil Salad with Feta Cheese also includes green beans, carrots, red onion, celery, and cilantro and is dressed with toasted sesame oil and rice vinegar. A light but completely satisfying meal for those of us who may have over-indulged a bit during the holiday season!

Amy of Cooking with Amy asks, “Do you ever make impulse purchases?” I’m willing to bet that not only would most of us have to answer yes, but that many of us would have fallen for those gorgeous, jewel-like black Beluga lentils just as Amy did. IMBB gave Amy the perfect excuse to break open the package and create a new soup, her own Beluga Beauty Soup. This medley of lentils, sweet bell pepper, onion and garlic spiced with garam masala, ginger and a little cayenne is the only excuse you need to find some black Beluga lentils and make a little impulse purchase of your own!

Jennifer at The Domestic Goddess has made a soup to bring a little sunshine to even the coldest day. It is Creamy Chickpea Soup, or as her husband refers to it, “Liquid Falafel”. With chickpeas, tahini, chicken stock, carrots, onion, cumin, a touch of this, and a touch of that, this delicious soup will warm you from the inside out and probably leave you humming too!

For this IMBB, Debbie of words to eat by decided to try something new – farro, an Italian wheat-like grain. She gathered ideas from a number of recipes and then produced her own scrumptious Farro and White Bean Soup with Escarole. This is a hearty and comforting soup with a silken broth, soft beans, sweet chunks of vegetables, and chewy nuggets of farro. Sounds like the perfect thing to see you through a cold winter day…or even a blizzard!

Donna over at There’s a Chef in My Kitchen has come up with a new twist on hummus, Hummus Spiked with Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onions. This was the perfect thing for her afternoon football party with a garnish of sun dried tomatoes and some kettle potato chips alongside for dipping. Donna says that its combination of earthiness, saltiness and sweetness are irresistible…even to those (like me) that are not so fond of blue cheese. With all those other great ingredients, I think I just might believe her!

Ella at The Devon Dumpling is another IMBB first-timer. Having just seen Supersize Me, Ella was inspired to create a healthy Big Mac…a Big Mac Falafel! With chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, and even a special sauce, these “burgers” are bound to please! If you’re not convinced, just take a look at the photo…McDonalds can’t possibly compete!

Kate at Accidental Hedonist has brought us beans for breakfast! Her Huevos Motuleños combine black beans, ham, eggs, and peas on a corn tortilla and the whole thing is topped with a yummy sounding tomato habanero sauce. What a way to start the day!

If you’ve made a resolution to watch what you eat in the new year, then you should head over to Alice’s blog, Tea Time, and give her Chicken Chowder a try. Alice’s chowder, which is based on a Weight Watchers recipe, is loaded with chicken, cannellini beans, potatoes, carrots, celery, green onions, tomatoes and chiles, and won’t leave you feeling the least bit deprived!

Carolyn at 18C Cuisine has brought us another taste of living history with her recipe for Cassoulet – French Baked Beans. Under the fragile crust formed by a long slow cook in an earthen pot you’ll find the tasty beans together with confit, lamb, sausage, carrots, and onions. Mmmm….

Winnie, one of the bloggers at Hodge Podge Kitchen, decided to give some new ingredients a try for this IMBB. She recreated a favorite dessert from Hong Kong called “Red-White” which is a mixture of sweet red bean soup and sweet tofu. Winnie managed to find all the necessary ingredients at a nearby Asian grocery, and includes a helpful photo of them in her post. Her soup is composed of adzuki beans, fresh lotus seeds, fresh lily bulbs, dried tangerine peel and rock sugar and is served overtop the sweet tofu. It is a warm and comforting sweet to end the day with!

Meriko, one of the bloggers at gastronome, has prepared a Nacho Soup that sounds amazing! It is a black bean soup with shredded chicken topped with a shallot relish, but that description only begins to tell the story… The soup has caramelized onions and Grand Marnier and is seasoned with coriander, cumin and chipotle. The relish is a mixture of shallots, ginger, lime, and cilantro. Served with tortilla chips (which Meriko has also provided instructions for), how could this soup not bring utter happiness to anyone lucky enough to partake of it?

From far away in the UK, Jeanne, of Cook Sister!, shares with us some fond memories of home (South Africa) and her family. One dish that she turns to for comfort when feeling especially homesick is Boereboontjies, a savory mix of green beans, potatoes and onions that her brother years ago dubbed “hot coleslaw”. For this IMBB Jeanne has paired her old friend with a new one – Sausage and Bean Casserole with Herb Dumplings, or as Jeanne refers to it, pauper’s cassoulet. The casserole, with its “goopy” sauce and buttery dumplings, sounds delicious…but first I think I’d like some hot coleslaw!

llizard of blog from OUR kitchen had a little trouble getting his/her dinner plans coordinated with IMBB but did offer two recipes for bean dishes that they might have had with dinner. The first is a refried bean casserole that apparently can double as an appetizer if served with chips. The second is a simple and elegant preparation of white beans. Both sound delicious!

Audrey at Stirring the Pot prepared a lovely pinto bean dip with sun dried tomatoes and served it on polenta squares. It sounds really yummy and her plans for the leftovers – bean dip on toasted polenta – sound equally tantalizing!

Celia of English Patis prepared Ginataang Totong, or Glutinous Rice Coconut Soup with Toasted Mung Beans from her native Phillipines. This is what Celia calls a “between meal meal”! It looks to be a deliciously sweet treat with a tempting mix of textures – crunchy toasted mung beans, soft rice, and creamy coconut milk. Yum!

I think it’s time to call it a night. I’m so sorry for dragging this out… I’ve sent an email to everyone that I haven’t yet included in the round-up (I think). If you don’t see your entry here and haven’t heard from me, send me another note – I don’t want to leave anyone out! I think there are a total of 72 entries – can you believe it? There are so many IMBB first-timers too – it’s really wonderful. Stay tuned for part III!

Part III

All the links to twelve more delicious IMBB 11 entries are here!

Part IV

Links to all the rest are here!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

IMBB 11 - Beans and Greens Soup Revisited

Back in June, shortly after I started this blog, I made a soup from leftover beans that I really enjoyed. However, because of the time involved in making the beans, I had not gotten around to making the soup again. For IMBB 11, I decided that I would recreate this soup using canned beans so I could have it whenever the urge strikes!

When I originally came up with the bean recipe, I had in mind the traditional Tuscan dish in which white beans are cooked in a flask with olive oil and sage and also Boston baked beans (more familiar to me) in which white beans are baked with salt pork, molasses and spices in a bean pot. I wound up with a mixture of cannellini beans, olive oil, pancetta, onion, garlic, tomatoes, and sage baked in a bean pot. The beans filled the house with a heavenly aroma, tasted great, but for some reason were very mushy. It turned out, though, that they were easily transformed into a fantastic soup with the simple additions of chicken stock and greens.

My choice of greens for the soup also reflected the Tuscan slant I had chosen. Dinosaur kale is either the same as or similar to Tuscan kale or cavolo nero. (I’m a little confused on this point, as I’ve seen it characterized both ways.) It seems to be available just about year-round at my local Whole Foods.

To make the soup using canned beans, I sautéed the onions, garlic, pancetta and tomatoes in a generous amount of olive oil, then added the beans, chicken stock and sage and simmered it all for about half an hour. At that point I removed some of the beans and pureed the rest using an immersion blender. Finally, I returned the reserved beans to the pot along with the kale and simmered it for a few more minutes. I was thrilled with the result – it was delicious and took less than an hour! The soup as I made it was quite brothy but with body. You could easily make a thicker soup by pureeing more of the beans. The kale was still a little al dente (can you say that about kale?) and I loved it that way. When I tasted the soup before adding the kale, I was afraid I had over-salted it, however I found the kale balanced it out somehow. Tasting the finished soup, I thought it was perfectly seasoned. The leftover soup kept well and was easily reheated in the microwave.

I don’t have very many original recipes under my belt and fewer still that I would make over and over again, but this is definitely one that fits the latter category. I must say I’m mighty pleased with it!!

Beans and Greens Soup 2

about 6 servings

1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 ounces pancetta, diced (you could substitute regular bacon)
¼ cup olive oil
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice (I used the type with no added salt)
4 ½ cups cooked cannellini beans (3 15 ½ oz cans rinsed and drained)
5 large sage leaves, chopped
6 cups chicken stock (I used Whole Foods 365 Brand in the box)
½ teaspoon salt (adjust as necessary depending on the saltiness of your tomatoes and stock)
1 bunch dinosaur kale - trim out heavy stems and slice crosswise into ¼-inch slices
black pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes (don’t brown it). Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent – another couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juice and cook for a few more minutes. Add the beans, stock, sage, and salt. Simmer about half an hour. Using a strainer or holey spoon, remove about 1 ½ cups of beans. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup, then return the reserved beans to the pot and add the kale. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with freshly ground black pepper to taste. Enjoy!

IMBB 11 - Bob's Boston Baked Beans

The following is my brother Bob's contribution to IMBB 11 ...

This recipe is the one my mother used almost every Saturday while we were growing up in the sixties and seventies. Typically accompanied by hot dogs (or, on special occasions, baked ham) and a carrot and pineapple lemon jello salad (!), baked beans were an integral part of my childhood food experience. They cooked all day long after my mother put them into the oven around eight or nine in the morning. By late morning and for the remainder of the afternoon until dinner the downstairs of the house smelled of their rich aroma. We ate them with some ketchup on top. The salt pork was set on the table in a small dish with a butter knife and a few slices of white bread for spreading (amazingly delicious and, I am sure, tremendously cardiotoxic.).

In recent years I have rediscovered this recipe and make it in my beautiful bean pot I found in a Maine antique store. It’s a wonderful thing to make when you know you are going to be at home for the day or only out for short jaunts. I have stuck to 250 degrees as the baking temperature and find they generally don’t need any added water until after about four hours. I generally haven’t bothered to take off the lid at the end either (you don’t eat the pork rind anyway, or I don’t at least). The water certainly needn’t be all evaporated either. The rich brown sauce the beans swim in is delicious. They keep for at least a couple weeks as leftovers, but you may need to add water. It makes for a salty meal and you wake up parched, but it’s worth it!

I recently asked her which relative this recipe came from and to my surprise she told me she got it from the package of beans! Subsequently, I discovered I had in my possession the actual cut out from the box. But, unfortunately, there are no identifying marks on the small square of cardboard to assign credit.

With respect to the ingredients, considering the age of the recipe and sticking with my mother’s routine, I use regular granular salt (who knew about Kosher salt back then?) and even use the powdery ground pepper you get in a small rectangular can and cannot notice a problem not having used “fresh ground.”

There are numerous such baked bean recipes with some variations, some requiring only four hours at about 350 degrees, but the day long process and their aroma filling the house are as important to me as the final product.

In the end the more you eat, the better you’ll feel. So eat beans for every meal! Especially on Saturday.

Boston (aka New England) Baked Beans


1 pound dried small white beans
½# fat salt pork
4 tbsp (1/4 cup) sugar
1/3 cup molasses
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Hot water (approx 2 cups)

Inspect the beans, wash, cover with cold water and soak overnight. In the morning drain, cover with fresh water and parboil 15 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Place beans in a New England style bean pot (or covered casserole, 2 ½ to 3 qts) and pour mixture of the above ingredients (except pork) over them. Place pork into bean pot so that only rind is exposed. Pour additional water if necessary over beans to cover. Put on lid and place in slow oven 250-300 F. Bake about 8 hours. Once every 2 hrs add water if necessary to just cover. Towards the last of the cooking the water should be well absorbed. For the last ½ hour remove the lid that the rind may become brown and crisp. Serves 8.

IMBB 11 - Gail's Hummus

The following is my Aunt Gail's contribution to IMBB 11 ...

Hi Cathy---just a quick note to send you my "bean" recipe. This was taught to me by my friend Lorraine whose parents were Lebanese and was my first introduction to Middle Eastern cuisine, which I've come to really enjoy.


One can chick peas, drained, save liquid
3 (or more) cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
About 2 Tbsp liquid from peas

Put peas, garlic, salt and liquid from peas in food processor. Process till smooth, adding more liquid to achieve the consistency desired. Add tahini and lemon juice and process until smooth.
I like this used as a dip for baby carrots and celery, or as a spread on pita bread. It's so much better than purchased hummus!

IMBB 11 - Nupur's Pan-fried Sprouted Lentils

The following IMBB 11 entry was emailed to me by Nupur ...

Hi, Being a veggie, I LOVE beans of all types! For this IMBB I made"Pan-fried Sprouted Lentils". It's a tasty and easy recipe, takes about 10-15 minutes to put together. I started by sauteeing onions, ginger and garlic in some oil in a pan. To this I added turmeric, chili powder, cumin and coriander powder and seasoned it with salt. After frying the spices for a minute, I added sprouted lentils (see note), sauteed the lentils in the spices for 2 minutes, then added 1/4 cup of water and covered the pan for 7-8 minutes till the lentils were steamed and tender. Finally I tossed in some lemon juice and minced cilantro. This tastes great with some tomato, cucumber and whipped yogurt as a salad; or wrapped into a pita; though traditionally in India it is eaten with rice and "dal".

A note on sprouting lentils: I am baffled by all the fancy contraptions sold to sprout beans. I make sprouted week every week using two very hi-tech tools: a colander and a clean cotton cloth! I start by soaking a cup of beans or lentils (any kind that is sold whole will do) overnight. Then drain out the water and rinse the soaked beans several times. I place the cloth into the colander and then the beans on the cloth, and fold the edges of the cloth over the beans. I keep the beans moist by running water over the colander twice a day. In 2-3 days, you have sprouted beans! A cup of dry beans makes about 3 cups of sprouted beans.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Don't Forget!

IMBB 11 is tomorrow! So if you haven't already started on your beany masterpiece, hop to it! Once you've posted, send me an email with a link. Check back here on Monday for the round-up.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - January 19th

Too Many Chefs used to run a weekly feature called Posts of the Week which I really looked forward to. Of course part of the enjoyment was checking to see if my favorites were among their choices (or maybe, just perhaps, one of my own...), but the best part was being introduced to blogs I knew little if anything about. In this ever expanding world of food blogs, you need all the help you can get keeping up!

I thought I’d try my hand at a weekly feature that will highlight recipes that I’ve tried and liked from other blogs. These will not necessarily be posts from the current week – not only because I like to explore the archives of blogs that are new to me, but because I’m often a little pokey in getting around to preparing the recipes I print out. So, without further ado, the first edition of Dining with the Bloggers…

First up is a wonderful Carrot Habanero Soup that Alice of My Adventures in the Breadbox found in the current issue of Cooking Light. I can always count on Alice for great bean recipes, but here’s one with no beans. I’ve been a little timid about cooking with habanero peppers because of their reputation for being so hot. This soup uses a single habanero pepper which is pierced and thrown in whole. It is then removed before serving, giving the soup the perfect amount of heat. It’s also loaded with all sorts of vegetables – carrots, sweet potatoes, leeks, and onions – so you can’t help but feel virtuous when you eat it! Best of all, it really is a great-tasting soup.

People often comment on incidents of synchronicity among food bloggers, where two or more bloggers turn there attention to the same topic at nearly the same time. It happened again when both Linda of At Our Table and Debbie of Words to Eat By posted about a delicious and healthy snack – roasted chickpeas. I happened on Linda’s post first, which included a recipe for Baked Chickpeas with Herbs. I was curious but had some doubts when I first saw the recipe. After I tried them, though, I was hooked. They are nicely crunchy, but you won't break a tooth on them. The seasoning in Linda's recipe is really wonderful - garlic powder, cayenne, oregano and salt. I kept telling a coworker about them and promised repeatedly to bring some in for her to try. I um, never did bring her any… Maybe when I get around to trying Debbie’s recipe for Curry Roasted Chickpeas I’ll bring her some. Maybe.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Chocolate Peanut Cookies

Page 34 in the old book / page 48 in the new book

At long last, the eleventh and final chocolate drop cookie! They are Chocolate Peanut Cookies, and although they weren’t my favorite of the bunch, they were very good and I think they might have been the most popular among my coworkers. The chocolate icing is an obvious selling point and apparently the peanuts gained them high marks as well. They are small thick cookies that are firm to the bite and are very chocolaty.

The dough is the ultimate in simplicity, made of only chocolate, butter, sugar, eggs, flour, and salted peanuts. It mixed up quickly and was easy to handle, although the peanuts did make forming evenly sized and shaped cookies a little trickier. The glaze was supposed to be thin enough to spread on its own into a even layer over the whole cookie. It became obvious after the first couple of cookies that I didn’t have it thin enough to behave as it should, but I didn’t stop to futz with it. It was quite late, and I didn’t mind it going on a little thicker. The glaze continues to thicken as it stands, so I did have to stop to thin it with a little hot water a couple of times just to keep it a workable consistency. Using hot water to thin the glaze was suggested in the recipe and worked well – the only problem was its effects didn’t seem to last very long!

It was late when I finished icing these, so I left them sitting on the rack overnight to set the glaze. This wasn’t much longer than the suggested “several hours”, so I hoped it wouldn’t be too long. They didn’t seem to suffer for it, and as I mentioned above they were well received at work. I thought they were very good (I like an iced chocolate cookie as much as anyone else!), but they didn’t stand out much from some of the other cookies I’ve made over the past few weeks. If you’re a peanut lover though, this may be your cookie!

Next week – Whole-Wheat and Honey Hermits (with spices, currants, raisins, dates, and walnuts…yum, I can’t wait!!)

Nutrition Facts

Friday, January 14, 2005

Welcome to Maryland #3!

Guess what just came in the mail...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Food blogging in the news...

I came across this via the hungry tiger - an article in the Boston Globe about food blogging! Lots of familiar names too.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Cathy’s Secrets to Modestly Successful Cake Baking

I have a bad history with layer cakes. I can’t count how many times they’ve fallen or broken up on me. Then, of course, there were the ones that were just plain bad. I’m also not so good at achieving a polished look to my cakes – they look homemade. But I can’t complain about that ... I have bigger problems.

The really bad thing about this weakness of mine is that generally the only time I make a layer cake is for someone’s birthday. And seeing as how I’m always doing things at the last minute, there is seldom time to go out and buy a replacement, let alone bake a replacement.

I have not yet completely conquered my cake-baking ineptitude, but I do seem to have zeroed in on a few rules that have blessedly reduced the number of disasters. I know there are at least five or six more rules I haven’t figured out yet, but the three I have worked out have served me well.

1. Start with a good recipe. How do you know if you have a good recipe? Based on past experience – preferably your own. If you don’t want to make the same cake over and over (like me), then turn to a book or an author that you’ve come to trust. I have a book that has provided several recipes that have been successful, including the recipe for my most recent cake. It is The Wooden Spoon Dessert Book by Marilyn M. Moore. With this last cake, I think this book will now be where I turn first when I’m looking for a cake recipe (although I’m sure there is at least one disaster laying in wait between its covers).

2. Line the bottom of your pans with parchment. There’s just no excuse not to – it takes a few minutes, but it virtually guarantees that your cake layers will come cleanly out of the pans. Trace around the pans onto the parchment with a pencil and cut the pieces out, cutting just within the trace line. Grease the bottom of the pan, fit the piece of parchment into the pan and smooth it out, then grease and flour the parchment and the sides of the pan.

3. After you put your cake in the oven, grab the timer and evacuate the area. I go upstairs, but you could go for a walk or whatever. I used to start right in on the dishes as soon as I put the cake in the oven. I don’t know for a fact that this is what caused my cakes to fall, but it won’t be the thing that causes them to fall anymore.

Happily, the cake I made this weekend for my sister’s birthday didn’t fall or break and was really delicious. It was even reasonably attractive. It was a Toasted-Butter-Pecan Cake from the Wooden Spoon Dessert Book. The kids at the party were afraid of it because of the nuts, but the adults seemed to enjoy it very much. It’s a fairly small cake since it is made in 8-inch pans, but it is very rich and we had more than enough for 10. This was my first time making an 8-inch layer cake. I think I like this size – it looks nice and there are fewer leftovers!

Mondays with Maida - Chocolate Peanut-Butter Ripples

Page 32 in the old book / page 47 in the new book

I’m sort of copping out this week – these are cookies that I made and posted about a few months ago. I didn’t bake them again. Instead, I took the opportunity to work ahead a little and made next week’s cookies. So here is a little recap of the cookies that got me going on this project in the first place.

This week’s cookies are Chocolate and Peanut-Butter Ripples. They are thin, crisp cookies with a layer of peanut butter dough nestled between two chocolate layers. The cookies in the drawing that accompanies the recipe in the old book appear to have concentric circles of contrasting doughs: the bottom chocolate layer is the largest and is topped with a smaller layer of peanut butter which in turn is topped with another, smaller layer of chocolate.

The chocolate and peanut butter doughs are very simple and mix up quickly. The recipe calls for smooth peanut butter, but the only peanut butter I had on hand was the kind they grind in the grocery store, so I used that. I added a pinch of salt since there was none in the peanut butter. I was concerned that the consistency might cause some problems, but it seemed to work just fine. The flavor was great and the texture of the peanut butter layer was almost like the peanut butter in a Reese’s cup.

Assembling the cookies takes a little time, but is not difficult. You drop a small mound of chocolate dough, then top it with a small mound of the peanut butter dough, and cap that with another little mound of chocolate. The peanut butter dough was a little crumbly, so I shaped it with my fingers rather than dropping it from a teaspoon. The recipe suggests using a fork dipped in sugar to flatten the cookie, but I quickly abandoned that approach in favor of using a small plastic spatula. The chocolate dough was very soft and the fork, even though it was sugared, kept pulling off parts of the top layer that pushed up through the tines. You could also use a small glass – but a flat surface is definitely preferable to a fork. I would make one change next time – the recipe instructs you to divide the chocolate dough in half and use equal amounts in the bottom and top layers. I followed those directions this time and as you can see in the picture above, my cookies didn’t “ripple”. To achieve the concentric circles shown in the illustration, I think you would need to use more chocolate dough in the bottom layer and only a small amount in the top layer. It would also be interesting to see what would happen if you didn’t bother to flatten the cookies before baking them. I’ll bet they would spread just the same.

The cookies were delicious and despite the fact that the peanut butter appears to have all but disappeared from the outside, when you bite into one of the cookies there is a distinct layer of peanut butter. When I made these back in September, I gave them to my new next-door neighbors as a welcome gift. Good thing I got them out of the house – I think they could have been habit-forming!

Next week – The last chocolate drop cookie – Chocolate Peanut Cookies (hey Santos – they’re iced!)

Nutrition Facts

Friday, January 07, 2005

SHF 4 – Pistachio Gelato

Pistachios are fairly new to me. My first pistachio purchase was a mere two months ago when I bought a one pound bag of shelled pistachios in order to make Holiday Biscotti for IMBB 10. While I enjoyed the biscotti, I was frustrated that I couldn’t discern a distinctive pistachio flavor.

I mentioned to a friend that I was at a loss to describe or even recognize what pistachios taste like and asked her how she would describe the taste. She said when she thought of pistachios she thought of pistachio ice cream (which she thought had sort of a minty flavor), but she had her doubts as to whether that was truly pistachio. This conversation took place just days before I began looking for something to make for Sugar High Friday #4.

Sugar High Friday is the creation of Jennifer at The Domestic Goddess. It is a blogging event in which participants prepare something sweet which incorporates the theme ingredient and share the results by posting to their blog on the designated day. This time around it is hosted by Viv of Seattle Bon Vivant and the theme is nuts.

It didn’t occur to me at first to make something with pistachios. Since I am hosting a birthday party tomorrow, I spent quite a bit of time hunting for a cake recipe that featured nuts, would be suitable as a birthday cake, and would appeal to both adults and small children, but I came up empty. (Actually – I later found a recipe in The Wooden Spoon Dessert Book for a Toasted-Butter-Pecan Cake that sounds awesome. I'll be making it tonight and serving it tomorrow - so I'll have to tell you about that another time.)

After I widened my search to include anything made with nuts, I came upon a recipe for Pistachio Gelato at Leite’s Culinaria. Perfect! It appealed to me because it would be simple to make, I had pistachios to use up, and best of all – I might finally figure out what pistachios taste like.

The gelato base consists of whole milk and sugar. These are heated together and then ground pistachios are added and the mixture is allowed to steep overnight in the refrigerator. Just before freezing the gelato, you strain out the ground pistachios (though some fine bits find their way in, giving the finished gelato a nice texture). After fifteen to twenty minutes in the ice cream maker and an hour in the freezer to firm it up, you’ve got yourself some mighty fine gelato!

I suppose you might be wondering – does she know what pistachios taste like yet? Well, I’m not sure I can put it into words, but I think yes. I think the next time I taste it I’ll know it, and I’ll be thinking … mmmmm, pistachio!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

1000 Recipes

If you haven't already, take a look at Santos' proposal for travelling journals called 1000 Recipes. She has 3 journals ready to head out into the world, and I assume based on the project title that she is prepared to send out a few more as soon as there are enough takers. The idea is that when the journal comes to you, you enter one or more of your own recipes (with whatever artistic embellishments you're inclined to make) and then send it off to the next person in line. Ultimately, Santos intends to auction the journals and donate the proceeds to charity. Sounds like another fun way to connect with food lovers all over the world!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Chocolate Banana Cookies

Page 31 in the old book / page 42 in the new book

We’re coming down the home stretch with these chocolate drop cookies…I promise! This week it's Chocolate Banana cookies. These are to me an old-fashioned drop cookie. I’m not sure why I think that – perhaps because they remind me of a cookie my Mom used to make. It may also be because they are rather plain in appearance, but very tasty. They have a good amount of banana in them and would be a nice alternative to banana bread when you’re looking for a way to use up those aging bananas.

There are no unusual ingredients in these cookies – in fact, I had everything I needed on hand for a change. Melted chocolate chips provide the chocolate flavoring for these cookies and lots of walnuts provide added interest. These go together easily and I had no goof-ups this time. I did a couple of double-takes as I was following the recipe, though. The order that the ingredients are added is a bit different and I was a little paranoid after last week’s episode with seizing chocolate. The recipe is supposed to make 55 cookies, but I ended up with 45 cookies. Maida Heatter says to “Use a heaping teaspoonful (make these rather large) of the dough”, but not as large as I did, apparently. (Note: the nutrition data is based on 55 cookies.)

Easy peasy, no troubles, and in the end delicious cookies – can’t beat that! The dominant flavor in these cookies is the banana. I was wondering as I ate one if I would even be able to detect the chocolate in them if I didn’t know that it was in there (and had my eyes closed!). I think the chocolate provides a richness that would be missed even if it doesn't provide a distinctive taste of chocolate. In any case, they are very good. I ate one while still slightly warm and it had a delicate crunch on the outside and was soft on the inside. Then there’s the crunch of the walnuts and that wonderful banana flavor. Yum!

Next week will be a rerun of sorts – I will revisit the Chocolate and Peanut-Butter Ripples that I made a couple months ago before starting this project. Actually, it was making those cookies that inspired me to start Mondays with Maida. I realized after making them how few recipes I had tried in the book and how much I like those I had tried. I guess I just needed an excuse to make more cookies!

Nutrition Facts

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Is My Blog Burning 11 – Beans, beans, the musical fruit…

I have been stumped for weeks trying to think of a different tag line for IMBB 11, but that little chant from childhood just wouldn’t go away. So be it. This is the eleventh edition of Alberto’s creation, Is My Blog Burning, in which bloggers the world over come together to celebrate a food, a dish, or a cooking method and share the results. This time the theme is beans and the date is January 23rd, 2005.

What kind of beans? Anything your heart desires. I will only go so far as to define a bean as a legume (so jelly beans and coffee beans are out). The beans can be dried, fresh, canned, in the pod or not, or they could even be sprouted. They can be kidney beans, black-eyed peas, black beans, chickpeas, brown lentils, red lentils, chana dal, green beans, fava beans, navy beans, pinto beans, you name it. Prepare your creation on or before the 23rd, and then tell us all about it in a post to your blog on the 23rd. Once you’ve posted send me an email with the link to your entry. If you don’t have a blog and you’d like to participate, by all means do! Just email your entry to me and I will post it on my blog. Either way, it will be helpful to those of us tasting your entry virtually, if you include photos and a recipe (or a link to a recipe) if possible. On or about the 24th I will post a wrap-up so we can all find our way to every single beanie post.

As you may know, in some cultures beans are served on New Year’s Day and thought to bring luck or prosperity. For example, black-eyed peas are served in a dish called Hoppin’ John in the southern U.S. states and are thought to bring good luck in the new year. You may be eating your beans a little late, but here’s hoping they bring you a new year of peace, health and prosperity. Happy New Year to all!