Beans Archive

Monday, February 1, 2010

chana masala

chana masala

My latest snap of cravings for Indian food hit a couple weeks ago, and because I haven’t learned anything over my two stints in the East Village, we ordered in from a restaurant on 6th Street and received puddles of oily, listless and weakly spiced curries that we dragged our way through only to be rewarded with bellyaches. Also, regret. I have an archive of Indian recipes I make several times a year, that I crave like clockwork as soon as we hit a cold snap and never disappoint, a cabinet full of robust rust and mustard-colored powders and seeds and yet I let someone else put lackluster chana masala in our bellies.

finely chopped onion
canned whole tomatoes

I’ve made a slew of chana masalas — a Northern Indian chickpea stew with tomatoes — but none have made their way to you because while they’ve all been edible, with bowls licked clean as there are exactly no intersections of chickpeas and tomatoes that I won’t gobble down, I had yet to find The One. Many were closer to a spiced tomato sauce with chickpeas in it; few had the spice assault I was looking for and none had that thing, a sour note, you find in great Indian food but is more elusive to American home cooks with a curry habit.

a mutt of spices

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

black bean soup + toasted cumin seed crema

black bean soup with toasted cumin cream

So, I told you about the brisket. Or, the way we talk about it, thhhuuuuh brisssssket, it’s deliciousness making our syllables stretch out melodramatically. We pulled it into tacos with slaw and pickled onions and it was a great end to a great year. But I bet I know what you’ve been wondering since then, “But no appetizer?” Well, let thie question vex your brain no longer: we had soup. (Jacob, however, got into the margaritas. Again.)

dried black beans
red onions

My friend Jocelyn made a wonderful black bean soup and she topped it with a toasted cumin seed crema and I just about died, the crema was so good. I mean, the soup was delicious but the crema was one of those toppings that was in lock-step with the soup: the richest, creamist, smokiest accent to a spicy, hearty soup. Since I’ve been slow cooker obsessed since that very day, I vowed to make a version entirely in my new BFF, and to top it with that toasted cumin seed cream. Frankly, the soup is just an excuse to get to it.

onions, beans, peppers and garlic

Continued after the jump »

Thursday, January 7, 2010

barley risotto with beans and greens

barley risotto with beans and greens

So here’s a little eating-out confession: When we go out to restaurants, no matter how old-school posh or hot-new-It-chef-on-a-grungy-block, I rarely find myself moved to exclamation points over a piece of steak or a pasta dish; instead, it most of my ooh-ing and aah-ing is formed over the earnest piles of beans and grains and greens that form a bed for the main attraction. I’m always applauding the way a chef managed to get such flavorful beans, grains and even unloved greens, cooked so perfectly that I clean them out long before I stick my fork into the duck breast. I guess what I am trying to say is: A lot of people cook steak well. Making kale and wheat germ taste like nirvana itself is what really blows my mind.

pearled barley
red nightfall beans

It’s also, sadly, the place where the gap between what I pay others to cook and what I whip up at home is the greatest. I miss those sauces — those puddles of concentrated buttery rich brothy flavor! I want to splash in them! — I miss all of the in between spaces on my plate. I vow to conquer that this year. Bring on the puddles!

sad, old parmesan

Continued after the jump »

Monday, August 24, 2009

cubed, hacked caprese

cubed, hacked caprese

When it comes to off-the-cuff and mostly unplanned cooking, I have a tendency to do this thing that, depending on your perspective, is either a total shame or completely understandable: I don’t tell you about it. I’ll have thrown together a salad or a sandwich or some odd assortment of vegetables and couscous and made us lunch or dinner and Alex will say, “will you put this on your site?” and I’ll say “Of course not. Is there some shortage of recipes for sandwiches or roasted vegetables on the internet? Feh, it would be totally boring content.” [Yes, I actually talk like this. It’s embarrassing and I should keep to myself.]


Anyway, I made one of these Deb Dishes the other night and again snorted when Alex suggested I share it with you, until I was about three-quarters of the way done with mine and I realized that just because talking about caprese, or my own hacked version of it, isn’t exactly the height of cooking originality, doesn’t mean that someone wouldn’t enjoy eating exactly what we had in front of us.


So let’s talk about this cubed-up caprese salad I often make for barbecues or pot-lucks or whenever I want to eat something really summery without doing more than a lick of work: I dice mozzarella and tomatoes together, drain and rinse a can of white beans and toss it with a mixture of pesto (though slivered basil works in a pinch) and red wine vinegar and season it generously with salt and pepper. Sometimes I even add bits of proscuitto, if we have any around, and I’m feeling wild. Yes, revolutionary, I know.

pesto-addled caprese

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

pasta with favas, tomatoes and sausage

pasta with favas and sausage

I wish I could tell you that the last meal cooked in the first Smitten Kitchen was a triumph, a fitting coda to four-plus years in a sun-drenched Manhattan kitchen with enough space to put everything away (not that I’m pointing fingers or anything, new kitchen) and space enough for two people (and at least one growing midsection) to settle comfortably within it. Alas, that was not the case.

blanching fresh favas

Instead it was prepared in the evening (when even the skylight couldn’t be taken advantage of), in kind of rushed (as in, “why am I cooking dinner when I should be packing things, or pretending to pack things while actually reading the internet?”) and was less of a “I’ve always wanted to make this” and more of a “if we’re packing up the kitchen tomorrow, let’s get on last meal in tonight.” Ah, the glamor! But isn’t this so often what weekday night cooking is about?

Continued after the jump »