Monday, October 25, 2010

Sweet Potato Stew

This sweet potato stew with caramelized onions, black eyed peas and collard greens is a very tasty and hearty stew that is perfect for autumn. It is vegetarian - vegan, actually - but you will not think you are missing out on anything at all!


2 - large sweet potatoes
1 - large yellow onion
1 - bunch collard greens
1 - cup dry black eyed peas
1 - Tbsp. light or medium molasses
1 - Tbsp. ground cumin
1 - tsp. ground cardamom
1 - tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 - tsp. ground sage
1 - tsp. dried oregano
1/2 - tsp cinnamon
pinch - red pepper flakes
2 - Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 - lime, juice and zest
2 - tsp. salt
2 - Tbsp. olive oil
2 - qt. vegetable stock, water or a combination


Soak the black eyed peas overnight. Drain and rinse. Add fresh water to cover and cook until tender. (Hint: if you have a pressure cooker it will greatly speed up the process; if not, it may take 2 or more hours to cook the black eyed peas until they are really tender).

Cut the ends off the sweet potatoes, then peel off the skins with a potato peeler. Chop into bite sizes pieces and set aside.

Peel the onion and cut into chunks. Place the olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes into a large pot and heat until the oil thins. Roll it around until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated, then throw the cut up onion pieces in. Saute for a few minutes on high heat, until they start to break apart. Lower the heat to medium high and add the molasses, stirring to evenly coat the onions. Continue cooking until the onions caramelize, then remove from the pot and set aside.

Add the sweet potato chunks into the pot along with a little extra olive as needed. Saute the sweet potatoes until they have a little crust on them, then remove from the pot and set aside.

Next add the broth and deglaze the pot, then add in sauteed onions and sweet potatoes, then the blacked eyed peas that should be nearly cooked, draining any excess water from them before adding them to the stew.

While the stew simmers, add the rest of the seasonings and adjust the flavors by adding more salt if needed. Rinse and chop the collard greens also.

When the sweet potatoes and black eyed peas are done, add the collard greens, the balsamic vinegar and the lime juice and zest, and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes or until everything is done.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Corn Salad

This tasty salad is very summery, consisting mainly of corn, peppers and tomatoes.

It was the result of a lazy summer evening. I didn't feel like cooking, but there were some items in the refrigerator that were in there, I could feel it, sending accusing thoughts in my direction, that I had not used them yet, and was I planning to let them go bad or something? The very thought!

What else could I do? I opened the fridge, rummaged around and found some lovely white corn, a couple of sweet bell peppers, and a little mound of specialty cherry tomatoes.

Here's the recipe:

4 ears white corn, husked and the kernels cut off (*)
1 large orange bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
20 cherry tomatoes / 2 large tomatoes (**)
1 bunch chives
1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
4 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. white balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. fresh coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 tsp. blue agave nectar (you may substitute honey)
Fresh mixed baby salad greens

(*) If you want to cook the corn first, you can do so. I used sweet white corn and it was really very nice raw. I think the marinade may helped to remove some of the starchiness, because all I tasted was the sweetness. To cook the corn: place the ears of corn into boiling water after husking and let them boil for 3-5 minutes, enough to remove any starchy flavor. Then remove from the boiling water and plunge into ice water to stop cooking and hasten the cooling process. When cool, cut the kernels off and proceed.

(**) Red tomatoes give a great color and add a lively look. But just pick the most flavorful tomatoes you have. Heirlooms would be fun in this dish.

Place the kernels from the 4 ears of corn into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle 2 tsp. of lemon juice over them and turn them until all have some lemon juice.

Chop the bell peppers and tomatoes into small pieces -- they don't need to be as small as the corn kernels but maybe 2-4 times larger -- still pretty finely chopped. Put the rest of the chopped items in the bowl with the corn and sprinkle a little more lemon juice on the mixture while stirring to ensure everything is coated with the marinade. Chop the chives very finely and mix them in evenly.

Now add 1 tsp of white balsamic vinegar, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 tsp black pepper, and 1 to 2 tsp of blue agave nectar to taste, to balance the acidity of the lemon juice and balsamic vinegar. As you add each item, again stir all the chopped ingredients so everything is coated evenly.

Add 1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese and stir just to distribute evenly.

Serve chilled on top of fresh baby greens. Garnish with a sprinkle of shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese on top.


Substitute lime juice for lemon juice, use finely chopped cilantro instead of chives, and add some dried red pepper flakes for a Southwestern flair. You could also add some finely chopped red onion, and if you wanted to make it a more substantial dish you could add black beans, continuing the Southwestern theme.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Banana Bread Pudding With Brandy Sauce

Goodness, it's been awhile!

Well, it's my blog and I'll pause if I want to, pause if I want to, paaaause if I want to... You would pause too if it..., er, never mind! :-)

So. This weekend I was pondering what to do with three perfectly good ripe bananas that a guest had left with us. The one thing I knew was that I did not want to make banana bread.

But really, what else can you do with ripe bananas? I ask you.

I turned to Google and searched for "banana bread alternative". There were a few different recipes for Banana Bread Pudding. So I took elements of three different versions to create my own recipe, presented here. Which, to make a long story short, turned out very tasty indeed.

Banana Bread Pudding


3 c milk
3 c bread cubes (suggested bread: sourdough baguette*)
3 eggs
1 c sugar, scant (suggest 1/2 white sugar and 1/2 light brown sugar)
3 medium size ripe bananas, mashed
1 Tbsp vanilla
3/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp butter


Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit

Lightly grease a 9x13" or 10x12" baking pan (glass suggested)

*Note on suggested bread: I made this recipe using sourdough baguette for the bread, and it turned out perfect, because the bread has lots of leathery crust that stands up to the soaking and retains a lot of texture. The sourdough flavor adds some zing, too. You can certainly try other breads, though.

Cube the baguette into bite sized pieces until you have 3 to 3-1/2 cups of cubed bread. Place the bread in a bowl and pour the 3 cups of milk over it. Stir until all bread cubes are soaked, cover and set aside. The bread cubes should soak for 15 to 20 minutes.

Whisk the eggs in a large mixing bowl until well mixed and frothy. Add the sugar 1/4 cup at a time, whisking until the mixture is smooth after each addition. Add the mashed banana and whisk or stir until the mixture is smooth. Add the vanilla, grated nutmeg and cinnamon and mix thoroughly.

Now add the bread and milk mixture to the banana mixture and fold together until evenly mixed. Pour the pudding into the greased pan and dot the top with butter. Bake at 325 degree F for approximately 70 minutes.

Test for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the pudding. It should come out clean. You can also move the pan back and forth just a bit to see if the center jiggles like jello rather than like liquid; it's usually pretty easy to tell if it's done this way. Since this is a custard based recipe, you do want to avoid overcooking, and also avoid baking it at a higher temperature!

Remove from the oven when done and allow to cool to a warm temperature before serving.

If you would like to serve with brandy sauce, you can prepare this while the pudding is cooling:

Brandy Sauce

In a small saucepan, melt together 1/2 stick (4 Tbsp) butter and 1 cup light brown sugar. After the butter melts and the mixture is stirred evenly, cook on low heat for another 3 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Now add: 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp almond extract, and 1/4 cup brandy. Bring the mixture back just to the boil, then leave on low heat for another 5 minutes or so.

When the pudding is cool enough to serve, spoon it into a bowl and pour some of the brandy sauce on top. You can also serve it with ice cream or whipped cream, or just by itself!