Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bring on the Beans

By Marj Watkins

Bring on the beans!

You can do a lot with beans. Some people would rather not. "Too gas-producing," they say. You can diminish or even avoid that side effect in two ways. Avoid canned beans. They are guaranteed to produce flatulence. And cook your own, slowly, with digestive herbs  or seeds such as cumin, caraway, and/or dill seeds.

To cook beans that cause no gas:

1. Get dry beans. Great Northern or canola beans work well. So do lentils. Sprout them like this.
    Soak cup of  dry beans 18 to 24 hours. Drain. Rinse.
    Repeat several times, until they stick out their little tap roots.

2. Put the sprouted beans into a kettle. Cover with water plus an inch or so.
    Bring to a simmer.
    Add a bay leaf and  a rounded teaspoon of cumin powder.
   Cover.  Cook until tender enough to stick a pin in.
    Add 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir gently.
    Cook until you can easily mash a bean with the back of a fork's tines.

3. Make bean curry, bean soup,chili beans, or bean salad.

       2 to 3 Servings

1 1/2 cups cooked Great Northern Beans
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed, or white wine vinegar. or rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons slivered fresh mint leaves
1/2 Tablespoon fresh dill leaves
      or 1/2 teaspoon dried dill
2 to 4 red or green Lettuce leaves, washed and patted dry between tea towels
      or a similar amount of raw spinach leaves
3 green onions, tops included
Tomato wedges
2 quartered boiled eggs, optional

Put the beans in a  a jar. Add the oil, lemon juice, mint and dill.Stir, Chill several hours, stirring occasionally.
Just before serving, wash, dry, and slice the green onions. Mix half of  them with the beans. 

Wash the lettuce leaves. Blot them between tea towels or paper towels. Line a plate with the lettuce or spinach. Mound the marinated beans. Garnish with the rest of the slivered green onions. Arrange the tomato wedges around the edges. Tuck in egg quarters, if using.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Turkish Meatloaf

My son, John Macbeath Watkins (blog: booksellers vs bestsellers) tasted this and said, "Mom, you've GOT to puts this on your blog." So here it is. Bon appetite! 6 to 8 servings Preheat oven to 350 degrees 1 pound lean ground beef 1/2 pound Italian Style ground pork 1/2 cup Madeira or dry red wine 1/4 cup Tomato Sauce 2 beaten eggs 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/ teaspoon cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon ground oregano 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon garlic granules or 2 to 3 garlic cloves finely minced 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1 cup cooked brown rice or 1/2 cup flour Combine all ingredients well. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on depth of pan or pans.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Flavor of India

: Rijstaffel

The heart of a Rijstaffel dinner is the curry, a main dish provided by the host of a potluck shared by officers of the British India Army. Several toppings added interest and the nutrition of fruits and vegetables to a plate of a curry served over rice. Each guest had his servant boy carry in something to top the curry. The dishes of toppings were called "boys" because the boys brought them. 
Someone in the Brit soldier group must have visited Indonesia because the name 'rijstaffel' which translates "rice table" is Dutch and the dish's flavor reminiscent of the Spice Islands, Ternate and Tidore, in the northern Moluccas. It's said that when the Portuguese sailors who discovered those Islands were still miles out to sea, they could smell the cloves on Ternate, and knew they'd found the source of what had been a super-expensive imported ingredient for desserts and spiced mulled wine.

The other night we entertained a dinner guest who is a vegan, so I made Rijstaffel with this lentil curry as the main dish. Don't let the fairly long list of ingredients scare you. It's really the easiest of company dinners to make. Also it's thrifty, nutritious, delicious, and exotically gourmet!

     6 servings
Cook slowly for 30 minutes, covered:
     1 cup brown lentils soaked overnight or slightly spouted
     1 /2 Tablespoons butter or light olive oil
     1/2 Tablespoon mustard seeds
     1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, optional
     1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
     1 teaspoon dill seeds
     1 teaspoon celery seeds
Add and stir fry until onions are shiny and semi-transparent:
     1 large yellow onion wedge-cut in 1/4 inch slices
     3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
     1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves
     1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder (I used 2)
     1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
Add the onion and spice mixture to the lentils. Cover and cook slowly for 1 hour more, until the lentils are very soft. Stir. Serve over rice.
Let each diner top his or her rice-covered curry with choices from several side dishes, the "boys."
BOYS: sunflower seeds, raisins, pineapple bits, minced parsley, chopped roasted peanuts, slivered almonds, chopped green onions, and/or chopped hard-boiled eggs.
Ours was a 5-boy curry: We had all the above list, sans the slivered almonds.
Often a dish of plain yogurt is also offered here in America, but we stuck to the traditional, vegan menu.
Non-vegans might choose a chicken curry or, if nobody at the dinner is Hindu nor vegan, a beef curry. Yogurt cools the mouth after a spoonfyl or forkful of spicy-hot curry.
Bon appetite!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Cool Soup for a Hot Day

Even here on our lovely island in Puget Sound, northwestern Washington State, we get the occasional 80-degree day. Right now, on the last day of July, the temperature  outside our north windows is 71 degrees, but the wind makes it feel like 51 degrees. A hot soup would work fine, so shove your bowl of Gazpacho in the microwave and warm it for a minute, neighbors.

Maybe this post will work a little weather magic and tomorrow the wind will drop and the temperature rise. For you folks in Arizona and Florida, suffering temperatures well over 100, have a  bowl of this delicious Spanish cold soup and feel more comfortable.

Prep time: 15 minutes    Chilling time:  1 hour or more
       Servings:  6
Puree in blender or food processor, then transfer to a large serving bowl or tureen:''

2 medium cucumbers, peeled and finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped*
1 finely chopped green pepper
2 cups tomato juice
1 cup carrot juice or chicken broth or beef bouillon
2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
4 teaspoons virgin olive oil

Add and stir:
2 cups tomato juice or tomato based vegetable broth
Salt, black pepper and hot red Tabasco sauce to taste
Green onion tops, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/3 cup finely chopped cucumber
Cover and chill for at least 1 hour, up to 24 hours

At meal time, haul out the big bowl or tureen of chilled Gazpacho. Ladle portions into small bowls.
Garnish with:
       Minced fresh mint or cilantro.

Serve with garlic toast or grilled cheese sandwiches.

One serving of this healthy soup is loaded with 773milligrams of Potassium, yields 3 grams of Protein, 5507 I.U. Vitamin A, 110 milligrams of  sodium, 53 milligrams of calcium, and 15 milligrams of zinc.

 *To peel tomatoes: Dunk one red-ripe tomato  in enough boiling water to cover it. In 1 minute, retrieve the tomato and slip off the skin. Repeat with the second tomato.  Chop the tomatoes, saving the juice they exude and adding it to the gazpacho.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Taste of Thailand

 by Marj Watkins

My son Steve, currently teaching in Kunming, China, spent some years in Thailand. He and his Chinese wife visited recently,and I touched a nostalgic nerve by serving this favorite recipe. The platter heaped with noodles, shrimp, bean sprouts, toasted peanuts, etc. artfully ornamented with a ring of sliced tomatoes and cucumber arrived upon the dining table, and Steve said, "Mom, you've taken street food and turned it into an art form!"

4 Servings

¾ pound thin rice noodles. Soak in lukewarm water 15 minutes, until limp
2-3 tablespoons oil
3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 can small shrimp, or 1 cup cooked, peeled shrimp

2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce or Chinese soy sauce
3 Tablespoons ketchup
2 eggs, beaten with a little water

1 cup bean sprouts if available
¼ cup chopped toasted peanuts
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
Small handful chopped cilantro or parsley

            2 green onions, finely sliced
            Chopped cilantro or parsley
            2 Tablespoons more  of chopped toasted peanuts
            Halved cherry tomatoes or tomato wedges
            Cucumber slices

Immerse the noodles briefly in a large saucepan of boiling water until tender. Drain. Toss with a tablespoon or two of oil so they won't stick together.
Heat the oil and fry the garlic and shrimp. (If using canned shrimp, drain the liquid into a cup and add it later)
When garlic turns light golden, stir in the ketchup, soy sauce or fish sauce, and the eggs.
Add noodles and the third group of ingredients..
Turn out onto a platter.
Top with the green onions, cilantro or parsley, and peanuts.
Arrange tomatoes and cucumber slices around the edge of the pile of food.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Some like it hot

Some like it hot
Marj Watkins

My son, John Macbeath Watkins, author of the blog  Booksellers versus Bestsellers, likes his food spicy. He loves this dish. You can easily control the amount of hotness by going lighter or heavier on the cayenne, or only using half a green chili and less cayenne. Though I've given it a Tex Mex title, the recipe is derived from an egg curry originally from south India.

Nutrition tip: Don't worry about egg cholesterol. An egg contains enough methionine to emulsify its own fat plus a whole cup of oil when you make mayonnaise. Eggs will process that fat so your body can use it to make brain cells. Their protein is not only inexpensive, it is the high quality protein all other proteins are measured by. So enjoy your eggs in hell, con mucho gusto!

Eggs as the Devil Would Cook Them

3 to 4 servings

Start 4 eggs boiling. Cover. Remove from heat.

In a wide skillet, stir-fry 5 minutes:
         2 Tablespoons Ghee, Butter or Oil
1/3 cup minced onion
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 green chili pepper quartered, seeded and chopped
    or 2 goodly shakes dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne mixed with
1 Tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Add 1/2 cup water. Simmer 10 minutes.

Cool the eggs in running cold water. Peel them. Halve them.

Add: 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
        1/2 cup tomato sauce

Stir, taste, and add another dash of red pepper powder if not spicy enough for you.
Arrange the halved boiled eggs as a mandala ring. Cover and simmer 5 minutes to warm the eggs through.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Something from the Land, something from the Sea

by Marj Watkins

In Spain, as in Okinawa, they told us a well balanced meal features something from the land and something from the sea. Every lunch or dinner we ate in Spain gave us a bit of fish as well as a piece of meat, along with rice and a vegetable.

In Valencia, in southern Spain we found Seville, the lovely old town from which Christopher Columbus  and his three little ships are said to have departed to sail the Atlantic and discover America. In Seville we discovered Paella. It promptly became a favorite dish.

Paella combines rice, chicken, peas and seafoods—something from the land plus something from the sea—joined to make a one-dish meal cooked and served in a wide pan with two handles. It can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it. And there’s only one kettle to wash. You can cook it in a wide, deep skillet. All you need to complete the meal is a fresh vegetable salad drizzled with olive oil and vinegar, and a bowl of olives.

To make it less expensively, if you live near the sea, you can use mussels harvested from harbor pilings and clams dug from permitted beaches. Soak clams and mussels in a basin of water sprinkled with oatmeal to encourage them to spit out sand.

          4 servings

4 chicken drumsticks,
     or 1 cup cooked meat cut in large dice
¼ cup olive oil.
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 bell  pepper, cored, seeded, and cut in strips
½ teaspoon dillweed
½ teaspoon tarragon

4 to 8 mussels, scrubbed and beard removed
¼ pound large, cooked shrimp or 4 cooked, shelled prawns
2 teaspoons paprika
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 1/2 cups short grain rice
¼ teaspoon saffron powder or turmeric
½ to ¾ cup frozen peas
Garnish: Lemon wedges, optional

If using raw chicken pieces, sprinkle them with salt. Heat the oil in your largest skillet. Add the chicken pieces. Brown them. Add the onion and garlic, and bell pepper. Stir-fry until onions are soft. Sprinkle with paprika.

Add the rice, spreading it evenly. Stir-cook until rice is golden brown. (If in a hurry, just stir rice in and proceed.) Add the water or chicken stock. Bring to a low boil, Reduce heat. Cook covered until rice is almost done, about 40 minutes for brown rice.

Meanwhile, cook the mussels and clams in a little boiling water until they open (about 5 minutes). Discard any that don’t open. Reserve those that do open.

When the rice mixture is cooked, arrange the mussels, clams, shrimp or prawns, and the frozen peas, on top of the paella. Reduce the heat. Cover and cook, but don’t stir, for about 10 minutes

Let stand about 5 minutes before serving. Serve this beautiful dish from the skillet. Garnish it with lemon wedges if you wish.

Enjoy, con mucho gusto!