October 30, 2017

Ranch Broccoli Gouda Twice Baked Potatoes




Ingredients:
4 large Russet potatoes (about 3 lbs)
2/3 cup shredded Gouda PLUS some for sprinkling
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 large head broccoli, cut into florets
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons dry ranch dressing mix
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Bake potatoes one hour or until fully cooked. Half each potato and scoop out the insides into a bowl. Place the empty skins openside up on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Meanwhile, steam the broccoli. Drain and set aside.

Add the broccoli to the bowl with the potatoes. Using a potato masher or large spoon, mix the potatoes and broccoli together until the broccoli is evenly distributed in the potato. Add the 2/3 cup shredded Gouda, butter, sour cream, spices and green onions and stir until well mixed. Scoop the mixture into the skins, sprinkle with additional Gouda.

Bake 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is browned and the potatoes are hot. Serve immediately.


My thoughts:
Some of you might have noticed that I have started another blog devoted to one of my favorite food stores, Aldi. I started shopping there about a year ago and have saved so much money! Most of my home life revolves around cooking and food is a major part of our social life too. Shopping at Aldi really cut our grocery bill (I spend less than $70 each week on groceries now) leaving more money for food festivals, dining out and indulging in specialty ingredients. 

I came up with the idea for the new blog after making these twice-baked potatoes and realizing that I made them using 100% ingredients I bought at Aldi. So I started my Aldi fan site Attention Aldi Shoppers.  There I share recipes, shopping tips, Aldi finds, and product reviews. If you have an Aldi near you, check it out!

As for these potatoes, they were so good! You could serve them as a vegetarian entree or as a side. They were super easy to make if a little time consuming because of the hour it takes you to bake a potato but they came together quickly and had a ton of flavor thanks to the gouda-broccoli combination. 


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October 28, 2017

Mystery Chili



Ingredients:

1 1/4 lb cubed sirloin or stew meat
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cubed roasted beets
4 cubanelle peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
15 oz (1 can) fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
10 oz (1 can) diced tomatoes with chopped chiles, drained
30 oz (2 cans) dark red kidney beans, drained
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon cocoa
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Spray a skillet with nonstick spray. Quickly saute the meat until the meat is just barely cooked on all sides. Add to a 4-quart slow cooker. Stir. In a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the meat mixture. Stir to evenly combine. Cook on low 7-8 hrs and then high until ready to serve (up to 2 hours). Stir prior to serving.

Note: if the chili looks watery then turn up to high and leave the lid ajar for 30 minutes or until thickened.


My thoughts:
It is chili season again! This chili was a bit of an experiment but it turned out so tasty, I thought I'd share it. The ingredients are a little wacky (hence "mystery chili") but they added a rich depth of flavor that is seldom found in chili. It is a very hearty, savory chili that isn't too spicy, perfect for a chili autumn day! 


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October 26, 2017

Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken)



Ingredients:
1 1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 teaspoons sake
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup potato starch*
canola oil

to serve (if having as a meal):
cooked Japanese rice
 your preferred furikake (I buy this variety pack)
diced scallions or spring onions


Directions:

Place the chicken, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, sake, and ginger in a resealable bag or marinating container. Toss to coat. Refrigerate 30-60 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1/2 inch of canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Whisk together the flour and potato starch in a medium bowl. Toss the chicken bits in the flour mixture to coat. Fry, turning once halfway through, until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Drain on paper-towel-lined plates. Serve immediately with furikake and scallion topped rice.


*Find this in a well-stocked market that sells Japanese or Jewish ingredients.
My thoughts:
I've had a craving for karaage for a while now but Baltimore is oddly lacking in Japanese restaurants. We have quite a few sushi restaurants but the majority are Korean owned (which is totally fine, but the nonsushi menu items are more likely to be bulgogi than izakaya-style snacks) an a couple of ramen places but no place that sells good karaage. So, of course, I had to make my own! My favorite way to have it is with a bunch of other snacky foods like various kushiyaki, pickled vegetables etc but since we are dining at home and frying chicken requires a bit of attention, I just serve it as a main dish with some rice. It would make a great party food if you double or triple the recipe as well.

The chicken is very crispy and flavorful thanks to the gingery marinade. The potato starch is really important to get the light, crisp crust so try and find it if possible. It is sold in pretty much any Asian grocery store (especially Japanese or Korean ones in my experience) or in regular stores normally near kosher foods because it can be used in making latkes and some Passover dishes. Cornstarch can be substituted but the results aren't quite the same.

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October 24, 2017

Sweet Chocolate Halloween Chex Mix



Ingredients
5 cups Chocolate Chex cereal
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts
1 1/2 cup broken vanilla pizzelles
1/2 cup chocolate-ginger pumpkin seeds* or plain pepitas
1 cup Halloween mix (like Brach's Mellowcreme Autumn Mix)
3 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Ingredients:

Pre-heat oven to 250.

In large bowl, mix cereals, nuts and pizzelles. Set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt the butter in a small pot.  Stir in seasonings. Pour over cereal mixture; stir until evenly coated.

Pour the cereal mix on a lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on paper towels to cool, about 15 minutes.


Store in airtight container.

*To make the seeds:

Preheat oven to 350. Place the cleaned seeds from the squash in a small pot. Fill halfway with water. Add  2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. Drain. Sprinkle lightly with olive oil, more heavily with cocoa and ground ginger. Stir to evenly distribute spice. Place in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Stir the seeds then bake for an additional 5 minutes or until they no longer look wet are instead toasted and crunchy looking.

Quick notes about ingredients:

Amazon Pantry has chocolate Chex if you are having trouble finding it or toss some cocoa powder in with the rest of the seasoning.

I used pizzelles I bought at Aldi. Feel free to use homemade/bakery pizzelles if available or sub in another waffle cookie.


My thoughts:
I was trying to fill a box for Amazon Pantry to justify the annoying $5.99 fee (Amazon Pantry is the only place that sells a specific cleaning product I ran out of) and I came across chocolate Chex. I am not a cereal eater except in treat form so I don't know if they are available widely or not but I was intrigued and bought a box. They are a mix of cocoa covered Chex and rice Chex  so they aren't super sweet. Since it is October and the colors are suitably autumnal, I thought I'd make a totally sweet Chex mix.

It was tempting to make a sweet and salty mix but it is Halloween and sweet things rule. I used candy, broken cookies, peanuts and homemade cocoa and ginger dusted pumpkin seeds to make a treat that adults and children alike would enjoy. 




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October 20, 2017

Pulled Pork Hash






Ingredients:

1 large Russet potato (about 1 lb), cubed
1 cubanelle pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
4 oz fresh spinach
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cup leftover pulled pork (any will do, I used my Honeycrisp Apple Pulled Pork)
2 fried eggs (like crispy, lacy eggs myself)

Directions:
In a large skillet, saute the onions, and pepper in some oil until the potato is nearly fork-tender. Stir in the spinach. Saute until the spinach is about half wilted. Season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Add the pork. Cover for 1-2 minutes. Remove the cover and saute until the pulled pork is cooked through and the potatoes are tender. Divide onto two plates, top with fried egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.






Serves: 2 (can be doubled)

My thoughts:
Whenever I make pulled pork, I always end up with a lot of leftovers. I normally freeze it or just eat it as a sandwich the next day but sometimes I get vaguely creative. I've made pulled pork grilled cheese, Matt just had a sort of donburi/loco moco inspired dish and had it over sticky rice and with an egg, and I made this hash. It is so easy yet flavored-packed thanks to using the great pulled pork I made the other day. It does take a bit of time because you are sauteing raw potatoes so keep that in mind (if you have parboiled or pre-cooked potatoes you can use those and speed the process up) but is is dead simple. 


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October 18, 2017

Honeycrisp Apple Pulled Pork




Ingredients:
1 large onion, sliced into half-moons
1 1/2 lb honeycrisp apples, sliced
2 1/2 lb boneless pork butt
12 oz bottle chili sauce (like Heinz)
1 teaspoon ground mustard (powder)
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
Place the onions and apples in the bottom of a 4-quart slow cooker. Place the pork roast on top of the onion. Add the remaining ingredients over the pork. Cover and cook on high 4 hours then on low for 4 hours. OR cook 9-10 hours on low. Remove the roast and shred with forks or "meat claws".  Discard any unwanted chunks of fat.

Mash the onions and apple mixture in the slow cooker until nearly completely smooth.


Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and toss with sauce. Serve on rolls or bread.


My thoughts:
It's apple season again! I am not a huge fan of fall as you may remember from nearly every post this time of year from 2004 to today. I like somethings about fall--when it is still hammock weather, apples, generally less humidity, baking again after avoiding the oven in my non-centrally air-conditioned home, deciding if I am brave enough to wear a poncho--but I don't like knowing that my least favorite season is coming, it getting dark early, no fresh tomatoes worth eating, no nectarines, colder temperatures. Blah! But I do love apples and my fruit consumption goes way up in fall because they are so easy and neat to eat.

My all-time favorite apple is the Stayman-Winesap but for a sweet apple, you can't beat the Honeycrisp. It is in fact, crisp and sweet like honey. They also can be huge! I literally only used one apple for this recipe! It was that big! This recipe is super simple, you don't have to do a lot of prep and it basically makes its own apple-y barbecue sauce as the meat cooks. The end result is melt in your mouth tender pork that is redolent of spices and apples. The perfect fall weeknight dinner.

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October 16, 2017

Stove-top Pimento Cheese Macaroni and Cheese



Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup dried elbow macaroni
4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained
8 oz brick extra sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
 Prepare noodles according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in the pan. Add the flour and spices. Whisk until it forms a paste, about 1 minute. Pour in the milk. Whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the cheddar, pimentos and Worcestershire sauce and whisk until thickened 3-5 minutes. Stir in drained noodles. Serve.
My thoughts:
I've never made stove top mac and cheese before! I'm normally a heavy seasoned, baked mac person (crispy, cheesy bits!) but since I am back into the cooking around my husband's work and school schedule time of the year again, I thought I'd try a quicker version.

I love pimento cheese and it really is a shame it is not more popular here in Baltimore. One of my favorite things about the South besides barbecue and meat and threes is the amount of what we call "ladies who lunch" restaurants; places where a salad plate means a scoop of chicken salad, pimento cheese and a scoop of tuna salad. Or if you are in Kentucky, benedictine.  The pimento cheese is always on point at those places. I've made a fair amount of pimento cheese over the years but never pimento mac and cheese before which seems like a major oversight.

I'm so glad I finally made it. There are no chewy bits in this macaroni and cheese but it is very creamy and very, very cheesy! It is also full of flavor thanks to the spices and pimentos. No bland box mac and cheese here! I went old school and served it with ham but anything would be good. Just be forewarned, it does cook up very quickly! We ended up eating way earlier than expected as it went from milk to thick cheese sauce in just minutes. I'm used to having to make it and bake it for nearly an hour in a casserole so having homemade mac and cheese in like 20 minutes was a bit of a foreign concept.

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October 13, 2017

Hangtown Fry-ttata



Ingredients:
1 pint shucked oysters, preferably "select" size
1 1/2 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chopped scallions
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup milk
10 eggs
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil



Directions:


Preheat oven to 350. Heat 1-inch canola oil in a heavy skillet.

In a small, shallow bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge each oyster in the cornmeal mixture and fry, turning once until golden. Drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.

Meanwhile, beat together the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until fluffy.  Stir in the scallion and bacon. Oil an 8x8-inch baking dish.  Arrange the oysters in a single layer in the bottom of the dish.

Pour the egg mixture into the dish and bake for 40 minutes or until fully set in the middle. Allow to cool 5 minutes. Slice into 9 squares and serve.



My thoughts:
It is prime oyster season here and I've been scoring pints of local oysters for under $10. The Hangtown fry is one of those weird dishes that had to have been invented by an American. Who else would think of adding fried oysters to scrambled eggs? There are a lot of variations and stories about the Hangtown fry but basically, it was an expensive breakfast that originated with miners during the California Gold Rush. Think: oysters were plentiful but not up in the mountains. It is only relatively recently that oysters can be safely purchased year round so think about having to keep them cool and alive in the 1880s and hauling them up a mountain! Only a successful prospector would think of such a meal! Other expensive ingredients would have been bacon and eggs so why not throw them all together in a sort of loose omelette?

 It is a little labor intensive to make a Hangtown fry and it is tricky to make it for a crowd and have it ready for everyone to eat at once so I thought turning it into a frittata was a clever move. It really only took about 20 minutes of prep time--I fried the bacon and the oysters at the same time and since it is a one-step breading process, I just dredged and dropped them in the hot oil one after another. Oysters only take about 5 minutes to fry, even if they are big "select" size oysters. I was worried about the texture but the oysters held up perfectly and the breading was still pretty crisp and provided that "fried" taste that is really needed to make this a Hangtown Fry-ttata vs a generic oyster frittata. It helps to use good bacon too, I like True Story bacon for dishes like this because it is thick and has a good porky, smoky flavor and isn't too salty but any thick cut bacon would work.

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October 11, 2017

Goo Goo Cookies






Ingredients:
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup salted dry roasted peanuts
10 soft caramels, cut into 1/4 inch pieces*
3/4 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips, marshmallow, peanuts and caramels. Form cookies by dropping 1 heaping teaspoon of dough two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake until light brown, about 14 minutes. Slide them out ON the parchment paper on to a wire rack and allow them to cool 2-5 minutes (or until the caramel isn't quite so molten) on the parchment on the wire rack before removing the parchment and allowing them to cool directly on the wire rack.

Yield: about 1 1/2-2 dozen cookies




*I used Werther's soft caramels and halved them. (they are super cheap at Aldi BTW)




My thoughts:
One of my favorite candy bars in the Goo Goo Cluster. Unfortunately, it isn't sold here in Baltimore so I have to stock up in airports and on trips further south. (You can order them online but I have had bad luck ordering chocolate outside the absolute dead of winter) For the uninitiated, the basic Goo Goo Cluster is a chocolate-covered mix of peanuts and caramel with a marshmallow cream center.

Since I don't have access to Goo Goo Clusters, I had an idea that makes me either a mad genius or just plain mad. Why not take all of the ingredients that make Goo Goo Clusters so awesome and turn them into a cookie? Why not, indeed. It worked surprisingly well! A few had some caramel ooze but that is to be expected. Any extra caramel was easily broken off the cookies after they cooled and the marshmallow basically melts into the batter and gives it a soft, chewy texture. The cookies were oddly not super duper sweet (thanks to the peanuts and dark chocolate, I think) but they are very satisfying to eat. The cookies really do taste like a Goo Goo Cluster and a chocolate chip cookie had a baby. So if slightly sticky, chewy, caramel-y, chocolate-y, peanut-y desserts are your thing, make these cookies today!

The dough is very chunky and a little sticky so if you have a cookie scoop, this a good excuse to put it to use.

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October 09, 2017

Roasted Oyster Mushrooms and Brussels Sprouts with Shiso and Shichimi Togarashi


Ingredients:
1 lb Brussels sprouts, quarted
1 onion, sliced into half moons
1 1/2 lb oyster mushrooms, stems removed and mushrooms separated into pieces
1-2 tablespoons shichimi togarashi*
1-2 tablespoons shiso fumi furikake* (rice seasoning)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Arrange the onions in a single layer, top with mushrooms and potatoes. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with shichimi togarashi and furikake . Bake for 18 minutes.

*I buy shichimi togarashi by the bag on Amazon and we bought this mixed case of furikake but any store with a well-stocked Japanese section should have it.

My thoughts:
Shiso, also known as perilla, has sort of a minty flavor that I really enjoy. The shiso furikake is basically just dried, shredded shiso so I thought it would be interesting to try in on something other than rice (or popcorn, my other favorite use for furikake). I'm glad I took the risk, it added a herby note to the dish and complemented the spices in the shichimi togarashi quite well. I love side dishes like this that are super easy but very tasty and satisfying.

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October 05, 2017

Crab Imperial



Ingredients:

for the imperial
16 oz lump blue crab meat
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon ground mustard (I like Colman's)
2 tablespoons Old Bay
1 egg, beaten
juice of 1/2 lemon


topping:
1/2-3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I used cheese bread from the bakery)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375.

In a large bowl, stir together imperial ingredients until all ingredients are evenly distributed.

Spread evenly in a 1 1/4 quart baking dish. Top with a layer of breadcrumbs. Bake 20 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Serve with crackers, bread or just a fork.
My thoughts:
Crab imperial is one of those dishes you don't see on menus too often, even here in crab-loving Baltimore. You see it more often as part of a larger dish (like shrimp stuffed with crab imperial--my fave) but not always by itself, either as a main dish or an appetizer. I don't know why not! If you like crab cakes you will love crab imperial because it is very, very similar but in some ways even better---there is literally no filler of any kind in crab imperial. So if you are a crab cake fanatic who searches for the crab cake with the least amount of bread cubes, crackers or bread crumbs, crab imperial is going to be your new favorite dish.

I personally had never made it at home before but crab season is still going strong so Maryland crab meat has been on sale and I've picked it up a few times. Last time I made crab cakes, which I love but are a little time consuming and hands-on so I thought I'd try something different. This was so easy! You just stir everything together, top with some crumbs for some crunch and there you go! Perfect for a meal or appetizer. I served it with bread slices and crackers but you can also serve it in spoons or individual ramekins. It is so flavorful and impressive. 

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October 04, 2017

Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)





Ingredients:

for the buns:
1/4 oz active dry yeast (1 packet)
5 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons freshly ground green cardamom*
1 egg
pinch salt

for the filling
1/4 cup butter, softened
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

for the topping:
1/3 cup Swedish pearl sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons water

extras:
wide muffin liners**


Directions:



In the bowl of a standmixer or a large bowl, pour in the yeast. Add 1/4 cup of the milk. Stir.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the butter.Whisk in the milk.

Pour the flour,  sugar, and cardamom into the bowl and whisk. Add the melted butter/milk mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, until a cohesive dough forms, about 10 minutes. Cover and allow to sit 30 minutes.

Arrange 24 liners on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 425.

On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough into 1/8 inch thick,  approximately 12 inches long, 8-inch wide rectangle. Spread with butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll into a tight 12-inch long log. Slice into 24 even slices. Place each slice, spiral side up, in a muffin liner. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

Beat together the egg and water. Spread over the top of each risen bun. Sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool on wire racks.






*Green cardamom is the secret in making authentic tasting Swedish baked goods. It is the whole pod of the cardamom and is very fragrant. I buy mine in Indian grocery stores or online. If unable to locate, use ground regular cardamom.

**I buy mine at Ikea, they are shorter than regular cupcake/muffin liners and about 3 inches wide. They come in a pack with other liners that work well with Swedish goodies like tiny ones to make Knäck (Swedish Toffee). If you can't find liners, place the buns 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Ikea often has Swedish pearl sugar for sale as well.


My thoughts:
Over the years we've gone to a quite a few Swedish celebrations. A lot if you consider that neither of us is Swedish! We've been to St Lucia and Midsummer celebrations at the Swedish museum in Philadelphia and several Swedish bazaars during the winter months around Washington DC.

What can I say? We like Swedish food! And  Swedes love baked goods. Go to any event, any time of the year and you will find kanelbullar, the Swedish version of cinnamon rolls. They are insanely popular in Sweden and are often found at fika, the coffee break they take every day. So it is only natural they have a day devoted to the cinnamon rolls, Kanelbullar Dag! Started in 1999, October 4th is celebrated by eating (and making) kanelbullar. The purpose is to celebrate the bun driving sales of dairy, yeast, and sugar. October was chosen because it was far from many of the other Swedish food holidays which celebrate everything from cheesecake , kräftskiva (the crayfish party celebrating the end of summer), to Kåldolmens dag (stuffed cabbage day)   Vårfrudagen (celebrating Swedish waffles). Not to mention all of the very specific traditional foods they have for Christmas (Janssons FrestelseJulköttbullar) , Shrove Tuesday, Midsummer (dill new potatoes), St Lucia and other major and minor holidays and the tradition of having pea soup on Thursdays.

Kanelbullar is a great first Swedish baked good because it is really easy. It takes a while because of the rise time but it is an easy dough to work with and comes together quite quickly. Unlike American-style cinnamon rolls, kanelbullar are made of cardamom flavored dough and topped with pearl sugar vs being drizzled in sticky icing. The result is a less sweet, less messy, slightly more cookie-like cinnamon bun that is great with coffee or tea. Plus they are pretty and impressive looking!

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October 02, 2017

Classic Red Beans and Rice




Ingredients:
16 oz dried small red beans*
4 cups chicken or ham stock
3 stalks celery (with leaves), diced
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 cubanelle peppers, diced
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
freshly ground black pepper
salt
1 lb andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch coins then halved


to serve:
a few cups of cooked, white rice
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)



Directions:
THE DAY BEFORE YOU WANT TO SERVE THIS:
In a large pot with a lid, soak the beans overnight. Drain the beans and return them to the pot. Fill with water and bring to a boil for at least 10 minutes**.

Drain the beans and add them to a 4 quart slow cooker. Add the stock, celery, onion, garlic, peppers, thyme and bay leaf. Stir. Cook on low 8-10 hours.

About 30-45 minutes before you would like to eat,  use a potato masher to mash some of the beans in in the slow cook. Stir.

Meanwhile, brown the sausage on both sides in a nonstick skillet. Stir into the beans. Continue to cook the remaining 30-45 minutes. Stir before serving over hot rice.

*You can use kidney beans but I find that smaller red beans (aka frijoles rojos pequeños) yields a creamier final product.

**Red beans must be cooked before serving in order to avoid kidney bean poisoning. Do not skip the boiling step.




My thoughts:
I had inexplicable craving for red beans and rice the other day. I mean, I always enjoy it when I have it but beans and rice isn't normally something I crave. I put it out of my head but then I saw some Texas-made andouille sausage on sale so it seemed destined that I make it.

This week I was laid up with an awful cold but I was still able to pull it together long enough to chop some vegetables in the morning and pop everything in the slow cooker. Then it cooked forever, I browned some sausage and there it was: creamy, comforting red beans and rice. I was happy without how well it turned out: well seasoned but not crazy spicy and the beans were super creamy the way I like them.

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