Archive | March, 2011

Spicy Butter Bean and Potato Casserole

25 Mar

Do you ever spend an entire day dreaming of a dish – even stopping at the grocery store to get a thing or two you need to make it – only to realize you are missing a key component?  That’s what happened to me today.  Originally, I envisioned this dish with chipotles in adobo, rather than paprika, Worcestershire, garlic hot sauce, hot horseradish mustard, and crushed red pepper flakes.  But I adapted from my original plan, and I think this dish turned out better for it.

The flavors here were decidedly Southwestern – reminiscent of barbecue beans.  Slightly spicy and slightly sweet and all-around delicious, this was everything I had craved all day and more.  This dish was amazingly meaty and filling for a vegetarian dish.  I am full, full full and there are plenty of leftovers to play with in the days ahead!

Spicy Butter Bean and Potato Casserole

2 15 oz. cans butter beans in brine, drained and rinsed, 1 cup brine reserved

5 red potatoes, scrubbed clean

1 tbs. Brummel & Brown

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1 jalapeño, minced (if you don’t want spice, remove seeds and ribs) (about 1 1/2 tbs.)

1 tbs. paprika

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, defrosted

2 tbs. fresh sage, finely chopped

1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce

1 tbs. garlic hot sauce

1 tbs. hot horseradish mustard

1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 tbs. tomato paste

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

sweet cornbread muffins

Non-stick cooking spray

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 375º.

Bring a medium pot of water to boil over medium-high heat.  Add potatoes and boil until slightly tender, about 12-15 minutes.  Drain and let cool.  Once cooled, dice.

While potatoes are cooking or cooling, add cornbread muffins to a food processor and pulse to form breadcrumbs.

In a 10″ cast iron skillet, heat Brummel & Brown over medium heat.  Add onion, season with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, and sauté until until translucent, 5-6 minutes.  Add jalapeño, potatoes, and paprika and sauté 10-12 minutes until potatoes are golden brown.  Add corn kernels, sage, Worcestershire sauce, garlic hot sauce, mustard, crushed red pepper flakes and tomato paste.  Cook, stirring continuously, 2-3 minutes.

Add butter beans and reserved brine.  Stir to combine ingredients evenly.  Add brown sugar and stir continuously, 2-3 minutes, until sugar is melted.  Add plain Greek yogurt and stir to combine thoroughly.

Spread into an even layer in cast iron skillet.  Top with sweet cornbread breadcrumbs.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Transfer to oven and bake 20-25 minutes  until cornbread breadcrumbs are golden brown.  Let sit 5-10 minutes and serve.

Garlic and Spinach Pasta

23 Mar

Sometimes simpler is better, and this dish is a prime representation of that.  The flavors of the mustard, lemon, spinach, and basil work together beautifully.  The dish, including boiling the water, comes together in about 15 minutes.  This is pretty much everything you could ask for on a busy week night meal – fast, easy, yummy, and filling.  Plus, it’s vegetarian, which is always a plus, in our opinion.

Garlic and Spinach Pasta

1/2 box whole wheat shell pasta, cooked and drained with 1/2 cup cooking water reserved

1 tbs. olive oil

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 6 oz. package frozen chopped spinach

1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped

2 lemons, juiced (about 1/4 cup)

1 tsp. ground mustard

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crushed red pepper flakes, if desired

In a large sauté pan or wok, heat olive oil.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Add spinach, basil, lemon juice, ground mustard, and season with kosher salt and liberally with freshly cracked black pepper.  Sauté until heated through, 2-3 minutes.

Add pasta and reserved and toss to combine.  If desired, garnish with crushed red pepper flakes.

Chinese-Style Fried Quinoa

22 Mar

Today, I was craving some fried rice but wanted to eat something healthful.  Thus, I decided to make Chinese-style fried quinoa – that way, I get the delicious goodness of fried rice but the benefits of whole grain quinoa.  I reduced the cholesterol by cutting out the egg yolks and amping up the vegetables.  Plus, this was fast and easy.  It comes together in about twenty minutes with about ten minutes of cooking time.  I loved the variation in texture and nutty flavor provided by the quinoa and thought this was a great spin on a classic.

Chinese-Style Fried Quinoa

1 tbs. corn oil, divided

3 eggs, whites and yolks separated, whites lightly beaten, yolks reserved for another purpose

2 tbs. soy sauce, divided

Dash sesame oil

1/2 cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)

1/2 cup frozen peas, defrosted

1 cup corn kernels, defrosted

1 stalk celery, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)

4 cups quinoa, cooked

4 green onions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced

Mix egg whites with a dash of soy sauce and sesame oil.  Set aside

Heat 1/2 tbs. corn oil in a large wok over medium-high heat.  Swirl to coat and let wok heat through.  Add egg whites to wok and scramble lightly.  Remove from wok and set aside.

Heat remaining 1/2 tbs. corn oil in wok.  Add mushrooms and cook 2 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add carrots and cook another 2 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add peas, corn, and celery and cook 1 minute, tossing frequently.  Add quinoa and green onions and cook 3 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add remaining soy sauce and chopped egg to quinoa mixture and fold in.  Stir fry for another 1 minute.  Serve immediately.

Corned Beef Reuben with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

19 Mar

A corned beef reuben is one of my favorite sandwiches of all time.  When I was a kid and we went to a bar for dinner, I invariably ordered a reuben.  Though I’m not much for Thousand Island dressing in other situations, I can’t get enough of it with some delicious, melt-y Swiss cheese and a mound of thinly sliced corned beef.  These sandwiches were double-stuffed and super messy, but ridiculously yummy.

Corned Beef Reuben with Homemade Thousand Island Dressing

Homemade Thousand Island Dressing:

Adapted from

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp. Worcestershire

2 tbs. ketchup

1 tbs. white wine vinegar

2 tsp. white sugar

2 tsp. sweet pickle relish

1 tsp. finely minced white onion

1 hard boiled egg, finely minced

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Whisk all ingredients well in a medium bowl.  Let sit several hours or overnight to allow sugar to dissolve and flavors to meld.


.75 lbs. homemade corned beef, sliced very thinly (about 1/8″)

4 slices rye bread

1/2 cup homemade Thousand Island dressing (see above)

1/2 cup sauerkraut, drained

4 thin slices Swiss cheese

2 tbs. Brummel & Brown, divided

Butter both sides of bread with Brummel & Brown.  Take 1-2 tbs. of Thousand Island dressing and smooth over all four slices of bread.

On two slices, place one slice of Swiss cheese.  Top with 1/4 of corned beef (half of amount for each sandwich). Add half of sauerkraut on each sandwich. Top with remaining 1/4 of corned beef and another slice of Swiss cheese.  Top with the other two slices of bread.

Heat remaining Brummel & Brown in a 10″ cast iron pan over medium-high.  Once melted, add sandwiches.  Cook 5-6 minutes per side until golden brown and cheese is melted.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes, Carrots, and Onions

18 Mar

I know this recipe isn’t particularly helpful to anyone else today, unless you’re looking to celebrate St. Patty’s Day six or seven days late.  But despite my love of food blogging, I really can’t bring myself to pretend it’s natural to cook the food we all identify with a particular holiday a week before that holiday.  Part of the reason I love cooking and eating so much is that food creates memories.  The scent of a turkey fresh out of the oven conjures up the image of Thanksgiving amongst family, for instance – at different houses throughout the years, but with the same loving people, the same delicious side dishes, and the same sounds of football in the background.  Every time I dig into some golden brown, cheesy scalloped potatoes, I think of my mom pulling the casserole out of the oven and the delicious garlic-y aroma that permeated the kitchen.  Steamed clams remind me of the spicy sweet scent of fall leaves and playing tag or whiffle ball with my brother and the neighborhood boys before our yearly clam bakes with the neighbors.

And corned beef and cabbage reminds me of putting on a sweater and watching the Patty’s Day parade in downtown Cleveland after ditching class with my friends from high school and swinging by the Irish American club for dinner, or my dad carefully pulling the brisket out of the large pot on their kitchen stove and then spooning liquid over my potatoes for me on St. Patrick’s day.  It just seems like a betrayal of those delicious and wonderful food memories to make something five days in advance so I can score a few more hits off of a search engine, ya know?

I was pleasantly surprised at how well this turned out.  The flavors were spot on, and the brisket was tender and juicy.  Plus, it doesn’t get much easier than throwing some meat and vegetables in a pot with water and spices and letting it simmer.

Corned Beef and Cabbage with Carrots and Onions


1 2.5 lb. beef brisket

1 quart water

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tbs. pickling salt

1 tbs. saltpeter/allum

2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. whole mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. ground mustard

1 tsp. whole black peppercorns

4 whole cloves

6 juniper berries

1/2 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. ground mace

2 dozen ice cubes

Place water into a large stock pot with kosher salt, brown sugar, pickling salt, saltpeter, cinnamon, mustard seeds, ground mustard, whole black pepper corns, whole cloves, juniper berries, bay leaves, ginger, and ground mace.  Cover over high heat until at a low boil, whisking occasionally.  When salt and sugar have dissolved, remove from heat and add ice.

Stir until ice is melted.  Let cool, placing in refrigerator if necessary.  The final temperature should be between 40-50º.

Place brisket in the pot and submerge.  Let sit in brine at least five days, checking occasionally to make sure the brisket is submerged (a heavy pan or plate may be necessary to accomplish this) and flip 2-3 times.

Boiled Corned Beef and Cabbage with Potatoes, Carrots, and Onions:

1 2.25 brined beef brisket (see above for brining instructions)

1/2 tsp. yellow mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. whole cloves

1/2 tsp. whole juniper berries

1/2 tsp. ground yellow mustard

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. ground mace

2 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ segments

7-10  small red potatoes, scrubbed clean

2-3 small yellow onions, halved

1/2 head cabbage, cut into small wedges

Hot horseradish, for serving

After at least five days, remove brisket from brine and rinse under cool water.  Place brisket into a pot just large enough to hold the meat.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for roughly 2 1/2 hours.

Add potatoes after 2 1/2 hours.  Once slightly tender or about 10-15 minutes, add carrots.  After another 10-15 minutes, add onions and cabbage.  Boil 15-20 minutes until cabbage and onions and tender.

Remove the corned beef from the pot and let rest 10-15 minutes (this can be done before adding the cabbage).  Cut against the grain.

Serve with cabbage, potatoes, carrots and onions, some juice from the boiling liquid, hot horseradish, and/or whole grain mustard.

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