Sichuan Chile Peanuts + Green Bean Salad

Well, it’s official, Eric and I are now card-carrying New York City residents! Library-card carrying, that is. Last weekend we walked into a Brooklyn public library and walked out with actual evidence that we, in fact, live here, as well as a few shiny loaner books for good measure. To solidify things, we walked on to the Greenpoint Green Market, bought the biggest bunch of kale I have ever seen, and spent the rest of the weekend drinking beer. At the end of it, we concluded that we are living the exact same life we lived in Chicago, just in Brooklyn. I’m beginning to realize that no matter where in the world you place us, we’ll always be the long-run-on-the-weekend, drink-good-beer, buy-lots-of-kale kind of couple.

Sichuan Chile Peanuts

As for these peanuts, well, I’ve been meaning to experiment with them after eating boat loads of Huang Fei Hong in China. What an addicting little snack – I just had to recreate it at home. And, to boot, I happened to have a giant jar of Sichuan chili oil, making this project so not a pain in the ass. 

Oh, and see that new background in the photos…. yep, that’s my new kitchen counter! My kitchen is considerably smaller than our place in Chicago – my baking pans and pizza stone don’t even fit in the oven – but it is also nicer and better laid out. Get used to a new marble backdrop to my photos!

Sichuan Chile Peanuts (2)

And then, feeling frisky, I took it a step further and made this green bean and edamame salad with a Sichuan-inspired dressing and those tasty little peanuts for texture. So there, now you have three reasons to make some Sichuan chile oil! I promise, it’s worth it.

Sichuan Beans + Edamame

Sichuan Chile Peanuts + Green Bean Salad

Some of the Chinese ingredients here may seem obscure, but do try to seek them out. Green Sichuan peppercorns, in my opinion, are not replaceable with the red. They have a more citrusy and pleasant flavor than the red and make the peanuts particularly addictive. See my post linked below for the chile oil on sourcing them. The Shaoxing wine has become a staple in my kitchen. It has such a lovely, unctuous flavor that adds that hint of complexity to the dressing.

Frozen green peas would work well here instead of edamame, also.

Oh, and the peanuts are a delicious snack on their own and go surprisingly well with both beer and red wine.

for the peanuts:

1 cup raw peanuts
2 tablespoons green Sichuan peppercorns
1 teaspoon red Sichuan peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon Sichuan Chili Oil (see this recipe)
3-4 dried red chile peppers, such as ancho, finely chopped

for the green bean salad:

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
5 ounces shelled frozen edamame
2 tablespoons Sichuai chile peanuts

1 tablespoon Sichuan chili oil
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar or rice wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, smashed to a paste in a mortar and pestle
1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder, optional

To make the peanuts, heat the oven to 250 and coat the peanuts in the Sichuan pepper oil. Spread them evenly in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for ten minutes. After ten minutes, pull them out and stir them around, then add the peppercorns. Mix and bake for another five minutes. Check them at this point – they should be browning and well roasted. Be careful, as they begin to burn very quickly. For me, they were perfect, but yours may take a couple more (or less!) minutes. When done roasting, add the chopped dried chile and mix well. Set aside.

For the salad, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and blanch the green beans for 1 minute. Drain and shock them in cold water. Cook the edamame according to package directions. In a small jar or bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and shake or stir vigorously. Toss the edamame and green beans with the dressing. Top with peanuts.

Advertisements

Ethiopian Ful

I was cleaning out my cupboards the other day and found one of the few souvenirs I brought back from Ethiopia last summer: berbere, a deep crimson spice mix that flavors a lot of Ethiopian foods. It’s a bit spicy and really flavorful, and I’ve been using it on everything. Berbere vinaigrette. Berbere cheese sauce over roasted broccoli and romanesco. Berbere yogurt dip. And this, Ethiopian ful, which is basically a stew made with dried fava beans that is eaten for breakfast.

Ethiopian Ful (3)

I regret never having tried ful while in Ethiopia – though I filled up on nearly everything else – so I’ve been wanting to make this at home. And the verdict is… yum! It’s so, so easy, too. I added a bunch of toppings that I had laying around, but they’re all pretty much optional. I saw ful served with eggs and crusty bread in Ethiopia, but the avocado, yogurt, feta, roasted tomatoes all added something nice as well. Next time I’m thinking an aleppo pepper oil to drizzle.

Ethiopian Ful

Ethiopian Ful

The berbere here is essential. You can buy a mix online or at a local spice shop, or you can try making your own at home.

1 cup dried fava beans

1 teaspoon clarified butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon berbere
salt to taste

to top: sliced avocado, oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, crumbled feta, plain yogurt, soft-boiled egg, squeeze of lime, cilantro, sliced green onions, sliced chile peppers, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice

Combine the dried fava beans with 3 cups of water and cook on a low simmer until all the liquid is absorbed.

In a large pan, heat the clarified butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the berbere and cook another minute longer. Add the cooked fava beans and 3/4 cup water. Season with salt and let cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Break apart the beans a bit as they cook more.

To serve, top with any or all of the garnishes listed. Eat with a spoon or fork or as they do in Ethiopia – with bread as your utensil!

Herby Garlic Soup

I’ve received more winter weather and wind chill advisories from my iphone weather app than I’d like to think about lately. Talking about the weather may be a little overdone, but seriously, this has been a harsh one. Oh, and I am running a half marathon on Saturday–a day for which the weather forecast keeps getting colder and colder and snowier and snowier. Good thing we have a trip to Puerto Rico coming up in just one week. In the mean time, garlic soup.

2014-01-23 at 12-32-08

This garlicky broth is not at all as harsh as it sounds. And for a 15-minute broth, this one packs a lot of flavor. In fact, I may ditch all my other vegetable broth recipes and just stick to this from now on.

2014-01-23 at 12-35-04

With lots of watercress and chives, this soup has nice herby, savory notes. The beans and carrots make it hearty, too. It’s just good.

2014-01-23 at 12-32-39

Herby Garlic Soup

1 head garlic
10-5 peppercorns

1-inch knob of ginger, sliced into 4 slices
2-3 bay leaves (optional)
4 cups water

1/2 cup cannellini beans, cooked
1/2 cup borlotti beans (or other heirloom bean), cooked
2 carrots, sliced thinly
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 bunch watercress, chopped
chives, sliced (optional)
salt, to taste

In a saucepan, combine garlic, peppercorns, ginger, bay leaves, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. After five minutes, remove the ginger and simmer another ten minutes. Strain out the garlic, peppercorns, and bay leaves (set the garlic and peppercorns aside; discard the bay leaves).

Pour the broth back into the pot and add the beans, carrots, and zucchini. Bring it back to a boil and then immediately remove from heat. This should be just enough to take the raw edge off the vegetables but still keep them crisp.

Salt to taste, and garnish with chives and watercress.

As for the garlic and peppercorns, combine with a bit of water in a blender and grind until smooth. Use a spoonful here or there to make a vinaigrette, or mix it with tahini and more herbs to make a vegetable dip. The garlic will taste mellow and sweet, almost as if it’s been roasted.

Green Bean + Garlic Scape Salad

I’ve been using my mortar and pestle almost daily lately. I’ve been making loads of tasty salad dressings with it and last night I made fresh basil pesto. What I love most about using the m&p is the way the garlic forms this liquid-y, flavorful paste when you smash it with a little salt. I’ve been getting this mild variety of garlic from the farmer’s market that works perfect in its raw form in a salad dressing.

Green Bean Salad 2

We went backpacking in the Cucamonga Wilderness outside of LA a couple weeks ago, which was pretty fun. It was my first time backpacking and it was pretty brilliant. Now that we have some gear, Eric and I will be doing more camping trips since they’re pretty inexpensive and fun.

Cucamonga 29

We have a little weekend trip to Portland coming up, also, which will include copious amounts of micro-brewed beer and tasty PNW food. I feel like I should be an advertisement for Southwest since that is who we have been and will be flying for all these trips. This view from my seat was too good, so I turned on my phone below 10,000 feet to take this picture while we were landing. Gasp!

Cucamonga 5

Green Bean Salad 1

Green Bean + Garlic Scape Salad with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

1 pound fresh green beans
garlic scapes, optional
1/2 medium-sized red onion
1/4 cup slivered almonds

1 small clove raw garlic
2 cloves roasted garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil

Start by bringing a pot of water – large enough to fit all the beans and garlic scapes in – to a boil. Prepare an ice water bath while the water is warming up. When the water starts to boil, add the green beans and garlic scapes and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the water and immediately put in the ice bath. Strain and set aside.

Slice the onion into thin slivers. Quick-pickling them by soaking in vinegar or lime juice while you’re preparing the recipe is great. I forgot to do this here, but feel free. Otherwise, set aside. Toast the almonds for a few minutes in a dry pan.

For the dressing, smash the raw garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt until it forms a paste. Add the roasted garlic. I like to pan-roast my garlic these days – just throw a couple cloves in a dry pan and move them around until the skins start to darken. Should take 5-8 minutes. Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan and then add those and the black peppercorns to the mortar and pestle. Crush the whole mixture together and add a splash of olive oil. Remove the mixture into a jar and add the lemon and olive oil. Shake to combine.

To serve, combine the beans and garlic scapes, onion, and almonds with the salad dressing.

Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

I know I have already posted two other chili recipes on here, but something with this cold weather has me making yet more chili. Different chili. This time I wanted to add some greens and lots of beans. I pureed the chili using a hand blender just before adding the (cooked) beans and greens because I wanted a really smooth texture rather than a really chunky chili. I also discovered that I like garnishing chili with fresh tomatoes like these little golden cherry tomatoes. They’re pretty, but they also add some summery freshness, which may not exactly be seasonal, but it is a nice contrast.

_MG_9937 - 2013-02-12 at 14-11-09

I still had frozen borlotti beans from when I made a bunch last time, but you could use any variety of beans you prefer. Kidney beans would be more traditional, but I can see pinto beans also tasting great. I have been making huge batches of beans the slow way (soaking overnight and then boiling the next day) and freezing them so I always have some on hand when I want them. I’ve also seen these quick-cooking beans at the grocery store in the refrigerated section of vegetables. I think they have already been soaked – they only take 15 minutes to cook. If you can find those, they work well also.

_MG_9938 - 2013-02-12 at 14-11-20

Three Bean Chili with Turnip Greens

2 yellow onions, diced
1 head garlic, minced
4 serrano peppers, minced
1 pound ground turkey
2 28-ounce cans San Marzano tomatoes, whole (if hand blending) or diced
2 heaping tablespoons cumin
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons chile paste*
4 cups water
1 teaspoon shaved dark chocolate
1.5 cups black beans, cooked
1.5 cups garbanzo beans, cooked
1.5 cups borlotti (or other) beans, cooked
1 bunch turnip greens, stems removed and finely chopped/shredded

Sauté the onions, garlic, and serrano peppers in a large pot (like a dutch oven) in olive oil or butter over medium high heat. When they begin to soften, add the ground turkey and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until the turkey is browned.

Add the tomatoes, spices, chile paste, and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes. Taste-test not and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the shaved dark chocolate and allow it to melt into the chili.

Here you have the option of hand blending the chili to smooth out the texture. If you prefer a chunky chili and used diced tomatoes, you can leave it as is.

Lastly, add the beans and shredded turnip greens. Allow beans to warm through and serve.

*I almost always have a container of chile paste in the fridge from other recipes. I take a package (or packages) of dried chiles – check the Mexican aisle – like guajillos. I dry toast them in a pan, then soak them in boiling water for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft. Use a blender to purée the chiles by adding in water a little at a time. You can add this to soups, chili, or even make it into a hot sauce by thinning it out and adding vinegar, a touch of honey, and salt. If it is too much of a fuss to make simply for this, you can omit it, though it certainly adds another element to the chili.

Black Bean, Butternut Squash, and Chorizo Soup

This recipe has been sitting on my Pinterest board for a while now, and the butternut squash and dried black beans have been on my counter for almost as many days. The original recipes comes by way of Sprouted Kitchen and did not include chorizo. Of course, the original recipe was much healthier! But chorizo makes everything better, and since I had some left over after I made Eric’s birthday chorizo mac and cheese, this Mexican-inspired soup seemed a perfect fit.

I had to adjust some quantities, so the recipe below is written as I made it.

Black Bean, Butternut Squash, and Chorizo Soup

adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 head of cabbage, chopped (about two cups)
3 cups cubed butternut squash
4 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, plus a little adobo sauce
3 cups cooked, black beans, plus extra liquid from black beans
1 pound chorizo, cooked

salt to taste

cilantro, for garnish
fried corn tortilla “crumbs” or strips, for garnish
pickled onions, for garnish

Sauté the onions in garlic in oil for about 5 minutes, until onions are translucent. Then add the squash, cabbage, cumin, and cocoa powder. Stir around for a minute, then add the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

In the meantime, cook the chorizo in a separate pan. Finely chop the chipotle and add it, with some juice, to the chorizo and stir around.

When the veggies are tender and cooked, add the black beans and chorizo. To make tortilla chip crumbs, I put some day-old corn tortillas in the food processor, then fried them in oil in a pan. I also happened to have some pickled red onions on hand – to make those, soak finely sliced red onions in lime juice for an hour or more. They make for a really pretty topping, and the acidity is a nice touch. Alternatively, squeeze a bit of lime juice over the soup before serving.

Really Good Chili

I have two weeks left of my first semester of grad school! I am feeling the pressure, let me tell you. Papers and projects plus work and work. Aaah. Somehow I will get it all done. Somehow.

_MG_6573

As the cooler weather starts coming on, I always start thinking of soup. And chili. I love chili. I decided to get a bit complicated with it this time and make Lisa Fain’s Seven Chile Chili (by the way, does anyone else get bothered when people interchange chile, chili, and chilly? Chile=pepper, chili=stew, chilly=cold) as featured on the Amateur Gourmet, a blog that I’m increasingly pulling really good recipes from. This chili cooks a long time, but the prep time isn’t so bad, so just find something to do for five hours or so in the meantime. The recipe below is written as I made it – who cares what Texans think because I love beans in my chili – but for the original, see here.

Really Good Chili

adapted from Lisa Fain’s recipe, as posted on Amateur Gourmet

4 dried ancho chiles
2 dried pasilla chiles
2 dried guajillo chiles
4 dried chiles de arbol
4 pieces of bacon
1 pounds chuck roast
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bottle of beer (I used Goose Island Harvest Ale)
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 15-oz can black beans
1 28-oz can diced or whole tomatoes (if whole, you will need to break them down a bit after they’re cooked)
1 28-oz can tomato sauce
2 tablespoons masa harina
Grated cheddar and chopped onions, for serving

Start by toasting the dried chiles. Rip the stems off the top and dump out most of the seeds – I left a few in to add some heat to the chili. Put them in a dry pan and toast them over medium heat for a few minutes, until they’re sort of fragrant. Pour water over the chiles, bring to a boil, then turn off heat and let the chiles soak while you prepare the other ingredients.

_MG_6551

Prepare your meat by removing the gristle from the chuck and then cutting it into 1-inch cubes. In a large pot or dutch oven, fry the bacon until pretty crispy. Remove and place on paper towel, leaving the bacon fat in the pot. Add the chuck and cook in the bacon fat until browned on all sides.

_MG_6554Bacon Strips!

_MG_6556

Remove the beef and place on a separate plate. Add more oil if needed, and cook the onions and garlic until translucent. Then add back the beef plus the beer, cumin, oregano, cinnamon, and salt. Crumble in the crispy bacon. Stir for a few more minutes to combine all the flavors, then add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and beans. Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.

_MG_6559

_MG_6564

Meanwhile, drain the chiles (save the water!) and place in a blender with one cup of the chile water. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Add the paste the the chile.

Turn the heat to low once the chile boils and let simmer uncovered for 5 hours. At this point, you can taste for seasoning and add a little more salt and/or pepper if needed. I also added just a touch more cumin and a smidge of granulated garlic.

In a separate bowl, mix 1/4 cup water with the masa harina (you can also use corn flour or corn meal here, like I did). After 5 hours, pour the masa harina mixture in the pot and stir.

_MG_6567

Simmer for another 30 minutes or so. Top with fresh-grated sharp cheddar cheese and onions.

_MG_6569

Moroccan Chickpea & Millet Salad

Part of being back in school with a totally new schedule is figuring out how and when to eat. I used to have a pretty routine schedule – breakfast at home, sandwich for lunch, run, dinner at home. For one, I’m pretty sick of sandwiches. I just can’t eat them anymore. And two, I’m not home or away at such predictable times anymore. One thing I have been doing to make sure I always have food with me (after all, now that my income is about a quarter of what it once was, we and I cannot afford to just go buy a $10 lunch whenever I am hungry) is to make a big batch of interesting and nutritious salads. I’ve also been carrying around homemade granola that is pretty awesome – I’ll share that recipe soon also.

_MG_6163

Anyway, this recipe was inspired by this Moroccan Chickpea recipe I saw recently on Serious Eats. I changed it up a bit and added some millet to add a little more substance for lunch. Millet is a new favorite of mine. It sort of feels and tastes like couscous, and it cooks up very quickly. I’ve also been looking for a way to use the preserved lemons that I made at the beginning of the summer, and this recipe fit perfectly. You can make your own by following this recipe or just use some fresh lemon zest and a little salt.

_MG_6174

Moroccan Chickpea & Millet Salad

Extra virgin olive oil
~1/2 pound spinach, rinsed and chopped
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 large tomato
diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 preserved lemon rind, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 cup millet
salt and pepper

Combine the millet with 2 1/2 cups water in a pot, let the water come to an almost boil, then reduce heat to medium low and let it sit for 20-25 minutes. Sauté the garlic in a little olive oil in a large pan for a minute or two, then add the chickpeas. In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, tomato, cumin, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika. Add this mixture and the red wine vinegar to the pan with chickpeas and garlic and stir to make sure all the chickpeas are covered in this mixture. Now add the spinach and continue to cook until there is no more liquid in the pan. Pull off the heat and set aside. When the millet is finished, toss it with the chickpeas, preserved lemons, and salt and pepper.

Creamy White Beans with Kale and Bacon

I don’t have many words tonight – there are many exciting things happening right now, but I’m not at liberty yet to share them on the internet. Soon, hopefully. I also have a ton of really tasty recipes to share – like my first ever loaf of bread! And a new soba noodle recipe. And more Vietnamese tastiness. In the meantime, enjoy this great recipe from the ever-reliable Heidi Swanson.

_MG_5471

_MG_5478

I’ve seen many recipes for something similar, but not one has been as good as this. The secret is the creamy and crusty white beans. That, and in my particular case, really good bacon. I bought this great bacon from Whole Paycheck straight from their meat department – no plastic packaging, no nitrates or nitrites, and no preservatives. Just good ‘ol smoked pork belly with some bacon-y spices. I’m convinced that part of the reason these beans turned out so well was that the bacon was of such high quality.

_MG_5473

Creamy White Beans with Kale and Bacon
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking

1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch strips
1 large shallot, diced
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 bunch lacinato kale, stems cut out and leaves cut into strips
salt and pepper

Saute the bacon over medium-high heat in a skillet, working in batches. When the bacon is nice and crispy, remove it from the pan and set it aside on a plate lined with paper towel, leaving the bacon fat in the pan.

Make sure the beans are very dry, then place them in the bacon fat in a single layer, again working in batches. Let them sit for a minute or two, until the bottom of each bean is golden and crispy, then stir them and flip and let sit for another minute. When both batches are finished, toss in the rest of the beans and bacon.

Add the rest of the ingredients – garlic, shallot, and kale. Season with salt and pepper and cook for a few minutes longer to wilt the kale and cook the shallot and garlic. Remove from heat and serve immediately.