Posts Tagged ‘crockpot cooking’

Diabetic Friendly and Vegan Tomatoes and Cannelloni Beans Over Barley

December 29, 2010

Diabetic Friendly Tomatoes and Cannelloni Beans Over Barley

After a year of cooking portioned controlled meals for one or two I have come to accept that it is very easy to cook Vegan and Vegetarian meals for one or two that have great taste and are filling if you just stop looking for vegan recipes and follow your heart while modifying traditional family recipes and searching for a little more knowledge. This has now become important to me as the people I am most likely to cook for on a regular basis are either vegetarians or former vegetarians who now also eat chicken and fish. It seems that most of them have settled for fairly bland foods from vegetarian restaurants which were attempting to cut costs while using fresh vegetables by eliminating the spices.

This meal of Cannelloni beans and Tomatoes is already Vegan and was traditionally served over white rice which is actually a shame. I probably would have made in a traditional manner with fresh fennel and white rice but couldn’t find any fennel locally so this caused me to explore the web and find out how healthy the combination was and what I could do to improve the healthiness of the meal.

I found out that Tomatoes and Cannelloni beans are both excellent for a diabetic diet which none of my close friends have in addition to the beans having a positive impact on cholesterol which I have had problems with in the past. I chose four spices from the 10 herbs for health list in addition to the traditional parsley which also has incredible health benefits.

Parsley is good for a healthy heart and to protect against cancer. Basil and thyme prevent colds and coughs, garlic also reduces cholesterol and I almost forgot to mention that rosemary improves memory which is important at my age. Now to make this meal perfectly healthy and to maintain full flavor I decided to check the white rice.

Seems rice is a no-no for potential diabetics as those who eat it 5 times a week have an increased chance of diabetes. Brown rice as a substitute reduces the risk by 16% and Barley was associated with an incredible 36% reduction of the incidence of Diabetes. Since I like all three and had already come to accept this as a diabetic friendly healthy meal, I decided to serve it over barley and everything worked together for a very flavorful meal.

Ingredients:

1 T. Olive Oil

1 onion chopped

4 cloves garlic (2T minced)

1 thin slice scotch bonnet or other hot pepper. (¼ tsp red pepper)

1 T basil

1 T Parsley

1 tsp rosemary

½ tsp thyme

1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)

1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)

1 can Cannelloni Beans (14.5 oz)

1 cup cooked Barley

Directions:

  1. Add oil, garlic, hot pepper and onion to the pot and sautee until glazed about ½ hour in coffeepot
  2. Remove from heat add spices, tomatoes, and tomato sauce and mix
  3. Simmer for 1 hour or more

    Add spices, tomatoes, and tomato sauce and mix

  4. Add beans and bring up to temperature about hour in coffee pot

    All in the Pot

  5. Serve over cooked hot barley

Do You Really Have to Sacrifice and Suffer Just to Eat Healthy?

No!!! This was a powerfully delicious meal and as discussed above, it would be hard to make something healthier for you that I would still want to eat.

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Chick Pea Curry – Indian Style

December 19, 2010

Chick Pea Curry – Indian Cholay

This recipe started life from one posted on Monica’s Spice Diary. I made it when my granddaughters were here and both loved it. I believe part of the reason is because it is not as Spicy and Boldly flavored as the Shrimp Curry or Pinto Bean Curry which only the older one really loved. This time. I made three changes from the original recipe and two are optional and the other recommended.

I used olive oil instead of butter to make it vegan (Optional). Also, I included Lemon Grass (Optional) in the recipe for a few reasons; I have it in abundance, I like the flavor and one other reason. The other change was to include a thickener to make it less watery on the plate as I like the thicker gravy because it clings to the food instead of running over the plate. The first time I made this I did it on the stove so I altered nothing and still found the sauce watery. This time I did it in the coffeepot so any reduction in liquid level would have been impossible with reasonable cooking times.

If you are making enough (at least double this recipe) this recipe will work fine in a crockpot once you have completed steps 1 and 2 and transfer the mixture to the crockpot. It will also work fine on the stove top in a small pot and I still recommend the thickener.

Ingredients:

1 T. Olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 whole diced onion

4 cloves fresh grated minced

1 T. fresh grated ginger

1/2 can diced tomatoes no liquid

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1 can cooked chick peas (also called garbanzo beans) with liquid

1 T. yogurt

1 T. corn starch

1 Handful of freshly chopped coriander

1 piece Lemon Grass for garnish

Directions:

  1. Put the oil and the seeds in the pot and let cook until they sizzle or about ½ hour.

    Sizzlig seeds

  2. Add the onion and Garlic until the onion glazes over.

    Grated fresh ginger

  3. Add the grated ginger, salt, garam marasla, coriander powder, turmeric and paprika.
  4. Place back on hot plate for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes and optional lemon grass.

    All spices and aromatics in the pot

  6. Cook for ½ hour
  7. Add the chick peas and cook for 2 hours.

    Add the chick peas

  8. Mix the sour cream and corn starch together and stir into the pot when uniform
  9. When thickened, remove from heat and serve with fresh coriander (cilantro) sprinkled over the rice and curry.

The other reason I added the Lemon Grass in the recipe was so I could use it as a thematic garnish for those who do not recognize what fresh Lemon Grass looks like.

Vegan Red Beans and Brown Rice

December 16, 2010

Vegan Red Beans and Brown Rice

Red Beans and Brown Rice is a very filling and flavorful Vegan Meal and if you ever read the label on a chili powder package you would blend your own spices as I do. The Spice Classics label uses chili pepper while I use the local hot pepper for flavor and paprika for the red color. I also use oregano and garlic as do they.

Now this is where the label gets interesting, they add more Silicone Dioxide (sand) to the blend then they do either Oregano or Garlic. Somehow, it never crossed my mind that I should add crushed rocks to my food. But then after raising a couple of children, I do accept that eating a little dirt every now and then never killed anyone. I just don’t like the idea of paying for it.

Over the past year I have made meals with similar ingredients but with each rendition, it has become allegedly healthier. The first time I made this meal, I used 4 ounces of Spam and black beans so an incredible 70% of the calories in the pot came from the fat associated with the Spam.

Upon reflection, I recognized that the spice blend was close to chili so that I could easily switch to Turkey Ham which sounds like a big improvement until you read the label. The one I purchased in a 2 pound block was more than 50% fat and looked and tasted like bologna which is fine if that’s the flavor you are looking for. I am using it up 4 ounces at a time and it should be done by next year some time.

This rendition which was excellent and was made vegan on purpose as I am doing my sort of traditional, Pre-holiday purge. I used red beans because I ran out of black beans and used olive oil to saute the onions, garlic and pepper.

Ingredients:

1 T. olive oil

1 onion chopped

1 tsp crushed garlic

thin slice scotch bonnet pepper, red pepper or other hot pepper

14.5 oz can of Red Kidney Beans with liquid

1 (15 0z ) can of crushed or diced tomatoes

1 can vegetable broth (15 oz.)

1/2 cup brown rice

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp oregano

1 tsp paprika

Salt to taste (optional)

Directions:

  1. Saute the olive oil, onion, garlic and hot pepper until the onion is glazed, this takes about 30 minutes in my unattended coffeepot and a lot less on the stove.

    Saute the olive oil, onion, garlic and hot pepper

  2. Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot or add everything to the Crockpot. If cooking on the stove you will have to watch it simmer for the next 30-45 minutes or until the rice is done.

    Add all the rest of the ingredients to the pot

  3. If cooking in a crockpot on low or the coffeepot, cook for 4 -8 hours. After four hours it is done but left alone it is still fine after 8 hours and everything blends better with slow cooking.
  4. If you want to add Ham or Turkey ham add it when the onions are being sauteed so the flavors bend.

Super Vegan Acorn Squash Soup

December 10, 2010

Super Vegan Acorn Squash Soup

Whenever I find a recipe I like, I try to tweak it and improve it. Most of the time it’s different but still good, very rarely is it weaker and occasionally you hit a rock your socks improvement. My adjustments are small. If it’s 90% vegetarian with the exception of chicken broth and butter why not try it with vegetable broth and olive oil and make it vegan especially when you cook for friends who are vegetarians. They will appreciate the effort.

My friend Vanise is not a pure vegetarian but leans in that direction by preference. When eating out or ordering a plate of food to go, she will usually order a vegetarian meal. I eat almost anything of any genre as long as it has bold flavors and is not sweet. I love to make people happy with my cooking so if I know what your favorite is and it’s a rich spicy food, I am going to do my best to make you happy and cook your meal your way. It simply never crossed my mind that anybody would compare the rich cheese flavor of the Penne and Cauliflower in white sauce to a vegan soup.

But I got over it when I recognized that both were creamy rich sauces with bold flavors and pasta. Vanise loved the cauliflower meal but loved the acorn squash soup even more. This meal started with a recipe for Italian Pumpkin soup which immediacy morphed into an acorn squash soup and now that I have added bay, deleted butter and changed to vegetable broth and eliminated Parmesan, we have arrived at our Souper Vegan Acorn Squash.

Ingredients:

1 T. olive oil

1 medium onion diced

2 garlic cloves

1 thin slice hot pepper (scotch bonnet, optional)

1 Bay leaf

1 small acorn squash

1 can (15 oz.) vegetable broth

1 tsp. Salt

½ cup elbow macaroni

Fresh ground white pepper and nutmeg to taste

Directions:

  1. Saute onion, garlic, olive oil, hot pepper and bay in the coffeepot for ½ hour.

    Saute onion, garlic, olive oil, hot pepper and bay

  2. Peel and cube the acorn squash. Get rid of skins and seeds.

    Peel and clean the acorn squash

  3. Take out the hot pepper slice and add the squash and broth to the pot. Cook for 2 hours until squash is soft to a fork.

    Add the squash and broth to the pot

  4. Remove Bay leaf and puree the rest of the soup in a blender. Return it to the coffeepot and hot plate.

    Remove Bay leaf and puree the rest of the soup

  5. About ½ hour before serving add the elbow macaroni to the pot.
  6. Serve with fresh grated white pepper and nutmeg.

Even though the whole pot only contained 750 calories with about 1/3  from the olive oil, this was actually enough for two people. I had mine for dinner and Vanise had hers for lunch when she stopped by to check on me the next day. It is very flavorful and filling. It just happens to be vegan.

Penne with Cauliflower in White Sauce or “Penne con Cavolfiore”

December 9, 2010

Penne with Cauliflower in White Sauce or “Penne con Cavolfiore”

Simply Stated, this is my best vegetarian meal ever. I always thought I hated vegetarian food because it lacked the rich spices and full flavor of Italian, French, Spanish, Caribbean, Indian and Thai foods so I petty much ignored the genre until I started cooking in my coffee pot. While searching for adaptable recipes, I discovered everybody in the world has full flavored hearty vegetarian meals that might satisfy me except perhaps America, Pizza is the one American exception but Italy seems to have reclaimed that meal as their own,

At the time, I naturally went to my favorite cookbooks and one of my best for Italian foods is Carla Capalbo’s “The Cook’s Encyclopedia of Italian Cooking.” Now my daughter and niece were not just on my case to lose weight by eating less, they wanted me to eat more sensibly; more vegetables, less ham, less fatty meat and pork etc,

One of the first things I saw was that there were many Italian Vegetarian Recipes and the reason is obvious. They had hundreds of years to develop real food that tasted Italian on all those meatless Fridays and Thank God they did. I immediately tried a few vegetarian recipes and each one was more fantastic than the last. I held off on this recipe, Penne with Cauliflower in white sauce because I generally don’t like sauces made with cream or milk and locally cauliflower is too expensive to waste on a bad meal. The simultaneous occurrence of a sale on cauliflower and left over milk from my Great Nephews visit was a sign for me that I must try this meal and I am glad I did. It is not only the best white sauce I have ever had, it was also the best vegetarian meal I have ever eaten.

Now I do have a great advantage over other cooks. It seem that the coffee pot is the ideal kitchen appliance for making a white sauce. When I was still checking for the limits of coffeepot cooking, I made a pot of Clam chowder using milk and condensed soup and went to an all day festival. I returned to my pot of soup 7 hours later and nothing was burnt, scalded or ruined, I was amazed.

The next discovery I made was that a room temperature rue works just fine if you make it an hour ahead of time and work the flour into the butter using the amounts called for in the recipe and then letting it sit at room temperature. As a matter of fact it is far easier to work the cold rue into milk that has come to 160 Fahrenheit (2 hours) using a whisk or fork then it is to work the milk into a hot rue that is very gummy and slightly too hot.

Ingredients:

The flowers from1 medium cauliflower

2 cups low fat milk

1 bay leaf

½ stick butter

½ cup flower

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black or white pepper freshly ground

¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Method:

  1. Mix the flower and butter together with the back side of a fork until a smooth past is formed let sit at room temperature.

    Preparing a Cold Rue

  2. Place the cauliflower flowers with 1 tsp salt in the coffee pot and add sufficient water to the coffeemaker to cover them completely. I did this a cup at a time so as not to overfill the pot. Cover with Aluminum foil and hold for ½ hour.

    Cooking the Cauliflower

  3. They should still be crisp. Drain and set aside.

    Cooked Cauliflower

  4. Put the milk in the coffee pot with the bay leaf and let come to temperature about 2 hours.
  5. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the rue, the sauce will thicken right away. Add the cheese and stir in the pot. When all is smooth, add the cauliflower to the pot and gently stir until uniform. Be careful when stirring in the rue and the cheese. I used a fork to transfer the rue to the pot and a whisk to stir so as not to crack the glass pot. I used a Teflon spoon to stir in the cauliflower.
  6. Serve over pasta and don’t worry if you have to hold it a few hours, just dilute with a little more milk if it thickens too much. No burning, scalding or separating will occur even when you microwave the leftovers.

This meal was fantastic and my vegetarian friend absolutely loved it.

Salt Fish Marinara (Baccala alla Marinara)

December 7, 2010

Salt Fish Marinara (Baccala alla Marinara)

This recipe evolved from my Puttanesca Sauce Recipe and a recipe I read for a dried codfish soup (Zuppa di Stoccafisso) which had as the principle ingredients dried codfish and tomato sauce. The problem is that I had never seen dried codfish sold in our community but thought that properly washed salt fish would be a good substitute. (It turns out that salting replaced drying about 400 years ago as the dominant form or preserving cod.)

Since most of my friends prefer pasta over soup for dinner, I decided on a pasta sauce using my Puttanesca recipe as a base and adapting for the fact that I had no olives of any kind and didn’t feel like going to the store so substituted a bay leaf.

It turns out if my Italian were better, I could have saved myself the trouble and deprived myself of the fun of developing my own recipe and just found one for “Baccala alla Marinara” which is the real name in Italian. There is really not much difference in the recipes as the traditional ones uses olives instead of Bay, but I knew that. Also, they skip the sweet and hot of basil and hot pepper in favor of oregano. Overall, the rest of the ingredients are about the same and I suspect the flavor is still very close.

Ingredients:

1 T olive oil

2-3 cloves minced garlic

1 thin slice fresh hot pepper (optional) or ¼ tsp dry oragano

¼ pound washed cleaned and deboned salt fish

1 cluster of fresh basil (1 tsp dry)

1 bay leaf

1 can (15 oz diced tomatoes) or use favorite prepared sauce

Directions:

  1. Clean the salt fish by washing the crude salt off under the tap, soak it in clean water for one hour, change the water and soak for 2 hours, change the water again and soak over night in the refrigerator.

    Clean the salt fish

  2. Add the olive oil, pepper and garlic to the pot and saute for 30 minutes.

    Add the olive oil, pepper and garlic to the pot

  3. Remove the pepper slice, and layer the salt fish, basil and bay then cover with tomatoes or tomato sauce.

    Layer the salt fish, basil and bay

  4. Put on coffeemaker hot plate and cook for 2 more hours then stir contents.

    Put on coffeemaker hot plate

  5. Hold on coffeemaker until ready to serve and remove bay and basil prior to serving over your favorite pasta.

I loved it and so did a friend who only eats fish.

Lamb Curry or Curried Lamb?

August 20, 2010

Curried Lamb or Lamb Currry?

When it comes to curry, the choices and combinations are infinite. Do we serve it with rice or in a shell like roti? Should you use chicken, lamb, shrimp, beef or pork or vegetarian with pinto beans or garbanzos? Should potatoes be included or not? Then there is question of bones in or boneless meat. Do we use difficult to find Indian spices or just use the West Indian spice blends called curry powder.

Now I pretty much make curry from either chicken or lamb and include garbanzos and potatoes. My normal spice blend is West Indian Chief’s brand which I find superior to big name American Spice blends and with chicken I will do ether bones or boneless but with lamb I leave the bones out. The only problem I have left is to decide whether to call it Lamb Curry or Curried Lamb.

Clean the Lamb

The only major precautions I make are to keep my curry in the refrigerator so it stays as fresh as possible and to try to cut the fat from the meat. I saved all the bones with meat on it separately so I can make Lamb Buco.

Lamb Curry or Curried Lamb

Ingredients:

1 potato cubed and blanched

½ stick butter

1 clove garlic minced

½ onion chunked

1 thin slice scotch bonnet pepper

6 oz lamb cooked or leftover

1 Tablespoon Curry Powder

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon thyme

2 oz rum.

1 can garbanzo beans with liquid.

Gather the Ingredients

The potatoes were blanched and all the ingredients gathered together. Everything was added to the pot except the can of beans and was sauteed covered with occasional stirring until the onion was glazed and the lamb was browned. The can of garbanzo beans and the liquid was then added to the pot. The aluminum foil was removed and cooked uncovered.

I am sensitive to the flavors in curry and a bad blend makes for a bad meal. I intent to try some real Indian Style Curry with Indian spices so I an pick out the flavor which offends me – if any and eliminate it. Meanwhile I’ll stick with the brand that I know I enjoy.

BTW Google says it’s Curried Lamb about 4 to 3 over Lamb Curry.

Tes’ Beef Noodle Soup

August 15, 2010

Enjoying Tes' Beef Noodle Soup

One of the joys of having a cooking a blog is interacting with cooks from all over the world and one of my favorites is Tes from Thailand because I have been able to get all the ingredients and try try her recipes. And I can’t wait to find my Indian spices so I can try some of Monica’s recipes.

My first shot at Thai was with Dagny in a hotel room where we did a stir dry chicken in my coffeepot which was quite good. My next shot was a chicken and ginger stir fry which was fantastic so when Dagny asked if I had any recipes that highlighted Chines five spice blend, I immediately thought of Tes’ Beef Noodle Soup. Seems Dagny had purchased some five spice blend and tasted it raw and wasn’t positive she would like an entire meal flavored with anise. Since anise is the strongest flavor in the five spice blend, the soup would be a good test of her family acceptance.

Now the funny thing was, we had all the ingredients for the soup except for rice sticks which I can only describe in the hands of a man who never tasted Thai food before a few years ago as good to eat but very weird to cook. Seems these noodles are to be deep fat fried for about 3 minutes at very high temperature. I couldn’t believe I would have to waste three cups of cooking oil to make noodles so I just put a couple of noodles in the bottom of an oiled pan and threw them in. In about seconds the ones that touched the oil uniformly expanded like popcorn and were light and delicious. The portion that didn’t touch the oil had the taste and texture of cat gut from an old tennis racket and was pretty much inedible. Since my daughter is not set up to deep fat fry, Dagny suggested we use angle hair pasta which she knew I had cooked and could be added to the coffeepot and cooked thoroughly in about 6 minutes.

We ended up using the coffeepot because, believe it or not, there was no other reasonable way to make a moderate quantity of this soup. Seems, Dagny had Kenpo martial arts training at 10am at one dojo and her kids and husband had to be at another dojo at 11 am. I was not staying home to watch a hot pot when I could go to Starbucks at 10 am and get a good cup of regular old fashioned coffee.Dagny had to leave for a baby shower at 12 and the kids would be home and ready to eat at 1 pm. I make many soups so adapting this to my coffeepot and using angle hair pasta was not tough for me.

Tes’ Beef Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1/2 onion chopped to medium pieces

2 cloves garlic minced

1 ½ stalks celery rough sliced

6-8 oz of leftover porterhouse steak (200 grams)

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 ½ heaping teaspoon Chinese five spice powder

4 cups water 8 oz.

Chopping the Onion

Mis Ana loves to use a sharp knife and will help cook all day long if you let her use a sharp knife. Chopping the onion and celery is now routine and she has not cut herself, yet.

Chopping the Celery

The oil was added to the coffeepot along with the chopped onion, celery and garlic and sautéed while I chunked the meat into half inch pieces and added it to the pot. All the rest of the ingredients were added with about half the water. The pot was covered with foil and we left for coffee and the dojo.

Cooking the Soup

Dagny was in a hurry to leave for her baby shower so I rushed to finish the soup so she could try it. I added the other two cups of water to the coffeemaker and let it perk into the concentrated soup. A ½ inch circle of Angle hair past was broken in half and added to the pot. After six minutes, Dagny got her bowl and loved it and she decided she would never run from 5 spice again.

Fortunately, her husband Carson also loved it as did Cayla my oldest granddaughter. Only Miss Ana, my apprentice cook found the taste of the szechuan pepper too spicy. Of course Cayla uses hot sauce on everything and Ana runs from spicy foods. Well Tes Beef Noodle Soup was a hit even if we did use angle hair pasta instead of rice sticks.

Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules)

August 10, 2010

Fondue Pot Pigeon Peas and Rice

For those who know little about St. Croix, our foods reflect our diverse cultural background. About 40% of the population speaks Spanish so you would expect Spanish influences in our foods. Then another 40% is descendant from eastern Caribbean heritage and as you would expect, it has influenced our meals from roasted corn to stewed goat and the rich flavors of Asian Indian cooking transported from Trinidad. Without even consciously thinking about it, our local restaurants offer a Crucian Fusion Menu with almost every cultural reflected in their menus.

Years ago one very successful local restaurant (Oscars) offered Curry, pasta and meatballs, steak and baked potato, Arroz con Gandukes, Rice and Red Beans, Stewed Goat, Conch in butter sauce and more. Jimmy Carter visiting at Christmas village was so impressed with the local sweet potato stuffing, he asked for the recipe to take home with him. It is tough for a natural Fat Savage to not want to partake of all of the culinary offerings and learn to make them.

Arroz con Gandules is traditionally served as a side dish, but since the recipe included 4 oz of ham, I used it as the main course. I made it twice this year four months apart, but if I were a true Islander the frequency would be closer to every four days. Perhaps this is so popular because a can of pigeon peas and 50 cents worth of rice will feed eight people and it is fine when reheated or microwaved. The first time I tried it was in my coffeepot, but the more traditional and easier method is in my fondue pot which is essentially an electric skillet. So I will describe that First.

Puerto Rican Rice and Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules)

Recipe:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

4 ox ham (cut from picnic steak)

1 small onion chopped

¼ cup green bell pepper chopped (1 very small)

2 cloves garlic minced

4 oz of Goya Tomato sauce

½ can Goya Pigeon Peas undrained.

1 slice 1/16 inch scotch bonnet or other hot pepper

1 packet Sazon Goya con Culantro y Achiote

1 ½ cup water

1 cup rice

The Goya label says you will make 8 portions with a full can and I believe it because even cutting the recipe in half, I had more than enough for 3 meals with no other food on the plate. The biggest challenge other than making good rice was splitting the can of pigeon peas in half and splitting the water that came with the peas in half. I froze the extra peas and water with the other half can of tomato sauce because I hate to feel obligated to plan meals around leftovers and if it doesn’t survive freezing, I will simply through it out. The two extra cooked portions were also frozen and I know from experience that frozen rice is just fine.

The fondue pot process was just as it said on the can. Turn the heat on to 250 (medium) and add the ham, onions and peppers and cook about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add everything else and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, reduce the heat to just the boiling point, cover the pot and walk away and have faith you can’t do any better.

If there is too little heat, the rice won’t cook as fast but 20 minutes is usually enough on even exceptionally low heat. If it is too hot, the rice will stick to the pan which is not a big problem as you gently remove the Pigeon Peas and Rice from the pot leaving behind any burnt rice sticking to the bottom of the pot.

The hardest thing for a novice cook is to leave it alone for 20 minutes. If you open the lid and stir the pot to check and see if it’s too hot, you will turn the rice into a pasty mess that is definitely not Caribbean Style.

Coffeepot Pigeon Peas and Rice

Now if making good rice in a stove top pot is tough it is almost impossible to do in a coffeepot and even worse in a Crockpot so don’t even try. The work around is to leave the water out of the recipe above and use microwave rice or buy cooked rice from a Chinese restaurant and then mix it in and serve your pigeon peas and rice right away. I ran one test where I left out the water and added an ounce of Cruzan Dark Rum to the pot and poured the microwave rice on top of the mixture of Peas and spices and ham and covered the pot with foil. About 45 minutes later, the rice was done so I stirred everything up and ate the delicious Arroz con Gandules.

Near Perfect Pea Soup

August 9, 2010

Creamy Pea Soup

When it comes to comfort foods, noting beats pea soup on a rainy day. Our mothers both made it and made it about the same. The both strived for a rich creamy texture and built the soup around an old ham bone which contributed to the richness. Of course Dolores’ Mother added more meat and Carrots whereas my mom cooking for six instead of three, used less meat and included dumplings to add some substance to the soup. Dolores hated dumplings so I learned to leave them out and include carrots.

Now forget about dumplings in a coffeepot, they are hard enough to do on a stove top where you can turn up the heat but I suppose one day, I will give it a try just to see if it can be done. But for now I just wanted to see how close I could come to our mothers pea soup in terms of texture and flavor and yes, this soup started life as a vegan meal before I kicked it up a notch by adding Turkey Ham to get the flavor I am used to.

Recipe:

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

1 Chopped onion

2 cloves minced garlic

2 stalks diced celery

1 bay leaf

1 thin slice scotch bonnet hot pepper

½ teaspoon Thyme

½ teaspoon Rosemary

1 Tablespoon Parsley

Separate the can of peas add the liquid to the pot and mash the peas with a potato masher.

1 can 14.5 oz Vegetable broth. Or if adding turkey ham, use chicken broth.

4 oz Turkey Ham

Now as the ingredient list shows, there is no major change in the ingredients from the vegetarian pea soup other than the Turkey Ham, the biggest change was in the processing and the Peas. Other than my old standby Cruzan Rum, I rarely go out of my way to buy a specific brand of almost any product although I do read the labels and as I said last time avoid anything with sugar added. I usually buy the generic brand because I never see much of a difference.

Libby's Naturals Sweet Peas

This time I stumbled upon a can of “Libby’s Naturals” Sweet Peas that are just peas and water with nothing else added to enhance flavor or improve the color over what God provided.
The other major change was that when I separated the peas and water, I held back the water because it really doesn’t have that much flavor and put the peas in a blender with the broth and liquified the peas. The soup had perfect consistency in line with our family traditions but if you like it thinner, you can add some back to the pot about an hour or so before you want to serve it.

I tested the soup about 2 hours before I wanted to eat it and it was great. However, at this point I succumbed to the call of the turkey ham screaming from my refrigerator to make the soup perfect. I added about 4 ounces of turkey ham and let it cook for 2 more hours.

The end result was fantastic, but I’m not sure it was perfect. Maybe that’s the purest in me coming out and I believe it cant be perfect unless it’s made from dry beans and you suffer over the pot for a day hoping that the beans will completely break down into the rich creamy texture desired by dinnertime.

As described above, the vegetarian meal has about about 300 calories and the turkey ham only adds about 150 more with about 40 fat calories. Since I’m not a purest about any food fads and eat most anything, I don’t think the 40 fat calories will do more damage than the bottle of wine I consumed with the meal.