Counter Intelligence
Spicy Leek and Roasted Pepper Soup

This was the result of a “how do I cook everything in my fridge at once?” exercise.  Tasty and malleable, I’ll be doing something like this again very soon.

Spicy Leek and Roasted Pepper Soup

Leek Pepper Soup

two green and one red bell pepper, cut into strips

1-2 jalapeno peppers, cut into strips

3 small-medium leeks, trimmed, washed

half of a medium onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, sliced or crushed

Turn your oven or toaster oven to 400.  Toss the peppers with some olive oil and course salt, arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet/in a pyrex and roast until the skins just start to blister.  We don’t really want char.  I forget how long this took.  15 minutes, maybe?  Keep an eye on em.

While the peppers are roasting, add a tablespoon of butter to a saucepan (or sub oil to make the recipe vegan).  Saute leeks, onions, and garlic until the onions and leeks are soft.  Add these items and all of your green pepper strips to a blender, and puree til smooth.  Add this mix back to the saucepan and throw in the red pepper strips whole.  Simmer and taste, you might want more salt.  If I make this again I’ll probably try it with some lime zest.  It’s a really nice starter recipe for almost anything, I think.  The base could take just about any addition of veggie or chicken, if that’s your inclination.  Also, I made mine extra spicy (act surprised) and had four jalapenos in there, two of them seeded.  So ratchet the jalapeno use to your spice liking.

Home Fries+

These are pretty.  And sweet!  And spicy!  Found an errant beet and sweet potato, and made breakfast.  More color = better.  All the time.  I dunno if this qualifies as a recipe post or a gloat post, but here it is.

Home Fries+

Home Fries+

1 small onion

5 keuka gold potatoes

1 sweet potato

1 beet

three jalapenos (I seeded half of them)

three or four sundried tomatoes

a clove of garlic

Sauteed onion a few minutes, added sliced potatoes and beet cooked over medium heat, pan covered for a few minutes, stirred every so often so that most things had a chance to brown a little.  Added soy sauce (1t, 2t?) heat on low, and covered so that the potatoes could cook.  Added sliced jalapenos, sundried tomato chiffonade, pressed garlic, sauteed with heat a little higher and then done.

Fennel and Basil Pasta

So, when the fridge is nearly empty I am totally open to putting each of the odds and ends I have in a pan and then deciding to call it food.  Sometimes I end up with something that is not so pretty.  This week: great success!

Fennel and Basil Pasta

Fennel and Basil Pasta

1/4c chopped fennel

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 jalapeno, seeded and diced

2T olive oil

black pepper

pasta of your heart’s desire (or cupboard’s content)

light tomato sauce/tomato juice

3-4 sundried tomatoes (mine were leftover from a stock I made)

a decent handful of fresh, washed basil

shaved parmesan

Put some water on to boil.  Chop the last of your fennel and your last jalapeno and some garlic for the hell of it.  Maybe you’re lucky enough to have an onion, then you could chop up half of that, too (better yet, if you had half an onion!).  Hopefully your chopping and the water’s boiling are accomplished around the same time, cause my saute of the chopped things in hot oil (on…medium to low heat?  with a little cracked pepper) and the pasta cooking time were almost the same.  Score.  Take the pasta out shortly before it’s done, drain, and add to your pan with fennel, etc.  IF your garlic or jalapeno start to brown take those things off the heat til the pasta is a minute shy of cooked.  We want them soft, not crispy.

Add drained pasta to pan (turn the burner back on if you had to shut it, before), as well as an amount of sauce that looks good to you.  I didn’t want a heavy sauce, because I wanted to taste my veggies.  Luckily, I have no tomato sauce.  Instead I added about 1/4c low sodium tomato juice and my sundried tomatoes, and let that simmer for a couple minutes.  Just when the pasta and veggies are coming together, right before you turn the heat off, stir in the basil.

Top with fresh grated pepper and shaved parmesan.  When you go back for seconds, swap the parm for herbed goat cheese.  Briefly consider putting goat cheese on everything ever for the rest of the days.

Delicious Oaxacan Beans

A few years ago my friend Kimi taught me how to make beans that are delicious, and now I am sharing this method with yous guys.  You’re welcome.

Warning: This takes a while.  Cause if you want something that tastes good, sometimes you have to put in some time.  Deal with it.

Disclaimer: I can’t remember exactly what Kimi said whenever she said it, and I make them differently every time, but this is roughly how I made them a couple days ago, and you can’t really screw it up.  Promise.  Also, I call them Oaxacan cause that’s where Kimi lives now, but for no real culinary or historical reason.  I just wanted to give my X key a walk around the block.

Delicious Oaxacan Beans

2 cans black beans

garlic cloves (a couple)

1 small onion

some jalapeno peppers

2-6 dark and tasty beers (this time i used the Moo Thunder Stout from Butternuts)

spices such as: 

cumin, cayenne powder, chili powder, bay leaf, whatever your face likes.  i put in some cinnamon this time.  it’s all good.

For the pot.

In a medium saucepan, dump contents of bean cans (don’t drain) and half of a beer (Negra Modelo, Sam Adams, whatever).  Figure out what to do with the other half.  Turn on heat to medium.  Dice your onion and garlic and add to the pot.  Add bay leaf and spices.  Rough approximation:  one bay leaf, 1T cumin, 1t chili powder, dash(es) of cayenne.  Stir.  This is the part that takes a while (something like an hour?  unless you wanna turn up the heat and expedite your kitchen exit).  You’re mostly just waiting for the liquid to reduce and for everything to taste awesome.  Higher heat=more splatter=unsightly stovetop.

Cut off the top of the jalapenos (2? 4?) and seed in your preferred method.*  Cut your seeded jalapeno into whatever shape pleases you.  I make strips in case I have squeamish guests who don’t want to eat them, but honestly they’re not that hot, and by the time they’re cooked up the heat is already in the beans.  Throw them in the pot to simmer with everything else.

Your kitchen will smell great.  That’s how you know you did it right.  If you don’t have a nonstick pan to do this in, stir a bit.  Beans stick to stuff.  You’ll be able to get everything clean later by soaking, but, you know, stir anyway.

This is roughly enough beans for six servings, presuming your bowl has some other stuff in there.  

This is a good time to think about utilizing your rice cooker, or maybe carmelizing some bell peppers with a vidalia onion, or finding a really great avocado, or buying Xochitl blue corn salted chips (real deal), or frying up an egg or two, but I’m not here to tell you how to eat your beans.  I’m just letting you know how you could make them.

Go forth and feed friend faces!


*I usually use a sharp knife to cut a little circle along the pepper flesh line, visible when the top has been removed, then cut just through the pepper flesh top to bottom and back up the other side, and then I pull the pepper halves apart and shed the seeds from the middle.  This way you don’t have little half jalapeno seed pieces all over your counter for a week.  Just a suggestion.  Also, when you’re done: don’t scratch your eye or pick your nose.  Or anything else.