Tag Archives: vegan

Classic Spanish-Caribbean Black Beans (Frijoles Negros) and Perfect White Rice

4 Dec

I have a four-year-old boy, so you know that toilet humor reigns supreme around here. I don’t particularly like all the burp and fart and poop talk, but I am a pragmatic woman; I try to make my reality work for me and try not to dwell on the way things “should” be.

So, what passes for classic poetry in my house starts out, “Beans, beans, good for your heart…” and you probably know the rest. I have no problem getting Leandro to eat beans several times a week; what preschooler could resist the lure of stinking out family and friends with such jackhammer potency? It goes much the same for asparagus; I reeled him in with the promise of sulphurous-smelling pee and now it’s one of his favorite (of very few) vegetables.

This is perhaps not the most appetizing of ways to introduce a recipe, but I’ll take my chances that you are interested enough in making fast, easy and healthy black beans that taste just as good as whatever you get in your local Cuban joint to overlook the other factors. Or, if you are a boy of any age, perhaps it is just the intro you need to start incorporating more beans into your diet!

(Note: the more often you eat beans, the better your body processes them, so some of the gassy part dissipates over time. And the low-fat, fiber, protein benefits are incredible. They are also cheap, especially if you soak your own*).

Classic Latin Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)

1 Tbs olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

½ red or green bell or cubanelle – Italian long sweet – pepper (about ¼ Cup), diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

28 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained (4 Cups if using dried*)

½ Cup water (you can add more as needed)

1-2 stock cubes (vegetarian vegetable is fine; I use Knorr chicken)

1 Tbs dry oregano (or 1.5 fresh)

1 tbs cider vinegar (optional)

Heat olive oil in a heavy soup pot at medium high until fragrant. Add onion and peppers and stir to coat. Lower heat and cook until softened, about five minutes. Add garlic, stir to coat and cook another minute. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower heat to simmer, about 15 minutes. Serve with white rice (recipe below).

*Soaking dried beans: Rinse a pound of beans (from a store that seems to move a lot of dried beans – one of the problems is that if the beans are old, they will never soften up nicely), soak them in two quarts water overnight. Change the water in the morning and in the evening rinse and change water. Simmer them for two hours and holy legumes, Batman: 1.5 quarts of beans to play with.And talk about cheap: a pound of dried beans costs about the same as a 15.5 oz can of them and you choose how much sodium you want with it.


Perfect White Rice (you can halve this recipe if you are not big into carbs)

1 Tbs olive oil

2 Cups long-grain white rice (Sello Rojo, Goya or other Latin brand preferred)

4 Cups water

½ tsp salt

Place olive oil in a medium pot (with a tight lid). Begin heating to high while adding the rice. Stir to coat, Add water and salt. Stir once, then bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and allow water to evaporate until it goes below the surface of the rice and there are a couple of holes in the surface. Turn rice over once with a big spoon. Cover and cook on low another ten minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Adriana’s Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Autumnal Awesome)

24 Oct

If you’ve never seen Brussels sprouts in the fields, you really should try to get a look. Now is the time; they reach their peak in November and December (which is why so many of us have them at our Thanksgiving table) and so may very well be growing at your nearest farm right now. They look like tropical ornamental succulents – a thick stem studded with  green bulbs and topped with lush foliage — and you’d never-ever think of them as something as pedestrian as cabbage. But mini-cabbages are exactly what they are (Brassica oleracea, Gemmifera).

Before cooking (we also did roasted asparagus)

I didn’t like them as a kid – the old sulfurous smelly thing that kids are ever-so sensitive to – but I adore them as an adult. Here at mine we usually do some sort of boil with lemon and such for Turkey Day (more about that in November), but when Adriana told me she was going to roast hers for our recent playdate/sleepover, I got really excited. Adri is a fantastic cook who likes simple but stylish meat and veg and I always learn a lot from her. Like me she is a single mom working full time, so like me, she has had to streamline the production of good meals. That is not a bad thing; it keeps you very focused on the quality of the ingredients, because you don’t have the time nor energy to make up for cruddy produce or take fancy steps.

And since the kids keep each other busy while we are mucking about in the kitchen and having a glass of wine, it is always a fun time.

So, here are Adriana’s oven-roasted Brussels sprouts. They were so easy, so fab, great with steak…you know I’ll be doing these a lot for the next couple of months!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts by Adriana

2 pints Brussels sprouts*, outer leaves removed and halved lengthwise

Liberal grindings of salt and pepper

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

8 sage leaves, cut into narrow ribbons

Leaves from one long sprig of rosemary

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place Brussels sprouts in a single layer in an oven dish (with sides). Sprinkle liberally with the salt and pepper (preferably from a grinder). Toss thoroughly with olive oil and herbs and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes, or until you have nice crispiness on the edges of the sprouts. Serve, finishing with sea salt if desired.

*When buying Brussels sprouts, look for tight bulbs that are bright green and bottom stems that are smooth and clean. In this recipe, any leaves that fall off during cooking tend to get nice and crispy, like chips!


Quickie Criollo Tomato and Avocado Salad (great side for spicy, salty or otherwise highly seasoned food)

3 Oct

A go-to side for spicy creole cooking!

This is a super-quick, healthy side dish that we use in the Caribbean to accompany really salty stuff, like bacalao (salt cod) dishes, or to cool the palate between bites of something spicy. It goes wonderfully with creole soups, or as the lightest, yet most satisfying of dinners when you don’t want to fuss (A hard-boiled egg or a scoop of tuna would be a fine protein accompaniment). The colors and slices lend themselves to festive; this dish looks like a party, even if it’s just a party of one.
We had it tonight with a mini-tortilla española (potato and egg stovetop frittata) I made while doing a bigger sized one for our Restoration Farm potluck on Sunday, green salad and some string beans blanched and then sauteed with garlic and oil (and a bit of bacon fat, truth be told).

Quickie Tomato and Avocado Salad

1 ripe avocado (responds to pressure, but isn’t totally mushy*), sliced into eight wedges and peeled

1 ripe tomato, cut into eight wedges

¼ red onion, peeled and sliced thinly, lengthwise

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Salt for sprinkling

Freshly cracked pepper, if desired

Arrange avocado and tomato wedges on a small plate, alternating

Scatter red onion on top. Drizzle olive oil as desired.

Sprinkle salt and optional black pepper and serve cold

*Buying avocado is not easy, I know! Lately I have had a 50-50 record of success with the little black Hass ones, despite my years of practice. I don’t know what’s up with that, but the general rule is to buy it hard and stick it in a paper bag — with an apple, if you’ve got — for a couple of days. If you are buying an avocado for the very same day, look for something that yields to pressure, but doesn’t totally mush. If it is ripe but you are not ready to use it, it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

Packing the Oven: Roasted Eggplant Cubes, and Onions and Peppers

24 Sep

Here are the last two recipes for my oven-packing roasting-mania session that resulted in a couple of days’ worth of meals as I used the vegetables in several different ways. Vegetarians and vegans will enjoy the deeper flavor roasting gives to vegetables. Environmentally-conscious cooks will like the energy saving of packing the oven. And busy folks will be very pleased; once the chopping is done, the time-consuming work is over!

These are not really recipes on their own, but something great to have on hand to assemble quick meals. They also extend the life of vegetables you have too many of but don’t want to lose!

These two were especially good in my take-to-work wrap. I just slapped some hummus on a wrap, laid out some roasted vegetables, a few strips of sundried tomatoes and some of the roasted tomatoes I told you about a couple of days ago. Delicious!

Continue reading

Roasted Plum Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

21 Sep

As the weather cools, I am turning the oven on more and more (the big oven). Packing the oven uses less energy and is a great way to use up an abundance of garden vegetables. Roast everything one evening and have veggies for side dishes, quick pastas, lunchtime wraps, and whatever else you can think of for the next three or four days!

On this occasion I packed the oven with tomatoes, eggplant, onions and peppers, and pattypan squash in separate  dishes…all at 450° for approximately 30 minutes. It was quite a production, but more on those recipes later!

Today’s installment is yet another delicious way to get the most from the end-of-season tomatoes and basil. This method turns little plums into savory-sweet disks that dress up any dish they are around. They marry well with pizza, feta, mozzarella, hummus, olives…anything Mediterranean.

Roasted Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil

24 plum tomatoes (or as many as will fit on your rimmed baking sheet and increase other ingredients accordingly), halved, with core and seeds scooped out

3-4 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs balsamic vinegar

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

1 Tbs fresh basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Place tomatoes on rimmed baking sheet. In a bowl, whisk remaining ingredients (except basil) together until blended. Stir in basil and drizzle over tomatoes, allowing oil to also seep under. Cook for 20-25 minutes, until tomatoes begin to caramelize. Serve atop toast, in a wrap or just eat right off the baking sheet!

Freeze! The Lazy (or clever) Cook’s Guide to Preserving Tomatoes

5 Sep

This was the year I would start preserving and canning…at least that’s what I swore when I laid down the money for a canning pot and associated equipment at Walmart a couple of months ago (Walmart being the new Woolworth’s; it is where you will find a lot of the old-fashioned domestic arts type of stuff that Woolworth’s used to carry back in the day).

Well, canning with heat didn’t happen, or at least hasn’t happened yet and doesn’t look like happening any time soon. But I have still been making an effort to preserve some of the flavors of summer for the colder months in a less time-consuming and sweaty way. Regular visitors will remember a creole tomato sauce I made and froze for later, for example https://hotcheapeasy.wordpress.com/2011/08/27/fresh-tomato-sauce-criollo-style/.

But at this time of year, with all the vegetables we have and the time to work with them running short due to school, I had to shorten even the shortcuts. So I blanched and froze sauce tomatoes for later.

All you have to do is

1) take your farm fresh, ripe tomatoes, wash and core the stem area (you don’t have to go all the way down; just take a cone out),

2) throw them in boiling water for a minute (until they start to split)– 30 seconds for smaller tomatoes — and then

3) plunge them in ice water for about five minutes for large tomatoes and a couple of minutes for small.

Et voila! Freezer-ready tomatoes. Some people peel them at that point; I sometimes do and sometimes don’t. You will have to do it when you thaw them later, as the skins get chewy in the freezer. Some people don’t even blanch them, but I do like to set the flavor and freshness and I think blanching does that pretty well. Anyway, once they are cool, all you have to do is

4) put them in a freezer bag (quartering them is optional), squeeze out the air, seal and label them. Stick them in the freezer and they will keep 6-8 months and will be suitable for sauces and soups (not salads, as the texture will get mushy over time.

Right now I have a few pounds of San Marzanos, a pound of plum tomatoes and about four pounds of whatever yellow tomatoes it is that I am getting from the farm. I am going to be soooooo, sooooo, sooooo happy to make fresh sauce or minestrone with them in the dark days of February when my arms are about to fall off from shoveling snow!

Recommended tomatoes are Roma, Brandywine and plums, as they make great sauce!

Two-fer Tuesday: Chickpea and Tahini II and Balsamic Dressing for Tomatoes

30 Aug


Sometimes it just takes a little change to make a big difference in flavor. Here are two quickie recipes — one a salad and one a dressing for those crazy seasonal tomatoes that you no longer know what to do with  — that are variations on stuff I do regularly, but with a new ingredient that updates it, keeps it from getting stale.

In the chickpea and tahini salad, I add ginger and soy sauce to my basic tahini dressing for a slightly Asian flavor. For the dressing, I use balsamic vinegar instead of red wine vinegar as well as a dash of agave nectar; a little sweetness harmonizes with sweet seasonal tomatoes, but also mellows out their acidity.

These can be done in a flash and will complement any summer meal or be a light dinner in themselves with some crusty bread.

Chickpea and Tahini Salad II

1 Tbs lemon juice

1 Tbs tahini

1 tsp soy sauce

1 28oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbs red onion (a quarter of a medium red onion), sliced thin

1 Tbs cilantro

1 tsp grated ginger

Mix or whisk lemon juice, tahini and soy sauce together in a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well.

Balsamic dressing for tomatoes

1-2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar (I prefer less)

8 Tbs olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

½ tsp agave nectar

Salt to taste (start with a pinch – 1/8 tsp and work from there)

Whisk all ingredients in a bowl and pour over tomatoes in whatever quantity you like. Sliced red onion goes very well. You can serve with mozzarella and basil as a caprese salad, or over pasta for a summer buffet dish, hot or cold. Dip crusty bread into the liquid….

Natalia’s Refrigerator Pickles (prep in 30 minutes, eat in 24 hours)

11 Aug



Refrigerator pickles are kind of like entry-level preserving for those of us who aspire to be like Martha Stewart, but don’t have the time, patience or domestic staff.

I started making them last year with a bumper crop of CSA pickles and zucchini and had so much fun, instant gratification and praise that I have kept going. I actually entered them in the Long Island Fair last fall, but the jar cracked and put me out of the running (wardrobe malfunction of the foodista variety). I will try again next year (so don’t even think about trying to enter this recipe on your own!).

These are a really popular item at BBQs and nice hostess gifts for wherever you are going to have dinner. By all means play around with the ingredients; I think turmeric is crucial, but leave it out for a more pure dill flavor.

And really, they don’t take more than 30 minutes to get in the jars if you arrange your ingredients ahead of time. Use labels to keep track of ingredients and Best By date (they keep about 3 months in the fridge).

Natalia’s Refrigerator Pickles

2 lbs medium Kirby cucumbers, sliced (I prefer spears, but you can also do rounds. Zucchini can also be substituted. Do not eliminate turmeric if using zucchini)

1 medium onion, sliced thin

6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (1.5 cloves per jar)

1 tsp black peppercorns

1 tsp whole mustard seed

1 tsp turmeric (This stuff stains! Careful!)

Several sprigs fresh dill weed

4 whole dried bay leaves (1 per jar)

1 1/3 cups brown sugar

13 TBS distilled white vinegar (approx ¾ Cup)

13 TBS white wine vinegar (approx ¾ Cup)

1.5 Cups water

  1. Divide cucumber and dry ingredients (except sugar) evenly between four quart jars with lids.
  2. Stir together brown sugar, vinegars and water.
  3. Pour vinegar mixture into the jars, screw on lids and shake well to combine. (Don’t worry if there doesn’t seem to be enough liquid to cover. The contents shrink after a day)
  4. Cover and chill. You can start eating them after 24 hours and they will keep up to three months in the fridge. Eat the onions too!

Slow-Roasted Grape Tomatoes (For pasta, bruschetta or sandwiches)

3 Aug

Here is more to do with those gorgeous tiny tomatoes that are so abundant and sweet at this time of year!

I’ll give you the link for the original recipe which I didn’t have time to do completely. I saw it in The New York Times recently, but didn’t have time nor basil to prepare the special oil, so I modified to suit what I had at home, basically eliminating a step and that’s the recipe you’ll find below. Here’s the original  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/26/health/nutrition/26recipehealth.html

My version is lovely summer fare – bright and sweet and yet with depth. It also requires very little work and I did it successfully in the toaster oven, limiting the heat index in my kitchen! You can serve it on crusty bread or over pasta, but I popped a fair few into my mouth just as they were….
Slow-Roasted Tomatoes with Italian Seasoning

1 pint grape/cherry/Sun Gold tomatoes

1 pinch salt

1 pinch sugar

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1-2 Tbs Italian herbs/Provencal herbs

Preheat oven to 300°F. Line an oven dish with aluminum foil and spread tomatoes in a single layer. Sprinkle with sugar and salt, then coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with herbs and roast for about 30 minutes, so that tomato skins are crinkling and splitting, but not fallen apart. Cool and serve on garlicky toast as bruschetta, as sandwich spread or mixed into hot pasta.

Asian Stir Fry Sauce (this time with vegetables and your choice of noodles or rice)

27 Jul

One of my favorite prepared sauces comes from Sang Lee Farms in Cutchogue, on the North Fork of Long Island http://sangleefarms.com/. Their Asian Stir-Fry Sauce is all organic and adds incredible Asian pop to stir fry dishes, without the annoying cloying sweetness and goopiness of other seasonings in a bottle.

However, I run out of it pretty fast, so I am in the process of trying to recreate it at home. I haven’t quite got it, but this version is very yummy and does the job pretty damn well. When I hit exactly the combination I want, I will make larger batches, but for now, the amount in this recipe will season a couple of pounds of vegetables – enough for two to four people, depending on what you serve it with.

We used soba noodles (Leandro’s request, cause the curly noodles and Japanese writing on the package caught his eye and he absolutely loved them). We also had enough left over to drizzle over some cold chicken wraps I made the next day (and which will be the next post, haha!).

Do you make your own stir fry sauce? Please add your ideas in comments in this post!

Soba noodles make a worthy (and fun) accompaniment to stir fry veggies

Asian Stir-Fry Sauce

¼ Cup soy sauce or tamari (preferably low-sodium)

½ tsp crushed garlic

Scant ¼ tsp sesame oil

¼ tsp grated ginger

½ tsp lemon juice

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate overnight if possible.

When you are ready to cook the dish, begin preparing a cup or two of white rice or a package of soba noodles or other pasta of your choice, following package instructions.


2-2.5 lbs mixed stir-fry vegetables, cut into ¾ inch pieces (we used onions, carrots, some leftover chard stems and a beautiful purple pepper, all from Restoration Farm, plus broccoli from the supermarket)

Generous ½ tsp sugar

Heat the  vegetable oil in a 12 inch skillet with a heavy bottom, until just rippling and just beginning to smoke. Add vegetables and sprinkle the sugar over, coat with the oil and cook, stirring frequently, for about eight minutes, looking for caramelization on the vegetables. Lower the temperature to medium if you get a lot of sticking.

Push vegetables to the side and add a tablespoon of the stir-fry sauce , stir to heat, then mix with the vegetables. Add two to three more tablespoons as desired, being wary of making it too salty.

Serve over rice, noodles or pasta.

%d bloggers like this: