White Bean Chili with Chicken and Collard Greens

Paula Deen's White Bean Chili with Collard Greens2Dead southwesterners everywhere are rolling over in their graves because Paula Deen has added collard greens to their chili. Yes, I’ve done it again, I’ve gone to Paula Deen for another recipe. And you know what? It is the best white bean chili I have ever had. EVER. This is a very bold statment for me to make, especially since I don’t love collard greens as much as other greens. I’m not a huge fan of the traditional preparation of collard greens–which is to cook them to death with some ham hock. But this…THIS…I could eat once a week. It was absolutely delicious. And I think it could easily be made vegetarian–just add some more beans, take away the chicken, and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock. And would you believe this Paula Deen recipe does not have even a teaspoon of butter? No, y’all, it does not. 

 

Collard Greens in Salad Spinner

It has been chilly and rainy in Birmingham for the past, hmmmm…month? This soup was perfect for a chilly, rainy night, and I’m actually going to make it again as soon as Glenn brings home more collards. I decided to alter Paula’s recipe just a smidge and, instead of chopping the chicken up beforehand, I let it simmer longer in the broth whole and allowed it to break up itself. I’m sure if you don’t have time to spare, you could chop it up first. But letting it simmer for a whole hour really does make the chicken super tender and allows the flavors to marry longer. Aw, I love it when flavors marry, don’t you? It’s sweet.

Collards cooking

Another thing to mention about this dish: an acquaintance of Glenn’s brought us some fresh New Mexico green chilies she picked up while she was out there visiting (these are the benefits of being a farmer–people trade you great stuff for your produce). Though Glenn and I use green chilies in a lot of cooking (and we must, of course, use the canned variety), the flavor of fresh chilies is superior (the canned variety can taste slightly “tinny”), and the ones we used for this recipe were very very hot.

 

 

 

Chicken, Collards and Green Chilies

Though I didn’t have any time to make cornbread with this, I highly recommend doing so. I would have loved to dip some cornbread in this chili to sop it up and take off some of the heat. If you don’t like your chili too hot, just don’t add as many crushed red pepper flakes and use mild green chilies instead of hot.

The next day, instead of eating this as regular soup, I broke out the tortilla chips, which we used to scoop up the leftovers. Overnight, the soup became much drier than it was first day I made it, so it was totally scoopable. Delicious!

If you have never tried collard greens before, or if you’re like me and think of them only boiled down to a pulp with ham hock, please please please try this recipe. Paula Deen, I curtsy to your goodness.

 

  

Paula Deen's White Bean Chili with Collard Greens3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adapted (ever so slightly) from Paula Deen’s White-Bean Chili 

Makes 4 good-sized bowls (or one bowl for me and three for Glenn)

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

3/4 cup diced onion (I used a Vadalia, just to be extra southern-like)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (2 halves, that is, about 3/4 of a pound), seasoned with sea salt and fresh black pepper

1  Tablespoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (I did not have any white pepper on hand, so I substituted black pepper, but I’m leaving this as Paula Deen originally intended, because I’ll bet it’s tasty)

Pinch of red pepper flakes (oops, I added a couple pinches and, yes, it was dang hot)

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound collard greens, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 5 cups)

1 1/2 cups chopped green chilies. I happened to have fresh/frozen ones on hand that a friend of Glenn’s brought to him from New Mexico. Use ’em if you got ’em. Otherwise, canned would be fine.

1 quart low-sodium chicken broth

2 15-oz cans navy beans, undrained

Optional garnishes: 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, light sour cream, chopped tomatoes, lime wedges

 

In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic and onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the chicken, cumin, oregano, white pepper, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and 1-2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper. Cook until the chicken is slightly browned on both sides, 3-4 minutes.

Add the collard greens and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add the chilies and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium low, cook, stirring occasionally for approximately 1 hour. As soon as the chicken was cooked through (after about 15 minutes), I helped it along by breaking it up a little bit in the pot. After a while, it will begin to get very tender. If I had time, I probably would have let it simmer for another 1/2 hour to get it even more tender. Stir in the beans in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Garnish and serve.

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Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Mashed sweet potatoes, side viewThis has been one busy week. On top of regular work projects that needed attention and various urgent home repairs, I had to complete an 8,000 word essay for the journal Food and Foodways. I submitted a proposal last spring to write an essay on the Birmingham Public Library Archives collection of interviews of the people of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, and it was accepted. You may have heard of Gee’s Bend’s Quilts; they have become nationally and internationally famous, touring around the country and inspiring books, plays, and museum exhibitions. But my interest in Gee’s Bend has to do with food. The Archives happens to have about 30 interviews of “Gee’s Benders” from the late 70s and early 80s; and Gee’s Benders talk to their interviewer about growing up this isolated part of Alabama in the early to mid-twentieth century. Though they talk about quilts, politics, and religion, one of their favorite subjects is traditional soul food: collard greens, black eyed peas, cornbread, pork, and of course, sweet potatoes.

Whole Sweet TatersThough I had an entire summer to write this article, I did not actually begin writing until about a month ago when my other work at the Library seemed to settle down a bit. But of course, things never settle down like you think they will, and this final week of writing was filled with early mornings, long days, and late evenings. Then, in the middle of the week, when I didn’t have a moment to think about cooking, Glenn brought home the first of this season’s sweet potatoes. I got home from work on Wednesday night, tired and cranky, and saw them sitting on the counter, just another thing needing my attention. I thought about looking up a recipe or two, wondering what fancy schmancy thing I could do with them, but I just couldn’t do it. I was exhausted. 

So, I did the absolutely simplest thing I Sweet potato, split side viewcould do: I washed them, poked them with a fork, and threw them in the oven to roast for about an hour while I watched House Hunters…er, I mean CSPAN. When they were tender, I split them in half, scooped out the meat, and mashed them in a bowl with butter, brown sugar and sea salt. That’s it. That was dinner. Comfort food in a bowl. The people of Gee’s Bend didn’t mess with any butter, brown sugar, and sea salt, but I think they would have approved. To make a long week’s story short, I got my essay turned in on Friday, but with a little help from some mid-week soul food that absolutely lived up to its name.

 Sweet Potatoes, all mashed upMashed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes (I used two big ones)

about 1/4 cup of brown sugar

about a 1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons)

between 1/2 and a full teaspoon of sea salt

Wash (scrub if you’re scareda dirt) and poke holes in sweet potatoes (to let the steam escape). Roast them in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. My sweet potatoes were big and took a whole hour. DO NOT TAKE THEM OUT EARLY–they will be kind of tough and stringy and just no fun. I put mine in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients and mashed them with a potato masher, but feel free to use a mixer if you don’t like yours with some lumps. Because the size of sweet potatoes varies (don’t worry, size doesn’t matter, unlike what some people tell you), test the butter/sugar/salt ratio until you find something you like. I particularly love sea salt in this recipe. The coarseness of the salt granules means they don’t quite melt all the way, and a little salty grain is nice with such a sweet vegetable. If you’ve got it, I would recommend some pork ribs or collard greens with these (Gee’s Benders knew what they were doing).

Butternut Squash Bread

Butternut Squash bread baked

Do you know what I’m waiting for? Sure, I’m waiting for the stuff everyone else is waiting for: peace in the middle east, health care reform, cars that can fly, etc… But what I really really really can’t wait for is for someone to invent the replicator. You know, from Star Trek? Oh, how many times I have wanted to walk up to my replicator window and order up a cup of earl grey tea, hot, just like Patrick Stewart, and have it instantly! And the thing I imagine about the replicator is that whatever you order would be perfect. Your filet would be exactly medium rare, just like you want it. Your hot chocolate would be not-too-hot to drink and not-too-cool you have to throw it in the microwave. Your pizza would have the exact right amount of crispiness around the edges. And your butternut squash bread? Well, the replicator would bake it *all the way* and not take it out five minutes too soon like a mere human such as myself.

Butternut Squash Bread in the Mixer

What has stood between me and bread perfection time and time again? Impatience…about 5 minutes worth, to be exact. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken bread, cake, or cookies out of the oven too early. Sometimes it works in my favor–who doesn’t love an ooey gooey chocolate chip cookie or brownie? But with things like bread, you just have to be patient. Let the peak of the bread solidify before you take it out even when you think the edges look brown and ready (Kelsey!).

Other than that little problem, this bread was excellent. The cool thing about butternut squash is that it is practically indistinguishable from pumpkin, so you can substitute it for any recipe you have that calls for pumpkin. I used my mom’s extraordinarily simple and delicious pumpkin bread recipe.

Butternut Squash Bread Baking

This recipe is really no-nonsense: just mix everything up together, pour in the bread pan, and bake. Done. You can add raisins or cranberries, walnuts or pecans, coconut or chocolate chips. Eat it with a slab o’ cream cheese if you want to. Just, please, please, whatever you do…don’t take it out of the oven too early (Kelsey!).

Until my replicator is installed (you know, next to my holodeck and transporter), this will be one of my favorite recipes.

Butternut Squash bread Butternut Squash Bread

makes 2 loaves

3 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 to 1.5 pounds cooked butternut squash-pureed or at least mushed up really well.

2/3 cup water

3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

I added about a cup of raisins

Beat all ingredients together. Grease pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour (or until the peaks are solid–no jiggling!)

Pear Galette

Pear Galette after baking2I’m gonna make this short and sweet, folks. Never make a pie again. Seriously. And this is coming from a pie-aholic. I LOVE pie. I love apple pie, pumpkin pie, peach pie, blueberry pie. I love ALL pies. And I have to admit, I’ve gotten pretty good at making pies. But I seriously never have to make one again, because I have discovered the galette. Easy. Not messy. You can accidentally put a hole in your crust (not that I ever do that) and it does. not. matter. Galettes are every bit as buttery, fruity, and flaky as pies, but with half the work. Glenn and I even might have said, just under our breaths, that we might perhaps possibly like this better (GASP!) than a pie!! AHH!

 

 

Kiefer Pears

These pears (which are, as best as we can tell, Kiefer Pears) came from my brother-in-law’s property. They’ve been growing there for years and they are absolutely wonderful for baking. He does not do a thing to them all year: no fertilizing, no pest control, nuthin’, and they come out perfect. I’m sure you could use any pears for this recipe, but if you can find some Kiefer Pears, you won’t be sorry. Do not pass GO, do not collect 2oo dollars. Go make this now. NOW!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pear Galette--Rolled out dough

 Keifer Pears, Sliced

  Pear Galette before baking

Pear Galette after baking

  

Pear Galette, adapted from Martha Stewart

Martha’s recipe serves 8, but I adapted it to serve 2. We ate every last bite of this galette, so if you have more than two, you should probably double it.

All-purpose flour, for work surface

1/2 recipe Pate Brisee (see below)

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup granulated sugar

pinch of salt

2 large ripe pears, sliced quite thinly. It’s up to you how much crunch you want left in them

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 large egg

sugar for sprinkling (about a tablespoon)

3 tablespoons homemade caramel or pear syrup (the first time I made this, I had homemade caramel left over, so I used that. The second time I made it I had no caramel, but I did have some pear syrup from my father-in-law’s pear preserves. I just drizzled it on top. It was excellent. Martha Stewart’s recipe tells you to heat up some apricot jam, strain it, and brush it over the galette. That sounds great too, but I’d loose the straining part–why make it hard on yourself.) 🙂

 

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.

2. Sprinkle work surface with flour. Roll out dough to a 14-inch round, about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 hour.

3. In a bowl, mix together cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add pear slices and toss until evenly coated. Mound pear mixture on top of dough, leaving a 4-inch border all the way around. Fold dough over pear mixture, overlapping where necessary and gently pressing to adhere the folds. Transfer galette to refrigerator and let chill, 20-30 minutes (yeah, right…I was too hungry to do this last step).

4. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, beat egg with some water. Brush edges of dough with egg, and springle edges (or the entire thing!) with sugar. Dot top of galette with butter. Transfer to oven and bake until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling, about 45 minutes (you might check on this and dab up any pear liquid that seeps out onto the parchment so it won’t burn. Pears are VERY juicy).

5. Remove galette from oven and drizzle with caramel, syrup, or apricot jam.

 

Pate Brisee (Pie Dough), from Martha Stewart

Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- 10-inch pies.

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8-10 seconds (or, just use a pastry cutter, which I did because my food processor is broken and never to return)

2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process for more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: if it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time (or, use a fork, like the girl with the broken food processor did.)

3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least an hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month (or for the next day, which is when I made this galette again).

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Red Peppers

Red Peppers

These beauties are called Lipstick Peppers. They are sexy, aren’t they? Red, lucious, puckered and ready for a mammoth, sumptuous smootch. And I am, indeed, completely head-over-heels in love with them.  My husband often brings these home from the farm along with a similar variety called Carmen Peppers. Both have more sweet flavor than a basic red bell pepper, though you could easily use bell peppers for this recipe instead.

Just like any person you love, the first thing you’ll want to do to these peppers is change them. (Insert sarcastic emoticon here.) To make these peppers even better than they ever thought they could be, stuff them with the uber-lucious cheese of all cheeses–goat cheese–and serve them alongside a juicy, medium-rare cheeseburger. The goat cheese and peppers are alternately creamy, tangy, and sweet and go perfectly with a savory burger. I love this combination so much, I’ve actually thought of putting the stuffed peppers right on top of the hamburger. Maybe next time. Let’s not go overboard, okay? We’ll want to keep some excitement in the relationship for when things get a little boring later on.

 

 Stuffed peppers before cooking

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuffed Peppers with Hamburger 3

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

These peppers would go perfectly with any beef dish, or just eat them by themselves for a great vegetarian meal that is quite filling on its own. Either way, the combination of goat cheese, bread crumbs, garlic, and olive oil makes any relationship palatable.

 

Goat Cheese Stuffed Red Peppers

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1.5-2 oz goat cheese (I love Belle Chevre)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 medium red peppers (I use Carmen or Lipstick peppers, but you could use any type of red peppers for this. Just remember that larger red bell peppers will require about twice the filling)

 

Slice peppers in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and ribs.

Mix the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.

Stuff each pepper not too tightly, but not too loosely (I usually heap the stuffing a bit).

Place stuffing side up on a parchment- or aluminum-lined cookie sheet. Roast for about 20 minutes on 375 degrees, or until the stuffing starts to brown.

Vegetable Burritos with Red Pepper Cheese Spread

Fresh Veggies from JVUF

Some women get flowers. I get vegetables.

 

Pink Beauty Tomatoes, Yellow Straight Squash, Zephyr Squash, and Orient Express Eggplant

I’m totally fine with that. Because I’m a vegetable geek, that’s why. Especially when the vegetables are Pink Beauty tomatoes, Zephyr squash (that’s the two-toned variety above), Orient Express eggplant and Cherokee Purple tomatoes (these actually have a purple hue to them). Their names are so lovely, it’s hard to think of them as just tomatoes, squash, and eggplant.

How many of these things can I stuff into one meal without dinner being called “Pile O’ Vegetables with Vegetables on the Side”? Well, here’s a case in point. The other night I made vegetable burritos using eggplant and squash, but instead of just plain ol’ cheese, I used a red pepper cheese spread I made a couple of nights before. The spread is really a dip, and I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen. It’s great as a dip, but I liked it even better spread out on a flour tortilla to rest my sweet veggies upon (they are high-maintenance veggies). Another note about the dip: the recipe on Smitten Kitchen calls for just red bell peppers, but my husband brought home hot red peppers (Sahuaro peppers), so that made for a really spicy kick that was great with the vegetables and flour tortilla. If you don’t want the extra spice, just use red bell peppers.

 Red pepper cheese spread

 Essentials: sea salt and a glass of wine

  Sauteeing Squash and Eggplant

 

I used the Pink Beauty tomatoes to make a very simple salsa with onions, a couple of small jalapenos from my own garden, lime juice, salt, and pepper. You could throw some garlic in there too if you like.

 

I'd gladly trade you my bone for just a tablespoon of salsa

I'd gladly trade you my bone for just a tablespoon of salsa

 

Add some canned black beans, and you’ve got yourself a burrito-type thing. A delicious burrito-type thing! Maybe not exactly what you’d get in Mexico, but if it’s good, who needs authenticity, right? I think the red pepper spread really made these excellent burritos. Also, the fresh sweetness of the tomatoes was a nice compliment to the savory eggplant and squash.

 

Blog Grilled Veggie Burritos with red pepper cheese spread

 

Veggie Burritos with Red Pepper Cheese Spread

Makes enough for 2-3 large burritos

Olive oil

Sea salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

1 medium squash (or zucchini), cut into 1 inch peices

1 medium eggplant, cut into 1 inch peices

A small can of seasoned black beans (you can use plain black beans too. They won’t be quite as flavorful, but they’ll have less sodium.)

Flour tortillas (burrito sized)-I use Mission Flour Tortillas, though the number of Mexican grocery stores in my neighborhood is so high that it is really a crime for me to be using store-bought. Shame on me.  

Salsa (see recipe below or use salsa from a jar)

Red pepper cheese spread (see recipe below or use some cheddar or monterey jack cheese instead)

 

Sprinkle the eggplant and squash with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Before I do anything else, I cut the eggplant and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. I let the eggplant sit for about 15 minutes. The salt actually takes the bitterness out of the eggplant–which is generally the thing that most people don’t like about eggplant. So, do that, and then you can take the time to make the spread or salsa while the eggplant rests.

Make the spread and salsa and warm the beans in a small saucepan on low heat.

Saute the eggplant and squash in some olive oil over medium-high heat for about 5-8 minutes, depending on how crunchy you want your vegetables. I like them semi-crunchy, but browned nicely on the outside. If you like them a bit more tender, turn down the heat and saute for a few more minutes.

Meanwhile, microwave the flour tortillas for about 30 seconds each. I usually microwave each one separately (mainly because there are only two of us), but you could also warm them in the oven or in the microwave all at the same time; just follow the directions on the package.

Spread about 2-3 tablespoons of the red pepper cheese spread onto each tortilla.  

Spoon about a 1/4 cup of salsa onto each tortilla

Spoon about a 1/4 cup of beans onto each tortilla

Place the vegetables on top

Fold the tortilla. I fold the bottom up like a diaper (I know, that is an icky analogy, but don’t think too hard about it, okay?), then I fold each side in like I’m wrapping up my little burrito to go out into cold weather (um, just fold it however works. eh hem…moving on)

 

for the salsa

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 cup onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 jalapeno, minced

juice of 1/2 a lime

1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro (if desired)

Combine all the above. Allow salsa to sit for a few minutes so the flavors marry (and forever live happily ever after). Again, if you don’t like anything too spicy, just leave out the jalapeno.

 

for the red pepper cheese spread

Got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen