Friday, February 29, 2008

Black Bean and Corn Enchilada Casserole

So, another snow day. I took this opportunity to play with a recipe that I was interested in. I hope you will try it out and give me your feedback. Guess this is my first "official" recipe post.

1 15oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained (I prefer organic
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup beer (your choice)
1/2 tsp. ground red pepper
1 (28oz) can whole tomatoes, drained and chopped
1/2 cup sliced green onions
1 (2 1/4 oz) can sliced black olives, drained
2 (4.5 oz) cans chopped green chilies, drained
zest and juice of 1 lime
5 tbl. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
2 cups lowfat milk
2 eggs whites, lightly beaten in a medium sized bowl
1 cup shredded monteray jack cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or 2 cups cheese of your choice!)
4 6"tortillas, cut in half to fit if necessary, I used multigrain, but you can use corn if you wish
sour cream and salsa

This recipe takes a bit of time to put together, kind of a Mexican Lasagna, so, light a candle, put on some jazz and enjoy the experience. Oh, it helps to chop and prepare, or mise en place, then cook and assemble. This recipe can be made in advance as well!

Add some oil to your skillet over medium heat and saute the onions till soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic (which I mince with a little sea salt), sauteing a few minutes more. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, red pepper and beer and cook until the liquid has almost all cooked out, about 15 minutes or so. Then, add the olives, chilies, green onions (save a bit of the olives and green onions for the end), zest and juice of the lime. Remove from heat and set aside for later. This is a good time to taste to see if you want to add more seasoning.

For the sauce, so easy, combine the flour, cumin, salt and coriander in a saucepot, I prefer a saucier, and slowy whisk in the milk, so as not to create lumps. Then heat the mixture over med heat, whisking away, until the sauce begins to bubble and thicken, about 7-8 minutes. This is a good time to finish the rest of that beer that was opened! When the sauce coats the back of a spoon
remove from the heat. Place the bowl with the egg whites on a kitchen towel(so it won't scoot all over the counter) and slowly, (and I mean slowly, this is not the time to be in a hurry), whisk in a small bit of the sauce. Keep whisking a bit vigorously, and then add a bit more of the sauce to the whites, a little at a time, until you have combined all of it. You need to do this slowly, tempering the eggs, so they don't scramble. Now you are ready to build this dish!

In a 2 1/2 quart dish, coated with cooking spray, spread about 1/2 cup of the sauce. Then layer in the tortillas. I cut mine in half, they fit better that way. Then on top of that, 1 cup of bean mixture, another 1/2 cup of sauce, about 1/2 cup or so of cheese. I hate to give exact ratios, use your own judgement. You are building 4 layers and will end with sauce. Save the last layer of cheese for the end.

Now, at this point you can either freeze for later, put in the fridge overnight or bake right away. If you are baking now, do so in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, top the casserole with last of the cheese and the reserved green onion and olives. This will bake about another 5 minutes or so. Let stand 10-15 minutes, then dig in. Should serve 6-8. I plate my wedges on a bed of lettuce and then plop the sour cream and salsa as a garnish. A little chopped cilantro would be great, but I don't have any in the house right now. If you pull it from the fridge, it will take about an hour to bake. From the freezer, I would let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then bake about 1 hour. You could try it straight from the freezer, I would keep it covered for about 3/4 of the cooking time, then uncover and finish cooking. I have not tried this yet.

Here is the finished product, makes great leftovers!

Thursday, February 28, 2008


I woke up in the middle of the night, wondering what ever happened to the spam haikus I used to have. Thank you internet......................

Silent, former pig
one communal awareness
myriad pink bricks

Blue can of steel
what promise do you hold?
salt flesh so ripe

Can of metal, slick
soft center, so cool, moistening
I yearn for your salt

Twist, pull the sharp lid
Jerks and cuts me deeply but
Spam, aaah, my poultice.

You wait to feed
mestoic vigil on the shelf
ah my vibrant pink

Jelly for mortar
seven hundred tins and more
I build a Spam house

My friend pork shoulder
I return to you. this time
I've brought mayonnaise

Above all others
porcine treat without equal
there is but one Spam

Clad in metal, proud
no mere salt-curing for you
you are not bacon

And who dares mock Spam?
you? you? you are not worthy
of one rich pink fleck

Grotesque pinkish mass
In a blue can on a shelf
Quivering alone

Like some spongy rock
A granite, my piece of Spam
In sunlight on my plate

Oh Argentina!
Your little tin of meat soars
Above the pampas

The color of Spam
natural as the sky:
A block of sunrise

Little slab of meat
In a wash of clear jelly
Now I heat the pan

Oh tin of pink meat
I ponder what you may be:
Snout or ear or feet?

In the cool morning
I fry up a slab of Spam
A dog barks next door

Pink tender morsel
Glistening with salty gel
What the hell is it?

Ears, snouts, and innards,
A homogenous mass
Pass another slice

Cube of cold pinkness
Yellow specks of porcine fat
Give me a spork please

Old man seeks doctor
"I eat Spam daily", he says.

Highly unnatural
The tortured shape of this "food"
A small pink coffin

Slicing your sweet self
Salivating in suspense
Sizzle, sizzle...Spam

Pink beefy temptress
I can no longer remain

Queasy, greasy SPAM
Slithers without propulsion
Across a white plate.

Born in World War Two
Hogs marching off to battle
Dressed in tin armor.

The blue can is square
Why not a circular can?
Too much like dog food.

When I was a kid
Mom would make SPAM casserole
Now she denies it.

If you cut open
A SPAM can with a jigsaw
The blade will smell weird.

Myrrh, frankincense, and
SPAM: the gifts of two wise men
and one complete fool.

Bright lights and cruel cops
grill the suspect pork product
It doesn't confess.

Old retired jocks to
star in ads for new SPAM Lite
"Tastes filling!" "Less great!"

After scrutiny,
me thinks it is doggie food
I eat on all fours.

In mud you frolicked
Till they cut, cleaned and canned you
How now, ground sow?

Cold SPAM canapes
Served up by John Belushi-
Martha Stewart's Hell!

Slice the cold, pink block
Apply to sucking chest wound
Don't need stitches now.

"Slow down," she whispered
now guiding my trembling hands
"Turn the key slowly."

Silken pig tofu
The color of spanked buttocks
Blushing at my knife.

SPAM, too, needs a wife
What consort for my Pork Prince?
Ah! The Velveeta!

SPAM glistens pinkly;
Cat taps it with wary paw
To see if it's dead.

I put my shoes on
But remembered far too late
My secret SPAM stash.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The soup

As comforting to make as it was to eat. I feel that I should include some sort of instructions/recipe at this point. I start with one of my new faves, a huge, industrial sized can of peeled roma tomatoes, straight from Italy via Costco. (How do they get them here and sell them for a mere $3.00?) You can turn this can of ruby red goodies into almost anything, and believe me, I am trying. The entire can is poured into a large stockpot and I heat them slowly for about 30 minutes. While they are heating, I rinsed, chopped and sauteed; 2 leeks, 1 white onion, 3 ribs of celery and 5 assorted rainbow color carrots. No need to worry about them being a uniform size, more on that later. When the veggies are soft and the onions that beautiful milky, translucent white, I add 3 cloves of garlic,some sea salt and coursely ground pepper to taste, cooking the mixture about 5 more minutes. By this time, the romas are nicely heated, time to add the veggies. Let them all simmer together another 15 minutes or so, then, puree with an immersion blender to the consistency you desire. To this I then add 2 boxes of organic chicken broth. While this comes back up to a simmer, I clean and chop shiitake and white mushrooms. I love the earthy smell of the shiitakes. They are then sauteed in olive oil with a bit of thyme until they begin to give off their juices. To enhance them, at the last minute I added a shot or so of brandy, then pour them in with the tomatoes. Lentils, washed and picked over go in as well, partially cover and cook til the lentils soften. The smell is overwhelming, and just as I hoped, enveloped the entire house.

Bill arrives for lunch, just in time for the lentils to have finished cooking. The warm, woodsy smell of the soup is tantalizing to us both. I ladle it into the shallow bowls and top each with a generous amount of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.

My version of grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup!

Monday, February 18, 2008


What will be on the menu today, this chilly Monday in February? I say, warmth and comfort. A bowl of soup that will wrap it's arms around you and scare the cold away.

They say "daylight savings" is just 3 weeks away, a sure sign of spring. I say the sign is the beautiful, fragrant paperwhites blooming in my home, a gift from dear Ellen. One whiff reminds me of sunshine, the first smell of the earth warming, roasting fresh asparagus. Ahh Easter, soon to come. Another grand occasion to research and plan for.

But for now, I will get the pots out, rinse the leeks, chop the carrots, onions and celery and start the weeks pot of soup. Soon, the kitchen will be warm again, and the aroma of comfort will be upon the house.

Friday, February 15, 2008

A Valentines Feast for 2

I begin the journey of this blog with the delightful details of our romantic dinner for 2.

It began with a soft Rosemary Cheese with Fig Preserve appetizer, served with a glass of Shiraz. The delicate cream and goat cheese enveloped the fresh rosemary, tarragon and local honey.

This was followed by a light salad of heart shaped roasted beets, atop watercress which was dressed in a light, raspberry viniagrette. Two goat cheese "marbles" which were rolled in ground pistachios accompanied the salad.

Then, onto the main entree, Wild Mushroom Whole Wheat Lasagna with thyme roasted sweet tomatoes. This was served with a glass of Prosecco.

The evening ended with a serving of warm, from the oven, Blackberry/ Blueberry Cobbler.

As elegant as it was delicious!

As we sat, looking out at the snow covered lawn and lake, we lamented the fact that dinner had come and gone so quickly, but alas, there are leftovers for the next night!

This blogging is new to me, so as a reader, please be patient. I am not sure how or where it will evolve, but look forward to the journey!