Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Super easy green bean recipe

OK, I'm really not usually a huge fan of store-bought sauces, but I do make a couple of exceptions. Black bean sauce from Kikkoman is one. I could eat it with a spoon. It has everything you want in a good black bean sauce: not too sweet, good and salty with a pungent ferment flavor. I hope I didn't turn you off with that last part.
Green Hill Urban Farm, the local farm that I purchase from, has an abundance of green beans right now. Green beans in black bean sauce are a great alternative to the typical green bean dish.
You need:
about a pound of beans
at least 3 T of black bean sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
one jalapeno, cut into thin strips
dash of rice wine vinegar
vegetable oil
Get a pot of salted water boiling on the stove.
Chop your beans into about 1-inch lengths, then blanch them for approximately 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. Drain them, then shock them in iced water.
Heat your oil in a wok or skillet. Toss in jalapeno and garlic, saute for a second, then add your beans.
Throw in a dash of vinegar, a plop (yes, I said a plop -- look at the picture) of your black bean sauce, a bit of water to thin it all out if necessary and stir.

Cook for maybe two minutes and serve.
What an easy dish, huh?
I served my beans with brown rice and a sesame-glazed chicken leg.

Four words that'll make you go yummmm...

Pimento. Cheese. Mashed. Potatoes.

I know, right?
There's no picture because I ate it all right up. I can't take credit for it, unfortunately. Actually, a man came over and cooked me dinner the other day and he made those for us. I know, good guy to have around, right? Anyway, it's so simple, and comes out this beautiful yellow that looks strikingly pretty next to something green -- like green beans, for example.

So, just boil your potatoes, drain them and let the steam come out for a while, then mash them with some cream, butter, store-bought pimento cheese, white pepper and salt.

Easy but genius.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shrimp salad tacos

You know what is the very best on a hot summer day (besides the beach)?

Shrimp salad. It's so easy and great served cold any which way you so choose.

I like a good, spicy, Mexican/Spanish-style shrimp salad wrapped in a tortilla with some shredded cabbage. So summery and easy to eat when the heat makes you want to convert to a liquid diet. And! Great with Coronas.
Here's what you need:
1/2 pound shrimp
one avocado
about 1/2 red onion
1 red bell pepper
1 lime
a handful of summer herbs -- I chose cilantro, basil and marjoram from my garden. You want to stick to the sweeter herbs (ie: no sage or rosemary, please!)
ear of corn
sour cream (a dollop)
wedge of red cabbage
tortillas (I prefer flour taco-sized tortillas)
hot sauce -- I am partial to Sriracha

First, start roasting your corn. I like to broil mine, lightly oiled, in the toaster oven. Grilled corn works well, too.

Then, peel and de-vein your shrimp, reserving the shells for later use. Ziplock them and freeze -- it'll make great stock (which I'll be showing you how to make another day)

Get a small pot of salted water boiling, and a small pot of ice water waiting to shock your blanched shrimp. Once the water boils, throw your shrimp in and cook until right when they turn pink -- you want them cooked through, but don't overdo it. Overcooked shrimp are mushy. Yuck. Drain the shrimp then throw into the ice water to cool.

Meanwhile, mince your onion, peppers and herbs. Toss them in a mixing bowl. Chop the shrimp small and toss that in, too.

Halve your avocado, remove the pit, then slice it right in the shell with a butter knife, first lengthwise then back across your original cuts. Add that as well.

When the corn is done roasting, slice it off the cob, and toss that in your bowl, too.

Put a dollop of sour cream in the bowl and a generous squirt of hot sauce. Squeeze your lime in here as well. Mix gently. Salt and pepper to taste. I like to add about two teaspoons of smoked paprika at this point. As it's kind of hard to find, I didn't include it in the ingredients list.

Serve with tortillas and lime wedges. Garnish with shredded cabbage. Don't forget the beer!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


This week when I went to go pick up my veggies from Green Hill Urban Farm (, I had a special treat waiting for me. I'm sure I squealed like a little girl. What was I so excited about? Freshly-dug potatoes in several different colors (I guess you could say I'm easily amused) sitting like little dirty jewels in a produce box. Pretty.

Young potatoes are one of my favorite sides, especially when they are multi-colored. They don't require much -- a little butter, salt and herbs, or a simple dressing for a potato salad served room temperature or chilled. If you are a frequent reader of this blog, you may have gathered that I eat a lot of salads in the summer. The trick is making them hearty enough to garner meal status.
This salad is hearty enough. My friend agreed that it was a "man salad." When asked to expand, he said through a full mouth, "It has meat and potatoes." Indeed.

So, here's what I used:
two scallions, green parts only
two already cooked pieces of bacon (if you are vegetarian, consider using cooked smoky tempeh strips)
handful of parsley
half of an avocado, sliced
garden-fresh assorted lettuces
a couple basil leaves
4 or 5 tiny young potatoes, cut into somewhat equally-sized pieces
Not pictured: 1/2 a lemon juiced, 2 T of apple cider vinegar, a quarter cup of Theros extra virgin olive oil
First, put some salted water on to boil. Once it is rolling, add the potatoes. You will cook them until just tender. The time depends on the size of your cuts. Just keep checking their level of doneness with a fork.
Meanwhile, chop the bacon, scallions and herbs into fairly small pieces.
Place your chopped items in a bowl, then add your vinegar, then your lemon juice and then your oil. Mix it all together.

Drain and cool your potatoes, then add to the oil mix and toss.

Pour the entire mess over your lettuce, then add the avocado. Salt and pepper to taste.
Super easy summertime meal.