Thursday, June 30, 2016

Spicy Black Bean Gazpacho

     I'm not sure how I feel about gazpacho.
Wrong Gazpacho.
The idea of cold soup has never really appealed to me. Granted, there are exceptions. There's an Indian cold yogurt cucumber soup I'm a fan of, but the idea of a bowl of raw veggies in tomato juice doesn't really call out to me. I wound up making this soup because we had a bunch of veggies on hand and The Wife suggested it. On a hot summer day, I suppose it made sense. I gave in and whipped it up. I used my Bloody Mary mix since it had all the seasonings already in it and I wasn't about to run out and buy V8. I have to admit this was pretty good. It had a nice spicy kick and I particularly like the way the beans offset the crunchiness of the other veggies. If you're looking for an easy, healthy summer soup, I'd have to say this is a big winner. As always, notes and changes are in blue.

Spicy Black Bean Gazpacho
via Everyday Light Meals

  • 3 cans (5-1/2 ounces each) spicy hot V8 juice. (Nope. We don't have V8 in the house since the gold-plated hovercraft was in the shop. We opted for 18 ounces of The Wife's Choice Bloody Mary Mix. It's worth the extra trouble to make this, especially if you like a good Blood Mary.)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained (has anybody ever seen a recipe that said not to rinse and drain black beans? I feel like maybe I have. You know, "reserve mucousy water for proper texture.")
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (I used yellow, though I feel a sweet onion would have been good here)
  • 2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped (seeded? I don't have time for that sort of nonsense)
  • 2 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (omitted since it's already in my Bloody Mary Mix)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (omitted since it's already in my Bloody Mary Mix)
  1. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours. (Feel free to serve with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. We did, and we should be the benchmark for all your decision making.)
Good Times!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Three Mustard and Bacon Potato Salad

     Who doesn't like potato salad? COMMUNISTS AND BABY EATING FASCISTS, THAT'S WHO. Seriously? There's so many potato salad variants. I can see not liking one or two, but to turn up your nose at all of them would be an unforgivable crime. Especially if you turned your nose up at mine. We all know I produce nothing but pure gold here and if you didn't like something I made, you either screwed it up or are uncultured swine. All kidding aside (I wasn't kidding), this potato salad is dynamite. At least, that's The Wife's verdict. I will admit it is a tasty salad. You can't go wrong with a pound of bacon! The only thing you may find problematic is that it calls for another one of my recipes to make this. You need to have a batch of my Three Mustard Pepper Relish on hand. If you don't have it, or can't make it, I'm not sure what you can do. I imagine a mix of a sweet and spicy mustard and a spicy relish should be a fair (albeit weak) approximation. If you come up with a replacement for my relish, let me know. As always, notes are in blue.

Three Mustard and Bacon Potato Salad

  • 4 pounds potatoes, cut into 1" cubes (pick any potato you want. We used russet. Red would be good. I wouldn't recommend sweet)
  • 1 pound pepper bacon
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 large red onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup Three Mustard Pepper Relish
  1. Throw the potatoes into boiling water. Boil 7-10 minutes or until they are just starting to get soft (don't over cook them or they will disintegrate when you go to toss them later). Set aside to cool. 
  2. In a pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Drain and crumble the bacon. (don't you dare throw away the grease. Drain it into a clean jar and you can pop it in the fridge for later use. DON'T put the hot jar right into the fridge unless you're a huge fan of cleaning broken glass.)
  3. In a small bowl, mix the sour cream and mustard. 
  4. Put potatoes in a large bowl. Add bacon and onion. Pour in the sour cream and mustard mix. Toss until all ingredients are incorporated (this gives a nice, thin coat over everything. If you like more dressing in your salad, feel free to add more. Just remember 2 parts mustard relish per 1 part sour cream)
  5. Refrigerate at least an hour before serving
Good Times!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Stir-Fried Beef With Green Onion and Broccoli

     Stir-fry has to be one of my favorite methods of cooking. It's generally fast and easy. You really have to totally walk away from the pan for an extended period of time to mess it up. This particular recipe came about as many of my recipes do: a way to use up produce before it goes off. We had a few gigantic scallions the Mother-In-Law gave us and some broccoli not long for this world. Fortunately, I've taken to keeping at least a pound of stew beef in the freezer, so it worked out great. The flavor was mellow and satisfying. You may notice I let "fast and easy" and "mellow and satisfying" without making any sort of obvious snide "like I like my women" comment. That's because I like my women like I like my coffee. Bitter. And with a cheese Danish. As always, notes are in blue.

Stir-Fried Beef with
Scallions and Broccoli

  • 1 pound beef stew meat
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1/4" pieces (you can use some of the green part if you like. We do.)
  • 2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into smallish pieces (frozen will work in a pinch. Just defrost it first)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce (we use low sodium)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha (optional. I mean, if you hate flavor and happiness, you can certainly leave it out. To each their own.)
  • sesame oil
  1. Cut each piece of stew meat into one or two smaller pieces. 
  2. In a bowl, add meat, scallions, broccoli, soy sauce and vinegar. Toss to coat. Let marinate for about 30 minutes. Toss occasionally to make sure everything is coated.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan (a wok would be perfect here if you have one. If you don't, maybe you could run out and buy one! Be adventurous! Take a wok on the wild side! Sorry.) Add garlic and cook for less than a minute. Add beef and veggies and stir-fry 7-10 minutes or until the meat is done and the veggies still have a little bit of snap. Add a few drops of sesame oil toward the end of the cooking.
  4. Serve over white rice or noodles.
Good Times!