Black Bean Chili with Citrus

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A lot of chili recipes tend toward darker flavor enhancers — expresso coffee or chocolate, or both, for a mole twist. This one takes a different approach with the addition of orange juice and it makes for a lighter, brighter chili — great as a summer chili, but also a delicious at this time of the year when citrus is abundant. This is vegetarian, but shredded chicken would certainly work well in it if you’re looking for a bit more protein. Have fun with this recipe — add sweet potatoes in the winter, and in the summer, liven it up with fresh chopped tomatoes, corn and crisp zucchini.

4 C dried black beans
2½ quarts (10 cups) water
2-3 fresh sprigs oregano, or 1 T dried
3 bay leaves
6 small or 3 large sage leaves
1 t salt
4 T olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 chopped peppers – bell pepper, Anaheim, or jalapeño (your choice, depending on taste for heat), seeds, stems and ribs discarded
6 cloves crushed garlic
2 T chili powder
1-2 t puréed chipotle in adobo, chipotle Tabasco, or chipotle powder (to taste)
1 T cumin, (crushed whole toasted cumin seed is best, if possible)
1 C orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
2 T rice wine vinegar
salt to taste

Garnish:

Sour cream
Chopped cilantro
Lime wedges
Avocado wedges

Rinse and sort the beans, discarding any stones or shriveled beans. You can soak the beans overnight in cold water (cover with several inches of water) OR pour enough boiling water over them to cover by a few inches and soak them for an hour OR skip the pre-soaking step. Soaking will speed up the cooking process. Add beans to a large pot with water. Add oregano, bay leaves, sage and salt. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until the beans are soft, but not quite done. The time will vary depending on how large, dry, or old your beans are, and if you have pre-soaked them, from anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and a half.

While the beans are cooking, sauté onions and peppers in olive oil until soft. Add chili powder, chili purée, cumin, and garlic. Sauté until spices are fragrant. Remove from heat. When the beans are cooked, fish out and discard the bay leaves, stems of oregano, and sage leaves from the pot. Remove, but reserve, extra cooking liquid until there is about ½ inch of liquid above beans. Add the onion mixture and salt to the pot of beans. Cook another hour or so until thickened. Add reserved liquid if needed. Add half of the orange juice, and simmer. Adjust chili heat at this point – you may or may not want to add more of your chili paste. Just before serving, add remaining orange juice, lime juice, and vinegar. Salt to taste. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro. Serve with corn tortillas, and/or rice, and garnishes.

 


Mediterranean Sweet Pepper Salad

tanis

Adapted from David Tanis’ cookbook, “A Platter of Figs and Other Recipes”, this dish bursts with color and flavor of summer. A great way to use up a bumper crop of sweet peppers. The peppers store very well in the fridge for up to a week and the flavors improve after a day. Great as a side or as a topping for grilled chicken, pork or fish. Chop the peppers into dice and toss with pasta. Great to use tossed with leftover grilled veggies. Read More


Chilled Roasted Yellow Pepper Soup

yellowI would be the first to admit that I cannot leave well enough alone. Take this soup for example. It’s pretty darn great just as it is — a refreshing, even comforting, meld of sweet yellow peppers, a hint of smoke from the roasting, the warm note of rosemary, the sharply pleasant heat from the jalapeno, finished with a bright touch of lime. But when I make it I think about the other yellow pepper soup I’ve made — the one that’s accompanied by an orange pepper soup, which are then slipped side-by-side into a single bowl for an elegant yin and yang effect. I put the question to you — too much? Ridiculously over the top for a weeknight dinner? Or are we having FUN yet? You decide. And while you are mulling, make this lovely soup, which was adapted from Fine Cooking. It made the folks at USBG happy in August 2014. And get to taste the soup. Read More


Fresh Corn Polenta with Fire-Roasted Red Pepper Puree

corn polentaThis is an eye-popping dish, the bright yellow polenta served in a pool of red. To turn it into a main course, top with grilled veggie, grilled fish or buffalo mozzarella sliced and finished with ribboned basil. For a dairy-free version of the polenta, use three tablespoons olive oil and omit the butter. The recipe is adapted from Jacques Pepin. We demoed it at U.S. Botanic Garden August 15, 2014. Read More


Corn Saute with Ginger, Lime and Cilantro

corn sauteThis is a great example of the whole being so much more than the sum of its parts. It’s difficult to put into words just how good this little saute is – the combination of sweet corn with the ginger and garlic – don’t skimp on these – and the heat of the serrano – you can go heavier on that if you wish – and the little bit of lime come together in an almost transcendent way. You can serve this with tortilla chips, combine it with a couple of spoonfuls of Mexican crema, or use it as a kind of salsa, on top of grilled rockfish or sword, which is how Adrienne served it last week. As delicious as the fish was, the saute was far and away the star of the show. Adapted from Fine Cooking. Adrienne will demo this at US Botanic Garden Friday August 15, 2014. Read More


Jeweled Quinoa

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Even the quinoa (kee-noo-ah) gleams in this beautiful, mouth-watering jewel of a dish.  If you’ve never had the grain before, this is a great introduction.  If you have, then add this salad to your repertoire.  Quinoa is widely available in the rice and grain aisle of your local supermarket or in the health food section.

1 C quinoa, red, black or white or a combination
2 C water
2 T olive oil
1  T minced fresh ginger
1 clove or 1 t minced fresh garlic
1 small carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
1 celery stalk, diced (about ½ cup)
½ red AND yellow pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
½ C peas, frozen is fine
3 scallions, thinly sliced (discard dark green part)
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, dill, mint or basil for garnish (optional)

For the best flavor and fluffiest texture, dry-toast the quinoa before adding the water: rinse the quinoa according to the package directions, then put it in a medium pot without oil or butter. Let the grains dry out a bit and toast until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the water, bring to a boil and cover with a lid. Simmer  10-15 minutes-do not stir the quinoa while it is cooking. This will allow it to cook evenly and steam holes to form. The quinoa is cooked when you see the grains form a little white spiral tail. This is the outer germ of the grain that twists as it cooks, but stays attached to the kernel.

While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the vegetable medley. Heat the olive oil in a non-stick sauté pan, add the garlic and ginger and stir until the ginger is aromatic but not colored, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots and sauté another minute; stir in the remaining vegetables and sauté just long enough for the vegetables to heat through, about three minutes. Remove from heat, add the cooked hot quinoa, season with lemon juice and zest, a little more olive oil, salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs.  Serve, hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 4-6.