Crusty Creamy White Beans and Greens

IMG_1361From Super Natural Cooking

This is a fantastic book by Heidi Swanson that is a nice introduction to cooking with whole foods and was a good introduction for us to experimenting with ingredients that were novel to us at the time (2007). This recipe is one we go back to because it’s yummy and quick. It’s written for Giant white beans (dried) and I know it would be a hundred times nicer with those, but this recipe keeps us defaulting to canned white cannellini beans as it’s such a quick and easy work night dinner when you want to eat something healthy without planning ahead. I can’t believe we haven’t made it the “right way” yet, and I plan to remedy this, soaking the dried beans and cooking them first. Could easily be made vegan, but I do like the flavors of the butter and the parm with the beans

serves 2
1 can cannellini beans   (Original recipe calls for 1/2lb medium or large dried whole beans and twice the amount of the ingredients listed below)
1 1/2 Tbs clarified butter or olive oil  (To clarify butter, gently heat butter in small saucepan over med/low heat until it separates into 3 layers. Foam will float to the surface and solids will sink to the bottom. It should only take a few minutes. Skim the foamy layer with a spoon and discard. Next, carefully pour clear liquid off and discard solids. Clarified butter has a much higher smoking point than many oils, and can be stored in a jar for months in the fridge, so you could do this procedure on a larger quantity and store it.)
fine grain sea salt or kosher salt
1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 or 4 big leaves of chard, cut into wide ribbons and 1 or two stems, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Drain and rinse the canned beans (or drain the fresh beans from the cooking liquid). Heat the butter over medium high heat in the widest skillet you’ve got. Add beans and stir to coat in butter, then let them sit long enough to brown on one side, about 3 or 4 minutes, before turning and browning on the other side. The beans should be golden and a bit crunchy on the outside and soft and creamy on the inside. Salt to taste, then add onion and garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the onion softens. Stir in the chard and cook until just beginning to wilt. Remove from the heat and season to taste with a generous dose of salt and pepper. Drizzle with a good olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan.

This is pre-parm:



Herbed Summer Squash Pasta Bake


From Smitten. This is great in the summer when you kind of wish it was fall, but Pot Pie or Mac and cheese sounds too heavy. This has fresh summer flavors and is light but cheesy. Next time I might double this, and freeze half.

Serves 4, heartily, as written

8 ounces pasta, any shape you like
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (you won’t need this yet, but better to zest before juicing, to avoid grumpiness)
Juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons (45 grams) unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large or 5 skinny scallions, sliced thin and white/pale green parts and dark green tops in separate piles
Pinches of red pepper flakes, to taste
3 tablespoons (25 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
1 tablespoon finely chopped mixed herbs of your choice (I used a mix of thyme, oregano and mint, but if you only have, say, thyme or oregano, a full tablespoon will likely overwhelm, so use less. I used all three, but went light on the mint)
Salt and more pepper to taste
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan or aged pecorino romano cheese, divided
4 ounces (115 grams) mozzarella, cut into small cubes

Cook the pasta: If you’ve got an oven-save 3-quart deep skillet or braising pan, use it here and you’ll only need one pot for the whole recipe. Otherwise, bring an medium/large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 to 2 minutes before perfect doneness. Drain and set aside.

Heat oven: To 400 degrees.

Prepare the squash: Heat a large skillet or the pot you just used to cook your pasta to high heat. Once hot, add olive oil, and let it heat until almost smoking. Add sliced squash, season it with salt and pepper flakes and let it sear underneath, unmoved, until golden brown. Continue to saute until browned and somewhat wilted, about 10 minutes, trying to get some color on each layer before moving squash around. Transfer to a bowl and squeeze lemon juice over bowl. Add more salt or pepper if needed.

Make the sauce: Reheat your the same pot over medium heat. Melt butter in bottom of pan. Add scallion white and pale green parts and garlic and let sizzle for 1 to 2 minutes. Add flour and stir until all has been dampened and absorbed. Add milk, a very small splash at a time, stirring the whole time with a spoon. Make sure each splash has been fully mixed into the butter/flour/onion/garlic mixture, scraping from the bottom of the pan and all around, before adding the next splash. Repeat until all milk has been added, then add lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Let mixture simmer together for 2 minutes, stirring frequently; the sauce will thicken. Remove pan from heat and stir in half of chopped parsley, all of mixed herbs and reserved scallion greens. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Assemble dish: Off the heat, add drained pasta, summer squash, 1/2 cup grated parmesan and all of the mozzarella to the pot, stirring to combine. If pan is ovenproof, you can bake your final dish in it. If not, transfer mixture to a 2 to 3 quart ovenproof casserole or baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup parmesan.

Bake: For 25 to 30 minutes, until edges of pasta are golden brown and irresistible. Sprinkle with reserved parsley and serve hot. Reheat as needed.

To freeze: Let dish fully cool to room temperature, then transfer, wrapped well, to the freezer. Let defrost in fridge for a day before rewarming in oven. If I have time, I like to rewarm at a lowish head (300 to 325 degrees) with the foil on, then finish it for the last 10 minutes or so at a higher heat without the foil to restore some crisp.


IMG_1319 2

Grapefruit Yogurt Cake

IMG_1346This is a nice gift – tender and moist, sort of like a pound cake. The zest in the cake and the juice in the glaze makes for a lovely grapefruit flavor. Don’t tell anyone, but we have a strong penchant for frying a slice of any quick bread or pound cake in butter till golden. This worked nicely with this too – was almost pudding inside after fried.
Adapted loosely from Ina Garten

1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (230 grams) plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar
3 extra-large eggs
1 tablespoon grated grapefruit zest (approximately one large grapefruit)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (120 ml) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

For the glaze:
1 cup (120 grams) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup grapefruit juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.

When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.

For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and grapefruit juice and pour over the cake.


Butternut Squash Toasts

IMG_9923I forgot to take a photo, then thought it was so yummy I had to stop eating and grab this much at least!

From Smitten Kitchen

1 2 1/2- to 3-pound kabocha or other yellow-fleshed squash (such as delicata, acorn or butternut, which I used)
1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes, more or less to taste
Coarse sea or kosher salt
1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup (though I’ll probably use 3 tablespoons next time)
4 slices country bread, 1-inch thick
1/2 cup (4 ounces) ricotta, goat cheese, feta or mascarpone (I used goat and thought it was tremendous)
4 tablespoons chopped mint leaves (I just used a light sprinkle)

Heat oven to 450. Line large baking sheet with parchment paper. No need to peel your squash, just halved, seed and cut your squash into 1/4-inch thick slices. Toss with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 to 2 teaspoons salt (Vongerichten recommends 2 teaspoons; I used a bit less) and chili flakes until evenly coated. Transfer mixture to prepared sheet and roast until tender and slightly colored, anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes (depending on the density of the squash you use), flipping once about 2/3 of the way through. Once tender, you can cut the flesh from the skin and discard it. Leave roasted squash on the tray.

Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add vinegar and syrup and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until onions are jammy and broken down, another 10 to 15 minutes.

Pile onions on top of roasted squash, still on their baking sheet. Use a fork to gently half-mash the mixture; I like this best when the mixture is not uniformly combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil per slice of bread, and cook bread until just golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Spread cheese on toasts, heap with the squash-onion mixture, sprinkle with coarse salt and garnish with mint.

Do ahead: Now that we’ve finished lunch, I can note with great confidence that these reheat wonderfully, even fully assembled, with none of the sog you’d expect from day-old stuff on bread. (It helps if you use a sturdy bread, of course.) Reheat on a baking sheet in a 300 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Cauliflower Cheese

IMG_9919Again from Smitten Kitchen! This is a great dish for when you really want Mac and Cheese but don’t want to eat pasta. Delicious and easy. I realize it’s similar to the last post in this blog, but I promise I’ve eaten other things in between.

Smitten Kitchen says, “I think a dish like this could have endless variations. You could infuse the milk, warming it, with a bay leaf or minced clove of garlic. You could stir chopped parsley into the sauce for color. If you don’t have dry mustard, you can add two teaspoons smooth Dijon or an English mustard to the sauce along with the cheese. You could sprinkle some plain breadcrumbs on top for extra crunch. Finally, I saw a version online in which the chefs had grilled pork sausages and sliced them up into the dish, baking them with the cheese sauce as well for more of a meal-in-one dish.”

1 medium head (about 2 to 2 1/4 pounds) cauliflower
4 tablespoons (55 grams or 2 ounces) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons (30 grams or 1 ounce) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons mustard powder
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper or ground cayenne
2 cups (475 ml) milk, whole is best but low-fat will probably work just fine
1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (about 155 grams or 5 1/2 ounces total) grated cheddar, the strongest you can get, preferably English or Irish
Chopped chives or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Trim cauliflower and remove tough core. Cut into 1 to 2-inch florets. She says to steam it (for about 10 minutes or par-boil (6 to 7 minutes) until firm but tender. Drain, if needed, and spread florets on a towel so that it can wick out as much moisture as possible) but i preferred to roast it in the oven, tossing once or twice till it has brown edges and a fork can be inserted. Firm but tender still applies, as it will cook more in the oven and you don’t want it to be mushy.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk to combine; cook for 1 minute to ensure you get rid of the floury taste. Add mustard powder and a pinch of cayenne or few grinds of black pepper, and stir to combine. Drizzle in milk in a thin, steady stream, whisking the whole time so that no lumps form. Season with salt and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring with a spoon; mixture should thicken. Stir in 1 1/4 cups cheddar, a handful at a time, letting each handful melt before adding the next. Taste sauce and adjust seasonings if needed.

Spread cauliflower florets in a 2-quart baking ovenproof baking dish. Spoon sauce over florets and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons cheese. Bake until until bronzed and bubbly, about 30 minutes. For reference, f I wasn’t in such a rush to get dinner out on the table, I’d have baked mine a minute or two longer, up to 35 minutes. (I finished it under the broiler).

Sprinkle with herbs, if desired. Eat with abandon.


Cream Cheese Biscuits


I love my regular buttermilk biscuits, but these definitely have merit. They’re super light for a biscuit without seeming cake-y, and the flavor is great. Would be a great side with a meal as they aren’t as heavy seeming as regular biscuits.The smartest part is just cutting them into squares – no cookie cutters, no extra pieces, etc. Quick and tidy.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt3/4 tsp baking soda
4 oz cream cheese, chilled, cut into 1/2 pieces and frozen for 30 min
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 cup plus 1 Tbs buttermilk (or milk with a squeeze of lemon and left to sit for about 15 min like I always do)

Do ahead tip for breakfast biscuit plans: Before bedtime, put a piece of parchment on a plate (or in the bottom of a tupperware) and put the cream cheese cubes and butter cubes on it. Cover and pop into the fridge so that when you get into the kitchen in the morning you can put them into the freezer for the 30 min required. The rest of the process is really fast, so you can have breakfast biscuits before you know it. This is a good step for any biscuit actually, as the tiny lumps stay cold in the food processor for excellent flakiness later.

Adjust the rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 450.
Put all dry ingredients into food processor and pulse to mix.
Chuck the frozen cubes in and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal (butter is smaller than peas but you can still feel them in there).
Transfer this mixture to the biggest bowl you have and add buttermilk and stir till combined (dough might seem slightly dry).
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly to bring dough together.
Pat it into a rectangle about 8″x 6″. Cut into 12 inch squares (I love my bench scraper – I used it to scrape up and turn the dough to knead it so the warmth of my hands didn’t soften the butter too much, and then I could cut the biscuits into squares with the bench scraper too – it’s one of my favorite tools for cleaning up biscuit mess too – so easy). Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a Silpat or parchment paper and bake until light brown 12-15 minutes (I split one open at 12 and felt like it was a tiny bit wet in the middle, so they went almost the full 15 in my oven.
Transfer to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Apple Cake

IMG_9953From Smitten Kitchen.
Reading the recipe will not convey its true deliciousness, and it is very easy to make. This cake will knock some socks off. One of my employees said it was the best thing I made all year, and we had to agree.  However, I had significant trouble with doing it in a bundt pan. Next time I plan to try these in loaf pans, especially because the visible apples are so gorgeous on top. If this had released properly from the pan, all of these apples would have been hidden on the bottom. Deb from Smitten uses a tube pan, which leaves the apples on top, and likely is easier to unmold. This cake is so very moist, and gets moister over the next few days.

6 apples (2 1/2 – 3lbs), deb’s Mom uses McIntosh apples, but I just smelled my way through the fujis and pink ladies, etc until I found one with a great fragrance.
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar

2 3/4 cups flour (345 grams), sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 large eggs
1 cup walnuts or other nut, chopped (optional)

Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and 5 Tbs sugar and set aside. Doing this first makes a nice syrup as they sit.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter your pan (her instructions said butter or spray oil, and spray oil didn’t cut it). When I do it in loaf pans, I’ll butter them and use a piece of parchment paper that is cut to the length so that it can line all but the ends (and extra butter the ends), which will allow me to lift the cake out of the pan.

Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients into the wet ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Add walnuts if using. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.


Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it.


Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top.


Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool completely before running knife between cake and pan, and unmolding onto a platter.

Here’s where I had trouble:


IMG_9959This is of course what I wanted to be adorable for distribution in slices for Christmas for my neighbors…

Oh well. It was incredibly delicious. You can sprinkle some powdered sugar on top to serve.




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