Archive for December, 2008

What I’m Eating: Simmered Black-eyed Peas with Tomatoes

The original recipe is here.

My mother makes a delicious and simple dish of black-eyed peas and rice, and I was craving last week, but it doesn’t have much in the way of vegetables, it’s more or less 100% beans and rice, and I’ve been trying to focus on one-dish meals that are easy to carry with me to class. (I’m considering getting a bento box to make side dishes more convenient). So I looked for a black-eyed pea recipe with some vegetables in it, and found this one, which worked out pretty well.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
2 (16-ounce) bags frozen black-eyed peas

Preparation

Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and sauté about 4 minutes or until tender. Add tomato and next 3 ingredients; cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes or until tomato starts to soften.

Stir in black-eyed peas and 3 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 1 hour or until peas are tender. Season with more kosher salt and pepper, if desired. Serve hot or warm.

Notes

I had dried peas, not frozen, and I had no idea what the conversion would be, but I knew that a full 16-oz bag would be way more food than I needed, so I soaked 8 oz overnight and hoped for the best. I think maybe that was less than the recipe calls for, because I had quite a bit of liquid left after cooking, though I did reduce it by about a cup.

Probably I should have gone with the amount of water recommended on the bag, plus a little. At any rate, even watery it turned out delicious and reheated well. I ate it with rice for the complete protein, and the liquid flavored the rice and made it nice and tender in the microwave.

I didn’t have dried thyme all by itself, it’s not my favorite herb, so I added an Italian seasoning blend, my go-to for “this needs some herbs but I don’t know what.” To my unsophisticated palate it worked out just fine.

Finally, I cooked some ham separately and added it in with the simmering step, for a bit more flavor and because my roommate does not trust legume-based protein. She claims her nails haven’t been growing as fast and blames my cooking–I love legumes. I don’t think it was enough to make a real difference but it made her feel better. Plus ham is tasty, and the same ham steaks I bought before were still cheap. At any rate, I think this recipe would work with or without the meat.

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Dinner: Ham Steak and Acorn Squash

The most food-centric holiday of the year in the US, and I didn’t post any recipes. Clearly I am not ready for the big leagues of food blogs. But I’ve never actually done any of the cooking for my family’s thanksgiving celebrations, and I don’t know the recipes for the food we traditionally eat. Well, except for green bean casserole, but you don’t need me to tell you how to make that one.

Tonight I will make up for it with TWO simple and delicious recipes I just made for dinner. It’s been getting truly cold and wintry around here, and I managed to have on hand the perfect ingredients for a hearty and comforting winter meal.

Baked Acorn Squash

Ingredients

1 Acorn squash
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp brown sugar
Cinnamon

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400° F. With a sturdy chef knife, cut acorn squash in half (I recommend having a rubber mallet handy for a large squash). Scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Put 1/2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp brown sugar into each half, sprinkle with cinnamon. Fill a baking pan with 1/4 in water to keep the squash moist, and place the halves cut side up. Bake for 1 hour.

Notes

I love winter squash, and I had baked acorn squash all the time growing up. It takes a long time to cook, but is super-simple to make as long as you have a knife that is up to the job. Maybe you’ve heard this before, maybe you haven’t, but a good 8-inch chef’s knife is just about the most important kitchen tool to have. I cannot stress enough the importance of buying the best chef’s knife you can afford. That and a paring knife will get you through just about anything. They’re the only two knives I own and I am SO glad I have good ones.

Anyway, ham.

Autumn Spice Ham

Ingredients

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 (2 pound) ham steak
1 red apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 green apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup maple flavored pancake syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Preparation

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the ham on both sides in the butter until browned. Lay the sliced apple over the ham. Pour the syrup over the apples and sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally until the apples are cooked through.

Notes

My ham was leftover from the red beans and rice I made for lunch this week (straight from a box of Zatarain’s, all I did was add the ham, so no recipe there. Zatarain’s red beans and rice is totally delicious though, and I highly recommend it.), so I had a lot less than 2 pounds. I just used one apple and the last of our log cabin syrup, which was not quite enough to coat the apple and ham as well as I wanted, so I added a splash of apple juice, too. It turned out really well.

Together with some toasted dinner rolls, this was just what I wanted on a chilly December evening.

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