Monthly Archives: February 2009

smoky goodness


looking around for something to compliment a slowly smoked sunday brisket,  I came across these super smoky beans that caught my eye, not to mention teased my palate. plus i had just about everything i needed already on hand, with the exception of the barbeque sauce. we often make our own, but i was feeling lazy so went and picked up some stubb’s barbeque sauce at the corner store. lucky us, living in texas. we LOVE barbeque. we even had our wedding catered by the salt lick.

it starts off with freshly cooked beans. use canned if you must, but the toothsome-ness of  homemade really makes this dish. you can read about the virtue of making homemade beans and get a primer on quick-soaking and cooking beans here.


the next step requires the services of small can that packs a big wallop: chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. these are red jalapenos that have been smoked and packed in the spiciest, smokiest, sweetest tomatoey sauce that you can imagine.


add in some other goodies and the whole mess gets popped in the oven for about an hour. it should look a little soupy when it goes in, like the picture below, or else it’ll end up too dry in the end. there were only a few of us eating, so i halved the recipe and still had enough for the meal and 3-4 lunches.


hot & smoky baked beans (adapted from bon appetit)

3-4 bacon slices, finely chopped (we used our own! will be posting soon!)

1 1/2 cups onion, finely chopped

1 1/4 cups your favorite barbecue sauce

3/4 cup dark beer-i used saint arnold winter stout

1/4 cup mild-flavored (light) molasses

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1-2 minced canned chipotle chilies, depending on your taste*

5-6 cups (1 lb dry) fresh cooked  great northern or other white beans (or 4  -16 ounce canned beans, rinsed and drained)

*be careful– for half of this recipe, i used one pepper and a bit of the sauce from the can of peppers and one taster proclaimed it as “a little too hot”.


preheat oven to 350°F. cook bacon and onion in large skillet over medium heat until crisp. add next 7 ingredients to bowl and whisk to blend. whisk in chipotle chilies, depending on spiciness desired. stir in beans. transfer bean mixture to 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Bake uncovered until liquid bubbles and thickens slightly, about 1 hour. Cool 10 minutes.

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Filed under beans, side dish

le bon temps roulait!


yes, the good times rolled at our house over the weekend. i know, mardi gras isn’t really until tuesday, but since it always falls on a school night, and we since we had a few birthdays to celebrate, we chose saturday night to make some seafood gumbo and get our mardi gras on!

getting the holy trinity ready ( i used an orange bell pepper instead of green) :


gumbo can be quite an undertaking if you don’t enlist the help of friends. thankfully, Dr. Mark assisted by making the shrimp stock and some other goodies ahead of time. you could also use the method below for making the  stock.

this story now becomes the saga of the roux and how i won. it’s like a fairy tale, really. the first roux was too light. the second one was too dark (like burned!). the third one was just right. i had never made gumbo before, but i had made a roux–i just don’t know how i got into this mess. i highly recommend that you do this part before having a glass of gruet sparking rose the way i did. the pictures could be better but hey, it was me or the roux and i was in it to win it.

very blonde roux:


golden roux:


and darker still:


i took just a bit darker before adding the veggies and stock, but i could not get a shot of it without burning it (believe me i tried).


susan, the birthday girl waiting in line for her gumbo (that’s Dr. Mark on the right).


seafood gumbo (adapted from poppy tooker, self-described new orleans food activist)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup flour

2 gumbo crabs*

3 lbs. shrimp

1 onion, chopped

1 bellpepper, chopped

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 lb okra, sliced 1/4″

1 leek (white and light green part only) sliced into 1/4″ rings

oil for frying okra and leeks

1 – 16 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained

2 quarts shrimp stock

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

3 thinly sliced green onions

salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce to taste 

* because i did not have access to gumbo crabs, i used a lb of fresh lump crab meat.

option to make shrimp stock: peel shrimp and combine peels, onion skins and tops in a stock pot. cover with water and boil for 10 minutes. strain and reserve. 

fry okra and leeks in very hot oil until lightly browned. you can bread them before frying like we did, if you like. allow to drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. set aside.

on a low to medium flame, make a dark roux with the flour and butter, stirring almost constantly with a wooden spoon, cooking until golden brown. Add onions, stirring together until the roux darkens to a milk chocolate brown. be careful not to burn the roux. you will know immediately if this happens–it is very pungent. do not use if you burn, the whole soup will taste burned. start over and be patient–it is a learned skill! add celery and bell pepper and garlic and saute for a few minutes, stirring frequently. 

 add the gumbo crabs (if using), tomatoes, herbs and the shrimp stock. simmer 45 minutes or longer, adding water to thin if thickens up too much. 

ten minutes before serving add shrimp and lump crab meat (if using) and green onions. taste to correct seasonings, adding salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce. ladle over steamed rice and top with fried okra and leeks.

and then there was cake…



Filed under seafood, soup



if you are not a meat eater, you may want to sit this one out. i am one of those that think not much can’t be improved without the addition of bacon. a few weeks back, a few of us went in on an entire pork belly from our local farmer’s market source, richardson farms. they are friendly folks and their meat is local and hormone and antibiotic-free!

fat side up (no skin, which i guess in retrospect would have made for some pretty good cracklin’s):


and the other side:


we portioned it out:


as far as our portion, we have decided to make bacon (insert joke here) and pancetta. i will update you over the next few weeks to let you know how it’s all progressing.

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Filed under bacon, meat