Archive | December, 2011

Snowed-in soup problem

14 Dec

Kellie is my college roommate. She’s also a journalist and likes to cook, and that’s a good thing because she’s recently found herself living in a small town in central California without many of the food options she was used to in Los Angeles, or in Shang hi where she lived before.

So Kel was snowed in the other night and wanted to make a bean soup because she had a bunch to use and couldn’t get to the store. She called me, which is usual, but I’ve never really made bean soup and so I had her call mom.

She did a post and here it is:

As a winter storm approached, my thoughts turned to dinner. A hearty bean soup seemed perfect for the chilly night, but I wasn’t sure how to make it. As usual, I turned to Colleen for advice, but for once, she was perplexed. “I don’t know,” she said. “You’ll have to ask my mom.”  So I, too, called Maureen for advice. Here’s what she told me.

Snowed-in bean soup:


Two cups of beans, lentils and peas

Cup of crushed grape tomatoes

1 cup each: celery, carrots and yellow onion

9 cups chicken stock

1 tsp salt

Several cloves garlic

Several bay leaves

1.       Soak the bean mixture in water for several hours then drain

2.       Sauté the celery, carrots and onion in olive oil until soft; sprinkle with salt and add garlic

3.        Add the bean mixture

4.       Crush the tomatoes and add in (alternatively, you can use tomato paste)

5.       After about ten minutes, add chicken stock and bay leaves and let simmer

I had limited supplies in my kitchen, and, with snow on its way, I didn’t want to leave. But  Maureen offered some ideas for next time: Add salsa for a spicy kick; try flavoring the broth with smoky ham or pork; or even use my own chicken stock. Maureen’s creative attitude was inspiring, and I ended up adding a few of my own touches. Before serving, I added some baby spinach leaves and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Delicious!

Don’t be afraid of mustard greens

5 Dec

I love kale. Spinach, broccoli, collard greens and all manner of lettuce. But for some reason mustard greens scare me. I think it’s because they are so bitter, or they seem so … wild that I’m never quite sure how to cook them. But today, as we were wandering around the neighborhood farmer’s market, Andrew tasted a sample and decided he wanted some. They looked so pretty, all purple-tinged and fresh. So we bought them. And lo and behold, they’re delicious! And easy! Peppery, bitter and fresh. How did I ever not cook them?

Mom’s in California this weekend visiting Bob’s daughters, so I had to track her down on one of their phones. “They r like any other BITTER greens,” she typed on some random number. Which means, they’re easy to cook.

You need:

1 bunch mustard greens



olive oil

Cut the bottom stems off so they’re just leafy. The key here is to blanche them first. If you’re not familiar with how to blanche, it’s really quite easy. Fill a saute pan with water almost to the top and right before it boils, toss the greens in. Looks sort of like this, forgive the photos I have an older smartphone.

Let it sit in the near-boiling water for about 5 minutes or until they’re a bit soft. Then take them out and set them aside, briefly. Dump out the water.

OK so, if you’re cooking something else, like pork tenderloin which would be great, or fish or something, (we had shrimp, again, I’m on a shellfish kick) Let these greens hang out until about 10 minutes before everything else is done.

Pour a thin layer of olive oil into the saute pan and heat it up. Toss the greens back in for about 5 minutes. Salt and pepper them.

And seriously, that’s all my mom told me to do. Well, she said I could add bacon if I wanted to but that’s another story.

Go buy some! They’re tasty.