April 5, 2012

Recipe for slow cooker Puerto Rican black beans with sofrito and cilantro {vegan, gluten-free}


Three times I attempted this black bean recipe, as I tried to recreate a dish I enjoyed years ago in a local Puerto Rican restaurant. Three times I loaded my slow cooker with dried beans, not presoaked, just rinsed and picked over. First, I tried cooking them without any seasoning, thinking I'd add the flavorings at the end so they wouldn't keep the beans from softening. (Not enough water; the beans turned into a solid blob before I realized it.) The second time, I added sufficient liquid, but in an act of defiance, the perfectly cooked beans refused to absorb the sofrito, tomato or spices. (Blech.) The third time, success: dry beans, correct amount of water, sofrito and tomato and spices added right at the beginning, everything coming together with no more intervention on my part than a stir somewhere between hours five and six. In a pinch, you can substitute store-bought sofrito (I like Goya red sofrito, though it contains a tiny amount of MSG), but it takes just a minute to make your own from scratch.

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February 5, 2012

Recipe for chicken and vegetable quinoa stir-fry


A couple of years ago, my husband Ted and Cousin Martin hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Every evening, after climbing all day and carrying tents, food and gear, their guides cooked a meal for the group of hikers. When I asked recently what those meals were like, all the guys could remember was "some sort of quinoa stir fry thing with vegetables". Not much to go on, but Kathy and I started with a recipe we found online, and we loved the dish we created, a kind of chicken and vegetable fried rice -- without the rice. I imagine that the Peruvian cooks might have included roasted cubed potatoes. We used cubes of grilled chicken breast, for a super healthy and satisfying entrée. I hope this quinoa stir-fry, even if it's not authentically Peruvian, brings back good memories for Ted and Martin. (PS: Their next climb is Mt. Kilimanjaro. Anyone know any Tanzanian dishes that use our pantry ingredients?)

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January 19, 2012

Grilled chicken, avocado and peach salsa quesadilla recipe


In the house where I grew up, we ate grilled cheese sandwiches all the time, but nary a quesadilla. Maybe it was a Northeast thing, but more likely, it was a my mother never heard of quesadillas thing. My own pantry always holds enough fixings for these simple Mexican grilled cheese sandwiches, a go-to meal on busy days. Most often I use Joseph's low-carb oat bran tortillas -- the gorgeous orange ones in these photos are habañero-lime tortillas from Trader Joe's -- and my friend Lucia keeps me supplied with her homemade peach salsa. Newman's Own peach salsa from the supermarket, or Trader Joe's peach salsa, will be fine substitutes that add a bit of fruity heat. Here's my secret to great quesadillas: tuck a few teaspoons of the salsa inside, and cook them on a dry griddle, to keep them from being greasy on the outside.

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August 28, 2011

Slow cooker green chile chicken recipe

Slow cooker green chile chicken.

Chelsea, my summer intern, returns to college this week. It hardly seems possible that we've been cooking together for three months, or that we've made dozens of great recipes with only two toss-in-the-compost failures. This slow cooker green chile chicken typifies the budget-friendly recipes we've created with college students in mind. Throw a few ingredients into the slow cooker on the way to classes in the morning, and come back to a ready-to-eat dinner at the end of the day. We paired this chicken with quick and easy black beans and rice, and rolled everything in a tortilla with a bit of salsa on top. It's nutritious and economical, as a small bit of chicken is all you need with rice and beans, and you'll have plenty of time left to do homework -- or play with your kids, or read a book, or watch reruns of The Good Wife on television.

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July 31, 2011

Recipe for spicy tuna and avocado ceviche

Spicy tuna and avocado ceviche, so refreshing!

Everyone (including me) will tell you that you should never shop for fish on Monday morning, yet it was a field trip to my local fishmonger last Monday morning with my summer intern that inspired this amazing tuna and avocado ceviche. We'd gone to get the kinds of things you can buy on a Monday -- fish for chowder, clams and clam broth, and calamari -- and there, calling to us, was sushi-grade tuna, tightly wrapped in plastic to keep the air from degrading it. Ceviche (pronounced seh VEE chay) is a Latin appetizer of raw fish "cooked" in an acid like lime or lemon. I had beautiful purple scallions and cilantro from the farmers' market, an avocado, and a full pantry of Asian condiments. My spicy ceviche came together in five minutes, and I could have inhaled the entire bowl in five more minutes if I hadn't stopped to photograph it. Sushi-grade tuna isn't inexpensive, so this dish would be a wonderful dinner party appetizer, or a special treat for a romantic evening at home.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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