Butter Bean and Pea Dip with Mint

May 13, 2012

This is my second variation of Chris Kimball’s bean dips from the current issue of Cook’s Illustrated. It taste fresher and lighter than Pinto Bean and Corn Dip with Cilantro. Unfortunately I only had wheat-saltines for serving; I think it would have been tastier with some thinly sliced bread or pita. Overall, if you like bean dip then I think you’ll love this recipe, plus it takes only about 5 minutes of work. However, I have never before served bean dip, having been to too many parties where canned bean dip was offered. While Chris Kimball does prove that not all bean dip is disgusting. This is very fresh tasting, but it is not enough to resurrect the genre in my mind. 3-stars.

Fresh and minty

Comments:

  1. I looked everywhere and couldn’t find canned butter beans, so I substituted petit lima beans.
  2. I used regular plain yogurt rather than Greek yogurt, because that’s what I already had in my kitchen.

Rating: 3 stars.
Cost: $3.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Started: 3:00 PM.  Ready at:  4:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

1 small garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup frozen baby peas
1 can butter beans (15-ounce)
1 scallion
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
Table salt
1/4 teaspoon coriander
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
Extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Remove your baby peas from the freezer and allow to thaw.
  2. Peel the garlic and press it into a small bowl, then mix together with lemon juice and zest. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Pat your thawed peas dry with paper towels, and reserve 2 tablespoons for later as a garnish. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bean packing liquid by adding to the bowl of a food processor, then rise the beans. Cut your scallions in two ways, first cut the white and light-green parts into 1/2″ pieces. Second, slice the darker green part thin and on a bias.
  4. Add the following to the bowl of the food processor: rinsed beans, peas (except for the reserved garnish), white and light-green parts of scallion, mint, 3/4 teaspoon table salt, coriander, cayenne pepper and lime/garlic mixture. Pulse between 5 and 10 times until completely ground. Scrape down sides of food processor with a rubber spatula. Continue processing for 1 minutes, scraping down sides of food processor two more times.
  5. Add yogurt and process for 15 more seconds.
  6. Empty into a serving bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to serving.
  7. Sprinkle with salt according to your taste. Top with remaining peas and scallion greens. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.
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Pinto Bean and Corn Dip with Cilantro

May 10, 2012

Chris Kimball has five bean dip recipes in this month’s issue of Cook’s Illustrated. As I mentioned earlier, I made this Latin version of a bean dip for Cinco de Mayo. It came out fabulous, and was not a lot of work. This recipe included enough fresh ingredients; corn, cilantro and lime; to prevent it from becoming dense and pasty like most bean dips. 4-stars. I still plan to try another of his bean dip recipes, probably his Butter Bean and Pea Dip with Mint or Pink Bean and Lima Bean Dip with Parsley.

Latin-style bean dip

Comments:

  1. I already had 1/2 bag of dried pinto beans in my cupboard, which I used in lieu of the canned pinto beans specified in the original recipe. I soaked the dried beans in salt water overnight, rinsed them the next afternoon and cooked them for about 45 minutes until they were tender. I substituted some olive oil for the two tablespoons of reserved bean liquid. However, I still left the canned beans in the recipe below, because canned beans make more sense in a recipe that lacks a long cooking time.
  2. I used regular plain yogurt rather than Greek yogurt, because that’s what I already had in my kitchen.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $3.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Low.
Started: 3:00 PM.  Ready at:  4:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

1 small garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon grated lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup frozen corn
1 can pinto beans (15-ounce)
1 scallion
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Table salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
1/4 cup plain Greek-style yogurt
Extra-virgin olive oil

  1. Remove your corn from the freezer and allow to thaw.
  2. Peel the garlic and press it into a small bowl, then mix together with lime juice and zest. Set aside for 15 minutes.
  3. Pat the corn dry with paper towels, and reserve 2 tablespoons for later as a garnish. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bean packing liquid by adding to the bowl of a food processor, then rise the beans. Cut your scallions in two ways, first cut the white and light-green parts into 1/2″ pieces. Second, slice the darker green part thin and on a bias.
  4. Add the following to the bowl of the food processor: rinsed pinto beans, corn (except for the reserved garnish), white and light-green parts of scallion, cilantro, 3/4 teaspoon table salt, chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and lime/garlic mixture. Pulse between 5 and 10 times until completely ground. Scrape down sides of food processor with a rubber spatula. Continue processing for 1 minutes, scraping down sides of food processor two more times.
  5. Add yogurt and process for 15 more seconds.
  6. Empty into a serving bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to serving.
  7. Sprinkle with salt according to your taste. Top with remaining corn and scallion greens. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve.

Grilled Steak with Spicy Chipotle Chile Rub

May 7, 2012

Cinco de Mayo is largely an American invention, but growing up in Southern California I thought is was as real as the Forth of July. I have always celebrated it, and this year made the only Latin-themed recipes from the May/June issue of Cook’s Illustrated; Grilled Steak with Spicy Chipotle Chile Rub, with a side dish of Pinto Bean and Corn Dip with Cilantro. This recipe is very similar to the 4-1/2-star Latin Spice-Rubbed Grilled Flank Steak, except the beef is more tender (and slightly more expensive). The recipe also delivers on it’s claim to overcome the problem of dry-crust that often plaques leaner cuts of meet.

Delicious meal for a made-up holiday

The recipe slightly scores the meat to allow for deeper penetration of the seasoning, and uses salt mixed with tomato paste and a few other water-soluble spices (onion powder, garlic powder) during the “salting phase”. The spice rub was made by toasted whole spices on the stovetop in a skillet, then ground using a spice grinder. Finally, because the recipe called for a lean cut of beef I sprayed the steaks with vegetable oil just before grilling, which gives the crust a head start in becoming moist.

Comments:

  1. The tongs used when flipping the first steak did remove crust in one spot. I was more careful when flipping the second steak and the problem didn’t reoccur.
  2. I will post the “Pinto Bean and Corn Dip with Cilantro” in 2 or 3 days.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $14.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium/Low.
Started: 5:00 PM.  Dinner:  6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

Steaks:
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 boneless shell steaks, about 1″ thick (about 1-1/2 pounds)

Spice Rub:
2 dried chipotle chiles
4 teaspoons cumin seeds
4 teaspoons coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Vegetable oil spray

  1. In a small bowl, mix together equal amounts of tomato paste and fish sauce. Add kosher salt, onion powder and garlic powder.
  2. Use paper towels to dry both side of the steak. Use a chef’s knife to create a cross-hatch pattern on both sides of the steak, with the slits cut 1/16″ deep and 1/2″ apart. Evenly rub the tomato/salt mixture on both sides of the steaks, and place them on a wire rack. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  3. With about 30 minutes to go, completely open the bottom and top vents of the grill. Light a chimney starter filled with charcoal.
  4. Remove the stem and seeds from your chiles and tear into 1/2″ pieces. Place a 10″ skillet over medium-low burner, and toast the chiles, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, red pepper flakes and whole peppercorns for about 4 minutes; until they begin to smoke. Empty onto a small plate and allow to cool for 5 minutes, before grinding in a spice grinder. I used a small coffee grinder and processed until it was coarsely ground.  Empty into a small bowl and mix together the remaining spices: sugar, oregano, and cinnamon.
  5. Evenly sprinkle half the seasoning mixture over each side of the steaks, pressing until the mixture becomes moist. Spray the steaks lightly with vegetable oil spray, before flipping to season the second side.
  6. Grill the steaks over the hot-side of the grill, covered, until the outside is charred, about 4 minutes per side. Move the steaks to the cooler side, cover, and continue cooking until the desired internal temperature has been reached. 125-degrees is medium-rare, 130-degrees is medium, etc.
  7. Allow steaks to rest on a clean wire rack, loosely tented with foil, for 10 minutes before slicing thinly against the grain.

Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps

May 5, 2012

At first, I was a little scared by the length of the ingredient list. While the meal made a bit of a mess in my kitchen, it came together very quickly and was not a lot of work. It was ready in just under an hour, and mostly just required lots of chopping and slicing. The wraps had nice flavor, but were too muted. Perhaps it would benefit from a tablespoon of Asian chili sauce, or perhaps the missing hoisin sauce was the key missing ingredient. These wraps were very reminiscent of these Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps that I made 1-1/2 years ago. These were 3-1/2 stars.

While the ingredient list is massive, they come together quickly.

Additional Comments:

  1. These wraps were good, but needed a little more kick; either more heat or more sweetness There is certainly potential for these to be at least 4-stars. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice until the last minute that I didn’t have any Hoisin sauce (used as condiment for serving). I had no time to come up with a substitute, which might have contributed to the 3-1/2 star rating.
  2. I’d recommend using chicken thighs as specified in the recipe, but today I substituted chicken breasts because I already had them in my refrigerator. However if you do use chicken breasts, I’d recommend increasing the other chicekn ingredients by 50% (the four ingredients only under the chicken section) to help offset the less-flavorful cut of chicken.
  3. I couldn’t find Bibb lettuce so used Boston lettuce.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $11.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium/High.
Started: 5:30 PM.  Dinner:  6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

Chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 teaspoons Chinese rice cooking wine (or substitute dry sherry)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce:
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice cooking wine (or substitute dry sherry)
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Stir-Fry:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 celery ribs
6-oz shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup water chestnuts (about 2-1/4 oz)
2 scallions (white/green parts minced cut differently)
2 garlic cloves
1 head Bibb lettuce (8 ounces)
Hoisin sauce

  1. Trim away any excess fat from chicken and cut roughly into 1″ pieces. Arrange chicken in single layer on large plate, and freeze for 20 minutes. You want to freeze only until firm (not frozen).
  2. Meanwhile combine rice wine, soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, and cornstarch in medium bowl.
  3. Working in two batches, pulse the partially-frozen chicken in food processor 10 times per batch. Add the chopped chicken to the medium bowl with the slurry. Stir together until the chicken is evenly coated and put in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together all ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl or cup. Set aside for now.
  5. Use the remaining refrigeration time to prepare all the vegetables for the stir-fry.  Cut your celery ribs into 1/4″ dice. Remove the stems from your mushrooms, and slice them thin. Drain 1/2-cup of water chestnuts and cut them into 1/4″ dice. Cut your scallions two ways; mince the white part and slice the green part thin (as garnish). Peel your two garlic cloves so that they will be ready to press directly into the skillet. Finally, remove the lettuce leaves whole, because they will be used as a wrap. Gently wash the lettuce to remove any dirt and spin the leaves dry in a salad spinner.
  6. Place a 12″ non-stick skillet over a high burner. Preheat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until it begins to smoke. Saute chicken for 4 minutes, then remove to a clean serving bowl.
  7. Wipe out skillet and add 1 more tablespoon vegetable oil, and again preheat until it begins to smoke. Saute celery and mushrooms for 4 minutes. Add diced water chestnuts, scallion whites and press garlic cloves directly into skillet. Continue to saute for 1 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  8. Return chicken to skillet and stir to re-heat the chicken. Re-whisk the sauce to combine and add to skillet. Stir until everything is combined. Either transfer to a serving bowl, or pre-assemble wraps on individual plates.
  9. Serve, sprinkling with scallion greens and passing Hoisin sauce separately.

Crab Cakes with Remoulade

May 3, 2012

These were the first crab cakes I’ve ever made at home. So when the recipe calls for using pasteurized lump crab-meat from a can, I was skeptical and tried using the frozen craws I found in the supermarket. But about 5 minutes later I realized what a tremendous amount of work it would require. 40 minutes later, I resolved never to complain about the high price of crab-cakes in restaurants again: assuming, of course, that they use fresh crab-meat.

My first homemade crab cakes

These crab cakes use ground shrimp as a binder in lieu of mayonnaise, so there is very little to dilute the taste of crab. The soaking in milk may have helped remove some of the excess fishiness, but the final crab cakes still needed some lemon of offset the slightly-too-strong taste of the sea. Because these are my first homemade crab cakes I can only compare to those that I’ve eaten in restaurants. While they are delicious, 4-stars, they are still not as good as crab cakes that I have eaten in nice restaurants in Manhattan. I assume it’s because they use fresh crab-meat. Of course, 8 enormous crab cakes for $14 is a tremendous bargain compared to a similarly priced tiny appetizer in a restaurant.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $14.
How much work? Medium/High.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Started: 4:00 PM.  Dinner:  6:30 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original crab cake recipe is here., and his Remoulade recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

Crab Cakes:
1 pound lump crabmeat
1 cup milk
1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
2 celery ribs
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4-oz shrimp
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
4 tablespoons vegetable oil

  1. Put crab-meat in a small bowl and pick it over to remove any pieces of shell that your find. Add enough milk to completely submerge, about 1 cup. Cover with plastic wrap and all to stand in refrigerator for between 20 and 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile put 3/4-cup Panko in a small zip-lock bag and use a rolling-pin to crush it until fine, then empty into a dry 10″ non-stick skillet. Add an additional 3/4-cup Panko. Toast over medium-high burner for 5 minutes until golden brown; stirring bread crumbs every 30 seconds for even toasting. Empty into a pie plate and add 1/4 teaspoon salt and ground black pepper to taste.
  3. Roughly chop celery ribs and onion and add to bowl of a food processor. Peel and smashed the garlic and add to food processor. Pulse 6 to 7 times until finely chopped. It may be necessary to scrape down the bowl using a rubber spatula. .
  4. Wipe out skillet, place over medium burner and melt butter. Saute the chopped vegetables, adding 1/2 teaspoon table salt, and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, for about 5 minutes until the vegetables have dried out. Empty to a large bowl and allow to cool down for 10 minutes.
  5. Strain the crab-meat to remove the milk, pressing down with a rubber spatula.
  6. Wipe out bowl of food processor using paper towels. Peel the shrimp and pulse about 12 times until it becomes finely ground. Add cream and pulse again 3 or 4 times. Empty the ground shrimp into the bowl with the vegetables. Stir together the Dijon, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, and Old Bay seasoning until evenly combined. Add crab-meat and carefully fold together trying to preserve the lumps of crab-meat.
  7. Divide into 8 equal size piles and press into 1/2″-thick patties. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  8. Place each crab cake in pie plate with panko and press so that crumbs adhere to the crab cakes.
  9. Place the skillet over a medium burner, and pre-heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil until it begins to shimmer. Cook 4 at a time for 3 or 4 minutes without moving them. Carefully flip them over using two spatulas. Reduce the burner to medium-low and add 1 more tablespoon oil. Cook for another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove to a serving plate. Use paper towels to wipe out the skillet, and repeat this step with the rest of the crab cakes.
  10. Serve immediately with lemon wedges and remoulade.

Remoulade:
1/2 teaspoon capers
1 small clove garlic
1 teaspoon minced parsley leaves
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

  1. Drained and rinse your capers. Peel your garlic gloves. Mince your parsley leaves.
  2. Add all remaining ingredients (except the salt and pepper) to the food processor. Pulse about 10 times until well combined, but so much so that it becomes smooth.
  3. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper according to your taste. Serve.

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