Saturday, February 2, 2013

Caribbean Bean Soup

What is a Caribbean bean? Well the most popular beans in Caribbean cooking are black beans and red beans. However, this soup isn't only about the beans; it uses several other Caribbean flavors: garlic, cumin, lime, and cilantro.

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 2 cans black or red beans, or one pound of cooked dried beans
Toppings
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 wedges
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sweat the onion, carrots, jalapeno, and garlic with the salt, pepper, and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes, until the carrot has softened (do not let the vegetables brown, turn heat to medium-low if necessary). Meanwhile, puree the beans with the chicken broth in a blender*. Add to the softened vegetable mixture. Raise heat to medium until simmering. Reduce to medium-low and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add more salt and pepper to taste and serve in soup bowls, topping with sour cream and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.

*Note: If you like the texture of whole beans in your soup, only puree half of the beans with the broth. Add the un-pureed beans to the soup as soon as you add the bean/broth mixture.

Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Pancakes

Pancakes are a delightful weekend breakfast treat! There are many recipes for very nice pancakes available, so why bother writing another? Because most of them require butter, milk, or other dairy products. Also, many of the commercial mixes contain both dairy and soy products, making them unsuitable for people with certain food allergies or intolerances. A few years ago, I came across a recipe for pancakes that were free of these allergens and I've been playing with it, tweaking the recipe to improve the flavor and texture. I think I've got it down now, so I'm ready to share it with you!

Ingredients


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup non-dairy milk, such as rice milk, coconut milk, or almond milk (the latter being my favorite)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons applesauce (unsweetened - no sugar added)
  • 1 teaspoon cooking oil (not "vegetable" or soybean oil, if you are trying to keep it soy-free)

Directions

After collecting all your ingredients, but before you mix or measure anything, preheat your griddle to 350 degrees (or medium-high if you don't have a thermostat). Also, turn your oven on to it's lowest setting and put a baking sheet lined with a tea towel in it.

Whisk together the flour, powder, soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl to remove any clumps and evenly distribute the ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the milk, sugar, egg, and applesauce until the egg and applesauce are thoroughly mixed into the milk. Finally, pour the liquid mixture onto the dry ingredients and whisk until there are no more dry clumps, although you should not mix until totally smooth or the pancakes will be too tough - it will only take 10-15 seconds of whisking to bring it all together.

Brush a light coating of oil onto the hot griddle. Using a disher (ice cream scoop) or ladle, gently pour batter onto the griddle. Flip when the bubbles begin to set around the edges and the cooked side is golden brown. Cook another 2-3 minutes until the other side is set. Place each batch on the baking sheet and cover with another towel until ready to serve (they will keep 20-30 min). This recipe makes about 15 pancakes, but you can double it to serve a crowd.