Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bean Griddle Cakes

This Christmas I received many remarkable presents and I'm thankful for them all, but among my favorites was Mark Bittman's cookbook 'How To Cook Everything' (Thank you, Axon). It lives up to its name. I think of it as the Joy of Cooking for the Gen X, Y and whatever comes after us generations - with olive oil replacing vegetable oil and easy DIY recipes for mayonnaise, coconut milk and ketchup. The layout is clear and logical with a basic like 'Beef Stew' accompanied by a box with ten variations on the recipe to fancy it up. It's particularly guy friendly, somehow, with Cooking 101 style diagrams and instructions. That's handy since, in this house, the guy does most of the cooking these days and he's just not the Julia Child type. But my favorite, favorite thing about the cookbook is that Mr. Bittman dedicates a fat, 50 page chapter, just to beans. It's like he knew, knew there would be a recession and that we'd all be newlyweds (or at least Kristen is) and we'd all be living on beans. I used to think that living on beans was a terribly desperate and depressing prospect. But when hard times came a knockin' and forced our hand, I realized beans are like the chicken of the vegetarian world - when overcooked they're dry and bland beyond tolerance, but in capable hands they're infinitely versatile and absolutely delicious. Beans (and lentils) are wonderful, they really are, if you know what to do with them. And lately this is what we do with beans.

Bean Griddle Cakes (Cooked Straight from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

2 Cups cooked beans (I've used Adzuki but anything would work) (We buy bulk dry beans from Whole Foods - beans in a can just don't compare in taste or cost)
1 C whole milk plus more if needed
1 Egg
2 Tb melted butter or extra virgin olive oil
1 C all purpose flour (I use bread flour 'cause that's all I have)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the beans in a large bowl and mash thoroughly with a fork. Mix in everything else (you want pancake batter consistency so adjust milk or flour accordingly) and (When adding salt keep in mind whether or not the beans were cooked with salt).

Heat oil in a skillet, ladle in pools of batter and fry till browned on each side.

Optional addition ideas: Shredded cheese, mushrooms, herbs, onions, garlic, corn, chiles, curry, chopped nuts, fresh or crystallized ginger, or really anything!

We usually make this with cheese, onions, garlic and mushrooms added to the basic batter, and serve this with greek yogurt and fresh chunky salsa on top. Oh man, delish.

Other sauce ideas: Tomato sauce, basil soy sauce, miso dipping sauce, tomato and fruit salsa...

(This also works well for big groups, make the batter a day or so ahead and just fry it up real quick)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Puffy Oven Pancake

In our lonely and barren youth in the cold world of college, my roommate Tiffany and I made comfort food, it always involved eggs and butter and the oven. She introduced me to the Puffy German Pancake (it has other names, Puffy Oven Pancake being one). I still bake it occasionally as comfort food. Now that I'm in my studio, however, I make it more so that I'll have an excuse to turn my oven on and heat up at least ONE room.

Here's what the puffy pancakes tend to look like, redolent in puffiness and fluffiness and usually exploding out of the pan.

I hunted around on the internet, and it's not just me afflicted with enormous, misshapen pancakes. However some people have these lovely, perfectly-puffed things that they can cut into like a pie or a quiche. I hate those people.

Anyway. Here's how to make it. It's very simple.

You will need:

2 tbsp. butter
2 eggs
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. milk
1/4 tsp. salt

Oven, 400 degrees.

Mix the eggs, milk, flour, and salt together in a bowl.

Melt the butter in a pie pan once the oven has hit 400 degrees. Tilt the pan around a few times to make sure the melted butter is evenly distributed then pour the mixture into the pie pan.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Usually 25 is enough unless your oven is stupid.

When it's done, you can sprinkle powdered sugar along the cavernous interior. I usually do that, but now I'm wondering with the way mine turn out if you couldn't just use the whole thing as a shell and heap sausage and eggs and herbs inside. That might be good.

It feeds as many people as you want it to feed (two people definitely), but it will probably not supply an army. Four people at the most maybe? I don't really know. I can usually eat one by myself over the course of a morning, but I have a bottomless stomach so I'm special that way.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I have never actually disassembled an entire shoulder of pork. But let me tell you, it was well worth it. Thanks to Elise at Simply Recipes I discovered an easy and satisfying recipe for enough carnitas to feed my husband and I for 4 days.


4 lbs Pork shoulder, cubed (remove bone and as much fat as possible)
4 cups beef broth
2 cups chunky tomato salsa

Place the cubed pork, beef broth, and salsa together in a medium saucepan (8 quarts worked for me). Add enough water to cover meat. Turn heat to medium high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 3 hours or more depending on how long it takes for the meat to be pulled apart easily. Add a dash of salt if necessary after tasting.

I prefer my carnitas a little more tender so I usually skip this step. But if you like em brown and crispy, go for it!

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Strain liquid from meat (it can now be discarded or saved if there is something else you plan to use it for). Pull meat apart using whatever means work best (I use two forks). Spread meat in a baking pan and roast for 15 minutes or until brown and crispy.

Warm up some corn tortillas, make some salsa, chop the cilantro, squeeze a lime and it is time to eat!

Note: Traditionally this dish is made with pork but it can also be made with beef chuck. One can also slow cook their carnitas in lard, as this was how they were originally made. Check out BBQJunkies blog to see a rendition of this method.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Just Another Blog...

Hi Everyone,

If you made it here you probably received an email from Jen or I asking you if you wanted to join the first Gutenberg online recipe exchange (at least, the first that I know of). We would love if you would join us!

If you would like to become an author, you can email me (Kristen) at But Hurry! Becuase there are only 99 openings left for authorship. And I think all of you can guess how many people are lining up right now to get a slot on this sweet blog....

Happy cooking!