Monthly Archives: February 2011

White Bean Chili Dip

Hey, remember that one weekend that was like, several weekends ago? The one with the Superbowl and Usher jumping over Will.I.Am’s head and that new episode of Glee? Yeah, I made something for that. Took pictures too. And considering the constrictions on my free time these past few weeks those pictures miraculously made it onto my computer. And now, for all intensive purposes, it’s March! I mean, not really, but practically. I don’t really remember January turning into February other than I know it coincided with the massive amounts of snow we got here, which in turn meant work was shut down for two days, which in turn meant that all the projects that I had spread over 2 months were suddenly condensed down to 1 month.

I know what you’re thinking. How can 2 days cause an extra 4 weeks to disappear? Well it did, let’s leave it at that. I’ve been living the last several weeks in a perpetual state of ‘what day is it?’ Perpetual. Not “Gee, today feels like a Tuesday, doesn’t it? Fa la la la la.” *smiley face* More like, “Today is Tuesday. No…no wait…today is actually Thursday. I think. Wait. Ok, yes, today IS Thursday and tomorrow will be Friday and I’m pretty sure the day after that is Saturday but I’ll have to check my calendar first.”

For the moment, my internal clock thinks it’s Friday. It’s going to be miffed when it wakes up tomorrow and it’s Sunday and Saturday never actually happened. Or did it?

Not to say I’ve been miserable over the past month. Not at all. Things have been good, just busy in a disorienting sort of way. The fun part of my job is that I never do the same thing two days in a row and I have my hand in multiple different projects at all times. It never gets boring. The hard part of my job is that I never do the same thing two days in a row and I have my hand in multiple different projects at all times. It never gets boring. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy…

Wait, scratch that last part.

Did I mention it was 70 degrees out the other day? People were having snowball fights in t-shirts and gym shorts. I went for a run and with each stride I kept reminding myself, “It’s February. It’s February. It’s February.” I mean seriously?!? I’m having enough trouble already folks!

Anywho…back to this dip thing.

A few days before Superbowl Sunday I was perusing Food Press and came across a white bean dip recipe, which reminded me of a chili-inspired variation on hummus I had been intending to do ever since I started making my own. Though it’s hard to get as many flavors into this dip as you can an actual bowl of chili it’s a nice mix up from your typical roasted red pepper hummus that can also appeal to your taco dip crowd. You’ll notice in my recipe below I excluded a number of measurements. As I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I’m a huge believer in tasting your food as you cook it and adjusting ingredients to your liking as you go. And since hummus is so forgiving when it comes to tweaking (and presents such a blank canvas to be filled in as you desire) I’m being down right obstinate and forcing any takers to figure out this one for themselves. I did list the ingredients in descending order by volume, but other than that I leave you with a spoon, a carrot stick or, most readily, your finger to figure out the rest. Enjoy!

White Bean Chili Dip

Ingredients

  • ~3 cups (or two 15-oz cans, rinsed) white beans such as cannellini, garbonzo, great northern or navy.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil (enough to help thin dip to desired texture)
  • Water (1-2 Tbsp as needed to help thin dip to desired texture)
  • Roasted red peppers, minced
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Fresh garlic, minced
  • Ginger
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. In small skillet over medium heat add 1/4 cup olive oil. Once hot, but not sizzling, add in garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until garlic begins to turn golden in color. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In food processor add in beans and puree with ~1 Tbsp of water or bean broth for 1 minute then slowly drizzle in red pepper infused olive oil until dip looks to be approaching your desired texture (use reserve olive oil and/or water/broth if needed).
  3. Open lid and (with the exception of the cayenne) add in your first guesstimate for spices. I recommend under-salting a bit at first since it’s harder to tone down an over salted dish than it is to add more salt down the line. Since cayenne is a very potent spice, hold on this until you get in the ballpark with the rest.
  4. Run the food processor for another 30 seconds. Open and taste. Add in what you want to taste more of. Repeat. Taste a little flat? Add salt. Taste a little bland? Add more chili powder, cumin and garlic. Want a more earthy taste and an extra punch of color? More paprika. Play around with the roasted red pepper and ginger, too, making sure to run the food processor for another 20-30 seconds between tweaks.
  5. Add the cayenne last, starting with 1/4 tsp – you can always add more. Adjust for your desired spiciness.
  6. Serve with toasted pitas, carrot chips, broccoli, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, bell peppers…

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Filed under Appetizers

Hearty Tomato Soup with Sourdough Croutons

Would it be cliche to start out the first post in almost two weeks with:  “Work has been NUTS!”? Probably, but it’s true. I do love my job, but sometimes I envy those who get to cook and shoot pictures all day. The people that do this kind of stuff professionally. Sadly, I only moonlight as a domestic. And back in the 9-5 life January is the busiest month of the year. However, the recent snow storm that blew through the mid west has brought all that to a screeching halt. The city has, for all intensive purposes, shut down. I got a phone call yesterday morning telling me not to come in to work today…or tomorrow for that matter. Just stay home.

No problemo. Where’s my apron?

Not to say that I’ve been too busy to eat these last two weeks. I finally got the chance to try kale chips for the first time and can add to the consensus that they’re as good as everyone has hyped them to be. I made whole wheat baguettes – my first journey into yeast breads. And revisited a tried and true red lentil soup from Heidi Swanson’s site.

There were also a lot of granola bars and peanut butter sandwiches.

So if you’re stuck inside, reveling in your kitchen this week, like I am, you might have a hearty bowl of soup on your mind, like I did. If so, I offer up this tomato soup for your consideration. In the world of tomato soup there are silky, cream-laden varieties and then there’s this. Bowls where you can still see the flecks of carrots and onions. Other pluses of this recipe:  I learned this version back in college when I was teaching 3rd graders how to cook, meaning even if you’re inept in the kitchen you can pull this off, on a weeknight, with your hair on fire. It’s also what I consider a pantry-staples soup. Most folks have the ingredients for this in the fridge/pantry, so it’s unlikely you’ll need to be making any special grocery store trips to pull this together.

Oh, and if you have one, this recipe calls for an immersion blender. You don’t actually need one to make the soup, but if you have an immersion blender you probably have a need to use it. You know, like Tom Cruise has a need for speed…


I must go now. My presence is being requested in the cookie baking department.

Hearty Tomato Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small day-old loaf sourdough bread cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large vidalia onion (or other variety) diced
  • 2 large carrots coarsely diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 quart vegetable stock (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Romano/Gruyere/Mozzarella cheese for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In large bowl toss bread and olive oil together with your hands. Spread in single layer on a baking sheet and let bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until bread is golden brown on all sides. They may need a toss half way through if you don’t have a convection oven or if they’re baking unevenly.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat and add in the carrot and onion. Let cook until the onion starts to become translucent, adding in the extra Tbsp of olive oil if necessary.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium and add in your garlic and let cook for about a minute before adding in the tomatoes, juice and all. Turn your heat back up to medium high and bring mixture up to a gentle boil. Add in your thyme and salt and pepper to taste. (Carefully, it’s hot!)
  4. Using an immersion blender (or by working in batches in a food processor or blender) puree the soup until the texture evens out. You still want to keep some of the texture, but this will keep the soup from being carrots and onion in a tomato broth.
  5. Slowly add in broth, blending as necessary, until the soup is at your desired consistency. You may not want to add any, you may add the whole quart.
  6. Dish into bowls and top with cheese and croutons.


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Filed under Lunch/Dinner, Main Dish