how about a hearty bean ragout?

I wanted to share this recipe for a great slow cooker recipe. It started with a container of mixed beans that I picked up at Costco. It was just a beautiful mix of beans and lentils, nothing that I couldn’t buy and mix myself, but seeing them all packaged together just inspired me to want to eat them right away! (oh the power of marketing)  There weren’t any spices or anything included – just a recipe. I followed it pretty closely and was quite pleased with the result. This ragout is thick like a stew. Let me show you what I did. First of all – look at this beautiful mix of beans:

dried beans

Here’s the label on the lid that identifies the ingredients:

bean varieties

The beans needed to soak overnight.

beans soaking

The color faded with the soaking – even more obvious once they were drained.

drained beans

The savory vegetables were lightly sautéed. All the ingredients were combined in a slow cooker and the work was done.

sauteed vegetables

ready to cook

ragout all ready

Here’s the ragout finished cooking, and on the table ready to eat.

ragout on the table

Rustic Vegetarian Ragout

1 1/2 cups mixed dried beans and lentils

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small carrot, chopped

1 stalk of celery, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. ground cumin

salt and pepper

1/2 tsp. dried basil, oregano or thyme

14.5 oz. tin chopped tomatoes

4.5 oz. tin chopped green chile

1 medium potato, chopped

4 1/2 cups vegetable stock

sour cream

chopped fresh cilantro

Take dried beans, rinse thoroughly and cover with 4″ of water. Leave for 12 hours or overnight. Bring the beans and water to a rapid boil and skim the scum from the top of the water. Discard the water. Saute the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and cumin for 5 minutes to soften. Add the salt, pepper and herb of choice and remove from heat. Add vegetables and bean mixture to a slow cooker. Add tomatoes, chiles, potato and vegetable stock. Cover and cook on medium for at least 5 hours.

My slow cooker only has high and low settings, and on low the potatoes were not cooked after 7 hours. I turned the heat up for another hour before we ate. Garnish with sour cream (or yogurt) and something green and fresh. I didn’t have anything green and fresh on hand. This was very tasty and filling – a very substantial vegetarian meal. Enjoy!

quinoa salad with currants and pine nuts

I just realized that I haven’t posted a recipe for quite some time. It’s good to be back in the kitchen. This was part of the lunch I prepared for friends visiting from Turkey. It was the first time I tried the recipe, but it won’t be the last. It was delicious! It’s a perfect gluten-free recipe that unfortunately won’t work for my whole family. One of my daughters (formerly a quinoa enthusiast) has developed an allergy to quinoa. Who knew? This salad can be served warm or at room temperature – perfect for warm weather dining.

Quinoa Salad with Currants and Pine Nuts

1 1/2 c. pre-washed quinoa

1/3 c. finely chopped shallot

3 tbsp. red-wine vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 c. currants, plumped in hot water for 5 minutes and drained

3 ribs celery, cut into 1/4″ dice

1/2 c. thinly sliced scallions

1/2 c. pine nuts or sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Add quinoa to a large saucepan of well-salted boiling water and cook 10 minutes. Drain in sieve and rinse under cold water. Set sieve in a saucepan with 1 1/2” water. Steam quinoa, covered, over medium heat, until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes. While quinoa is cooking, stir shallot in a large bowl with vinegar and 1/2 tsp. salt and marinate 15 minutes. Whisk in mustard, then oil. Add hot quinoa, currants, celery, scallions and nuts to dressing and toss well. Season with salt and pepper.

quinoa saladI substituted red onion for the shallots because I missed them on my grocery list. With either one I think they pickle slightly while marinating in the vinegar. This salad was a hit and the best part is that we didn’t eat it all. Guess what I had for lunch the next day! This recipe is from Gourmet Easy Dinners magazine.

oatmeal shortbread biscuits

I’ve decided that this is a great biscuit recipe – hearty oat texture and not too sweet – perfect with cheese. You could eat them on their own as a cookie, using the larger amount of sugar listed. Without  too much sugar, you should feel almost virtuous eating them!

Oatmeal Shortbread Biscuits

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups oat flour
  • 1 cup oats, rolled, old-fashioned
  • 2/3 cup rice or corn flour

Cream together butter and brown sugar, blend in vanilla. Gradually work in 1 3/4 cups of the oat flour, the rice or corn flour and the rolled oats, using a spoon or clean hands. Chill for about 20 minutes.

Roll out on lightly floured surface, using the reserved oat flour, to about 1/4 inch (5mm) thickness OR roll between two pieces of parchment paper. Cut with oat floured cookie cutter or top of a small glass. Place on un-greased baking sheets; prick with fork.

Bake at 325 F for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

This recipe is easily done as gluten-free by using gluten-free oat flour and gluten-free oats. Here they are with a regular cheddar and with Kerrygold Dubliner, one of my favorites.

plate with biscuits and cheese

I forgot to mention that these biscuits are very much like the delicious imported British biscuits that you can buy. However, they often come in an assorted collection, and there are enough of the “good ones”. And did I mention that the British ones are rather expensive? Problem solved.

gluten-free baking

In addition to my regular Christmas baking I wanted to do some gluten-free baking for my Celiac daughter, Devon. It seems so unfair that there are lovely goodies for everyone else to indulge in, while Devon is unable to sample most baking for fear of becoming ill. Baker mom to the rescue! This is not an easy task. I have had reasonable luck with gluten-free recipes. That hasn’t been a problem. The challenge for me is making sure there is nothing in the kitchen to contaminate the baking. I take all the clean bowls and baking sheets and cooling racks that I need and wash them before I start. If I’m using the Kitchenaid, I wipe it thoroughly and blow into all the crevasses with compressed air. I make sure I’m wearing a fresh clean apron (vs. a flour infested one) and I get out clean dish cloths and teatowels. Then I’m ready to start.

Gluten is not allowed in the kitchen while this baking is going on. I’m not willing to risk making Devon sick! This year I decided to try several different cookies. I made oatmeal shortbread, regular type shortbread and pecan crunch cookies. For the oatmeal shortbread I went low tech and mixed the dough by hand. What a novel experience. I mixed, patted, rolled and cut the dough before baking. The cookies were solid and biscuit like with the nutty crunch of oatmeal. (I’m going to try them again with less sugar as they’ll be like a Scottish shortbread – perfect with cheese.) The shortbread cookies