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.

special summer lunch

Recently I had guests for lunch. Guests from Turkey. Pretty special, don’t you think? My friend Mehmet and his lovely family are being hosted by my good friends, Catherine and Jack. I was delighted that they could fit in a visit as their schedule is fully loaded –  just like a good tour. Mehmet is a tour operator in Turkey, and he is an excellent guide. He makes history come alive, and his knowledge of Turkish culture, geography and history is amazing! He has great connections and knows how to look after people. If you want the best experience possible in Turkey, you should get in touch with Mehmet at Turfantastik.

I know that my friends are being wined and dined (figuratively if not literally) for the 3 weeks that they are spending in Canada, so I wanted a light yet tasty lunch that everyone would enjoy. Mehmet and Ozlem’s twin girls, Sezin and Selin, are 9 years old, so I didn’t want to serve anything that would be too weird for them. Their son, Onurkan, is 16 and going to attend camp here in Canada for a week. I figured he should get used to eating anything that comes along, since that’s the way it will be at camp.

lunch guests

more lunch guestsLook at these cuties! This trip is a great adventure for the whole famiy and I’m glad I could be part of it.

sweet girls

Speaking of cuties, take a look at these veggies. I dare you to show me a better looking plate of vegetables. I mean really, isn’t it beautiful? (I can only talk this way because we’re friends.) We dined on the deck. The vegetables turned out well (the onions were unbelievably sweet). I thought some lightly dressed greens would be nice along with a simple quinoa salad. I was even almost ready when everyone arrived!

grilled vegetables



mango fool with blueberries

We finished our lunch with mango fool and fresh blueberries. With good food, great friends and glorious weather, it was a wonderful lunch. I’ll be posting recipes for the menu as I find time.

sous vide soft boiled eggs

I’m sitting in the kitchen waiting for my soft-boiled eggs to cook. The recipe says it takes 45 minutes, so I must be patient. Today is the first time I have unpacked my new sous vide machine to give it a try. I’ve had it for a couple of months, but it offers such an incredibly different cooking process that you can’t just “adapt” a regular recipe. At least, I can’t. Soft boiled eggs are the simplest recipe I have come across, so I thought this would be a good place to start.

front of sous vide machine

profile of sous vide machine

For anyone not familiar with “sous vide”, it means under vacuum and refers to cooking things in vacuum sealed pouches in hot water. The water temperature is low and very specific for what you are cooking, and it is held constant. The water circulates to insure even cooking. The machine is made up of a cylindrical electrical unit that heats and circulates the water while maintaining the set temperature. The sous vide unit I purchased is attached to the side of a large pot, a large plastic tank or any large, deep container. It is actually very portable.

Technically cooking eggs isn’t sous vide because the eggs are not in a vacuum sealed pouch. I wanted to tip toe into this venture, so eggs seemed like a good starting point. I found a recipe on-line and decided to try it. I cooked the eggs at 146 degrees for 45 minutes. I tried eggs straight out of the fridge, as well as eggs that were warmed to room temperature. When using the sous vide machine there are markings for minimum and maximum amounts of water needed. I didn’t think that 6 eggs would take too much water so I filled the water tank to about an inch above the minimum mark.  When I turned the sous vide on, the eggs danced and bounced around like a choreographed ballet. I was worried an egg might break, but they were fine. Just for fun I slowly added more hot water, and sure enough the egg dance slowed. The eggs continued to move slowly around in the water. The noise level dropped once the eggs slowed down.

eggs in water tank

dancing eggs