Passing the Time, Waiting for Spring

snowed in

Well I may have started the first of my seeds already, but I woke up this morning to about two feet of snow on the ground and I don’t think it’s quite finished snowing yet. It will be a while yet before I can start digging in the garden, so in the mean time I’m plotting and scheming with a big pile of books. Continue reading

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Black Bean & Tortilla Casserole with Pasilla Chiles

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When I was just out of college and my cooking repertiore was still pretty limited, I used to make a casserole beans and tomatoes layered with corn tortillas and cheese, a recipe my mom used to make from one of her Williams-Sonoma cookbooks. As tasty as it was, my roommate Leslie and I doubted its authenticity as a Mexican dish. It just seemed to us a bit like something out of The Family Circle Illustrated Library of Cooking, and we dubbed it Fiesta Casserole.

Perhaps this recipe was a little more authentic than we gave it credit for, because this week I picked up a copy of Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen and found a couple different variations on this theme. This one is rich and smokey, and tastes almost chocolatey, like mole, even though there’s no chocolate in it. It will take you the better part of an afternoon to make, but it’s definitely worth it. Continue reading

Bread and Pumpkin Soup

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Each chapter of Nigel Slater’s Tender is devoted to a single vegetable, and includes a discussion of how he grows said vegetable his own garden, followed by a handful delicious sounding recipes. Before he gets down to specifics he offers a paragraph or two of suggestions for how to prepare the vegetable and what to pair it with, little sketches of traditional recipes and cooking methods. When I first read “A Pumpkin in the Kitchen” last June, I was ready forgo tomatoes and corn and watermelon and skip right to November so that I could make this:

The French have an ancient soup-stew whose frugality ensures it falls under the modern label of “peasant cooking.” They toast thick slices of bread, layer them with fried onions, garlic, and marjoram; blanched and skinned tomatoes; and thin slices of pumpkin. The dish is then topped up with water and olive oil and baked in a low oven for an hour or two. The lid is lifted for the last half hour to allow the soup to from a crust. They call it garbure catalane, with a nod to its Spanish origins. Continue reading