Four-Bean Soup

November 18, 2007


Making a big pot of soup on a cold Sunday warms your toes and your heart and makes your home smell great. This recipe calls for canned and frozen beans, but you can use dried beans if you like: 3/4 cup each, soaked overnight, drained, and cooked in unsalted water until tender. Dried beans are more trouble than canned or frozen, but they’re sweeter and fresher. However you make this soup, you’ll be awfully glad you did. SAM

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
3 center ribs celery with tops, diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 (14-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
8 ounces frozen baby lima beans
3/4 cup dried red lentils, rinsed
4 cups chicken stock or water
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan and cream, crème fraîche, or yogurt

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the oil until hazy. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, molasses, cumin, paprika, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, garbanzo beans, black beans, lima beans and stock or water and bring to a boil. Stir in the lentils. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Uncover and simmer for 30 minutes more until slightly thickened. Remove the bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with Parmesan and a dollop of cream, crème fraîche, or yogurt.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Cheddar-Fish Chowder

November 17, 2007


A hearty chowder rich with vegetables, fish, cheese, and cream. Serve it as a main course for lunch or a light supper. Or add it as a fish or soup course to your Thanksgiving menu. It might become a holiday tradition. SAM

2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 medium rib celery with leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 (10-ounce) cans chicken or vegetable broth
1 pint half-and-half
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 pound white fish fillets, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, grated (1 cup)

In a large chef’s pan, melt the butter and add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the onion is translucent. Add the marjoram and salt. Raise the heat to medium and add the flour, stirring constantly with a wire whisk until thickened, about 1 minute. Gradually add the chicken broth and half-and-half and cook until thickened, stirring constantly. Add 2 tablespoons parsley and the fish and simmer until the fish flakes easily, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley and paprika.
Makes 2 1/2 quarts.
Serves 8.

Roasted Green Beans

November 16, 2007


Roasting intensifies sugars and flavors and turns something you think you know well—like green beans—into your new best friend. Add a pinch of curry or toasted, ground cumin, if you like, or trade a tablespoon of olive oil for butter. They really are wonderful! SAM

1 pound green beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Trim and string the beans, snapping them into 1-inch pieces. Toss with the oil, salt, and pepper and spread in one layer on a heavy baking pan. Place the pan on the top shelf of the oven and roast for 40 minutes or until browned.
Makes 2 servings.

Bon Voyage!

November 13, 2007


Last day in Paris and here’s what you do with Quick Tomato Sauce: Pour 1/2 cup of boiling water over 1/2 cup of couscous. Add salt and a little butter or olive oil. Cover and steep for 3 or 4 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Pour sauce on top, sprinkle with grated Parmesan, and stir in a couple of tablespoon of heavy cream or crème fraîche. Serve with a fresh baguette. Fabulous!

Nationwide strike beginning here tonight for trains, buses, and Métro. ‘Perturbations’ are expected to be extreme. If you don’t hear from us for a couple of days, we’re stuck in transit. But, with luck, we’ll see you soon Stateside.


Sam & Harry

Quick Tomato Sauce

November 12, 2007


Need a quick, last-minute tomato sauce? Here it is! Sam & Harry

2 pounds fresh tomatoes
1/2 stick sweet butter
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon olive oil

Peel, quarter, and seed the tomatoes and squeeze out any juice. Cut into 1/2-inch chunks and place in a small stockpot with the butter and onion. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 to 45 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Remove the onion, thinly slice it, sauté it in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, and return it to the sauce.
Makes 2 cups.

Tomato Coulis

November 10, 2007


A coulis is a juicy puree made from vegetables, fruits, or shellfish. Layer this spicy Tomato Coulis on sandwiches or use it as a sauce for roast pork or beef or a topping for polenta or rice. It also makes a great dip. Sam & Harry

1 large red bell pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 pounds very ripe, fresh tomatoes or 28 ounces canned tomatoes with juice, divided
6 garlic cloves, slightly crushed and peeled
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs or 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste
Polenta, pasta, or rice
Grated Parmesan and chopped parsley

Core and seed the pepper and slice into 1- by 1/4-inch strips. In a medium chef’s pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of oil and sauté until the pepper begins to change color, about 3 or 4 minutes. Roughly chop the tomatoes and add to the peppers, along with the garlic, bay leaves, thyme, cumin, curry, vinegar, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Stir occasionally, adding tomato juice or water by tablespoons as needed until the tomatoes form a thick sauce. Season with sea salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaves and thyme. Serve over polenta, pasta, or rice garnished with Parmesan and parsley or spread or pizza crust or serve as a dip with corn chips or toasted pita.
Makes 4 servings.

Sautéed Shrimp in Cumin Cream Sauce

November 9, 2007


Here’s a quick, easy, wonderful way to sauté shrimp. Cook them as quickly as possible and serve over just about anything you like. Sam & Harry

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon toasted, ground cumin
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons crème fraîche

In a medium skillet on medium high heat, sauté the shrimp quickly in the oil, one side 30 seconds, then the other side 30 seconds. Add the cumin and stir 1 minute. Add the wine and reduce for 1 minute. Remove the shrimp to a warm plate. Continue reducing the sauce until slightly thickened. Stir in the cream. Pour over the shrimp and serve on pasta, rice, couscous, or in a mixed salad.
Makes 2 servings.