Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tricolor Rotini with Lupini Beans, Vegetables, and Ricotta Salata Cheese for My Legume Love Affair #48 and Presto Pasta Nights #271

Tricolor Rotini with Vegetables, Lupini Beans, and Ricotta Salata

As much as I am a legume aficionado, there is always a bean around the corner which I've never tried. Lately that corner I've been rounding has been into the market aisle which shelves the specialty Italian imports.  While I routinely stop for a jar of black oil-cured olives and a cellophane package of elegant savoiardi biscuits, I've never been tempted to consider lupini beans.  It's not because I have lost my keen sense of culinary curiosity, but for the simple reason that without my glasses, I repeatedly have mistaken them for nuts floating in water. It was quite by accident that I distinguished then as beans when reaching close for some snappy twisted pods of pepperoncini. It was only then that I noticed the smooth and golden flat orbs with their distinctive little bivalve-like shells, nipped at the corners with one tiny oval gap of a mouth.  My antennae up, these required further investigation.

Sometimes one can be shortsighted in more ways than one. Since the label clearly proclaimed front and center that they were "Ready to Eat," I served them exactly as they were, drained, straight from the jar.  It was quite a surprise that I found their texture just a little bit tough on the teeth, as well as their taste strong of salt on the tongue, hiding what I nonetheless detected as a very pleasing flavor.

Then I read the fine print, literally the tiniest words tucked into a elusive corner curve of the label: "Rinse, pinch skin off, and they are ready to eat."  So while cooked, they still need some aftercare to make them perfectly palatable.  Preparing my recipe for a second time, the extra step was worth the effort.  You can never know too much when it comes to cooking.   It is live and learn when it comes to lupini beans. 

Tricolor Rotini with Lupini Beans, Vegetables, and Ricotta Salata Cheese - My own recipe

Makes 4 generous servings.


1 8-ounce jar cooked lupini beans, packed in salt water
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups peeled, shredded carrots
6 ounces pearl onions, blanched briefly in boiling water, then slipped from their skins
6 cups fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
12 ounces tricolor pasta (your choice of shape)
1/2 cup grated ricotta salata cheese


Drain lupini beans.  Holding a small piece of paper towel, grip each bean with hole end away from your fingers.  Squeeze firmly and evenly.  Bean will slide from shell.  Place bean in bowl of cold water.  Repeat with all beans.  Discard shells.  Leave beans to soak in water.

In an extra large skillet, warm olive oil over low flame until it shimmers (3 seconds). Stir in garlic, then add carrots, onions, and spinach.  Raise heat to medium.  Sauté for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally, until carrots and onions are tender, and spinach has wilted and reduced in size.  Stir in lupini beans.  Lower heat and cover.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and divide into 4 pasta bowls.  Remove vegetable/bean mixture from heat.  Spoon onto pasta.  Top with grated ricotta salata.  Serve immediately.

This recipe is for Valerie of A Canadian Foodie who has hosted MLLA #48 and will have her round-up online on July 2.

I am also sending this to Ruth of Once Upon a Feast, creator of the very long-running Presto Pasta Nights #271. Ruth's round-up will be online on Friday, July 6.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Star Anise for Black and White Wednesday


This photograph is for Usha of My Spicy Kitchen, hosting Black and White Wednesday - A Culinary Gallery - Week #38. Her beautiful presentation can be found here.

Thanks always to everyone for hosting and participating in this fun and easy event.  I'll be taking the reins next Wednesday for Week #39.  Please send your approximately 500 X 700 pixel shots to me (thewellseasonedcook AT yahoo DOT com) now through any time up to Tuesday 11:59 p.m. New York time; I will be accepting latecomers for this gallery.  Here are the full details.  Hope to see you soon!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mixed Berry Angel Food Summer Pudding for Weekend Herb Blogging

Angel Food Summer Pudding

Although soggy bread has never appealed to me much outside of Thanksgiving stuffing, I can highly vouch for tender, buoyant slices of angel food cake sopping up a three-berry compote with its bright magenta syrup.

Summer Pudding, the classic English no-frills fruit dessert, is ideal when you can't be fussed with a hot kitchen yet you've got all these wonderful raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries just coming into their own from your local markets.

Traditionally made with slices of white bread, my version uses equally store-bought angel food cake.  I have also seen recipes that favor brioche, pannetone, and challah bread.  All sound intriguing if your sweet tooth is in overdrive.  As easy as this is to assemble, I opted for the laziest layered way out with miniature muffin-sized angel food cakes which fit nicely into 1-cup capacity ramekins with straight sides.  Preparing them as individual servings also cuts way back on the setting time of several hours to overnight.  Mine were ready in two hours, although you might be tempted to pinch off a bite sooner.

Mixed Berry Angel Food Summer Pudding 

Serves 6


1/2 cup water
1 cup white sugar (granulated or caster)
2 cups red raspberries
1 cup blackberries
1 cup blueberries

6 miniature angel food cakes, split once crosswise

1/2 cup additional mixed berries for garnish (optional)
Small handful of fresh mind leaves for garnish  (optional)
1 cup heavy cream to serve on side


In a large saucepan combine water and sugar.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves and liquid has become slightly thick and syrupy.  Stir all the berries into the syrup, and simmer for a few minutes until the fruit is partially broken down but not completely mushy.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.  Strain syrup into separate bowl.

Have ready 6 1-cup capacity ramekins (best with straight sides).  Dip halves of angel food cakes one at a time into syrup.  Line each ramekin with one.  Divide berries evenly among the ramekins on the juice-soaked bottoms.  Dip the remaining cake halves in syrup.  Press them firmly on top of fruit.  Cover tops with small pieces of plastic wrap.  Press firmly again.  Weight down each ramekin with a smaller circumferenced glass or other ramekin.   Put ramekins on cookie sheet and place in freezer for 15 minutes.  Transfer to refrigerator for another 1 3/4 hours.  Remove weights and peel off plastic wrap. Invert puddings onto individual plates.  They will be heavy despite being free of vessels and weights.  Decorate with additional berries and mint leaves.  Serve with heavy cream on the side.

This recipe is for Simona of Briciole, hosting Weekend Herb Blogging # 339 for Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once.  Simona will have her round-up online no later than tomorrow evening.  Do stop back for what I expect will be many delightful recipes utilizing the first big bounty of produce of the official growing season (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is).

Mixed Berry Compote

Monday, June 18, 2012

Black and White Wednesday - Week # 37

Passion Fruit Diffused BW
Wrinkled When Ripe (Passion Fruit)

Where's the Cake?
Where's the Cake?

Bok Choy

These three monochrome images are for Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen hosting Black and White Wednesday - A Culinary Gallery - Week # 37.  Today is the last day for submissions.  Aparna will be publishing her gallery this Wednesday, June 20.  Thanks to Aparna and everyone who participates.  I am still sorting through requests for future guest host spots, and expect to make arrangements with all of you by week's end.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Floating Fenugreek - Black and White Wednesday - Week # 36

Floating Fenugreek BW

This image of one of my most favorite ingredients, the intensely aromatic and flavored fenugreek (reconstituting in water) is my contribution to this week's Black and White Wednesday, hosted by Cinzia of Cindistar.  Do stop by Cindistar for her gallery later on today.  Cinzia is accepting latecomers before her publication time, but if you prefer, you can officially participate in BWW #37 hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen.  Aparna's gallery will be published on Wednesday, June 20, in her time zone of Goa, India.  Since she will be unable to entertain latecomers, please carefully read her deadline requirement.  I am flexible about such matters, leaving them to the discretion of the individual hosts.

Thanks to all for guest hosting as well as your weekly participation.  It is always a pleasure that you have enjoyed Black and White Wednesday for so many galleries.  Contributor guidelines, as well as upcoming host roster, can always be found here.

Hope you all are having a great week.

Pigeon Peas in Coconut Milk with Mashed Plantains and Hot Chile Peppers

Gandules Con Coco

My childhood was spent in a neighborhood of German, Irish, and Italian immigrants.  Sausage was nestled in sauerkraut; steel-cut oats plopped their bubbles in old tin pots; and red sauce roiled on coils of pasta.

I, of German ancestry, who ate pigs' feet pickled in jars, and languished over sweetly spiced, glazed  lebkucken during the holidays, embraced our little network of home cooks, incorporating their menus into our daily diets. That the culinary world would have a scope far greater than one I was accustomed to was years away.

Yet those years did pass, and there were newcomers in the homes that speckled my street along the sloped landscape of neat brick-front facades and tiny ground-floor gardens.  The breeze and buoyant sway of the tropics was coming to town.

The area embraced and absorbed all kin hailing from the Caribbean and Central America.  Predominantly Cubans and Puerto Ricans, there were also Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, and Salvadoreans.

Bakeries, delicatessens, and other grocers of European descent made room for the bodegas and other Latin markets with their big bins of unique produce piled high, and the lively lilt of warm music wafting like aromas out onto the sidewalks.

It has been decades since I have even seen a pig foot, let alone eaten one.  Given my vegetarian ways, those times seem even farther away.  But a big bowl of Dominican-inspired gandules con coco (pigeon peas in coconut milk) goes a long way back, too, and always makes me feel like home.

Pigeon Peas in Coconut Milk with Mashed Plantains and Hot Chile Peppers - My Own Recipe
Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (membrane and seeds removed)
1 Cubanelle pepper, chopped (membrane and seeds removed)
2 Serrano chile peppers, sliced into coins (remove membranes and seeds only if you want to modify the heat of the dish)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup seasoned vegetable stock
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups cooked pigeon peas 
1 large very ripe plantain, boiled until soft and coarsely mashed (very ripe plantains have black skins; this recipe will not work with unripe plantains because they are not sweet)

6 cups cooked long-grain white rice


In a very large skillet, warm olive oil over low heat until shimmering (about 7 seconds). Add onion, garlic, peppers, and thyme to oil.  Stir to coat. Sauté vegetables until softened but not browned (about 10 minutes). Stir in coconut milk, stock, salt and pepper, and pigeon peas. Increase heat to boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.  Add small chunks of mashed plantain.  Stir in and heat through.  About 3 minutes.  Spoon stew over white rice.  Serve immediately.  Leftovers store and reheat well. -

Dried Pigeon Peas

This is a very late recipe for Priya of Mahro Rajasthan's Recipe, who hosted My Legume Love Affair #47 in May.  Priya herself will be very late in posting her round-up since she has been traveling the last several weeks.  You can expect it to be online either the last week of this month or first week of July.

Valerie of A Canadian Foodie is currently hosting MLLA #48.  Please send her your legume-centric recipes through June 30.

Thanks always for your talented and generous contributions to this long-running event, now completing its fourth year.

Been There, Done That ~ 
Con Gris
Channa Pulao
Chickpeas, Broccoli Rabe and Brown Rice

Other People's Eats ~ 
Black Beans and Rice from Eat Richly
Santiago Salsa from The Kitchn
Jamaican Rice and Peas from Simply Recipes

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fresh White Currants - Black and White Wednesday - A Culinary Gallery - Week #35

White Currant BW
Fresh White Currants

Cinzia of Cindystar is now hosting BWW #36.  She will be welcoming your submissions through Monday 6 p.m. NY time.  Latecomers are permitted if Cinzia's schedule permits.

For details on participation and future hosts, please consult this post.  The year is still young. There are always guest host spots available if you would like to take the honors. Please contact me at thewellseasonedcook AT yahoo DOT com if interested.  Thanks in advance for those who have left me word.  I will be in touch very soon to arrange a week for you.