Friday, November 30, 2012

Green Bean Mushroom Casserole Leftover Pot Pie - Reworking the Thanksgiving Favorite

Green Bean & Mushroom Pot Pie with Fried Onion Crust

Since approximately seventy-five percent of American households enjoy the traditional side dish of frozen green bean and mushroom soup casserole topped with a toss of those bits of funky canned, frizzled onions, I will refrain from singing to the choir and not present the recipe for it here.  I can guarantee that a Google search will pull up hundreds, if not thousands, of results.

Yet there is another American culinary institution, the pot pie, that is an ideal vehicle to rid yourself of those lingering festive-feast leftovers without resorting to surreptitiously scraping the mass of vegetable-spiked creamy mayhem into the dustbin. Waste not, want not. After all, it's not that it's beyond redemption, but it could do with a makeover. Concealed beneath a leavened layer of pastry embedded with those cult-favorite onions, last week's wickedly rich recipe returns as this week's luxurious, little lunch.

The scratch crust, from one of my favorite cookbooks, is a dream of ease and pliability.  You cannot miss for the making of it, although given the largesse of the recipe, you will find yourself with yet more leftovers.  So roll, cut, and bake yourself some tender home-style biscuits with the dough, splitting the difference with a patch of melted butter.

Green Bean Mushroom Casserole Leftover Pot Pie - Crust adapted from Betty Groff's Pennyslvania Dutch Cookbook


Serves 2

3 cups green bean mushroom casserole leftovers (or any stew or vegetable dish that has a good gravy or sauce that would be improved by reheating)
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour

3 tablespoons dried parsley
1/3 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup flour for rolling dough
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup canned fried onions


Preheat oven to 350 °F.  In a large saucepan, gently reheat the leftovers. Turn off heat; reserve.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together. Working quickly with your hands, rub and toss fats into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles evenly coarse meal.  Make sure you work out any obvious lumps. With a large spoon or rubber spatula, beat in milk 1/4 cup at a time, making sure that you mix well after the last addition to ensure that dry ingredients are all incorporated.  Let rest for 5 minutes.  With floured hands, gather dough into a soft ball; it will gather easily and hold its shape well.  Place dough on well-floured surface and roll it to 3/4-inch thick.  Invert 3-4 cup oven-proof baking dish over rolled down, pressing down and turning to cut a perfect circle or square. Wipe dough off edges of dish. Fill dish with reheated leftovers.  Carefully lift cut dough and place on filling.

Cut dough in several places with knife tip for steam escape.  Brush tablespoon of milk on dough surface.  Lightly press fried onions on dough.  Place baking dish on cookie sheet and position on center rack of oven.  Tent a small piece of foil over top to prevent onions from browning before the crust.  Bake 20 minutes.  Remove foil tent.  Bake an additional 20 minutes or until crust itself is brown.  Serve immediately. --

See you very soon!

Deep-Fried Lupini Beans with Rosemary

Deep Fried Lupini Beans with Rosemary

Although this recipe works with nearly any seed legume, the uniquely briny bite of lupini beans holds its own against a sprinkling of equally potent dried rosemary.

So easy to prepare for as a snack, you can make it easier and safer still to purchase a jar of already processed-for-consumption beans.  I mention safety not for the obvious precautions of working with hot fat, but for the equally diligent process of soaking the fresh or dried beans in salted water over a period of days to remove their natural alkaloid content, an element that makes for bitter, as well as toxic tasting.  If you choose to prepare your own, it is critical that you are patient and painstakingly particular in the methodical soaking; there are no shortcuts.

You can, however, opt to forgo removing the dense outer skins of the beans, each punctuated with  one tiny whole from which the entire seed can be popped. The quick trick is to hold each bean in a damp paper towel and squeeze it between thumb and middle fingers, snapping it out into a well-positioned bowl. While this may seem as time consuming as soaking, it can actually be a pleasant, fidgety ritual of therapeutic value.

To skin or not to skin is at your own discretion.  To resist another crunchy handful is that much harder a choice to make.

Deep-Fried Lupini Beans with Rosemary 

Makes 1 1/2 cups.


1 8-ounce jar prepared lupini beans in brine
1 1/2 cups high smoke-point cooking oil (I used canola.)
2  teaspoons dried rosemary


Drain and rinse beans under cold water in a colander.  If you are leaving the skins on, tip beans into a tea towel to absorb excess moisture before opening the towel to allow beans to air dry. Any moisture introduced to hot oil will cause spattering that can result in painful burns and more difficulty in regulating the oil temperature.

If you are removing the skins, follow the technique above, changing the paper towel when it becomes too wet. Proceed to dry beans as just described.

In a small saucepan, heat oil to 300°F. If you do not have a cooking thermometer, you can also judge a near-correct temperature by dropping a bean into the oil, watching for it to vigorously sizzle, covered in tiny bubbles.  Making sure beans are fully dry, carefully add half of them to the oil.  The oil temperature will reduce slightly.  Increase heat until beans are sizzling, occasionally gently stirring and lifting them with a skimmer to check their color.  They will slowly turn to a dark gold, and their texture will become coarse and shrunken.  At this stage, watch the color frequently to prevent them becoming overly brown. Carefully lift one from oil, blot and cool slightly, then test bite for just the right crunch. Too little frying will yield a flexible center and requires a bit more time in the oil.  When you are satisfied with the mouth feel, scoop out all beans onto a paper towel, immediately adding the second batch to the oil.  Repeat the procedure, remembering to  turn off heat and remove saucepan to cool burner.  Gather up beans in the paper towel and press to blot excess oil.  Transfer beans to a bowl and sprinkle with rosemary. There is no need for additional salt. Serve hot or at room temperature. -- 

This recipe is for Simona of Briciole, hosting MLLA 53, which closes today at noon California time.

Thanks to Simona for hosting, as well as all who have joined in this month.  After all these years, it is still a treat to scroll through what are now thousands of legume recipes from creative cooks all over the globe.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Vegan Refried Bean Soup

Refried Bean Soup

If you are still feeling full and feeble after last week's hours of holiday cooking and eating, a bowl of beans that tastes creamy and rich with nary a drop of dairy, is just the healthy remedy heading into Round 2 of the celebratory feeding frenzy, also known as December.

Although pinto beans, with their soft, easy-to-mash texture, are a common choice for this Mexican dish, don't be shy about using black, pink, or white varieties. In lieu of refrying the beans in a generous amount of fat after cooking them down, I added more water to soup them up.  Epazote, culantro, and pasilla chile peppers can be found in Latin markets.  In their absence, substitutions of oregano/thyme mixture, cilantro, and a teaspoon of smoky chile powder reasonably replicate the flavors.   Doubling the recipe will do no harm, especially if you consider the likely possibility that you will make a meal of it all to yourself. 

Vegan Refried Bean Soup - My own recipe

Serves 2.


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried epazote
1 large dried pasilla chile pepper
2 loose tablespoons chopped fresh culantro
1 cup vegetable stock, salted (or 1 cup water with 1 vegetable bouillon cube added)
2 cups cooked pinto beans, drained
2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Additional salt to taste (optional)

Optional flavors, textures, and garnishes (add any or all):

1 teaspoon chopped raw onion
1/2 teaspoon minced Serrano chile pepper (or other hot green variety)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon pasilla chile pepper seeds (removed from the chile used in preparation)


In a large skillet, over low heat, warm the olive oil for a few seconds.  Stir in onion, garlic, and epazote. Maintain low heat, cook until onions are translucent, stirring occasionally.  Add chile, culantro, stock, and pinto beans.  Increase heat to medium and bring to boil.  Stir, then reduce heat to simmer until three-quarters of liquid has evaporated. Mash the beans into a thick and lumpy paste. None of the beans will be whole. Add water, returning to boil before removing from heat.  Divide into two serving bowl.  Add optional garnishes, allowing the diner to stir them in before eating. --

This recipe is for Sra of When My Soup Came Alive who hosted MLLA 52 in October.  You can find Sra's round-up of delicious legume-centric fare here.  Many thanks to Sra and all who participated.

Simona of Briciole is hosting the current MLLA 53 for November, an abbreviated version of the event. There is still time to join in; the deadline is tomorrow, November 30 at noon California time.  Simona will be happy to welcome your recipes. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Plaid-Clad Butternut Squash - Black and White Wednesday # 57


Look at that bone structure!  I wanted to compliment this tattersall charmer on his freckly apple cheeks, but he was already too much of a flirt. ; )

For Anu of Tomato Blues, hosting Black and White Wednesday # 57, the weekly culinary photography gallery now presided over by the very gracious and talented Cinzia of Cindystar.

Since Cinzia has recently taken over officiating BWW, she has lent her own special style to the event by inaugurating some holiday-themed editions. She has also been enthusiastic in ensuring that future hosts are booked well in advance.  Since there is a new gallery every week, there is always a spot open, so do consult this page for full event and hosting details.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November Monthly Mingle Announcement - Pot Pies!

It delights me to announcement that Meeta K. Wolff's Monthly Mingle is being hosting here for the month of November.

With the last of the leaves dropping from trees to reveal gray, somber skies, and temperatures dropping to the edge of freezing more frequently as autumn progresses, wouldn't it be cozy to have something comforting, rich, and flavorful baking in your oven?  Then it's time to get your rolling pin out to fashion a crust of pastry to seal a deep dish of stew or compote for the makings of a classic pot pie.

Though a pot pie often is also lined with a layer of pastry to hold in and absorb every drop of delicious sauce from the filling, it is not essential that your contribution be completely encased.  It's not even necessary that your recipe be made with homemade dough or a traditional short-crust lid; groceries carry prepared, pre-rolled discs, or your top could also be made with easier-to-prepare biscuit dough.  What is a must, though, is that your crust fully cover the filling, in addition to being prepared in a pie dish, ramekin/s, or casserole that is at least a few inches deep.  This specific depth and pastry top distinguishes the pot pie from a more delicate, shallow tart with an open top. 

The choice of filling is entirely at your creative discretion.  It can be savory, sweet, or both (in the style of Medieval and some Middle Eastern recipes).  Vegetarian, vegan, and non-vegetarian recipes are welcome from any culture.  If you have never made one before, it is helpful to ensure that gravies or sauces are fairly thick to avoid excessive spillover while baking and keep the top mantel light rather than leaden.

So, come break crust with me and Meeta through November 30.  I will have the round-up online within days of its close.

Here are the brief, easy-to-follow rules which Meeta has set forth.  Please direct your posts to thewellseasonedcook AT yahoo DOT com with Monthly Mingle in the subject field.  Do also include an attached photo file approximately 400 pixels wide which I can add to highlight your recipe.

Thanks to Meeta for giving me the opportunity to host this very popular, long-running event.  And big thanks to you for sharing your talented recipes.

See you soon!

Indian Chickpea and Fenugreek Pancakes with Melted Ghee & Yogurt Chutney Syrup

Chickpea and Fenugreek Pancakes

An easy recipe for any time of day, these moderately spiced pancakes deviate slightly from Lisa's traditional roti flatbread by way of a few rushed errors, yielding loftier results more akin to American-style flapjacks.  The results, while unexpected, were not unwelcome.  They did, however, beg to be served as the centerpiece of the meal rather than as a accompaniment to sop up last drops of divine curries.

Spoonfuls of ghee replace pats of butter, and a whisking of yogurt, milk, and chutney play the pour of maple syrup.  Would I find this at my local diner or Indian buffet?  I doubt it.  But the accidental fusion stacked up just right.

Chickpea and Fenugreek Pancakes with Melted Ghee and Yogurt Chutney Syrup -  Marginally  adapted from Lisa's recipe.

 Serves 3


 1/2 cup dried fenugreek leaves
 1 cup chickpea flour
 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
 1 teaspoon baking powder
 1 teaspoon salt
 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
 1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds
 1 pinch of asafetida
 1 cup water
 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
 Ghee for greasing skillet

 3 tablespoons ghee (optional)
 1 cup thick, plain yogurt
 1/2 cup milk
 1/2 cup fruit chutney of your choice (I used mango and lime)
 Cilantro leaves (leave stems on if they are tender)


In a small bowl, cover fenugreek leaves in warm water to soak for 15 minutes or until leaves are soft and expanded. Drain off water. Reserve leaves.

In a large bowl, mix all dry ingredients together with a whisk.  Add water, yogurt, and reserved    fenugreek leaves, whisking more vigorously to produce a smooth, fairly loose batter. Cover bowl with foil, plastic wrap, or a plate, and let stand for 30 minutes. Batter will be thicker and aerated from the baking powder.

Warm a few drops of ghee onto a skillet over medium-low heat. Using a pastry brush, spread the ghee to cover the cooking surface to prevent sticking.  Let skillet temperature rise for 1/2 a minute before pouring batter by 1/4 cup measures in.  Do not overcrowd, but cook in batches, spreading the batter out in a circular motion with the back of a spoon to ensure even thickness. Cook for 2 minutes, or until top batter is bubbly and edges are dry.  Turn and cook raw sides for another 2 minutes.   Repeat the process with remaining batter, ensuring that you grease the skillet each time with more drops of ghee.  Reserve pancakes on plate tented by foil to keep them warm as you continue.

In a small bowl, whisk yogurt, milk, and chutney together. Serve pancakes while still warm with ghee and yogurt chutney syrup.   Garnish with cilantro. --

This recipe is for Jaya of Desi Soccer Mom who hosted My Legume Love Affair #51.  You can find her round-up here.

Sra of When My Soup Came Alive is hosting MLLA #52 with an extended deadline of November 11.

Thank you to both Jaya and Sra for hosting, as well as all participants who join every month.

The November host will be announced shortly.