Sunday, 11 January 2009

Black Bean and Corn Soup, Plus My First Art-in-5 Loaf!

This week in Souper Sunday, we are going healthy. Like many modern omnivores, we like to serve vegetarian meals a few times a week. I believe it keeps the body well balanced and can help with cost savings as well. Beans are a great, inexpensive way to get protein and nutrition and I plan on learning to do more with them in the coming year.

I am finding that once you get into the habit of soaking them overnight, it really is no trouble at all. I still keep a couple of cans of beans in the pantry, but my dried bean collection is growing. You will find that there is a pleasant flavour and texture difference with the dried beans.

Black Bean and Corn Soup - adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook. For 1 large slow-cooker

1 pound black beans, soaked overnight in plenty of filtered water.
10 oz frozen whole kernel corn
1 large onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground coriander
2-4 chipotle peppers in adobo, minced (plus some of the adobo sauce)
4 cups boiling water
1 14oz can of Mexican style stewed tomatoes, undrained

In the morning - rinse the beans and put everything in the slow-cooker. Mix with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Adjust seasoning to taste and keep on warm until serving. I gave the soup a quick zip with the immersion blender for a half smooth texture.

This is a soup with a chili flavour. Top with cheese, avocado, salsa or whatever tickles your fancy. I used feta, just for fun.

Join Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays, comfort for the soul.

I served this soup with my first boule (round, ball-shaped loaf) from the master recipe in Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day.

It surprises some people that I picked up this book. I do like to make different kinds of bread, some complicated, taking days, and some quick and easy. I even own a bread machine, for when I am swamped with other things to do and I have a house full of teenagers to stuff.

This book intrigued me, I love to learn different methods to bake bread. I was excited to receive two rising buckets for Christmas, so that I could put the new techniques into practice. I mixed up the first batch of dough on the sixth and baked the first loaf on the tenth. For a small loaf, it bakes at 450 for a half hour. This seemed like an awfully long time. I was hopeful, but not overly so.

Well, let me tell you, the bread stole the show. It was one of the best loaves I have ever made. Crisp and crunchy on the outside and buttery soft and chewy on the inside. Large, irregular holes in the crumb (that's a good thing) and a wonderful scent. I like the fact that the dough is good to just hang out in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Ready for any time I want to make a quick loaf. If you are interested in bread baking - new to it or an old hand - I do recommend this book.

Visit the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day website for more information.

Here is a TV news clip with an interview with the authors.

Keeping on my low fat dinner theme, I made simple baked apples for dessert and served them with plain yogurt. Baked apples are one of those things that you don't need a recipe for. Just preheat your oven to 350f, and core your apples almost to the bottom with a melon baller. Peel the top half of the apples and nestle them into a lightly buttered shallow baking dish. Put a little pea-sized dot of butter in the bottom of each apple, followed by a mixture of sugars, spices and, if you like, raisins. I used brown and white sugar with cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Top with another pea-sized dot of butter. Bake, uncovered, for one hour. Let stand until just warm and serve. I glazed mine with a little apricot preserves.