Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Creating from scratch...

I've been cooking so much lately that I haven't spent much time blogging, but tonight I'm staying up late to share a recipe I just made up from scratch and created. Well, I imagine the people of Tuscany make something very similar and that this dish has probably been created way before me, but tonight I just decided to go with my intuition and make this up.

Italian Bean & Corn Stew

1 cup dried garbanzo beans
2 cups water, 1 cup chicken broth
1 cup fresh off-the-cob or frozen corn, thawed
1 cup chopped onion
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 tblspn Italian Seasoning (Morton & Bassett)
1 cup chopped red and/or yellow peppers or combo
1 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
Parmesean Cheese for grating
Chopped fresh basil

In a medium (6 cup) pot, soak garbanzos in water for 24 hours. Drain and rinse. Add three cups liquid (2 cups water and 1 cup chicken broth) to pot with beans. Bring to boil, turn heat down to low and simmer 25 minutes until soft (but not mushy).
Add corn to beans 5 minutes before beans are done. Remove bean and corn mixture from heat.

While beans cook sauté onion over medium/high heat for about 5 minutes until soft. Add chopped garlic and sauté another 2 minutes until just beginning to brown. Add Italian Seasoning and stir well. Add peppers and sauté another 2 minutes. Then add tomatoes with juices. (Add additional ¼ cup water if mixture is dry). Simmer 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
Add onion, garlic, tomato mixture to beans/corns. If needed, add another ½ to 1 cup chicken broth (or water) and bring to boil. Then simmer 8 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow to cool on stovetop for 2 hours. Reheat on medium before serving.

Serve in bowls with freshly grated Parmesean and top with chopped fresh basil.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Home Grown Herbs

I love fresh herbs, there’s just nothing quite like them. That’s why I have a planter box herb garden on my east facing balcony, just off my kitchen. It gets good morning and early afternoon sun exposure, perfect for the delicate herbs. My favorite “handyman” and friend, Mark, was kind enough to anchor the wooden planter box onto my balcony railing. My herbs are thriving in this space. On the left is Greek oregano, parsley in the middle, and thyme on the far right end. It is such a delight to snip a few sprigs of fresh herbs for a recipe I am making, right then and there! I find that my herbs are even better tasting and more fragrant than the ones I have purchased at a market…..I think it’s because mine are so very fresh. Many times I don’t even cook the herbs, I just wash, dry, chop and sprinkle them on pasta or brown basmati rice or a salad.
Oh, and by the way, this is my very first photo from my new (and very first) digital camera! Last month I mentioned in this blog that I didn’t have any fancy photos because I’m not a photographer, I’m a chef. Well, my favorite housemate, Danny, gifted me a wonderful digital camera and now I’m on a mission to learn how to use it and play with it. I’m amazed that this tiny device (gosh, it’s only 2-1/4” by 3-1/2”) takes stills and video. Don’t you just love technology? Now I can take photos of my meal and recipe creations for you.