Butter Beans in Tomato-Dill Sauce

When we were on the cruise, one of our big excursions in Greece included lunch at a hotel with a big spread of traditional Greek dishes. One thing I went nuts over was this bean dish. I poked around fo recipes until I found one that looked similar.

1 lb dried giant butter beans
2 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finey chopped
26 oz tomato puree (I just used regular canned tomato sauce)
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
1 T sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 1/4 c fresh dill, chopped

Pick over and rinse the beans well. Soak them in at least 6 cups of water and some salt (I used 2 tsp) overnight. After soaking, rinse the beans well and put them back in the pot with more water and salt (again, 2 tsp). Bring beans to a boil and simmer for 2 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary.

When the beans have about 30 minutes left, start on the sauce. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the chopped garlic and, stirring frequently to keep from burning, cook for a few minutes (until softened and a little transparent). Add the tomato sauce, lemon juice, sugar, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Simmer sauce for 15 minutes. Add dill, stir well and simmer 5 minutes more.

Drain beans well and put them back into the pot in which you cooked them. Pour sauce into beans and stir well, then pour mixture into a deep casserole dish. Bake at 375°F (190°C) for one hour, uncovered.
recipe_title: Butter Beans in Tomato-Dill Sauce
recipe_descr: When we were on the cruise, one of our big excursions in Greece included lunch at a hotel with a big spread of traditional Greek dishes. One thing I went nuts over was this bean dish. I poked around fo recipes until I found one that looked similar.


Time for an overhaul. This recipe has served me well for a long time, but there’s an easier way to handle the bulgur, compliments of Ina Garten via Kitchen Parade. Try to make this a day ahead of when you want it, because it really benefits from some chill time.

1 c bulgur wheat
1/2 t salt
1 t olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 c/175 mL boiling water
3 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
3 green onions, sliced thin
1 large clove garlic, chopped fine
1/3 c fresh mint, chopped
1 1/2 c parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 c olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
pinch cinnamon

  1. Put bulgur, salt, olive oil and lemon juice in a deep bowl. Pour boiling water over bulgur stir just to combine. Cover with kitchen towel and set aside for 45 minutes.
  2. Stir tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, garlic, mint and parsley together in a large mixing bowl. Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Add bulgur to vegetables, add dressing and toss well. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours and toss again before serving.

Crockpot Macaroni & Cheese

MMMMMM, mac & cheeeeeeeeeese. I have lamented the lack of decent cheddar here in Regensburg. I guess the cheese deities heard me, because I finally saw sharp cheddar and decided to take a chance. Cliff is especially glad I did. This stuff was fabulous and takes the edge off of the occasional homesickness.

1/4 c flour
1 t salt
1/4 t ground pepper
2 T minced dried onions
1/2 t paprika
3 c milk
1 c grated cheddar cheese*
2 c uncooked macaroni#

*The cheese I was able to find was in 100 gram packages of sandwich-sized slices. I used 2 entire packages cut into matchsticks in order to approximate shreds. I don’t know how this compares to amount given in the recipe, but I’m fairly confident that it was at least a little more than 1.5 cups.

#The uncooked pasta part made me nervous, so I parboiled mine, then combined everything in the crockpot. The noodles were a little mushy, but still good.

In a saucepan, combine all dry ingredients. Whisk milk into saucepan until there are no lumps. Over medium heat, continue stirring milk mixture until it thickens and boils. Add cheese a little at at time and stir until melted. Pour pasta and sauce into crockpot and stir until well mixed. Cover and cook on low for 2.5 hours or high for 1 hour.

Spinach and Feta sidedish

I finally did it! Everyone that’s come to visit us has eaten with us at Exil, our favorite restaurant. They serve a fabulous spinach as a side or as a filling for little turkey rolls. I think I’ve finally come close enough to recreating it to post it here. If you don’t like feta, you might be able to substitute yogurt cheese.

1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 T olive oil
2 pounds fresh spinach, rinsed and chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp ground mace
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 c crumbled feta cheese

In a deep skillet over medium-low heat, sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil for about 7-9 minutes (or until tender). Don’t burn the garlic! If it starts to brown, turn down the heat.

Next, add the spinach by handfuls. There will be a lot of spinach, but if you only add 2-3 handfuls at a time and cook it with a lid on for 1-2 minutes, it will wilt significantly.

After you’ve added all the spinach and it has all wilted, add the salt, pepper, mace and pepper flakes and stir thoroughly. The spinach will start to give off a fair amount of liquid. Turn the heat up to medium-high to cook away the liquid. When you’ve cooked off as much liquid as you choose, stir in the feta and turn off the heat.

Serves 4

Natasha’s Borsch(t)

My friend Natasha is originally from the Ukraine and we confer on cooking quite regularly. She recently showed me how to make borscht (apparently, the t is either silent or non-existent in Russian). I’ll try to recreate what I saw her do, but it looks like one of those recipes that you feel your way through. Read the instructions all the way through (a couple times) before starting as timing is pretty important and you need to be able to do several things at once.

3-4 white potatoes, chopped (bite-size)
1 medium white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 medium carrots, coarsely shredded
half a small head white cabbage, shredded fine
1 large fresh beet
juice of half lemon
1 cup tomato sauce (with basil, if you can get it)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt or vegetable broth powder to taste
1/3 cup fresh chopped dill

Fill soup pot (at least 5-quart) to half-way with water and put potatoes in water. Add some salt and bring to a boil. At the same time, sauté onion and garlic in a skillet over medium heat with a little olive oil. After a couple of minutes, add carrots to skillet and sauté until tender. After potatoes have been simmering for 5-7 minutes, add cabbage shreds to soup pot. When carrots are done, add skillet mixture to soup pot and stir, keeping at a simmer.

Now things get kind of complex. Peel the beet and shred it coarsely – don’t do it before or the purply-red of the beet will be less intense. Sauté beet shreds in onion pan over medium heat, pouring lemon juice over them to retain deep red color. After 3-4 minutes, add tomato sauce to beet and stir thoroughly. Tomato sauce will take on beet color. When beet shreds are tender, pour them into the soup pot. Add chickpeas to soup pot and simmer for 10 more minutes, tasting frequently and adding salt or broth mix as necessary. When potato is fork-tender (but not mushy), soup is finished.

Remove soup pot from heat, put in dill and cover. Allow to sit for at least an hour before serving. Serve with dark bread.

Potato Latkes

Gentiles: these are something you should really experience, if you never have. You may know them as “potato pancakes,” if you’re not familiar with them from an Eastern European/Jewish cuisine background. Potato pancakes are kind of seasonal fare here in Germany, often sold by street vendors fresh out of the fryer with apple sauce to sweeten them up and cool them down somewhat. We had some at the Weihnachtsmarkt out on the square, but they paled in comparison to the ones I had in Cologne. So Sarah found a recipe, and we made them, and they are just awesome. We were inspired by this recipe.

6 large potatoes, peeled
1 large onion
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon baking powder
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
1 pinch sugar
flour (enough to hold ingredients together, you’ll be able to tell when you’ve added enough)
shortening (we used butter-flavored shortening)

Cut peeled potatoes into chunks or spears and shred in food processor. Cut onions into chunks and shred in food processor.Mix potatoes and onions together in a colander over a large bowl. Allow to drain.

Pour mixture into a large bowl and add beaten eggs, salt, pepper, baking powder, sugar, and a tablespoon of flour at-a-time until mixture holds together. Mix well.

Latkes In a fry pan, melt shortening. You’ll need about 1/8″. Spoon heaping tablespoons of the mixture into the oil. Flatten each spoonful with the back of the spoon to make thin latkes. Fry until the edges turn a dark brown. Flip over to fry the other side.

Drain on a paper towel. Serve with apple sauce and/or sour cream.

Cliff’s Quick, Dirty, and Zippy Arroz

I just invented this recipe about 5 minutes ago. Tasty and easy.

Fresh cilantro
Maybe a little butter.

Cook some rice. Probably any kind at all is fine.

While that’s cooking, chop up some fresh cilantro. You really can’t have too much cilantro.

Distribute the chopped cilantro in your rice, and then liberally apply Tajín. Enjoy.

Walnut Romano Pasta Sauce

We got insprired to try this from a book our pal Natasha lent us. It’s easy to make, and a creamy sauce based on milk, not cream…so the guilt factor is a little lower.

1/2 cup walnut pieces
2 T butter
11/4 cups milk
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs*
2 T freshly grated parmesan cheese (we used lots more than that and it was pecorino romano)
pinch freshly grated nutmeg (OK seriously, who grates their own nutmeg?)
salt and ground black pepper to taste
fresh rosemary sprigs to garnish (we skipped those altogether)

*When they say fresh, they mean fresh. Using dry means you’ll have to tinker with the milk and cheese ratios to keep it saucier than chunkier.

1. Toast walnuts in dry, wide, flat skillet, over medium-high heat, 3-5 minutes or until fragrant, stirring constantly. Coarsely chop if desired. Set aside.

2. In medium saucepan, heat butter and milk until butter is completely melted.

3. Stir in breadcrumbs and nuts and heat gently for two minutes, stirring constantly until thickened. If sauce appears to become too thick, add a splash more milk.

4. Add parmesan cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.

5. Toss with cooked pasta. Serves 2-4 people.

Curried Lentil Stew

Found this one here. I’m calling it stew instead of soup because almost ALL the liquid cooked off. I also made a couple of small adjustments.

1 tablespoon oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons curry powder
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 can stewed chopped tomatoes
2 cups lentils, uncooked and well rinsed
11/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup red wine (optional – we didn’t use it and it still tastes great)
1 cup parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste (I don’t think you need to add the salt if you’re using prepared broth)

In large saucepan, heat oil; sauté onion and garlic until soft. Stir in curry powder; sauté 1 minute. Add broth, water, tomatoes, lentils, carrots and wine. Simmer, uncovered until lentils are cooked, about 45 minutes.

Stir in parsley; simmer 5 minutes.

Mom’s Curried Fruit

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUse fruit in its own juice and drain well, then pat dry. The fruit will make more juice as it bakes.

1 (16 oz) can sliced pears, well drained
1 (20 oz) can pineapple chunks, drained
1 (15 oz) can apricot halves, drained
1 (15 oz) can sliced peaches
6-8 Maraschino cherries
1/2 cup packed (105 g) brown sugar
3 tsp curry powder
2 tbsp (25 g) butter

Preheat over to 325°F (163°C).
Drain the fruit and arrange it in an oven-proof casserole dish. Melt butter or margarine. Mix the sugar and the curry powder together with butter, pour over the top of the fruit.
Bake at 325°F (163°C) 60 minutes.