Cranberry beans with charred peppers, garlic, sage, and Big Fork Black Pepper sausage over mustard greens

Borlotti beans with mustard greens, Big Fork sausage, charred pepperrs, garlic, and sageThis recipe is adapted from Saltie, A Cookbook, by Caroline Fidanza, who explains that the recipe originated with Marcella Hazan, who it turn got the recipe from her husband’s housekeeper. (http://bit.ly/1fCkSFz) While all of the recipes in Saltie sound fantastic, the book reads almost like a memoir, so it’s taken me a very long time to move past the stories and into the food. But now that I’ve crossed the line I anticipate a spate of Saltie-based dinners. Because man–this recipe was delicious! Admittedly, a lot of the yum came from Big Fork’s perfect, perfect sausage. (http://bit.ly/1fa2ofI) Which is not in the original recipe. And I used frozen, not fresh, beans. So my version of this recipe differs slightly from the original. Only slightly, though. Here’s what I did.

2 cups fresh or frozen cranberry beans
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
12 cloves garlic, 6 halved, 6 thinly sliced
1 bunch of fresh sage leaves
Kosher salt
3 bell peppers, yellow, orange, and/or red
1 bunch mustard greens, washed and trimmed

Bring a pot of water to boil, add the cranberry beans, halved garlic, a glug of olive oil, and 12 sages leaves. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until tender. Salt liberally and allow the beans to cool in the cooking liquid. Or, alternatively, drain the beans, salt, and dress with 3-4 tablespoons of oil. While the beans are cooking, core and seed the peppers, then slice them into strips that are approximately 1 inch long, and 1/2 inch wide. Don’t worry about being precise. Variation in sizes will just result in the smaller pieces being more charred. The only trick is to make sure all of the peppers get cooked, to bring out the depth that comes with carmelizing. Raw peppers are lovely in their place. Just not here.

Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat. Being careful not to overcrowd, spread a layer of peppers in the skillet, salt, and cook until well-browned/slightly charred, about 8-10 minutes, using tongs to turn. Transfer to a heatproof bowl when done. Repeat, adding oil as necessary, until all of the peppers are cooked.

garlic and sage

Pour the remaining oil (you should have about 1/4 cup) into a separate skillet over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and saute, stirring, for about 3 minutes, until it turns gold and starts sizzling. Add the rest of the sage leaves, stir for another minute or so, then remove from the heat. Pour the contents of the pan over the peppers.

Slice the sausages (1 per person) into 3/4″ rounds, and saute for 5 minutes or so, until browned, in the skillet that you used for the garlic and sage. Turn to make sure both sides are browned, working in batches if necessary to ensure there is enough space around each piece for even browning. If you haven’t already done so, drain the beans. Add the cooked sausage to the beans.Borlotti beans and sausage

To serve, place a few mustard greens in the bottom of individual bowls or a large serving bowl or platter. Top with beans, sausage, and the pepper-garlic mixture.

Note that I used a lot of mustard greens. Probably 3 or 4 leaves per serving. In retrospect, it was a bit much. I will probably go with 2 leaves next time. Also, this time I followed the original recipe and kept the leaves whole. But it was kind’ve a pain to cut them. Next time I will tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces first. If you try this out, please let me know what you do. And how you like it. Note that you can easily make this recipe both vegan and gluten-free. Just leave out the sausage.

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Gluten- and dairy-free blueberry muffins without refined sugar

blueberry muffin insideDespite the almost slogan-like title, these muffins are delicious, solidly structured with a perfect balance of sweetness that’s just right for breakfast. Or at least so I believe. But I could be wrong. Because I made them yesterday for a brunch that wound up being cancelled at the last minute. So no one but me has tried them. And I have a cold. Which brings my palate into question. Still. I’m pretty sure they’re good. And I’m certain that they’re good for you, full of whole grain flours, coconut oil, and blueberries. And free of all those trendily objectionable ingredients.

Indeed, my original goal was to make free muffins that were vegan to boot. blueberry muffin failBut that version (the little sunken lava cakes pictured on the right) refused to rise or even cook all the way through. So I gave up. Used eggs. Because, while the problem with version #1 may well have been an excess of blueberries, I was in a rush, and just didn’t trust that ground flax seed and water can really provide the structure eggs lend to baked goods. And I have no regrets. Because the end result  turned out perfectly, with a crispy rounded muffin top, a tender crumb, and a rich bite that reminded me of  a much less sweet form of pound cake.

blueberry muffinsAll that and the recipe includes beans! Sort’ve. Here’s what I did.

GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR MIX
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch

My mix is based on a thoughtful post from Gluten Free Girl and the Chef. (http://bit.ly/1fARZsO) I discovered the site a couple of years ago after Shauna (Gluten Free Girl) and Danny (The Chef) Ahern published their first book, Gluten Free Girl and the Chef: A Love Story with 100 Tempting Recipes. (http://bit.ly/Lrhj9I)  In addition to great recipes, both their books and their blog include a ton of useful information about living well on a gluten-free diet. Plus their entire life seems like a sweet love story that is real and true and thus inspiring. So that’ s nice too. But I digress.

If you read Shauna’s post, which I encourage you to do, you’ll see that she and the Chef don’t like bean flours. Which gave me pause. I wanted to use garbanzo bean flour so that these muffins could include beans. That seemed like the only way I could avoid feeling like a total fraud for posting this recipe on my bean blog. Yet I didn’t want to make something icky. What to do?!

For this first time, I decided to risk the garbanzo bean flour. For the sake of the blog. Happily, my gamble paid off. Next time, though, I’ll probably try a different blend. Just to see.

To mix the flours, I started with the whole grains: brown rice, garbanzo bean, and sorghum. (Check out this post for some good information about sorghum (http://bit.ly/1envadS).) (The bags (I used Bob’s brand) are pretty small, so I had to pour the flours into the measuring cup instead of using the cup to scoop it out. To avoid waste, I measured over a bowl. When I finished the whole grains, I put the excess into a separate bag. Then I repeated the process with the white flours. So I now have three gallon-sized freezer bags in my freezer that are labeled as follows: 70/30 G/F mix; mixed whole grain G/F flours; and mixed white G/F flours. The idea is that over time, I’ll wind up with a sort’ve grab bag approach to gluten free baking. Super fun! And convenient. Because I’ve recently considered that the sometimes painful stiffness in my joints may correspond with my all too frequent over-indulgences in baked goods. This doesn’t mean I’m anywhere close to giving up bread. Or delicious pastries. But, as with refined sugar, it does mean that I will mostly eliminate gluten from the food I cook at home. If you’re not so committed, however, you may be interested in reading this review of a few commercial blends. (http://bit.ly/1alqlAZ)

MUFFINS (recipe adapted from Laura C. Martin’s trusty Green Market Baking Book (http://bit.ly/1k5guCC).)
2-1/4 c. gluten-free flour mix
4 t. baking powder
1 t. sea salt
7 T. coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/3 cup maple syrup
zest from one Meyer (or regular) lemon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup almond milk
11/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease a 12-cup muffin tin with a little bit of coconut oil. Whisk the flour mix, baking powder, and salt until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut oil, syrups, lemon zest, eggs, and milk together until well blended. Stir the mixture into the dry ingredients. Fold in the blueberries. Using a 1/2 cup measure, spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling each cup almost to the rim. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then cut along the sides and pop out to cool on a rack.

White bean, gluten-free, vegan pancakes

This morning, near the end of a three-hour Kundalini class, when I was meant to be deep in meditation, I started laughing out loud, realizing that the title of this post, a literal description of today’s breakfast, would fit perfectly into the sketch show I’ve been working white bean vegan gluten free pancakeson for the past several months.  (And which is finally almost finished!!!) So many health-food buzzwords crammed into a single recipe title, and all of them modifying the ultimate empty calorie breakfast food, pancakes. This recipe sounds like it would taste awful. So much so that it’s hilarious. And yeah. This may be the first time ever that I’m posting a recipe for which the photograph makes the food look better than it was in real life. But while I admit that these weren’t the best pancakes I’ve ever tasted, they were far from the worst.  In fact, they’re pretty good so long as you cover them with enough fresh fruit to ensure that each bite includes at least equal parts fruit and pancake. And maple syrup.

The truth is that I’d probably appreciate these much more if I did not have the luxury of a digestive system that tolerates gluten just fine, or if I was actually vegan. Because while the end result of this experiment is not light or fluffy, and a hint of beany flavor comes through if you don’t get enough fruit and syrup in each bite, they are pancakes. And who doesn’t love pancakes? Well, okay, I don’t. They just don’t compare to waffles, which I love without condition. But when I saw Kathy Hester’s beany pancake recipes, I knew I had to give them a try. (http://bit.ly/JP2DjX) Especially because I’ve had gluten-free pancakes in the back of my mind for almost a year now, since I saw this recipe for flax coconut pancakes in Food and Wine. (http://bit.ly/1dfRbcJ) So I decided to combine the two recipes, coming up with my own version. Which I ate this morning, a couple of hours before yoga.  The end result may not have been the very best pancakes I’ve ever tasted, but, as I said at the start, they were tasty enough. Especially given the title.

Note that the following recipe calls for several different types of flour, all of which I happened to have on hand. Because a while back I became interested in gluten free baking, trying to pack more nutrition into the baked-good punch. If you aren’t so stocked, however, please just use whole wheat pastry flour or even regular white flour. Although the nutritional value will decrease, I’m guessing the texture will improve. And it will definitely be less expensive and troublesome than going out and buying all these fancy flours. Now, here’s the recipe.

2/3 c. brown rice flour
3 T. potato starch
3 T. tapioca starch
3 T. coconut flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1-1/2 c. cooked (or canned) white beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 c. unsweetened almond (or other nondairy) milk
1/2 c. rolled oats (make sure they’re marked gluten-free if gluten is an issue)
2 T. olive or coconut oil, plus more for the pan
2 T. maple syrup, plus more for serving
1 T. ground flax seed mixed with 2 T. warm water
1 t. vanilla extract

1. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.

2. Using a food processor or immersion blender, puree the beans, milk., oats, oil, syrup, flax seed mixture, and vanilla together until smooth.

3. Stir the pureed bean mixture into the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined.

4. Heat a skillet (I always use cast iron, because that’s what I have, but use what you like) over medium heat. For each pancake, scoop about 3 T. of batter into the skillet, making sure to leave space around each pancake. Cook the pancakes for 3-5 minutes on each side. Serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup. This makes a lot but they should freeze well. Enjoy!