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This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated magazine’s All-Time Best Recipes issue. I modified a couple of things as noted. It is delicious. If you have never checked out Cook’s Illustrated magazine, I highly recommend it. They discuss the scientific reasons for cooking technique and also use feedback from taste testers.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons salt plus 4 quarts water for soaking the beans
1 lb (2 1/2 cups) dried cannellini beans, picked over and rinsed. (I used Great Northern beans because they were a lot less expensive.)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
6 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch pieces (I used thick cut, nitrite free uncured bacon because that is what I had on hand.)
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (I omitted the celery because I don’t like it. I substituted 1/2 inch pieces of chard stem.)
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (I think there is a scientific reason for using the low sodium broth because it is supposed to make the interior of the beans creamier if they are not cooked in a lot of sodium.)
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 pound kale or collard greens, stemmed and leaves chopped into 1 inch pieces. (I used chard and separated the stems, treating them like celery.)
1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, drained.
1 sprig fresh rosemary
8 slices country white bread (I substituted home-made gluten free bread, natch), 1 1/4 inches thick, broiled until golden brown on both sides.

Directions

1. Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt into 4 quarts water in large container or bowl. Add beans and soak at room temperature for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. (The salt is added to the soaking water for scientific reasons to keep the bean skins tender.)
2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle shelf and preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat oil and pancetta in Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, 6 to 10 minutes. Add onion, carrots, and celery (or chard stem pieces) and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 10-16 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, bay leaves, and soaked beans. Increase heat to high and bring to simmer. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are almost tender (very center of beans will still be firm), 45 minutes to 1 hour.
3. Remove pot from oven and stir in kale and tomatoes. Return to oven and cook until beans are greens are fully tender, 30 to 40 minutes longer.
4. Remove pot from oven and submerge  rosemary in stew. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaves an rosemary and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over toasted bread, if desired, and drizzle with olive oil.

The veggies after cooking. Chard is so pretty.

The veggies after cooking. Chard is so pretty.

 

 

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

This recipe is adapted from Eating Well Magazine. My daughter loved it and ate 2 1/2 servings. Then she ate another serving the following day for breakfast.

  • 3 tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs. (Note: I made bread crumbs from some of my leftover gluten-free bread.)
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 3/4 cups low-fat milk, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (Note: To make gluten-free, I substituted 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.)
  • 2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (I often use a combination of cheddar cheese and goat cheese)
  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) whole-wheat elbow macaroni, or penne (Note: I used Trader Joe’s rice penne.)

Preparation

  1. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Preheat oven to 450°F. Coat an 8-inch-square (2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mix breadcrumbs, oil and paprika in a small bowl. Place spinach in a fine-mesh strainer and press out excess moisture.
  3. Heat 1 1/2 cups milk in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until steaming. Whisk remaining 1/4 cup milk and flour in a small bowl until smooth; add to the hot milk and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce simmers and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Cheddar until melted. Stir in cottage cheese, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  4. Cook pasta for 4 minutes, or until not quite tender. (It will continue to cook during baking.) Drain and add to the cheese sauce; mix well. Spread half the pasta mixture in the prepared baking dish. Spoon the spinach on top. Top with the remaining pasta; sprinkle with the breadcrumb mixture.
  5. Bake the casserole until bubbly and golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

Thanks to the very inspirational Tracy of FEC-this, my blog has received another nomination for Very Inspirational Blog. I have again fudged the rules for the nomination, mainly the rule that I nominate fifteen other blogs for the award. Instead, I will write something related to inspiration.

In my last post, I wrote about my initial foray into gluten-free bread baking. At the recommendation of my naturopath, I checked out the Gluten Free Girl and the Chef blog. I found what I was looking for, gluten free recipes but I also found an inspiring love story. Gluten-Free Girl, a.k.a. Shauna, is a woman who was terribly ill for YEARS until she was diagnosed with celiac disease several years ago and cut gluten out of her diet.

Then she falls in love with a chef. He ends up owning his own fine dining restaurant. Eventually, without her even asking, he changes his cuisine to gluten-free. He wants to share all of his cooking with her and also to provide a place for people to eat safely who have celiac disease, which I’ve learned is really quite awful. Even a little bit of gluten will make Shauna sick for three days, like chemo-level sick. So chef’s restaurant was (it has since closed) a mecca for folks who had not eaten in restaurants in years because of their health problems, as well as to people without celiac disease who were simply looking for a fine meal.

Shauna is also a professional writer and former English teacher. She is passionate about the subject as well as about her family. This combination is a recipe for a very well written blog.

A little lumpy but delicious!

A little lumpy but delicious!

P.S. My bread is delicious! I followed the recipe here.

To make a long story short, I may be allergic to wheat. A couple of years ago I had a skin patch test and a skin biopsy. Based on the results, my dermatologist suspected that a food allergy was responsible for my very annoying eczema. She referred me to an allergist. I opted not to follow up. Now my naturopathic oncologist suspects a wheat allergy and suggested that I try going gluten free for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Since my cancer treatment put me into menopause, I am experiencing an increase in eczema flare-ups. So my skin is even more annoying than usual.

I love wheat. I really, really love wheat. Bread and pasta, yum, yum, yum. I eat very little in the way of prepared food so I’m not so worried about hidden wheat. I have to tell you though, the corn and rice pasta noodles look gross. Also, I’m not crazy about increasing the amount of corn in my diet. Corn is in everything!

I just whipped up my very first batch of gluten-free bread dough. It looked doughy. The ingredients were incredibly expensive—sorghum, brown rice, and tapioca flours. I forgot about the xanthum gum. That was a fortune but I only needed two tablespoons. If this ends up being a more frequent baking project, I’m going to go to a store with bulk bins of this stuff, sold by weight.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

This is my new soup recipe. It is super good, I think. John and my father-in-law, Don agree. In fact it is so good that it cured my fear of orange caused by the Oompa Loompa hair dying incident and the Wonky Wonka boob that resulted from surgery #5.

Note: Unless otherwise described, I use a fairly large dice because I like to be both rustic and lazy.

Soup stock (adapted from Tom Colicchio’s turkey stock recipe)
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
2  quarts chicken stock
1 chicken carcass (I bought a whole chicken from the store. If you follow a low sodium diet, you should probably use low sodium chicken broth unless you prepare your own chicken.)
(Note: I threw in the onion peels because they were a beautiful brown color.)

1. Saute vegetables in butter over medium heat 15-30 minutes, until deeply browned. Add chicken carcass either at beginning or after it’s cooked for awhile depending on whether it’s going to get in your way or not. Browning it a little will add flavor.
2. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and deglaze the pan so you can loosen all of the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the rest of the stock, raise heat to a boil then lower to a simmer for 45 minutes.
4. Strain the broth and set aside.

The soup

8-12 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces
1 head cauliflower, sliced into large bite-sized pieces.
2 onions, diced
2 sugar pie pumpkins, seeds and “guts” removed, peeled and diced into 1-2 inch pieces
cooked chicken, torn into small pieces (about 1-2 cups worth.)
2-3 tablespoons curry powder
Black pepper to taste
1.Roast cauliflower, drizzled lightly in olive oil for 25 minutes at 450 degrees. Set to side.
2. Cook bacon pieces until beginning to brown in a large soup pot. Remove with slotted spoon and reserve.
3. Add onions and cook until brown and carmelized, over medium low heat for about 15-20 minutes.
4. Add chicken stock, pumpkin chunks, curry, and ground pepper. Cook, over medium heat until pumpkin is tender, about 20-25 minutes.
5. Add cooked chicken, bacon, and cauliflower. Cook until heated.
Note: I know that bacon is a bit odd in a curry dish. I had actually planned for another kind of soup and then discovered that I didn’t have all of the ingredients I thought I did. By the time I changed my plan to a curry flavored dish, the bacon was already cooked. As it turns out, bacon tastes darned good in curry.

I made this soup a few weeks ago and froze it. It was so good I could hardly stand it. John was super impressed. I didn’t write down what I did. The following is the recipe I followed today. I hope it is close. By the way, this makes a lot of soup so you may want to halve the recipe.

Note: Unless otherwise described, I use a fairly large dice because I like to be both rustic and lazy.

Soup stock (adapted from Tom Colicchio’s turkey stock recipe)
1-2 tablespoons butter
2 onions, diced
1 cup carrots, peeled and diced
1 cup diced celery
4 quarts chicken stock
1 chicken carcass (I bought a whole chicken from the store. If you follow a low sodium diet, you should probably use low sodium chicken broth unless you prepare your own chicken.)
(Note: I threw in the onion peels because they were a beautiful brown color.)

1. Saute vegetables in butter over medium heat 15-30 minutes, until deeply browned. Add chicken carcass either at beginning or after it’s cooked for awhile depending on whether it’s going to get in your way or not. Browning it a little will add flavor.
2. Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and deglaze the pan so you can loosen all of the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the rest of the stock, raise heat to a boil then lower to a simmer for 45 minutes.
4. Strain the broth and set aside.

The soup
1-2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
2 onions, diced
2 cups carrots, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1-2 heads of chard, leaves removed from ribs. Dice the ribs and slice the leaves (stack leaves, roll into a cigar shape the short way and then slice into 1/2 inch wide strips).
2 large shallots, minced
cooked chicken, torn into small pieces
8-12 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces, cooked and drained. (After you’re done cooking the bacon, add 1/2 cup of water to deglaze the pan and reserve this liquid to add to the soup.)
Black pepper to taste
Hot sauce or ground red pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1. Cook onions, carrots, and minced chard ribs in butter or oil over medium heat for 20-30 minutes until deep brown and caramelized.
2. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes.
3. Add this mixture to a large soup pot along with the reserved chicken stock and balsamic vinegar.
4. Let boil and add chard leaves until wilted. Lower heat
5. Add cooked chicken, bacon, and deglazing liquid from the bacon pan. Add additional chicken stock or water to thin soup if needed. (Wait until the chard is cooked before making this call.)
6. Season to taste. I like to add lots of black pepper and Frank’s hot sauce. I don’t add salt since the salt in the bacon and the chicken will blend into the broth as the soup sits around. Salt can always be added at the table if you want.

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