Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Black Bean Tamale Pie

This is really great. It's from Jim Fobel's Casseroles which I've had since it came out in 1997. It's meatless but so flavorful no one will care. In fact, we added chicken once and couldn't really tell it was in there. So we stick with the original.

It reheats well, can be made in advance, freezes well, and I've never had anyone not like it.

Black Bean Tamale Pie

3 15-ounce cans black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
1 jalapeno pepper, minced with the seeds
1 garlic clove, minced
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
5-1/4 cups water
1-1/2 cups canned, diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup scallion, sliced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cups yellow cornmeal (coarse)
1-1/2 cups low-fat plain yogurt (I use regular sour cream)
2 cups (8 oz.) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup tomato sauce

For serving (optional — I never bother)
sour cream
black olives
fresh cilantro stem

In a sealable plastic bag or shallow dish, combine the black beans, sherry, and lemon juice. Marinate in the refrigerator 2 to 12 hours. Drain before using.

Spoon the olive oil into a heavy nonstick or well-seasoned skillet over moderately high heat. Add the corn, toss once, then let brown very well, about 5 minutes. Toss again and continue browning for a minute or two. Add the jalapeno, garlic, cumin, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper. Cook a minute or two, then pour in 1/4 cup of the water to deglaze the pan.

Turn out into a large bowl and toss in the tomatoes, scallions, and cilantro.

The recipe may be prepared a day ahead to this point.

Bring 3 cups of the water and the remaining 1-1/2 teaspoons salt to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together the cornmeal and remaining 2 cups cold water.

Add the cornmeal mixture to the boiling water and stir constantly until the mixture returns to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture is as thick as mashed potatoes, about 5 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of the yogurt.

Cook over very low heat, stirring frequently, until again as thick as mashed potatoes, about 8 minutes.
Spread about 2/3 of the cornmeal batter in a lightly oiled 9x13" casserole (keep the remainder covered over hot water to keep warm), making a 1 inch raised edge all around.

Spoon the drained black beans on top and press in lightly.

Sprinkle 1-1/2 cups of the cheese over the beans.

Add all of the corn-tomato mixture and spread into an even layer.

Spoon the remaining cornmeal mixture over the top in dabs and spread to make an even layer that covers the top (it's ok if some of the vegetables show through).

Spoon the remaining yogurt and the canned tomato sauce in alternating diagonal lines. (I never do this part.)

Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour, or until deep golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Cut into squares, remove them with a spatula, and serve hot, with a dolllop of sour cream, a couple black olives and radish slices, and a sprig of cilantro, if desired.

If making ahead, cool to room temperature, cover with foil, and refrigerate. To reheat sprinkle the casserole with 2 to 3 tablespoons water and cover with foil. If at room temperature, bake at 350 for about 45 minutes. If cold, add about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Korean BBQ Buns

We really loved this one which is a great testament to the basic goodness of the recipe, since we wound up changing a lot of details around. It's from Cooking Light which is so good at nailing ethnic flavors and textures while simplifying the work for an American kitchen.

I've put the recipe below as Cooking Light had it but we changed a few things on the fly and plan to change more in the future.
  • We doubled the recipe to serve as a meal for 4. This says it serves 8 so maybe it was supposed to be an appetizer?
  • Ground chuck instead of sirloin
  • Bread crumbs instead of panko
  • This seemed overly sweet, possibly because every step involved sugar. We'll skip the pan glaze next time.
  • We couldn't find steamed buns anywhere (frozen or not). So we used flour tortillas. Never a problem finding those in Dallas! Cooking Light suggested slider buns as an alternative.
  • We made the meatballs but they are unwieldy in a tortilla. That's probably something the buns would help hold onto. If we used slider buns then we'd make slider size burgers. However, we liked the tortilla option and next time would just pinch off large pieces to cook without worrying about any round shape.
Step 1 — Pickles
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 cup 1/8”-thick English cucumber slices

Bring all except cucumbers to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add cucumber slices. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Drain.

Step 2
8 ounces 90% lean ground sirloin
1/4 cup whole-wheat panko
1-1/2 teaspoons light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 garlic clove, grated
1 large egg white, beaten
1-1/2 teaspoons soy sauce

Meanwhile, stir together all until well blended. Shape mixture into 16 meatballs, a scant 1 tablespoon each. Heat a large skillet over medium. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add meatballs to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Step 3
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1-1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

Move meatballs to side of skillet. Add oil, sugar, and soy sauce to center of skillet; cook until sugar dissolves and sauce is glazy, about 1 minute. Stir to coat meatballs.

Step 4
8 frozen folded Chinese steamed buns (if you can’t find them, you can stuff the meatballs into standard slider buns)

Layer 3 well-moistened paper towels on a microwave-safe plate. Place frozen buns on prepared plate; cover with 3 more well-moistened paper towels. Microwave at high until warmed, about 1 minute and 30 seconds, checking for doneness every 10 seconds after heating for 1 minute.

Step 5
8 small red leaf lettuce leaves

Divide pickle slices, lettuce leaves, and meatballs evenly among buns.