Wednesday, October 5, 2011

15 Bean Soup with Bacon


Lately we have been trying to eat more beans as main dishes (they're supposed to be so good for you and your heart and all that) and I have to admit I have been having a hard time finding good main dish recipes. Beans (in America, anyway) are usually served as a side dish, and more often than not are slathered in barbecue sauce and brown sugar. I don't think there's anything wrong with that, but it's not exactly main course fare! If we're eating beans for dinner, I want the recipe to be hearty and satisfying, not sugary. Thankfully, this recipe is both hearty and satisfying, and it has become one of our family favorites. And of course as an added perk, beans are incredibly inexpensive - You can feed an army for less than $1 a person, as the saying goes!


It may seem like this recipe takes FOREVER to make (soaking the beans overnight, boiling the beans, simmering the soup), but it actually requires very little actual working time - I would say maybe 15 minutes total, just to saute the bacon and the onions.

1 lb bag 15 bean stew bean mix
1/2 lb sliced bacon
1 quart stock (I use beef, but chicken is great too)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or passed through a garlic press
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
kosher salt
cracked black pepper
optional: cayenne pepper to taste, white or brown rice for serving over

1. Remove the beans from the packaging, and place in a large pot. Discard that little packet of MSG (it's bad for you!) Fill the pot with cold water, covering the beans by at least 2 inches (I didn't do this last time, and my exposed beans sprouted. Lesson learned!). Let sit at least 6 hours or overnight (you can do this in the morning or the night before. More soaking doesn't hurt!). Rinse the beans in cold water, until the water runs clear. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Boil beans for about 2 hours, skimming off an scum from the surface of the water. When beans are tender and soft when pierced with a fork, they are done. Remove from heat, and pour off any excess water ( I never seem to have any - mine often turns to soup all on it's own when the small beans disintegrate. If this is the case, just reduce the amount of stock you use to 2 cups).

2. Dice bacon strips into a small dice. In a large, heavy bottomed sauce pan, saute bacon over medium heat until very crisp and golden, about 15 minutes (if it's soft at all, it get's mushy and chewy in the soup), being careful not to burn it. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, and place diced onion and garlic in the left-over bacon grease. Saute until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add stock, diced tomatoes, beans, bacon, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper. Bring to a boil, and simmer 60 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cayenne pepper to taste, and correct seasonings if it needs more salt or pepper. Serve on it's own, or with a little dollop of sour cream. Also great over rice!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gluten Free Pumpkin Roulade Cake with Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Filling


Well, it seems my little 2 week vacation from blogging turned into a ::ahem:: a 6 week one. To be fair, I went back to school this semester for the first time in 6 years, and oh my gosh people, did you know that have to do homework when you are are in school? I seem to have forgotten this, and how much time it takes up. Especially when you have a 2 year old interrupting you every 30 seconds (not exaggerating) because he wants you to play choo-choos with him. I've found myself snapping "go play!" at him more than once, and it's definitely been an adjustment, figuring out how to balance getting my stuff done and being a good attentive mom.

And lest you think I am poring over the books (I mean I do, sometimes), I'm going back to school to pursue costume design, which means I have to sew all the time. Doing this with James around is a real challenge. Either he's yanking the fabric out of the machine with his sticky little hands that have been God knows where (Chocolate on silk! Nooooo!!), or worse, he's trying to help! A couple of months ago when he was trying to help, he was sitting next to me watching the machine when suddenly, he reached out mid-stitch and tried to grab the moving needle! I think you know what happened next. Yes, I stitched through his finger. I stitched him TO the fabric I was sewing. The needle went all the way through the finger and back out again, leaving threads running through his flesh. There was a moment while we both just sat there in shock, his finger caught in the machine, before we both started screaming. Yikes! I quickly cut the threads to get him out of the machine, and luckily, the needle puncture was a very clean wound and it didn't hit the bone (I'm thankful we avoided another ER visit). Still! Now I pretty much only sew during naps or after he's gone to bed for the night. This is, of course, when I used to blog (it's hard to use a computer when James is up - he's always pushing it out of my lap and trying to play with it), so you see my conflict. My blogging time is now sewing time.


I'm finally sort of getting the hang of it though, and I'm back with a bang! This recipe is hands down my absolute favorite autumnal recipe, and it's so, so good. It was a huge favorite at parties last year, and I must have made it 8 times. In fact, the only reason I didn't post it then was that I was never able to get a picture of it before someone or other had gobbled it up! My sister (who is also gluten-free) also made this cake over and over again, to rave reviews. And though this cake is quite impressive and looks difficult to make, it's actually very easy! Just follow the step by step guide, and you'll have your own pretty pumpkin roulade in no time!

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Roulade Sponge Cake with Cream Cheese Vanilla Bean Filling
adapted from Ina Garten

I tried using Ina Garten's mascarpone filling over and over again, and ever single time it was curdled, runny, and disappointing. So I started substituting this filling, and boy was it ever popular! My filling is practically foolproof and everyone loves it, so I'll never go back. Ina calls for chopped crystallized ginger in her filling, and I would say it's optional. Some people love it, but when I'm making it for a crowd I leave it out so the cake suits everyone's taste.

For the Cake:
3/4 cup gluten free flour (I like to use 1/4 cup gluten-free oat flour [such as the certified GF oat flour from Bob's Red Mill], 1/4 cup sweet rice flour, and 1/4 cup superfine white rice flour, but any all-purpose mix will work great!)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup powdered sugar

For the filling:
8oz cream cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 cup crystalized ginger, finely chopped
1/4 cup pumpkin butter

1. Prep: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan (a large baking sheet with sides that go up about 3/4 of an inch) with parchment. Lay out a large dish towel or tea towel on a flat surface, and sift the 1/4 cup of powdered sugar over it (this keeps the cake from sticking to the towel).

2. Sift together the gluten free flour(s), baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a stand mixer, beat the 3 eggs on medium-high speed with 1 cup granulated sugar until thick and pale, about 5 minutes (set a timer!). Add pumpkin, and mix until fully incorporated. With mixer on low, add flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour batter into prepared jelly roll pan and spread evenly (I like to give the pan a tap or two to really even it out). Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until cake is golden, and spring back to the touch.

3. Remove cake from oven, and flip face down onto the prepared tea towel. I know this move is scary - you can do it! Yes, do this when the cake is hot. We have to roll it up before it cools, so that it doesn't crack or break.

Peel the parchment off the back of the cake. Look how not-perfect my cake is - and it still turned out lovely! Yours will too :)

Fold one end of the tea towel over the cake, then roll it up. Let cool completely - if it's still warm at all, it will melt the filling and you will have a mess on your hands!

For the filling: While cake it cooling, beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 5 full minutes (you can bring your cream cheese to room temperature first, but if you often forget like me, just beat it a little longer and it will warm up in the bowl!). Mix mixer on low, add in heavy cream, and mix until incorporated. Once the cream is incorporated, increase speed to medium high, and beat until light and fluffy. Add in optional flavorings - 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or chopped ginger.

To assemble: Unroll fully cooled cake. If you are using (I love the additional pumpkim kick!) smooth on 1/4 cup pumpkin butter. Evenly spread cream cheese filling over cake, and roll cake up (but without the towel this time!) Place on a serving dish with the seam side down. Refrigerate to retain shape and for easy slicing. Just before serving, sift a little powdered sugar over the top. Tada!