Instant Pot Magic: Let’s Cook Dried White Beans & Smoked Cajun Tasso

I love my Instant Pot for many reasons. One is speed. Some foods, such as dried beans, cook much faster when using the pressure setting on an Instant Pot. Now I can cook healthy dried beans in a reasonable amount of time (rather than all day). Although there are differences between types of beans, I have developed a “template” recipe for cooking white beans –Navy, Great Northern, cannellini or lima beans. This is a one-pot recipe; everything is done in the Instant Pot. No need to soak the beans overnight. The Instant Pot does that function. Then add seasonings, smoked Cajun Tasso or other smoked meat, the soaked beans and let the Instant Pot finish the job. No need to keep checking on the beans as the Instant Pot regulates the temperature and keeps track of the cooking time. In addition to being a tasty meal, dried beans are full of healthy fiber and other nutritional benefits. So, let’s start the New Year with some healthy dried beans cooked in an Instant Pot. Here is a bowl of white beans and ham (made with Navy beans).

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Easy Cook: Chili Con Carne with Louisiana Red Beans

Here’s an easy and very tasty recipe for “Chili Con Carne.” This is a great concoction for cold winter weather to warm up the body and soul. Or make a pot of “Chili Con Carne” next weekend and watch the football Super Bowl game — your family can help themselves to the chili and you won’t miss a football play. The recipe includes dried red beans –giving it a Louisiana “touch” — as certainly the dried version of red beans is used in traditional New Orleans cooking. I made this chili several times to tweak the recipe and the result is a pleasing blend of chili peppers and seasonings, tomatoes, kidney beans and beef. The chili has “bite” but no one component overpowers the other. I think I got this recipe “just right.” With the dried beans, this recipe takes several hours to cook — so start early in the day.

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Cookin’ in the Kitchen: Cowboy Baked Beans with a Kick — during the Coronavirus threat

Wow, so much has changed in the world in just a few weeks. It is hard to imagine at the start of 2020 that Louisiana and many other states would be under a “stay at home” order for the very serious health treat of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Our governor says that Louisiana has one of the fasting growing trajectories of this virus — due to the city of New Orleans and I’m guessing the tourist trade. Stay at home also means to cook at home. This includes being flexible and adaptable with ingredients on hand in your pantry. But who wants to spend all day cooking and washing dishes? For the next several weeks,  I’m going to post one-pot dishes which are simple to prepare and allow for substitution of ingredients. “Cowboy Baked Beans with a Kick” is one of these recipes.

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Let’s Cook: Louisiana White Beans and Smoked Ham

Here’s a traditional Louisiana-style recipe for “White Beans and Smoked Ham.” Although the recipe, “Red Beans & Rice,” is commonly associated with Louisiana cuisine, white beans are served in the South, too. This dish is often found as part of “plate dinners” or on cafeteria lines. White beans are mild flavored — and combined with some seasonings the beans are quite tasty. Dried beans have many health benefits — they are high in fiber (the kind that lowers cholesterol and controls blood sugar) and protein — so I’m trying to eat them more frequently. And a pound of beans makes a large batch — enough for several meals. Continue reading

Let’s Cook Something New: Anasazi Beans

Let’s begin the new year by cooking something new: Anasazi beans. These heirloom beans have an interesting history. The beans shown here are from a farmer’s market in Taos, New Mexico, which is the closest town to the Taos Pueblos. My brother’s family purchased the beans while on a cross-country driving trip from California. Along the way they visited several American Native Indian cliff dwelling sites and ruins. I made a hearty soup with the beans.

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The Vegetarian Epicure: Baked Beans à la Charente

This week I’m travelling back in time to a recipe from the 1980’s. While searching through cookbooks on my bookshelves, I rediscovered one which I purchased during those years. I’m a collector and never throw anything away — this cookbook is a good one. Glancing through the pages, I saw notations by recipes which I had made; most with “excellent” written by them with many, many memories. I decided to make one of the recipes, “Baked Beans à la Charente”, a vegetarian bean casserole topped with fresh tomato and eggplant slices. A little cognac in the beans gave some zing. Yum. Continue reading

Let’s Cook Something New: Falafel

This summer I tried cooking something new. Falafel, made from chickpeas, is a mainstay in the cuisine of the Middle East. But they are new to me. My inspiration comes from the tiny but innovative New Orleans’ restaurant, “1000 Figs,” and their food truck, “The Fat Falafel.” The falafel was soft and flavorful, elegantly served. I was inspired to make my own. Here’s how the cooking adventure turned out.Falafel and Pickled Vegetables - 2 - IMG_8945

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