Weekend Cooking Fun Continued: Black Bean Soup, Collard Greens, and More Bread

Whenever I start making bread I can’t stop myself. There’s no reason for me to have four loaves of bread in the house. Baking, especially bread, is a meditation.

whole wheat-molasses, cooling

This second batch is organic whole wheat, and I used molasses instead of sugar or honey. The taste difference is amazing. Sweet and nutty with an almost coffee-like aftertaste. The grain was especially nice, the crust nice and crunchy. Again, as with all my breads, I used the Tassajara Bread Book. Never seems to fail

I also made a black bean soup and braised some collard greens. I don’t know what got into me. I guess I was inspired after Melissa’s post about living in Brasil, and how she missed Portland food. That made me miss old Café Brazil in Santa Cruz, and the feijoada I made a few times at Casa Isleña.

nice soft grain, crunchy crust

It’s funny (and fun) cooking at home again. I’m getting back to the fundamentals, my early cooking days: the Tassajara Bread Book, for one, but also the Moosewood. I found my old copy in storage, dusted it off, and decided to make the Black Bean Soup recipe, approximately. This is probably more SW style. I don’t really use recipes anymore.

This was a basic conconction of a fine-diced mirapoix (2 cups total of onion, celery, carrot) sautéed with a good amount of crushed garlic, diced jalapeño, red and green peppers (one each). Threw in some spices (couple tablespoons each cumin, coriander, red chili powder) into the hot oil when the onions are clear, stirred until fragrant, then added the black beans (about a pound, soaked overnight) and enough water to cover the beans by a couple inches. You don’t want to let the water boil. Just bring to a nice gentle simmer. Hang out for a few hours. Season with salt and some chopped cilantro when the beans are soft. Serve it with collard greens, sautéed kale or chard, orange slices, and yogurt. Other options may include crusty baguette or a poached egg.

collard greens with bacon & jalapeño

My collard greens are pretty good and legit as far as my southern friends have told me. For two or three pounds of greens I use about a pound of chopped bacon, a head of garlic peeled and sliced thin, a tablespoon of red pepper flakes (I didn’t have any so I threw in a sliced jalapeño), a cup or more of brown sugar, a cup or more of cider vinegar, salt and tabasco to taste. You’ll want to crisp up the bacon on medium-low heat with the garlic and red pepper flakes. Don’t burn the garlic. If it’s burning, turn the heat down. Get that garlic golden brown, and the bacon crispy. Pour the grease out. Add the collard greens (stemmed, washed, chopped into big-sized squares), enough water to cover, the cider vinegar, salt, and brown sugar. Bring up to boil, then lower to a simmer and cover for about an hour or more.

Season to taste. Sometimes might need more sweet, or more sour, or more spice. That’s all up to you. Also, you don’t necessarily need to a huge pot like I did. It’s just really nice to have collard greens around. Feed your family, feed your friends. The greens will last all week. Buen Provecho.

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