Navy Bean and Beer Soup

Here is another soup recipe that just takes me back to my childhood in the Northeast. I grew up in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. During the summer all of us kids looked forward to the many picnics put on by the fire companies and churches. My favorites the Polish Church picnic and one of the fire companies. They were called “hoses” and pronounced “hosiees”. I don’t know why. Maybe because they were fire hose stations. It is part of the local lingo of the coal region. Anyway, even in the heat of the summer soups were the most popular food at the picnics. Other food included perogies, halupkis, haluskie and so on. Being of various Eastern European ethnic backgrounds anything made from cabbage, potato and onion were a staple food for my people.
Last week I just got hungry for good old fashioned bean. Nothing fancy, just peasant food. My brother agrees that this recipe has the flavor of picnic bean soup from our childhood. I teamed this cheddar buttermilk biscuits but you can use a hearty, crusty bread just as well. I hope you enjoy.

1 pound dried Navy Beans or Cannellini Beans.
Water enough to cover by 3 inches to soak overnight
2 cans (12 ozs each) Beer. I used Strohs. Anyway lager type will do
12 cups Water
2 Smoked ham hocks or ham bones
6 slices of Bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme or 4 sprigs fresh Thyme
3 Carrots, peeled and medium size diced
2 Celery ribs, medium size diced
1 Onion, medium size dice. Type is your choice. I like sweet but any kind will do
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper
1 1/2 cup of diced Ham, style is your choice. I have used thick sliced lunch meat, canned ham and cooked smoked ham. All are fine.

Put the beans in a large bowl, rinse and check for stones. Then cover with the soaking water. Let them soak overnight or at least 8 hours. When soaking is complete drain the beans and set aside. Put the beer and 11 cups of water into a soup pot. I like to use my cast iron Dutch Oven for this. Put the ham hocks or bones and the bacon into the beer/water mixture. Over medium high heat bring it to a boil. Reduce to simmer, uncovered for an hour. Don’t worry if it goes over an hour. It’s all good.
Add the beans and the thyme and simmer for another hour at least.
After simmering for an hour add the carrots, celery and onion. Add salt and pepper and season to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for an hour.
Remove the ham hocks and bones. Allow to cool so you can get the rest of the meat off the bones. Now some people throw away the skin and bones. I give them to my dogs. It adds some good fat to their diet and the bones clean their teeth. Plus they love it. It a home cooked treat.
Using an immersion blender, food processor, blender or even a good old fashioned potato masher, puree half of the beans and veg. This thickens the soup nicely giving you that hearty food feel. Add in the rest of the ham. Season again to taste and serve. This soup did not last long in my house. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Posted in cast iron cookery, soup | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Okie Ranch Wife’s Bowl of Venison Red Chile

my vension chile
I have been experimenting with different styles of chiles for some time. I like great depth and many layers flavors instead of a one note tomato taste. I believe I have achieved what I was looking for in the recipe. I made this for lunch today and I really like it. There are a couple of surprising ingredients in the sauce such as coffee and maple syrup. But they pair oh so good. And I do put beans in mine, I am originally from the Northeast. I’m sorry, deal with it. Don’t put them in if you are chile purist. :-)

Chile Sauce:
1 cup Ketchup (I use the no High Fructose Corn Syrup kind)
2 tablespoons Black Strap Molasses
1/3 cup Maple Syrup, Grade B
1 tablespoon Sriracha Hot Sauce
½ cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 teaspoon Ground Mustard
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and pressed
1 teaspoon Red Cayenne Pepper flakes
1 tablespoon granulated Onion Powder
2 teaspoon Pasilla Chili Powder (If you don’t have pasilla powder you can substitute Smoked Hungarian Paprika. You need the smoke)
2 tablespoons fine ground Coffee. ( I used Highlander Grog that has a butterscotch taste but you can use a robust French Roast)
1 bottle (12 oz) bock style beer like Shiner Bock (It needs to be malty)
Sea Salt or Kosher to taste

Mix all ingredients and set aside.

4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
2 pounds ground Venison (You can use lean Beef or Bison also)
1 large Sweet Onion, chopped
1 cup Beef Broth, homemade, store bought or low sodium
2 cans (10 ozs each) Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies
¼ cup Tomato Paste
3 small Pablanos, roasted, skinned and chopped
1 can (15 ozs) Dark Red Kidney Beans, un-drained (optional)

For garnish use Sharp Cheddar, Pepper Jack or Colby Jack.

In a large soup pot, heat the EVOO. Working batches if needed brown the venison. Don’t crowd the pot because the meat will not brown if there is too much in the pot at one time. When you are finished browning the meat add the onion and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Add beef broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, pablanos and kidney beans. Then add the chile sauce mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes and stir occasionally. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheese of your choice.

Posted in main dish, sides | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cream of Peanut Butter Soup

The peanut, goober peas, salted roasted and butter. Good stuff. Packed with protein. But the peanut is really not a nut. It is a legume in a shell that grows in the dirt. Originally from South America the lowly peanut made its way to Spain via Spanish explorers then went to Africa. From Africa it was sent to America as food on the slave ships. Not much was done with peanuts until the Civil War. Oil and food shortages meant a new appreciation for the little legume. Around the same time, the people of the Five Civilized Tribes brought the peanut into Oklahoma. The property that I own was planted with a peanut crop before the Great Depression. The food that we know and love as peanut butter made its debute at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. A doctor formulated it for elderly and infirm patients who could not chew other proteins. Now one half of the peanuts grown in the US, goes to peanut butter. Normally a soup would not be the first dish you think of made from PB but most cookbooks from the 19th century has a soup recipe in it. I made this soup last week for dinner and I love the savory aspect of a commonly thought of sweet food. I researched some peanut soup recipes and found them full of fat and very rich. This recipe is my version of one I found in a Frugal Gourmet book. The onion and carrot puree provides the thickening agent.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
8 cups Chicken Broth, homemade, canned or low sodium (with more as needed)
1 medium Sweet Onion, chopped
2 medium Carrots, peeled and grated
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt and White Ground Pepper to taste
½ to ¾ teaspoon ground Red Cayenne
½ cup cooked Brown or White Rice
1/2 cup Creamy Peanut Butter
Fine chopped salted or dry roasted Peanuts to garnish

In a medium soup pot, heat EVOO over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté about 5 minutes. Stir often so they don’t brown. Pour in chicken broth. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Using a blender, food processor or immersion blender puree the onions and carrots. Return puree to soup pot and add cooked rice, seasonings to taste and the cayenne powder. Simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in peanut butter. Ladle into bowls, garnish with chopped nuts. Serve with hearty country style bread.

Posted in main dish, sides, soup | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Red Dirt Squash Casserole

More squash madness. Don’t worry folks, it will end soon with the first frost!

2 pounds Yellow Summer Squash or Zucchini, unpeeled and sliced in 1/4 inch thick rounds
1 medium Sweet Onion, chopped
1 can (4 oz) Green Chilies, chopped, undrained
2 Jalapeno Peppers, seeded and chopped
8 ozs Pepper Jack Cheese, grated (or cheese of your choice)
1 cup Sour Cream
2 cups Tortilla Chips, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degress F.
Spray a 13×9 baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. I use EVOO style. In a large saute pan heat some EVOO over medium heat and saute the squash, onions and jalapeno peppers until tender about 5 minutes. Stir in green chilies, cheese and sour cream. Layer 1/2 crushed chips in the baking dish. Top with 1/2 squash mixture. Add the remaining chips and then top that with the remaining squash mixture. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes. Serve with salsa or other toppings of your choice.

Posted in main dish, sides | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Zucchini Potato Pancakes

I like these for breakfast but they are delicious at any meal. This makes 6 nice sized pancakes. I use my cast iron skillet and they are so crispy!

1 medium Zucchini, unpeeled and grated
2 medium Potatoes, unpeeled and grated
1 small Onion, grated
3 whole Eggs
Sea Salt, Black Pepper and powdered Garlic to taste

Optional Toppings:
Sour Cream
Apple Butter
Cottage Cheese

In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Add seasonings to taste. Mix in onion, zucchini and potatoes. Using a conventional skillet or cast iron, grease with Extra Virigin Olive Oil or non stick spray. Use a 1/3 measuring cup of batter for each pancake. Flatten the batter with a spatula. Cook over medium heat for 7 minutes or less until the pancakes are brown and crispy. Place on a paper towel to absorb any extra oil. Serve immediately with your choice of toppings.

Posted in breakfast, cast iron cookery, sides | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crispy Parmesan Zucchini

I only have one zucchini vine this summer and it is the prefect amount of squash for two people. Fotunately, my brother loves veggies. Well, he loves almost anything except maybe fresh beets. I’m working on that. With one zucchini vine I can keep an eye on how large the squash is. I have not had to deal with a zucchini the size of a Louisville Slugger! This is an excellent side to serve with something that needs to be baked or roasted. You have the oven hot already and both dishes will be ready at the same time. Enjoy!

1 pound Zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/4 cup plain Panko Bread Crumbs
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
Black Pepper to taste
Creole, Cajun or Blackened Seasoning to taste (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 defrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
In a medium bowl, mix EVOO with zucchini rounds. Coat well. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients. Working in batches, dredge the zucchini rounds in the cheese mixture. Coat well. Place on the baking sheet in one layer. Place sheet on lower rack of oven. Bake until brown and crisp about 25 minutes. Serve immediately. Pairs well with Ranch Dressing! Yum.

Posted in sides | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

King Ranch Casserole – Red Dirt Style

King Ranch  Casserole smallGrowing up in that unnamed Northeast State, I never experienced King Ranch Casserole. In fact, yesterday was the first time I made it. I needed a one dish wonder because I was processing and canning the pears from my tree by the old farmhouse. They are wonderful this year. The cool rainy weather was great for their growing season. But more about them in my next post. Anyway, it is not a pretty, sexy dish as you can see from the photo but it is filling with ooey, gooey cheesey goodness. This recipe does use the condensed canned soups instead of scratch but I did need the time saving aspect yesterday. Some people think that this dish came from the King Ranch but a well known Texas magazine suspects that it was a Junior League attempt at Chicken A La King. I don’t watch the tv show “Madmen” but I can imagine a version of KRC being served at a buffet. LOL!

2 tablespoons unsalted Butter or Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
1/2 Sweet Red Pepper, chopped
1/2 Sweet Orange Pepper, chopped
1 small Onion, chopped
1 small Pablano Pepper, chopped
1 Anahiem Pepper, chopped
2 small Jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground Red Cayenne Pepper
Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 can (10 oz) condensed Cream of Chicken soup
1 can (10 oz) condensed Cream of Mushroom soup
1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained, (Ro-Tel style)
2 cups cooked Chicken, diced
12 corn Tortillas (6 inch) torn into bite size pieces
2 handfulls of corn Tortillas chips, crushed
1 cup (4 ozs) Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
1 cup (4 oz) Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 325 degree F. Spray a 13 x 9 glass baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. I use the EVOO style. Set aside.
Over medium heat melt the butter in a large saute pan. Saute, all peppers, onion, cayenne powder and black pepper for about 5 minutes or until peppers are tender. Add the soups and undrained tomatoes. Mix well. Add chicken and cook for about 3 minutes.
Layer half of the torn corn tortillas and half of the corn chips in the baking dish. Top with half of the chicken mixture. Mix cheeses and top with half of it. Layer the remaining tortillas and chips. Top with chicken mixture and finish with the cheese. Bake uncovered on the lower oven rack for 40 minutes until hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and let the casserole to set for about 10 minutes.

Posted in main dish, sides | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment