Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Guinness & Cheddar Soup with Jalapenos & Bacon



  • 1/4 pound bacon, roughly chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded and deveined and minced
  • 6 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 8 cups chicken stock or water
  • 1 large can Guinness
  • 1 tablespoon worcestshire sauce
  • 4 cups grated Cheddar (about 12 ounces) - I strongly suggest using a food processor


  1. Cook the bacon in a large, heavy soup pot over high heat until crisp and golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes.  Then, remove from pot and drain on paper towels. 

  2. Add butter to bacon drippings and melt on medium-high heat. Then, add the onions, pepper, and jalapenos and cook on high heat, stirring, until the onions are deeply caramelized, around 15 minutes.

  3. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Sprinkle the flour, nutmeg, paprika & dry mustard over the onions and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes (or once the flour smell has reduced). Gradually whisk in the stock and the beer and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

  4. Add the cheese a little at a time, stirring until nearly completely melted after each addition. Remove from the heat, add bacon, taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. (Be careful to leave it on very low at this point, if you aren't going to eat immediately. Otherwise, the cheese may scorch on the bottom of the pot.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Mexican Mushrooms You Neven Knew

Along with the beans previously-listed for the dinner party I had for my friend Traci, I found a delicious and utterly new (to me at least) way of serving mushrooms in Mark Miller's Tacos. I don't know about you, but when I think of Mexican food, the first thing that comes to mind certainly isn't mushrooms. True, I've read about Huitlacoche, the exotic fungus that pops up occasionally in Mexican recipes the same way morels and porcini do, the authors seemingly blind to expense or availability. Yet, there it was "Portobello Mushrooms with Chipotle." As an aside, the recipe in the book confusingly specifies "small portobellos", which really aren't portobellos, they're criminis (aka those brown mushrooms usually found next to the white mushrooms at your local grocery store. If you can't find criminis, white mushrooms will work as well.) Although I had never had a mexican mushroom dish before, I LOVE mushrooms, and chipotles and mushrooms certainly didn't sound bad. To make matters even more interesting, the mushrooms were not served as a side dish, like sauteed mushrooms on a steak (yet another thing I LOVE), they were the MAIN dish, served as a taco filling. So, I thought, "Why not?"

I am sooooo glad that I tried this recipe. These mushrooms are amazing! The smokey chipotle flavor only enhances the luscious mushroom flavor and the herbal flavor of the cilantro only heightens the experience. Added to that toasted corn flavor of the tortillas adds a sweetness that serves to add the perfect note to the entire taco. To make matters even better, this is a very easy and quick recipe to make that will make both your meat eaters and your vegetarians happy.

For two people, this recipe definitely makes leftovers, which is at the better. I happily at these for lunch for two days afterwards!

as adapted from Mark Miller's Tacos


1 lb. crimini mushrooms (if you can try to buy the smaller ones with closed gills)
3 tbls. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbls. chipotle puree (a can of chipotles in adobo, pureed in your food processor--will keep for up to 1 month in a sealed container in the refrigerator)
1/8 c chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 soft corn tortillas


1. Clean mushrooms (if the gills aren't showing, you can rinse them in a colander, otherwise, wipe the caps with a damp paper towel). Then, quarter medium and larger mushrooms and half the smaller ones.
2.  Preheat a heavy skillet large enough to hold all of the mushrooms in a single layer. (If you do not have a large enough skillet to do this, you can do this in batches, but you will need to add extra butter.) Melt butter, then add mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Then, turn mushrooms, and cook for another three. Then, add minced garlic and allow to cook for another 2 minutes, cooking until the garlic is fragrant. Then add the chipotle and cook for another 2 minutes, or until the chipotle is fragrant.
3.  Remove mushroom mixture from the heat and mix in the cilantro.
4.  Serve alongside toasted corn tortillas.

Those Coy Beans

Usually, when I make beans I throw a ham hock, a jalapeno, some garlic and onion, and maybe then stems from a bunch of cilantro into a pot with beans and water and let time do the rest of the work. A few hours later, they're done. Easy. So easy, in fact, that I have been absolutely blind to any other recipe for ages. "Uck," I'll think. "That looks like more work than it's probably worth." Then, I recieved Tacos, by Mark Miller, as a birthday present. In it, there is a recipe called Charro Beans with Blackened Tomatoes. When I first saw it, I thought, "What's a blackened tomato?". Looking more closely, I wondered, "Wheres the meat?" If you can't tell from other recipes, I am definitely one who is guiltly of planning my meals around protein. Period.

However, I live in Seattle, where dinner invitations are often accepted with codicils from those who specify food allergies ranging from dairy to strawberries but also often include food sensitivities (a food allergy that cannot be proven by immunological tests), the occasional vegetarian who still eats seafood and bacon, and my friends who don't eat pork that's overtly in a dish (aka bacon) but otherwise have a don't ask don't tell policy. So, when my friend Traci (who falls into the gluten sensitive category) agreed to come to dinner, I immediately thought of Tacos. Excepting flour tortillas, which often lands one in huge debates over whether flour or corn is better, much like people arguing over whether green or purple is a better color, tacos can be made easily without gluten. Even better, these beans can be made either as a taco all their own (giving one a flavorful vegetarian option) or as a side dish.

as adapated from Tacos by Mark Miller


1 lb. dried pinto beans, rinsed and picked over for rocks
3 whole cloves garlic
1 onion, halved
8 cups water
1/8 c. olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 jalapenos
1 lb. tomatoes
1 tbls. chipotlee puree (buy a can of chipotles in adobo and puree in food processor; the excess will last for up to 1 month in a container in refrigerator)
1 tbls. tomato paste
1 tsp. smoked salt* (optional)
1/2 tsp. dried mexican oregano
1/8 c  chopped fresh cilantro
16 - 5 1/2 corn tortillas


1.  To cook the beans: in a large pot (at least 6 qt.), simmer the beans, 3 whole cloves of garlic, 1/2 of the onion and water over medium-low heat,  partially covered, for around 3 hours, or until the beans are almost falling apart. Add water as needed. After the beans are cooked, drain the bean liquid into a sauce pan and return the beans to the pot (turn heat off under beans). Reduce the bean liquid by half, around 10 minutes on high, and reserve.
2.  Place oven rack on the highest shelf. Set broiler to high. While the broiler is coming to temperature, remove any green stems from tomatoes. Then place tomatoes and jalapenos in a heavy, oven-proof pan (ideally, a cast iron skillet). Then, place pan into oven. Broil tomatoes and jalapenos for around 12 minutes on each side, so that both sides are black and blistered. Remove from oven and roughly chop.
3. Turn heat under beans to medium, and add chiles, tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle puree, smoked salt, oregano, cilantro and thickened bean liquid.
4.  Then, cut the remaining 1/2 onion into a fine dice. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute the diced onion until it begins to caramelize, around 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Then, remove from heat and add the onion and garlic to the bean mixture.
5. Allow bean mixture to cook for 20 minutes. Then, serve or turn heat to low until ready to serve.
   To serve, I like to let people make their own tacos. So, I place the beans on the table, along side toasted tortillas (toast either in a skillet or over a gas flame) and salsa.