Friday, June 25, 2010

Heirloom Bean Challenge

In the beginning of June was offering heirloom bean samples to a few of their readers that were interested in trying some different varieties. “Why not,” I thought to myself, “I like beans.”

Little did I know that the beans would arrive with a challenge.
Seven bloggers (myself included) had been selected to come up with an innovative and creative recipe and post it by the end of June.

I’m not usually a competitive person..but this challenge intrugued me.  It was not going to be easy. I had to be creative with beans; varieties I’d never even heard of; by the end June. YIKES!

So I started by doing a little research. My sample package of beans included:

Flageolet Beans: an immature kidney type bean with a versatile flavor.

Marrow Beans: egg shaped white beans with a bacon like flavor.

Once I got to know the products I spent some time thinking of unique things to do with them. This is when the challenge really began for me. They’re beans after all…how much can you really do with beans? Well I think you might be surprised. I came up with three somewhat uniquely creative recipes that I thought were all pretty darn good.

Recipe #1 Peaches and Beans

This was inspired by a Lidia Bastianich recipe for bean and apple soup. The soup sounded really interesting to me and since apples aren’t in season right now but peaches are I thought I’d substitute. I tried the marrow beans in this recipe; since they seemed to resemble the cannellini beans more than the flageolet. I also added slightly more cinnamon than Lidia called for and some fresh grated nutmeg.  I did everything else the same.

As I was cooking the mixture I noticed that it was starting to take on the appearance of chunky applesauce; so I decided to switch it from a soup to a side dish. I served the finished product with some grilled pork chops and loved it.

Recipe #2 Risotto and Bean Stuffed Peppers with a Basil Sauce.

I came up with this recipe watching Giada on the Food Network. She did something similar using couscous and chick peas. I’m not a huge fan of couscous…but I love risotto so I decided to try that instead. I used the flageolet beans for this recipe because I had read they pair well with basil and lemon. Another change I made: instead of currants I used chopped dried plums. I didn’t use the chicken broth to make my risotto and I also left out the cumin. I followed Giada’s basil sauce recipe exactly but did note that next time I would leave out the sugar. I loved the way this recipe turned out and it was a huge hit with my family.

Recipe #3 Italian Tuna and Beans over Boston Lettuce

There’s something about the mixture of white beans and tuna that I really love. So I couldn’t resist trying it with my heirloom beans. It turned out delicious. I used the marrow beans and mixed them with the tuna. I added some chopped plums; placed it on top of torn leaves of Boston lettuce and drizzled the entire thing with lemon juice/rind and some good quality olive oil. The beans were fabulous like this. The light dressing really let their taste shine through.

Three bean recipes down and still a few days left until the end of June. Thanks Marxfoods for this awesome challenge.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Bison Meat Review & Whole Foods Giveaway

Bison meat is becoming increasingly popular throughout the US; most likely because of its nutritional benefits. According to the National Bison Association bison meat provides more protein and nutrients with less fat than most other popular meats. This includes skinless chicken breast. (check out this nice comparison chart).

My personal experience with bison meat, although limited, has been very positive. I’ve had bison burgers on several occasions and have just recently grilled a bison rib eye. All have been delicious. I find bison to be very similar in taste to beef. Not gamey at all. That being said I think you could easily exchange it for beef in just about any recipe. You will need to adjust the cook time and temperature though. Since it contains less fat it will cook slightly different.

So the next time you’re planning to make burgers for a BBQ or grill a piece of steak for dinner consider using bison …what I think is soon to become “the other red meat”

Where to find bison meat?  
Whole Foods  sells various cuts of bison. With that in mind I'm giving away a $10 gift card to Whole Foods so that one lucky reader can try bison for themselves.

How to win?
Leave a comment on this post telling me your thoughts on bison meat. Do you like it; not like; or maybe never had it. Just let me know by midnight EST on 6/30 and you’ll be entered.

Tweet this contest and leave a comment letting me know for another chance to win.

Subscribe to my blog (don’t forget to let me know you did) and you’ll get another entrĂ©e.

Good Luck!

*The winner of the book 52 Loaves, picked by random # generator, is Marly from Namely Marly.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Book Review & Giveaway: "52 Loaves: One Man’s Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning and a Perfect Crust."

What constitutes the perfect loaf of bread? It takes author, William Alexander, approximately 52 loaves to figure out that bread making is an art form and everyone has their own methods and ideas of what the perfect bread actually is. Through this book you follow William on his quest for finding the perfect loaf. He travels to Canada and France and makes visits to both a yeast factory and wheat mill The book keeps you engaged until the very end with the last loaf of bread being baked.

Just to be clear this is not a bread baking manual; but rather it provides you with the history of the bread making process and helps you make sense of what happens during this process. William’s journey takes the reader through a multitude of bread baking techniques; explaining the pros and cons of each. He builds a brick oven, grows his own wheat, even gives lessons to monks. If you’ve ever tried making bread at home you will appreciate Williams efforts and will realize that you are not alone on the quest for the “perfect loaf”

And now for the Giveaway.  One lucky reader will be randomly selected to receive a copy of "52 Loaves"
Just leave a comment below by midnight on June 16th.   You'll get etra entrees if you tweet this contest...just make sure to also let me know that in your comment. 

Good Luck!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Very Own Book...

My husband has been teasing me for months now about this birthday gift he's "making" me.  For some reason, in my mind, I turned his making into building and just kept thinking where am I going to put this thing.

When I got home from work last night there was a UPS package waiting for me on the table. "Are you expecting something," my husband slyly asked.  The box looked like it could be a book box; and I was waiting on a review cookbook so I just figured that was it.

As I tore it open and the book spine came into view I saw in big red letters "The Food Hunter's Guide to Cuisine."  I thought to myself, "what the heck" and in that instant I realized this was what he had been making me.  A hard cover version of my blog...starting from my very first post nearly 3 years ago. (boy has the blog come a long way)  He included the posts and their photos. It's truly awesome and a perfect birthday surprise.

Thanks Honey!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Nordicware Baking Pan Giveway Winner...

Thanks to everyone who participated in this giveaway sponsored by CSN stores.  The winner, picked randomly by my husband, is Janet from LaDue & Crew.  If you haven't been over to her blog...what are you waiting for.  It's a good one.

Stay tuned for more reviews, giveaways and blogs.