Turkey Mushroom Rice Casserole Update

Happy New Year!  Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Apologies for long delay between posts. Ho Ho Ho drained all my energy.

Much of my attention right now is directed toward the earthquake in Haiti (7.0 on Tuesday January 13, 2010), but I will need some more time to process before I blog about that . . .

Not much news on the cooking front. Haven’t been exploring many new recipes and have already posted most of the old favorites. Speaking of . . . I made my favorite Turkey Mushroom Rice Casserole a few days ago and discovered that the recipe I had posted was missing a few steps. (I had listed herbs and S&P in the ingredients but never mentioned when to add them.) You can see the corrected version at: Turkey Mushroom Rice Casserole.

I also made another batch of my Black & White Burritos. This time I cooked dried beans instead of using canned. I used the oven method suggested by Marcella Hazan that I described with my Minestrone recipe. The surprise was that even though Black Beans typically take at least 90 minutes to cook on top of the stove, they were done in less than an hour using the oven method (I used 1-1/2 cups beans and the same 3-quart casserole mentioned in the instructions in the Minestrone post. I’m going to be eating lots of rice, beans, and pasta in the next few months (due to winter budgetary restrictions), so I’m thrilled that this method works with a variety of beans.

Minestrone and a new way to cook beans

It snowed last night and actually stuck to the ground . . . pretty early for the Twin Cities . . . melted by afternoon, but more expected tonight. As soon as the weather forecast said “snow”, I started thinking about soup. So yesterday I stocked up on onions and celery and carrots and such. And today I brewed up a big pot of Minestrone, aka Italian Vegetable Soup. I followed Marcella Hazan’s recipe from “The Classic Italian Cookbook”, though I left out the cabbage (I would have added kale, but the store I was at yesterday didn’t have any that looked good) and didn’t bother to leave it boiling for 3 hours . . . after 90 minutes I was too hungry to wait any longer 🙂

I don’t like to post recipes stolen from other sources, but I can give the basics for this soup without much guilt. For the specific details, buy Marcella’s book . . . (my paperback copy cost $5.95 many years ago and may no longer be available . . . her newer edition is called “Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking” but I’m betting it includes a pesto recipe.

Minestrone Soup

Put some oil and butter in the bottom of a big soup pot. Thinly slice half of a large onion (or a whole smaller onion) and add it to the pot at medium heat. Add to this some chopped carrots, celery, potatoes, zucchini, and green beans (I used 1 cup each of the carrots, celery, and green beans and 2 cups of the potatoes and zucchini). For this recipe don’t bother to prep everything ahead of time, just chop and drop each veggie into the pot, give everything a stir each time, and keep the heat low enough so nothing starts burning.

(Once all the veggies have cooked for several minutes, I would usually add several cups of chopped kale and cook until it wilts a bit.)

Add 6 cups vegatable broth (or a combination of broth and water) and one 15-oz. can of diced tomatoes. Cook at a slow boil until thick (90 minutes – 3 hours). About 15 minutes before serving add 1-2 cups cooked pasta and/or cooked white beans (see instructions below). Just before serving (or in the individual bowls) add a large pinch of parmesan cheese and/or a big spoon of pesto.

Cooking Dried Beans

I’ve always had trouble cooking dried beans. Either they boil too rapidly and split and/or boil over OR I set the heat too low and they don’t cook. Here’s a method I had never heard of before (adapted from Marcella Hazan).

1. Soak beans overnight covered in 2″ of cold water. (I used 3/4 cup of small white beans for my soup.)

2. Preheat oven to 325°F.

3. Rinse and drain the beans and put them in a large casserole dish or pot that can be used both on the stovetop and in the oven and has a lid (I used a 3-quart corning ware casserole dish). Cover with 2″ of water.

4. Bring the beans to a boil on top of the stove. Cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for 40-60 minutes. Leave in their water until ready to use.

This method worked GREAT! Nice tender beans with much less hassle.