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BLACK BEAN SOUP WITH ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE AND SOUR CREAM
It wasn't until I moved to New York that I was introduced to Cuban cuisine, and it was at the well-known Victor's Cafe on the Upper West Side that I first tasted black bean soup. Where had it been all my life? For a vegetarian alternative, leave out the sausage and use vegetable stock.
1 1/4 cups dried black beans (about 8 ounces)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
5 cups homemade chicken stock or canned broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 cup sliced andouille sausage
1 cup diced zucchini
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (or to taste)
6 tablespoons sour cream, for garnish
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Place the beans in a large bowl and cover them with cold water. Let the beans soak overnight.
Drain the beans, rinse them thoroughly, and set them aside to drain again. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, and saute the onion and garlic until softened. Stir in the beans, chicken stock, bay leaf, cumin, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are soft, stirring occasionally.
Lightly saute the sausage slices in a medium-size skillet for 2 to 3 minutes to get rid of some of the fat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausages to a plate lined with paper towels. Blot the excess fat from the slices. Stir the sausage and the zucchini into the beans, and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat, and discard the bay leaf. Stir in the sherry, lemon juice, and Tabasco. Serve immediately, garnished with a swirl of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Makes about 6 1/2 cups (serves 4)
FILLETS OF SOLE WITH HERBAL BEURRE BLANC
Despite its formal name, this classic dish is one of the easiest to prepare and remains the favorite of many a chef, who can always rely on the popularity of this tried-and-true favorite.
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
4 (8-ounce) sole fillets
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
fresh parsley sprigs, for garnish
Bring the shallots, wine, and vinegar to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Reduce the heat and gently simmer until the liquid has reduced to 2 tablespoons. Then stir in the cream. Whisk in the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until all the butter has been incorporated. Stir in the tarragon, basil, salt, and white pepper. Keep warm over very low heat while you cook the fish.
Rinse the fillets and pat them dry with paper towels. Sift the flour, salt, and pepper together onto a large plate. Coat each fillet with the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Heat the butter in a large skillet, and cook the fish for about 3 minutes on each side, until the fillets are golden and the fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fillets to a serving platter. Serve immediately with the beurre blanc, garnished with parsley sprigs, if desired.
Putting together a cobbler is a fun and easy alternative to the scary perfectionism of pie making. The peach filling can be prepared a day in advance, and if fresh or preserved peaches aren't available, the frozen variety will work just fine.
6 large ripe peaches, peeled and pitted, thickly sliced (about 6 cups)
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
2/3 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 2quart baking dish.
Combine the peaches, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large saucepan. Mix gently, and cook over low heat until the peaches are just tender and the syrup has thickened, about 10 minutes. Pour the filling into the prepared baking dish.
Stir together the flour, 1/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Using two knives or a pastry blender, cut the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the milk and vanilla, and quickly blend together with a spatula. Drop heaping tablespoons of the biscuit mixture on top of the peaches, covering them completely. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon sugar.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is golden and the biscuits are cooked through. Let the cobbler stand for 5 minutes before serving.