Black-eyed Pea and Bacon Crostini (plus fresh cherry recipe ideas)

I’ve fallen off the blogging grid. Not from lack of cooking – grilling/entertaining season is at its peak – but from taking the time for studious recipe notation and accompanying photographs. For instance, the Feta-stuffed Lamb Burgers with Tzadziki and Beet Relish I made last week were masterful. But the photograph I dashed off  looked more like a UFO landing than a burger.

Edamame Cups with Wasabi Caviar

Edamame Cups with Wasabi Caviar

I did, however, manage to take a decent  photograph of crostini with a black-eyed pea spread.

Always on the prowl for (reasonably) “healthyish” munchies, I’ve long been a fan of economical bean dips. Edamame dip spreads, stuffed into a cucumber cup or spread over rice crackers, Dal Makhani (Black Lentil Bean Dip) served with chapatis or flatbread, Fava Bean Spreads on bruschetta… (Since writing that blog, I’ve noticed frozen lava beans at Trader Joe’s; not as flavorful as fresh, but  they save a good bit of time.) And of course there’s hummus. What’s not to love about hummus? Especially when it’s scratch-made, using fresh squeezed lemons, tahini, chick peas and garlic.

Coarsely smashing black-eyed peas to a spreadable consistency.

Coarsely smashing black-eyed peas to a spreadable consistency.

It’s hard to describe the flavor of a black-eyed pea. Maybe akin to a pinto bean? The meaty peas certainly have an affinity to bacon. They haven’t ventured far from the American South until recently; now I see them often, dotting a relish, in savory fried cakes, or as a simple side. The following recipe was inspired by a recipe I make for Hop ‘n John. Several months ago a friend made a black-eyed pea dip, as prelude to dinner, which she served warm. It was so good with the melted Jack cheese; I’ll beg that recipe soon.

I served the following recipe spread over basic crostini, which can be made well in advance. I followed the recipe, seasoning the crostini with thyme. The dip’s best served slightly warm, or at room temperature.

Local Forecast: Michigan black cherries are as good as they’re gonna get, Traverse City farmers telling me they’ll keep picking them for another 3 weeks. Here are some great recipes using their bounty: Cherry Gazpacho, Smoked Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Sauce, Cherry-Quinoa Pilaf, Goat Cheese-Fresh Cherry Crostini.

Recipe: Crostini with Black-Eyed Peas and Bacon

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound dry black-eyed peas*
  • Bay leaf
  • White sugar**
  • 3-4 raw pieces bacon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • Cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 ripe tomatoes, chopped

*Soak, simmer and sit time can be radically reduced by using frozen or canned peas.

**A bit of sugar brings out their natural sweetness, but you don’t want the peas to taste  sugar sweet. Make sense?

Instructions

  1. Rinse dry peas, picking out and discarding cracked or yellowed. Soak 6-24 hours in cold water.
  2. In a large pot, combine soaked peas, fresh salted water to cover peas by 2 inches, bay leaf, and a teaspoon of sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook, with lid slightly ajar, until peas are almost tender, 40-75 minutes, depending on heat and age of peas used. Turn off heat, cover pot, and (if time allows) let peas sit in cooking liquid 1-2 hours until tender and creamy, but not overly soft and mushy. Drain and place in a bowl. With a fork or potato masher, smash peas until they are a spreadable consistency, but still somewhat coarse.
  3. In a large cast iron skillet or sauté pan, fry bacon until crispy. Drain on paper towels and reserve.
  4. Whisk together oil and vinegar. Discard bay leaf from peas and toss peas with cider vinaigrette, scallions (reserving some for garnish) and reserved bacon. Season to taste with kosher salt, cayenne and thyme. If desired, add a pinch of additional sugar, to balance the acidity.
  5. Spread mixture over crostini and garnish with scallions and chopped tomatoes.

Number of servings (yield): 3 cups (2 dozen crostini)

Active Time (if crostini are made): 40 minutes

Soak Time (if using dried beans): 6-24 hours

Simmer Time: 45-70 minutes

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

 

 

 

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Explosively Delicious Recipes to Enhance Summer Celebrations! (A promise.)

The Fourth of July Grill

The Fourth of July Grill

It’s that time of the year and I don’t mean fireworks; I’m talking the explosive media grilling blitz. An hour doesn’t pass without some TV personality, electronic feed, or magazine headline firing off their ultimate recipe for “whatever” on the grill.

Recipe overload, no doubt. Why not? Grilling on the Fourth of July is as traditional to the American landscape as enjoying a hot dog at a Tiger’s game. So allow me to stoke the flames by tossing my favorite recipes into the pit. I’ve made everyone of them with great success in season’s past.

Beginning with Grilled Firecracker Shrimp. I like this peel-as-you-eat recipe because the eaters do the shelling; I just make the Asian dipping sauce. Not that I’m totally lazy; large shrimp taste better, and are more moist with a better texture, when grilled in the shell.

Smoked Texas Brisket with Grilled Poblanos and Onions

Smoked Texas Brisket with Grilled Poblanos and Onions

No time – no grill? Try this recipe for No-Fuss Barbecue Ribs with fall-off-the-bone flavor. Here’s a recipe for a more traditional smoked rib, so so good. All the time in the world? Smoked Barbecued Brisket with Grilled Poblanos and Onions brings folks to their knees. And for time in between, cross the border with Firecracker Flank Steak with Margarita Flavors and Mango Salsa, or Grilled Tuscan Flank Steak, including a sauce that reminds of an herbaceous Chimichuri. A full menu of Burgers awaits your grill; every type of burger under the sun.

Barbecued Ribs

Barbecued Ribs

Here’s an idea for tote cuisine, if you’re bringing the main course to a picnic, or other outdoor celebration. If fact, I did this last week. I purchased boneless, skin-on chicken breasts and thighs from Whole Foods (pre-oredered) using the marinade in this Balsamic Chicken recipe, marinated the chicken 8 hours, then carted the chicken, ready for the grill, in resealable Zip-lock bags. The chicken cooks quickly without the bone. Stay vigilant moving the chicken from possible dripping fat flare-ups; I believe it’s worth the effort as the skin keeps the chicken moist and flavorful on the grill.

Fourth of July Sheet Cake

Fourth of July Sheet Cake

I like these two salads as they perform well outdoors under the heat of the sun: Tomato-Basil Pasta Salad and Uptown Picnic Potato Salad. For dessert finish with this “healthified” Fourth of July Sheet Cake. Whew! That’s my recipe explosion.

This year I’m experimenting making Lamb Burgers with Tzadziki and Beet Relish. More than likely, my next post.

Wishing you safe travels and clear skies!

 

 

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Asparagus! Glorious!

Johnny Cash and I have something in common, besides Tennesee whiskey. We both love June. Always have. For him, June Carter Cash. Fiercely. There was no death do us part for those two, I’m sure of it. As for me, June is simply June, the dearly beloved month of June.

Both Junes are easy to get excited over. This month in particular. Michigan grins are stretched with hyperbole wandering backyards and downtown streets, the sun warming our shoulders, feeling the love. My son (who never calls unless there’s a problem) phoned yesterday to tell me he was happy. That’s it. Happy. Wow.

Roll asparagus around in the vinaigrette.

Roll asparagus around in the vinaigrette.

“To be this happy in Michigan borders on insanity,” wrote Phoebe Nobles in her hilarious essay, Asparagus Superhero, published in Salon (April, 2007), and included in the anthology, Alone In The Kitchen With An Eggplant.

“…The old winter depression bordered on insanity too. Living in a place of lesser contrast, how would you know what it feels like to come back from the dead?” I quote that last line to my friends down South who ask how I could suffer through our winters.

I wonder how Ms. Nobles felt about this past winter, if the winter of ’07 didn’t scare her off for good. I remember that winter. It wasn’t that frightening, but then again, last winter raised the bar. But this blog’s not about that yawning polar vortex, those death-dyfying  temperatures. And it’s not about June. It’s  about asparagus – glorious harbinger of better months ahead. Raw, steamed, roasted and grilled, Ms. Nobles ate asparagus as if she were “…savoring each minute of spring.”

Grate or chop a hard-cooked egg, then sprinkle over asparagus.

Grate or chop a hard-cooked egg, then sprinkle over asparagus.

Asparagus is late to town this year but at last – carpe diem! – they’re back. Over the years I’ve celebrated asparagus season in a number of recipes, some elaborate, some simply garnished with morning dew, fresh after picking. The following recipe, though not quite as simple, can be made in a few minutes. Crumbled gorgonzola could be subbed for or added to the grated egg. Here are some other favorite recipes I’ve enjoyed in asparagus seasons past.

Tempura Asparagus, though obscenely good, takes some time and is best for fat spears. Procuitto-Wrapped Asparagus with Crumbled Blue Cheese is simple to execute and perfect for entertaining. Fresh Asparagus Soup with Herb Croutons, Picasso in a bowl, is hands down my favorite asparagus recipe – I make it every year. You may use whatever mushrooms you have on hand for this Omelet with Asparagus, Morels and Goat Cheese dish. If you’re looking for a make-ahead, crowd pleasing side dish, Asparagus Bread Pudding has your number. Spring Green Risotto (with asparagus) and Asparagus, Morel and Fiddlehead Fern Gratin are emeralds in the asparagus crown.

Raise your shot glass to asparagus. June, too.

Recipe: Balsamic Asparagus with Grated Egg

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons of the best extra virgin olive oil you can afford
  • 1 hefty fistful of asparagus; blanched, steamed, roasted or grilled*
  • 1 large egg, hard-cooked and chilled

Instructions

  1. In a pie pan or other wide-bottomed dish with a lip, whisk vinegar into oil, seasoning to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Marinate cooked asparagus in dish at room temperature, rolling occasionally in vinaigrette, 15-30 minutes.
  2. Finely chop or grate eggs using the largest-sized holes on a box grater.
  3. Arrange asparagus on 2-4 plates or a serving dish and sprinkle with egg.

*Asparagus cooks quickly, times varying according to size, and is cooked to perfection when just bending slightly.

Yield: 2-4 servings

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

 

 

 

 

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