Four Bean Salad

We’ve all made 3-Bean Salad in the past or at least seen it on salad bars.  It has the mild pickled taste that most people like and it is easy to throw together.  I first tasted this particular version of the salad when a friend brought it over and we shared a small dish with our lunch.  This salad has an extra bean and a little twist that gives it a unique taste.  I coudn’t put my finger on it until my friend sent me the recipe and I realized it was the toasted sesame oil.  This is now my new favorite bean salad.

Ingredients:

1 15oz can of black beans

1 15oz can of garbanzo beans

1 15oz can of kidney beans

1 15oz can of green beans (I used a pint of my home canned)

1 small onion sliced thin (sweet or red)

3/4 cup of sugar

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup toasted sesame oil

salt and pepper to taste

Ok.  This is pretty simple.  Open the 4 cans of beans and drain.

Whisk together the sugar, oils and vinegars.

In a large bowl combine the beans and sliced onion.  Add the dressing and toss.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sample some, of course.

Refrigerate and serve chilled.  If you need a passing dish for a potluck or a simple side for a barbeque this salad is perfect and so easy to make.

Enjoy!

My friend’s recipe included 1/2 tsp of tarragon.  I omitted it because it is not one of my favorite herbs.  But if it’s a favorite of yours, by all means add it.  James Beard, a very famous chef and cookbook author, is quoted as saying, “I believe that if ever I had to practice cannibalism, I might manage if there were enough tarragon around.”  That quote doesn’t make me like it any more.  Tarragon is one of the herbs considered essential in French cooking.  I used to think I was part French until I sent my DNA to Ancestory.com.     Perhaps my dislike of tarragon should have been my first clue that I’ve no French in my DNA. And I think this recipe is great without the tarragon.

NOTE:  You can change up your beans based on personal preference or what you have on hand.  I have a friend who dislikes kidney beans so she could substitute butter beans, cannalini beans or navy beans.

Vegetable and Shrimp Stir Fry

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If you love vegetables, stir fry is the perfect meal. You can use almost  any combination of vegetables you have on hand. I more often than not make stir fry without meat but tonight I added some pre-cooked shrimp. You can also use left over chicken, beef or pork. But the stars of this dish, for me, are the vegetables. There really is no right or wrong combination of ingredients but this is what I used tonight.

Vegetables:

Baby bok choy

Celery

Carrots

Mushrooms

Onion

Red bell pepper

Snow peas

Canola oil and toasted sesame oil

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Sauce Ingredients:

6 T water

3 T catsup

2 T soy sauce

1 tsp grated ginger

1 tsp grated garlic

2 tsp honey

1 T cider or rice vinegar

1 T cornstarch

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Cut up all of the vegetables into bite size pieces.

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Heat a tablespoon of canola oil in your wok until it’s very hot. Add the vegetables and drizzle with a tablespoon of toasted sesame oil.

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Cook the vegetables until tender crisp stirring frequently. Be careful not to overcook them.

Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl. With a microplane grate the ginger and garlic.

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Whisk in the water, catsup, soy sauce, honey, and corn starch.

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Add the shrimp to the wok with the vegetables. They’re already cooked so they just need to be heated.

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Add the sauce, stir and cook over high heat until it thickens a bit. Serve over rice and enjoy!

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Stir fry. It’s what was for dinner tonight.

NOTE:  Shredded green cabbage, summer squash, broccoli, green onions, green beans, baby corn, water chestnuts. Any of these vegetables are great for stir fry.

Beef Short Ribs Asian Style

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I’ve been on holiday, so to speak, but I’m back to cooking and baking and blogging!

Last year I asked for and received an electric pressure cooker for Christmas. Like a lot of kitchen appliances I used it a lot at first and hadn’t taken it out for awhile. While we were visiting our daughter and her boyfriend over Christmas they reminded me how awesome this electric pressure cooker is and I remembered why I asked for it in the first place. It was late and we hadn’t planned on what was for dinner that night. They took a soup bone out of the freezer…yes, the freezer… put the frozen bone, some vegetables, broth and spices into the pressure cooker and in less than an hour we had truly awesome, tasty soup.  Just before serving they added some cooked kale and gnocchi and garnished the soup with Parmesan.  How great to be able to prepare great food with complex flavors in no time at all when you’ve worked all day.

Sometimes we can learn things from our kids!  When I came home the pressure cooker was put back in service.

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Tonight I made beef short ribs Asian style with rice and stir fried vegetables. The pressure cooker is easy to use and makes the meat fall off the bone tender.

Ingredients:

Beef short ribs, approximately 3-4 pounds with bone in

kosher salt and course ground pepper to taste

3 T olive oil

5-6 garlic cloves minced

1 T fresh grated ginger

1/4 cup soy salt

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1/4 cup catsup (or 2 T tomato paste)

1 1/2 cups beef broth

2 T cornstarch

1/4 cup water or broth

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Heat 2 T of the olive oil in the pressure cooker. Generously salt and pepper the ribs, add to the pressure cooker and brown.  Transfer them to a plate as they get done.

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Heat the remaining 1 T of oil and add the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, hoisin, catsup, and broth to the pot.

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Stir to blend. Return the browned meat to the pot. Lock the lid and cook at high pressure for 25 minutes.

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Release the pressure naturally.  Remove the lid tilting it away from you to avoid escaping steam. Skim off any excess fat from the top of the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil. Whisk the 2 T of corn starch into the water or broth and add to the sauce stirring until it’s thickened. Cover and keep on the warm setting until ready to serve.

While the ribs are cooking prepare the rice of your choice (jasmine, brown, long grain white).

Choose some of your favorite vegetables and do a quick stir fry. I used carrots, celery, onion, red pepper, pea pods, and broccoli.

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Heat 2 T olive or sesame oil in a wok or heavy skillet. Cook your vegetables until tender crisp.

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Plate your food. First the rice topped with the vegetables and short ribs. Ladle the sauce over the dish. I garnished with green onion, basil, and sesame seeds.

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Short ribs with rice, stir fried veggies, and a rich, tasty sauce. It’s what was for dinner tonight.

NOTE:  When I buy ginger I peel it, cut it into several pieces and freeze it in zip lock bags. I always have fresh ginger and it grates easily when frozen.