Monday, May 18, 2020

Recipes For Safe Keeping

Smoky Beans & Sweet Potato

During our extended stay-at-home time I have expanded the list of people I follow on Instagram.  Before, it was mostly knitters I've met at assorted knitting retreats in different states, family and a few hotels where we stayed in Ireland. (It's still mostly knitters. I love keeping up with them.) Keeping the list small felt safe. And small made it easy to keep up. 

But times change. I've added Ina Garten. She is doing quarantine cooking. Joanna Gaines is new on my list. Remember the Cheese Tortellini soup I made after watching her do it? I'm now following Sir Patrick Stewart as he reads a sonnet a day. But my most recent addition is one I've really enjoyed. I've been following Jamie Oliver as he cooks at home, sometimes assisted by his children. And sometimes his children DO the cooking! We made banana ice cream this weekend just like Jamie's chilldren Buddy and Petal made it. Yum!

Jamie doesn't give recipes, he just cooks for his family. And as he cooks, he explains what he is doing. And suggests other ingredients you can use if you don't have what he does. Just watch what he does, then do something similar. We should all get more comfortable cooking basic food without needing uber-specific directions. 

I watched him make this meatless meals and it will stay on my own cooking list for a long time. So different. So delicious. So easy. Once you've sorted out the British terms. I find trying to figure out the British-ness of his cooking entertaining. 

I'm writing it down here, so I can remember what I did for another time. You can watch Jamie make this here. I had to convert the temperature from Celsius to Fahrenheit. (180º C is 356º F) And I can honestly say I have never ever heard of "tomato passata." Looked that up, too. Closest thing here in the US, at least in my small town, is tomato puree. It's on the shelf next to the tomato sauce and tomato paste. But it is different from either of those. I also left out the fresh herbs because I had none. The one substitution you shouldn't make is using regular paprika instead of the smoked version. That's the basis of the flavor for this dish. FYI, the chili beans are next to the baked beans in the store.


2 or 3 small to medium sweet potatoes, well scrubbed
salt & pepper
olive oil
smoked paprika
about 1 cup chopped onion (red or white)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 (15-oz) cans mixed chili beans, with liquid (mild or spicy)
1 (10-oz) can tomato puree
small flour tortillas
sour cream
crumbled feta

Preheat oven to 350º. 

Halve the potatoes lengthwise. Season with salt & pepper. Rub with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with smoked paprika and rub all over. Set aside.

In an oven proof skillet, heat a little olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook about 5 minutes, until getting tender. Add garlic and stir. Cook 1 minute. Sprinkle generously with smoked paprika and stir. Cook for 1 minute. Pour in both cans of beans and tomato puree. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil.

Put pan of beans on the lower rack of oven. Place potatoes cut side down directly on rack above beans.  Bake for 45 minutes, until potatoes are done.

To serve, warm tortillas. Spread sour cream on each tortilla. Spoon beans and a potato over that. Add another small spoon of beans on top of potato. Sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.

I put a couple of potato halves and a hearty helping of beans in a single serve freezer dish. Fingers crossed this is another one that will thaw and heat well. Can't imagine that it won't but I never know until I try.

Spinach Bacon Salad

And while I'm saving recipes here for me to use later, I'll add this spinach salad I made a few weeks ago for dinner. Served it with our favorite bourbon marinated pork tenderloin and a baked sweet potato. The two of us ate every bite of the salad. Then I made it again at Jessica's while I was there a few days on Mimi duty.

And this morning I boiled eggs to make it again. Then I couldn't remember where the recipe was. I had never printed it out. Absolutely could not remember where on the internet I found it. Thankfully Jessica's memory is better than mine. She said she thought it was from NY Times Cooking. (Yes. I caved and subscribed...another quarantine plunge.) And she was right. I now have a printed copy tucked in a cookbook. But in case I forget which one, I'll put the recipe here for safe keeping.


1 (5-oz) container fresh baby spinach (trim off long stems)
1 hard cooked egg
3 sliced bacon, cooked crisp and drained
1/3 cup canola or corn oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic 
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped parsley (I didn't have any)

Roughly chop the spinach. Coarsely chop the egg. Add both to a serving bowl. Crumble or chop bacon. Heat oil and bacon in a small skillet. Heat briefly and add vinegar. Bring to a boil and pour over spinach. Add the parsley. Toss and serve immediately.


  1. Beans + sweet potatoes. Yum. Will have to try this. Loved the pumpkin soup. Made it with slight adjustments. Cannellini beans because they are the only kind my husband likes. And a few squeezes of lemon because I just like pumpkin better that way. Will definitely make it again! Chloe


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