The Sensitive Kitchen

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Baking

This year I made the following:

Chai-Spiced Snowballs
Peanut Butter Blossoms
Black-and-White Shortbread Spirals
Molasses Spice Crinkles
Pistachio-Lime Thins

Our family also enjoyed pecan crescents, oatmeal peanut butter chocolate fudge, frosted gingerbread drops, pecan tassies, and biscochuelos (a Mexican cornmeal shortbread twist rolled in powdered sugar) from a cookie swap comprised of other parents at my daughters' school.

Alas, no chocolate-covered peanut butter balls, rolled sugar cookies or gingerbread people. Those will have to wait for another year when I have more time and energy. I never got round to making biscotti either. But we had lots of cookies to enjoy, and more to give away to friends. I'm so glad I'm getting my baking wherewithal back.

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Smoky Black Bean and Sweet Potato Soup

I concocted this based on what I had in the refrigerator. My houseguest liked it so much he asked for the recipe. Here it is, as best I remember.

1 1/2 cups dried black beans
6 cups vegetable stock (I use this)
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 shallots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 tsp RealSalt
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup lime juice
Sour cream
Crunchy tortilla strips
Chopped cilantro

Pick over the black beans, removing any stones. Wash them, then soak overnight, or quick-soak them by bringing them to a boil, removing from the heat, and letting stand for one hour. Cook the beans in vegetable stock until barely tender (10 minutes on HIGH in a pressure cooker). Set aside; do not drain.

In a medium skillet, cook onions, shallots and garlic in canola oil over medium heat until softened. Add celery, carrots and sweet potato. Cook a moment, stirring, then add cumin, coriander, paprika and chipotle. Cook until spices are fragrant, then transfer with beans and liquid to bowl of a slow cooker. Add salt, bay leaves, tomato paste and pumpkin puree. Cook on HIGH for 2 hours or until vegetables are tender. (This can also be done on the stovetop but I like the relaxed time aspect of a slow cooker.)

Stir in lime juice. Ladle into bowls, removing bay leaves as you come across them. Top with dollops of sour cream and sprinklings of tortilla strips and cilantro.