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                Need Thanksgiving ideas? Scroll down to near the bottom of the post. 

above: out the front door 

While it’s the week before Thanksgiving-– and I promise my mind is moving in that direction– I’m not cooking at home that day, so am not nearly so focused on pie, cranberries, and turkey as I usually am. We’re sharing a meal in St. Paul with good friends and while I’ll help in the kitchen, I needn’t worry my little head about menus, shopping, platters, glasses, or cleaning house. Yep.

below:  my table last year

I have cool assignments like choosing a couple of bottles of wine from our cellar to pack extraordinarily well in the suitcase and ordering a centerpiece. My guess is something Thanksgiving-y will still appear here soon; watch this space!

above: “the girls” in our backyard

In the meantime, we had 10 inches of snow last night and, you know me, I woke up with a huge need for a big pot of soup. I had snagged a bag of dried black beans at Trader Joe’s (they don’t carry many dry beans–why not?) and knew a couple of cups of chopped butternut squash were about to slime up in my fridge.  Why not an INSTANT POT miracle so I could have a warm-up for lunch, too?

While the soup (gluten free and easily vegan) pressure cooks, I’ll catch you up on what I did over the weekend.  First, I  “cooked the book” for a couple of new volumes on my cooking shelves. You know how you have cookbooks and never cook out them? I’m really fighting that, though you’ll have to forgive iPhone photos taken in the kitchen at night. Sorry!

below: a riff on Dorie Greenspan’s Bourbon-Roasted Pork Loin

above:  Ina Garten’s Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash

I participate in the the SAVEUR Cookbook Club (cook from a new book and post pics/notes on facebook) and this month’s cookbook is the fab Dorie Greenspan’s EVERYDAY DORIE: THE WAY I COOK.

While I’ve enjoyed everything Dorie’s ever written, this new book is close to my heart because it’s a treasure trove of delectable things to cook anytime for you and those you love. I made a bit of a riff on her Bourbon-Roasted Pork loin using loin chops as I had a pack that needed using. (Pic up above on top)  I’d for sure try it again with a big old fatty-top loin roast for company, but I liked the serving ease of the chops and would do it again in a New York minute. A mustardy bourbon sauce perfectly knits together the pork and its built-in apple and onion side. I’d go with adding thinly sliced potatoes and perhaps even carrots, too, next time; why not have a one-pan meal?  You might remember we spent some in time in Paris last fall with Dorie and her stunning husband, Michael. Lovely people, loved time. I’m so sad there’s no Denver on her book tour.

The acorn squash, cooked in the oven at the same time as Dorie’s pork, is from Ina Garten’s newest, COOK LIKE A PRO: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks.

Old readers will remember I once organized a fun blogging group called INA FRIDAYS that went along swimmingly for a couple of years before dying a rather natural death. Even now, I get quite a few hits on Ina’s recipes and continue to cook from her books often. Her recipes are so well-tested that even if you go off the rails a bit with an off-temp oven or a subbed ingredient, the food usually comes out tasty and attractive. I never tire of watching her on tv, either, though since she’s on Sundays when I’m at church, I rarely catch the new show.

So, this is true. Copyright keeps me from including copies of these recipes. I know, it’s hard, but remember that we foodies make our living this way.  Do think about buying a new book or two–support your favorite authors!– or putting your name on the list for a copy from the library.  Occasionally, you can google new books and get recipes from book reviews, too.  Both women’s websites also often include easily accessible and printable recipes:

Dorie Greenspan’s Website:  Dorie Greenspan

Ina Garten’s Website:  The Barefoot Contessa

Before Christmas, I hope to organize a post featuring coveted gifts for cooks; these two books will be on the list! If you’re shopping early, grab them soon, wrap them up, and store them away for later.


Several times a year, I help organize and cook meals for homeless families in our town for a week at a time. This last week was our final one for 2018 and you’ll see Dave, my husband,–above– last Friday night with one of our youngest-ever guests I didn’t cook for, though I helped feed her parents!  These families are supported by a nationwide group, Family Promise, who, though its Interfaith Hospitality Network, houses and feeds them in local churches and synagogues while they work and get ready to live in their own homes.  We shared the cooking with Temple Shalom here in Colorado Springs and 5 parents along with 13 kids were housed right in our church, First Congregational Church of Colorado Springs.


Still thinking about black bean soup?! Ok, Try this as is or make the vegan version and see what you think:

INSTANT POT: Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

serves 6

This soup is naturally gluten-free (check all purchased products, please), and options are given for an easily vegetarian or vegan version. If you’d like a more carnivore approach, sauté 2 slices chopped bacon or 1/2 cup chopped ham after removing the squash and before adding the garlic and other vegetables. Several garnishes are given here; use any or all or add the typical wedge of lime at the table.  If you’d like, serve with a scoop of hot brown rice or cooked farro.

  • 1/2 cup chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegan version)
  • 2 cups peeled and diced butternut squash (1 pound)
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 each, diced: stalk of celery with leaves and large carrot, peeled
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste (freeze extra in a small freezer bag or sealed container)
  • 1/2 cup red wine–can sub water
  • 1 pound dry black beans, presoaked overnight or boiled in plenty of water for 2 minutes, rested for 1 hour, and drained OR not soaked (see Cook’s Notes below*)
  • 4 cups chicken broth  (vegetable broth for vegan version)
  • Sour Cream or plain yogurt, for garnish (Nut milk yogurt for vegan version)
  • Chopped toasted almonds, for garnish
  • Sliced green onions, for garnish
  • Minced sweet bell peppers–any color, for garnish
  1. Add broth or water and squash to the pressure cooker pot. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and pepper.  Secure/lock the lid in place. Select MANUAL button to cook on high pressure; set for 4 minutes.  Release pressure manually and remove squash to a bowl with a slotted spoon, reserving cooking liquid.  Press the CANCEL or KEEP WARM button. Carefully wipe out the pot with a towel or paper towel. When the squash has cooled a bit, dice it into the smaller pieces, if desired. Set aside.
  2. Select SAUTÉ function and adjust to medium or normal.  Add oil and heat for a minute. Tip in garlic, onion, celery and carrot; sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, bay leaf, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and crushed red pepper, if using.  Stir, cooking for 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Spoon in the tomato paste and pour in red wine along with the reserved squash cooking liquid.  Let cook another minute or two, stirring up the bits at the bottom of the pot.  Press the CANCEL or KEEP WARM button.
  3. Add the beans and broth; stir well. Secure/lock lid in place.  Press the MANUAL button to cook on high pressure. Set for 40 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally.
  4. Check the doneness of the beans. (Not tender enough? See Cook’s Notes below). Remove and discard bay leaf. Ladle a cup or so of the bean mixture into a medium mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher or blend in a food processor; return mixture to pot and stir. Add the reserved cooked butternut squash and gently stir. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  5. Serve hot garnished with your choice of garnishes listed above.

{printable recipe}

COOK’S NOTES:

EQUIPMENT: I use a 6-quart INSTANT POT —Instant Pot LUX60 V3 6 Qt 6-in-1 Muti-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer– I bought over two years ago and my recipe reflects my particular appliance.  Do follow the directions for your own electric pressure or multi cooker.

BEANS NOT TENDER? Set the pressure valve back to seal, pressure cook the whole pot full another 5 minutes or so, and release pressure manually. Check for doneness and repeat, if needed.

TO SOAK OR NOT TO SOAK? I’m fond of pre-soaking my beans as I find they cook a bit better (less broken or exploded beans) and tummy wisdom says there’s less digestive disturbance with presoaked beans.  (Eat beans and lentils all the time and you’ll not have those issues, I’m told.) You can, however, do as you please and cook the beans straight out of the package and see what you think (do check them over for debris and give them a good rinse for health’s sake). They’ll cook just the same and you might like them that way. If I’m in a hurry, that’s my method, too, and it works!

DRINKS:  Fancy a red wine? Go for a Syrah or a Shiraz.  Beer? A light ale with a bit of bitterness would drink.

DESSERT: I’m skipping anything sweet right now, cutting calories ahead of the holiday. If you really want something, I’d try a scoop or two of cinnamon ice cream or a square of bittersweet chocolate with an espresso.


Have leftover roasted butternut squash?

Skip the first step pressure cooking the squash and just stir in reheated leftovers at the end.

New to electric pressure or multi-cooker cooking?

Read your manual carefully and check out the basics in the links below or on the website for your appliance. I found using a youtube video on getting started was quite useful. (I no longer remember which one I used–sorry.)

instantpot.com

pressurecookingtoday.com–getting started

How to Use an Instant Pot (NY Times–Melissa Clark)


IF YOU LIKE THIS, YOU MIGHT LIKE MY EASY CHICKEN-BLACK BEAN SOUP

 


It is the week before Thanksgiving and, if you’re interested in Thanksgiving goodies instead of fast soups, the link below is More Time’s best bet, which has lots of links to my posts over the last nearly 10 years including music, books, recipes, kids’ stuff, baking, links to other great sites, and more. Without a doubt there’ll be something new and holidayish posted in the next week, but for now, if you’re hunting turkey-day stuff, click on the red line below my browned bird:

THANKSGIVING BASICS:  START EARLY AND FINISH LATE FROM MORE TIME AT THE TABLE.


Stay warm and cook a couple of dishes ahead for the holiday; you’ll be glad you did.

Alyce