When Good Cooks Don’t Follow Directions

Rabbit, Rabbit! Happy February 1st!

When trying out a new recipe, I really try to make sure I’ve read it thoroughly and carefully, yet many times I fail. Sometimes the results are disasters, but other times they turn into something even more delicious and become a new favorite!

I received two cookbooks for Christmas this year, the aforementioned The Essential New York Times Cook Book, and Cook This Now! by food columnist Melissa Clark. This is the second cookbook by Clark I own and she always makes everything sound so easy. Her recipes are tasty and versatile and she always gives options for changing the recipe if you don’t have a particular ingredient or want to substitute, change, or add. This newest cookbook is great, it’s cooking with the seasons, so it’s divided by months. One Sunday morning I cooked white beans after soaking them overnight and put them in the fridge so they were ready for a January recipe, White Bean Stew with Garlic, Rosemary, and Farro.

As I’m reading what to do when starting the recipe, I discover a major problem; the recipe didn’t call for dried beans that had been cooked, it called for dried beans, uncooked! No matter, I forged forth with my cooked beans and it was delectable! So much so, I decided to make it again my way, one night for dinner. It had a little bit of French flavor to it, so I served it with a little bit of kielbasa, and it was warm, creamy, and oh so delicious! Instead of serving a salad for the dinner’s greens, I sautéed some Swiss chard and collard greens together with some olive oil and garlic. There was just a little bit of the beans left over, so I put them in the freezer for a future solo dinner!

Another gem I discovered when making my error-laden recipe, I tried the grain farro for the first time. I’ve been seeing this grain in recipes for years and have never found it on the shelves until recently. To me, they taste like large wheat berries, and what I’ve read, it can be a substitute for  barley. I bought mine in bulk at the coop; I don’t think I’ve seen it in the supermarket yet. Of course, being wheat, it is a no-no for those who have a gluten intolerance.

Braised White Beans with Garlic and Rosemary
Serves 3
Soaking and cooking beans over the weekend is a great way to save some money at the supermarket, and then you have beans at the ready for recipes during the week!

• 2+ teaspoons olive oil
• 4+ cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 small carrots, finely diced
• 1 celery stalk, finely diced
• 1 ½ cups cooked white beans
• 1 ½ cups chicken broth or more if needed (for a vegetarian version, substitute water or vegetable broth)
• 1 bay leaf
• Sprig of fresh rosemary
• Dash of dried thyme
• Small piece of Parmesan cheese rind, if desired (this adds creaminess and great flavor to the dish)

Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven and heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, repeat with the carrots and celery, making sure nothing burns. Stir in the beans, rosemary, and bay leaf and add enough broth to cover. Bring to a boil and turn down to medium, or warm enough so the beans are bubbling. Add the Parmesan rind, if using. Continue to watch the beans, stirring. You want these to be creamy, so if they start to lose the broth, continue to add a little at a time, continuing to stir. The beans are done, to me, when some are creamy, others still have a little bit of shape. I like the consistency to be almost pudding-like.

8 thoughts on “When Good Cooks Don’t Follow Directions

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