08 February 2010

Cookbookyssey #5: Had a Glass (2010)

Had a Glass: Top 100 Wines for 2010 under $20, $25, and $30
by Kenji Hodgson & James Nevison
© 2009 Whitecap Books

I'm trying to avoid the temptation of going for the easiest recipe in the cookbook, and rather getting over my fear of slightly more complicated recipes and tackling the most interesting. So I didn't make the clam linguine which seemed so simple it almost doesn't even need a recipe (though I will probably try it sometime soon). There's also a tasty sounding ceviche recipe which uses lime, pineapple and orange juice.

Coconut & Black Bean Soup

The recipe is still simple; I suppose I just get shy around long lists of ingredients. Veggies in the soup include onion, celery, corn, red pepper and tomato. Seasonings: cumin seeds, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper and cilantro. Additionally: lime juice, black beans, coconut milk, and vegetable stock. I know, that's not THAT MUCH. But it's enough for me.

The most exciting thing about this recipe was finally having a reason to use my new mortar & pestle, purchased during a Boxing Day mini shopping spree at Chocolate Mousse. The recipe goes something like this: Begin by grinding 1 tsp cumin seeds with a mortar & pestle; add 2 cloves of garlic and grind further. Add the juice of 1 lime and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper and mix together.

In a saucepan, sweat onion (1 medium, chopped) and 2 ribs of celery (chopped) until translucent. Add the mortar & pestle mixture and sauté another 5 minutes.

Add 28 oz black beans (2 small cans) and the liquid they come in, 1 cup coconut milk and 2 cups veggie stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Around this time I tasted the soup and admittedly, I had my doubts...

But no matter. Blend the soup with an immersion blender, then add the corn (1 cup frozen kernels), red pepper (1/2 cup, diced) and tomato (1/2 cup, diced). Return to a simmer and lightly season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a squeeze of lime and sprinkled with cilantro.

As I said, I had my doubts... but this is the best soup I've ever made! The coconut and lime are subtle yet distinct. The corn, red peppers and tomato are just the right amount -- also providing a subtle flavour and texture, but not enough to overpower. There's a lot of space between the ingredients, allowing them each their moment to shine on the spotlight of your tastebuds. Yep.

Anyway, this is not really even a cookbook. At a grand total of five, recipes are just a minor detail in this book; the real purpose of Had a Glass is of course its collection of cheap yet delicious wines, each accompanied by a picture of the label so it's easy to remember when you come across it in the liquor store. Because of this book I found my new favourite wine this year, Cat Amongst The Pigeons. This particular recipe was paired with a Pinot Gris recommendation: Dunavár. $12.00 (at the beer & wine store; $9.49 according to the book). What can I say; it was cheap and satisfying.

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