Mexican Black Bean and Corn Soup

I first found a recipe for this simply delicious , soul nourishing , great cold day soup in  a William’s Sonoma cook book, but ,as always had to change the recipe. As I am a vegetarian and love food with texture I altered a few of the recipe suggestions , this is my perfect snuggle up with a book ,sit by the fire , day soup.

serves 6

4 tbs unflavored oil such as Canola, divided

1  Spanish onion ,coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves ,coarsely chopped

4   14 oz cans black beans ,drained and well rinsed

3 cups vegetable broth

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 chipolte chili

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp dried oregano

1 cup frozen corn kernels

salt and freshly ground pepper


Chopped red onion

Sour cream

Chopped cilantro

Chopped serrano chilis

In a large ,heavy pot over medium heat ,warm the oil. Add onion and saute till softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 1 minute. transfer to a food processor or blender and add half the rinsed and drained black beans. Puree until smooth.

Warm the remaining oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the bean puree ,the chipolte pepper ,cayenne ,oregano , salt , pepper and vegetable stock . Bring to a boil.  Lower heat and stir in the black beans and corn. Simmer stirring occasionally until corn and beans are tender, add more stock or water to thin as desired. Ladle into warm bowls and top as desired.


Straw Mushroom soup with lemon grass and chili

Strawmushrooms grow abundantly in Thailand. However substituting with canned or thinly sliced white mushrooms works very well. I use a home made Asian vegetable stock and substitute Fish sauce for soy sauce, however if you wish you could use chicken stock and fish sauce ,both ways work equally well.

Source Wendy Hutton

1 to 2 tbs Roasted Thai Chili paste (available in Asian groceries)

1 stem lemon grass ,bottom 7 inch only ,bruised and cut into 4 to 5 pieces

3 kaffir lime leaves ,torn

3 tbs fresh lime or lemon juice

4 tsp Fish sauce or Soy sauce

1 tsp sugar

3 1/2 oz fresh straw mushrooms or canned or white mushrooms, halved if large

1 medium ripe tomato , quartered

2 -3 bird’s eye chilis ,lightly bruised

sprigs of coriander leaf ,to garnish.

3 -4 cups vegetable or chicken stock

Put stock in a medium saucepan .Stir in chili paste ,lemon grass and lime leaves . Bring to a boil. Lower hear and simmer uncovered for 3 minutes. Add the lime juice ,soy sauce, sugar ,mushrooms and chili, reduce heat and simmer for 3  minutes.

Transfer to a serving bowland garnish with fresh coriander. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Spicy Black bean sauce Noodles

I must confess my love for these noodles. Black beans paired with garlic and chilis sends an aroma wafting through the home like no other. Chef Hom who created this recipe envisioned them with cold noodles , which is delicious, but my personal preferance is to toss the sauce ,hot with the noodles and enjoy a side dish of steamed bok choy along side to cut the saltiness of the black beans. Hot or cold do not miss out on this delicious dish.

3/4 lb fresh or dried chinese noodles


3 TBS peanut oil

2 TBS yellow bean sauce  (I concider this as optional)

2 Tbs black beans ,coarsely chopped

2 TBS finely chopped garlic

1 TBS finely chopped ginger

2 TBS finely chopped scallions

2 TSP chili bean sauce

2 Tsp sugar

1 TBS dark soy sauce

2 tsp chili oil

2 tbs rice wine or dry sherry

5 oz vegetable stock

1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tsp water

Cook noodles according to package directions ,drain and set aside .

Heat a wok till moderately hot. Add oil  ,yellow bean sauce ,black beans, garlic ,ginger, and scallions and stir fry for 2 minutes. Then add all the other ingredients except for the cornstarch mixture and continue to cook for a furthur 2 minutes. Stir in the blended cornstarch and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and allow the sauce to cool before stirring with the noodles. Serve at once.

Thai Fish Cakes

These fish cakes have a great kick from red curry and spices. I love the ease of preparation making it ideal for an appetizer or part of a weeknight meal. Seve with a simple mixed green salad and perhaps a bowl of soup or noodles.


makes 8 Fish cakes

7 oz fillet of cod or other white fish

7 oz squid

21/2 TBS Red Curry paste

1 TBS fish sauce

2 tsp sugar

2 kaffir lime leaves ,finely chopped

2 oz yard long beans or french beans, cut into very thin slices less than  1/10 thick

1/2 egg ,beaten

Vegetable oil for deep frying

1/2 tsp crushed ,roasted peanuts.

Grind or process the fish and the squid into a smooth paste.

Mix the curry paste ,fish sauce ,and sugar into the fish and squid mixture. Add the kaffir lime leaves and beans . Fold in the beaten half egg.

Form 8 balls ,using about 2 oz mixture for each. Flatten them into discs about 1/4 inch thick and 21/2 inch in diameter.

Deep fry in vegetable oil heated to 350*F for 3 minutes.

Remove the fishcakes from the oil, drain them on kitchen paper ,place on a serving dish on a bed of salad leaves ,sprinkle them with peanuts.

Stir -Fried Vegetables in black bean sauce

Black bean sauce is pungent and robust. I love the saltiness of it coupled with the freshness of the vegetables. Originally ,this recipe ,from famed chef Ken Hom, had somewhat of a novelle take by only using Asparagus. Now while I love Asparagus ,I love to include other vegetables ,such as black mushrooms ,snow peas and finally fresh baby spinach. This is my take on this recipe. Serve with steamed rice or noodles.

Serves 2

1/4 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut into 3 inch pieces on a slant

1/4 lb fresh baby spinach ,washed and dried

1/4 lb snow peas, trimmed ,washed and dried

6 pieces black mushrooms ,rehydrated according to package ,sliced lengthwise into 1/4 inch slices.

1 TBS peanut oil

2 TSP finely grated ginger

2 TSP finely grated garlic

2 TBS black beans ,coarsley chopped

2 TSP chili bean sauce

2/3 cup vegetable stock

1 TSP sugar

3 TBS rice wine or Sherry

1 TSP sesame oil

Heat wok and add oil. When hot ,add the ginger ,garlic and black beans and stir- fry for a few seconds.  Add the chili bean sauce ,stir a few seconds. Add all ,but the spinach, the prepared vegetables and stir fry for 2 minutes. Stir in the stock ,sugar  and rice wine. Cook over high heat for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Off the heat    add the spinach, stir just to wilt, add the sesame oil stir and pour into heated serving dish. Serve

Chicken in Hot Bean Sauce

Hot Bean sauce can be purchased from asian Markets ,it is moderately spicy and slightly salty, a winning combination.This recipe comes from famed cookbook authour Eileen Yin-Fei Lo. It is written specifically for chicken ,but ,I must admit I have used this very successfully with fish fillets, especially carp, but any fish of your choice will do.

Serves 4


2 TBS egg whites ,lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 TBS tapioca starch (I have used Cornstarch, with success)

1 lb chicken cutlets, cut into 2 1/2 by 1/2 inch strips.


2 1/2 TBS hot Bean sauce

2 1/2 TBS oyster sauce

1 TBS light soy sauce

1 TBS sugar

1 TBS shao-Hsing wine or Shrerry

1 TSP sesame oil

pinch white pepper

1 TBS tapioca starch

1/3 cup chicken stock


5 cups peanut oil, for blanching.

2 TSP minced ginger2 TSP minced garlic1/4 cup scallions,white portions only, cut into 1/4 slices

1 TBS shao- Hsing wine or Shrerry.

Combine all marinade ingredients; Place chicken strips in marinade, mix well to coat and allow to rest 15 minutes,reserve.

While chicken marinates, combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl, set aside.

Heat wok over high heat for 1 minute. Add 5 cups peanut oil and bring to a temperature of 300 *F. Add chicken and marinade. Turn off heat immediately,loosen chicken strips to seperate them. When chicken turns white (about 45 seconds ) turn off heat ,remove with strainer ,and drain over a bowl.

Empty wok of oil, leaving about 2 TBS in well. Turn heat to high and heat for 20 seconds. Add ginger and garlic, stir. Add scallions and cook for 45 seconds. Add peppers, stir together ,cook 2 minutes.  Add chicken ,mix together. Drizzle wine into wok from edges. Make a well,, stir sauce, pour into wok, and stir throughly. When sauce thickens and bubbles,turn off heat. Transfer to heated dish and serve with cooked rice.

Pork or Lamb Vindaloo

This dish is typical of Portugese -Indian cooking from the beautiful coast of Goa. It is an incredibly spicy dish ,but, has been modified greatly here by Madhur Jaffrey,she reduced the chilli powder from 4 teaspoons to half a teaspoon, so ,really ,the chilli powder addition is completley up to your family’s tolerance.

serves 3-4

11/2 tablespoons grainy French mustard

11/2 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 -1 teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

3 tablespoon vegetable oil

4 oz onions ,cut into fine half-rings

6 large garlic cloves

1.1 lbs boned hand of pork or shoulder of lamb, cut into 1 inch cubes

1/4 pint canned coconut milk,well stirred

Combine the mustard,cumin,turmeric,chilli powder,salt and vinegar in a cup and mix well.

Heat the oil in a large,non -stick frying pan and when hot,add the onions and stir fry till golden. Add the garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds,then add the spice space and stir fry for 1 minute.

Add the meat and stir fry for 3 minutes,then add the coconut milk and 9 FL OZ  of water. Cover and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about an hour ,or till meat is completely cooked through.

Serve with Naan or Rice.