Best Black Bean Soup

I visited Puerto Rico years ago on a business trip and asked a waiter at the hotel restaurant to give me some suggestions for some local specialties from the menu. He recommended plantain fries and black bean soup both of which I ordered. I enjoyed these so much I ordered them again the next day.
On my return back to Canada I tried to duplicate what I had discovered for my family. The plantain was difficult as we don’t want to get a deep fat fryer for health reasons but the black bean soup was amazingly easy. My favourite recipe book The New James Beard did have black bean soup but the ingredients would be hard to come by. No, I found the best recipe at the Kraft website here.
My kids, normally not big soup fans, love it so it must be good!
Highly recommended.

An Excellent Rum Cake

This exquisite cake recipe can be found at this site. It is so good that I didn’t want to take a chance that the cooks.com site will lose this recipe. Here it is:

Aunt Greta’s Rum Cake

1 c. chopped nuts
18 1/2 oz. yellow cake mix
1 sm. pkg. instant vanilla pudding
4 eggs
1/2 c. cold water
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. rum

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 10 inch tube or 12 cup bundt pan. Spread nuts in bottom of pan. Combine remaining ingredients and pour in pan. Bake 1 hour. Cool. Remove from pan and with toothpick prick holes in top of cake.

Glaze:

1 stick butter
1/4 c. water
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. rum

Melt butter in saucepan. Add water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in Rum.

Pour glaze over top and sides of cake. Let it absorb into cake.

Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing

This is my favourite recipe for blue cheese dressing. Delicious with a crisp salad. Make it at least an hour before the meal and let it sit in the fridge with a tight fitting lid before serving.

Stuff you need:

– 1/2Tsp/2.5mL dry mustard
– 1/2Tsp/2.5mL fresh ground pepper
– 1/2Tsp/2.5mL salt
– 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (don’t recommend any more; if you don’t like it that strong you might want to reduce here)
– 3 spurts of Worcestershire Sauce
– 1/4Cup/50mL yoghurt (you can vary the ratio of this to the mayo according to how rich you wish it)
– 1/4Cup/50mL mayonnaise
– at least 50g (I prefer more) of your favourite firm blue cheese, crumbled or cut into 1 cm cubes

The method:
This is best done completely by hand using a spoon or fork, in my opinion, as a machine or another tool homogenizes it too much to be interesting to the palate.

Put dry ingredients into clear bowl and mix.
Follow this by mixing in the garlic and Worcestershire Sauce.
Add the yoghurt and mayonnaise and mix until no dry ingredients remain on the sides or bottom.
Add the blue cheese and mix briefly.

Taste and make changes as you see fit.

Yield:
3/4 cup but I often double or triple it depending on the number of people eating. It does keep for at least a couple days in the fridge (don’t know about beyond that as it never seems to make it that far).

Hummus

This is my wife’s time-honoured recipe for Hummus dip. Delicious served with pita bread (fresh or toasted) or with vegetables.

Stuff you need:

– food processor or similar device (or a blender)
– 1 can (19oz/540mL) of chickpeas, drained
– 4Tbsp/50mL fresh lemon juice
– 6 cloves of garlic, peeled
– 1/4Cup/50mL sesame tahini (usually in the foreign food section of your supermarket)
– 2Tbsp/25mL olive or canola oil
– 2Tbsp/25mL water
– 1Tbsp/15mL cumin
– 1Tsp/5mL salt

The method:

Chop the garlic fine in the processor.
Add chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, oil, water, cumin and salt and process until smooth.
Taste and make changes as you see fit.

Yield:
a little less than 2 cups.