Lauren's gorgeous old Kentucky home
Amelia and George, Abi, Eva, Janice, Lauren, Nicole, me
The unmatchable chips and guacamole from Nada (thanks, Lauren!)
Fresh-from-the-oven bread (thanks, Nicole!)
Mango and cucumber salad
Spinach and mushroom enchiladas with fresh tomatillo sauce
Black bean and roasted tomatillo soup
Super-gooey brownies (thanks, Abi!)
Lauren's perfectly adorable children, proving to all of us that we should never have kids because they won't be as awesome as those two
A disturbing number of mentions of George Clooney and Ryan Gosling (a movie is being filmed in Cincinnati, you guys. LET'S ALL FREAK OUT!)
A disturbing amount of talk about Drew and Nick Lachey ("I'm sorry my butt is in your face" or something like that)
The decision that Lauren shall henceforth be known as "L-Squared"
Discussion of Otis, and his "outfit" (fine, it's a diaper)
And, fits of laughter following each of these statements:
"I don't enjoy reading for hours at night."
"She had him tracking down Bono from YouTube." "U2?"
"I'm moving to the Banks." "The Outer Banks?"
"You know who's short? Vanilla Ice. I met him in the VIP Lounge at Jillian's."
Of the black bean soups I've made in the past, I must say this is my favorite. Sometimes my adventurousness gets in the way of appreciating a classic for what it is--just because this isn't some neuron-busting, bold new flavor doesn't mean it isn't perfectly good as it is. It tastes like black beans, seasoned well, with a tiny tomatillo tang. That's all, and that's all it needs to be. Way to go, black beans.
The star of the night, apart from the joy of conversation and workmate bonding, was probably the enchilada dish, which was from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless. But the soup worked so well with the enchilada that it was almost like having an awesome wine pairing with a meal--I think each dish elevated the other by its existence.
I have a chronic case of recipe wanderlust lodged deep in my soul; it's rare that I repeat a dish, and when I do I'm usually disappointed the second time around. I don't know that I've ever said I was ready to stop looking for new ways to make a certain dish, so this is kind of a big deal for me. Here goes:
This is now, officially, my go-to black bean soup.
Whoa. That felt weird.
Black Bean and Roasted Tomatillo Soup
adapted from Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Vegetables
2 cups dried black beans
extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 of a jalapeño
1/2 bunch of cilantro, leaves and stems separated and reserved separately
3 cloves garlic, peeled
Soak dried beans in water overnight. When ready to cook, drain the beans.
Place a large stock pot on medium high heat and add oil. Cook onion about 10 minutes, until soft. Tie cilantro stems, jalapeño and garlic in cheesecloth. Add beans, 3 quarts of water. and cute little cheesecloth bundle and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until beans are soft (anywhere from 1 1/2 to 3 hours--my beans took about 2).
Heat oven to 350F. Quarter tomatillos, toss with a bit of olive oil and season generously with sea salt and pepper. Roast until soft--probably 12 to 15 minutes--and then puree with about 1/2 cup of cilantro leaves.
When beans are soft, blend until smooth with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender). Stir in tomatillo puree, and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve garnished with cilantro leaves.