Back in Form: Cupcakes and Hoppin' Jimmy

Chocolate-Raspberry-Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Icing
Whew! After what now seems like several years of wedding-related madness (but was actually only a few months) S. and I are finally, really and truly, married and legally resident and official and all that jazz. I am allowed, by God, my parents and the Ausländerbehörde, to stay in Germany for the time being and start living a normal, somewhat less precarious existence. This doesn't mean that everything is stabilized (still looking for a steady job, after all) but things are calm enough that I can actually do that ultimate house-wifey activity: cook!

My first and foremost obsession of late has been cupcakes. I received a handheld mixer as a wedding gift so I can finally make American-style icing, not this glorified whip cream that Germans dig so much. The other day my friend K. finished her final law school exams and held a big party to celebrate, so I whipped up some marvelous cupcakes inspired, natch, by the PPK cupcake tome we all know and love. I made one batch of chocolate and one of vanilla, filled with homemade raspberry compote and topped with lemon cream cheese icing. Big hits (especially with me- I ate like 10 in two days.)

I've also been really into Southern food lately, following our sojourn in the US South. I got a couple of neat Community cookbooks (more on that in later posts) and also brought back some crucial ingredients- liquid smoke, molasses, and creole/ cajun seasoning.

Hoppin' Jimmy with garlicky-spinach
So far, the most popular of my "experiments" (don't ask about Peanut-beurre-blanc) is my version of Hoppin' John. I really like this for a weeknight meal because, unlike with other beans, black-eyed peas only require a quick soak and not the night-before treatment. Also, you can jazz it up with loads of spices or keep it simple as a side dish for more elaborate meals. The authentic Hoppin John would be bare bones, with the inclusion of an actual bone, a ham hock, or some other meaty thing. Mine, obvs, isn't authentic because I added a sofrito and additional spices, so we will call it Hoppin' Jimmy after my vegetarian little brother who lives for beans.
Hoppin' Jimmy
1 cup black-eyed peas, rinsed and soaked for at least one hour
3/4 cup white rice
1 large onion, diced
2 bell peppers (any color) diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 tbs. Cajun or Creole seasoning 
oil, water, salt, pepper

1.) In pot, bring black-eyed peas and enough water to cover them to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let simmer for ca. 1 hour, skimming off foam occasionally and adding more water if necessary, until beans are cooked through and soft.
2.) When beans are cooked to your liking, add rice and 1.5 cups of water to pot (less if there is still a lot of bean-cooking water.) Add some salt, bring back up to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cover.
3.) While the rice and beans are simmering away, add your onion to a medium sized, heavy bottomed pan with plenty of oil heated up to medium-low heat. When onions have slightly softened, add in chopped bell peppers and garlic and season with salt and pepper, plus the Cajun seasoning. Cook over medium heat until all vegetables have softened.
4.) Now, we combine. Give rice a check for done-ness, then a stir before adding in liquid smoke, tomato paste, and onion-pepper mixture, stirring gently to combine. Simmer for 5-10 more minutes until most of the liquid is cooked off and taste-test for any seasoning adjustments. 

Serve with greens and hot sauce.

Song the Day: Soko- I'll Kill Her


Bianca said...

Congrats on the wedding and getting to stay in Germany!! Those cupcakes and the Hoppin' Jimmy both look amazing! I love old community cookbooks.

Vic Robinson said...

Love the John! Hits my southern spot! :)

adriennefriend said...

So glad to get caught up on your life lately. Please let me know if you'd like me to send you anything - I love making care packages, and I can get spices and stuff so cheap at the Dekalb "Farmers'" Market!!

adrienne at http://cracktheplates.com