Cooking Without Recipes

Cooking Without Recipes

This week we have a few recipes that are super flexible. You could even consider them guides rather than recipes. The point here is to give you some ideas that can help you go with the flow in the kitchen and get you improvising on the fly. And have fun doing it.

The Share Week 2:

Scallions, salad, spinach, dill, baby beets, cilantro, strawberries, dry beans

This week's recipes:

Huevos Rancheros with Basic Beans, Sautéed Spinach, Chimichurri
Baby Beets and their Greens with Dill Sour Cream
Strawberry Shortcake with Lime Cream.
Huevos Rancheros with Basic Beans, Sautéed Spinach, Chimichurri

I'll start by stressing this week's theme of adaptability. You need a few very adaptable components for this dish: tortillas, beans, eggs, sauce and cheese. Optional additions can also include extra veg or meat. Here is the run down of the version I cooked with this week's share. Monday I made these for my brother and we had the best homemade flour tortillas. Really. There are a cinch to make and so worth it. So much better than anything you can buy at a store. If you are crazy for tacos like I am and you have a tortilla press go right ahead and make these with homemade corn tortillas.

Flour Tortillas recipe here.

Basic Black Beans

Soak 1 cup dry beans in boiling water for about an hour. Drain, rinse and cover with plenty of fresh cold water. Bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about an hour. Beans are interesting characters and can vary in their cooking times. If you are in a hurry don't cook beans. If you are going to be around the house and in the kitchen doing other things you have the time to check on the beans in about and hour and let them keep cooking if they need a little longer. You can add some flavor to your beans at this stage with a bay leaf, a dried chili pepper, a slice of orange peel. When the beans are nice and soft drain and use for your huevos.


Coarsely chop 2 cloves garlic, half a bunch of scallions, a bunch of cilantro. If you have a cuisinart or vitamix feel free to use it. Add zest of a lime and its juice. Slowly whisk in olive oil until you get a runny consistency. If you are using a vitamix here you will end up with a very creamy looking chimichurri, which is fine. If made by hand with a knife you will have a coarser, chunkier sauce. Again, adaptability is the key word here. Use whatever green herbs you have. Parsley, oregano, basil, jalapeño, etc. Next week when we have garlic scapes use them in place of garlic cloves.


This dish is all about the mise en place. Have all your components ready and at hand. Your beans are being kept warm on the stove and you have some simple sautéed spinach on deck, too, with your chimichurri and your Lost Ruby Smoking Hot Chèvre nearby.

The next step is a little multi tasking but compared to the juggling in most of our lives, I'm sure you're up for it. You are going to roll out your tortillas and cook them over a hot dry pan while at the same time you are cooking your eggs in your favorite style. Both of these things happen very fast. If you are new to tortillas and want to keep your focus here, cook all of them first and keep them warm wrapped in a kitchen towel as they come off the pan. Then whip up your eggs and assemble: Warm tortilla, beans, spinach, egg, chèvre, chimichurri.

Top it off with some hot sauce if you like and tuck in. Another great thing about this dish is that you can make it up for a crowd for a weekend brunch or once you've got a batch of beans, tortillas and spinach cooked up you can easily throw these together for a weekday breakfast or lunch. (Dinner is good, too!)

Baby Beets and Their Greens

Cut the beets off the stems and cut into quarters. Feel free to trim off the tails. Cut the stems off the greens and roughly chop them. I'd give them a quick rinse in the salad spinner, as even though we wash them at the farm, this is to get the field dirt off and to cool them from the sun. It is not a real thorough wash.

Heat up some olive oil and butter in a sauce pan on medium heat. Add the beet roots and cook for about 10 minutes. When the roots are soft add the greens and cook quickly until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Chop some fresh dill (and scallions if you have them) into some sour cream or yogurt and drizzle on top of beets. Dill is fantastic with beets as is the richness of the dairy. Dairy is actually really great with spinach and beets - members of the chenopod family - because it counter balances the oxalic acid that can leave an astringent aftertaste.

Strawberry Shortcake with Lime Cream

Buttermilk Biscuits from Bon Appetit

The inspiration for this tweak on strawberry shortcake comes from some leftover lime curd I have that I used to fill a birthday cake over the weekend. And from one of my favorite desserts - a Meyer lemon cream. Basically this is strawberry shortcake. Bake a batch of homemade biscuits or scones. Cut up some fresh, juicy strawberries. Make a batch of this lime curd and yes, it is totally worth it to make just for this recipe. Then whip some cream. Before assembling the shortcakes in the usual fashion- berries topped with cream in the middle of a biscuit - you fold whipped cream into the lime curd. It lightens it up beautifully and also cuts down on the sweetness of the curd. And gives a little extra boost to your run of the mill shortcake.

Share Recap

Salad as always. Soon I promise some fantastic dressings. You will have a nice batch of cooked beans and more for cooking later. Or cook the whole pound and freeze extra! The chimichurri uses all the cilantro and some of the scallions. You can use the rest of the scallions with your beets. Again, I used about half a bag of spinach when I made the huevos, which made two servings but cook all the spinach for about 4 servings or to have extras for another dish. Strawberries: I know these are easily gobbled up but couldn't resist sharing the recipe for the shortcake.

I'd love to hear how you cooked up your share! Drop me an email or share a comment!

Thanks and enjoy!