We’ve never been big bean eaters in our house. Neither of us were ever vegetarians and never got much into bean culture but this recipe is the one bean dish that makes its way to our table fairly regularly. It’s a very healthy go-to meal that freezes well for later. A great way to get a warming and hearty dose of veggies, this soup is surprisingly rich and satisfying given it’s vegetarian status. The texture variation between the starchy beans, chewy spelt berries, crunchy veggies and buttery avocado give this soup a delightful bite.  I use dried beans and power soak them (described below) to remove most of the phytates and complex bean sugars that cause beans to be the “musical fruit” and contribute to “bubble guts”, the immature way to say gastrointestinal issues. So make sure you never skip this part of the process, you’re guts will thank you for it;)

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier COPYRIGHT 2012

  • 2-3/4 cups (19 oz) dried black bean and navy bean mix
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons smashed garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2+ teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup barley or spelt berries
  • 10 cups fresh baby spinach leaves (you can also use kale instead or in addition)
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • hard aged cheese (goat or parmesan)- optional
  • ripe avocado

~ Rinse beans thoroughly, boil in plenty of water for 2 minutes, let soak in the hot water for 2+ hours, then cook at a simmer for 2 hours or until done.

~Rinse barley/spelt, bring to a boil in plenty of water, reduce heat and simmer for 30 or so minutes until tender.

~ Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven and saute onion and sweet potato for a few minutes until fragrant and a bit tender. Remove from pot and reserve.

~ Put red pepper flakes and rosemary in a tea ball or cheesecloth. Bring stock, garlic and all herbs (including thyme and bay leaves) to boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove tea ball.

~Mash 1 cup of cooked beans. Add mashed and rest of cooked beans and vegetables (except for the spinach) to the pot. Bring to a boil then simmer 15 minutes, adding water if needed.

~ Stir in spinach until wilted and add bell pepper. I do this now because I like the fresh crunch of the mostly uncooked bell pepper.

~ Top with shaved aged cheese and sliced avocado.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier COPYRIGHT 2012

You may remember the Thanksgiving recipe for wild rice stuffing where we used black “forbidden” rice from China. Well this week we’re using that same nutrient rich rice for a truly decadent rice pudding. “Forbidden” rice has a natural sweet flavor and is slightly glutinous. You can make your rice pudding even thicker using Thai black rice which is more of a sticky rice. If you choose to use wild rice instead (which is a grass and not glutinous) you may have to cook it a bit longer to reach the right consistency and, though it won’t achieve a custard texture, it will be delicious and chewy with a great texture all it’s own.

As rice pudding goes, this one is warming, rich and heavenly without all the baking and the eggs needed for a custard. It’s a one pan stove top job, perfect for those nights when you hadn’t planned on that crazy sweet tooth you just can’t seem to shake!


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 COPYRIGHT

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup Thai black rice, china black rice
  • 1-1/2 cup homemade (or light) coconut milk plus more for adding during cooking
  • unsweetened toasted coconut chips
  • 3 Tablespoons evaporated cane sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons quality maple syrup
  • large pinch salt

~ In a pan, mix water, rice and coconut milk. Bring to boil and reduce to a simmer cooking uncovered for 45 or so until rice is tender, stirring occasionally.

~ During last 10 minutes or so of cooking check the rice mixture and add more coconut milk if it gets too dry. Keep doing this as it finishes cooking to achieve the right consistency.

~ Add sugar, maple syrup and salt and simmer for a few more minutes until the pudding is the right texture.

~ Spoon into dishes and top with coconut chips and a splash more coconut milk.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 COPYRIGHT

There is no reason on this beautiful green earth not to love kabocha squash. I know I’m coming on a little strong right out of the gate this week, but I’m pretty excited about squashes in general and kabocha is no ordinary squash. Kabocha is a squat, knobby skinned winter squash that is sweeter than butternut and has a texture and flavor that falls between a pumpkin and a sweet potato. It’s picked while still growing and then matures in storage for a couple months to develop a complex sweet flavor. Some people also refer to kabocha as Japanese squash. Give this homely little winter special a whirl. If you can’t find a kabocha you can substitute an acorn or carnival squash instead.

The burrata cheese imparts a delightful creaminess to this recipe which layers nicely with the floral sweetness of the lavender infused honey.

all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 COPYRIGHT

  • 1 kabocha squash,  seeded and cut into quarters lengthwise
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 8 oz fresh burrata (I’ve also top these with goat cheese and plain yogurt blended to a firm but creamy consistency, also delicious)
  • lavender honey for drizzling
  • ground nutmeg
  • ground cinnamon

~ Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

~ Brush kabocha quarters with olive oil and sprinkle with nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper.

~ Roast for 45+ minutes or so until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork and begins to caramelize on the edges.

~ Remove from oven, top each with a hunk of burrata cheese and drizzle with lavender honey.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier 2012 COPYRIGHT



 food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier



What a year 2012 was! This holiday season we were chock full of festivities as we hosted Christmas Eve, Christmas day, and New Year’s Eve. With all the celebrating, it was a great time to test out a bunch of recipe ideas. This recipe was a winner (admittedly among a stinker attempt or two) and who couldn’t use a few more really impressive looking appetizer recipes up their sleeve. When you think of gorgeous, delicate appetizers I’d wager that the humble potato doesn’t come to mind. Dowdy and unassuming, the potato can be easily overlooked, but with a little slicing and herbs it is easily transformed.

I recommend a mandolin for slicing the potatoes so the slices are fairly uniform in thickness and cook evenly. Trust me, I think mandolins are scary as hell and a couple years ago even cut the tip of my thumb off trying to use one on a butternut squash! Seriously. Super duper gross. This recipe was the first time I’ve touched that menacing little torture tool since it took a hunk of my flesh. I’m glad I did because I’m pretty sure it’d have taken me a lifetime to thinly slice all of those potatoes! So here’s to the humble potato and overcoming kitchen fears in the new year! HA!

  • 1-1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes – each slightly larger than a golf ball
  • coarse sea salt and ground pepper
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves (or finely chopped fresh thyme)
  • 2 diced green onions or 1 diced shallot
  • 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese

~Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 6 cup muffin tin or a large baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

~Thinly slice potatoes, preferably with a mandolin to ensure uniform thickness. Place a few slices in each cup and top with cheese, onion, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Continue layering potatoes and seasoning every few slices, until stacks reach top of baking dish.

~Pour roughly 1 tablespoon heavy cream over each. Cover and bake until potatoes are golden brown and tender, about 40 minutes, removing cover half way through baking to get them nice and crispy on the edges. Gently scoop them out and serve immediately.


all rights reserved Crystal Cartier COPYRIGHT 2012



food photographer, food photography, los angeles, crystal cartier

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