The very act of cooking dinner in the evening can be an expression of your artistry! And you’re sustaining your family! Double plus bonus points!! This weekend at work I didn’t make very much money, but I was allowed to take home some leftover cubes of pepper jack cheese. Score! And we got some collards from the farm. I’ve been dreaming about making some sort of savory pastry – crunchy outside, soft and warm inside, with lots of melting cheese (it’s started to get very cold here!). I love secret melted cheese! So I decided to make a cornbread crust, and inside have a layer of collards and black-eyed peas surrounding a big soft melty bit of spicy cheese. I thought these were so delicious, I was quite proud of them, and gobbled them up. They were fun to make, too. And as David pointed out – black-eyed peas and collards are both considered lucky foods!
Here’s a song David discovered that’s been stuck in my head (in a good way) ever since he played it for me. I find it quite moving! It’s Neneh Cherry and the Thing with Dream Baby Dream.
1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup corn meal
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 – 1 cup warm water
Combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and baking powder in a big bowl. Pour in the olive oil, and work it in with your fingers until it’s like coarse, sandy crumbs. Add enough water to form it into a workable dough – 1/2 to 3/4 cup should do it. Knead for a few minutes, and then set aside while you make your filling.
1 can (15 oz) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
1 medium-sized bunch collard greens(about 1 1/2 cups cooked)
2 T olive oil
1 shallot – minced
1 clove garlic – minced
1 t oregano
1 t smoked paprika
salt and plenty of black pepper
8 – 10 1-inch cubes of pepper jack cheese
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Rinse the collard leaves, and remove their spiny stems. Drop them into the boiling water and leave them for about half an hour, till they’re quite soft. Remove and drain. Chop quite fine.
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook a few minutes till it starts to turn brown. Add the garlic and oregano, and cook a few minutes more. Add the beans. Stir to coat with shallots, garlic and spices, and cook for a few minutes. Then add the collards and paprika. If the pan is very dry, add a few tablespoons of water. Cook till everything is warmed and combined, season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400, and lightly butter a baking sheet. Break off a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball. On a lightly-floured counter, roll it to be about 1/8th inch thick and 5 inches wide. Put this circle of dough on your hand. Place a large tablespoonful of beans and greens in the center. Bury a cube of cheese in the beans and greens. Fold up the edges of the dough all around the filling, and press lightly to seal. Place seam-side down on the baking sheet. If the dough tears, patch it with an extra piece and make it a little thicker next time you roll it. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes, until the tops of the dumplings starts to turn golden brown.