On a snowy Sunday, I found Suzen checking out our cookbooks.
“What are you looking for?” I asked. I can be helpful. Sometimes.
“Something interesting,” she said calmly. She’s not six feet tall so her hand was reaching up to manipulate the books on the top row.
“Something chocolate?” I suggested. Suzen likes chocolate.
“Go away.” Her fingers kept moving across the titles.
The Instant Bean was published in 1996 and you can still buy one at Amazon. We had not played with the book in a long time, but now we know that was a mistake.
When we go to an Italian restaurant, I have two ways of knowing if it is going to be authentic and good. First. Caesar Salad. If it’s on the menu, since this salad was created in Tijuana, I know I am in a non-Italian restaurant. Second, the bean dip. If it comes, and if it is wonderful, then I know I can trust that menu, every item.
Bean tip as a deciding factor? Yes. Very yes. If you have ever had great, great bean dip then you know exactly what I mean. Beans, of course, are referred to as beans. In the food family, they always get to sit in the back of the bus. That’s a mistake. Beans can be components for the best in food. Think chili for example, or a bean salad with tuna.
Ah, but in those cases, the beans are not that much on their own. Chili contains spices. Salad has salad dressing. A bean dip is in essence beans. The trick is to get great flavor and texture from the beans alone. And, as an added hurdle, you want something that his balanced. Not too this, not too that.
This recipe is gargantuan. It is full of flavor, yet it has precisely that balance of ingredients so no one note overpowers you. Except, of course, there is this definitive bean flavor that makes you say, “Oh, that’s what beans are all about?”
As the recipe below suggests, this bean puree can be used in many ways: appetizer, first course, spread for sandwiches, or fun topping for radishes or cucumber. Once you’ve made this, you are quite likely to have a bowl around in your fridge, ready to use and enjoy.
Puree of White Beans with Roasted Garlic and Rosemary
Yield: 2 cups serving 4 as first course
- 1 15-ounce can white beans or cannellini, drained and rinsed
- 2 tablespoons chicken broth or water
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt or to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
- 1 head of oven-roasted garlic [recipe follows], the cloves squeezed from their skins
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper or more to taste
Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend, pulsing several times and scraping down the sides, until smooth. Add more olive oil or borht if you like a creamier consistency.
Serve with toasted pita triangles asa first course, asa dip with raw vegetables, or as a spread on 1/8 inch-thick slickes of daikon radish or slightly thicker slices of cucumber.
Yield: 1 head
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Slice off the top quarter of the head of garlic, drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Wrap in foil and bake until the cloves are soft eand creamy, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool in the foil or unwrap.
When cool, break the head apart and sqeeze each clove from its skin. Roasted garlic can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept chilled in a tightly closed container.
Source: The Instant Bean by Martin Stone
Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS Macro Lens 60mm, F/4.5, 1/50th second, ISO-250
Yes, the picture above is the same as yesterday. That post was for the turkey medallions on the right, recipe circa 1988.
The beans and rice on the top and left are, on the other hand, much more recent recipes: 1991! If you have never seen Rice: The Amazing Grain by Marie Simmons then you owe yourself a visit to a bookstore or, more likely Amazon. You can still get a copy after 22 years. There’s no better way to spend $5!
Pairing this beans and rice dish with turkey medallions gives you a hearty meal with complementary textures as well and flavors. This dish is not quick. A few hours are needed for cooking and simmering. The investment in time will be repaid, I promise. The first bite will remind draw a smile as all the ingredients sparkle in their own flavor layers. Rice and bean dishes can be, forgive me, boringly bland. Not this gem.
Which is why, if you can, you’ll find putting Rice: The Amazing Grain a wise choice for your bookshelf.
Drunken Red Beans and New Mexican Rice
Yield: serves 6
For the beans:
- ¼ cup flavorful extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 1 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans, rinsed and soaked
- 1-5 cups unsalted chicken broth
- 1 ½ tablespoons tequila (plus a little more if you like)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 piece (about 1 ½ inches) cinnamon stick
- Hot pepper sauce to taste
For the rice:
- 3 tablespoons flavorful extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
- 3 ½ cups of half unsalted chicken broth and half water
- 2 teaspoon salt
- ½ cup pared and finely chopped carrot
- ½ cup finely chopped celery
- ½ cup diced (¼ inch) sweet red onion
- ½ cup diced (¼ inch) green bell pepper
For the beans:
Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the onions and sauté, stirring, until coated with oil. Cover and cook over very low heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté uncovered, for 3 minutes.
Drain the beans, then add them and the broth to the onion. Heat to boiling and cook, covered, over low heat for 2 hours. Add the bay leaves and cinnamon. Cover and continues to cook until the beans are very tender, about 1 hour. Season with salt and hot red pepper sauce and add tequila. (The beans can be prepared up to 24 hours before serving. Reheat, adding additional broth if necessary).
For the rice:
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the onion and garlic, and sauté, stirring, just until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in the rice until coated with oil. Add the water (or broth and water) and salt, then heat to boiling. Cover and cook the rice over medium-low heat until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in large skillet. Add the carrot, celery, and red onion, and sauté, stirring, until tender but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add the green pepper and sauté until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
Toss half of the sautéed vegetables with the rice just before serving. Spread a mound of the rice in a shallow soup plate and top with the beans. Garnish each with a spoonful of the remaining sautéed vegetables.
Source: Rice: The Amazing Grain, Marie Simmons, 1991