Posts Tagged ‘beans’

The Orca Bean

Orca

Quite possibly the strangest and most beautiful bean flowers I’ve ever seen.  It’s rare to see true black in nature, but this here is it.

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Do Me A Fava, Will Ya?

The Raw Shit

When I was at the market this past weekend, 2 of the other luxuries of spring that I came across were fresh fava beans and fiddleheads.

To the best of my knowledge I’ve never eaten a fresh fava bean before; I’m actually trying to grow purple favas on the roof, but in the meantime these seemed like an acceptable substitute to test drive.  And we all know how much I love fiddleheads, so of course I had to buy some of those too.  Is there anything that signifies spring more than these dainty and curly ferns?

But soon after I paid for the goods, the question became what to do with such delicate beauties?

The asparagus bounty was easy enough to tackle, and in a move I’m not necessarily proud of (yet wouldn’t do any differently if I had to do it over) the Everyman and I consumed 4 pounds of the stuff in less than 72 hours.  In case you’re wondering, that’s a heck of a lot of asparagus salad.  It was only a pound that went into this dish, courtesy of our most recent Meatless Monday.

Over a gentle simmer I combined milk, veggie stock and water in a pot.  Then I added a cup and a half of polenta and began the furious stir.  As it approached a bubblingly critical mass, I briefly stopped churning and grated a few ounces of mixed cheeses (pecorino pepato, 1608, manchego and mozzarella) into a pile that was then incorporated into the polenta.  Allowing it to cool and firm up slightly, I sautéed a pound of asparagus with some fiddleheads, fava beans and a few sliced mini red peppers for colour.

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And He Made It All By Himself!

Roasted Tomato Soup

As I’ve mentioned before, I do 99% of the cooking at home.

But several years ago, I got fed up with this arrangement and inferred that the Everyman should cook at least one of our meals a week.

Don’t get me wrong.  Out of the 21 meals we typically eat weekly, I wouldn’t say I prepare all of them.  On the occasional night that I don’t feel like cooking, the Everyman will suggest ordering in rather than cooking anything himself.  Then there are times when we go out to dinner or brunch, at least one of which generally happens once or twice a month.  I don’t go out of my way to cook things for lunches, but I am the one who packs up all of the leftovers with extras in the morning.  To put it simply, I do quite a bit and sometimes the balance seems more than a little unfair.

For a while the Everyman was cooking dinner on a fairly regular basis, and we even christened Thursdays as “survive the Everyman’s cooking” nights, since he’s such a fan of Survivor.  But for the last 9 months or so he’s been taking night school, so these survival dinners fell by the wayside and were more often than not replaced by a suggestion of takeout.  Obviously, not the ideal situation for either of our health or waistlines, not to mention takeout can get boring really fast.

As of this week, the Everyman is finished with his night school courses, so I was only too eager to chide him into returning to this weekly slot in the kitchen.  After a few gentle prods he obliged, so I give you the inaugural meal from “survive the Everyman’s cooking” 2010: roasted tomato and garlic soup!

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The Soul Of Comfort Food

Cornbread; Ain't Nothin' Wrong With That!

When I was younger, comfort food took on many forms.

Being half Trinidadian, if my mom was cooking it often meant some sort of roti and curry preparation to warm our hearts and bellies.  After my parents split and my dad took over the cooking for our household, it was a Sunday roast chicken redolent with paprika, garlic, onion and pepper with a side of fluffy stuffing.  Once I was considered old enough to cook on my own, my foods of choice were often plain, bland and white, including tall glasses of cold milk, hot buttered rice and large piles of creamy mashed potatoes – clearly my love of starchy white carbs was cultivated at a young age.

These days comfort food in our household usually means homemade macaroni and cheese (prepared with creme fraiche, parmagiano, manchego and chevre instead of nuclear cheese food), baked panko crusted sriracha nuggets or my aunt’s Christmas morning poached chicken salad that the Everyman fell in love with while we were there for the holidays.  While the spirit of the dishes remains the same, the ingredients and methods have certainly gone more upmarket to account for our more refined tastes and preferences than what we would have settled for as kids.

The one comfort food genre that I’ve never really dabbled much in was Southern food.  I like cornbread, fried chicken, BBQ and all the other stereotypical fare as much as the next person, but I generally don’t make much of it at home.  But between this article about Hank’s new Southern dinner menu and the return of more wintry weather recently, I was suddenly craving something heartier and more rib-sticking than normal. Over the years I’ve enjoyed all of the components of the dish I made last night separately, but I never bothered to put them all together as one before.  It’s far from authentic Southern or Caribbean fare but dang, it does taste good.

To begin I soaked half a pound of red beans overnight, then simmered them in several inches of water until they were mostly tender.  In the meantime, I sautéed several links of a homemade spicy poblano sausage I had in the freezer with some chopped celery, onion, thyme, cumin and cayenne until the whole upper level of our house was nose-tinglingly fragrant.  Once the sausage and veggies were well browned, I added a handful of frozen stock cubes and scraped the bottom of the pan with a spoon.  At this point I put on water to boil for a pot of brown rice.  Draining the beans in a colander, I added them back to their pan with the remaining sausage/veggie/broth mixture as well as a few fresh bay leaves, then covered and simmered again.  In the interim I mixed up a cornbread batter and slid it into a preheated blackened frying pan.  Once the cornbread was mostly cooked through I grated a large dusting of peppered pecorino on top of it and returned it to the oven to brown.  When everything was ready I served the sausage and bean mixture atop a mountain of brown rice with a wedge of crispy cornbread on the side.

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The Most Ambitious Project Yet

Garden 2010

After much deliberation (and a healthy dose of procrastination), I’ve finally selected and plotted my intentions for the 2010 garden.

It might seem awfully early to some, but seeds must be ordered, delivered and started before a springtime sowing in late May can be accomplished.

This year will be interesting for a number of reasons.

Primarily because I’m going to be trying to grow a couple crowns of asparagus for the first time, but I’m also attempting rare French strawberries from seed, as well as leeks, garlic and chard.

As you can see from my crude 10,000 foot drawing, there are lots of different veggies being installed, as well as a small bee garden that I hope will attract a healthy amount of polinators to our rooftop sanctuary.  We had a bit of a problem with the lack of bees last year, though I’m not sure if it was due to colony collapse or the overall shitty weather, but it can’t hurt to encourage them with a pretty flower garden.

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Beans, Beans The Musical Fruit

Barbecued Chicken N' Beans

I’m quickly becoming the undisputed barbecue queen in our household.

A few weeks ago while grilling some spice-rubbed chicken for dinner, the Everyman commented that it would be nice if we had a traditional southern accoutrement like baked beans to enjoy with our meal (I know, how nice of him to suggest I do more work when I was already making dinner, right?)

At any rate, this week I started thinking that baked beans actually sounded like a half decent idea, so I started scouring the tower of cookbooks for a base recipe to work off of.  Being that my track record with cooking beans is pretty awful, I wanted something that would take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation, but also make the process relatively easy.

This is where Beth Hensperger came to the rescue, with her enlightening tome, Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker.  I don’t often use my slow cooker, but it does come in handy for  things like slow braises, jams, and the occasional pot of tostadas.  Skimming over the recipe, I was even more psyched that it was something I could throw together before work and find ready when I got home (or so I thought).  I set a bowl of dried beans to soak overnight and went on to bed, while visions of baked beans danced in my head.

The next morning I assembled all the necessary ingredients in the slow cooker and headed out for the day.  The recipe calls for an ingenious hour and a half boiling on high with a sprinkle of baking soda; supposedly to dismantle the gaseous compounds in the beans.  It sounded like malarkey to me, but I was game to try anything.  Once the baking soda boil is done, the beans are rinsed and drained and put back into the cooker with the remainder of the flavourings and set on low for 12 hours.  The intent is for the liquid to reduce to a syrupy paste during that time, but when I came home it was still exceptionally watery.  At that point I transferred the lot to my Dutch oven and set it to simmer on medium high for an hour.

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