My favorite way to cook is to have an idea in mind and to create using sight and taste. I’m going to show you what I’ve been up to the past few days, and then give you the guesstimate recipe at the end. Sound good? Good.
Let me take a second here to say, that I have been kinda hard on myself lately and even though I got out of my funk fairly quickly, it’s always nice to come across a couple of posts, like I did yesterday, that remind me that failure is how we teach ourselves (one, two, three). So a day like yesterday where I was willing to just go for it, even if it was a flop, is why I have confidence in the kitchen. The more I’m willing to fail, the better I will become, and if I take that philosophy into other aspects of my life, who knows what I will be capable of. I had a great day being creative and just seeing if it worked, some things worked wonderfully, some things, well, they are acquired tastes… but not bad. And overall, a great first attempt. My feelings of not being good at anything are a bit unfounded because, I do have
some quite a bit of confidence in the kitchen. So what if I’m not ready to become a restaurant owner, failures will help get me there, if that’s my goal… baby steps.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
It all started with a pinto bean and a new cookbook purchase…
I mentioned last time that I don’t usually make dried beans because I haven’t had much luck with them. Mine usually never seem to get ‘done’ and when we eat them anyway, well, let’s just say, we tend to be a bit uncomfortable. So I’ve been sticking to the canned beans if I’m making anything with beans.
One of the first things I looked up in Viva Vegan! (by Terry Hope Romero) was how she made beans, figuring that a book on Latin cuisine would have the secrets that I was missing.
Here are some of the things that resonated with me:
- Don’t do the ‘quick soak’ method, instead let the beans soak properly for 8 hours.
- To soak the beans, cover the beans with at least 6 inches of water.
- Never cook raw beans with acidic foods (tomatoes, vinegar, peppers, sofrito, beer, wine, or citrus juices) to avoid hard and grainy beans.
- “It’s a myth that cooking beans with salt will make them tough. Cooking them with a little salt enhances the flavor and may even help tenderize the beans just a little faster.”
- Use kombu seaweed, it is said to help keep bean gases out of your stomach. Interesting that the canned beans I prefer have kombu seaweed in them instead of salt.
- Cook beans 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
- “As a general rule, beans taste better the next day and will also considerably thicken as they cool.
Whenever I made beans, I was too afraid to add anything to the water, especially salt. I am guilty of sometimes using the quick soak method. I don’t think I’ve been soaking them in enough water. I usually only cook beans for whatever the package says, which is something like 1 1/2 to 2 hours and then get anxious and try to hurry them along because I’m hungry. The seaweed was an interesting bit of information, and made me double check a can of beans to see what kind of seaweed was used in them… wouldn’t ya know it, kombu.
I decided that it was time to try making my own beans again, now that I was armed with some new information, maybe this time I could make good beans. I found kombu quite easily at whole foods. I took Terry’s advice and took my time with this, having something else to eat on the day of cooking the beans intending to eat them as leftovers. I soaked the beans in a much larger bowl than I would have normally… (normally I would have used the green bowl)…
It wasn’t 6 inches of water, but I hoped that the diameter of the bowl would help.
They simmered on the back burner while I made homestyle refried beans from a can. After 2 1/2 hours, I tasted the beans… according to Terry…
- “Perfectly cooked beans should be very soft with a tender interior and a soft exterior, and will mash easily when pressed with your tongue onto the roof of your mouth. Beans should never be very grainy or crunchy.”
I decided to give the beans another half hour. After a total of three hours the interior of my beans were nice and tender, the exterior was not as tender as canned beans, but I called them done, because it was late. I’m happy with the beans, they are soooo much better than any of my previous attempts. There is room for improvement though. My taste-tester asked if I was aggressive enough… he used the example of me and fried tofu. I usually keep the temp too low to make good fried tofu, because I’m afraid of getting splattered and having a grease burn, so he wondered if I simmered the beans too low. It is a distinct possibility. Also, I think I will start the beans much earlier in the day, so that if it takes, heaven forbid, five hours, I don’t have to stop the cooking process because it’s bedtime. But overall, I am very pleased with my experiment… beans no longer seem like one of those things I’m not good at.
I ended up being really busy the next day and opted to have a repeat of the homestyle refried bean free-form dinner.
*Sidenote: My taste-tester requested one change to the homestyle refried bean free-form dinner… salsa. I did him one better. I not only offered salsa with the meal, but also these yummy and hot chips… Garden of Eatin’ Red Hot Blues.
So day two of the cooked beans, I was ready to try these guys out in my dinner… I had a pineapple sitting on my counter threatening to shove its fist at me. I don’t know why, but pineapples ripen/go bad extremely quickly in my home, I mean, like the next day they are angry. Crazy. Anyway, I knew that if I was going to eat that pineapple it had to be now…
Let me walk you through my mind process here… I wanted to make this corn thing I had made some time back, but I couldn’t remember what it was called, I just knew it had an unusual name and that we really liked it… I went through my print-outs of online recipes and couldn’t find it… I was fairly certain that I had the magazine and had printed it out before my move so that I could recycle the magazine. I went online to search, but since I was thinking it was from Vegetarian Times it wasn’t there. While searching for the corn thing I also looked up pineapple salsa. I remembered a pile of papers from the move and went searching in that stack…. AHA! There it is! The corn thing was called Macque Choux (“mock shoe”) and it was from Eating Well.
I didn’t have all the ingredients for either recipe, but then an idea occurred to me… what if I combined them with what I did have on hand. And so, the inspiration took over… and I had a great day in the kitchen… letting sight and taste be my guide…
I cut the pineapple, like it is suggested in this recipe, into ‘steaks’…
Making the macque choux… I sauted an onion, some garlic, red bell pepper, salt, pepper, and chili powder, then added some diced grilled pineapple (recipe at end)…
Now for dessert… the chocolate sauce had gotten just a bit thick, so I added about a teaspoon of water and used the whisk to get out any lumps or dried bits of cocoa. Then I got out the inspired ingredients… pineapple, coconut ice cream and chocolate sauce…
Pretty good… I liked it… perhaps it’s an acquired taste… try it, let me know what you think…
Now let’s see if I can remember what exactly I did…
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 – 3/4 bag frozen corn
salt and pepper, to taste
several dashes of chili powder (~1 tsp)
4 small scallions, sliced, white and light green parts
handful of cilantro, chopped
1/4 lime, juiced
~2 cups pinto beans
- grill pineapple using canola oil. take off heat and set aside.
- saute onion and garlic in olive oil, until onion is translucent. add red bell pepper and frozen corn. when red bell pepper is crisp tender and the corn is heated through, add salt, pepper, and chili. take off heat.
- place onion mixture into a big bowl, add scallions, cilantro, lime juice, and diced grilled pineapple (about 1/4 of the pineapple); stir to combine. add pinto beans (mine were refrigerator cold… along with the hot onion mixture, they quickly made each other slightly warmer than room temp.) set aside to let flavors marry.
I added this ‘salad’ to my tacos, this is what I did…
you will need…
romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
inspired pineapple-corn salad
salsa, to taste
- prepare taco shells, heat up refried beans and wild rice.
- place beans then rice into shells.
- add romaine lettuce.
- top with inspired pineapple-corn salad and salsa.
I served it with the rest of the wild rice that I had heated up and some mission black olives… delicious!
Inspired Pineapple-Coconut Ice Cream w/ Chocolate Sauce
by nic – the auspicious squirrel
~1/4 cup cocoa powder
~ 1/3 cup maple syrup
~ 1 tsp. water
coconut ice cream
1 grilled pineapple ‘steak’, diced
- to make chocolate sauce add cocoa powder and maple syrup… stirring until combined. A whisk actually works better for this than a spoon, although a spoon will work, but it won’t be as smooth. Add enough water to get the consistency you desire.
- scoop out some ice cream into bowls.
- top with grilled pineapple.
- drizzle chocolate syrup over ice cream and pineapple.
Now, go out there and risk some failure, would ya?
Until next time…