Archive for Beans

Serendipity and the Beans – Green Beans with Vietnamese Caramelized Pork

I recently borrowed a large, coffee table cookbook from a friend – and Annette, I promise I will return it soon!! The book, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, by Andrea Nguyen, is one of those wonderful cookbooks that offers not only dishes and recipes but core cooking techniques and pantry basics as well as rich insights into the cuisine of Vietnam.

It  came quite serendipitously, as I’d just gotten a ton – OK, a bag full – of just picked, gorgeous green beans from “East of the Mountains”. When we say “East of the Mountains” here in the Skagit County / Salish Sea area, we mean the Cascade Mountains, east of which are the fertile irrigated valleys that produce much of the nation’s apples, hops, sweet cherries, hops and much more. And green beans – and peas – East of the Mountains is the largest lentil production area in the country!

Yakima Valley Green Beans

Fresh Green Beans from East of the Mountains

We Love Stir Fried Green Beans

Many Asian cuisines have some type of stir fried or flash fried green bean dish. Often the dish has a bit of heat, a bit of aroma via herbs such as Thai basil and aromatics like garlic or shallot, a bit of darkness via soy or Kecap Manis (kind of an Indonesian soy based ketchup) or Nam Pla  (fish sauce).

Our own version(s) of this dish usually go like this – get some great green beans, put ’em in the fridge. They are so beautiful that you are seduced, you buy them without necessarily thinking “what then will I do with these?”

And that’s OK, at least in our house, because we’re always up for a quick flash fried green beans-with-pork-herbs-soy-and lots of garlic. The general idea is to first heat a big wok. Now, by “heat”, I mean we turn the heat on under the wok and go off to play Words with Friends until the smoke detector goes off – it’s our timer. Then flash fry the green beans in just a T of oil, a little garlic, some soy and some pork until everything is seared and tasty and the juice from the beans + the added liquids makes a lovely light sauce. Serve over rice. The problem is that it’s tough to properly cook the beans and the pork together and it’s inconvenient to cook them separately. One great solution is to use Vietnamese Caramelized Pork with your flash fried green beans. Read the rest of this entry »

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Darwinian Nachos – An Apex Choice for Dinner

Almost My Birthday Dish!

October 21st is the International Day of the Nacho. It’s right after my birthday, which is one reason why I have such an affinity for this brilliant dish.
OK, I have lots of reasons, including sheer deliciousness, ease of preparation and versatility. But it doesn’t hurt that it’s almost my birthday dish.

As served in restaurants across the US, nachos are often a weighty, substantial offering – it’s funny to see them as a 3000 calorie snack item in the Appetizers section of the menu.

As served in many parts of Mexico, those same nachos are typically a delightful and relatively light quick snack or appetizer with a perfect blend of salt, savory and heat and a beautiful mix of ingredients.

A couple of decades ago, we first started making nachos in the more traditional Mexican style, but over time, this dish has evolved. Today, it incorporates veggies, beans, greens – it’s become a complete meal, all done in one pot, er, tray. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three little steps – W. African style ground nut stew

2013-02-02 18.43.51I love stews! There’s something magical about tossing a bunch of stuff in a pot and simmering it for a while until it’s done. Bonus! Most stews taste wonderfully better on the following day, after the flavors have had a chance to marry more thoroughly, making them perfect for long-range eating.

The wonderful New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik in his “The Table Comes First” notes that the cookery for essentially all dishes can be divided into three parts. I learned this by listening to Bonney talk about the book as I cooked the stew, which I realized was indeed a three-parter! I’ll talk about the three parts in the “Method” section of this post. Read the rest of this entry »

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LARDER: The pulse of love – scratch homemade refritos

No more cans! Homemade frijoles negros refritos.

It’s so easy to make delicious fresh, homemade refritos. Once you start making them – and see how easy it is – you’ll be giving your canned refritos away to neighbors. Well, OK, go ahead and keep a few cans for emergencies, but these homemade beans are a revelation. Smooth, creamy, with a slightly chunky texture – and the taste!  Once they’re refried, the beans will keep for a week or more in the ‘fridge. Refried beans also freeze well – freeze them in smaller amounts and defrost as needed. This recipe makes a vegetarian (but not vegan) style refritos negros. Read the rest of this entry »

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