Sunday, January 27, 2008

impromptu gatherings

Yesterday my friend Talaya came to visit with her wee babe Cathil (Ca- Hul, Gaelic for warrior). Incidentally, Cathil and I share the same birthday and my name is the feminine form of his. Kelly means warrior princess, or battle wench depending on the book you look in.

Talaya has been busy recently, applying for teaching positions at various universities and colleges. She, Niall and Cathil left for a few days for a some interviews. We have hardly seen eachother! She has an offer from Vassar and is waiting to hear from Yale and U.Mass. Her top choice is U.Mass and I hope she gets it. I will be so lonely if she leaves.

So Talaya and I were baking cookies. She and Niall think my cookies are amazing (thanks Michaela). Before I knew it it was 4:30 and I had to start making dinner. I had plans to make our family's favorite black beans and rice.

This beans and rice recipe is from Bon Appetit or Gourmet. Can't remember which. When we moved to Mass. I had a big beautiful kitchen and no friends so I treated myself to a double subscription ( 2 for 1). This recipe alone made it worth it. It is easy, healthy and cheap except for the avocadoes. It doesn't require much effort either.

A half hour after starting dinner I got a call from Matt requesting that I bring dinner over to the neighbors house. They had guac. and limes (which I had forgotten). It was perfect.

We had this beans and rice recipe last night with Talaya and family and our friends Dawn, Robb, and their kids Ava and Luke.

Here is a list of toppings. You can roast the potatoes while the rice is cooking. The beans will need to be started a half hour before the rice and sweet potatoes.

Cilantro, coarsely chopped
scallions, chopped
salsa verde, (or other kind but the verde is best)
plain yogurt (or sour cream)
avocados, large chunks, drizzled with lime juice
slices of lime
roasted sweet potatoes, smallish cubes, 1/2 potato per person (roast until tender and a bit browned, with olive oil, salt and pepper)

All of the above toppings can be placed in pretty bowls on the table for people to serve themselves.

Kemp's Black Beans (yields about 4-5 c. cooked)

11/4 c. dried black beans, rinsed, not soaked
I medium onion, finely chopped
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 c. water
11/2 tsp.salt
1/8 c. sherry, cream or med.dry
1-2 sauce
1-2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

Bring beans, onion, oil, water and salt to boil. Reduce and simmer till beans are tender. Check occasionaly to see if there is enough liquid in pot.

When tender, stir in sherry, vinegar and soy sauce. simmer uncovered 5 min.

If you buy dried beans and use them quickly enough they will cook in about an hour...If they are older, it will take longer. I never use the long soak method anymore. I almost never use canned beans. I just make sure I use up our dried beans and replenish them every couple months. The flavor is much better if you don't soak them all day.


laurie said...

At my less then impromptu dinner party last night, I mentioned that recipe about three times. It is such a good one. Though, I switched the amounts once (more soy sauce less sherry) not so good.

The Constant C said...

Thanks for the recipe... it sounds so good! I'll let you know when I try it.

I never seem to have bean fresh enough not to soak--maybe it's the leftover Chicago stores, or maybe we should always buy beans from Ithaca instead of Auburn. But if I don't soak the beans they just don't seem to cook.

Ruth Reichl's Gourmet Cookbook has a non-soaked bean solution I haven't tried yet that involves an hour, a furious boil, and a tight-fitting lid (if I remember correctly). Maybe I'll give it a try.

Kelly Carlisle said...

It might be a good idea to buy them in bulk from a place where people are buying a lot of beans... a.k.a hippie heaven a.k.a Ithaca. you can make awesome bean bags from old beans...great toys for kids....


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