Fall has begun. The rain is starting to come down here in Argentina and that means the onset of one of my favorite times of year. Perhaps to a native of the Pacific Northwest, a little rain can make you feel at home, but it also ushers in the beginning of the season of comfort food; soups and fresh breads, hearty casseroles and of course the baked bean.
Beans are cheap and dead easy to cook. Up until recently if you had asked me how to cook beans I would probably have said 'open a can'. But the truth is, buying your beans dried is cheaper (you don't pay for the water that way) and cooking them at home adds a depth of flavor you just can't find in anything pre-packaged.
Beans a la Katy
1 1/2 cups dried beans (black or kidney, whatever floats your boat)
2 onions, cut into quarters
6-10 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon brown sugar (if you are using black beans skip the sugar)
2 cups beef broth
salt & pepper to taste
Take your beans and cover them in about 4 cups of water, and let them soak overnight. Drain the beans and rinse them with cold water in a colander until the water coming through is clear. Place your beanies in a large pot with 2 cups water, 2 cups beef broth, your onions, garlic, sugar and cumin and put on a low simmer with the lid on. Cook your beans until they are nice and tender (mine take several hours, but they don't need a lot of watching). If the water gets too low while your beans aren't yet done, just add a bit more. Once your beans are cooked reduce any remaining water on a medium-high heat stirring constantly to make sure they don't burn. Salt & pepper to taste.
Milk bread rolls are light and fluffy with just the right amount of crust. They are perfect for eating with heavy beans because the light texture of these rolls helps to balance out the weight of the beans- plus they are great for sopping up all of that flavorful beany sap left in your bowl.
Milk Bread Rolls
from The Joy of Cooking
In a large bowl mix:
1 package dry active yeast
3 tablespoons warm water (109-115 degrees)
Let stand for 5 minutes.
1 cup milk, warmed to 105-115 degrees
5 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
Knead in 2 cups bread flour, followed by 1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour until the dough is moist but doesn't stick to your hands.
Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, and let rise in a warm place (in a buttered bowl) until doubled in size. Once doubled punch down and knead for another five minutes, then break into balls and place on a greased baking sheet to rise again.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and brush the rolls with milk or a beaten egg. Bake for 15 minutes until the bottom sounds hollow when tapped and the crust is a golden brown.
After all of this cooking and baking it is time for a little break. Which is why the next day you can feast upon beans incarnate. Santiago made up the recipe for these little quasi-volcanic taste creations, and they are the perfect way for using up any leftover cooked beans.* Small enough to fit in your hand these bites are a taste explosion.
These take about 15 minutes to whip up.
Santiago's Beans Incarnate
Left over beans
1 glug of olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 dash salsa habanera (or other hot sauce)
sour cream or queso untable, to top
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and pop in any left over rolls- heat for 4 minutes, until warm.
In a frying pan put one glug of olive oil, and heat on medium. Once your pan is warm add in your onion and cook until translucent, add the red pepper, tomatoes, hot sauce and beans and stir until cooked through.
Cut the tops off of your rolls and hollow out with a spoon. Scoop in bean mixture, and top with a little sour cream or queso untable and the top of roll. Eat.
* this goes along with his cooking montra, nada se tira todo se transforma!