Saturday, May 11, 2013

Bean Cuisine...

My Beloved yesterday took me to the new cookshop recently opened in Morecambe.  I'd been there once before, and - unlike many other shops - the retailer was most helpful, so as B was then popping off to Morrison's to buy his diet lemonade (he is addicted to it), was able to spend some very happy minutes with the owner discussing cake-making etc.  Naturally I couldn't leave without buying something, and as the bug has now bit when it comes to making cakes, looks like I'll be having some happy days to look forward to.  Already my B is almost sobbing because I won't give him a slice of the cake before I take it to the Clandestine Club today, but I've told him I'm sure there will be some to bring back, and - if not - I can always make him another one.

Because I'll be spending much of my 'working' part of today away from home, this blog will again be shorter than normal, but perhaps that's no bad thing as I do tend to ramble on rather too much.  However, do have time to reply to the couple of comments that came in, although I've not yet come up with many answers to the query sent by Kathryn.  A few recipes are given today that I hope you and your OH might enjoy,.

Thanks to Sarina for offering some suggestions for the bean salad dressing.  The talk given by B yesterday went down very well.  The children couldn't believe the tiny amounts made up the food ration for one person.  They thought it wasn't really enough for one day, so when B said it was for a week they were shocked to the core.  As well as the food, B was able to tell them a lot about the war - his brother - a pilot - whose plane was shot down and he was taken prisoner for the remainder of the war, also able to answer all the queries the children had written down ready to ask him.  Apparently the class are doing a project on World War II so they were able to learn a lot 'from the horse's mouth' so to speak   Not that B was IN the war, he was too young, but was in National Service, and both he and I were born several years before the war began, so lived through it.

The teacher herself was most impressed by the quality (if you can call it that) of the bed sheet taken that as the 'utility mark' stitched to it.  Because it was 'utility', it was not the BEST quality, but as it has been regularly laundered for the last 70 years without having any worn patches or frayed edges, it says a lot about how well things were made to last in those days. 'Built-in obsolesence' (in other words "don't make anything that will last longer than 10 years) began after the war when manufacturers realised that the faster things broke or fell to bits, people then had to keep buying replacements, so the more they would sell and the more profit they would make (and the more money we would be then be forced to spend because of this).
Looking round our home today, the only things that have lasted have been items bought pre-war, and they'll probably last a century more.  Perhaps by then will be worth a lot more money because they will be classed as 'antiques'.

If you've bought a pack of mixed dried beans Kathryn, you will probably find they contain at least 6 different varieties.  When I last bought one of these packs I took out one of each type of bean and put it between layers of sodden kitchen paper placed on a plate, then popped this into a poly-bag and put in a warm place.  By the next day each bean showed signs of growth, and within a very few days each had a root.  So why not save a few of each type, get the 'sprouted', and plant so that you can let them grow to maturity, leave the pods on the vines to dry, then store the dry beans for use next winter to soak/cook/eat, also keeping back a few to grow again.

Am sure most people already know this, but after soaking dried beans, they should always be fast-boiled (NOT simmered) for at least 8 minutes, as this kills the toxins that are in some beans (esp the red ones). 

First recipe is for a 'quesadilla', this being one of those 'snacks' or 'light lunches' that I like to make myself now and again.  I always keep packs of soft flour tortillas in the freezer ready when the mood strikes me.  This particular 'toasted Mexican sarnie' would eat well with guacamole, but recently I discovered that Tesco (and probably most supermarkets) stock squeezy bottles of guacamole, more a thick avocado dressing than a true guacamole, but tastes much the same, and this I often use instead of mayo or salad cream over a green salad (esp when adding a few thawed cooked prawns.  So - diluted with a little yogurt or what you will - this would also make a good dressing for a bean salad.
Instead of frying in a pan, you could brush the top of a filled tortilla with oil, then place it oiled-side down onto a preheated dry griddle pan, this will give a more interesting appearance ('toasted' stripes on the tortilla).  Before turning, oil the top side.

Mixed Bean Quesadillas: serves 3
14 oz (400g) cooked mixed beans, drained well
3 oz (75g) cheddar cheese, grated
1 - 2 shallots, finely chopped
salt and pepper
dash Tabasco (opt)
6 flour tortillas
olive oil
Put most of the beans into a bowl and roughly mash with a fork (the mashed beans then hold the rest of the ingredients together).  Fold in the cheddar cheese, the shallots, the reserved beans, with seasoning to taste and a dash of Tabasco if you want a bit of 'heat'.
Lay the tortillas out and spread the bean mixture over three of them, then place the remaining three tortillas on top, pressing down lightly to remove as much air as possible.
Drizzle a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and when heated fry the tortillas until golden beneath, then turn and fry the other side.  Cut each into quarters and  serve with guacamole and/or a crisp green salad.

Although this next recipe would normally use just butter beans, no reason why a mixture of cooked beans could not be substituted.  The 'spring greens' could be almost any green vegetable: kale, cabbage, spinach...,  also it is not necessary to use brown rice - quinoa, pearl barley, orzo are just as 'healthy' and tasty, also take less time to cook.
If choosing to use white rice, why not cook this in a meat stock (beef or chicken) to add a little extra flavour to the dish.
Smoky Beans, Rice and Greens: serves 4
7 oz (200g) brown rice
3 tblsp olive oil
7 oz (200g) 'spring greens' (see above)
1 - 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 x 400g can butter beans, drained (see above)
half teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
natural yogurt for serving (opt)
Cook the rice as per packet instructions, then drain and set aside.
Put 2 tablespoons of the oil into a wide pan (I'd use a deep frying pan).  Add the greens, salt and pepper, then stir-fry over medium heat until the greens are lightly steamed and wilted (takes about 2 -4 minutes depending on which 'greens' you use). Stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute, then add the cooked beans.  Continue stirring until heated through, then add.the remaining tablespoon of oil, the cumin seeds and paprika, and when well combined, spoon over the (now dished up) hot, cooked rice, with a dollop of yogurt with each serving (the yog being optional).

Sorry to leave you so soon, but a busy day awaits me.  The kitchen looks as though a bomb has hit it so must tidy up before I leave the house.  Tomorrow Gill will be phoning after 2 weekends away so we have much to catch up on.  If I get up early enough to write/publish blog before she rings, will do so, otherwise it will be either side of noon before it is there to be read.

After the glorious sunshine over the Bank Holiday, we are now back to almost wintry weather again, it has turned very cool, very windy, and of course back to rain again.  At least we have a front garden full of bluebells, although unfortunately I have to go outdoors to see them as they are hidden from the windows.   All of a sudden the large trees in the road and in our gardens have suddenly decided to show their leaves (about 6 weeks later than normal), and the lilac bush close to the window in front of me seems to have loads of blossom on this year.  The Acer towards the bottom of the garden is now a mass of copper leaves when this time last week hardly a leaf could be seen, so at least Nature is catching itself up.  Birds seem to have laid eggs as I see the bluetits busy flying back and forth into nest boxes feeding their young, also now all we need is a bit of warmth to keep everything happy and on track. 

Whatever the weather, do hope you all manage to relax and get some enjoyment from your weekend, and find time to - perhaps - send me a comment?   That is - if you've nothing better to do, like baking a cake?  As ever, I'll be back - at least tomorrow.  Not sure about Monday (or it might be Tuesday), but will always let you know when I'll not be blogging.  TTFN.