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East Coast USA, United States
Lowcountry porch sitter. Appalachian Mountain lover. Finger Lakes dreamer.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

An Overnight Soak Makes Better Beans

Recently I posed a question on my Facebook page about the practice of soaking beans.  That is, whether there was any advantage to soaking beans over night versus the "quick soak" method.  Overwhelmingly those that responded deferred to the overnight method, indicating that the beans would render more tender and taste much better.  Following the well heeded advice of familiar foodies I brought picture perfect beans to the kitchen for a Spicy Black Bean Chili for service at a local potluck Oscar party gathering.  Preparing this recipe from another elder cook book on the shelf, my 1993 copy of  Better Homes and Gardens Cooking for Today: Vegetarian Recipes. I included one cup of cooked sweet corn kernels for additional texture and color as well as a touch of cinnamon to the recipe.  I also followed the advice of the recipe to provide plain yogurt and leaves of cilantro to "dress" the chili. And for those forever loving cheese heads I provided slivers of Asiago cheese to top off their bowls. Cornbread does make for a complete meal of this recipe, but I'm rather smitten with the Late July Organic Snacks and elected to serve a variety of their multigrain chips (note these chips stand alone in flavor quite well, but also pair nicely with all sorts of dips, soups, etc).  An overnight soak delivers superbly in this case, but much like life I imagine the short cut exists for those lacking the patience to let every moment ease itself into being.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Onion Flan not just a side dish

Dining in the Lowcountry can be characterized from completely casual to the pretentiously formal.  As well, it can also range from classical preparations to all out comfort food on a stick.  But when it comes to an invitation to someone's home to enjoy the fruits of their labor in the kitchen, there's nothing more exciting than when that invitation is extended by folks that own a wine store, a craft beer retail outlet and a tremendously successful catering business on Hilton Head Island--cause you know there's food pairing logic at play every step of the way and a healthy discussion of preferences due to unfold during the course of the meal.  I would go so far as to say that's my all time favorite kind of meal~where hosts and guests enjoy not only the taste, flavor and presence of the food, but also get a healthy dose of culinary and beverage education along the way.  This particular meal had several scrumptious courses: oyster stew, strawberry pecan ensalda, lamb and onion flan with a wine reduction sauce (see photo) and a dessert cheese course with sweet wines (that I missed due to a an early departure the next day). The onion flan served with the entree course was creamy, succulent and for me not a traditional side to accompany lamb. And for that flavor memory I'm bringing it to my kitchen as a stand alone course.  Warm Onion Flans will make you go "mmmmmm" at the first bite and you can expect a symphony of the same when it's served with your foodie friends. This recipe from Food & Wine also shares a simple tomato sauce which presents this dish delightfully both in color and flavor.
Life Enrichment is like a travel and learn program...offering infusions that make every day life thereafter far more interesting! ~ Ann-Marie Adams, Reflections on a Meaningful Life