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Old 02-05-2009, 02:18 PM   #11
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Location: San Jose, Costa Rica, Central America
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Living in Central America, beans are a staple in my diet. We eat them pretty much every day, often twice a day. I use dried beans of every variety. They are economical, easy to prepare and can be seasoned exactly the way you want them.

This is the best website I've found for information about cooking dried beans: Home Page for Central Bean Company. It will answer most of of your questions.

I don't find a pressure cooker to be much of a timesaver, and seldom use it for beans. I use the quick soak meathod described in the Central Bean instructions.

I always pour out the soak water and add fresh before cooking. I don't add salt or any acidic ingredients until the beans are soft and nearly done. With most beans I add a little vinegar at the same time as I add the salt. I usually add some sort of seasoning meat - salt pork, bacon, smoked pork neck bones etc. My "standard" aromatics include onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf and, sometimes, oregano. A little olive oil also improves the flavor of many beans, particularly if you don't use any seasoning meat.

I also use canned beans regularly when I only need small quantities.

"I’m going to break one of the rules of the trade here. I’m going to tell you some of the secrets of improvisation. Just remember — it’s always a good idea to follow the directions exactly the first time you try a recipe. But from then on, you’re on your own." - James Beard
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:21 PM   #12
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And another.


1 pound dried black beans (2 cups), rinsed and picked over
4 ounces ham steak, trimmed of rind
2 bay leaves
5 cups water
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, chopped fine (about 3 cups)
1 large carrot, chopped fine (about ½ cup)
3 ribs celery, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1½ teaspoons salt
6 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed (about 1½ tablespoon)
1½ tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 teaspoons adobo sauce (from the can of chiles)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons lime juice (1 to 2 limes)
Garnishes: lime wedges, minced cilantro, diced red onion, diced avocado, sour cream

Place beans, ham, bay leaves, water, and baking soda in large saucepan with tight-fitting lid.

Bring to boil over medium-high heat, removing scum as it rises to surface.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until beans are tender, 1¼ to 1½ hours (if necessary, add another 1 cup water and continue to simmer until beans are tender); do not drain beans.

Remove and discard bay leaves.

Remove ham steak, cut into ¼-inch cubes, and set aside.

Heat oil in 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking; add onions, carrot, and celery, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add garlic and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

Stir in salt, beans, bean cooking liquid, chipotle chiles, adobo sauce, and chicken broth.

Increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 30 minutes.

Ladle 1½ cups beans and 2 cups liquid into blender, process until smooth, return to pot. Bring to boil.

Continue cooking uncovered if soup seems too thin.

Remove from heat, stir in lime juice and reserved ham; ladle soup into bowls and serve immediately, passing garnishes separately.

Makes about 9 cups, serving 6.

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Old 02-05-2009, 02:23 PM   #13
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And one more.

Spiced Black-Eyed Peas with Yogurt & Ginger

1½ cups dried black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, minced
4 tablespoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tomatoes, chopped
½ cup plain yogurt
salt to taste
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Serve these East Indian–inspired black-eyed peas as a vegetarian main course with steamed basmati rice.

Pick over and discard any damaged peas or stones. Rinse the peas. Place in a bowl, add plenty of water to cover and soak for about 3 hours.

Drain the peas and place in a saucepan with water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until almost tender, about 35 minutes. Drain the peas, reserving the liquid. Set aside.

In a large frying pan over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions and saute, stirring, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin and cardamom and saute, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, cover and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Uncover and increase the heat to medium. Add 1 tablespoon of the yogurt and continue to stir until it is fully incorporated into the sauce. Continue in the same manner with the remaining yogurt, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Add the peas, ½ cup of the reserved liquid, salt to taste, and the cayenne; cover and simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes.

Uncover and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is very thick, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer to a platter, garnish with the cilantro and serve,

Serves 6
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:24 PM   #14
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Yes, dried beans require some planning. But, that said, they are very economical and yummy! I have used a slow-cooker. Just a couple of minutes prep, then walk away! 9after a quick soak). I also wait until the beans are soft before adding salt or acid.
When I use canned beans, I rinse them. i know some may think it wahes away nutrients, but they taste better.

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Old 02-05-2009, 02:26 PM   #15
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This one uses dried beans without soaking, and it's very good stuff!


3 pounds lamb shoulder blade chops
8 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 pounds fennel (3 small or 2 medium)
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 onion, diced
1 cup white wine
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 pound Great Northern white beans or navy beans
Freshly ground black pepper
Small loaf French bread (enough for 1¾ cups crumbs)
8 fresh sage leaves

1. Remove small bones and excess fat from meat; cut into serving pieces; lightly salt meat.

2. Remove tops from fennel and trim bottoms; cut lengthwise (top to bottom) into quarters.

3. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat; add half the meat and brown well; remove to bowl; repeat with remaining meat.

4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add carrot and cook without stirring until lightly browned on one side, 2 to 5 minutes; stir and cook 3 to 5 minutes more.

5. Add onion and cook until soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

6. Add wine, bring to boil, and cook until it is reduced to a thick syrup, 7 to 10 minutes.

7. Add crushed tomatoes and cook 3 to 5 minutes.

8. Add 5 cups water, beans, fennel, and garlic; stir gently; add lamb and press gently into liquid. (Note: Dried beans vary; more water may be needed during cooking.)

9. Cover pot with tight-fitting lid; place in preheated 325 degree oven.

10. After 1 hour, add ½ tablespoon salt and a generous grinding of black pepper; stir gently to avoid breaking up the fennel or crushing the garlic.

11. Check after 1½ hours (2½ hours total); if needed, add up to 1 cup water and stir gently.

12. After 1 hour (3½ hours total), remove from oven; increase heat to 400 degrees.

13. Remove crust from bread, cut into cubes, and place in food processor with sage; process to form crumbs; spread mixture evenly over top of cassoulet; lightly drizzle with olive oil.

14. Return uncovered pot to 400 degree oven to brown crumbs, about 20 minutes.

15. Serve immediately.
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:27 PM   #16
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You guys are great! can't wait to get home and start cooking... I'm hungry! :)
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:29 PM   #17
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This is a company dish, worth the effort.


1½ pounds dried white Great Northern beans
5 garlic cloves
6 lamb shanks, about 1 pound each
flour seasoned with salt & pepper for dredging
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 cup canned Italian tomatoes, with liquid, chopped
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
½ cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Soak the beans overnight in cold water to cover. Drain the beans, place in a large saucepan, and add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 1 hour. Drain and set aside. Do not add salt or the beans will be tough.

2. Sliver 2 of the garlic cloves. With a pointed knife, make small incisions in the lamb shanks and insert the garlic. Use more garlic if needed.

3. Pat the shanks dry and dredge them in the seasoned flour. Shake off the excess. Heat the oil in a very large flameproof oval casserole over moderately high heat and in it brown the shanks on all sides in batches. Set aside on a plate as done.

4. There should be about 3 tablespoons of oil left in the casserole. Reduce the heat to moderately low and in the oil sauté the onions, carrot, and celery until lightly browned. Add the remaining 3 garlic cloves, minced, for the last minute of cooking.

5. In a large bowl, toss the drained beans, sautéed vegetables, tomatoes and their liquid, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Return the shanks and any accumulated liquid to the casserole and pour the bean mixture over the meat. Add the wine and enough stock to barely cover the beans. Add the bay leaves.

6. Bring the casserole to a simmer on the stove top. Cover and bake in a preheated 325-degree oven until the shanks and beans are tender, about 1½ hours. Check occasionally to be sure there’s enough liquid.

7. Arrange the shanks around the rim of a large heated platter. Remove the bay leaves, stir the parsley into the beans, and mound the beans in the center of the platter.

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Old 02-05-2009, 02:32 PM   #18
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You can cook a pound of black beans in about 20 min. in a pressure cooker.

Don't cook dry kidney beans in a crockpot. It may not get hot enough to kill some toxins.

Its ok to salt beans as you cook them, but add acid toward the end. Acid inhibits softening.
Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:32 PM   #19
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Beans work with fish, too.


1 Cup dried small white beans
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 Medium onion, finely chopped
1 Large carrot, cut into a-inch dice
1 Celery rib, cut into a-inch dice
1 Large clove garlic
1 Teaspoon dried thyme
½ Teaspoon dried oregano
1 Bay leaf
3 Medium yellow or red bell peppers, cut into a inch dice
4 Cups chicken broth
Salt & black pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
2 Teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil
4 6-ounce tuna steaks, about 2 inches thick
Salt & coarsely ground black pepper

BEANS: Rinse beans. Either soak overnight in 4 cups water, OR bring to boil, turn off heat, & cover for 1 hour. Drain & rinse.

Melt butter in 4-quart saucepan and saute onion, carrot, & celery until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, & bell peppers; saute another minute. Add broth and beans. Bring to boil, partially cover, and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour. Some liquid should remain.

Add salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, stir in parsley, rosemary, olive oil and vinegar.

TUNA: Preheat oven to 450E. Season one side of tuna with salt and lots of pepper. Heat oil in heavy cast-iron skillet. Saute fish over high heat for 1 to 2 minutes per side until just browned on all sides. Transfer skillet to oven and cook fish for another 6 minutes or until it feels firm but is still pink in center.

SERVICE: Spoon beans onto plates and set the tuna on top, peppered side up. Serve with medium-bodied, fruity red wine.
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Old 02-05-2009, 02:35 PM   #20
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And soup (last one, I promise). ;-)

White Bean & Fennel Soup

olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 large fennel bulbs (or 3 small)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound dry Great Northern or cannellini beans
1 bay leaf
8 cups water
¼ cup white wine
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided, for garnish (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy soup pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion and carrots, and cover and cook until they soften, about 20 minutes.

3. Trim the fennel bulbs. Chop and reserve at least a cup of the fronds. Dice one bulb (two if small) and add to the pot (you can do this before the onions and carrots are fully softened). Set the remaining bulb aside until later.

4. When the vegetables are softened, stir in the garlic and cook 2 or 3 minutes.

5. Add the beans, bay leaf, and water to pot, cover and place in oven.

6. After 1 hour, stir in ½ tablespoon of salt. Continue cooking until the beans are tender, another 45 minutes to 75 minutes. Cooking time can vary depending on the condition of the beans, so begin checking after 30 minutes. Add water as needed to maintain a loose, soup-like consistency. When the beans are tender, remove the pot from the oven.

7. Quarter the remaining fennel bulb lengthwise. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, add fennel quarters and brown for two or three minutes on each side, covering between turns to avoid splattering. When the fennel is well browned, add the wine, cover and cook over low heat until tender, about 10 minutes.

8. When the fennel is tender, remove it from the pan, sprinkle with salt, cut each quarter in half lengthwise, and add to soup. Discard liquid remaining in pan.

9. Just before serving, stir in the reserved chopped fennel fronds. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste and more salt if necessary. Top each serving with a drizzle of olive oil.

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