Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pinto Beans Flameado - My Legume Love Affair - Twelfth Helping

Pinto Beans
When one is too wired yet tired for words, it helps to let
your photos do the talking for you. I hope you will agree.

Pinto Beans, Chiles and Black Olives

Ready for the Oven

Pinto Bean Flameado
– My own recipe
The traditional recipe is known as Queso Flameado (Flaming Cheese) and is doused with brandy and torched before serving. If your smoke detector is as sensitive as mine is, you may want to pass on the fire business. The alarm forgave me for charring the chiles (see below), but I always risk the howl from Hell when things get a little too hot in my kitchen.

Ingredients

1 cup assorted chile peppers, charred, skinned and diced* (I used poblano, jalapeños, and Hatch, in addition to sweet red and yellow bell peppers.)
2 generous cups cooked pinto beans
1/3 cup sliced ripe black olives (not the cured, salted Mediterranean type)
1 tablespoon dried epazote (or Mexican or Italian oregano)
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups assorted shredded soft Mexican or Mexican-style cheeses (I used Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Queso Quesadilla and Asadero.)

A few fresh cilantro leaves
6 warmed tortillas (white, wheat or corn)

Method

Using long-handled metal tongs, hold each pepper on an open flame, turning frequently, until all surfaces of its skin are blistered and charred. Place the charred peppers immediately in a brown paper bag, folding over the bag to seal. Set aside for 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Meantime, combine beans, olives, epazote, salt and pepper in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl. Remove peppers from paper bag to a cutting board. Peel off and discard their skins, then cut off and discard the stems before scrapping out the seeds and softened membranes. If you like extra heat, retain the jalapeño seeds; otherwise, discard all seeds with the membranes. Dice peppers and add to the bean mixture. Adjust salt if necessary. Microwave mixture to heat through (1 minute), then divide into one or more oven-proof casserole dishes (depending on how you will serve it). Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling. Carefully remove hot dish/es from oven. Scatter with cilantro leaves. Serve immediately with warmed tortillas. Serves 3-4 as a starter or 2 as a light, but hearty meal. --

Pinto Beans Flameado

This recipe is for Apu of Annarasa, hosting MLLA 12 for June. Apu has a charming round-up coming very soon. Please have a look at all the lovely legume recipes she's been collecting this past month from around the world. Apu will also be announcing the winner of a stylish set of kitchen textiles guaranteed to complement any decor as well as earn its keep.

I'll be returning tomorrow with another MLLA-related post. See you then!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

CONGRATULATIONS TO.....


Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums, and Val of More than Burnt Toast, winners of the complimentary copies of the bestselling "Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft" by Lauren Braun Costello and Russell Reich. Ladies, please contact me via email (see sidebar) with your mailing details.

Thank you, all, for your participation. I'll be back very soon with a MLLA recipe, as well as an announcement for a new, additional and ongoing monthly giveaway to celebrate MLLA's first year anniversary.

Hope you've enjoyed a wonderful weekend!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

"Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft" – A Review and Giveaways

The internal workings of a kitchen, with all its ingredients, equipment, fire and recipes, can sometimes be as mystifying and complicated as what goes on under the hood of a car. And the cook in charge, whether in a professional or home setting, must be a veritable mechanic with the tasks of coordination, safety, science and design squarely balanced on his or her shoulders. Wouldn't it be nice if there was a disciplined yet supportive voice whispering terse guidelines in your ear to glide you through the challenges that you might face at your stove? Well, now there is.

Written in a crisply concise, bulleted style, “Notes on Cooking: A Short Guide to an Essential Craft” by Lauren Braun Costello and Russell Reich, reads like The 217 Commandments of Cooking with nary a recipe to be found. Punctuated with food philosophy (“ 10 - Your soul is in your food.”) as well as dogmatic directives (“48 - Date and label perishables.”), this slim volume is fat on the kind of culinary wisdom that once contemplated, cannot help but often illuminate, validate and resonate, regardless of your level of expertise and interest. Novice cooks will particularly appreciate the fundamentals which dominate the book, such as stocking a larder, handling a blade, and controlling temperatures; the bullet-point format naturally lends itself to the basic principles that all cooks need to know. More experienced cooks will already be well versed in these tenets, but will enjoy, among other artistic elements, the leisurely delight of winding through a “word association” round robin of flavor affinities (“...balsamic vinegar & strawberries, strawberries & cream, cream & garlic...”) to spark their creativity beyond the well-mastered meal. As pleasurable to read as it is practical, "Notes on Cooking" is all about the little bites that you can really sink your teeth into.

And now, two lucky readers will be able to sink their teeth into a complimentary* copy of the book, generously provided to me by the authors, and includes worldwide shipping. Please leave a comment by 11:59 p.m. New York time on Saturday, June 27, to be included in a random drawing. The winning names which will be announced Sunday, June 28. To those who routinely comment anonymously, please include your first name so that your identity can be distinguished. Personal friends and family are not eligible to win.

*N.B. - This post marks the first official product review where I have accepted merchandise (the review copy and the giveaway copies). I agreed to review this book after carefully considering whether it would be valuable to my readership. My approach was unbiased, even clinical. At no time was I obliged to write a favorable review. As an established blogger with a substantial readership, I am routinely approached by public relations firms and other marketing agents to position products and services on The Well-Seasoned Cook. I will continue to be highly discriminating in my selections and pledge to maintain transparency in all transactions.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Maids in the Shade - Easy Richmond Maids of Honor

Richmond Maids of Honor 2


You will want a translation, of course. Recipes are hard enough to follow at times without the added distress of being expected to dig up a coffin from some place. No, this isn't a spooky Halloween concoction months ahead of its time, but a rather simple-to-prepare dessert once you get past the funky Old English alphabet and lingo:
Take cream or almond milk, add egg with sugar, saffron and salt. Mix it
up. Pour it in a two-inch deep pastry case. Bake it well and serve it.
Recorded in the earliest English manuscript of cooking instruction, The Forme of Cury 1390 AD, Daryols (from the French) are custard tarts that have enjoyed many permutations through the ages, and are chiefly known today as Richmond Maids of Honor. Richmond, the London borough where King Henry VIII held court in Hampton Palace, claims direct titular connection to the diminutive treats, although the many theories seem to be based on legend or romantic fancies rather than hard facts. Regardless of their correct origin, Maids of Honor hold a special place on British tea tables and are one of the most foolproof cheesecake recipes available. Many medieval dishes revel in a certain elaborate simplicity, more elementary and primitive than exacting, despite ingredients that were exotic, priceless, and often exclusively for the consumption of royalty. With our modern conveniences of prepared pastry and jam, these hand-held gems can be ready for your tea (or coffee) in hardly more than half an hour, which will give you that much more time to linger in a little royal luxury all your own.

Richmond Maids of Honor 3

Phyllo Cup
A "coffyn" made of phyllo.
Richmond Maids of Honor (Daryols) - My own streamlined recipe adapted from the 18th Century edition of The Forme of Cury by Samuel Pegge, above. The original 1390 AD manuscript can be found here, (in the Medieval Collection of The John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester: The Forme of Cury, images 84v, 85f).
Ingredients

40 miniature pastry cups (I used phyllo.)
8 ounces cream cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds (If you use pre-sweetened marzipan or almond paste, omit the sugar.)
1 egg
1 tablespoon almond extract (You can also use vanilla.)
1/2 cup jam of your choice (I used Francis Miot's Plaisir du Vert Galant, a lovely medieval-inspired indulgence from Alex, a friend who returned from Paris bearing beautiful gifts. Virtually impossible to find in the U.S., this is the sort of rarefied culinary treasure that you will not want to squander on a slice of aerated, flaccid white bread; better you should savor it by little licks directly off an ice-cold spoon.)
Francis Miot Plaisir du Vert Galant Confiture
Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Arrange pastry cups on a cookie sheet and place in oven for 4-5 minutes to crisp. Remove from oven and reserve.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth and light. Sequentially beat in sugar, ground almonds, egg and almond extract until well blended.

Fill each pastry cup with a level teaspoon of batter. Bake for 15-17 minutes until the filling is shiny, cracked and set. Remove from oven and let cool. Top with scant and slapdash 1/2 teaspoons of jam; no need to be precise and fancy. Makes 40 two-bite tarts. --
Richmond Maids of Honor 1

This recipe is for Mansi of Fun and Food, hosting Sugar High Friday - Fruit & Nut for Jennifer of The Domestic Goddess, creator of Sugar High Friday, the long-running and popular monthly event.

Been There, Done That ~
Yorkshire Parkin
Almond Cherry Tarts
Simnel Cake

Other People's Eats ~
Richmond Maids of Honour
Darioles
Flaones

Monday, June 1, 2009

WEEKEND HERB BLOGGING #185 - THE ROUND-UP

It's almost 12:00 a.m. here in New York. Over the last few years, I've become something of a night owl. OK, an insomniac, if you must know. And while I have learned to embrace the hours between the bewitched midnight and the crowing of the rooster at dawn, they sure do a hell of a number on one's disciplined diet. Dinner at eight only works to satisfy hunger if you hit the sheets before the day ticks into the next. Temptations are great to raid the cookie jar, and perusing this round-up of fine recipes from around the world is no help, either. So heed my cautionary tale to linger over this collection after daybreak or you might wind up breaking out the pots and pans again. You will thank me for it. And I will thank you for the beautiful array of dishes you've set before us all.

Please let me know if there are any errors or omissions, and I will quickly make corrections. Thanks always to Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once for the opportunity to host WHB again.

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The childhood comfort of okra is reprised in a medley of thickly
stewed vegetables in a sauce to curry a spice lover's favor.

Okra, Eggplant and Tomato Curry Over Quinoa
Katie - Eat This
Haslett, Michigan, U.S.A.

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Not to be confused with Western curry powders, handfuls of curry
plant leaves will leave you longing for more of their aromatic charm.

Spiced Powder
Soma - eCurry
Texas, U.S.A.

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Brightly baked, tender red peppers colorfully jazz up
classic Italian dumplings napped with a classic Italian sauce.

Gnocchi with Pesto and Red Peppers
Graziana - Erbe in Cucina
Italy

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Coils of tarragon suspended in tall glasses of green tea make
for a naturally sweet refreshment without the calories.

Tarragon Green Tea
Ning - Hearth and Home
Manila, Philippines

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If you've only known persimmons as an astringent fruit, this
autumn bread will give you a different reason to pucker your lips.

Persimmon Bourbon Bread
Anna - Morsels and Musings
Sydney, Australia

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With a texture akin to okra, and leaves clinging to wild vines,
this unique green proves that not all spinach is created equally.

Pui Chingri/Pohi Greens with Shrimp
Sandeepa - Bong Mom's Cookbook
U.S.A.

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Rosemary's resinous fragrance rises to fill a kitchen already ripe
with the distinctive homespun air of the freshest artisan bread.

Rosemary and Raisin Bread
Lynne - Cafe Lynnylu
Augusta, Georgia, U.S.A.

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Myriad herbs and spices bathe a gathering of meaty, oily
olives for an irresistible condiment for any festive table.

Marinated Moroccan Olives
Vicki - Flavors of the Sun
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

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Gloriously green peas get a flavorful spa treatment when
scattered with generous thin shreds of refreshing mint.

Peas with Prosciutto and Mint
Chris - Mele Cotte
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A.

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A glazed pot of chewy oats bubbling next to your automatic coffee maker feels
like morning maid service when you've taken a few steps the night before.

Crockpot Steelcut Oats with Agave and Pecans
Kalyn - Kalyn's Kitchen
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A.

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Dazzle your next cocktail party with dramatic bowls of flash-fried
sunchokes, sure to win the kudos of the most jaded chip aficionado.

Jerusalem Artichoke Chips
Haalo - Cook Almost Anything at Least Once
Melbourne, Australia

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Love layered bands of delicate pastry but need to give your sweet tooth
a rest? Let local greens fill a savory sleeve of a meal with fresh seasonal flavors.

Green Strudel
Cinzia - Cindystar
Lake Garda, Italy

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Chilled pasta tossed with crushed salty and savory flavors
makes as ideal meal for warm evenings while dining al fresco.

Tapenade and Pasta
Brii - Brii's Blog in English
Valsorda, Lake Garda, Italy

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Flickers of rosemary are hidden in every bite of butter and almond
cakes baked with simple elegance in everyday muffin plaques.

Rosemary and White Peach Friands
Susan - The Well-Seasoned Cook
New York, U.S.A.

Haalo of Cook Almost Anything at Least Once will be hosting the current edition of Weekend Herb Blogging #186. She will be happy to receive your always creative recipes featuring any vegetable, fruit, edible plant or flower through next Sunday, June 6. Please consult this post for all the details.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!