Monday, February 21, 2011

Ireland Creek Annie Baked Beans

I was a bit premature in heralding the beginning of spring. The day after my last post, the temperature plummeted and it snowed. Not much, but enough to make one want to turn on the oven and start cooking up a feast of warm comfort food. I've been making all sorts of bean dishes, but had not yet recreated the old classic from my hometown: Boston baked beans. Now that I've sampled our complete collection of heirloom beans from our Lonesome Whistle Farm CSA, I had the feeling that the Ireland Creek Annie beans, with their hearty but mild flavor and lovely brown sauce, would work well in this dish. 

I started by cooking some chopped bacon in a Dutch oven until just crispy. 

Then in about 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat, I sauteed a diced onion, minced garlic, and some cumin, paprika, and brown sugar.

Meanwhile, I mixed up a sauce of ketchup, mustard, molasses, and vinegar, which I added to the pot, along with 4 cups of hot water and 2 cups of rinsed Ireland Creek Annie beans.

These went into a low 250 degree oven to bake, covered, for about 3 1/2 hours, alongside a roasting ham. Along the way, I also baked some acorn squash sprinkled with spices and toasted their seeds in some olive oil and salt. Once the beans were just soft, I salted them, uncovered the pot, turned up the oven to 400 degrees, and cooked them for another half hour until the bean liquid evaporated down to a syrupy, bubbling sauce, the ham glaze caramelized, and a pan of macaroni and cheese developed a toasted top of parmesan bread crumbs. We had quite a feast. The baked beans were delicious with just the right mixture of sweet and sour flavors.

Ireland Creek Annie Baked Beans

2 cups (1 lb) Ireland Creek Annie beans, or substitute light kidney beans
4 strips bacon
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp mustard
1 Tbsp molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
4 cups water, heated
salt to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees. Cut the bacon into small strips (most easily done with scissors) and saute in an over proof pot until the strips are fairly crispy. Reserve the bacon and drain off all but about 2 Tbsp bacon fat. Add the chopped onion and saute until soft. Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, and brown sugar and saute for another couple of minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the ketchup, mustard, molasses, and vinegar. Pour this mixture into the pot. Rince the mixing cup with some of the hot water and add this and the remaining water to the pot. Add the rinsed beans and bacon bits, mix and heat the contents of the pot to a simmer. Then cover the pot and transfer to the oven.

2. Cook the beans in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until they are soft, but not falling apart. Add a little more water if they get too dry during the cooking process. Raise the heat to 400 degrees, remove the top, add salt if needed, and cook for another half hour until the sauce becomes thick and caramelized.

Other recipes for heirloom beans:
Flageolet bean salad with fennel, orange, and tapenade
Arikara beans with roasted fennel and peppers

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flageolet bean salad with fennel, orange, and tapenade

The sun is shining, crocuses are blooming, oranges are in season, and salad for dinner seemed like a welcome change of pace. Inspired by my fennel flavored Arikara beans, I decide to try the same cooking technique with some delicate green flageolet beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm.

I tossed the beans in a mustard vinaigrette with sliced fresh fennel bulb and sections of blood oranges, and layered this onto some salad greens dressed with a lemony vinaigrette.

To accompany the salad, I prepared an olive tapenade that incorporated some of the same flavors as the salad, with fennel fronds and citrus zest. 

The tapenade was delicious on olive bread from the Eugene City Bakery and provided a bold, salty contrast to the mild, crunchy and fruity salad. It almost feels like spring. And as an extra treat, this recipe was selected as an editor's pick on Amanda Hesser's Food52 website.

Flageolet bean salad with fennel, orange, and tapenade

For the salad
2 cups green flageolet beans, rinsed
1 fennel bulb
2 blood oranges or 1 large naval orange
mixed salad greens
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
4 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

For the tapenade
1/2 cup pitted olives
2 Tbsp capers
1 clove garlic
handful of fennel fronds
handful of parsley leaves
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp olive oil

1. Rinse the beans and put them in a slow cooker or a pot with 4 cups of water. Rinse the fennel bulb and cut off the stalks. Reserve the bulb and a handful of the most tender fronds. Layer the remaining stalks and fronds over the beans. Simmer the beans on low for about 3 hours, swirling occasionally to mix, until they are tender but still firm (on the stovetop this may take less time and require additional water). Remove the fennel stalks and season generously with salt. Drain 2 cups of the cooked beans for the salad and reserve the remaining beans for another use.

2. Prepare the tapenade. If you're like me and don't like raw garlic, heat the garlic clove in a dry, hot skillet, until it is blacked in patches on the outside and soft and fragrant, or skip this step. In a food processor, combine the olives, capers, garlic clove, reserved fennel fronds, parsley, 1 tsp of zest from both the lemon and orange, red pepper flakes, and 2 Tbsp olive oil. Pulse briefly into a coarse, chunky paste.

3. Prepare the bean salad. Cut the fennel bulb into thin slices. Peel the oranges, slice, and quarter each slice. In a medium bowl whisk together the mustard, 1 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper. Toss in the cooked beans, fennel and orange slices and mix well. Adjust seasoning.

4. Prepare the salad. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss in the salad greens until well coated. Layer on the bean salad, and serve with tapenade and bread. If you like, you can prepare tapenade toasts under the broiler.

Other recipes for heirloom beans:

Friday, February 11, 2011

Shredded Carrot and Parsnip Curry Soup

It's that time of year when you just can't stand to wear the same old sweaters you've been wearing all winter or eat the same old soup. I was craving something different. No more mild, creamy, pale purees. I wanted bold flavors, bright colors, and a different texture.  

Somehow I got the idea to try a soup of shredded vegetables with lots of ginger and a colorful confetti of carrots and parsnips. 

The shredded vegetables brought to mind the garnish of Southeast Asian dishes, which directed the soup's flavor toward a curry, with lots of cumin, some curry powder and paprika, and a dash of cayenne.

To thicken the soup, I used a third of a cup of brown rice, which I sauteed in a generous amount of oil before adding the spices and shredded vegetables. When they had started to soften, I added in a can of coconut milk and 4 cups of vegetable stock, and then let the soup simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes until the rice and vegetables were soft and the flavors had melded.

The final soup were deliciously fragrant, spicy, and colorful with a pleasant texture. A welcome antidote for the end of winter blahs. 

Shredded Carrot and Parsnip Curry Soup

4 carrots
3 parsnips
2 inch piece of ginger
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup brown rice
3 Tbsp neutral oil, such as grape seed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp curry powder
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 15 oz. can coconut milk
4 cups vegetable broth
salt to taste

1. Peel the carrots, parsnips, and ginger. Shred them in a food processor. Mince the garlic.

2. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Stir in the brown rice and saute until it starts to smell toasted. Add in the spices and garlic and saute for about a minute. Add the shredded vegetables and ginger and stir for a few minutes until well coated with spices. Add the coconut milk and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat to low and cook, partially covered, for 45 minutes to an hour until the rice is soft. Adjust seasonings. Enjoy.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Arikara Beans with Roasted Fennel and Peppers

These Arikara beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm were cultivated by the Dakota Arikara Native Americans and provided sustenance for Lewis and Clark during their Voyage of Discovery. Thomas Jefferson grew them at Monticello, and described them as "one of the most excellent we have had." I had a hankering for roasted fennel, and I thought these creamy beans would make a most excellent accompaniment. 

Rather than discard the fennel fronds, I decided to add them to the bean pot and allow them to infuse the beans as they simmered. I've been cooking dried beans in a slow cooker without any presoaking with excellent results. These ones were tender but still firm after three hours.

I had a red pepper, which I decided to roast along with the fennel bulb for additional caramelized flavor. I tossed these in a generous amount of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them in a hot oven, making sure to stir occasionally once they started to brown. Meanwhile, I drained about 4 cups of the fennel-infused Arikara beans, reserving the remaining beans and broth for another use.

I removed the pan from the oven when the fennel and peppers were beginning to char and immediately tossed in the beans so that they became coated in the hot oil and caramelized juices of the vegetables.

These beans, with their subtle fennel flavor contrasting with the bold, caramelized vegetable chunks, were a delicious accompaniment to some Salmon People salmon, stashed away from last summer's market, seared  in a hot skillet and finished in the oven.

Arikara Beans with Roasted Fennel and Peppers

2 cups (1 lb) Arikara beans rinsed, or substitute small white kidney beans
4 cups water
1 fennel bulb
1 red pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse the fennel bulb and cut off the fronds. Combine the beans and water, layer on the fennel fronds in a slow cooker, and cook on low for about 3 hour until the beans are soft but still firm. The beans can also be cooked on the stovetop, but would require less time and may need more water. When they are cooked, remove the fennel fronds and salt generously. Strain about 4 cups of cooked beans, reserving the remain 2 cups and the bean liquid for another use.

2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the fennel bulb and red pepper into smaller chunks. Toss in a large ovenproof pan with the olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes. When the vegetables are soft, caramelized, and starting to char, remove the pan from the oven and immediate stir in the 4 cups of drained beans, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix in all of the caramelized vegetable bits.

Other recipes for heirloom beans:
Jacob's Cattle bean and ham stew
Calypso beans with ginger and black mustard seeds
Ireland Creek Annie bean bruschetta
Lemon and herb Dutch bullet beans
Minty green flageolet beans
Dutch bullet beans and roasted squash soup
Rio Zape beans with toasted chile sauce
Arikara bean gratin
Calypso bean and leek soup