Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tutu à Mineira

The mashed beans from our Brazilian night. This recipe is enough for three hungry, wintered-in Seattlites - scale up, by all means. We used flaky, toasted manioc flour (farofa) instead of the fine manioc flour, and it was tasty.

Tutu à Mineira
1/2 lb black beans
(optional: sprig of epazote)
water to cover
3 cups beer or salted water (1 tsp per cup)

1 1/2 Tbl extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 large tomato, chopped (if you're feeling ambitious, peel, core and seed)
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup flaky manioc flour
1/2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped (or 1/4 tsp dry)
1/4 cup fresh curly parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup scallion greens, chopped (save the white bulbs for another use)
  1. Pick through the beans for any rocks or broken pieces. Rinse.
  2. Soak the beans overnight, or quick-soak the beans by putting in a saucepan with enough water to cover by an inch, cover, bring to a boil for 2 minutes, and remove from heat and let sit for an hour.
  3. When ready to cook the beans (they should take about 45 minutes), rinse them and refresh the water to cover by 2 inches or so.
  4. Add additional beer or salted water and epazote, if using, and simmer on medium-low for 40-50 minutes. (Keep all bean-cooking liquid.)
  5. Meanwhile, chop vegetables.
  6. Sauté onion and garlic in oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until onion is translucent.
  7. Add tomato and green pepper and continue to cook until the peppers are limp and almost tender, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add manioc flour, toss, and continue cooking another minute.
  9. Add 2-3 cups of bean-cooking water, a little at a time and stirring constantly, until the mixture forms a light, wet paste (warning: this will be gluey!)
  10. Fold in the oregano and parsley and set aside.
  11. Season the beans with salt and pepper to taste, and drain (keeping cooking liquid!).
  12. Transfer beans to a food processor, pulse beans on and off in batches until smooth, adding a little bean liquid as needed to keep the mixture loose. You may not use all the bean liquid.
  13. Process in batches, as needed, until all beans are processed and are a smooth and soft, but not heavy, texture.
  14. Place the bean pureé in a clean pot. Add the vegetable mixture and fold together.
  15. Keep warm, preferably over a pan of simmering water, until ready to serve.
  16. Serve with scallions sprinkled on top, as a part of a meal with rice, kale, and a fried banana.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Amaranth Greens Picayune

Originally a dish I had with shrimp at the Water Street Oyster Bar in Corpus Christi, TX, this is one of my favorites. Although I was extremely hungry by the time I ate that dinner, it was terribly delicious and one that I have wanted to try as a base for other ingredients. Since one of our dinnertime guests in Seattle was allergic to shrimp, and we needed a veggie to go along with Alligator Jambalaya, the amaranth greens sitting in our refrigerator were the perfect solution.

Another option is to make a double batch of this, and keep it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Use 2-3 fl. oz for every serving of either amaranth or shrimp, depending on whether you have some fresh, crusty bread to sop up the leftover sauce!

Amaranth Picayune
(adapted from the Water Street Oyster Bar's Shrimp Picayune)
Serves 6

1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup clarified salted butter
1/4 cup medium brown sugar, packed
2 Tbl Worcestershire
1 1/2 bay leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 Tbl vermouth
2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
2 tsp garlic powder or granulated garlic
2 tsp salt (optional)
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary
3/4 tsp Tabasco sauce
3/4 tsp poultry seasoning (if using shrimp)

1 large bunch amaranth greens, stripped of their leaves and stems cut into 1" lengths and smashed,
or 2 large bunches, using only the leaves
(or 6 shrimp per person, up to 4 servings)

  1. Heat broiler on High.
  2. Place all sauce ingredients in a saucepan and heat on medium, just until sugar dissolves.
  3. Place greens in a large, shallow oven-proof basin. Drizzle hot sauce over greens while stirring until well-coated.
  4. Place directly under broiler ~2-3 minutes. Using tongs, stir the greens so browned ones are on the bottom.
  5. (Shrimp: under broiler for 5-7 minutes. Best to use individual dishes for each serving)
  6. Repeat until you have a browned pile of sticky, sour, piquant greens!

Alligator Jambalaya!

When your younger brother is coming for a over with his girlfriend from NYC, what better way to test her out than alligator jambalaya? (she passed this test, btw, as well as the steak tartare and rillette (lard) test - we'll let him keep her). :) It was really good - sez the bona fide Southerner from Alabama we had at the table - creamy, well-spiced, and great flavors.

Alligator is apparently tough and stringy, so almost any recipe (unless you're cooking it for ages and ages) calls for pounding alligator fillets with a meat mallet. We did this, and found that the alligator disintegrated into the jambalaya, which was disappointing. Next time, we'll pound any fillets that we want to braise or fry, but simply cut into chunks without pounding for longer cooking.

(adapted from this recipe - it credits Chef John Folse, but I can't see where the original recipe comes from) We served this with Amaranth Greens Picayune.

Alligator Jambalaya
1 lb alligator fillet, thawed
1 lb hot Italian sausage, cut into 1" rounds
1 lb shredded pork butt (leftover BBQ is great for this!)
(or, substitute 1 lb shrimp or fish, 1 lb hot Italian sausage or andouille, and 1 lb pork, chicken or duck)

4 Tbl vegetable oil
1 cup green bell peppers, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped

2 (16oz) cans chopped tomatoes
1 (16oz) can fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilies
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup chopped green onion

2 Tbl dried basil
2 Tbl dried oregano
2 tsp dried thyme
2 (Turkish) bay leaves
1 tsp red pepper (paprika or cayenne, your choice for spiciness)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp green peppercorns
1 Tbl salt, or to taste
2 cups raw medium or long-grain white rice

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a deep frying pan, saute the bell pepper, garlic, parsley and celery in oil.
  3. In another frying pan, brown the sausage in a little oil.
  4. While this is cooking, add tomatoes and their liquid, the chicken stock, and green onion to a pot with a lid that can cook on the stove and in the oven (Corningware, All-Clad, etc.).
  5. Add the sauteed vegetables, spices, rice and meats to the tomatoes and stock.
  6. Cook over medium-high heat until the liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally to ensure rice doesn't burn.
  7. Bake, covered, in the oven for 25 minutes.

Detour do Brazil

Christmas itself is generally blah - all the leadup is great, but the actual day itself results in somewhat of a disappointment. Not this year - not only did I have a wonderful time, I got to eat great food, and picked up a new fun cookbook to boot! The book is Brazil; A cook's tour, by Christopher Idone. Although the layout is ghastly, with recipes sprinkled throughout in a somewhat willy-nilly fashion (they only hint at falling along regional lines... sort of), I was able to tag tasty-looking recipes with some removeable, colored Post-it tabs (color-coded by ingredients, of course: green for vegetarian dishes, yellow for poultry, etc.).

Although we only had the following five recipes from the book so far, I am a fan. We had a friend over for dinner, who was kind enough to be a guniea pig for this and a couple of other items - like Japanese prickly ash, which we didn't tell her makes your tongue numb until after she tried it. But, the dinner turned out surprisingly well, considering the simplicity. We started cooking the black beans in the afternoon, but otherwise took about an hour for the whole meal, including our somewhat imperfect version of chatting while hosting. For just us it would have taken about 30-40 minutes.

Brazilian, Take I
Couve (sauteed kale)
Banana Frita (fried ripe baby bananas)
Simple Farofa (uh - like dry breadcrumbs... kind of)
Tutu à Mineira (mashed beans)
Arroz (boiled white rice)

The menu was just about perfect, especially since all these are commonly served, normally together. Kale, which I think of as a cold-weather vegetable, is apparently a very common side dish to Brazilian beans and rice. It blended perfectly with the thick black beans and buttery rice, and the fried banana really tied everything together with a tang of sweetness.

The meal was missing at least one or two components. The hot sauce I missed - the meat I did not. Most of the recipes in this book involve meat, so that will likely happen soon, or we'll try to make a veg version of them. The following is what I would serve at a dinner with 6-8 people, if I had actually planned ahead for it.

Brazilian, Take II
Limonada Suissa (limeade)
Pão de Queijo (Brazilian cheezy-poofs)

Arroz (boiled white rice)
Couve (sauteed kale)
Banana Frita (fried ripe baby bananas)
Simple Farofa (uh - like dry breadcrumbs... kind of)
Malagueta Pepper Sauce (the national hot sauce)
Tutu à Mineira (mashed beans)
side of pork sausages and/or some exotic meat dish

dessert: banana butter, coconut sweets, Brazil nuts dipped in chocolate, or something
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