Last year I took what felt like a slightly selfish trip to New Orleans. My excuse was book research, so I decided beforehand not to post or take too many pictures. It felt like if I stopped to post or take a picture every time I saw something beautifully strange or strangely familiar in New Orleans, I’d do little else. Strange because it’s a city so completely itself that it makes you come all the way there to experience it and familiar because I’d always heard stories from my family about New Orleans when it was a short jump from Havana. There were so many parallels that it wasn’t surprising that so many of my relatives settled there when they left Cuba in the 1960s. Read more
Posts from the ‘Beans & Legumes’ Category
I always hope that someone will see a recipe on my site and decide to try it out for themselves. In the case of these porotos granados, I absolutely understand if they wait for the cooler days of summer. I came across the Chilean recipe months ago when fresh cranberry beans seemed very far away. With origins going back to the pre-Columbian Mapuche Indians, it brings together my summer favorites- fresh beans, tomatoes, and corn. Available year around as dry Roman beans, I could have made the dish with frozen corn, and canned tomatoes but decided to wait. Finally, last week the cranberry beans made their appearance at my Sunday farmer’s market, right around the time someone turned the heat up to a 100 degrees. Read more
When I decided to make bollitos de carita – black-eyed pea fritters made from beans soaked for hours then husked and ground to a paste – I couldn’t believe no simmering would be required. Left overnight, they were supposed to blister and pucker leaving behind perfectly tender, creamy white beans. I loved that caritas roughly translates to “little faces” and imagined removing the peel would be as simple as slipping off a mask. Not so. Some popped right out but more needed coaxing, and no matter how many I did, there were always more. Read more
When I was little and knew I was going on a trip, the first thing I did was pack my bags. It could be days, weeks or even months away, but getting ready made me feel like I was already on the plane. Sadly, I’ve completely lost my pro-active packing impulses. Almost from the moment the itinerary hits my inbox, I start running through the list of things I need to do here before I’m allowed to go there. This weekend, after booking my Easter trip to Puerto Rico and facing dementor-like winter temperatures outside – the kind that make you feel like you’ll never be cheerful again – I felt a little of the old packing impulse when I decided to make this stew of habichuelas blancas. Read more
I didn’t realize what a hard winter we were having until it got warmer this week and everything became SO much easier. I was in a neighborhood shop the other day when someone asked what I’d been up to. My mind drew a complete blank – I couldn’t remember what I’d been up to because I felt like I’d just woken up. We’ve been so storm tossed the past couple of months that it felt like winter was having us. It’s been weeks of face down, boots on and scurrying from one place to another. All that changed overnight – which it always does though I always forget.
I make beans with an accent. I understand all of the elements, but they don’t always flow together as easily as I would like. A staple of Latin American cooking, I should know them better than I do. Having only developed a taste for them as an adult, I refused all forms of frijoles, lentejas, or garbanzos when I was younger. Now that I appreciate what I’ve been missing and want to make them all the time, I feel like I’m being punished for my earlier brattiness with inconsistent batches of beans. If only I’d paid better attention when my grandparents were cooking, I’d have a freezer full of stews and soups to get me through the winter. Read more
I was surprised when I read Martha Rose Shulman’s New Year’s Dishes for Prosperity and Longevity, in the New York Times. Though she writes that Italians consider lentils good luck at the beginning of the New Year, she doesn’t mention that they’re also popular in Latin America and Spain. I know because I’ve been forcing them down New Year’s lentils for years. Not my favorite bean, I’m purely in it for the prosperity. So if you’re Italian, Hispanic, or need a little luck, here’s a recipe to start the New Year.