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Rice and Beans, you are my darling... [Dec. 29th, 2010|10:19 am]
One of my favorite things in the world is a good rice and bean dish. I look forward to New Year's Day because I have to make Hopping John, by tradition. (Otherwise, really, New Year's can go jump off a cliff. Other than some possible time off work, I detest pretty much everything about it.)

So, when a friend asks me what to do with shelled edamame, vegetable bouillon cubes, and black forbidden rice, I am all over it. Especially since one of the things I really wanted to do as Christmas gifts for my family was to assemble a "favorites" cookbook for them and once again, I FAILED. My intention this year is to blog more often about food and recipes, so that at least it will be mostly written and just need to be assembled for next year.

Also, here I am keeping "cooking for one, or not many" and "frugal" in mind

The beauty of beans and rice is relative cheapness, pantry stableness, and versatility. The non-beauty is the carbfestness, so you need to thin it out with vegetables.

Rehydrate a boullion cube to broth state and cook the rice. Unless it's a salt-free cube, you won't need to add any seasoning. For one person, it can be worth it to cook it several servings and freeze the rest. Reheat in steamer, or microwave covered with a damp paper towel at a later date. Either with or without your bean & veg. If you're not using boullion cubes, you can use broth or even plain water, just remember, with plain water, you'll want to season it after.

Saute your onion family of choice -- onion, shallot, garlic. You can do all three, one or two, in this case I'd go with onion and garlic, or at least onion. (Generally speaking, since shallot is a garlicky onion, I usually either use straight shallots, or the onion/garlic combo...although much depends on what's actually in the pantry that hasn't taken root.) If you want to be super-duper low cal, use some of the boullion broth to "steam-saute" the onion until soft. Personally, I think you need some fat to satisfy your appetite. So, saute in olive oil.

Or, best of all, assuming you're not a vegetarian, dice a slice of bacon, or half a slice per eventual serving. A slice depending on thickness, will be about 100-150 calories (assuming you use all of the rendered fat, which is sort of my point here) which is really not much, if any more than oil. If I were putting meat in it later, I'd stick with olive oil. If just veg, I'd use the bacon -- only a tiny bit more calories, and a giant-ass punch of flavor. It will taste decadent, but it won't be.

Buy a good thick cut pound of bacon. Nueske's, Niman Ranch or Nodine's. I don't know why it has to begin with an "N". But the good ones do. None of that brown sugar flavored or other crapola. And I'd stay away from peppered, because that locks you into a certain seasoning. When you get the bacon, get out some parchment paper and place one or two (depending on how much you usually use) slices on one edge of the paper, fold the paper over the slice, place another slice down, fold over, etc. until about half the package is used up. Then repeat with the rest of it on another sheet of parchment. Wrap your bacon rolls in plastic wrap, then foil and store in the freezer. Now you can pry off a slice or two at a time to use as seasoning/flavoring.

Anyway, saute your onion in whatever. With the edamame and black rice, I would be tempted to also add diced red peppers to the onion. If you are a spicy person, a jalapeno. For the sake of a budget, a green bell pepper, unless the red ones are on sale. If peppers are big, use the other half in a later meal, or freeze diced. Just be sure you use them within 2-3 weeks, because they don't age well frozen. You can add whatever other veg strike your fancy. Again, we're trying to reduce the carbfest of rice and beans, so carrots, other root veg and corn would not be your most waist-friendly options. Sadly, we've had some bad harvests, so eggplants, zukes, and yellow squash are dear -- but if you're only using a little and skipping meat except for the bacon, it's still not exorbitant. If it was on sale, I would splurge and toss in broccoli slaw, because it's quick and easy. Mushrooms are always good to add a meaty feel. Shredded cabbage. Broccoli or cauliflower if I steamed/parboiled it a little bit first, or cut it really small/thin so that it cooked quickly.

You're probably running out of fat to saute these vegetables, so now you want to toss some wine, rum, bourbon, sherry, rice wine, or broth/reconstituted bouillon to start making things a little saucy, stir up any brown bits on the pan. Cover if necessary to help things steam if they're not quite cooked. Or simmer gently. You could thaw the edamame at room temp, in microwave, or add frozen and just add more cooking time. You could toss in greens or spinach or chard or field greens, the thicker, the earlier you want to toss in to wilt. Depending on which liquid you used...your seasoning with wine could be Italian or French, in which case you could also add some mostly drained diced tomatoes, or cherry/grape tomatoes, cut in half to speed cooking, although that's a little dear this time of year. Using rum, you could go Caribbean/Jerk. Bourbon, go Cajun, and you could still add the tomatoes to either of those. With sherry, rice wine or even broth, you could go asian, adding a little bottled sauce like hoisin or curry paste, plum sauce, some soy -- although with bouillon going on, I start to worry about salt content.

To any of them, you might want to try a dash of balsamic or cider vinegar, or tabasco at the end. A wee bit of acid perks things up. And if you didn't go Asian, a little bit of good quality parmesan cheese stirred in at the end will thicken and season, adding umami without a lot of fat or salt.

Or a whole 'nother direction. Cook the rice. Thaw the edamame. Plump up some tart dried cherries in some of the warm bouillon or warm water to cover. Chop coarsely some pecans or walnuts. Chop some scallions coarsely. Wilt some baby spinach or field greens in just a little bit of simmering bouillon. Toss them all together, season with a ginger-based dressing, or peanut sauce thinned with some more bouillon, salt if necessary, garnish with a little bit of lemon zest.

[User Picture]From: sestree
2010-12-29 03:49 pm (UTC)
I love kidney beans, rice, onions, bacon and kale. I find kale holds up really nicely to the dish (we saved the chard for sandwiches as it wilted too easily - I probably planted the wrong chard though).

Then again, we lived on beans or beans and rice during the winter. AND cornbread :)

I don't think I've tried edamame before. hmmmmmmm

I'd personally love to see you publish a cookbook. I know I'd buy it and I bet other would.

Food for thought m'dear (unless you already have one out in which case tell me where to look for it).
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[User Picture]From: bittibuddha
2010-12-30 07:46 pm (UTC)
i love you so much, Mer. Thank you for all the gorgeous possibilities!
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