Monday, August 27, 2012

I Lied...But Only A Little...OK, Now A Lot

So many weeks ago I promised you a culinary adventure featuring black eyed peas and home made masala.  Well,  am sorry to say friends, but I lied.  In the face of life coming at me faster than a freight train on a down hill track with no brakes I did the safe thing, and made them into rice and beans.  A huge, huge pot of rice and beans, which filled my heart with comfort and security and now fills several of my largest Tupperware containers in the fridge.  Oh well...a little grated sharp cheddar or cotija cheese and you have yourself a fantastic meal. 

So that is the point when it also occurred to me that I have never, through some sense of selfishness or self preservation, shared my newly cherished recipe for rice and beans, somewhat Haitian style.  And because of the little white lie, I decided to give you a two for one and throw in my favorite summer salsa as well.  Because I'm just that awesome.  Or because I am too lazy and raw to write about other things right now.  Except now it is once again many weeks later, summer is sadly waning (maple leaves are changing, just face it) and this salsa might not go so well anymore because awesome avocados are a little harder to find.  But I will give it to you anyway in case you are planning a huge holiday weekend celebration!

Rice and Beans, Kind Of Haitian Style
The reason I call this recipe kind of Haitian is because I leave out some ingredients that are staples (namely shallots and a scotch bonnet pepper) and because I usually don't make them with dried beans.  I usually cheat with canned beans.  This past go around I did use dried black eyed peas and the process was much less painful than I thought, which makes me think we will be using more dried beans in the future.  The only other problem with using dried versus canned is that it is physically painful to me to use less than a whole bag of dried beans, and if you use the whole bag then you have to make at least 2 1/2 cups of rice, and then you end up with a literal TON of rice and beans.  But hey, its your choice!  If you are having a party this weekend then a giant pot of rice and beans could come in handy.

2 small cans or one large can or one small bag of your choice of beans. (I usually prefer either black beans or red beans.  I am not an expert on this by a long shot, but I think diri ak poi is mostly made with red beans.  But I have made them with black beans, red beans, and black eyes peas and they are delicious either way.  If I do use canned beans, I always strain them to get rid of that dubious, bubbly stuff at the bottom of the can)
1 small onion
1 bunch cilantro (if you don't like cilantro, probably just don't make this recipe.  You can substitute parsley as many people do in recipes who don't like cilantro, but I have never tried it and can't vouch for it.  Also, I love cilantro.  So, in summation, I think you gotta just not do it.)
1 jalapeno
4 cloves of garlic
1 lime
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I use either coconut or plain vegetable oil)
2 cups of long grained white rice (you can use  brown rice if you are on a health kick, just factor in the difference in water requirements and the longer cooking time)
3 1/4 cups of rice (Usually the rice I use calls for 4 cups of water to 2 cups of rice.  But the puree you are going to use has a lot of liquid in it, and if you use a full 4 cups of water your rice will come out disgusting and mushy.  So at this point, you just need to play with it and subtract some liquid from the recipe.  I have found that 3 1/4 cups works well.  Also, sometimes if I make the beans from scratch I reserve a little of the bean water and use that for the liquid.)

Cut up the onion into quarters.  Chop off a chunk of cilantro and give it a very, very rough chop.  Peel four cloves of garlic.  Cut out the membranes and seeds of the jalapeno.  Put onion, cilantro, garlic, juice of half of the lime and as much of the jalapeno as you want into a food processor and process it into oblivion. It is ok if a few pieces are chunky, that will just contribute to the texture of the meal.

Pour your vegetable oil into a large stock pot or soup pot and heat it to medium high.  Then add the puree from the food processor and let it cook for about two minutes.  Add your salt and pepper now while the puree is cooking.  You want to get some of the raw flavors out, but don't want the bright green of the cilantro and the jalapeno to brown on you at this point!

Add your rice into the cooking puree and mix it up to coat the rice.  Cook for another two minutes.

Add in your water, bean water, etc.  Cook the rice until it is done, usually about 25 minutes for white rice and 45 minutes for brown rice.  If your rice is fully cooked but there is still liquid in the pot then cook it a little longer with the lid off.

Add in your beans and fluff the rice and beans together.  Or stir.  The mixture is going to be heavy anyway so you can forget about this whole fluffing your rice with a fork.  Just stir the beans in any way you can.  And voila, diri ak poi.  Kind of.

My Favorite Summer Salsa
I usually make this salsa about once a week from July to early August, and I always make it in this ridiculously huge quantity.  If you have any people over, you will end up standing in the kitchen just eating salsa out of the bowl with a bag of chips at hand.  It also goes on burgers, sandwiches, rice and beans, chicken, fish, salads, and pretty much anything else you want to put it in.  Another favorite thing to do is make a batch of plain nachos (aka cheddar cheese toasted onto chips in the oven) and then mix a little salsa with some sour cream and dip.  Heaven!

2-3 mangoes
2-3 avocados
1 bunch cilantro
1 lime
1  quart cherry tomatoes or two large tomatoes or any combination 
2 bell peppers (red and orange make a nice color combination)
1 jalapeno
1/2 red onion
4-5 green onions
4 ears of summer sweet corn (NO CANNED OR FROZEN CORN!)
1 can of black beans
Salt to taste

First, the corn.  Just cheat and cook the sweet corn in the microwave.  4 minutes for the first ear, and another minute for every additional ear.  Wrap them in a wet paper towel before placing in the microwave.  And make sure you let them cool before cutting the corn off the cob, or you will burn yourself.  A lot.  Which has obviously happened to me before. Also, when you cut the corn off the cob place a towel underneath it, or cut the corn in a shallow bowl.  This will keep the corn from jumping all over your counter and floor, and will keep you from cursing me while you do this.  I learned this method from my Hoosier husband, Mr. Indiana-Sweet-Corn.  Once the corn is cut off the cob throw it all into a huge bowl.

Drain the beans into a strainer and wash them off.  Throw them into the bowl with the corn.

Chop the cilantro and green onions to your preferred size, and throw them into the bowl.

Cut up your tomatoes to your preferred size (mine is small) and add to the bowl.

Dice the peppers, red onion, and jalapeno.  I usually put a finer dice onto the jalapeno than the bell peppers, and a medium fine dice on the onion.  Into the bowl.

Cut up the mango next.  My preferred method is to cut off the long sides of the mango, and then holding the slab in my palm I score the mango with a small, sharp knife, being careful not to cut too far through and slice my palm open.  Then I pop the mango out so it looks like a chunky porcupine and cut the squares into the bowl.  If you use the two long sides of the mango on all your mangoes this leaves you the short sides and the stone to consume at your leisure.  Or give to your toddler on the back porch and see how many leaves and twigs can stick to her hands and face.

Cut up the avocado.  Use roughly the same method as the mango.  Cut the avocado in half and twist the two sides apart.  Then remove the pit with a knife, and you have two perfect halves.  Hopefully.  I score the inside of the avocado, and then remove the flesh with a spoon.

Squeeze the lime over the avocado, which will keep it from browning.  Salt the avocado a little bit before stirring everything together.


1 comment:

  1. Love your culinary skills and bravery! :)