Sunday, February 21, 2010

do you have rancho gordo beans in your pantry?...and a recipe for preparing heirloom dried beans

growing up, my mom was the cook in the family...she was the mom that prepared dinner from scratch every night...every night....well, to be accurate, that would be 99% of the time. the other 1% were "bean nights". my dad...who was born in texas...does not cook...he barbecues sometimes...but about once every month or two he prepares his special pot of pinto beans. he starts soaking the beans the night before...and then puts them on to cook first thing in the morning. his recipe is very simple....but full of taste...and we would eat them for dinner with some type of bbq meat, salad and cornbread...really delicious. there were always a ton of beans left a beloved sunday breakfast was the leftover beans heated up and served with bacon and flour tortillas (can you tell i am from southern california?)

between my love of those beans...and my love of mexican food...and the number of ways italians add beans to recipes....i can honestly say that i am a bean lover. in a blog post last year, i told you that mangiafagioli meant bean eater in italian...well i am a massive mangiafagioli. so i was absolutely thrilled to discover the company rancho gordo. have you heard of them? if not...continue reading this post and then go buy some of their beans! you will not be disappointed... a bit about rancho gordo...steve sando started the company here in napa because he was very interested in preserving ingredients indigenous to the americas...he tells his story this way:

"All of my agricultural pursuits have been based on being someone who likes to cook but gets frustrated by the lack of ingredients, especially those that are native to the New World. It seems to me these indigenous ingredients should be familiar, if not common but instead our own food is considered exotic and sometimes in danger of being lost as we pursue a watered down Euro-centric diet. American cuisine seems to be in a position of re-inventing itself and I'd love to include ingredients, traditions and recipes from south of the border as part of the equation. I love the concept of The Americas. I feel as if it's just as important as the European heritage many of us share.

Of course you don't need to know where food originates in order to enjoy it. The beans are amazing and work in almost every cuisine. Their roots may be Mexican but can you imagine anything more French than the Flageolet bean? Borlotti may be the pride of the Piedmont in Italy but they wouldn't exist without their roots in Colombia. "

so he began working with local farmers to grow heirloom beans and other ingredients. he started selling at the san francisco ferry building farmer's market and was quickly discovered by many local chefs who became fans of his products. today it is very common to dine in restaurants which emphasize quality local ingredients and see rancho gordo beans on the menu...specialty food shops began carrying the brand...and steve sells on his website...but a highlight for me was last year when he opened his shop here in last...i can buy the beans as often as i want.
last time i visited rancho gordo i bought three kinds of beans and a bag of posole (hominy). i am going to create a different recipe for each type of beans and post to the blog. i also plan to share more of steve's story with you...he is doing some amazing an example his rancho gordo-Xoxoc project helps small farmers...this deserves a story of its own.
i purchased three heirloom bean varieties...they have any where from 20-30 types available at a given i started with the rio zape, the borlotti and the xoxoc project ayocote negro (black beans). dried heirloom beans are so different from what you find in the grocery store...for one thing they are beautiful...just amazing of my favorite displays in the rancho gordo shop is a big bowl of dried beans with a sign that says "go know you want to" is virtually impossible to refrain from sticking your hand in the beans!! the tactile sensation is too tempting...and it really does feel good... the beans are also incredibly fresh...fresh dried beans taste better and are easier and faster to prepare... i could go on and on...but instead i will share a recipe...and save the rest of the stories for later...
i decided to make my dad's beans...but use the rio zape instead of pinto. rio zape taste a bit like a pinto but with hints of coffee and chocolate. steve sando says "this is the bean that started the whole thing" he tasted one and started the company...definitely the first one to share with you.
so about the bean is so simple and delicious you will probably find yourself making beans often. i tweaked the cooking instructions a bit to follow rancho gordo's suggestions. the basic recipe contains very few ingredients...and, really want to taste these beans...once i make this recipe i have enough leftover to use in many different dishes....but mostly i eat them as is....with flour tortillas....i love you dad...

my dad's beans
1 16 oz package rancho gordo rio zape dried beans (or 16 oz best quality pinto beans)
1 chopped white onion
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 fresh jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 bottle beer
sea salt
check beans for small pebbles or other foreign matter...discard and then rinse in cool water. place beans in large stockpot and cover with two inches of water. soak for 4-6 hours.
meanwhile, sauté onion and carrot in olive oil until soft. add jalapeños and sauté for another minute or not season.once beans have completed their soaking time add onion mixture to the stockpot. add beer and stir. beans should be covered with about an inch of liquid. add additional water if needed. bring to a boil for five minutes and then lower heat to simmer. cook until soft (this can take between 1-3 hours). once beans are soft...season to taste with the sea salt and pepper.
**note..the bean broth is delicious....i make a simple pasta dish with the leftover beans & broth stirred into hot pasta...served with shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese...delicious...**
i look forward to sharing other recipes using rancho gordo the meantime...what is your favorite way to prepare/eat beans?
diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "
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Friday, February 12, 2010

do you have grapeseed oil in your pantry? and a recipe for winter slow roasted tomatoes...

regarding the grapeseed oil question...if you don't have this ingredient in your pantry stop everything and go get some! o.k...even i think that sentence sounds a bit melodramatic. but have i missed this for so long? regular readers are very aware of my addiction to extra virgin olive oil...i use the stuff in everything. but i have met the owners of salute sante!...a local grapeseed oil company...a number of times when they visited studio-store. then, i ran into them last month at the fancy food show...they had a booth...and i actually had the opportunity to hear about their company and taste their products...hi?? a local, green, organic, eco-friendly company producing a delicious, healthy and convenient product??? how perfect is that for napa farmhouse 1885™ ?
it has been a long time goal of mine to complement our line of farmhouse food with products made locally by artisans i know and trust...i started with organic coffee from paupaiz and am thrilled to add salute sante! to the assortment. so...a bit about grapeseed oil. it is made from the seeds of grapes after the wine is pressed. salute sante! advises using grapeseed oil this way:

"...long been the secret of gourmet chefs who love its light and nutty, yet neutral flavor. It has the unique ability to enhance the flavors of ingredients instead of overpowering them and leaves no greasy aftertaste! It makes savory marinades and salad dressings that will not cloud when chilled, so you can use them right out of the refrigerator. The high smoke point (485 F) makes it ideal for hot food preparation which means you can sauté, fry or bake without any smoking, splattering or burning. The excellent emulsification properties make it ideal for whipping mayonnaise and creamy dressings that will not separate when chilled..."

so how do admitted evoo addict...use grapeseed oil? my favorite way is to sauté or pan fry whatever i am making with the grapeseed oil and then finish off the dish with an excellent quality extra virgin olive oil. the grapeseed oil is almost you really taste the pure clean taste of whatever you are cooking...and using just the really good stuff as far as the evoo goes results in a truly delicious dish. it is nice to have the choice...with some dishes i WANT to taste the food cooked in olive oil and finished with olive oil...the evoo is somewhat embedded in the dish...other times the grapeseed oil is the perfect option. here is an example.....

i have been longing for summer! it has been cold, grey and rainy for the past month... i just want sun...and summer tomatoes...i really want tomatoes. but i only eat fresh tomatoes when they are in season..otherwise, why bother? they taste terrible. i love taking fresh tomatoes and slow roasting them with evoo, garlic, herbs and sea salt...amazing. last week, i decided to try slow roasting excellent quality canned tomatoes to serve on bruschetta...but this time, i only wanted the tomato taste...nothing i used san marzano tomatoes (i think they are the best quality canned tomatoes available...and note...these are tomatoes grown in san marzano, italy...not a brand name) and drizzled them in the grapeseed oil with a bit of grey herbs or garlic or evoo taste. wow...fantastic...super sweet with a big tomato taste...a perfect choice for mid-winter...and an example of a good time to use grapeseed oil.
**note, slow roasting takes a long plan this on a day you can pop them in the oven first thing in the morning and hang around all day...i did this for super bowl...
the tomatoes before and after roasting
winter slow roasted tomatoes
2 28 oz cans san marzano whole tomatoes
grapeseed oil for drizzling
grey salt
italian or french bread sliced and toasted/grilled for bruschetta

preheat oven to 225 degrees. open tomato cans and strain through a colander...reserve the juice for another use. spread the tomatoes on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. drizzle the grapeseed oil over the tomatoes and sprinkle with the salt. roast in preheated oven for 4-6 hours or until the tomatoes have lost most...but not all...of their liquid. when the tomatoes are ready, serve them however you like...on top of the grilled bread? tossed with pasta? a side dish with scrambled organic eggs? if you are like me, many will be eaten straight off the baking sheet...never making it to a finished you go...a recipe for the grapeseed oil....there is so much i could tell you about the newest addition to my pantry...remember i told you this was an eco-friendly company? what if i told you they use used grapeseed oil to power their vehicles?? or maybe you would be interested in the line of infused grapeseed oils...lemon, roasted garlic, basil or, so good. this item deserves another post and...since my goal is to tell you the stories of the artisans who produce the items for my company....i am going to interview the founders of salute sante! and share some of their delicious recipes. for now, try the tomatoes....and consider adding grapeseed oil to your pantry. please visit our website for additional details or to purchase...and yes, we carry the products at studio-store.
here's to spring coming early this year!!!


diane padoven
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style™ "
follow me on twitter

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