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October 2012
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December 2012

November 2012

Chilaquiles with Sangre de Toro Beans

I was a guest at an excellent traditional Thanksgiving dinner so the rest of the weekend I got to play around in my own kitchen making whatever came into my head. The thought of shopping on this holiday weekend filled me with terror so I tried to make do with what I could do with things from the pantry. 


Chilaquiles are almost always the right answer, no matter what the question is. I used our own Rancho Gordo heirloom corn tortillas and an accidentally indulgent guajillo/ancho chile sauce. I'd made the sauce the night before and thought I had turned off the heat and planned to finish cooking in the morning. Well, in the middle of the night the delicious smells sent me to investigate and I saw I'd left the gas on! Thanks goodness I am always hungry and thank goodness I'd had the good sense to cook with clay. A metal pot would have burnt long before. 


I had the smallest bit of chicken left and lots of Sangre de Toro beans from our Rancho Gordo-Xoxoc Project. I didn't even have any kind of cheese. Still, it was delicious and the kids and I agreed these were great. 


Amaranth for Breakfast.

Ancient grain diva Maria Speck has an interesting article in the December Cooking Light using grains and her recipe for Amaranth Pudding with Amaretto Cream caught my eye. I made it and it was a universal thumbs down, especially for kids who have a clear and distinct idea of what pudding is. 


I didn't really care for it as a pudding either but it was a good start for a breakfast cereal. 

3 cups water
1.5 cups amaranth
1 stick of canela (cinnamon)
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup piloncillo
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine 3 cups water with amaranth and canela in a large heavy pan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened and the grain is translucent, about 18 minutes. Add more water if the amaranth is sticking to the bottom. Discard the canela. (You will have molten hot cereal all over it so beware!)

Stir in the milk, piloncillo vanilla and salt and stir. Reduce heat to a bare simmer and cook for 5 minutes more. Makes about 8 servings, which can be reheated throughout the week.

A pat of butter doesn't hurt.

I wouldn't serve this for guests but as a healthy weekday breakfast when you might have eaten oatmeal or 7 grain cereal, I think this is tops.  

Mex Mousse with our Stoneground Chocolate


The obvious uses for our stoneground chocolate discs are hot chocolate and dark mole sauces but my friend Connie Green of Wine Forest surprised me and my sons last week with a chocolate mousse made from our chocolate discs! Connie writes that she forgot the vanilla and butter when she made it for us and you know what? It was incredible. I've since made it, with the butter and vanilla, and I really preferred Connie's mistake! I'll let you decide. 


Recipe: Mex Mousse
6 oz Rancho Gordo chocolate ( about 1 and ¾ tablets)
2-3 T coffee or water
1T butter
½ t vanilla or 1 T rum
3 eggs
(whipped cream to top if you want) 
---Put broken up chocolate in heavy saucepan with the coffee (or water). Stir over low heat until melted, thick and creamy. Remove from heat and add the butter & flavoring (rum or vanilla).
--Separate the eggs.
--While stirring, add the yolks one by one to the hot chocolate mixture while the chocolate is still hot enough to slightly cook the egg yolks. Let it cool just a bit.
--Beat the egg whites until they hold a soft peak.
--Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg whites. Chill for at least an hour. 
-- Pour the mousse into 4 ramekins or pretty cups.


N.B. There's no baking here but the yolks will be cooked from the hot chocolate. The eggs whites will be basically raw. I think it's fine but smart people tell me I should warn you about raw eggs. I have my own chickens so I don't worry much. You may want to avoid them.



Mixing Beans

My office is in the back of our retail store in Napa and today I heard in the distance a frustrated woman who was trying to buy something that apparently we didn't have. 
"I'm trying to buy beans here but I guess I'll have to go to Whole Foods!"

I came out and asked what she wanted and it turns out she was a local and wanted to make Napa gift baskets and had heard about our beans and wanted us to be a part of the present.

Her goal was to make a nice mix of beans, put them in a bag and then pick out the spices and herbs that would go with them and make this part of the box. It's a great idea except that different beans all cook at different times and I really believe you don't need to mix heirloom beans to get a great soup. Industrial pintos, kidneys, whites or limas do benefit from a mix. They are so bland and boring that by mixing you may be able to make a tolerable soup. But good beans are delicious on their own and when you mix them, you potentially lose what was so special about the bean. I can't think of any of our beans that would benefit from being mixed with another. Each variety can stand on its own!

The customer ended up taking home a bag of Good Mother Stallards at my suggestion and I asked her to cook them really simply first to see what she thought and she's promised to come back. I may be wrong but I really don't think mixing beans is the best way to enjoy them. If you want to give them as a present, why not add some oregano, salt or chocolate?