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February 2013

Beans on Toast

I have many British friends who can go nostalgically on and on about beans on toast. I think you take some canned beans and pour them over buttered white bread. I'm sure if you have it enough times, it may be good. 


I pan-toasted a piece of glorious Della Fattoria bread, lightly buttered it and gently piled on Red Nightfall beans, which are soon to make their magical reappearance at Rancho Gordo. The truth is any good bean will do, especially if it's a leftover and you whip up this dish quickly. So after the bread and warmed beans, I drizzled my very best expensive olive oil over them. What a treat! And with homemade beans, the bean broth will be soaked up by the bread. With canned beans, you need to rinse them to get all the nasty muck off of them. Canned beans! What an idea. 

Rancho Gordo / Cavallo Point Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last winter, we had a little house-party here at Rancho Gordo. We had thought there'd be enough food but our friends and neighbors here in Napa came with real appetites. Naturally everything was good but what stole the show was the cookies. 


Ethan Howard is the well-respected pastry chef from Cavallo Point's Murray Circle restaurant in Sausalito. He took some of our piloncillo and stoneground chocolate and came up with these delicious cookies. The chocolate was great, but oddly enough, it's the piloncillo that's the star! 

I grew up in nearby Sausalito and in order to have access to Cavallo Point, you needed to know someone in the military. Now it's open and it's one of the most beautiful places in the Bay Area. And what a kitchen! Murray Circle just runs rings around most fine dining and I'd jump at any opportunity to eat there. 

Rancho Gordo Chocolate Chip Cookie

Yield: 3 dozen cookies 


-Preheat oven to 350° f.

-In a large bowl, lightly mix the flour, salt, baking soda, and coriander together. Set aside.

-In a table mixer, cream the butter with the sugar. When the butter and the sugar are emulsified, slowly add the eggs and vanilla extract.

-When the eggs are thoroughly mixed in, add the flour mixture in 3 stages. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula periodically. When the flour is incorporated, add the chocolate chips and mix until the batter is just combined.

-Using a spoon or a medium sized ice cream scoop, scoop cookies onto a greased cookie sheet 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for 14-18 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a cool surface.

 Recipe provided by Ethan Howard


Kale with White Beans

I came across the ever lovely Heidi Swanson's post about a kale and rice bowl and thought it sounded very smart. And inspiring. So I made up my own. 


While the rice cooked (brown, natch!), I sauteed some onion and garlic in a clay cazuela and when they were translucent, I threw in a cleaned, trimmed, wet bunch of dinosaur kale. Then I added about a cup of white bean leftovers, which were almost a puree as they were the very bottom of the batch. This cooked down and proved to be a fine match for the rice. A great weeknight meal. 

Warm Hominy Salad

Chef Jose Garces has a nice, newish book out called The Latin Road Home. It follows his journey through several Latin American countries and features recipes that mean something to him. It's very personal and even though I've cooked very little from it, I love leafing through the recipes and planning a leap from my beloved Mexican food. 

This simple salad is featured and I think it would be a good way to use up extra pozole if you have it. I also think some leftover beans would beat the peas as a legume. Obviously there's a lot of room for experimentation. 


Warm Hominy Salad


Kosher salt
2 lb fresh English peas, shelled
2 cups cooked hominy, drained and rinsed
1 jumbo carrot, peeled and finely diced
½ red onion, finely diced
1 Tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice (about 2 limes)

TO COOK THE HOMINY: Soak overnight and change the water, covering the grain by at least two inches. Bring to a rapid boil and then reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. The hominy is ready when it "explodes" like popcorn or is soft while still maintaining some texture. Drain. 

TO PREPARE THE PEAS, bring a saucepan of generously salted water to a boil and prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Cook the peas in the boiling water just until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and immediately transfer them to the ice bath to cool. Drain and set aside.

Combine the peas, hominy, carrot, onion, and cilantro in a large bowl and mix well. Stir in the garlic, oil, and lime juice and season to taste with salt. Cover and chill thoroughly before serving.

Hippie Love Child Meal No. 3: Many Grain Cereal with Xoconstle

I was going to make a million dollars on this one. Why not take some of our various prodicts, combine them into a "superfood" breakfast cereal and market it? Adding chia seeds to amaranth and quinoa would be like taking all the "superfood" trends and making a super breakfast food. New studies on xoconostle show serious help in fighting diabetes and heart disease so adding them seemed like a natural. It was all too easy. Until one of my kids tasted it. 


"Yuck. Fowl. I don't know what to think of it really. I do not like it." Nico is eleven and I really do respect his taste. He'll try anything and try and like challenging things. This was not one of his favorites. 

I found it tolerable, if not fine. It's not pancakes or chilaquiles but for a weekday morning breakfast, I wouldn't complain. Well, let's leave at it's not for everybody. I'll continue eating it and you can, too but you'll have to blend it yourself. Not much of a chore, but I won't be making that million dollars just yet. 

Inner Hippie Love Child Breakfast Mix
1/3 cup golden quinoa
1/3 cup amaranth
1/4 cup piloncillo
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 dried sweet xocoostle, cut up into small bites

Blend all the ingredients together. If you have superior taste like me, you can double the recipe to have on hand, but you may want to try it once before committing. The ratio of cereal to water is 1:3 so for every part cereal, you want three waters. 1/4 cup dry cereal would need 3/4 cup of water. Mix together and bring to a full boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and stir occasionally for 10 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. (This is when I'd go take a shower.) Stir.

The pieces of xoconostle become soft and pleasantly sour. The amaranth still has that weird but delightful bite. The chia gets lost and the quinoa is still bitter, which may be what Nico was responding to. You can use less piloncillo but I wouldn't. It's breakfast and you're starting a new day. Knock yourself out with a small amount of sweetness.