Saturday, February 21, 2009

When will Spring arrive?

I am more than ready. We have had enough warm weather to trick the grass into turning green, and to tease the delicate buds into erupting on the trees and shrubs then wham! Freeze warnings last night meant hauling tender plants back into the shelter of the porch, and covering the landscape with frostblankets. I hope there has not been too much damage. At least we can be thankful for crisp blue skies. I like the climate now in the daytime and just think of the vitamin D you can get from 15 minutes of sunshine. While we are on the subject of vitamins, we may as well throw in some fiber (14g), some calcium (4%), some iron (15%) some protein (7grams), a few carbs (22 grams) all found in a quarter cup serving of dried Pinto Beans. That is a great way to gather so much goodness for so little money. If you have a pressure cooker, it is a quick way to gather that goodness. You can have those babies on the table in about thirty minutes. While they are hissing away on the stovetop, you can bake a corn pone in a cast iron skillet, or if you are up for something a little more spicy, opt for the Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread below. Either way, you can't go wrong. Country goodness.

Speedy Pinto Beans Under Pressure

1 1/2 lbs. Dried Beans, rinsed and picked over for foreign matter or blemished beans
2 tsp. Kosher Salt
Water to cover two inches above the beans
ham hock, jowl bacon, or smoked neck bones

Assemble ingredients in the pressure cooker, lock lid, and on medium high heat, bring pressure to high. Adjust stovetop to a lower setting but still keeping a steady steam aka hissing noise. Cook under pressure for twenty-five minutes. Remove pan from heat and use the quick release method of running cold water over the locked lid, until you no longer hear steam and the safety valve has dropped. Unlock lid. Taste for doneness. Adjust seasoning. If not done, bring back up to pressure and cook an additional five minutes. Any dried beans may be prepared this way. You may have to adjust your cooking time slightly.

Cornbread, or Mexican Cornbread makes these beans even better. Serve as a side dish or main course.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
Recipe by Barefoot Contessa
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups milk
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus extra to grease the
8 ounces aged extra-sharp Cheddar, grated, divided
1/3 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts, plus extra for garnish,
3 scallions
3 tablespoons seeded and minced fresh jalapeno peppers
Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large
bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the milk, eggs, and butter. With a
wooden spoon, stir the wet ingredients into the dry until most of the
lumps are dissolved. Don't overmix! Mix in 2 cups of the grated
Cheddar, the scallions and jalapenos, and allow the mixture to sit at
room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 13 by 2-
inch baking pan.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and sprinkle with
the remaining grated Cheddar and extra chopped scallions. Bake for 30
to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and cut into
large squares. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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