Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Apple Hot Pepper Jelly + Cheddar Pie Crust Crackers

Hello friends! Welcome to my new blog: Apples Apples Apples. 

The over zealousness of my apple picking has prompted a name change and possible identity crisis. I'm pretty sure Hiro and I collected the entire contents of two trees and then started on a third before I ran out of Rubbermaid containers to put them in and/or room in my basement.

Last week I graced you with this over-the-top apple pie with a cheddar cheese crust and now I bring you a sweet, supple apple jelly flecked with fiery jalapeños and fresh cayenne chile slices. On Friday I will go back to being ¡Hola! Jalapeño and save you from the apple cider, caramel apple butter, apple whoopie pies, applesauce, apple-poppy seed slaw, and that other apple pie I made.

In a previous life I'm pretty sure I survived the Great Depression the way I like to hoard food. I can not under any circumstance turn down a grocery sack full of garden cucumbers, a jar of pickles, or in this case bucket after bucket of fresh picked apples no matter how much I really, really don't need them. I have this inner urge to gather and store so either I lived through the Great Depression or I was  a squirrel.

I'm really leaning toward my Great Depression theory because not only do I accept any offering of food I also am an avid canner. This time of year my canning pot lives permanently on the stove and plans can change on a dime if say, I've finally gathered enough tomatoes to fill the quart jars and they need to be canned. Like Right Now!! (Sorry about that family......)

This is the first year I've attempted apple jelly and I don't have any idea what has taken me so long. It is the most soft, luxurious jelly with that fresh-picked smell of crisp, raw apple. I added spicy jalapeños and fresh cayenne chiles to it because hot pepper jelly is one of my favorite afternoon indulgences. A thin shear of hot pepper jelly over some cream cheese on a seeded cracker satisfies my every mid-day desire.

Last week when I was testing the cheddar cheese crust for my apple pie I found myself shamelessly over-snacking on the scraps. Pie crust cookies are absolutely a thing, but have you ever had pie crust crackers? The salty cheese in the crust makes an amazing cracker, especially topped with crunchy, nutty sesame seeds.

Like we used to say back in the GD..... Never let a good thing go to waste!

Apple Hot Pepper Jelly + Cheddar Pie Crust Crackers 

Adapted from Blue Ribbon Preserves by Linda J. Amendt

If you want absolutely clear jelly you can go through another straining process after running the juice through the cheesecloth. Line a cone sieve with a paper coffee filter and strain the juice again. Cover the juice and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Ladle the juice into another container, being careful not to disturb any sediment at the bottom. Strain this juice through a new coffee filter 2 to 3 more times to catch any sediment.

Makes 8 to 9 Half-Pint Jars

For the Apple Juice:
5 pounds fully ripe tart apples, cored and chopped
4 cups water
For the Jelly:
5 cups apple juice
9 jalapeños, minced (seeds removed if you want it less spicy)
4 fresh cayenne or thai bird chiles, thinly sliced (seeds removed if you want it less spicy)
7 cups granulated sugar
1 (3-ounce) pouch liquid pectin

To make the juice, combine apples and water in an 8-quart stock pot. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat then reduce the heat, cover and simmer until soft, about 20-30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit 30 minutes.

Place a fine mesh sieve over a large pan or bowl. Ladle the cooked apples in to the sieve and strain the juice from the pulp. Discard the pulp. Rinse the sieve thoroughly and line it with 3 to 4 layers of clean, damp cheesecloth.

Strain the juice through the cheesecloth 2 times, rinsing the cheesecloth between each straining. Measure 5 cups of juice.

To make the jelly, wash 9 to 10 half-pint jars, lids, and rings in hot soapy water; rinse. Fill a large stock pot (preferably a canning pot) with water. Attach a candy thermometer to the side and set over medium-high heat. Place clean jars and lids in the water to heat. Watch the thermometer and heat the water to 200°F. Once it reaches the correct temperature, make sure to raise or lower the heat to keep it there.

Meanwhile, heat the juice in a separate 8-quart stock pot over medium heat until just warm. Add the sugar and chiles and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and brin gthe mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.

Stir the entire contents of the pectin pouch. Return the mixture to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Remove pot from the heat.

Quickly skim off any foam and immediately ladle the hot jelly into hot jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims and threads with a clean, damp paper towel. Cover with hot lids and apply screw rings. Process half-pint jars in a 200°F water bath for 10 minutes, pint jars for 15 minutes.

Remove the jars from the water and set aside to cool. Once cool, check to see that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the middle of the lid, it should not pop back under your finger. If it hasn't sealed properly you can store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 3 months. The sealed jars will keep, unopened for 1 year.

Cheddar Pie Crust Crackers

1 recipe or scraps from Cheddar Cheese Pie Crust
1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water
1/4 cup sesame seeds

Heat oven to 400°F.

Roll out pie crust to 1/4-inch thick and cut into strips or shapes. Lay crackers in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake until crisp and golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Pickled Jalapeños with Goat Cheese {Jalapeños en Escabeche con Queso}

A long, long time ago when the Professor was in graduate school and we were living in Bozeman I got this brilliant idea to make pickled jalapeños. We lived in this kinda scary, kinda cute duplex that years later we found out some friends had also, oddly enough, lived in a few years prior. This doesn't sound strange on the surface but these were people we met after moving to San Francisco at a mutual friend's dinner party or maybe it was Thanksgiving, I don't remember the details. We were telling crazy landlord stories when they confirmed that Loni was indeed crazy, because she had been their landlord too!

When we lived in that wood paneled apartment we were still newlyweds, well I guess not technically, we were not married yet (gasp—I know!) but hadn't been together all that long so I think of this time as our newlywed years. By the time we were actual newlyweds nothing was really that new anymore (but still very exciting, don't get me wrong Honey!).

As a newbie to Mexican cuisine I became a little eager to please and decided to make pickled jalapeños for everyone that Christmas. I was fanatical about it, did lots of research and settled on this recipe from Emeril Lagasse—a talented Chef but not a man particularly known for his Mexican cooking. The recipe calls for the basics; jalapeños, vinegar, salt, but also for Zatarain's Concentrated Liquid Crab Boil. I couldn't find the liquid but I did find the dry spice version with whole mustard seed, red chile flakes, and coriander that give these pickled peppers an extra kick of flavor or as a wise man once said, "Kicked it up a notch"!

That Christmas I nervously handed them out to all of the Professor's family and friends in Texas. A month or so later I got the sweetest letter from one of his Uncles. He said those pickled jalapeños were the best he's had and asked if I could send him another jar. Are you kidding me?! Of course! I couldn't have been more flattered.

Jump ahead to a couple weeks ago when I found myself sitting around the kitchen table with a jalapeño farmer who was telling me he liked to stuff the jalapeños before pickling them. Well that certainly blew my mind! Oh, and he also let me know that I never made pickled jalapeños, what I make is called jalapeños en escabeche. "What's the difference?" I asked. "Pickled jalapeños are just that—jalapeños in vinegar. Escabeche is when you add all the spices." Go figure. I guess that's what I get for using a Louisiana dude's recipe.

Well whatever they're called these pickled peppers are good, especially stuffed with cheese but you don't need to take it from me, just ask the guy from Michoacán who wanted another jar.

Pickled Jalapeños with Goat Cheese {Jalapeños en Escabeche con Queso} 
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Recipe adapted from Emeril's Creole Christmas Book

Makes 1 quart

12 ounces whole jalapeños (about 12)
3 teaspoons Zatarain's crab boil spice mix (open the sachet and measure out the 3 teaspoons)
1 quart distilled white vinegar
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
6 bay leaves
2 tablespoons kosher salt
12 cloves garlic
1 large carrot, sliced on the bias
5 ounces soft goat cheese

1. Combine jalapeños, spices, vinegar, garlic, and carrot slices in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat.

2. Simmer until the peppers are soft, about 15 minutes. Remove peppers from brine and set aside to cool slightly. Keep brine warm on the stove while you stuff the peppers.

3. Once peppers are cool enough to handle, make a slit vertically down one side of each pepper and carefully remove the seeds and core with a small spoon being careful not to tear the pepper.

4. Divide the cheese evenly between the pepper and press to close. Gently place peppers in a clean, sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid, layering them with the carrots and garlic, being careful not to press down on the peppers.

5. Pour warm brine over the peppers and fill to within 1/4-inch from the top. Seal jar and refrigerate. Let sit at least 1 day before opening. Peppers will keep refrigerated for 1 month.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Sour Cherry Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust

It dawned on me that this week marks the 5th anniversary of ¡Hola! Jalapeño. That's 5 years worth of stories, over 400 recipes, thousands of photos, lots and lots of jalapeño peppers, and sooooo many lists (I make a lot of lists).

I started this blog right after we returned from my dear friend Beth's wedding (which reminds me—Happy Anniversary Guys!!) We had just moved to our quiet rural North Dakota village from big noisy San Francisco and I honestly had no idea what to do with myself. I was plenty busy taking care of little one-year-old Louisa and navigating my new role as Stay-at-Home Mom but I missed cooking professionally and desperately needed a creative outlet.

So I sat down and wrote this pretty terrible blog post. That first year I wrote some stuff about motherhood and living in a small town and a couple of recipes, and then a few more recipes and then to my complete amazement people started reading it!

Over the five years I have made some really great things (Sweet Potato Nachos) and some maybe not so great things (ahem...Orzo and Ham, sorry about that one). I've also had another baby, bought a house, sent a child off to school and a lot of other scary, exciting things. And you guys have stuck with me through all of it.

What I'm trying to say in the most beat-around-the-bush-way possible is....THANK YOU!

Thank you so much for reading and commenting and cooking and commenting about what you've made. I cannot express my gratitude that you take the time out of your incredibly crazy busy life to share this little corner of the internet with me. I know there are a bazillion other food blogs out there but you choose to read this one and for that I am eternally grateful.

I've got some really exciting stuff happening in the next couple of months that I cannot wait to share with you but to celebrate here and now....I've made pie!

It is a pie I've been wanting to make for years—decades even. It is from the Mustard's Grill cookbook  which has some real classics but the dessert chapter is especially killer. It is written by my dear friend Brigid Callinan and this girl knows a thing or two about sweet stuff.

Brigid didn't know my grandfather but this recipe was written just for him. He always ate a slice of apple pie with an even thicker slice of cheddar cheese. The original recipe is simply made of apples but I adjusted it a little to include some of those tart cherries I brought back from our trip to Michigan. The cheddar cheese crust combined with the sour cherries and apples makes for one stellar pie—just the right mix of sweet and salt. I can't think of a better way to celebrate not only the blog but the start of fall.

Hope you all have a great weekend—go out there and pick some apples!!  

Sour Cherry Apple Pie with Cheddar Cheese Crust
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Sour cherries can be hard to find. Some grocery stores will carry them frozen which is a bonus because they will already be pitted. You don't need to defrost them first, just add them to the pie frozen. If you can't find cherries you can make the pie with all apples, you will need about 8 large ones and try using a mixture of sour and sweet apples for best results. 

Recipe Adapted from Mustard's Grill Napa Valley Cookbook

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

For the crust:
2 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, frozen and cut into small pieces
1 1/2 cups grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
6 to 7 tablespoons ice water

For the filling:
5 large apples, peeled, halved, cored, and sliced 1/4-inch thick (about 3 1/2 cups)
2 cups pitted sour cherries
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg
1 teaspoon water
Coarse sugar for sprinkling (optional)

1. To make the crust, combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the butter and shortening and toss into the flour to coat. Cut the fat into the flour mixture with a pastry knife until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

2. Add cheese and stir to combine. Slowly drizzle ice water over the flour mixture a few tablespoons at a time and rub mixture together with your fingers, gently squeezing the liquid into the dough. Keep adding more water until the dough holds together but is not sticky.

3. Gather the dough into a ball, cut in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes, or until firm enough to roll out. Dough can be made up to a day in advance.

4. To make the filling, combine apples, cherries, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar, salt, and flour in a large bowl. Stir until everything is thoroughly mixed.

5. Heat oven to 425°F and arrange rack in the bottom third. Place a baking sheet covered with foil on the rack to heat with the oven.

6. Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator. Place on a lightly floured surface and roll dough into an 11-inch circle, about 1/4-inch thick. Transfer dough to a 9-inch pie pan and press dough into pan. Trim the edges leaving about 1/2-inch of dough overhanging the sides.

7. Scrape the filling into the crust and dot the top with butter. Roll out the remaining dough to about 1/4-inch thickness and place on top of the filling. Trim the edges even with the bottom crust and press the two together to seal.  Crimp the edge in a decorative pattern if you wish and place the pie in the freezer for about 15 minutes.

8. Whisk together the egg and water. Remove pie from freezer and cut 4 to 5 slits in the top or cut out a decorative pattern. Brush the top with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

9. Place pie on the heated baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Lower temperature to 375°F and bake for another 40-45 minutes or until top is brown and fruit is bubbly. Let sit for at least 1 hour before serving.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Huevos Rancheros with Green Tomato-Hatch Chile Salsa

Whenever I don't know what to make for dinner I always make breakfast. Mexican breakfasts make an especially good dinner because they have a little more pizzazz than pancakes and bacon (which the kids would happily eat for every meal of their lives if given the choice). 

That being said, I do prefer to eat pancakes at night; they are too heavy for the morning and make you want to crawl back into bed, at night you're already headed in that direction I'm rambling. Wow! Somebody stop a woman. 

Huevos Rancheros can be as simple as eggs, tortillas, and sauce. Or can be piled up with beans, avocado, sour cream, and chopped scallions. Any way you want it they are filling and satisfying any time of day. You know what Steve Perry would say......

A note about the salsa: This pureed salsa is a universal sauce that can be used for everything from topping enchiladas to a dip for chips. This recipe makes more than you will need for this dish, but will last a week, covered in the fridge. If you have the good fortune to live in a locale where fresh Hatch chiles can be purchased than by all means use those instead.  

Want more comida for your vida? Follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, or Bloglovin. If you have a cooking question (or any other kind of question) leave me a comment below, they kinda make my day (insert smiley face). ¡Gracias!

Huevos Rancheros with Green Tomato-Hatch Chile Salsa
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Making your own tostadas (fried tortillas) is pretty straight-forward but if you want to skip that step you can purchase store-bought tostadas instead. 

Makes 6 to 8 servings

For the salsa:
3 large green tomatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds) cored and quartered
1 (4 ounce) can diced Hatch green chiles
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 limes, juiced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 cup cilantro leaves

For the huevos:
Vegetable oil for frying tortillas and eggs, at least 2 cups
12 to 16 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups cooked beans or 1 (15 ounce) can refried beans
12 to 16 large eggs

1. To make the salsa, place the tomatoes in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until soft, about 15 minutes.

2. Remove tomatoes from water (saving the water) and place in a blender with remaining sauce ingredients. Blend on high, adding some of the tomato water if it is too thick. When salsa is smooth, taste and add more lime juice or salt as needed. Salsa can be made up to 1 week in advance.

3. To fry the tortillas,  pour enough oil in a large frying pan (cast iron is best) to reach about 1/2-inch up the side of the pan. Place over medium-heat until bubbles immediately form around a wooden chopstick when inserted or a deep-fat fry thermometer reaches 350°F. Meanwhile line a plate with paper towels and set aside.

4. Place one tortilla at a time in the oil and cook until lightly browned on one side, holding the tortilla down if it starts to curl. Flip and repeat on the other side, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to the plate and lightly sprinkle with salt. Repeat with remaining tortillas.  You will want to plan on 1 tortilla per egg.

5. Remove all but 3 tablespoons of oil from skillet and carefully add beans, fry beans, mashing them with a potato masher over until heated through, remove from heat and cover to keep warm.

4. Fry eggs (1 or 2 per person) in a separate frying pan then top each tortilla with a heaping spoonful of beans, an egg and salsa on top. Serve immediately.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Birria Stuffed Eggplant

You'd think as a gardener that one year would influence another. That over time your experiences would build on themselves and turn you into a competent grower of stuffs; but plants (I guess like children and any other living, growing thing) have a mind of their own.

If last year was any indication, I imagined this year's eggplant crop would be bounteous and overflowing. I thought I knew a thing or two about the bulbous crop. Like well first of all, you plant it in the ground, water it and it grows into these immaculate specimens worthy of the State Fair. So in my overly confident state I decided last spring to purchase a rare heirloom breed of eggplant that clearly had other intentions than heavy production.

Out of four plants I've gotten about 8 very small eggplant, for all you math wizards out there that's 2 eggs per plant. I have a few more growing but with this being September 22 in North Dakota I'm assuming that's going to basically sum up my crop.

I decided to extend the small harvest by filling the little gems with chile-laced lamb birria. I got the idea after seeing Yvette's Picadillo-Stuffed Zucchini and my mind instantly went to another lamb-stuffed eggplant dish that I made from Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook last summer (with the eggplants that actually grew).  His recipe calls for ground lamb and pine nuts and definitely should also be made but I was looking for something more Latin than Mediterranean.

Birria is normally made with large pieces of goat or lamb shoulder which cooks slowly in a rich broth of chiles, spice, and loads of onions until completely tender. The meat then gets shredded and added back to the broth and eaten as a stew or eaten separately with the sauce on the side. I decided to go with ground lamb to make this meal weeknight friendly but without losing all those rich, complex flavors. You could certainly make a true birria, remove the meat from the broth and make this dish with shredded lamb too if want to do something a bit fancier. Stuffed to the top and slow roasted they turned out beautifully. So good in fact that we ate it in about a tenth of the time that it took to grow.

Want more comida for your vida? Follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, or Bloglovin. If you have a cooking question (or any other kind of question) leave me a comment below, they kind of make my day (insert smiley face here). ¡Gracias!

Birria Stuffed Eggplant
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Inspired by Muy Bueno and Yotam Ottolenghi

Makes 6 servings

4 medium or 6 small eggplant, halved lengthwise and scored
6 tablespoons olive oil
3 ancho chiles, cored and seeds removed
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 pound ground lamb
1 large tomato, chopped
cilantro leaves to garnish, optional

1. Heat oven to 425°F. Place eggplant halves, skin side down, in a large roasting pan big enough to fit in a single layer. Brush with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

2. Meanwhile, place chiles in a medium sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from the water, let cool slightly, then chop finely.

3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook until translucent then add spices, and garlic. Cook until garlic is just starting to brown, about 1 minute. Add lamb and brown, breaking it up with the back of the spoon. Once lamb is cooked all the way through, add tomato and chiles, stir to incorporate then remove from heat.

4. Reduce oven temperature to 375°F. Spoon lamb mixture over eggplant, cover dish tightly with foil and roast for 1 hour or until eggplant is very soft.

5. Let cool slightly then sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve with rice.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Grandma's Pear Canela Coffee Cake

My grandma was a master of quite a few things in the kitchen—primarily pies, but a close second would be coffee cake. Going through her recipe box she had several coffee cake recipes, but I remember her making only one.

It was soft and crumbly and would smell her whole house up with cinnamon and spice. There was a ridiculous amount of streusel topping and it was dotted with plump blueberries throughout. This recipe is not hers exactly but is definitely inspired by the one she used to make.

I wanted to make it with pears to give it more of a fall feel, she only ever used blueberries (fresh in the summer and canned in the winter). You can do either they both work beautifully as would raspberries, peaches, or any other soft fruit.

The topping makes a ton (something I'm rather fond of) but if you find it too much for your liking you can make a streusel layer in the middle by spooning half the batter into the bottom of the pan, then sprinkling half the streusel over that. Spoon the remaining batter over the streusel and top with the rest of the streusel. Make sense? How many times can I use the word streusel to describe something? Apparently a lot.

My gram used nothing fancy in the cinnamon department but I couldn't resist giving this cake a Mexican touch with the soft, sweet flavor of true canela. She also only used all-purpose flour but I opted for white whole wheat just for health's sake. Try it out this weekend and let me know what you think. What did your grandma make? Share her recipe, I'd love to know!

Want more comida for your vida? Follow me on FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, or Bloglovin. If you have a cooking question (or any other kind of question) leave me a comment below, they kind of make my day (insert smiley face here). ¡Gracias!

Grandma's Pear Canela Coffee Cake
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Makes 1 10-inch coffee cake

3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
1 cup milk (non-dairy milk works here too)
2 large ripe pears, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)

For the topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon ground canela cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, cubed

1. Grease a 10-inch tube (angel food cake) pan. Heat oven to 350°F and arrange rack in the middle. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the sugar and shortening together until creamy and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, then the milk.

3. Add the dry mixture and mix on low until completely incorporated. Add the pears and fold them in with a plastic spatula. Spoon mixture into the prepared pan and spread so the top is even.

4. Combine all the topping ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together with your hands, rubbing the shortening into the dry ingredients until it has formed clumps of streusel. Evenly top the batter with the streusel.

5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the top is golden brown, about 60-75 minutes.

6. Let cool at least an hour before removing from the pan.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Perfect Pot of Beans

There's been a bean embargo of sorts put down on the Professor. 

Apparently his consumption has crept into unsustainable territories and a he was put on notice that his activities in the bean department were being closely monitored. He's a man who really enjoys his beans so it's getting a little ugly around here.

If Louisa catches him reaching for a can of black beans (breakfast is usually when he tries to slide by unnoticed) she comes out of nowhere like a freakin' ninja and says in a strikingly accurate motherly tone, " is NOT a bean day".

She's got him on a schedule.

I feel for him, because I love beans too. So for the rest of us who aren't on watch, right now is perfect bean eating season. This recipe is the one I make on an almost weekly basis. I got it from my friend Tomasa who I worked with during my days at Firefly in San Francisco. She would chop up a huge pile of onions, get them nice and soft then add loads of spice. They are an absolute classic. These beans come out initially very soupy and we do eat it like bean soup with a squeeze of lime and maybe some sautéed beet greens on top. But if there are leftovers we will scoop out spoonfuls, letting the liquid drain back into the bowl and fry them with oil or bacon grease, mashing to a perfect refried consistency.

There's debate whether salting the beans before they are fully cooked inhibits their softening. I believe it so I don't add salt until the beans are perfectly soft. It may be an old wives tale but it's one I choose not to mess with.

The recipe makes a lot but these beans are one of those things that are better the longer they sit so making a huge batch is to your benefit. And if you're only allowed beans every other day, then that could take a while.

Perfect Pot of Beans
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Makes 8 servings

1 pound dried pinto beans
1/4 cup vegetable oil, lard, or bacon grease
1 large yellow onion, diced
2-3 jalapeños, cored, chopped, and seeds removed if you'd like it less spicy
5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon kosher salt

1. Rinse beans in a colander to remove and dirt, while rinsing them be sure to run your fingers through them to check for small pebbles or rocks. Transfer beans to a large bowl and cover with cold water. Let soak, preferably, overnight. If you are in a hurry you can rinse them and cook them as is but they will take much longer to get soft.

2. Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and jalapeños and cook until starting to become tender, but not brown, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, chile powder, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Let spices toast for a minute or two.

3. Drain and rinse the beans then add them to the pot along with the bay leaf and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover. Simmer the beans, stirring occasionally, until tender. This could take anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on how long you soaked the beans and how fresh they are. Add salt and taste. If it is not salty enough for your tastes, add some more and serve.