Friday, December 17, 2010

Warming Winter Beans

White beans soaking on the kitchen counter before the window. Is there anything better than a bowl of warm winter beans on a cold blustery day?


I'm trying out a recipe from a cook book in my audition pile. White beans with garlic and herbs. A very nice, straightforward recipe. It's in Alice Waters new cookbook, "In The Green Kitchen" which was on the New York Times best cookbooks of the year list.

I baked the soda bread recipe from the book for last night's dinner and had a failure with it. Perhaps because I didn't have real buttermilk and made the standard substitute. (Milk with a bit of vinegar.) I also added some yoghurt. The bread came out very dense, with a salty, spongy interior. Nonetheless it was a rustic addition to the delicious carrot soup. Onward. Tomorrow, beans.

You can't really fail with beans, can you? Especially when you have a nifty cast iron bean pot, like the Lodge Bean Pot. This is my go to pot. I use it for everything. It's permanently situated on the back burner of the stove.

Perfect for two-person stews, no-knead bread, deep frying, beans and sauces, or anything else that needs a smaller pot. I love my Lodge bean pot. Love, love, love it!

Jim Lahey's no-knead bread always comes out of it perfect as a wonderfully round little boule. (Always impresses guests.) And so does everything else I cook in it.

I really encourage everyone to add this baby to your cooking arsenal. It'll never die and can be passed down through the generations. The only thing you don't want to do with cast iron is take it from a hot source and plunge it into a cold source (like stovetop to ice bath.) It could potentially crack or warp. Other than that, it'll last forever. You can get them directly from Lodge. Or through Amazon, if you are so inclined. I picked mine up at The Great Indoors.

I wash all my cast iron cookware with hot water and a stiff brush. No soap ever! If crusties are on the inside a dose of coarse salt with a stiff brush does magic. I always dry my cast iron on the stovetop under a low heat. It takes only a minute or two. And, if the shine is looking peaked, I add a little oil to maintain the non-stick quality of the pan.

Lodge cast iron comes already pre-seasoneded and ready to use (wash with hot water first) but inevitably someone in the household, who takes on the dish washing chores, will subject it to soap and water. That will reduce the seasoning and nonstick properties and possibly even cause it to rust. If you ever get rust, it can be remedied. A little light scouring with fine steel wool will remove it, then you must season the pot again. Dose it with a fine mist of oil and leave in a 350 degree oven for about 90 minutes and you're good to go.

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