Friday, September 4, 2009

Ratatouille, Brazilian Beans and the Blues

Today marks the beginning of an event my household anticipates every year. RiverBlast. A wonderful weekend that highlights the attributes, and challenges, of our beloved Minnesota River. Run by the Coalition for a Clean River the festival is continually blessed with great weather and gets better and better every year. We are headed down with friends and family this afternoon. A perfect launch to my friend's new column 'Simply Food' for the New Ulm Journal. Wendy and her husband Claud are notorious entertainers, reigning from here and abroad, and since I've invited a few friends over to start the weekend, her Ratatouille seems like the perfect component. And of course since I made it the other day, it is readily available. Ditto those beans, we experimented with them yesterday (you can make them up to three days ahead!). I for one am not starting what is usually a quiet weekend around The Bohemian with a lot of work. But that certainly doesn't mean I don't wish to entertain friends. I'm not sure who decided the art of hospitality can't be fun, and easy. Shhh, maybe we shouldn't spill the beans? Recipe for Brazilian Black Ones: 3 med beets scrubbed and trimmed. 1 pound bag of dried black beans. salt and pepper. 2 garlic cloves. 2 tbls olive oil. 1 small onion chopped. 1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped. cooked brown rice. lime wedges and shredded cheddar. Put beets and beans in stock pot with enough water to cover bringing to a boil and simmering for an hour. Remove beets and when cool enough peel and dice. Continuing cooking the beans about an hour more, till tender. Drain. Chop garlic and sprinkle with salt. Heat oil in skillet on med with garlic onion and cilantro. Saute for 2-4 minutes till the onion is soft, but don't burn that garlic cause it gets bitter. Stir mixture in the beans, cook over med heat for 5 minutes season with salt and pepper. Top with cheddar, lime and chopped beets alongside rice. The ratatouille will go with bread. I tried it over scrambled eggs this morning for guests, per Miss Wendy's suggestion. Now that is one way to 'stir it up' in the am!

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