No complaints. Truly. I learned a whole new world of flavors and cooking styles, and these have carried me through all the years since that time. I am grateful for what life handed me. I am grateful for my upbringing (from Mom) that stressed:
"Whenever you visit someone's house and are invited to eat, you must at the very least try each food on the table, whether you like it or not. This is polite."Boy, did I ever run into a lot of things I had NO inclination to try when I first moved to Guatemala! But I held on to Mom's teaching, determined not to disgrace myself in front of my new family. I am so glad I did, because my palate would not be what it is today. I found out I really did like a lot of things I would have assumed otherwise, had I not tasted them. And that holds true no matter where I have been.
|Black Bean Salsa|
One of the things I learned to love, truly love, was black beans. Yum, yum, yummy! And my husband of 30 years has finally learned that he loves them as well. With that in mind, many years back, when my husband was still extremely iffy on the eating of black beans, I had made a recipe that I loved, called Black Bean Salsa. It has black beans, which I love, and corn which my husband loves. One can each. I figured we were getting a 50/50 chance of him liking this salad. As it happened, it was a sort of "it's okay, but nothing to write home about" situation with him. Oh well.
Yesterday I ran into that recipe again, so opted to try it out once more, now that he loves black beans. It was fabulous, flavor wise, and both of us were very happy with the dish as a side to grilled chicken.
But, you know how sometimes you revisit an old recipe and something just makes no sense? Well, the vast amount of liquids in the mix seemed ridiculous to us both. It is a waste of lime juice and olive oil to put so much into a recipe. The flavors are perfect, but the amounts are off. So this time I am going to post the recipe here, with my updates. It is well worth it. It could also be used as a dip, similarly to "Texas Caviar."
|Black Bean Salsa|
Black Bean Salsa
Serves 4 to 6
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
1 - 2 medium tomatoes, small cubes
1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimentos
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies
1 Poblano pepper, optional
½ cup diced red onion or shallot
1 small clove garlic, finely minced
(½ cup vinegar, optional)
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup chopped cilantro, or to taste
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
dried chili flakes, optional, to taste
If using the Poblano, I opted to blister the pepper under the broiler, peel and de-seed, then chop. It makes a nice addition but is not essential.
My husband and I do not handle raw onion well, so I opt to prepare the onion and the garlic, place in a small bowl and cover with the vinegar (listed as optional) for about 10 minutes while prepping the rest of the ingredients. After this time, drain the vinegar well and add into the rest of the ingredients.
Place the drained and rinsed beans, the corn and all the remaining ingredients into a bowl and toss well. Allow to stand for about 20 minutes to meld flavors and serve.
This next recipe I wanted to feature is one that some may not like because of the texture. If you love bread pudding or flan, with the soft texture, then you may enjoy this. My family certainly did. It is a recipe given me by a co-worker long, long ago, and it is absolutely excellent with ham. It would also be good with Polish sausage or Brats, or anything you would serve a sweetened sweet potato casserole. My friend called it Scalloped Pineapple. Not sure of this terminology. Truly Pineapple Bread Pudding would be closer to how this dish comes out. It could certainly be used as dessert. Back in the 1980s, when I first ate this dish, it was made with plain white store-bought bread. If you get creative, it could likely be made better with some other bread, but I am presenting her recipe as it was given.
And, forgive me, but it has been so very long since I made this recipe, I have no photos to share. As I looked online to see if this recipe was out there, turns out it is EVERYWHERE. Still, little variations in every single recipe tell me that easc cook made it their own in some small way.
Serves 4 to 6
1½ cups sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
8 slices white bread
1 can (20 ounces) crushed pineapple with juice
- more butter for the bread
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter each slice of the bread, stack then and cut into cubes. Place the bread cubes into a 9 x 9-inch casserole dish.
Cream together the stick of room temperature butter with the sugar. Add in the eggs, one at a time and beat well. Dump in the whole can of pineapple with juice. At this point the mixture will look completely curdled and unappetizing. Have faith and carry on. Once the pineapple is well mixed in, pour this mixture over top of the bread cubes in the casserole and bake for about 45 minutes, or however long it takes to turn a nice golden brown on top.
Another oldie but goodie of a recipe is one I found back in the 1980s in a Southern Living Annual Cookbook. At that time I was still young enough not to suffer from too much sodium (from too many canned veggies), and this was an easy salad, it made plenty, so having family over for dinner was a snap. These days I might do some things differently, like cook my own green beans, keeping them bright green, using fresh herbs. I am presenting my own methods here.
Again, an old, old recipe I haven't made in ages, so I have no photos at this time.
Marinated Vegetable Salad
2 good handfuls of fresh green beans
1 can (15-ounce) kidney beans, drained and rinsed well
1 can (7-ounce) pitted ripe olives, drained
1 jar/can (6 - 8 ounce) sliced mushrooms, drained
1 can (14-ounce) artichoke hearts, drained, quartered
1 jar (4 ounces) sliced pimentos
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1½ cups celery, sliced thinly
1 tablespoon capers
¼ cup tarragon vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon parsley, finely minced
2 teaspoons chives, finely minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, stems discarded
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Snap off ends of green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths and steam just until crisp-tender and still bright green, 5 to 8 minutes. To stop cooking and keep bright green color, plunge them into ice water for a few minutes, then drain well.
Place the green beans and the next 8 ingredients into a mixing bowl. Separately, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, sugar, herbs and pepper, then pour over the vegetables in the bowl and toss well. The salad is best if allowed to marinate overnight.
My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest.