A Culinary Renaissance

Document Sample
A Culinary Renaissance Powered By Docstoc
					Beans and Cuisine
A Culinary Renaissance
By Robin Schempp
with Susan Hughes

          For years beans have taken a back seat to other fashionable vegetables
               and stalwar t starches, occasionally pulled out of the pantry as a
                  protein enhancement or a component in traditional or holiday
                     fare. Today, hundreds of bean varieties are grown in the United
                       States, and, when cooked, provide a perfect medium for
                         adding flavor, texture, satiety and nutrient value to a range
                          of cuisines and cooking styles. Beyond the role of beans as
                            a compelling component in local, regional and global food
                            traditions, aspects of their cultural history, sustainable
                            propagation and nutritional proper ties have emerged
                            with high profiles in contemporary food, agriculture and
                           health movements.

                         More About Legumes and Pulses
                             Beans, peas, and lentils belong to the legume family, one of
                       the largest plant species, and are distinguished by seedpods that
                    split along both sides when ripe. Thousands of years of human
                cultivation (over several continents) has yielded thousands of varieties,
           with beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts among the more common edible
legumes. The seldom-used word “pulse” refers to the dried seeds. Culinarians use
the term “legumes” when speaking of dried beans, peas and lentils. This paper will
focus on beans and on “field peas” that also go by regional names like crowder peas,
purple hull or black eye peas. Beans can be dried and stored for later
cooking or seeding fields, cooked fresh from the pod, or cooked
and canned or frozen.
    The recent revival of bean dishes on fine dining                          A reliable
restaurant menus and expanded coverage of                            companion to have in
beans and bean cookery in the food media
                                                               today’s uncertain times, beans are
has triggered a burgeoning public interest in
all aspects of these vegetables, from their                an unassuming, honest food that make us
roles as seeds of nutritional well-being to             feel as though we have eaten something real
culinary wunderkinds. For chefs, culinary             and that we are well fed. They are good fuel for
professionals and avid cooks interested              shoveling snow on a winter night, riding across
in expanding their recipe and menu                  mountain ranges in the early morning or recovering
reper toires, beans figure prominently in           from a stressful day at the office. You can depend on
an ingredient-based approach to planning,
                                                     them (beans), just to introduce you to the dizzying
preparing and serving flavorful, wholesome
and imaginative dishes. With that goal in             spectrum of colors, textures and tastes that have
mind, this paper will highlight beans as an            captivated me and the patrons of Coyote Café
impor tant building block in six current and              for so many years.
emerging food trends, as well as a year-round
                                                             – Excerpted from Mark Miller’s introduction to
source for culinary inspiration.                                “Elizabeth Berry’s Great Bean Book,”
                                                                    by Florence Fabricant
                                                 page 1

                           1. Tracing Culinary Roots
                              Through Heirloom, Heritage
                              and Artisan Beans
                           Taste, along with tradition, binds our culinary experiences to those of our
                           ancestors and, because beans are easily dried, saved and transported, they
                           supply an edible placeholder in our local, regional and national experience.
                           Ar tisan cooking and farming practices are critical to the restoration of culinary
                           heritage that honors heirloom ingredients such as beans. For instance, the
                           traditional ar tistry of a fragrant appaloosa (pinto) bean stew cooked over mesquite
                           strikes as many gustatory chords as Chef Alfred Portal’s Spring Braise of Shell Beans,
                           Asparagus and Ramps in Mushroom Jus at Gotham Bar & Grill, New York, N.Y.
                               New World beans, indigenous to the Americas, are impor tant threads in
                           the fabric of our national cuisine. In an effort to reverse the rapid loss of foods,
                           flavors and traditions that were once the backbone of American regional life
                           and identity—an estimated 63 percent of native American crop varieties have
                           disappeared from cultivation since the arrival of Europeans—a group of dedicated
                                culinarians formed RAFT (Renewing America’s Food Traditions), North
                                        America’s first eco-gastronomic preservation and conservation project.
                                             Members of RAFT’s culinary arm, Chefs Collaborative, use antique
                                                beans in recipes with contemporary ingredients and cooking
     Beans demonstrate                             styles to stimulate new menu applications and to open
                                                      market oppor tunities for them. Examples from
   diversity, ethnicity and                             chefs involved with Chefs Collaborative and/or
       heritage through each                             Slow Food USA include:

variety and regional cooking                               •	 Grilled Marlin with Cranberry Beans, Braised
 traditions. Each bean is full                                Leeks and Pappardelle – David Lentz,
     of the flavor and color of                               Hungry Cat, Los Angeles, Calif.

    its history in America and                             •	 Very Black Beans with Calypso Spice Rub –
                                                              Norman Van Akens, Normans,
connects us to the continuum                                  Coral Gables, Fla.
      of our cultural identity                            •	 Frijoles de la Olla and Salsa Fresca with
              and foodways.                                  Smoke-Cured Grilled Rib Eye – Janos Wilder,
                                                             Janos Restaurant, Tucson, Ariz.
     – Poppy Tooker, New Orleans culinarian and
    chair of Slow Foods Ark of Taste, for which           •	 Fricassee of Rock Shrimp and Littleneck Clams
twenty variety beans have been archived in                   with Basil and White Beans – Alexandra
     a compendium of heritage foods.
                                                             Guarnaschelli, Butter, New York, N.Y.

                                      For more information about beans listed in Slow Foods Ark of Taste and
                               other heirloom varieties, visit the Professionals page on

                                                                            page 2
   2. Interest in Regional
      American Foodways
       As interest in the origins and traditions of American
   cuisine broadens, so does our appetite for foods of
   local provenance. Regional bean dishes punctuate our
   sense of place. New England baked beans, Pennsylvania
   Dutch creamed shell beans, Midwestern three-bean
   salad, Southern Hoppin’ John (black-eye peas) and New
   Orleans red beans and rice, Texas chili, and Western
   chuck wagon beans each openly declare where you’ll
   find them at the table.
                                                                                           Hoppin’ John

   Bean Traditions of the American South
     It’s quite likely that beans impact the culinary identity of the American South
   more than any other region. Regardless of locale – Appalachia, Piedmont, Low
   Country, Gulf – beans are an integral part of this region’s vast gastro-ethnicity.
       “You can tell what par t of the south you’re from by which and how you like
   your beans,” says Ronni Lundy, a restaurant critic and cookbook author (“Butter
   Beans to Blackberries and Shuck Beans”) who knows her beans. She explains
   that diners who gravitate toward soupy (pinto) beans with a side of corn bread
   probably hail from the mountain south; those tucking into highly seasoned red or
   black beans with rice come from the gulf coast where the spicy influence of the
   Caribbean and Mexico dominate; and those inhabiting the middle states prefer
   creamy navy beans and butter beans in a variety of simple, flavorful preparations.
      Frank Stitt, chef and owner of three acclaimed restaurants in Birmingham,
   Ala., is both a pioneer and the leading practitioner of fine Southern cuisine. In his
   award winning cookbook, “Frank Stitt’s Southern Table,” he advances the culinary
   philosophy he’s been perfecting on his restaurant menu for more than two
   decades: refined, exquisite and soul-soothing Southern cooking. Chef Stitt has a
   special reverence for this vegetable. “Throughout the lean years of Reconstruction,
   WWI and the Great Depression, southerners survived on peas and shell beans.
   Today, southerners revere the nuances of the variety of fresh and dried beans.”
       Owing to its rich native and immigrant history, New Orleans lays claim to a
   unique bean heritage. Aside from Monday’s red beans and rice, New Orleans’
   original bean dishes pre-date the Louisiana Purchase. Hoth Poni, a Native American
   bean soup, has game or venison mixed with a base of beans, corn, tomatoes
   and indigenous aromatics. Caldo, (likely from the Canary Islands’ “cauldron”) is
   a substantial soup of beans, corn, cabbage and other vegetables seasoned with
   ham or bacon. Cajun red or white beans, usually a side dish, includes spicy tasso
   (sausage) or smoked ham hocks. Classic vegetable versions of Jambalaya and
   Gumbo often contain beans in the winter. Today, Southern cooks take advantage of
   the summer’s bean bounty with new spins on plantation favorites, like Black, White
   and Red Bean Salad and Creole Tomato and White Bean Salad at Donaldsonville,
   La.’s Lafitte’s Landing.

                                                  page 3
                   Southwest Bean Traditions
                       Corn is possibly the most important ingredient in
                   traditional Southwestern cuisine, but beans are cer tainly        The Anasazi bean is
                   a close second. Southwestern natives were eating                  named after a Native
                   indigenous beans at least 7,000 years ago, before divining
                   the secret to cultivating them. The Hopi Indians have been        American tribe but its
                   growing many varieties of beans—pinto or painted beans            origins are somewhat
                   thrive in the deser t climate—since the fifth century.
                                                                                     cloudy. As the story
                                                 Perhaps the most quintessential
                                             Southwestern preparation, refried       goes, the dried beans
                                             beans— ubiquitous on regional           were discovered in an
                                             menus—were originally prepared
                                             with “olla” beans, named after a        ancient clay pot at an
                                             utilitarian earthenware cooking pot.    anthropological dig in
                                             Today, cooks often choose other
                                             bean varieties to simmer with           New Mexico in the
                                             chilies, tomatoes, onions, garlic,      1950s. Although lore
                                             bacon or oil before mashing them
                                             to a smooth consistency. Locals         has it that some of these
Pot Beans: Chili
                                             shape refried beans into vegetable      beans germinated, seed
                                             patties and bean cakes, preferring
                   classic Southwestern bean varieties, such as Appaloosa,           specialists concur that
                   Black, Bollito, Trout, Tepary or antique Anasazi.                 most dried beans are
                       For other Southwestern favorites like Drunken Beans,          unable to germinate after
                   Cowboy Beans, Pot Beans, and Chili, beans and a flavorful
                   fat form the basics, and then cooks take the proverbial           about 50 years. Another
                   fork in the road with their additions. The many variations        legend says that the first
                   of “Pot Beans” demonstrate this vegetable’s chameleon-
                   like versatility. The pot star ts with any dried bean and any     non-native settlers of New
                   liquid (water, broth or rich stock). Then, the beans can be       Mexico found the beans
                   heavily or lightly flavored with fat, spice, aromatic herbs
                   and vegetables and contain varying amounts of meat,               growing wild.
                   starch or additional vegetables cooked in or along side.          —Authors In The Kitchen
                   The results can be soupy or dry, and served alone, atop,
                   inside or aside grains, seafood, meat or other vegetables,
                   hot or chilled, unembellished or topped with cheese,
                   cream, chopped onions or fresh herbs.
                       With dishes like Refried Beans with Pickled Jalapeños, Drunken Tequila Black
                   Beans with Pork, Texas Three Bean and Cheese Bake and Bean Tamales with Holasanta
                   Leaf, legends of Southwestern cuisine, Rober t Del Grande, Dean Fearing, Stephen
                   Pyles and Mark Miller, turn classic dishes from the region on their heel while
                   keeping true to their character. With respect for the local culinary customs, their
                   simple, widely imitated recipes illustrate the level of creativity beans can inspire
                   in every cook.

                                                                    page 4
                    Pacific Coast Bean Traditions
                        Meanwhile, cool, coastal California cuisine, influenced by a year-round supply
                    of fresh produce and a border with Mexico, showcases the lighter side of beans.
                    Spunky salads, sides and condiments demonstrate the healthy and flavorful
                    possibilities of beans. Culinary impresario and an originator of “California cuisine,”
                    Jeremiah Tower put black bean cakes on the culinary radar during the 1970s at his
                    Santa Fe Bar & Grill in Berkeley, Calif. The recipe was an inspired juxtaposition of
                    flavors, textures and colors – smooth, slightly sweet black bean cakes topped with
                    peppery salsa, and finished with a spoonful of sour cream.

                    Midwest/Northeast Bean Traditions
                       Yankee and Midwestern sensibilities and ingenuity gave
                    us the one-pot meals that include casseroles, covered dishes,
                    stews, braises, chowders and savory pies. Bean dishes, baked
                    beans being perhaps the most renowned, provided hearty
                    sustenance for pilgrims, puritans, shakers and homesteaders.
                    To this day, cooks in these states rely on beans to supply a
                    complete and hear ty meal.
                       The colonists first learned to cook beans from the
                    Indians who slow-cooked them in underground pits inside
                    deer hides. The tradition of baking the dish overnight
                    evolved when the Puritans began making beans the day
                    before. Later, it became customary for New Englanders to
                    eat baked beans on Saturday, a ritual die-hard Yankees still
                    observe. Today, baked beans have as many versions as
                    there are states.                                                                        Baked Beans

                       According to Boston’s preeminent chef, Jasper White, various bean types can be
                    used for Boston Baked Beans, although many believe the pea bean makes the dish.
                    (For an overview of regional baked bean flavors, visit the Professionals page on
                                                    Three Bean Salad, a Midwestern staple, serves as
Cannellini Bean Salad                           summer’s covered dish. Traditionally a combination
                                                of marinated or pickled kidney, garbanzo and green
                                                beans, it is made from the abundance of a summer
                                                garden. Charlie Trotter is one of many who have given
                                                this picnic basic new life. His Six-Bean Salad with
                                                Horseradish, Giardiniera, and Pickled Red Onion features
                                                trout, black calypso, pinto, Peruvian lima, black-eye and
                                                black beans. Of his innovative variation, he says, “I have
                                                always loved three-bean salads, but find that they are
                                                generally too bland. In this version I made the concept
                                                more interesting by adding a beautiful zing with
                                                horseradish and a textural contrast with homemade

                                                                    page 5
    The traditional Native American combination of corn and beans, referred to as
succotash, has a long history of revisions. Like the colonists who adapted the dish
with cranberry or hor ticultural shell beans, Native Americans used whichever wild or
cultivated bean they could find. Multiple menu sightings are a testament of the versatility
and creativity employed by chefs in preparing their versions of this satisfying dish:

                •	   Summer Succotash of Fava Beans, Red and Yellow Bell
                     Pepper, Baby Corn and Chives — French Laundry,
                     Yountville, Calif.
                •	   Native Cranberry Bean Succotash — Seamen’s Inne
                     Restaurant & Pub, Mystic, Conn.
                •	   Yam and Red Bean Succotash — D-vine Wine Bar &
                     Bistro, Mesa, Ariz.

  For more delicious succotash combination ideas, visit the Professionals page on

                                                  page 6
   3. Insatiable Craving for
      Global Flavours
       Beans offer an opportunity to explore both ancient and modern flavors in
   virtually every country in the world, in recipes as varied as the people who cultivated
   them. As Food Network personality and chef Bobby Flay notes, “Beans are an
   important part of many cultures, and the rise in popularity of regional and ethnic
   cuisine means beans will continue to be a big part of restaurant menus to come.”
        In his own worldly way with beans, Flay mixes ethnicities in dishes such as Sweet
   Potato Ravioli with White Bean and Poblano Relish, Mushroom Essence and Balsamic
   Glaze. Other chefs taking this vegetable for a global spin offer how-to hints in the
   titles of their recipes:

        •	   Black-eyed Peas with Haricots Verts and Spicy Curry Emulsion
             — Charlie Trotter, Charlie Trotters, Chicago, Ill.
        •	   Pumpkin Curry Against Jamaican Black Beans —
             Mark Miller, Coyote Cafe, Santa Fe, N.M.
        •	   Tonka Bean Brulee, Sour Cherry and Marjoram — Sam Mason,
             Pastry Chef, wd~50, New York, N.Y.
        •	   Roasted Sonoma Lamb Leg With Fresh Butter Beans and Black
             Olives — Craig Stoll, Delfina Restaurant, San Francisco, Calif.

       Indian-inspired bean dishes generally come hot and spicy. This vast country and
   its ancient and complex history of cooking offer a never-ending source of flavors,
   aromas and colors. With dozens of languages, at least five food-restricted religions
   and numerous, diverse statewide culinary cultures, as well as the influence of
   colonialism, it’s no surprise to find the country’s legume cuisine teeming with flavor.
       While spices are the common thread, it is the combination of spices that
   determines the dish and its origin. Nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves
   and pepper can be blended with fennel, cumin, coriander and turmeric, asafetida,
   curry leaves and garam masala. The spice blends not only alter each dish, but also
   determine the method used to prepare them. Toasting spices before grinding them
   into a paste can nuance a spicy dish to a truly hearty and earthy one. Like the
   innumerable versions of Dal, bean-based Curries, Masalas, Dhansakh, Rajmas and
   Kormas are all formulated with a unique blend of spices and cooking techniques.
        Chef Savir Saran, restaurateur and author of “Indian Home Cooking,” adapted the
   classic Lucknowi Chaat for American palates and ingredient availability. His version of
   the popular snack combines crispy whole-wheat wafers with a cooling yogurt sauce
   and tamarind-date chutney and a topping of spicy garbanzo beans and potatoes.
     After more than a decade on mainstream menus, Southeast Asian influences are
   more entrenched than ever in American cuisine. Chefs and culinary teachers point

                                                     page 7
to accessibility of ingredients, greater knowledge of regional nuances and increasing
consumer familiarity as significant drivers in the proliferation of these dishes.
    After traveling across Asia, Chef Thy Tran, a food writer who specializes in
culinary history, migration and trans-nationalism, notes, “My general experience
with beans in Southeast Asia can be summed up in one word: sweet. Rarely seen
in savory entrees, red and black and ‘green’ beans appear commonly in desserts,
snacks and other sweet concoctions—bean fillings for pastries, beans and coconut
milk for puddings, beans and ice for Technicolor sundaes, beans and sweet rice for
breakfast, beans in ice cream and gelato.”
    On American menus, where crisscrossing culinary boundaries is the norm,
Asian-style bean cookery is widespread. In Wakefield, Mass., diners at Sushi
Island enjoy the Warm Red Bean Cake with Ice Cream and Fruit. Vietnamese chef,
restaurateur and cooking teacher Mai Pham expands on this sweet-savory point
at her Sacramento, Calif. restaurant, Lemongrass. On her menu, she pairs Poached
Shrimp, Pork, Lettuce, Mint, Noodles and Bean Sprout Salad Rolls with Black Bean
Dipping Sauce, Chilies and Chopped Roasted Peanuts, then offers a finale of Iced
Red Bean Pudding with Coconut Milk. Ming Tsai of the PBS television series “Simply
Ming” and chef of Boston dining Mecca, Blue Ginger, features Lacquered Poussin with
Tamarind-Hoisin Sauce, Mandarin Chicken Orzo ‘Fried Rice’ and Three ‘Pea’ Salad, a
dish featuring both dried and fresh legumes.

The Mediterranean
   The Mediterranean’s long history of colonization and international trade
has endowed the area with shared cultures and foodways. Regardless of region,
Mediterranean cuisines include an abundance of plant-based foods, often sustained
by the staunchly healthful bean in combination with olive oil, grains, nuts and seeds
with techniques and garnishes changing by border or region.
    The bir thplace of olive oil, wheat and barley,
Eastern Mediterranean countries (Greece, Israel,
Lebanon, Syria, Turkey) are likely the ancestral
home of cer tain varieties of cultivated beans
(garbanzo and fava). In this corner of the region,
legumes are pervasive in salads, soups, stews,
dips, spreads and dressings. Hummus, bean
soups, bean salads, and falafel are some of the
traditional dishes seeing resurgence in both
classic and reinvented forms. (For modern
takes on hummus, visit the Professionals page
Turkish cooking shares a great deal with its Arab
and Persian neighbors, who, since the Ottoman
Empire, have exer ted a strong cultural influence
over the region. Turks use beans, along with
yogur t, fresh dill and mint, sumac and allspice,                                       Garbanzo Bean Stew
to supplement and accent preparations of lamb

                                                page 8
                 and eggplant. Dfina, a popular main dish in Egypt, is a rich beef stew featuring both
                 white beans and chickpeas.
                      Southern European countries (Italy, France, Spain and Por tugal) exhibit a
                 passion for this vegetable in varied cuisine styles. Beans are relegated to no
                 one par t of the Italian menu or to one style of cooking. Italians often star t a
                 meal with hot or cold beans in antipasti or zuppe, continuing with beans in pasta
                 or grain dishes, and finishing with beans in the meat or fish course. To emulate the
                 delectable bean cuisine of Italy, simply respect the bean and match it with other
                 good quality ingredients, such as extra virgin olive oil, fresh greens or herbs, good
                 pasta, quality stocks and proteins. The classic fusion (scarola e fagioli) of garlicky
                 Italian escarole and white cannellini beans can be easily changed to reflect seasonal
                 ingredients. In San Francisco, Boulevard offers a hearty version: Slow Cooked
                 Heirloom Beans with Spinach, Oven Roasted Tomatoes, La Querca Pancetta, Extra
                 Virgin Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar.
                    With their hot chefs, ultra-hip tapas and mouthwatering array of specialty foods,
                 Spain and Por tugal are experiencing a gastronomic boom and everyone who cares
                                     about food is watching (tossing, roasting and tasting) Iberian
                                            specialties. New and classic bean-based recipes are part
                                                  of the craze. Aside from legume-rich tapas, “stone”
                                                      soups, stews and regional meat and bean hot
                 Ever since the                           pots (cocidos) always contain beans. There
                                                            are also a variety of bean-enriched rice
           persecution of Protestants                          casseroles and paellas.
        and the Albigensian Crusade in                               Cassoulet and its many iterations
                                                                   are ubiquitous in bistro culture
     Languedoc, a holy war on the origins                            and among gastronomic
 of Cassoulet has been waged in that part                             Francophiles. Cassoulet
                                                                       and its sister dishes have
 of France. There is not just one cassoulet:                            unlimited variations when
                                                                        core ingredients, like bean
    the dish exists in many versions, each one                          varieties, flavorings and serving
with fanatical supporters. Every little district                        styles are modified. In Los
                                                                        Angeles, Restaurant Blue
     proclaims that it alone practices the true                         Velvet offers Lobster Cassoulet:
                                                                       deconstructed beans in a
       rite—for rites rather than recipes are                         rich lobster sauce dotted with
     involved in the perfect preparation of                          lobster meat, flanked by rich, inky
                                                                   boudin noir and topped with slices
                    this baked bean dish.                         of tender lobster tail.
                            – French food historian
                    Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat

                                                                page 9
Latin America and the Caribbean
   Beans proliferate in Latin America and Caribbean cuisines. In South America,
popular cuisines offer regional cues and historical guidance. While Argentines do
consume large amounts of beef, beans remain a staple. And in Brazil, the national
dish is Fejioada, a black bean stew studded with pork loin, sausage, bacon, spare ribs
and cubed beef.

     In Ecuador, beans are commonly combined
with potatoes or plantains to create a satisfying        Black Bean Soup
family meal. El Salvador’s Pupusas, tor tillas
filled with beans, chicharrón (pork), cheese
and a variety of local ingredients, have found
popularity in the U.S.— enjoyment spreading
from immigrant communities to mainstream
tables. Porotos Granados, a spicy Chilean/Creole
cranberry or lima bean stew with squash or
pumpkin, sweet corn, tomatoes, onions, chilies
and herbs, combines old and new world

    Mexican cuisine is known for its intense
and varied flavors of spicy and sweet. The
indigenous cuisine consisted largely of corn
and bean dishes with chilies, herbs, nuts
and squash until the Spanish conquistadores
introduced rice, beef, pork, chicken, wine,
garlic and onions. Today, beans are as essential
to the Mexican table as they were when the Spaniards arrived. Fried beans are
the automatic accompaniment to (or ingredient in) most masa-based antojitos
(appetizers), plain soupy beans hold an old-time place in the afternoon comida, and
bean preparations turn up in regional specialties everywhere. A list of bean recipes
from the menu of Chef Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill in Chicago, Ill., illustrates how
essential beans are to side dishes and fillings in the regional cuisines of Mexico and
how they can inspire creativity:

    •   Panucho Vegetariano — Traditional Yucatecan Crispy Tor tilla Filled
        with Black Beans and Hardboiled Egg, Woodland Mushroom
        Escabeche (with Wood-Grilled Xcatic Chiles and Red Onions) and
        Heirloom Tomatoes
    •   Pescado Motuleno — Pan-Roasted, Achiote-Marinated Day-Boat
        Catch with Classic Sauce of Heirloom Tomatoes and Habanero
        Chiles, Frijoles Colados (Pureed Black Beans Flavored with Avocado
        Leaves and Árbol Chiles), Crispy Tor tilla Angelhair, English Pea Mash
        and Homemade Queso Fresco

  Central American and Caribbean cuisine, encompassing dishes from Nicaragua,
Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican

                                               page 10
Republic and Puer to Rico, borrows from Latin, Spanish and African cultures. Food
from Haiti and the Dominican Republic uses beans mixed with other vegetables,
meats, tomatoes, peppers and similar herbs in one-pot dishes or simply as beans
and rice. The closest thing to a national dish in Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto or “spotted
rooster,” a combination of black beans and day-old white rice spiced with cilantro,
onions, garlic, salt and local salsa. Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica all consume a
variation of beans and rice, but cook and consume beans in other dishes using the
same tomato, cilantro, garlic, onion and pepper-spice base. (For global variations on
beans and rice, visit the Professionals page on
   A Cuban descendant from Miami and Latin Food “super chef,” Chef Douglas
Rodriguez has studied the foods from all of Latin America and the Caribbean and
created his own brand of Nuevo Latino cuisine for four fashionable restaurants.
Beans are often at the center of his creative and traditional dishes:

    •   Chick Pea Salad with Pickled Red Onions, Bell Peppers and
        Aji Flakes — De La Costa, Chicago, Ill.
    •   Gloria’s Black Bean Soup with Crème Fraîche —
        Deseao, Scottsdale, Ariz.
    •   Lechon Asado-Crispy Skinned Pork with Garlic-Oregano
        Black Bean Broth — Alma De Cuba, Philadelphia, Pa.
    •   Crispy Pork with Honey Truffle Yucca, Black Bean Broth and
        Oregano Mojo — Ola Latin American, Miami, Fla.

                                                page 11
                  4. Growing Appetite for Authenticity
                  The simple act of choosing a bean, a cooking method
                  and a selection of seasonal ingredients brings excitement
                  and relevance to the planning, preparation and serving
                  of a dish.
                                                                                          Beans and other
                     Local food advocates like Chef Dan Barber, who heads                 legumes, unlike
                  Blue Hill Restaurants and Stone Barns Center for Food
                  and Agriculture in New York, contribute to shaping our
                                                                                          most other plants,
                  gustatory vision for the future. Says Chef Barber, “The                 work in the annual
                  road ingredients travel from harvest to the dinner table                planting cycle to return
                  becomes a par t of their character. Simplifying this path
                  changes the taste, often enhancing it. Actively reconnecting            essential nitrogen
                  the farm with the table creates a distinct consciousness.               back to the earth. For
                  Through our choices of food and ingredients, we—chefs,                  that reason alone,
                  waiters and diners—are inescapably active par ticipants in
                  not just eating, but in agriculture. This awareness adds to             legumes have been
                  the pleasure of eating.”                                                critical to agriculture
                     Chef Barber’s Pistou of Summer Vegetables unites the                 and the development
                  summer bounty of beans with other seasonal vegetables.
                  Similarly, a winter version combines different varieties of
                                                                                          of civilizations for
                  beans with root vegetables.                                             thousands of years: a
                     Early farmers often grew beans in natural symbiosis                  plant that gives back to
                  with wheat, barley, millet, rice and corn. Handily, beans               the earth and supports
                  and grains provide the basis for gastronomic substance.
                  Regional and cultural combinations like lentils and rice,
                                                                                          the body, a seed that
                  lima beans and corn, and chickpeas (garbanzos) and                      can be dried to eat
                  couscous reflect this correlation. With the age of European             or plant again, an
                  exploration came an increased exchange of beans and
                  grains varieties, along with ways to cook them. By adding               emblem of both earth
                              other vegetables, herbs and other flavorings,               and life cycles.
                              as well as a selection of meats, the range of
                                                                                          —The Omnivore’s Dilemma
                              possibilities expanded to create the culinary
                              foundation for almost every contemporary
                              cooking technique.
                                The impulse to combine beans and
                             grains; beans, corn and squash (The Three Sisters); beans and greens;
                             beans, tomatoes and chiles; beans, herbs and olive oil; and beans and
                             smoked or slow cooked meats—often in one pot—has everything to
                             do with our epicurean ancestors paving the way for flavor, nutrition,
                             convenience, value and variety. Their brilliant culinary feats were
                             necessitated by time, place and situation. But even now, we know
                             inherently that any of those pairings, cooked in nearly any technique
                             or application, will produce delectable and satisfying results. (For
                             more information about The Three Sisters and Succotash, visit the
                             Professionals page on
Barbecued Beans
and Squash

                                                                 page 12
                 Today what’s old is new again. One has only to look at the shelves in the
              cooking section of a bookstore to see that contemporary, hip and sophisticated
              cooking is, well, old, slow and rustic. Open “Seasonal Recipes from Market to
              Table,” by Suzanne Goin; “The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen: Recipes for the
              Passionate Cook,” by Paula Wolfert; and “Bistro Cooking at Home,” by Gordon
              Hamersley. These award-winning authors honor the principles, flavors and
              ingredients of simple, centuries-old culinary technique. It should come as no
              surprise that beans lie at the heart of many of the recipes in these books.
              Single pots need not be stodgy, and these authors and the cooks who inspired
              them prove that rustic cooking can be elevated to high art with deft culinary
              twists. (For new takes on classic bean dishes, visit the Professionals page on

              5. Sharing Bigger Flavors
                 on Small Plates
                 At The Flavor Experience, a foodservice event in August 2007 where chefs
              gathered to learn and share ideas, Dr. Elizabeth Sloan, President of Sloan Trends,
              predicted shared culinary adventures—small plate and appetizer menus, bar snacks
              and sharable meals—with a focus on ingredients, flavor and freshness, are not only
                           growing in popularity, but are here to stay. Every culture lays claim to
Crunchy                    a variety of small or shared plates, a range of tapas, mezze, antipasti
Garbanzo                   or appetizers that transform familiar tastes into sharable bite-sized
                           treats. Classic global small plates take many forms, with beans often
                           playing a leading role.
                                One likely place to spot bean-centric tastes and small plates is
                            on the bar menu. Think chili and chunky bean dips; crispy Italian-
                            style, olive oil-fried beans; Moroccan-spiced garbanzos; and crunchy
                            fava beans with pimentón. In Por tland, Ore., Dustin Clark, chef at
                            Wildwood Restaurant and Bar, deep-fries cooked Corona beans in
                            vegetable oil. The frying process causes the beans’ skin to “flake,”
              creating a “tempura like” crust around the bean’s creamy center.
                 For more shareable dish ideas, consider these adventuresome ingredients and
              creative applications:

                       •   Mild Ortega Chili Black and Refried Pinto Bean Dip
                           — Mamas, Seattle, Wash.
                       •   Chick Pea Farinata Pizza with Seasonal Toppings
                           — Rose Pistola, San Francisco, Calif.
                       •   Mixed Bean Salad with Pancetta, Garlic and Olive Oil over
                           Arugula — Café Matou, Chicago, Ill.
                       •   Flour Pancakes with Berkshire Pork Bacon, Black Beans, Kewpie
                           Slaw, Red Kimchi Puree — Momofuku Säm’s, New York, N.Y.

                 For more global small plates ideas, visit the Professionals page on www.

                                                             page 13
   6. Convenience, Customization
      and Functionality
       Most bean varieties can be used interchangeably (how’s that for versatility!) but
   some beans are better suited than others to achieve specific results. For example,
   small, softly textured pink or pinto beans work better in salsa than large Coronas
   or round, chunky garbanzo beans. Choosing from among the hundreds of varieties,
   colors, textures and flavors of this vegetable means making the same dish with a
   different bean can offer an entirely new gastronomic experience. (For information
   on beans’ vast variety, visit the Professionals page on
      Beans’ versatility extends to multiple formats—fresh, dried, canned and frozen—
   providing options that greatly enhance how and how frequently they can be used.
       Fresh beans remind us of their rustic origins, and entice us to prepare them
   alongside their garden companions. They cook quickly in a sauté with other
   fresh vegetables.
      Soaking, then simmering dried beans to a melting tenderness is the traditional
   cooking method for many one-pot meals. The technique ensures the beans absorb
   the flavors of the other ingredients, such as an aromatic stock and smoked meats
   and bones.
      Canned and frozen beans allow for last-minute creativity and consistency.
   Convenient and reliable, they can be added to any dish at any time (as in the
   case of cold salads, quick sautés and simple sauces), and often produce better
   results as they are reliably cooked until tender. Important to a dish’s appeal,
   canned and frozen beans retain their texture, color, and flavor, supplying the same
   enjoyment as their cooked-from-scratch counterparts. For most applications,
   draining and rinsing canned beans will significantly reduce the salt content.
   (Anyone concerned with bean digestibility should soak beans repeatedly; this
   process aids in removing indigestible sugars called oligosaccharides.)
       Nancy Silver ton, chef-owner of Mozza in Los Angeles, Calif., makes a case
   for canned beans in her book, “A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Flavorful Meals with
   Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags and Boxes”: “I found so many jarred and canned
   varieties that were delicious and almost completely uncompromised in terms of
   flavor and texture that I wanted to find different ways to use them.”
      She lists encouragingly tantalizing recipes using canned beans that are quick
   to prepare with other pantry staples and a few fresh ingredients:

        •   Linguini with Pancetta and Cranberry Beans
        •   Garbanzo Bean and Cumin Shrimp with Roasted Carrots
        •   Mashed Flageolets
        •   Spicy Tomato-Curry Chick Peas
        •   Black Bean and Green Chile Salsa

                                                  page 14
Eat Your Beans, They’re Good For You!
   With the nation’s intensified focus on health and well-being, beans are getting
a second look from consumers and chefs as not only a delicious vegetable, but a
nutritious, economical and convenient food.
   In spring 2007, New York magazine repor ted that Tuscan chef and New York
restaurateur, Cesare Casella was negotiating a deal to open Bean Bar, a carryout
café and shop in Grand Central Station that will sell some of his signature bean
dishes as well as uncooked beans. “The main idea is to have cooked beans,” Casella
explains. “They’re great and so healthy … I want (people) to be able to take home
beans when they go home on the train.”
    Beans are vegetables that are high in protein, complex carbohydrates and
dietary fiber and contain many nutrients, including some that are often lacking
in the diet, such as potassium, magnesium, folate and iron. Beans contain
zero cholesterol and the trace amount of fat in beans, as in all vegetables, is
polyunsaturated. As a high-fiber food, the body digests beans slowly, making them
a good diet choice for diabetics and hypoglycemics.
   Beans also contribute important nutrition to vegetarian and “flexitarian” (the
nearly 25 percent of American adults who eat four or more meatless meals
weekly) diets. “Flexitarians” are interested in a largely plant-based diet with smaller
por tions of meat, poultry, seafood and dairy. Vegetarian and “flexitarian” diets are
popular with college students who show a growing awareness of the benefits of a
balanced diet.
    Because beans are digested slowly, they promote longer-lasting satiety and
satisfaction. Beans can play a role in almost any dietary preference—low calorie,
nutrient rich, low carbohydrate, high protein, vegetarian, flexitarian, and gluten-free.

The Versatile, Inspirational Bean
    Mark Miller, the highly regarded chef, restaurateur, author and teacher,
eloquently sums up the culinary flavor, versatility and character of beans in his
introduction to “Elizabeth Berry’s Great Bean Book,” by Florence Fabricant.
              “Looking back, I realize that beans have played an essential role in
          my culinary life for the last for ty years. There were the baked beans I
          savored as a child, the luscious refried beans with queso and crema that
          I ate in Mexico as a young adult, the smoky and herbaceous black beans
          I ate three times a day for a month when I was studying weaving in
          Guatemala, the bracing red chili with pinto beans that we cooked on the
          YO Ranch in Texas and the simple black bean soup that became my first
          published recipe. When I started my first restaurant, Fourth Street Grill,
          in Berkeley, CA, in 1979, one of the dishes on the menus was my version
          of black bean soup. Within two months of opening, James Beard came to
          the restaurant, was delighted by the soup, and asked me for the recipe.
          He printed it in his nationally syndicated column, which appeared in over
          two hundred newspapers, forever linking my culinary career to beans.”

                                                page 15
              Beans are Culinary Place Markers and
              Gustatory Time Travelers
                  Beans return us to our gastronomical roots and also launch us forth into culinary
              creativity. Just as they have been the cornerstone in historical fare, these legendary
              legumes provide a canvas for flavor, texture, satiation and value on modern menus.
              A healthy foundation for many contemporary and cultural cuisines, beans are
              an indisputable component in current global, regional and local gastronomic and
              agricultural movements. From earth to table, beans pay homage to our heritage and
              are part of the universal cultural and culinary narrative. The diverse gastronomic and
              nutritional benefits of this accessible and adaptable vegetable give them an incredible
              edge in contemporary food ways. Owing to their deliciously rich history, fantastic
              variety and wide-ranging versatility, beans both enhance culinary authenticity and
              inspire originality.
                 For more in-depth information and culinary inspiration related to beans, visit the
              Professionals page on

Smoky White
Bean and
Tomato Soup
                                                       page 16 page 16

Shared By: