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Archive for 2014

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Pacific Foods Organic Beans

Proust had his madeleines; we had our mother’s baked beans: made in an old-fashioned glazed ceramic crock, topped with strips of bacon. They were so good, we have never been able to eat canned baked beans—overly sweetened and one-dimensionally bland.

But thanks to Pacific Natural Foods’ new line of USDA Certified Organic beans in a carton, we now enjoy baked and refried beans at home as often as we like.

With January 1st the day to make resolutions to eat better, they’re a logical Top Pick Of The Week to usher in the new year. Rich in plant-based protein (Pacific beans have up to seven grams of protein per serving) and fiber, beans are a better-for-you food.

The line debuted last spring at Whole Foods Markets nationwide and expanded to select natural food stores and grocery chains. You can taste the quality and slow-cooked flavor and texture of the baked beans—the closest we’ll get to Mom’s (especially when we add crispy strips of bacon across the top).

 

Baked beans with a garnish of bacon. Photo © Viktor | Fotolia.

 
The refried beans are better than what we get most Mexican restaurants. Varieties include:

  • Organic Refried Pinto Beans (vegetarian or non-vegetarian [with added pork fat])
  • Organic Refried Black Beans (vegetarian)
  • Organic Refried Black Beans with Green Chiles (vegetarian)
  • Organic Baked Beans (vegetarian or with pork—but the pork amounts to a few tough bits)
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    A bonus for those who are concerned about the BPA plastic lining of tin cans: the Pacific Natural Foods cartons have no such potential problem. They’re priced at $2.69 to $2.99 for a 13.6-ounce container.

     

    One of six varieties of baked and refried
    beans. Photo courtesy Pacific Natural Foods.

     

    HOW TO SERVE BAKED BEANS

    Franks and beans are a natural part of the American diet. But even better than that is your own version of “pork and beans.” Instead of the meager bits of pork fat tossed into cans of beans, make your own with leftover roast ham.

    Especially brought to live with a garnish of fresh herbs. We prefer basil, chives, cilantro or parsley.

    BAKED BEANS FOR BREAKFAST

  • With eggs any style: try them on a toasted English muffin, topped with a poached egg
  • On toast: on toasted or grilled baguette or rustic bread, with fresh herbs and optional shredded Gruyère (for breakfast or a light lunch)
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    BAKED BEANS FOR DINNER

  • With sausages or roasted meats: chicken, duck, ham, pork
  • With hearty grilled fish: we like cod atop a bed of beans
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  • With potatoes: In a baked potato or a nest of mashed potatoes (top with shredded cheese and fresh herbs
  • As a side: with a crisp bacon garnish, a garnish of sour cream and a square of corn bread or gratinée
  • Wildcard: on pizza, mixed with elbow macaroni or other short cut (a great way to expand a limited amount of leftovers), to thicken creamy soups
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    WAYS TO SERVE REFRIED BEANS

  • Dips: bean dip and layered dip
  • Eggs: scrambled or an omelet with onions, chorizo, and a side of beans
  • Mexican dishes: burritos, fajitas, layered casseroles, tacos, quesadillas
  • Mexican lasagna: layer corn tortillas in a baking dish with beans, shredded cheese, ground beef or other meat, jalapeños and red chile sauce (“enchilada sauce”)
  • Sandwiches: including burgers and wraps
  • Mexican pizza: pizza crust or tortillas spread with red chile sauce, then topped with refried beans, sausage, black olives, chopped red onions, jalapeños and cheese; optional “taco garnish” of chopped tomatoes and lettuce
  • Sides: rice and beans (you don’t need Mexican main dishes in order to enjoy the sides); potatoes and beans; potatoes fried with onions, topped with chiles and Mexican cheese; by themselves topped with sour cream or Greek yogurt and cilantro
  • Stuffed peppers: stuff with rice or other grain and beans, top with cheese
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    How would you use them? Let us know!

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 11 Exciting Bloody Mary Garnishes

    New Year’s Day is also National Bloody Mary Day. So today’s tip is: Find a new garnish for your Bloody Marys, and change it up every year.

    A celery stalk garnish and optional lemon or lime wheel was de rigeur 20th century. Savvy hosts replaced them with a fennel stalk for the new millennium (there’s a word you haven’t heard in a while!).

    But that was 14 years ago! So here are 10 groups to consider for your “signature garnish.” You can mix and match them as you wish. And yes, you can even match them with a celery stalk and any form of lemon or lime.

    Creative types can get out the vegetable cutters and transform cucumbers, carrots, jalapeños, etc. into edible sculptures.

    BLOODY MARY GARNISHES

  • “Antipasto” Pick: an assortment of goodies such as cheese cube, cocktail onion, deli meat cube, grape tomato, pickle, pickled garlic, shrimp or your favorite ingredients
  • The Bacon-Jerky Group: bacon strips, your favorite jerky or a “BLT” (grape tomatoes and bacon on a pick with a curly lettuce leaf replacing the celery)
  • The Citrus Group: curly lemon or lime peel, blood orange wheel, grapefruit wedge, any exotic citrus from the farmers market
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    A modern and easy Bloody Mary garnish: a gherkin and pepperoncini on a pick with a salt and pepper rim. Photo courtesy AGWA.

  • The Fresh Vegetable Group: cherry tomato/grape tomato (chose yellow for contrast), cucumber slice, green onion/scallion, snow pea, zucchini spear/slice
  • The Herbs Group: basil leaves, cilantro sprig, dill sprig, parsley sprig, rosemary sprig
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    Bloody Mary “salad”: cherry tomato, celery,
    cucumber, dilly bean, lime wheel olive. Photo
    courtesy Arch Rock Fish Restaurant | Santa
    Barbara.

     
  • The Fruit Group: apple wedge, melon balls, pineapple spear
  • The Olive Group: stuffed olives (cheese, chili, pimiento, etc.), mixed pitted olives
  • The Pickle Group: dill spear (the whole spear or cut into chunks on a pick), gherkins
  • The Pickled Vegetables Group: asparagus, carrot, dilly bean, okra, peppadew
  • The Seafood Group: crab leg meat, cooked shrimp
  • The Seasoned Rim Group: cracked pepper, seasoned salt (buy it or make your own, including a salt-and-pepper rim of coarse sea salt and cracked pepper)
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    KNOW YOUR BLOODY MARYS

  • Bloody Mary History
  • Bloody Mary Recipes: the classics plus Danish, Mexican Scottish, Russian and Spanish Marys
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