Arah and Steve, on a walk with Betty
4.5 Years Married and Still Eating

We ate it too quickly to take photos, but the meal turned out so well that I’m  going to write about it here, and accompany it with a great pic that Mom took of us, together while visiting her in Yachats, this past Christmas. Steve and I love to cook, and we really enjoy sharing the results with friends. Plus, Bill requested the bean dish recipe, and I’ll be darned if I can find it on the internet. So, I’m posting it here.

Also, I’ve found it exceptionally challenging to shoot a complimentary photo of a bean dish. We are more attractive. It’s a fact.

Last night we had Bill and Michele over for dinner. On the menu:

Plus, the lovely wines that our guests brought:

  • Schug Brut 2006- a sparkling Pinot Noir, with the appetizers
  • 1998 Chateau Les Ormes de Pez red bordeaux

We were very happy with how all of the food turned out, taste-wise, though the figs appetizer turned out to be visually flawed, as I suspected would happen. This was partly due to our kitchen’s lack of a 2-inch round cookie cutter, partly due to the fact that I was not convinced that such small discs could contain a half-teaspoon of blue cheese plus a quarter-fig, and partly due to the fact that I did not follow the thawing instructions for the phyllo.  They were ugly, but tasted great, and the best part is that I can use the leftover spiced wine (Beaujolais Nouveau) /fig/brown sugar reduction on pancakes, tomorrow morning. There’s even some fig-quarters, still immersed within.

A few years ago, to accompany a tagine gift that Steve received from my mom, I bought him the Wolfert book. Over the last few years, he has tried perhaps half of the recipes, and we have greatly enjoyed the cooking and the eating of all of them. It’s allowed us to reminisce about trips to France, Italy, and Greece that we have taken, and to dream about trips we may take together to those places and others, on the Mediterranean and elsewhere. It has allowed us to sample some amazing flavors and to take some cooking-technique adventures in our own kitchen. While I did enjoy the bean dish, especially the “crispins” from the baking-pot edges, the carrot dish was my favorite. Carrots, Provençal olives, and thyme, together: a unique, tasty combination. And most of the cooking was done in my crock pot, in the afternoon. Loved it!

The soufflés performed winningly, as well, but as our dining table is in a separate room from the kitchen, the visual wow factor of puffed-up soufflés in ramekins was enjoyed only by me, the person who released them from the oven. They had to stay in the kitchen until they were cool enough to handle (I know this because I did a test run of the recipe on New Year’s Eve, and I burned my fingers and lips, in my rush to deliver chocolate love to my taste buds), By the time I could deliver them to the table, they had deflated. Thankfully, such a tragedy didn’t stop a single one of us from devouring the dessert.

Alas, here’s the requested recipe. Next time, we may try it with cannellinis. Bill, I’m glad you enjoyed it. Paula, thank you again for a fantastic cookbook.

Pork and Orange-Flavored Beans
adapted from The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. Serves 4-6 as a main course

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried beans (firm white beans were suggested, but we used what we had: a mix of Jacob’s Cattle beans, which we grew last summer, and red kidney beans)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 lb boned pork shoulder, in 2 chunks << local
  • Zest from 1 medium orange
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1 cup sweet red wine (we used Madeira)
  • 2/3 cup orange juice
  • 2/3 cup chopped good-quality canned tomatoes
  • 1 small celery rib with leaves
  • sprigs of parsley, for garnish.

Instructions:

  1. Pick over the beans and soak them in water to cover by at least 2 inches overnight.
  2. The following day, drain the beans and put them in a deep pot. Cover with 6 cups fresh water and slowly bring to a boil, skimming. Add 1 of the bay leaves. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 to 60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not mushy. Drain and reserve 1 cup of the liquid. Discard the bay leaf.
  3. Meanwhile, place the meat in a separate pot, cover with cold water, add the remaining bay leaf, and bring to a boil. Skim, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 3o minutes.
  4. In another saucepan, blanch the orange zest 3 times. Let the zest dry on parchment paper, then cut into fine strips.
  5. With a slotted spoon, lift the meat out of the water and place onto a cutting board; cut it into 1/2 inch cubes and season with salt and pepper. If there is more than 1/2 cup of broth left in the pot, boil it over high heat, to reduce to 1/2 cup.
  6. In a large straight-sided skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the pork and sauté for 3 more minutes. Add the beans and cook, stirring, for 1 more minute. Stir in the Aleppo pepper, mustard, wine, orange juice, meat broth, 1 tsp. salt, the tomato, celery, and orange zest. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer, covered, for 3o minutes. IF more liquid is needed, add some of the reserved bean broth.
  7. Preheat the over to 400° F. Taste the beans and adjust the seasoning, adding pepper to taste. (Do not worry about the decidedly orange flavor; it will mellow.) Transfer to a 2 1/2 quart baking dish and bake until the beans are very tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with some sprigs of parsley.
  8. If you have the time, let this dish cool for a few hours/overnight in the refrigerator, then reheat in the oven until crusty around the edges, then serve.

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