Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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Chiles Stuffed with Crusty Beans

Growing up, I remember having stuffed green peppers for dinner fairly frequently.  Stuffed peppers weren’t one of my favorite dinners, because I wasn’t a fan of the stuffing {or meatloaf either}, which was probably just ground beef with onions and seasonings.  Mashed potatoes were always one of the accompaniments, and they were always a hit with me.  Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?  I remember making a deal with my mom on Stuffed Pepper Nights. . . I gave her my stuffing, and she gave me her green pepper case.  Score!  I love peppers, and green peppers are my favorite, even though red, yellow and orange are supposed to be healthier.  Green peppers rank high on my list of favorite vegetables, in cooked or raw form.  They have a wonderful green flavor that I love.  On a hot day, a refreshing snack is half a cold green pepper sprinkled with sea salt; when you bite into the pepper, cool spray mists your face and it tastes oh so delicious . . .and then you eat the other half!

I have been making my own version of stuffed peppers, using chiles from the Upcountry Farmers Market.  I’m not sure of the variety, but they are a sweet pepper, so no worries if you aren’t into a good mouth burn, which I happen to love.  You can use any chiles you like; poblanos are a particular favorite of ours.  The stuffing here is not meat, but what we call Crusty Beans.

I would describe the texture of kidney and black beans to be moist and creamy.  Once they are cooked up as Crusty Beans, while still moist on the inside, the outside has a bit of crust, from cumin and chili powder; they are delicious.  Even though I prefer cooking dry beans, canned beans make this delicious dish quick and easy to make.  Crusty Beans are great for any meal, and are a fabulous accompaniment for eggs and toast, if you aren’t stuffing them into peppers.

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Crusty Beans

2 15-oz. can kidney or black beans, rinsed and drained {or about 2 cups cooked and drained beans}

1/2 medium onion, diced about 3/4 cup

5 cloves garlic, minced

Olive oil 4 T

Butter 2 T

Ground cumin 6 t

Chili powder 3 t {click here if you’d like to try my homemade chili powder}

Red pepper flakes 1/2 T or 1 minced jalapeño

Salt

Pepper

Over medium-medium high heat sauté beans, cumin and chili powder for about 5”.  Add onions, garlic & jalapeños.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5” more.  The onions will still have a bit of crunch to them, because they were added after the beans were sautéed.

Makes 4-6 generous servings.

Now let’s talk about the peppers.  Select a pepper that you like, that has room for some stuffing.  You will need a lot of Crusty Beans if you decide to stuff them into bell peppers, but poblanos or the sweet peppers shown here take about 2-3 tbsp of filling.

Raw Sweet Peppers

Chiles Stuffed with Crusty Beans

8 chiles {poblanos, sweet long peppers, or other variety}

Sea salt

Crusty Beans

Soft goat cheese {or another good melting cheese that you like}

Minced jalapeño for garnish, if desired

Preheat broiler to high.  Adjust oven rack to second position from the top.  Wash and dry the peppers, and place them on a foil lined baking sheet.  There is no need for oil or seasoning for this step.  Broil peppers, turning when each side gets charred.  You can position peppers right next to each other to prevent them from rolling over, if necessary, so all sides can get charred.  When all sides are charred, remove baking sheet from the oven and fold the peppers up in the foil for about 15”.  The peppers will steam and the skins will loosen up for easy removal.  The peppers will be delicious, but the skins are papery and not pleasant to eat, so you will want to remove them when they are cool.

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Once the skins have been removed, cut peppers on one side from the pointy end to the stem end {leave the stem end on}; kitchen shears are great for this.  They can be a little slippery, but just take your time.  Remove the seeds and membrane from the peppers; if you carefully snip the stringy white membrane close to the stem, it is more easily removed.  A few seeds won’t hurt, but try to get most of them.  I have heard conflicting opinions on whether the seeds should be removed by running the peppers under water, which certainly makes quick work of this task.  For years, I avoided rinsing the peppers, but the last couple of times I’ve made them, I let the water do most of the work, and the peppers tasted great.

Sprinkle the insides of the peppers with a little sea salt.  Now it’s time to stuff your peppers! The roasted peppers are fragile, so be careful not to tear them while stuffing.  I’m ok with overstuffed peppers; it’s fine if you can’t close the peppers.  Spray an 8×8 baking dish with pan spray. Nestle the unstuffed peppers together in the dish, stuff them and then cover the dish with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and sprinkle liberally with goat cheese.  Bake for another 10 minutes so the cheese is soft.  Shower with minced jalapeño and eat hot.

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Click here for some info on the health benefits of peppers!

Bon appetit!

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A Delicious Bowl of Beans

Before getting into the nitty gritty of garbanzo beans, which I love, I want to pass along information on a couple of free online classes.  Go to Craftsy, and check out their free mini-classes.  I don’t know if these classes are forever free, or if  just a current special, but it’s worth checking into.  What I have watched of the knife skills class so far, about 30 minutes, has been interesting and helpful.  I’m also signed up for a free class called Perfect Pizza at Home, with Peter Reinhart {The Bread Baker’s Apprentice author} as the helm as instructor.  I have not started that class yet {where does my time go???}. Reinhart is also teaching a class {not free} called Artisan Bread Making, which I have started; so far it’s great!

Beans are on many people’s lists of healthy foods; they are full of fiber, both soluble and insoluble, and they taste great.  There is something very satisfying about cooking a pot of beans.  I can’t put my finger on it, but for me, it’s in the same vein as baking yeast bread.  The kinesthetic aspect of making bread isn’t present in cooking beans, but a pot of well-seasoned beans can make your house smell wonderful, and they make for some mighty fine eating.  Cooking a pot of beans can take about the same amount of time as baking bread, but it is hands-off time for the most part, which is nice.  Think of all the things you can get done while your beans are slowly simmering and bubbling away on the stove.  Many people think that beans are too much trouble because they need to be soaked overnight and their cooking time is less than speedy. . . fast food they are not.  Beans will cook faster if soaked overnight, but they do not have to be soaked.  Rarely do I think about cooking beans tomorrow.  Rather, I get up in the morning and decide to cook some beans.  The age of your beans has something to do with how quickly they cook, with fresher beans cooking more quickly.

I find all beans delicious {except maybe black-eyed peas, but I’m trying}, but my favorite bean is the garbanzo bean, also known as the chickpea.  I didn’t eat them as a kid though.  My mom used to buy canned chickpeas, and I wouldn’t touch them because I thought the name sounded gross.  Maybe that’s why I prefer calling them garbanzo beans.  I like them because they are so versatile and tasty with the flavors that I find totally irresistible {Middle Eastern flavors in particular}.  Anyway, now I eat them in a variety of ways.

  • There’s always hummus, especially with homemade pita bread or fresh fennel.
  • Garbanzos are great on top of a green salad.
  • Falafel burgers!
  • Middle Eastern Tacos!
  • You can put some beans, preferably freshly cooked & still a titch warm, into a bowl, and then drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil, a healthy squeeze of lemon, salt and freshly ground pepper.  Don’t worry about draining the beans thoroughly, because the broth is delicious and mingles nicely with your dressing.  Some diced avocado would be great here too.  Simply delicious!

My favorite way to enjoy garbanzo beans just may be this recipe from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  I love pretty much everything I’ve made from this cookbook, and this dish is right up at the top.  It’s one of my husband’s favorite things I make, and he would rather have a pot of pinto beans than garbanzo beans, so that’s saying a lot.  First, you will need some cooked garbanzo beans.  I’m hoping that you will try this recipe for preparing dry garbanzo beans, as it is excellent.

Garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, fresh parsley and kombu

Garbanzo beans, onions, garlic, fresh parsley and kombu

Freshly Cooked Garbanzo Beans
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

1 cup garbanzo beans, cleaned & soaked {you don’t have to soak them, but they will take longer to cook}
Aromatics: 1 onion, quartered, 2 parsley sprigs, 4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6” piece of kombu, or a few pinches asafetida, optional {I love to eat the cooked kombu}
1 ½ tsp salt

Cover garbanzo beans with 2 quarts fresh water & add remaining ingredients, except salt.  Add the salt when the beans have been cooking for about 30″.   Simmer until completely tender, but not mushy.  I start checking at around 45”.  Let the beans cool in the broth.  I will often leave all the aromatics in the beans, except the parsley and bay leaf.

Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger and Aioli make a delicious meal!

Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

3 tbsp mustard oil or vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tomatoes, peeled and diced {I usually use a 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes}
1 1/2 cups chickpea broth or water
3 cups cooked chickpeas, or 2 15-oz. cans, rinsed
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Garnishes:  diced onion, minced jalapeño, chopped fresh cilantro and diced fresh tomato

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until well-browned, 12 to 15 minutes.  Lower the heat and add the bay leaf, garlic, ginger, spices, 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper and the tomatoes.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the chickpea broth and chickpeas.  Simmer until the liquid is reduced to a sauce like consistency.  Taste for salt and season with lemon juice.  Serve with the garnishes {in small dishes} or scatter them over the chickpeas.

Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger and Aioli

Hands down our favorite way to eat this dish.  In fact, I don’t think we have ever eaten it without the aioli.  All of the garnishes, particularly the aioli, make this dish fabulous, in my opinion.

Notes:

  • Make the aioli-it’s totally worth it!  The warmth of the beans accentuates the flavor and aroma of the aioli when you slip a dollop of it right in the center of your bowl of beans.  Then top with the onion, jalapeño, tomato and cilantro.  Use commercial or homemade mayonnaise for your aioli, but please do try it, at least the first time.  You won’t be sorry.
  • For the best end result, cook dry beans instead of using canned.  Even though I prefer starting with dry beans, I’m not opposed to all canned beans.  However, my experience with canned garbanzo beans is that the beans tend to have more bite than I like.  A well-cooked garbanzo bean is tender enough to be mashed between your tongue and the roof of your mouth {a good test for doneness!}.  They should be soft and creamy, not al dente.
  • Soak or don’t soak, and cook your beans using whatever method you prefer, but season them well, so they will be delicious even when they stand alone.  I like Deborah Madison’s method for producing a fantastic tasting pot of beans.  If you put the kombu {seaweed} in, it is a real treat to eat when the beans are done; I love it.  Kombu adds a lot to the beans, so I encourage you to put it in, and eat it when the beans are cooked.
  • I buy Rising Tide Kombu from Mana Foods, here in Paia.  You can purchase kombu on line, or I’m sure you can find it at Whole Foods or any good natural foods store.
  • Serve with cooked brown rice, naan or all by itself with the garnishes & enjoy!

I do hope you will give this a try, and that you love it as much as I do.  Let me know what you think!Spicy Chickpeas with Ginger and Aioli

Bon appétit!