Sunday, April 20, 2008
Beans beans beans beans and SPINACH!.
Now, I am no brilliant cook. I will say that up front, but tonight I made something that was so good, and so different, I just have to tell y'all.
Now you see, we eat a lot of beans. We just like them, and since we don't eat a whole lot of meat, cause we're cheap, cause it isn't all that good for us, cause we're cheap, cause it isn't all that good for the planet and cause we're cheap. Plus beans taste really great.
One of the ways I do chick peas (I know I was talking about beans and now chickpeas. My ESL students HATE this about English) Sorry. One of the ways I do chickpeas is to fry them up...I always use canned because even with a pressure cooker you have to cook them for something like an hour and that's just silly. Use that heat all at once and cook a few hundred cans of the suckers thankyouverymuch.
So, with your can of chickpeas, drain them and rinse them. Then I put a big fat frying pan on the stove, toss in some oil, usually sunflower because this recipe's roots lie further east than olive oil...toss in as much garlic as you can handle, I would recommend at least four cloves, and some dried hot peppers...whatever kind you can find and like. Once those get nice, throw in the peas and start cooking.
You have to be a little careful here cause sometimes they explode and then you have molten hot chunks of mushy chickpea flying around you kitchen landing on your dog, your wrist, or you lower belly if you wear the current fashions. I put a lid on the pan, maybe you like to live life closer to the edge than I do, I recommend a lid. And higher waists on pants. For everyone.
I fry that up for a while, here's the next trick. You need fish sauce. Thai or Vietnamese. I am going to open a can of worms here and say it doesn't matter which. To some people of course it matters a great deal, but I do not possess a sufficiently sophisticated palette. Nor do I have a lot of choice in the store I have found in BCN, so I buy what I can. Shake in quite a bit. It is pretty salty, so you may want to taste as you go along. If I am lucky and the chickpea gods are with me, they go kind of hard and crunchy almost on the outside, sometimes not.
Sometimes I cheat and sprinkle some paprika on the towards the end if they aren't really browning up all that well, they look nicer, the taste is nice...nothing like a Thai/Vietnamese/Hungarian fusion dish, no?
Now this is where things got weird tonight..and yummy. I had my chickpeas headed towards the flames, when I realised that I had two HUGE bunches of spinach that HAD to be cooked right now.
The Catalans do wickedly delicious things with spinach, involving boiling/steaming whatever, frying, prunes, raisins and pine nuts...and my local place also put some sort of cream kind of white sauce thing on there as well. (Are you enjoying the technical cooking lingo? I am such a pro.)
SO... I'm looking at my spinach and I'm prepping my chick peas and I wonder why the heck not, worst comes to worst it is indelibly horrible.
So I cooked up the spinach in a big pot, took the 8 tablespoons of spinach I had at the end out, and pressed it, then chopped it up small with scissors and tossed it in with my chickpeas. Not too big an innovation, but I was still thinking of that white sauce.
So a basic bechamel recipe is cruising through my head...fat, seasonings, flour, milk...I've got seasonings already in the pan, chickpeas can be used for flour of a sort, tip a little more oil in here and I've got some fat...What the heck, pour in some milk and I'm approaching that Catalan spinach dish they make at the local place that I LOVE...no kidding you, I could eat fields worth of spinach if she made them.
If your keeping track here I now have Thai/Vietnamese/Hungarian/French/Catalan spinach dish. Maybe I'll throw Canadian in there too, cause I am. Actually that kind of reads like the occupants of an average subway car in TO anyway doesn't it. Naw, there would be more variety than that.
The milk kind of thickened up, and took on a deeper tanned tone, I turned it off when it looked not too runny and not too thick, stir stir stir.
It was, if I may say so myself, really good! And really different.
I always cook out of a book, and adapt for the ingredients I am missing - I rule at this after three years on a boat in the tropics without a fridge...but making a recipe up by myself? Not so great usually.
It was YUMMY!