Happy New Year!
It is indeed a new year, so instead of my old Google newsletter, I am switching to blog posts.
New Year’s day, I made my usual batch of hoppin’ john (black eyed peas) and collards, as I always do. I first read about this Louisiana tradition that is supposed to bring you luck and “green backs” in the wonderful book The Seductions of Rice by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid. And boy did I rejoiced upon reading it!
It had always seemed to me that there was a lack of food associated with New Years, save perhaps PeptoBismol. Thus, I have been making red beans and rice (I don’t much like black eyed peas) and a mess of greens every year on New Year’s day as a borrowed tradition from one of my favorite places on Earth. This year, I shared the meal with friends Britt and Josh. As we sat down to eat, I inquired where Britt had grown up and almost dropped my cornbread muffin in my champagne when she said, “New Orleans.” I would have been much more nervous had I known where she were from!
Fortunately the food gods were smiling down on my little linoleum kitchen and the whole meal turned out quite well. So well, in fact, I thought I might post my first blog with some of my recipes from the evening instead of sending out the usual Google newsletter. That way more people might enjoy my occasional missives. I humbly ask your patience, since I am new to this blogging thing. Please leave comments and let me know what you think!
New Year’s Day Red Beans and Rice
serves 6 as a side dish
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
2 tablespoons salt-free Cajun seasoning (I like Penzeys.com)
3 1/2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cans red beans, drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a medium saucepan, 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup of the onions and saute until translucent, 4 minutes. Add the beans, tomato paste, vineagar and 1/2 cup water and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large lidded sautepan over medium heat. Add the remaining onions, celery and bell pepper and saute until the onion begins to brown. Add the garlic, rice and Cajun seasoning and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. 2. Add remaining 3 cups of the water and salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer without stirring until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 18 minutes.
3. Season beans with salt and pepper to taste…adding hot sauce if you like. Transfer the rice to a large serving bowl and make a hole in the center of the rice. Pour the beans into the center of the serving bowl and serve with greens, cornbread muffins and cold cold beer.
Banana Bourbon Bread Pudding
5 large eggs
8 tablespoons sugar
2 cups 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
4 ounces butter 3/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
2 bananas 1/4 cup good Bourbon (from your husband’s stash, shh don’t tell)
1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 8-inch square baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine the eggs, sugar, milk and cinnamon in a medium bowl with a whisk.
2. Place 2 layers (about half the bread) in the baking pan. Pour half of the egg mixture over bread, allow mixture to sit for ten minutes to give the bread time to absorb the liquid. Cover with remaining bread and custard and sprinkle with demerara sugar and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out with no liquid egg clinging to it, about 40 minutes.
3. Melt the butter in a small saute pan over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and stir until smooth. Slice the bananas and add them to the sugar mixture. Add the bourbon. Ignite carefully with a kitchen lighter. When flames subside, take sauce off of heat.
4. Cut the bread pudding into squares and serve with banana sauce spooned over the top.