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Bean feast; foodlife.

CONTRARY to the advert, beans don't always mean Heinz - but I'd hazard a guess that most people think they do.

I'm not a gambling man, but I would place a small wager on the fact that many folk would not recognise the most popular variety baked beans without their customary tomato sauce.

The little white haricot bean smothered in a fresh tomato sauce simply will not stand the taste test - we are all beyond redemption. The mass- produced baked bean has too firm a hold on every palate across the globe.

The tale of the bean family goes back thousands of years. The Egyptians even took them into their pyramids, as a kind of packed lunch for the after life.

This popular form of food is given many treatments throughout the world. And, while no bean could be considered exclusive to any country, some have strong links to a particular dish.

Take the good old butter bean. When I was a boy, my mother would often have her pot of butter beans and dried peas soaking in water with some root vegetables in readiness to slot into her famous soup.

Now there's a recipe worthy of publishing. Don't dare tell me your own mum does not make the best soup in the land.

Scotland may have the butter bean, the French have the flageolet, and the Italians the borolotti variety. Although not traditionally authentic, the red kidney bean is used in the making of chilli con carne, a recipe widely thought of as Mexican.

One of the pulses widely used in today's cuisine is the chick-pea, which is actually a bean that looks like a hazelnut. Confused? So am I.

The Greeks spring to mind with their humus paste, made from a puree of this bean. Of all the beans mentioned, the chick- pea takes the longest time to cook, an overnight soak followed by a simmer for between four and six hours depending on the size.

The black-eyed bean, with its instantly recognisable characteristics, arrived in the west from Africa, via the slave traders.

Like most beans, it travels well because it doesn't perish easily, although it is advisable to eat them within 12 months.

It is no coincidence that we rarely see beans featured on high-society menus - for obvious reasons related to bodily functions.

Today we rustle up our own concoction and the kind of bean you use is entirely up to you. We have used kidney beans, chick-peas and black-eyed beans, but feel free to adapt this one to your own preference.

The overnight soak is advisable, as is refreshing the water.

You do not have to boil the beans furiously - a gentle simmer is sufficient. Add the salt at the end of cooking, as it can cause the beans to split if added earlier.

THREE BEAN SPICY CASSEROLE

(Serves 4)

1 cup dried red kidney beans 1 cup dried chick peas 1 cup dried black-eyed beans 4 oz butter 2 oz plain flour 1 pt stock (any flavour) 1 medium red onion (diced) 1 medium white onion (diced) 1 fresh chilli (chopped) 2 cloves fresh garlic (chopped) 2 medium carrots (diced) 1 tsp chilli powder 1 tsp ground coriander 1/2 tsp turmeric Salt and black pepper 1 x 10 oz yoghurt or soured cream 1/2 cup fresh coriander and parsley (chopped)

Method

BOIL the soaked kidney beans for 10 minutes, drain and refresh the water. This ensures any harmful impurities are destroyed in the kidney bean.

Take three separate pots and simmer the pre-soaked beans until tender (approx 112 hours for the kidney and black-eyed beans, and at least four hours for the chick-peas).

Next, in a separate, thick- bottomed pot, melt the butter and add the onions, garlic, fresh and ground chilli, carrots, ground coriander and turmeric.

Cook this for a few minutes and then add the flour. Stir the flour for a few minutes to cook out the starch and gradually add the hot stock.

Add your selection of beans and ensure there is sufficient stock. Put in a little of the cooking liqueur from the beans if you wish, mix in the seasoning and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring carefully.

Just prior to serving, add the chopped herbs and a dash of cream or yoghurt.

SHORT-CRUST PASTRY

4 oz plain flour 1 oz butter 1 oz lard 11/2 oz water Pinch salt (add to the water)

Method

RUB or process the butter and lard lightly with the flour until the texture is fine and sandy. Add the water, mix to a smooth dough and do not over mix.

Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate until ready to roll out. Bake the individual pastry cases blind (with some ceramic beans or pulses).

To serve

WARM through the pre baked tartlet cases, place on a warm plate, and spoon in the bean mixture.

Spoon the yoghurt or cream around the plate and garnish with some coriander leaves. This dish is best served with small, individual Indian Nan breads.
COPYRIGHT 1999 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Boyd, Angus
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 23, 1999
Words:835
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