There Will Be Food

About 14 years ago my Mom took me scuba diving in Belize. The national dish there- as I remember it- is rice and beans cooked in coconut milk, garnished with onions and habañero peppers pickled in vinegar. It’s a great combination; the rice and beans are rich, creamy, and thick, and the pickles are crunchy, sharp, and fiercely hot. Since we still have an excess of habañeros, I made 2 quarts of the hot onion pickle today with our red onions (as well as a whole mess of basil-nasturtium-sorrel pesto for the freezer, but that’s another post.)

For the “rice” I took a cup of the local 10-grain mixture we love so well and put it into my new pressure cooker with a can of coconut milk, soaked kidney beans, herbs, spices, a little lemon juice, and a few chopped cloves of garlic. After about 20 minutes it was a lovely thick porridge studded with plump beans and perfumed with the garlic and powders (chile, cumin, paprika, plus mustard seeds.) I salted it and it was done. A grope of neon onions on top and a little chervil completed the ultimate post-tropical peasant dish; the grains are so nutty and creamy and wonderful, and the crunchy onions have that long, beautiful fruity habañero afterburn. To quench the heat, a lovely 2005 Trimbach Gewürztraminer that rained peaches and lychees onto the bright pink-and-orange fire, and whet the ferrous edge of the blood-red beans.

15 comments to There Will Be Food

  • cookiecrumb

    That sounds so good.

    Will there be a bowling alley?

  • Zoomie

    Belize is a place I’ve always wanted to visit – now, I have an even more compelling reason to go there.

  • Heather

    I bet a piece of grilled fish and some tortillas would really set that off.

    I wish I had more time. I really want to be preserving foods instead of worrying about using it all fresh. Got a big tomato-roasting day ahead of me tomorrow!

    Onion pickle. Yum. I like that on a burger just fine, thankyouverymuch.

    Also, gratz on always being the only person to recognize my lame Tenacious D and Patton Oswalt jokes. Smily face emoticon.

  • Nik Snacks

    I love Gewürztraminer. It makes my heart skip a beat, every time we meet. It also makes me pump my fist into the air and make high-pitched squealing noises that annoy anyone within a 20 yard radius of me. Umm hmmm. That’s right. :)

  • peter

    CC: How else am I going to get the preacher to come over?

    Zoomie: Honestly, if you don’t dive, go to Mexico or Guatemala instead for the ruins.

    Heather: I’m so far behind on preserving, but got a few things done this week. Tomorrow I leave for 5 days.

    Nik: Me too. It’s such a fairytale wine, with a suitably Grimm name.

  • genevelyn

    I’ve tried to recreate your recipe and ended up with a bowl of something that looks like it should be flushed. It also tastes that way. The wine, however, is good (Ch Musar)

  • peter

    Oooh. I like Musar. Better luck next time.

  • Stephen

    peter- any chance of a recipe for the onion pickles? i as well have a bounty of habaneros that are going to spoil…

  • Jen of A2eatwrite

    This looks wonderful. I think I might prefer beer with it, though. I know, I’m a philistine.

  • peter

    Stephen: Boil viegar (I used white and red wine) with water (about 50/50 and salt, a little sugar, peppercorns, mustard seeds, juniper berries, and bay leaf. Pach shredded onions and peppers into jars, pour boiling strined liquid over them to fill. Let sit a day before eating.

    Jen: Beer would be the logical choice.

  • Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

    Very pretty dish. And dude — izzat chervil you’re garnishing with? If so, how’d you get it in fall?

  • peter

    Hank: I did a fall planting of chervil, parsley, and cilantro in the salad bed along with the winter lettuces, arugula, mâche, etc; they’re all coming up beautifully.

  • We Are Never Full

    ohhh… looks interesting and delish. is the rice mushy or is that what makes it more like a porridge?

    also, apologies for missing you in bkln this week… very bad week – one of my best friends flew in from Illinois to surprise me on Monday and just left today. it was totally unexpected (hence, a surprise)… but i really hope you’ll be around our area again at some point. still want to drink some vino. -amy and jonny :)

  • peter

    Amy: It’s ten different grains, so they all cook to varying donenesses; some are super-creamy and dissolved, while others are still al dente. It makes for a good bite.

    Also, I cried and cried and stared at my unringing phone, and then I cried some more, rocking back and forth in a fetal position as I did so. I’ll probably never ever make it back to Brooklyn ever again. But it’s good that you and your friend had fun, laughing and drinking while I cried my eyes out all alone.

  • cook eat FRET

    peter, i think you should fess up and tell them how bad it really was…

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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