Readers requested recipes — and we delivered

Cuban black beans and rice

Mary Hoge of Granum, Alta., was looking for a recipe for black beans and rice like they had enjoyed in Cuba. Serves eight.

  • 2 c. dried black beans, well rinsed 500 mL
  • 6 c. water 1.5 L
  • 6 slices of thick bacon,diced
  • 1 green bell pepper,chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper,chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin 5 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano 1 mL
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 – 6 c. water 1.25 -1.5 L
  • 2 c. uncooked longgrain rice 500 mL
  • 1 tbsp. oil 15 mL
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 c. water 500 mL
  • 1 tsp salt 5 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sort beans to remove tiny pebbles, dirt, withered, discoloured or broken beans. Put beans in a colander and rinse well.
To quick soak the beans, place them in a large pot, cover with six cups (1.5 litres) water. Place lid on pot, cook on high heat until water comes to a boil. Boil for two minutes, turn off heat and soak beans, covered for one hour.
In many Cuban dishes, a fundamental flavour base is a sofrito. This is a combination of peppers, onion, garlic and spices that are cooked together to form a sauce.
Traditionally, smoked ham hocks are cooked with the beans, but as an alternative, bacon is used in this recipe.

While the beans are soaking, prepare the sofrito. Place bacon in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and cook two minutes. Add chopped peppers and onions, sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cook one minute, add cumin, coriander, oregano and bay leaf.
Reduce heat to low, and simmer 10 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until a thick flavourful sauce forms.
Remove from heat and set aside.
After the beans have soaked one hour, use a strainer to drain soaking water and to rinse beans well. This washes away the carbohydrates and sugars that cause gas.
From this point, there are several options for cooking the beans. Select the one you prefer:

Stovetop

Place beans in a large pot and add five to six cups water to cover by at least one inch (two cm). Place on high heat, stir in sofrito. Bring mixture to a boil for one minute, reduce heat to low to medium-low.
Simmer covered for 90 minutes, just barely bubbling. Stir and add more water if needed. Cook another 30 to 60 minutes, until beans are tender and are in a thick gravy. Remove from heat.

Oven method

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 F (160 C). Place beans in a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, add five to six cups water to cover beans by at least one inch (two cm). Bake covered for 90 minutes. Stir, add more water if needed.
Cook another 30 to 60 minutes, until beans are tender with a thick gravy. Remove from oven.

Slow cooker

Place beans in a large pot and add five to six cups water to cover by at least one inch (two cm).
Heat and boil the beans 10 to 12 minutes. There is a naturally occurring toxic compound in beans called phytohemagglutinin that is destroyed by adequate cooking. For slow cooker beans this boiling ensures the toxins have been destroyed.
Place the hot beans and water in a slow cooker, stir in sofrito. Cook on high for three to four hours or low for seven to eight hours. During the last hour of cooking, check liquid and add more water if needed.

Electric pressure cooker/instant pot

Place beans in electric pressure cooker and add water to cover beans by at least one inch (two cm), stir in sofrito. As the operation manual describes, put the lid on the pressure cooker and seal the vent. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, and quick release pressure as directed in the operation manual.
While beans cook, prepare rice. Place rice in large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear. Shake strainer vigorously to remove all excess water.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add crushed garlic clove and cook until garlic starts to turn golden brown. Remove garlic and discard. Add water and salt, bring to a boil. Stir rice into water, return to boil. Reduce to low, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until rice is tender and no water is visible. Remove from heat, stand covered five to 10 minutes to finish steaming. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Just before serving, remove bay leaf from beans and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the beans along with rice, a wedge of lime and a variety of toppings such as salsa, sour cream, chopped green onion, peppers, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs or grilled pineapple. The beans reheat and freeze well. Adapted from tasteofcuba.com

Cherry coconut chocolate chip cookie

Elaine Kifil of Montmartre, Sask., had enjoyed these cookies over the holidays and was looking for the recipe.

  • 3/4 c. sugar 175 mL
  • 2/3 c. butter or butter-flavoured vegetable shortening 150 mL
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon peel 5 mL
  • 3/4 tsp. almond extract 4 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
  • 1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour 425 mL
  • 1 tsp. baking powder 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda 2 mL
  • 3/4 c. flaked coconut 175 mL
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. pecans, coarsely chopped 125 mL (optional)
  • 1/3 c. candied cherries, chopped,well drained 75 mL or
  • 1/3 c. maraschino cherries, chopped and very well drained 75 mL

Preheat oven to 350ºF (175 C).
Combine sugar, butter or shortening, egg, lemon peel, almond extract and salt; beat at medium speed until well blended.
Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda; gradually add to shortening mixture at low speed. Mix until blended.
Stir in coconut, chocolate chips or pecans and cherries by hand.
Shape dough into one-inch balls. Place two inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.
Bake about 10 minutes. Cool two minutes on baking sheet; remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Yield four dozen cookies Adapted from: www.pillsburybaking.com

Betty Ann Deobald is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: team@producer.com.

About the author

Comments

explore

Stories from our other publications