Believe the hype

In addition to the gorgeous honey that caused security problems for me at the Oakland airport, I also brought home some Rancho Gordo beans. Good Mother Stallards, to be precise. Henning is not the hugest bean fan, but I thought some of these gorgeous heirlooms might win him over.

Good Mother Stollard

On Sunday, Henning and I had dinner at my parents’ house. My mom is in town, and I had been salivating over the memory of some Rick Bayless chicken enchiladas that she made a while back. I thought that it would also be a good chance to try out the beans and to request a reappearance of a certain fruit and jicama salad that my mom made last time she was here.

Good Mother Stallard Beans from Rancho GordoThe enchiladas were good, though not as wonderful as my memory of them. The beans and the salad, on the other hand, were out of this world. I did as Rancho Gordo says and cooked the Good Mother Stallards simply, with just a mirepoix. They gave off the most amazing pot liquor I’ve ever tasted, and were just the perfect texture. Creamy and luscious, not starchy or bland. They had a faint sweetness and were just–well–great. As an added bonus, they kept a bit of their beautiful mottled splotchy coloring (click the photo to get a better look!), though I must admit that beans are not exactly the cover model of the food world. It doesn’t matter, though, because they had more flavor than many more cover-suited foods. Do believe the hype about Rancho Gordo, and go get yourself some beans!

Orange Mango Jicama SaladThe fruit salad is a recipe from an old Two Hot Tamales cookbook, Cantina. The first time we made this salad, we used blood oranges, but this time my mom and I decided that sectioning smallish blood oranges was too much work, and that navels work just as well. This salad is so delicious.. sweet but with a secret cayenne kick just lurking in the background, waiting to catch up with you after you’ve downed spoonful after delicious spoonful. The sweet-hot is balanced with tangy lime and fresh mint and cilantro. The jicama adds a very satisfying crunchy texture, if not much in the way of flavor. I’m drooling just thinking about it. Did I mention that there is a mango involved?! I will be definitely making this one again soon. It works wonderfully with Mexican food, but it would be just as at home alongside a seared and roasted pork tenderloin, perhaps spiced with cumin, or even served over grilled fish.

Tropical Orange-Jicama Salad with Mint and Cilantro
slightly adapted from Cantina

4 large navel oranges
1 large, ripe mango
1 medium jicama
1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup mint
1/3 cilantro
juice of one lime
cayenne to taste
salt to taste
2 tbs olive oil

Slice the ends off of an orange and set it flat on the cutting board. Following the curve of the orange, cut away the peel and all white pith. Pick the orange up and hold it over a bowl as you cut sections away from the membranes. Repeat with remaining oranges

Cut the “cheeks” off of the mango and cut each piece in half, lengthwise. Lay one piece skin-side down on the cutting board. Holding the flesh in place, slide your knife across horizontally, as close to the skin as possible, to peel the skin from the flesh. Repeat with remaining pieces. Cut flesh into a large dice and add to bowl with oranges.

Peel the jicama and slice it into sticks, about 1/4 x 1/4 x 2 inches in dimension. Add to bowl with the rest of the fruit. Add the onion.

Chop mint and cilantro and add to bowl. Add lime, cayenne, and salt and mix well. Add oil and mix. Taste for seasonings. Chill in the refrigerator for at least half an hour, but no more than two.

Serves 4.

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