my book club dinner

By Monday, March 04, 2013 , , ,

Since I was too busy eating, here's a photo from Gourmet magazine
Photograph by Romulo Yanes
I am so bad at taking photos of the dinners I make. After all that effort, I just want to eat! Last Thursday night was no exception when I hosted book club at my house. Thirteen lovely ladies showed up for dinner and drinks and good times. I cannot tell you how lucky I feel to have such amazing women in my life.

The book was The Dinner. The dinner was black beans and rice with a load of garnishes - roasted sweet potatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds, tomatillo salsa, cilantro, scallions, radishes and avocado. The dining-room table was used as a buffet for all the edible goodies, while my grandma's old dresser was used as the bar. We started with homemade guacamole, pico de gallo and tortilla chips and two big batches of margaritas. For dessert, we had dulce de leche sundaes with roasted coconut flakes (from Trader Joe's; my newest coconut obsession!).

Ever since I found this recipe on Gourmet magazine's website, it's been a mainstay in our house. The boys eat it simply, while the grown-ups can layer on the flavors and heat with the accompaniments.  As the recipe's author, Kemp Minifie, explains, it's her go-to entertaining dish, as it is a complex, vegetarian crowd-pleaser. 

Kemp’s Black Beans by Kemp M. Minifie
Makes 8 to 9 cups

1 lb. dried black beans (about 2 1/3 cups), picked over and rinsed (but not soaked)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup Sherry (cream or medium-dry)
1 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Bring black beans, onion, oil, water (8 cups), and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, until beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours (depending on age of beans). Thin to desired consistency with additional water. Stir in Sherry and remaining teaspoon salt, then soy sauce and vinegar to taste (start with 1 tablespoon each), and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

The beans improve in flavor if cooked at least 8 hours ahead. Chill, uncovered until completely cooled, then covered up to 1 week, or freeze up to 3 months. Beans thicken considerably as they stand, so thin with water when reheating over moderately low heat.
Note: Beans can be cooked in about one third of the time in a 6- to 8-quart pressure cooker. Follow recipe, combining beans with onion, oil, water, and salt in pressure cooker. Seal pressure cooker with lid and cook at high pressure, according to manufacturer’s instructions, until beans are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. Put pressure cooker in sink (do not remove lid) and run cold water over lid until pressure goes down completely.

I serve the beans with Rick Bayless's classic, baked white rice from his Authentic Mexican cookbook. It's also great with simple, steamed white rice. The garnishes are key to this dish's success: roasted diced sweet potatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds, cubes of avocado tossed with lime juice, tomatillo salsa, lime wedges, chopped white onion, fresh cilantro sprigs, and radishes.
And, finally, here's what we're eating this week ...
Menu: week of 3 March 2013
Sunday: Spaghetti Bolognese with sautéed broccoli rabe
Monday: Shredded, slow-cooked chuck roast sandwiches on torta rolls with avocado and a tomato salad
Tuesday: Turkish-style green beans with whole-grain naan
Wednesday: Shredded beef tacos with onion and cilantro; served with an avocado-grapefruit salad
Thursday:  Chickpea and brown-rice casserole with lemon and herbs
Friday: Indian take-out

Happy eating, -s.   

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  1. It was delicious and thanks for leaving the recipe