Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What amounts to a hill of beans

Scarlet runner beans, in varying stages of my impatience

Jason is coming over again tonight for Project Runway Night (followed by Top Design), and is gorgeous to be bringing a barbecue chicken pizza from Blind Onion. I'm making some salad of sorts from my garden's bounty. It will likely prominently feature the tomato. I'm also jonesing for some spaghetti margherita, so we'll see if one pizza is enough.


My Scarlet Runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus, Fabaceae) are getting ripe. I picked a handful of them a couple weeks ago, too early, way before their pods dried and split. Shelling beans require so much of my patience! But my patience will be rewarded when I'm sitting in front of the cassoulette I'm planning this weekend.

These are the stuff of fairy tales. Immense beans - fuchsia, lilac and indigo - borne of papilionaceous, cadmium-red flowers on indeterminate vines. I wonder what Jack would trade for a sack of these?

Lately I'm really turned on by the idea of making elegant single servings of labor-intensive and/or peasant foods. I have a plan to make small plates of doro wat with braised pheasant or quail legs and Janelle's silkie bantam eggs. This weekend I am making single-serving cassoulet ("cassoulette" means "small cassoulet"): wee pancetta-lined ramekins of runner beans with shredded duck confit, lamb sausage, and a brunoise of lardons. They will be miniature cassoulets made with psychedelic beans and duck fat roux. My cassoulettes will be worth the trouble of slaying a giant.

35 comments:

Peter G said...

"beans, beans are good for your heart, the more you eat the more you fart.."...sorry couldn't resist! Lucky you to be able to pick so freely from your garden! Can't wait to see the cassoulets...

Nik Snacks said...

Is it OK to admit that I'm slightly turned on by your beans? I think Jack would trade his own nut sack for these babies! Fi Fi Fo Fum, bitches LOL

Zoomie said...

Do these lovely beans retain their color when cooked? If so, I'm planting scarlet runner beans next year for sure! Beautiful!

Marc @ NoRecipes said...

Those beans are hot! If they were human I'd want to... well I won't go there. What color do they turn when you cook them?

Vicki said...

Can I come over for dinner? I'm flexible, you pick the day. I'll bring something with figs for dessert :-)

Manggy said...

Gorgeous. I don't see how you can cook with them, they look too precious. They should be in a tiny wooden box with a glass lid and mounted on the wall, a la Martha Stewart.
But I am very excited to see the cassoulets!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

Those are the prettiest beans I've ever seen! They look like little pieces of polished marble. It almost seems a shame to cook them!

I can't wait to see the cassoulettes. I made one a few years ago for my daughter's French Club banquet. It was a bitch to make and it took 2 solid days. But, OMG, it was worth it!

cook eat FRET said...

i buy my scarlet runners
direct from rancho gordo

do you think less of me?

look i do not grow food, ok???
you and peter cookblog and cookie crumb and everyone else... i just don't do it. and i'm ashamed. but not enough to plant a damn thing... i have so many deer and i don't have irrigation and it gets soooo hot here and things shrivel. and then there's diseases and weird ass vegetable eating bugs...

so, again - i buy my beans. and i buy them unlocally. but damn they're good...

did i hear correctly? mini cassoulettes? does one have my name on it? if i grew shit would you like me more?

i make a mean pad thai... does that improve my cassoulette odds? caramel cake? kick ass pasta dish? howza bout bottarga with scrambled eggs?

cause i really need a mini cassoulette. and i know that's redundant.

Heather said...

Petah - The more I fart, the better I do feel. It's true. :)

Nikki - You are hilare. He needs his nut sack!

Zoomie - You should grow some regardless! The vine and flowers are lovely and low-maintenance.

Marc - I have a feeling they'll go gray, just like everything else that's purple (besides beets).

Vicki - Ooh, figs! You have a deal.

Mark - The first time I saw these (when I was an 18-year old hippie) I collected a bunch and made them into a necklace.

Sooz - I'm hoping the smaller size (and pancetta instead instead of pork skin) will equate to less work. ;)

Claudia - Honey, you don't need a garden when you have a face like yours.

Brittany said...

God, I love it when you get all Botanical Latin on my plebeian ass.

I think Claudia and I need to get together over a couple of stiff drinks to cry about our lack of green thumbs and the jealous rage reading your and Peter's blogs sends us into.

Thank the sweet fucking lord for farmers markets.

By the way- cassoulettes?? SO looking forward to future installments of vodoolily!

Núria said...

I still remember that first cassoulette I saw in your blog... Amazing!!! I'll be here to see these tiny ones... it sounds like you have an awesome menu in perspective.

These beans are sooooooo beautiful, never saw any like these.

Peter M said...

Heather, ya know you're good friends with Jason when you feel comfy enuff to toot in his presence.

Gassy girls are sexxy!

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

I can't wait to see what you do with those beans!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Those beans are gorgeous. It's hard to believe something so pretty could be edible.

I can't wait to see your cassoulettes? The ingredients sound so good.

peter said...

I'm right there with you on the small, well-crafted dish thing. My new batch of guanciale is almost ready, and I saved the salt-cured skin for making cassoulet.

Did you order those twee little le creuset mini-casseroles to make them? I love those. There are tiny iron skillets, too.

Heather said...

Brittany - Gardens are a poor man's farmer's markets. Except not in a figurative way - it's a lot cheaper!

Núria - My first cassoulet took so much time! Two days. This one should be a lot faster (except I still have to confit the duck legs).

Peter the Greek - Haha! No, I didn't eat the beans with Jason. But I do toot in front of my friends sometimes. If I call it a "toot" it sounds cuter.

Judy - Hopefully it'll turn out good!

Rachel - They really are almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Jube - Nah, I don't have room for those things! THey are so cute, and I covet them so! But I can't justify spending $30 each on eentsy Le Creuset. Man the little mini cocottes are so cute.

Alex Rushmer said...

Those are the campest beans I ever did see. Great photos too.

kittie said...

Ok, so I can't wait to see your cassoulette this weekend... Cassoulettes have been on my to-make list since I had them in Carcassonne a few years back (4 different ones in 3 days - result!)

Make them and make them good so I can nick your recipe. With store-bought beans, not nearly as psychedelic as yours of course...

cookiecrumb said...

Hah, they look like medicine. Or candy.
Which, in my opinion, is what good food is.

kelley said...

gorgeous! i have to make room for local beans the next time i see them at a market...

richthespoof said...

Hi we grow these and eat the pods when they are quite young and the beans haven't developed. We found some that had overgrown (by our standards) and wondered if the beans were any good to eat. Thanks to you I now know that they are.

Ta muchly
Filthyrich

Heather said...

wow! those are beautiful! the color is just amazing!

Heather said...

Alex - Thanks! I love the use of "camp" to describe a legume.

Kittie - That sounds really intense. 4 cassoulets?

Cookiecrumb - Today I was accused of growing jelly beans.

Kelley - You should! There's more than just favas out there. :)

Rich - I always want to pick them early, but the real good stuff comes if you wait.

Heather - The purple is so much fun, isn't it?

Jennifer said...

Oh green thumb goddess those are gorgeous. How does the cooking differ from that of dried beans though?

Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Have you cooked with scarlet runners before, Heather? I use them a lot in winter (although never in cassoulet, which IMHO needs white beans, preferably tarbais) but scarlet runners have a very thick skin and take forever to get soft.

I soak them in 3 changes of really hot tap water, changing when the water cools, then let the last go overnight. Then be sure to cook them about 30-45 minutes longer than you think you should and NEVER add anything acidic in with them.

I tried to cook scarlet runners in tomato sauce once and it literally took 12 hours at 300 for them to soften. That is no bueno, my friend...

If you really want to keep the colors on the beans (and have infinite patience), "cook" them over the course of a day (or two) by keeping up the hot water-cool it down-more hot water trick going until they are soft. It is a neat trick and everyone will wonder how the hell you did it.

maggie said...

oh my. those beans are hot.

good luck with your cassoulette!!

Lo said...

Oh, Heather - Where have you BEAN all my life? I love scarlet runners, and those are some tasty looking specimens you've got there.

I'll be watching for that cassoulet.

Anaylli said...

These are the most gorgeous beans I've ever seen! I seriously thought they were some funky new flavor of jelly bellies at first, lol...
Now I'm going to be on the lookout for scarlet runners!Too cool...

Emiline said...

Those are the prettiest beans ever.

Zen Chef said...

"Psychedelic beans and duck fat roux".. those words made my day! Poetry to my ears! :-)

These are the coolest beans ever. Wow.

Helen said...

Those cassoulets sound adorable, just like those kaleidoscope beans. I think jack should of learned his bloody lesson by now though.

smörgåsbroad said...

those may be one of the prettiest foods i've seen. such surprising colors.

MrOrph said...

I want some!!! Sending my address...now! :-)

I am with Claudia on this one. I differ from her though in that I WANT to grow food.

We are currently researching making a garden next year. It doesn't look like much more work than our current chores.

Your SR beans look better than the RG ones I had.

The Portland Pickle said...

Amazing beans! I've never seen these colors before. Like someone else eluded to, they are kind of sexy. - Louisa

Lore said...

These beans are really cool! Vibrant colours