Several food interests have recently collided to become breakfast synergy.
It started with sausages. I’ve been making sausages with some friends this past year. It’s mostly experimental recipes using chicken and pork. They’ve been great to store in the freezer and pull out for a fast meal, provided I remember to move them into the fridge earlier in the day.
Most recently, it’s beans. I’ve been buying a number of beans at the local farmers market, produce shops, or been given some by friends.
During a trip to Los Angeles, I picked up a couple pounds of white navy beans, intending to make baked beans. This weekend, I gave it a shot.
First, I have to say that while it was fun to browse the dried goods at the Grand Central Market in LA, and it was also cheap to buy the beans, they are not as good as buying fresh and local, or through Rancho Gordo – which is fresh, but not local.
The soaking time varied greatly. Some were done soaking within an hour. Some took nearly two days. That’s the pot luck nature of mysterious bulk items.
Second, I guessed at the cooking time and guessed wrong. I gave these 10 minutes at full pressure in my cooker, and they probably could have used about 7 minutes. This may be attributed to some beans receiving two days of soaking when they only needed a few hours. Anyway, they came out rather soft.
Third, my goal was baked beans similar to the Heinz tinned beans. I can make good bbq beans, or ranch beans, no problem. In deconstructing a tin of beans (imported from the UK), I saw the beans were navy, which is why I bought navy beans in the first place. The internet was not easy to browse through for a recipe. For one, search terms for “heinz baked beans” led to the brand, which of course offered no recipe. Second, many baked bean recipes, especially the “easy” ones, start with a can of baked beans to begin with! whaaaa.
Finally, I found a recipe. It asked for ketchup and mustard. It’s a little defeating, but if I want to imitate a Heinz recipe, does it not make sense to utilize other Heinz products? It’s a starting point.
My main hitch was the lack of ketchup in my home. When I moved back to the US in 2002, I freshly stocked the cupboards including one small bottle of ketchup. I threw out that same bottle 8 years later, 75% full of dark dark red gloop. There’s just little use for ketchup in this house. Luckily, my pack rat tendancies paid off: I had a small collection of ketchup packets leftover from some fast food noshing at a mysterious date in the past.
So yeah. The secret ingredients to making baked beans similar to the tinned variety is ketchup!
Soak the beans until swelled. Anywhere from 8 hours to a day. Drain.
In a pressure cooker, saute the onion in the bacon fat until fragrant. Add beans and add water to cover the beans with perhaps an extra inch of water.
Bring to pressure and cook for 7 minutes. I have an old fashioned cooker, with no quick release, so the beans cook longer as the cooker cools. Quick-release cookers should then have a longer cooking time.
Stir in the ketchup, mustard, molasses, sugar. Simmer the sauce down until it’s a thickness you like. Add salt to taste.
Serve hot in a fry-up, with sausages, eggs, bacon, grilled tomato, toast…whatever you want! Or make some comforting beans on toast – with lots of butter on that toast.
Now all I need is some fresh local chicken eggs.
Sorry, no photos. It looks like a bowl of beans.
The Far Western holds a special place in my list of food favs. It takes effort to get to, and that greater efforts yields a greater sense of reward.
My family started coming to the Far Western since childhood, on the yearly camping trip to Los Osos. The annual trek has fallen to the wayside, but when the wanderlust to Central California picks up, this is the place I feel drawn to.
To me, this is one of the benchmarks of the central Californian steakhouse, second only to HP1 because it opened 6 years later in 1958. But it goes a step further by providing two distinct dining areas – the saloon and the dining room, and providing all the detail of meatlover’s restaurant down to animal skin curtains and booths, and rooms wallpapered with cowhide.
Meals, unless ordered a la carte, come with many little side dishes. It’s a gut-buster, yes, but it’s all so good that it’s hard to pick your battles. Just nibble on little bits of it all and put together a doggie bag.
First, crudite and salsa, or maybe it’s called a relish tray. The platter has radishes, pickles, carrots, celery, peppers and spring onions. Much crunching to keep your mouth busy while perusing the menu. There is also a bowl of salsa, for dipping, or for adding to other parts of the meal.
Then, your choice of soup or salad. Go with the soup unless you love roughage of any kind because the salad tends toward the simple iceberg although the croutons look housemade. If you’re with someone, get both. The soup that day was beef and vegetable and I thought it was lovely. Good chunks of smokey flavored and extremely tender beef. The vegetables were sturdy and not overcooked.
The main course arrives with a bowl of Santa Maria’s own pinquito beans and a basket of garlic bread. If you really need to ration your stomach space, pass on the bread, but it’s really good to dip it into the beans and hard to resist.
Our main courses were the ribs and the 8 ounce portion of the cowboy steak, medium rare. The ribs were grilled and slicked with a citrus bbq sauce. I really liked the flavor for not being overly sweet and the ribs were good to gnash the teeth on. Not falling off the bone like traditional bbq, but it’s still possible to clean up those bones properly. The ribs are two 10 ounce racks, price is $35.
The cowboy steak in the 8 ounce portion was $25, cooked right to our specifications, very juicy and tender.
The main dishes come with a choice of starch, we got a baked potato and the grilled polenta. The polenta was very simple in flavor, which was good to soak up the steak juices. The baked potato came with a pot of sour cream and sliced spring onions.
The Tavern serves up a lot of local wine, and the server came make recommendations. The wine prices are quite decent, with a push to order a bottle rather than a glass. The price of a glass is roughly half the cost of getting the whole bottle. We had a generous pour of a Malbec. And after the meal, some coffee.
There are other steakhouses within 30 miles that have a similar menu, down to the crudite and shrimp cocktail, but I like Far Western because of its authenticity without being pretentious, but still having an atmosphere of dignity where you can feel comfortable dining in boots and jeans, or in your Sunday best.
Parking’s a snap. The city is a bit of a ghost town to begin with, so if there isn’t parking on the street, there’s plenty in the public lot just across the street. And there you can admire some of the fine murals of Guadalupe.
A couple friends have been gushing about the beans at Roots Farm, from the Saturday and Tuesday farmers market. I was on my pinquito kick and by the time I was interested, they were nearly sold out, or not bringing them to the market when there was a chance of rain.The beans appeared today, just a few pounds when I made it to the stand, and I bought the whole lot!
Dried, they vary in color from a deep bluish black, to pale brown. Cooked, they change to a more consistent dark brown, but retain a little variation.
More experimentation required.
Ever since I was a kid, I kind of preferred breakfast food, like bacon, pancakes, eggs, even cereal for dinner, rather than breakfast. I know I’m not the only one.
In a recent campaign to cull down the contents of my freezer, I pulled out a packet of Fresh and Easy’s pork and apple sausages (I hear this item has been discontinued?? BOOOO), and defrosted them. T shows up during a break between classes and film editing, and is hungry. What is easier to whip up than a simple all day breakfast.
Pork and apples sausages, proper British imported Heintz baked beans (they taste different than American ones), and fried eggs.
Thanks to facebook, I’ve reconnected with old school friends. One is Danielle, both my brother and I took an after-school Chinese class with her. She’s back in town, slowly developing a confectionery business.
With my brother also visiting this weekend, we all got together for a Sunday lunch. The weather, while a little blustery, was still sunny. Just fine for some outdoor grilling and indoor eating.
The tri-tip came from Whitefoot, initially unseasoned and the butcher seasoned it for me with a dry rub. The grilled winter squash came from the garden, a sort of hybrid between a butternut and a kabocha. I only seasoned it with olive oil, salt and pepper and let the flavor of the squash do the rest. My mother prepared some homemade salsa to spoon on the tri-tip, which we ate with warm toasted tortillas.
The beans are Santa Maria style pinquitos, with the pink beans coming from Shepherd Farms at the Saturday morning farmers market. Although I made them beforehand in my pressure cooker, I poured the beans into a heat-proof casserole and set them on a high rack in the grill so any smoke from the grilling would seep into the beans. Plus, it kept them warm. I added a couple tablespoons of water to the casserole to keep the top of the beans from drying out.
We spent the lunch catching up on our lives and reminiscing a few high school memories. Good times!
I have to give a big shout out to Shepherd Farm, who sets up shop in the middle of the Saturday farmers market, the first aisle along the Cota side. I believe he comes to the Tuesday evening market, but I’ve lately only been going to the Saturday market.
It’s used in the classic Santa Maria style tri-tip meal, and unsurprisingly are called Santa Maria style beans, very similar in flavor to ranch style beans or bbq beans.
The pinquitos are cute, pink, firm, and small. They cook up fast because of their size, and even faster because Shepherd’s are so fresh, grown in Carpinteria. They’re sold by weight, $4 a pound.
He sells several types of beans, and the big bins of them are down to bits and pieces by the end of the market. But I am all over the pinquitos, as they are not commonly available like pintos or kidneys outside of the area.
Btw, Shepherd Farms also has a CSA program.
Here is my Santa Maria style pinquito beans, adapted from Recipezaar.
Santa Maria style pinquito beans
* 1 lb pinquito beans, dried
Pick over beans to remove dirt and small stones; cover with water and let soak overnight in a large container. Drain.
You know you want it. A big greasy, meaty fry-up on a Sunday morning.
Fried eggs, British bacon rashers, homemade sausages, British baked beans, and grilled tomatoes. And crisp buttery toast. Aw yeah.