Where: The Kitchen
When: Weeknight, Dinnertime
Who: Mother (in untucked work clothes and flip flops, loose pony-tail); Her 8-year-old daughter doing homework at kitchen table
8-Year-Old: Mom? What’s for dinner?
Mom: Bean cakes.
8YO: Mo-om! What’s a bean cake? [Pause.] I’m not eating a bean cake.
[Critical juncture: Does Mom engage? It would be SO fun to engage, she thinks. Does she use logic? i.e. You love beans, you love cake! You’ll love bean cakes! Mom does neither.]
Mom: Ok, you don’t have to eat them. [Blase, casual.] You know there is always something on the table that you’ll like.
8YO: [Somewhat taken aback by lack of engagement.] OK.
8YO: Do I have to eat a bean cake, Mom?
Mom: No, I said you didn’t have to. [Flipping a hot one in front of 8YO’s counter-high nose.]
8YO: Maybe I’ll try a bite. But only a bite.
8YO: Fine. I will only have two whole bean cakes if I can have sour cream on them.
Pinto Bean Cakes
From The Hominy Grill Cookbook**
1 cup dried pinto beans
1/2 cup Parmesan
1/3 cup celery
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup scallion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon tabasco
salt and pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
flour for dredging
Soak dried beans in water overnight. Or follow instructions on bean package for quick soak.
Drain and rinse beans. In a medium saucepan, cover them with water. Bring to a boil and cook, over medium high heat until tender, 45 minutes. Set aside 1/4 of the beans.
In a food processor, combine the rest of the beans with eggs, cheese, celery, parsley, scallions, lemon zest. Pulse to make a rough paste. Remove to a medium bowl.
Mix in bread crumbs, olive oil, Tabasco, salt, pepper and reserved whole beans. Stir lightly to combine all ingredients.
Divide the mixture into 12 even patties.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, pat the cakes with flour and brown the cakes in the pan, cooking until they are browned, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook another 3 minutes. Repeat with remaining patties.
Serve with sour cream, chopped chives, and orange sweet potato mash (bel0w).
Orange Sweet Potato Mash
Bake 2 medium sweet potatoes at 425°F for 40-45 minutes. Slice and scoop out flesh into a bowl, add 2 tablespoons butter, about 1 tablespoon orange juice, salt and pepper, and mash with a fork (I use a beater attachment from a handheld mixer) until smooth.
**For anyone who has been to this temple of lowcountry cuisine in Charelston, SC, you won’t need any song-and-dance about how delicious a recipe from the menu of this restaurant might be; for anyone who has not been there and has no plans to go to Charleston any time soon, I implore you: please buy this cookbook. Though, be forewarned, it’s not really a cookbook. It is a little slip of a thing featuring two dozen of Robert Stehling’s signature dishes, including the definitive Shrimp & Grits, Mac & Cheese, Mile-High Biscuits, and is so homespunny and charming that looks like it’s been stapled together by the chef himself.)