New Orleans red beans and rice

Recipe was adapted from John Thorne’s Serious Pig, a must-buy for anyone interested in American regional cuisine, or just great food prose in general:

The classic recipe calls for a cracked ham bone with generous pieces of meat left on it, or alternatively New Orleans pickled pork, neither of which I had to hand. What I did have was copious quantities of ham stock in the freezer from my Christmas ham, as well as $2 worth of pork neck bones from Flushing’s Chinatown (and two bucks buys you a lot of those there). Some chorizo or kielbasa was also recommended – all I could easily source was Goya chorizo. I stand by this shit. Cheap and good.

The beans were Rancho Gordo sangre de toro, part of their Xoxoc Project for working with indigenous farmers to preserve Mesoamerican bean varieties that are in danger of going extinct. These small, sumptuous red beans are far tastier than regular kidney beans, and closer to the small kidneys used in Louisiana. Also, most importantly, I had a bag of them.

So here’s the recipe – pretty simple, just allow yourself a lot of time.

– 1 cup small dried red beans, soaked overnight, reserving the soaking water
– up to 1 quart ham stock
– 2 lbs pork neck bones
– 2 Goya chorizo sausages, cut into 1/8-1/4″ discs
– 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
– 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
– 1 medium onion, diced
– 1 celery stalk, finely diced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 2 bay leaves
– 1 sprig fresh thyme
– 1 small, hot red chile seeded and minced
– 1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, minced
– 3-4 scallions, finely minced, green and white parts, half of which reserve uncooked

Blanch the pork neck bones from a cold start, boiling 1-2 minutes, drain and set aside.

Put beans in a heavy pot, cover with 1 quart ham stock, filling out with reserved soaking liquid as need be, add some salt, bring to a hard boil for 10 minutes, reduce flame and simmer for at least 1 hour, adding more soaking liquid as necessary, until beans are tender.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tbs butter in a skillet or large pot over medium heat and cook onions, both bell peppers and celery until soft (6-8 minutes). Add garlic, scallions and parsley and saute for another 2 minutes. Add bay leaves and sausage and saute for another 2 minutes.

Add saute contents to bean pot with all other ingredients, salt and pepper to taste (keeping in mind that the ham stock and chorizo will have some salt already), bring to a boil, and and cook from 1 1/2 to 4 hours at a bare simmer, adding more reserved bean liquid (or hot water if you run out) as necessary. As the beans and other ingredients really begin to soften, mash them up against the side of the pot and stir the pulp back into the main liquid to thicken it.

Make rice to taste towards the end of the cooking period and serve beans and its gravy on top of it. Scatter reserved uncooked minced scallions on top. Place on table with condiments to taste (suggested: hot sauce, chopped raw onions, chopped raw scallion, chiles in vinegar, or really whatever you like).

Savage: A New Song (and Music Video) from Majical Cloudz

Fans will already be familiar with “Savage,” a staple of Majical Cloudz sets over the past year. They have now recorded it in the studio and made a quick music video. Watch it at the link above.

Devon Welsh writes about the song on the video on his tumblr HERE

Lots of interesting Majical Cloudz stuff happening in 2014 so keep your eyes peeled.

Inauthentic tagine of chicken with habaneros and black olives

It’s getting cooler and darker here so I pulled out the unglazed tagine and improvised a highly unauthentic (i.e., non-Mediterranean) tagine of chicken with habaneros, cayenne peppers and olives.

Recipe:

I gently warmed a quarter-cup of olive oil in the tagine over a flame tamer on medium heat. Sauteed two cloves of minced garlic, one minced orange habanero and one minced medium-hot long Indian green chile until garlic changed color.

Added a mixture of 1 tsp each ground cumin, black pepper, sweet paprika, and 1/2 tsp each ground Ceylonese cinnamon and Indian medium-hot dried red chiles, and sauteed briefly.

Then added a couple tablespoons tomato paste and sauteed for a bit.

Added 3/4 cup hot water and 1/2 tsp salt, brought to a boil, added 3 chicken thighs and a big long green cayenne pepper, quartered the long way. Brought to a boil again, then covered simmered for one hour, turning chicken halfway, adding olives about 10 minutes before the end.

Removed thighs and crisped them in 450-degree oven. Meanwhile removed olives and peppers from sauce, boiled it down in a saucepan, degreased. Returned everything to tagine for another 10-minute simmer, followed by 5 minutes sitting off heat, covered.

Garnished with fresh flat parsley (more of a critical ingredient to this preparation than you might think).

I’d say it was a pretty unqualified success – I wish I’d had better olives and only added them at the end. And I think pimentón de la vera would have added a nice smokiness in place of, or in addition to, the sweet paprika. The interesting part is that the final result was not that spicy, even though that habanero packs a punch (and was supplemented by the other chiles) – the essential sour fruitiness of the habanero was there, but much of the sharp capsicum impact had dissipated somehow. Next time I’ll use more.

Final point – it is remarkable how the unglazed tagine adds a flavor of its own. Of course this is the whole point of unglazed tagines – the seasoning – but I wonder whether sometimes I want the slow-cooking properties of earthenware without that particular flavor (which I can’t quite pinpoint – some combination of the clay and all the dishes that have cooked in it previously). An excuse to buy a glazed tagine.

Gazpacho

I’d always thought that authentic gazpacho required blending that Mediterranean staple, stale bread, but not according to José Andrés. His incredibly simple, purist gazpacho calls for just tomatoes, cucumber, green pepper, a garlic clove, sherry vinegar, olive oil and salt.

I added half a fresh jalapeno, helped out our still somewhat pallid NYC tomatoes with some San Marzano juice, and omitted his elaborate garnish, substituting a slice of avocado. I like some chunkiness & pulp, so didn’t bother to strain. His tips for tasting at key steps are essential.

Brown and orange lentils (masoor dal)

A traditional Fourth of July dish, file this one under U.V. (unintentionally vegan). The recipe combines brown (whole) and orange (split polished) lentils and is pressure-cooked with curry leaves, cumin, coriander seed, black mustard seed, fenugreek seed, garlic, turmeric, tomatoes, chili powder, fresh cilantro and lemon juice. I used fresh grated turmeric instead of the powder.

It’s easy to make without a pressure cooker too. (If you can’t find curry leaves, substitute leaves from celery stalks.) The recipe comes from onelifetoeat.

Spaghetti with white clam sauce

I mixed a bunch of recipes for this. Clams were Manila, which approximate most closely to Adriatic ones. I used a pound of clams in their shells for two people. Tap clams against side of the sink and discard any open ones that don’t close.

Put water on to boil and cook pasta until just al dente or a bit short of that. Meanwhile, time the following so that the clams will be open when you are draining the pasta.

Slice some garlic paper thin and heat in olive oil until light brown. Add crumbled dried red chile flakes and stir to combine. Turn heat to high, add clams, and stir for 30 seconds. Splash in half a cup or more of dry white wine, along with a generous slug of good quality clam juice or canned clams in their juice, season (keeping in mind that juice or canned clams may be well salted), lower heat, cover, and cook until clams open fully, 3-6 minutes.

Drain pasta and add to clams, stir well, add chopped parsley, cover for 30 seconds, toss again with a tablespoon of olive oil, and serve.

Yo La Tengo tour starts tomorrow

(image courtesy Bowery Presents)

Yo La Tengo hit the road again starting this Friday in Baltimore with Beach House at the Lyric Opera. These will be the first proper shows in support of Fade in many parts of North America, and if you haven’t seen the band’s new two-part set yet, well, you need to. It’s astoundingly great.

The tour encompasses the Solid Sound and Pitchfork Festivals as well.

July dates will be supporting Belle and Sebastian.

Keep your eyes peeled for some super-interesting new YLT news coming next month.

26 Apr 2013 Lyric Opera House Baltimore, MD with Beach House
27 Apr 2013 The Orange Peel Asheville, NC
29 Apr 2013 Georgia Theatre Athens, GA
01 May 2013 Tipitina’s Uptown New Orleans, LA
02 May 2013 Fitzgerald’s: Upstairs Houston, TX
03 May 2013 The Mohawk Austin, TX
04 May 2013 Granada Theatre Dallas, TX
06 May 2013 Rialto Theatre Tucson, AZ
09 May 2013 The Fonda Theatre Los Angeles, CA
10 May 2013 The Fillmore San Francisco, CA
11 May 2013 The Fillmore San Francisco, CA
12 May 2013 Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub Sacramento, CA
14 May 2013 Knitting Factory Concert House Boise, ID
16 May 2013 Wonder Ballroom Portland, OR
17 May 2013 Showbox at the Market Seattle, WA
18 May 2013 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver,
20 May 2013 The State Room Salt Lake City, UT
21 May 2013 Boulder Theater Boulder, CO
22 May 2013 Crossroads @ KC Grinders Kansas City, MO
23 May 2013 Englert Theatre Iowa City, IA
21 Jun 2013 Solid Sound MASS MoCA North Adams, MA
22 Jun 2013 Solid Sound MASS MoCA North Adams, MA
07 Jul 2013 Toronto Urban Roots Fest Toronto
09 Jul 2013 Bank of America Pavilion Boston, MA with Belle and Sebastian
10 Jul 2013 Mann Center Philadelphia, PA with Belle and Sebastian
11 Jul 2013 Celebrate Brooklyn @ Prospect Park Bandshell Brooklyn, NY with Belle and Sebastian
12 Jul 2013 Merriweather Post Pavilion Columbia, MD with Belle and Sebastian
13 Jul 2013 Stage AE Pittsburgh, PA with Belle and Sebastian
14 Jul 2013 Bunbury Festival Cincinnati, OH with Belle and Sebastian
21 Jul 2013 Pitchfork Festival @ Union Park Chicago, IL
28 Jul 2013 Fuji Rock Festival Naeba, Japan
23 Aug 2013 El Plaza Condesa Mexico City, DF, Mexico

Dominican food

(photo: Village Voice)

There used to be an incredible Dominican restaurant in New York on 14th Street just west of Seventh Ave, called Sucelt Coffee Shop. It was a family-run hole in the wall serving up some of the most delicious food in the city. It closed about five years ago.

Sucelt had an incredible cubano sandwich, great beef empanadas, orange juice freshly squeezed to order in a squeezing machine in front of you and insanely cheap, all kinds of stews and beans, luscious sweet fried maduros (plantains), and a deeply complex and spicy homemade agrio de naranja (bitter orange salsa) sitting in plastic dispensers on the counter.

But my favorite was the chicken stew with rice and black beans, pictured above. I’ve been trying to reverse-engineer it at home. The new and much lauded Latin, Caribbean and Central American cookbook, Gran Cocina Latina, unfortunately does not contain a recipe. Instead I’ve had to troll blogs and online recipes for pollo guisado, with mixed results.

This chicken stew recipe, from Dominican Flavor, contains some of the odd instructions you get from non-professional recipe writers, such as “bring the oil to a boil.” What I got from following the instructions more or less to a T was the following:

It looked good and tasted good, but the meat was too dry, and it certainly wasn’t the same as the Sucelt recipe. Not enough tomato, no potato. The beans here were Rancho Gordo’s new negro de arbol variety, prepared the simple RG way, and certainly had the right blackness and depth of flavor.

Next up was another non-professional recipe, this time from the Burden Clothing website. The photo certainly looked right, but once again, the recipe suffered from various confusing inconsistencies: potatoes are pictured but not listed in the ingredients; the ingredient list is not in the order called for in the instructions; and there is much vagueness on levels of heat, cooking times, etc. Sometimes vagueness can be a virtue, because it encourages you to experiment more, and in fact this version of the dish came much closer to the ideal.

There were also distinct similarities to the first recipe, such as caramelizing white sugar in the oil before you brown the chicken, which made me think I was getting closer to the real thing. At the same time, it called for adding water to the oil, which maybe is what the first recipe assumed you were doing when it told you to “boil the oil.” Adding water and cooking with the lid closed of course results in steaming the meat, and the result was – no surprise – less dry.

The chicken was moist and falling off the bone, there was the distinct green bell pepper aroma in the stew, and the potatoes were perfect. The only problem was that it could have braised/steamed a bit longer, needed a bit more salt, and perhaps a bit more depth of flavor. It could possibly use chicken stock instead of water, or even a dash of Worcestershire sauce (which is apparently genuinely used in Dominican cuisine). I’ll be trying that next time.

The beans this time were Rancho Gordo’s midnight black beans. The bean recipe this time was Cuban, from Three Guys In Miami. (Black beans are more Cuban; Dominicans normally use red beans, but Sucelt gave you a choice of either one.) I can recommend this recipe unreservedly, though I think I want to use a blacker, denser bean than RG’s midnights next time. I subbed red pepper for green pepper.

Two Sichuanese vegetable dishes with chilli bean paste

Here are two vegetable dishes from Fuchsia Dunlop’s new book, Every Grain Of Rice. I’m linking to the British edition because that’s the one I own.

These are both fairly simple and don’t call for too many outlandish ingredients, but there’s one that is an absolute necessity: chilli bean paste from Pixian. Do not buy the standard brands like Lee Kum Kee, which are Cantonese and have a completely different flavor. Look for the word “Pixian” on the label, or the characters 郫县. Dunlop has written a mini-essay on this subject HERE.

The first is twice-cooked Swiss chard. The chard is blanched, stalks and leaves separately, and later stir-fried in the wok, hence twice-cooked. The seasonings include Pixian bean paste, garlic, ginger, fermented black beans, chopped celery, scallion and cilantro. This is a true vegetarian dish – vegan in fact.

The second dish includes a small amount of meat (1/5 lb ground beef), like many Chinese vegetable recipes. It’s simpler to make and focuses more on getting the right degree of wok-sear on the beef and the vegetable. It is “Send the rice down” chopped celery and minced beef, so called because you use it to send the rice down… the ingredients in this one also include Pixian bean paste, of course, plus ginger and Chinkiang (black) vinegar.

Namaa’s fatoush

This Levantine chopped salad looks forward to summer. It’s essential to get the best ingredients – tomatoes at this time of year are particularly problematic, so I recommend getting the smallest, ripest ones you can find on the vine. If even those are mealy or tasteless, try getting a lot of grape tomatoes – they tend to have a fair amount of concentrated sour-sweetness at any time of year. It’s also important to try to get Lebanese-style mini-cucumbers. Full-size supermarket cucumbers are watery and tasteless.

Adapted from Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem.

1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt and 3/4 cup plus 2 tbs whole milk
3 stale pitas, torn into bite-size chunks
Plum, cherry or grape tomatoes to equal 3 large tomatoes in season, cut into 2/3-inch dice
3 large radishes, thinly sliced
3 Lebanese or mini-cucumbers, peeled and cut into 2/3-inch dice
2 scallions, thinly sliced (green and white parts)
2 tbs flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 tbs fresh mint leaves
1 tbs dried mint
2 cloves of garlic, crushed in a mortar and pestle or on the chopping board
3 tbs freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
2 tbs white wine vinegar
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbs ground sumac, or more, to garnish

Whisk the yogurt and whole milk together in a bowl and leave in a cool place or in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours, or better yet, overnight, so that bubbles form on the surface. It’s a less sour version of a sort of homemade buttermilk.

Prepare all the ingredients about half an hour prior to serving.

Place the pita bread chunks in a bowl and cover with the buttermilk. Pile all the other ingredients on top except the sumac and mix well. Allow to sit for 10 minutes so that all the flavors combine.

Serve into bowls, drizzle extra olive oil on top, and sprinkle generously with ground sumac.

Record Store Day LP: Stephen Malkmus performs Can’s Ege Bamyasi

It was the 40th anniversary of the release of Can’s Ege Bamyasi LP (an album known to me in my youth as Ege Bamyasi Okraschoten, because I didn’t know anything), and WEEK-END Fest was happening in Cologne. The dates were November 30 through December 2, 2012, and the festival featured artists such as Ian Svenonious, Justus Köhnke, Alexis Taylor (of Hot Chip), Scritti Politti, Deerhoof and Stephen Malkmus.

WEEK-END Fest co-curator Jan Lankisch (of Tomlab Records decided to ask Stephen, currently residing in Germany, whether he wanted to play the entirety of Ege Bamyasi with a band of German musicians Jan had rounded up. And Steve loved the idea. So after a few rehearsals, Steve was joined by Sebastian Blume (synths), Felix Hedderich (bass), Jan Philipp Janzen (drums) and Phillip Tielsch (guitar) for a truly magical & wondrous performance of one of the greatest albums of all time. It took place on December 2 at the Alte Kranhalle in Cologne, and was committed to tape by the band. The sound quality is fantastic; the performance jumps out of the grooves and bubbles its way through your stereo.

We are releasing the LP as a 3500-copy limited edition on green vinyl for Record Store Day, April 20, 2013. (Domino will be releasing it on red vinyl in Europe.) The hand-printed silkscreened sleeve was designed by David Shrigley, who also designed the poster for the event, inspired by the original artwork for Ege Bamyasi. It is being printed in Germany by Slowboy.

We’re truly honored to be part of this special collaboration between tons of talented artists.

“This was the first Can LP I bought brand-new (Torquay, July 1972), and it is still my favourite.”

— Julian Cope, Krautrocksampler

“Ege Bamyasi was one of those marginal cut-out LPs (along with the 1st Stooges, Rhinoceros, Ambergris a.o.) that you’d find in the bargain bins of department stores in the early 70s. For kids with no money and an allure to weirdness these cheapos were significant listens. Ege Bamyasi with its okra can cover and live circus rock shot on the back was completely singular. And it sounded cool as shit. I still check it as one of the top 10 greatest rock LPs of all time, and it remains a perpetual inspiration.”

— Thurston Moore

stephenmalkmus.com

Kurt Vile – Wakin On A Pretty Daze and Wakin On a Pretty Day

Kurt Vile’s new album WAKIN ON A PRETTY DAZE will come out on April 9. He recorded it with producer John Agnello at a multitude of different studios throughout the Northeast in the second half of last year. It is a 69-minute long double album.

Check out the opening track WAKIN ON A PRETTY DAY. You can download it as an MP3 or listen on YouTube, accompanied by outtake footage from the Steve Powers (ESPO) documentary about the album cover mural. (Note: this is NOT the music video. The real video will be revealed in good time.)

Wakin On A Pretty Day (192k mp3)

Track list:

Side A:
1. Wakin On A Pretty Day
2. KV Crimes
3. Was All Talk

Side B:
4. Girl Called Alex
5. Never Run Away
6. Pure Pain

Side C:
7. Too Hard
8. Shame Chamber
9. Snowflakes Are Dancing

Side D:
10. Air Bud
11. Goldtone

The record will of course be available on several different formats, as follows:

Standard double vinyl gatefold with printed innersleeves and lyric sheet

Deluxe double vinyl gatefold with different cover depicting the blank building wall before Steve Powers painted it, and including a sticker sheet of the Powers paintings so that you can customize your own album artwork. This version includes the printed innersleeves and lyric sheet, but is also on limited, numbered BLUE VINYL.

First edition CD will be in a mini-gatefold like the LP cover, with the disc in a printed innersleeve in one pocket, and fold-out lyric sheet and insert in the other pocket.

PREORDER THE PHYSICAL EDITIONS HERE

The iTunes preorder, available as of tomorrow, February 12, will include an instant download of “Wakin On A Pretty Day” PLUS a preorder-only bonus track entitled “The Ghost Of Freddy Roach.” You can only get this bonus track by preordering the album at iTunes. You’ll receive the track on the April 9 release date along with the full album.

PREORDER THE iTUNES EDITION HERE

More news. If you’re in New York City, we’re going to be heading over to the legendary Electric Lady Studios tomorrow (Tuesday, February 12) to listen to the album in all its glory and have some drinks, specifically a custom-made cocktail entitled the Pretty Daze. Interested in attending? Head over to Brooklyn Vegan for a chance to win! Space is extremely limited!

photo by Shawn Brackbill

Kurt isn’t just releasing a record, he’s also touring, with the Violators backing him up:

Sun, Apr 14 – Indio CA – Coachella Festival
Sun, Apr 21 – Indio CA – Coachella Festival
Sun, May 4 – Atlanta GA – Shaky Knees Festival
Mon, May 5 – Atlanta GA – Shaky Knees Festival
Tue, May 7 – Los Angeles CA – Echoplex # *
Wed, May 8 – San Francisco CA – Independent *
Fri, May 10 – Portland OR – Doug Fir # *
Sat, May 11 – Vancouver BC – Biltmore # *
Sun, May 12 – Seattle WA – Neumos # *
Tue, May 14 – Chicago IL – Lincoln Hall *
Thu, May 16 – New York NY – Bowery Ballroom * !
Fri, May 17 – Boston MA – The Sinclair * !
Sat, May 18 – Philadelphia PA – Union Transfer * !
Fri, May 24 – Barcelona ES – Primavera Sound Festival
Sat, May 25 – London GB – Field Day
Sun, May 26 – Brussels BE – AB
Mon, May 27 – Amsterdam NL – Paradiso
Tue, May 28 – Hamburg DE – Knust
Wed, May 29 – Copenhagen DK – Amager Bio

# The Fresh & Onlys
* Steve Gunn
! Angel Olsen

Tickets for all the US dates go on sale Feb 15 except LA (Feb 16) and Seattle (on sale today).

kurtvile.com

Tart garlic chicken from Burma: Rivers of Flavor

Another recipe from Naomi Duguid’s new Burma: Rivers of Flavor.

Tart garlic chicken, from the Shan region of Burma, may not look like much, but boy it packs a chickeny-lime wallop. It’s a simple hearty dish that is perfect for the winter cold season. The ingredient list is incredibly simple: chicken, garlic, ginger, long green chiles, cilantro and lime juice.

The broth picks up added richness from the hacked bones, but there’s not much else to it.

Served with kachin pounded beef with herbs again, a sort of salad made in a mortar & pestle and infused with Sichuan peppercorns from neighboring China. Plus Burmese tart-sweet chili garlic sauce on the side.

Make your own lime pickle!

Key limes are in season right now and cheap. They are closer in size and rind thickness to Indian limes (confusingly often called lemons there) than our limes, which makes them perfect for pickling.

This recipe from Mahanandi takes only 2 weeks and is extremely easy. Don’t omit the fenugreek seeds (methi). I had some of the finished pickle last night and I’m not dead yet.

Orzo with chickpeas

Adapted from various sources.

Serves 2.

1/2 cup dried chickpeas, cooked (preferably in a pressure cooker), cooking liquid reserved
1/4 lb salt pork or pancetta
1/2 onion, finely chopped
celery greens, finely chopped
1 long stalk celery, finely chopped
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1-2 tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
4-5 leaves fresh sage, minced
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup orzo or other soup pasta like pastina
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano, plus more for the table
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Separate the fat from the salt pork or pancetta, and render. Meanwhile, dice the lean. Discard the cracklings.

Heat the rendered pork or pancetta fat in a large saucepan over a medium flame, and add the lean. After it colors all over (about a minute), add the celery greens, celery, carrot and rosemary and saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and sage, and saute for another 2 minutes or so.

Add chickpeas, most of the parsley, orzo, and chickpea water to cover by about 1/2 inch, along with salt and pepper. If needed, add more water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Check during simmer and add more water if needed (though not in the last 5 minutes if possible). Add the grated cheese, stir in well, and serve in bowls with the rest of the parsley and more reggiano to add on top.