dried pinto beans


To read my original post, Dried Beans; how to cook (Basics) published April 2013 (click here)

As much as I do love the idea of a pot of aromatic dried beans bubbling away on the stove for hours on end, more efficient cooking methods are now a consideration well worth exploring. I had been using my finicky old pressure cooker as an alternative to slow cooking beans, but it was sadly lost in transit. Enter the Instapot! I admit I was reticent at first about taking a leap, but my utility bill spurred me into action. After much research I placed an order.

I have to say my Instapot is a marvel! It is a pressure cooker without all the hissing and fuss, or a lingering t thought of a steamy explosion. My very first go around with my Instapot delivered perfectly cooked dried pinto beans in just 30 minutes!
I followed my no old standby cooking methods. No pre- soak for the beans and no salt until the beans were fully cooked.
A few words about sourcing your dried beans. This is tricky business. Know your source! The age of dried beans vary widely and this does matter. Buy organically grown dried beans from a reliable vendor rather than relying on supermarket varieties that may be old and take hours rather than minutes to cook. I have been sourcing dried beans from Rancho Gordo in California for years. They offer an extensive selection of top quality dried pulses at competitive pricing, and wonderful customer service.

Cooking dried beans using an Instaapot

  • 1 pound dried pinto beans, rinsed
  • 6 or 7 cups water( hot water speeds up the process)
  • aromatics of choice and sea salt to taste after the beans are fully cooked.

Suggested aromatics: peeled garlic clove ,¼ cup diced onions, a pinch of ground clove for pinto beans, and epazote (click here for info) small chipotle chile (optional)
Add the beans to the Instapot along with the aromatics and water.
Move the lid of the Instapot into the locked position.
Choose pressure cook and then choose manual high pressure.
Set timer for 25 minutes or 30 minutes for very soft beans.

The Instapot will shut off automatically.

Cancel the keep warm button and Let the Instapot cool for at least 10 minutes.
If you want to release steam manually move the valve to the venting position and release steam carefully. Or do as d I do and just let the pressure reduce naturally.

You can then salt the beans to taste.

Before serving transfer the beans to a container using a slotted spoon and pour the cooking broth into a separate container. Add just enough reserved cooking broth to just cover the beans before serving or before refrigeration.
If you prefer a richer broth simply mash some beans into a paste and stir into your beans, then warm as needed and serve.
Be sure to save any cooking broth that is left over. The broth is ideal for adding to stir-fries or when sauteing.

Keep in mind cooked dried beans have a lovely earthy flavor all their own their own. Season accordingly.

Buen Provecho!

Dragon Fruit

Decidedly exotic, dragon fruit’s origins are rooted in ancient Mexico, Central America, and Peru. This arresting looking “dragon” like fruit grows on the hyjocereus climbing cactus that is now found throughout the tropics thanks to traders who transported this exotic cactus fruit throughout the Caribbean, the Pacific islands, South and Southeast Asia, and Australia centuries ago. Today dragon fruit hybrids are now widely available worldwide and well worth a try!

The exterior skin color ranges from deep red, to hot pink or yellow. The interior flesh can range from white to pale pink. The flavor and texture is best described as subtle with a pear or kiwi like profile. Dragon fruit is ideal when combined with other assertive tropical fruits such as mango, pineapple, passion fruit, and citrus fruits.

Dragon fruit is rich in antioxidants, vitamin c, magnesium, and encourages probiotic growth.

Preparation is relatively easy. Simply cut away the fiery dragon like leafy wings and discard. Peel away the skin until the pale interior flesh is revealed. Slice the fruit crosswise into one inch thick discs, reveling very pale flesh dotted with tiny edible black seeds. Slice the disks into one inch strips, and then into bite size cubes. Best to refrigerate the prepared dragon fruit until you are ready to serve.

As Mentioned, serving dragon fruit is best when combined with other assertive tropical fruits. Add a dollop of yogurt atop your morning fruit bowl and you have a colorful and tantalizing taste of the tropics to start your day!


When creating a memorable salad it is all about following  your instincts while produce shopping. Your choice should reflect the essence of the transitioning seasons. And don’t be afraid to select unusual pairings which can really energizer your seasonal salad repertoire.

Consider all options including local organic sources. Standards like romaine, bib and  curly red, lettuces, as well as crisp iceberg for crunch. And consider using a supporting cast of radicchio, Belgian endive, peppery arugula, or mustard greens for diversity. And don’t overlook fresh herbs and red radishes to add a little zing your salads!

C antelope or honeydew melons are ideal for fall salads. You know the routine. Cut the Mellon in half crosswise. Remove the seeds and pith and cut off the outer skin and discard. Slice the flesh into bite size pieces, cover and refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the salad.

Likewise beets in a salads add a gorgeous beet red color and as well as a grounding earthy founding flavor.

If you plan to use beets it’s best to prepare them a day in advance for salads, and several days ahead if you are planning to pickled the beets. Pickled beets (recipe here) contribute a subtle sweet sour element to salads. I highly recommend including them if you have the time to prepare them.

And as a general rule of thumb consider your dressing choices thoughtfully. Dressing are meant to compliment a salad, not disguise it! A sweet and sour raspberry vinaigrette (recipe here) is ideal for this salad. I like to sweeten it just a bit for this salad by adding a teaspoon or two tof Bonne Maman raspberry preserves. I always keep a jar on hand. Also delicious drizzled over fruits topped with yogurt or with vanilla bean ice cream!

When all of the components for the salad are prepared and well chilled, you are ready to assemble the salad.

Place all leafy salad greens and radishes in a very large bowl and toss. Spoon raspberry vinaigrette sparingly over all and toss again to evenly dress the greens. Then dd the c antelope and beets and toss with the greens. Top up with a little more dressing if needed.

For serving you can either assemble the salad in a large serving bowl or platter or use individual salad bowls.
To finish the salad crumble goat cheese over the salad, tucking it in here and there. Top with very thin slices of prosciutto and serve along with extra dressing on the table.!

Stir frying is hands down the best way to cook a quick meal using the season’s freshest produce. I’ve been stir frying all summer long an I intend to carry on doing so with fall’s hardier produce bounty.

Stir frying is Asia’s gift for anyone who loves to kook and for all those they may be cooking for. A seasonal stir fry never fails to deliver a gorgeous healthy meal with complex flavors, textures, color, and aromas. A few helpful tips is all that’s required for success.

I’m sure you’ve seen the cooks in Chinese restaurants at their stations tossing ingredients in a big woks set over licking flames and clouds of aromatic smoke. All well and good, but you too can produce the same results in your very own kitchen sans the pyrotechnics!

Stir frying does requires Intense heat, but I’ve found that gas, electric, and induction heat all deliver the heat required if you are using a proper wok. An inexpensive carbon steel wok made in China or a domestic upgraded version is going to give you the best results. Carbon steel responds instantly to the heat source and the bigger the better because you are going to be throwing lots of vegetables and leafy greens into that fired up wok! The more hot surface space the better the results.

A trip to your local Asian market may also be required, but with the following list of basic ingredients on hand you will be set to go!

  • soy sauce
  • oyster sauce
  • fish sauce
  • Chinese cooking wine
  • Chinese lap Chong dry sausage
  • Thai basil
  •  jasmine rice

With fall’s arrival seize the moment and expand your produce choices including baby Brussels sprouts, squash, turnips, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbages, kale, mushrooms  and anything else that strikes your fancy.

An Impromptu Fall Stir Fry

Successful Stir frying is all about preparation and organization. Arrange all of your ingredients and cooking utensils within reach before you begin and you are set to go!

As mentioned use a large carbon steel wok or if not a large heavy bottomed skillet.


  • Two of the vegetables in this recipe quire some per-preparation as follows.I pint baby Brussels sprouts, trimmed and d steamed al dent, and set aside to used in the stir fry later.
  • ½ Napa cabbage, core removed, thinly sliced, placed in a bowl wit water to cover, and refrigerated for at least 30 minutes and drained before stir frying.
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 links Lap Chong Chinese dry sausage, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 small brown onions, peeled, halved, thinly sliced, and separated
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin batons
  • 6 red and yellow baby sweet bell peppers, trimmed, seeded, and cut into thin strips
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, thinly sliced, and cut into thine strips
  • 2 or 3 small fresh hot chiles, trimmed, seeded, and minced
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh ginger root cut into thin strips
  • 2 large bunches Bok Choy, trimmed, leaves halved on the diagonal
  •  1/3 cup Chinese rose cooking wine, or white wine
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce / more to taste
  • soy sauce to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ cup chopped Thai basil leaves, or sweet basil
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon cold water
  • Jasmine rice for serving

Place the wok directly over the heat source on medium high. Add the oil and swirl the wok. Add the sausage and stir fry while continuously tossing until the sausage begins to color around the edges. Add the onions and fry while tossing until the onions begin to wilt. Add the carrots and continue tossing until the carrots begin to wilt. Add the sweet peppers and then the garlic, chiles, and ginger and continue tossing.

Slowly add the Chinese cooking wine and toss vigorously until most of the wine has been absorbed.

Drain the cabbage and add to the wok and toss until it wilts. Then add the Bok Choy and toss continuously until the leaves are wilted. Then add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and fish sauce while continuously tossing.

At tis point if the wok is nearly dry add a half cup of water and continue stir frying. Toss in the Thai basil and  the steamed baby Brussels sprouts and continue tossing.

If you want to thicken the liquid in the pan, stir the cold water into the corn starch and stir. Then pour into the stir the stir and continue stir fry until the liquid thickens, about 3 minutes.

Finally stir in the lime juice and stir to combine just  before serving.

Serve the stir fry with freshly steamed jasmine rice.

Leftovers , not to worry. Reheat in a saute pan or microwave!


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