Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Mr. Hawthorne Makes Appetizers.

Mr. Hawthorne wanted some light snacks
this afternoon, so he took a stroll through the garden and came back with cherry tomatoes, basil, dill, and purple beans.
I'm excited about the beans. They're an heirloom variety called Royal Burgundy, or Phaseolus vulgaris and the seed packet tells me these violet-purple pods will magically turn a brilliant emerald green when cooked. Rosie is skeptical. We shall see.
I love this picture of Mr. Hawthorne's sleight of hand. Mr. Hawthorne halved his cherry tomatoes and scooped out the pulp and seeds. They're ready for stuffing now.
Stuffing #1:
Ricotta cheese and chopped basil. Mix together.
Add in some minced red onion. Salt and pepper.
Fill up some tomatoes. These are quite tasty little morsels. Fresh basil, just-ripened tomatoes and creamy, virtually tasteless ricotta. It works.
It is so wonderful to finally have FRESH tomatoes. So many bright flavors here. I think I'd forgotten what a fresh tomato tastes like. Stuffing #2
We had four jumbo shrimp in the fridge.
Mince the shrimp.
Add three glops of cream cheese.
Add one glop of sour cream and mix well.
A few sprinkles of Old Bay.
Mince some fresh dill. Add dill to the shrimp dip. If you wanted to make this dip in the wintertime, you could substitute dill seeds for the fresh dill. Serve on crackers. Or on sliced cucumbers. I only had 4 shrimp. Use a dozen, add some more cream cheese and make it really shrimp flavored. Lemon juice, Lea & Perrins, minced red onion, and minced multi-colored peppers would be nice accents. But Mr. Hawthorne is making this, not me ... ... so he added in Texas Pete. Nice touch, Mr. H. Mr. Hawthorne stuffed the rest of the tomatoes with the shrimp dip.
Quite nice. Light. Some richness. Green going on. Fresh tomato. What's not to love? Now, for the purple beans:
Here are my bean plants.
Here are my purple beans going into the steamer.
I covered them up and cooked for about 5 minutes. And they turned GREEN! Whoot!!
Excellent flavor. And the neatest thing - look carefully at the plate. There's still some purple going on.
Definite purple. I'm lovin' it. Now I need to figure out how and why purple turns green. Anyone?


Kathy said...


zzzadig said...

The heat causes the cyanoresinoids to lose a hydrogen atom thereby rendering the spectral reflectivity only reactive in the blue-green spectrum. If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Youse guys!

Atchally, the purple is from a pigment known as anthocyanin. The heat from cooking breaks apart the molecules on the surface of the bean and exposes the underlying chlorophyll, which is green.

Other examples, cooking destroys a lobster's greenish coat and uncovers its carotene underlayer.

Back to anthocyanins - this natural group of chemicals is what puts the purple in purple beans, as well as grapes. They're what also make roses and geraniums red and cornflowers and delphiniums blue.

Yellows and oranges come from carotenoids.

The red pigment called betacyanin is responsible for the reds in beets and bougainvilleas.

Acidity in anthocyanin is the key. The anthocyanin that is red in a rose petal is highly acidic. The anthocyanin that is blue in a cornflower petal is less acidic.
Anthocyanins change color as the acidity of the cell sap changes.

In the case of my Royal Burgundy beans turning green, a direct effect of heat is to cause decompositiion of anthocyanin.
Less anthocyanin means less purple.

The indirect effect of heat is to burst the cells apart, diluting the acidity of the cell sap. The green color from chlorophyll, which was present but masked by the anthocyanin, becomes prominent once the anthocyanin concentration drops.