Friday, September 28, 2012

Rosie Makes A Black Bean And Avocado Salad.

A black bean salad
 is one of my all-time favorite go-to salads.
It's quick.
It's simple.
It's easy.
It's chock full of flavors.
It's versatile.

Today's ingredients:
a cup of black beans, cooked
1 can corn
some red pepper, chopped
some red onion, chopped
1 avocado, diced

juice of 3 limes (1/3 cup)
zest of 1 lime
2/3 cup vegetable oil
salt and pepper
Very slowly, drizzle the oil into the lime juice,
whisking constantly.
You want a nice emulsion.

I'm going to show you the secret to my corn.
Heat a pan over high heat
and add in maybe 2 tablespoons of butter.
Pour in the drained corn.

Add about a tablespoon of sugar.

Cook over high heat
until corn caramelizes.

That's intense sweet corn goodness.

I picked this red pepper out of my garden.

Isn't it beautiful?

For the life of me,
I can't figger out why supermarkets
charge out the wazoo for a red, orange, or yellow pepper.

It's just a green pepper at different stages of ripeness.
They all start out green.

I chopped up some pepper and red onion.
If you wanted to add in green, yellow, and orange peppers
for a nice colorful confetti, go right ahead.

After the caramelized corn had cooled off,
I added it to the black beans.

Add in red pepper.

And red onions.

Let's make the dressing.
Zest of one lime.

Juice of 3 limes.
(1/3 cup lime juice)

 Very slowly, drizzle in the oil,
whisking constantly.

See that stream above?
No more than that.

Since I can't drizzle, whisk, and photograph at the same time,
you can see in the picture what not to let happen.
See the oil globules?
You don't want oil globules.
You want to incorporate the oil into the juice
to make an emulsion.

What is an emulsion, you ask?
In culinary terms,
an emulsion is a mixture of two liquids
that would not ordinarily mix,
like oil and vinegar.

There are two types of emulsions -
temporary and permanent.
A temporary emulsion would be a simple vinaigrette.
If you put oil and vinegar in a jar and shake it up
or if you whisk the oil into the vinegar,
the two liquids come together.
Oil droplets are suspended within the vinegar.
Set the bottle down
and eventually they start to separate,
until the oil is on top and the vinegar is at the bottom.

By the way, if you want to mix up a quick vinaigrette,
the general ratio is 3:1, oil:vinegar.
This ratio is not etched in stone,
since different vinegars have different strengths.
I wanted a more tart dressing,
so I used 2:1 in my emulsion.

For a quick vinaigrette,
start with your acidic component first.
Add in whatever flavors you want.
Then whisk in the oil.
If you stick with the basic ratio
of 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar,
you'll be fine.
As for the flavors to add in,
there's citrus zest,
fresh or dried herbs,
maybe some Dijon mustard, depending,
and salt and pepper.
You don't need much salt,
but trust Rosie,
a little freshly ground salt makes your dressing pop.
I usually give it three grinds salt
and about 8 grinds pepper, since I like pepper.
Also, when making a vinaigrette,
experiment with different types of vinegars -
cider vinegar, distilled white vinegar,
rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar.
A splash of citrus and a pinch of sugar
will give you a nice flavor package, too.
The best way to test the flavor of you vinaigrette
is to dip a piece of lettuce in it and take a bite.
Don't taste the vinaigrette"straight."

You have no excuse now.
If I come to your house and find bottles
of store-bought dressing in your refrigerator,
I will simply have to hurt you.

Store-bought dressing is EVIL.
Little packages of chemicals are EVIL.

An example of a permanent emulsion
would be mayonnaise.
Egg yolks and oil naturally would not mix together,
but by slowly whisking the oil into the yolks,
the two liquids form a stable emulsion which will not separate.
Hollandaise sauce, made with eggs yolks,
 a little acid (vinegar/lemon juice), and butter,
 is also a permanent emulsion.

Here's my vinaigrette.

Another flavor I've used before in this vinaigrette
for a black bean salad is cumin.
A teaspoon of cumin is a wonderful addition.
The reason I didn't add the cumin this time
was because I was serving the bean salad
 alongside another dish (Chicken Tikka Masala)
which was chock full of cumin.

Consider the avocado,
native to Mexico, Central America, and South America.
The Aztec word for avocado is ahuacuatl,
meaning testicle tree,
because the fruit hangs in pairs on the tree
apparently resembling this part of the male anatomy.
The Aztecs, the first documented avocado eaters,
 used the avocado to increase sexual desire.
The avocado is a traditional remedy for erectile dysfunction.
In the 1920s, an American avocado advertising campaign
denied the aphrodisiac properties of the avocado
hoping to tempt people to indulge in the forbidden fruit.
Reverse psychology worked 
and Americans consumed the fruits of temptation in stealth.
While we're talking about testicles here,
did you know the word avocado
 resembles the term for lawyer in several languages?
A French lawyer and the fruit is an avocat.
A Spanish lawyer is abocado
and the fruit is aguacate,
derived from the Aztec ahuacuatl.
An Italian attorney is avvocato
and the fruit is avocado.
Go ahead and make your own lawyer jokes.

Did you know that avocados do not begin to ripen until picked?

Halve, scoop, and dice.

I added the avocado directly into the dressing
so the citrus would do its magic on the avocado.

Whenever you're using avocado,
you want to give it some lime- or lemon-lovin'.
Otherwise the avocado oxidizes.
In other words,
exposure to air causes the avocado to turn brown.
Whenever you cut into an avocado,
you activate an enzyme, polyphenol oxidase,
which causes the monophenols in the avocado
to hydroxylate to polyphenols, resulting in the browning.
This reaction is stopped by introducing an acid.

Mix the beans, corn, pepper, and onion.

Add in the dressing and avocados.

You can use parsley if you're in the anti-cilantro camp.

Chop the cilantro - a tablespoon or two - and add.


tortietat said...

Imonna have to try this one!

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Tortietat, you might want to try it with a teaspoon of cumin in it. Usually I make the dressing with the cumin, but I was serving this with another dish that was full of cumin and I didn't want a cumin overload.

tortietat said...

Thanks. Will keep that in mind. Definitely won't be adding cilantro because I'm one of those "tastes like soap" people.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Tortietat, substitute with parsley. I understand. I used to hate cilantro. Never tasted like soap to me though. Tasted like pond scum. And yes. I know what pond scum tastes like. Now, I love cilantro.

They say there's a genetic disposition for liking (or not) cilantro. I wonder about that because of my own experience.

Same thing happened with bleu cheese. Some things are acquired tastes. Took me years to develop tastes for bleu cheese and cilantro, but I persevered. Now I am rewarded with wonderful entries in my flavor catalog.