Saturday, January 14, 2012

black beans, sweet potatoes and museums... oh my!

when i was a kid, young woman, my dad used to ask me, about once or twice a year, "hey wanna play hooky today and go museum hopping in the city?" i always said yes. it was always fun. as a parent now, i know it was an amazing thing for my dad to do for me. i loved art, he loved art, i think he knew i was heading toward an art career and it was a great way for us to spend time together. all through high school we did this. it continued through college (where my new art history knowledge made steam come out of his ears, in a good way, i think...;) and even after i was married we did this. the places we wanted to be were endless. guggenheim, moma, met, tiny galleries, subways, cabs, walking for miles... all next to a man i felt safe and loved by, beautiful. 

it also always included lunch somewhere, my dad likes you fed. i was vegan by the age of 16 and my dad, who still after 21 years will offer me ice-cream, would navigate us (or make me navigate...always lessons about how to survive with him) to some vegan place i wanted to try. the candle cafe was my favorite and became our regular place.

our trips stopped after my son was born. i always had visions of a kid in a back pack going on adventures with us. the kid born unto us hated the car, hated anywhere that wasn't on my boob or in my arms. hard to get into the city, hard to museum hop with your boob out and your back hurting from holding said kid... so it stopped. my dad didn't mind too much, he really digs being a grandfather. we tried once with a stroller and me 8 months pregnant... that was four and a half years ago... then this year, his birthday was in september, i had been itching to go "hopping". i proposed the idea and he hit the roof!! i didn't realize how much our trips had meant to him, he'd missed them as much as i did. we had a blast. it was fun, familiar, mind expanding and comfortable. this moment was from that day.

and then he asked, "hey wanna go to that favorite restaurant of yours?" only a dad would go to your favorite restaurant on his birthday. he doesn't even really love it. but he loves eating and all kinds of food. whenever we go i try and order him something with whole food, no imitation anything. so i choose the paradise casserole. it was amazing. he loved it. i loved it. i came home and googled it. i found michele's version, and then i remembered i own the cookbook, it's in there too. i don't usually post recipes but so many people have asked for this one and everyone's versions are so different. so here it is, the way i like it:

sweet potato black bean millet casserole and burritos 

5 medium-sized sweet potatoes
1 tbsp miso
1 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cinnamon
6 cups black beans cooked (3 15oz cans)
1 onion finely diced, or not, big chunks work too.
4-12 cloves of garlic minced
2 TBS cumin
1 TBS smoked paprika (if you find smoked paprika send me some! i use regular i haven't found smoked)
1 TBS chili powder
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups millet
4 cups water (can use a vegetable broth cube, i like rapunzel, or veg broth to give this layer more flavor)
kale, chard, collards or some kind of leafy green. sautéed in olive oil. you'll need about a bunch per person, they cook down a lot.
roast or bake the sweet potatoes. about an hour or so at 350.
Remove the skin and mash or whip the potatoes with miso, soy sauce and cinnamon.  Set aside. michele says: Do not skip the miso because it really makes this top layer. (i think you can skip the miso, it's ok. you can really leave out anything you want. i even  have a friend who didn't have enough sweet potatoes so she mashed some carrots in. said it was great. go ahead, be free :)
Next, place the black beans in a pot and add onions, garlic and all spices.   Let this simmer, covered with 1.5  cups of water for 15- 20 minutes. Using a fork, mash about half of the beans. (mash if you want to. use a immersion blender for a zip or 2 or just leave em)
While the beans and veggies are softening, add 4 cups of water to a large pot and bring to a boil.   Add millet and cook until all water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.
Using a huge freakin casserole dish. seriously i use a 14"x10", begin by first adding millet and pressing down firmly.  Next spread the bean mixture and finally the sweet potatoes.
Bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes.  slice and serve over a bed of greens. the greens totally make it. for some reason the sweetness of them or whatever really is delicious together. i had this at the candle cafe and that's how they serve it. ENJOY!!
ok now this recipe is a lot of work. it is. i was vegan for 16 years. after that i've been dairy free, farm to table and just plain picky for the last 6. i cook 99.9% of what we eat at home. i'm used to a pile o dishes, i'm used to intense recipes and this one kicks my butt. it lasts forever cause it's huge but it's intense. i find i can get the deliciousness of the flavors by just making the bean and sweet potato part and making burritos. you can even add the greens in and it's great. also if you are going for the casserole, you can split this into two smaller dishes and cook on different days.
ok, go, cook, eat, laugh and enjoy!! 

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