REVIEW : MEL’s COOKBOOK FUND-RAISER

O, how I do miss Merida English Library!  (It’s “open” for curbside borrowing during pandemic.)  I’m so grateful to the staff and volunteers for all they’re doing to keep the lights on. And the book, seen above, is one of these projects.  This mini review will not be about the recipes — but rather, mostly just a shout-out for you to buy your copy :  $500 pesos.  (I bought mine at Slow Food : Saturdays @ Reforma near Colon, 9am – 1pm).  But I can’t resist offering a few observations on the book’s production, as I have a degree in graphic design, and have published two books.

First, some matters of practicality:  slick, clay-based papers are expensive and don’t do well in kitchens, due to greasy fingers, etc.  (Mostly, such papers are chosen for better reproduction of photos, of which there are none inside the book.)  Second, grey type – especially in a light font –is ok for ads, but not well suited for busy activities such as cooking :  Readability! — especially for older eyes.  Third, as there are 200 recipes, it would have been good to provide page numbers in the index next to the names of the cooking-contributors.  (I looked and looked for my recipe, a hearty soup or stew, which we always serve as a main dish;  I finally found it under Side Dishes.)  

But these are all minor details.  The main thing is to keep MEL’s doors open, which the cookbook group has surely aided.  But now its up to us to do our part by promoting and buying the book.  It’s you’re move, dear Reader.  

Below I’ve included the recipe which I contributed (p.133) — for Beans and Greens aka “Pasta Fazool” from Buffalo’s west side — with a few minor corrections (eg: in the book, for ingredients I listed six large cloves of garlic, whereas in the recipe, itself, I call for 6 teeth, which is correct. Plus a few other details, such as using only one liter of stock, for a thicker dish.)  

 

BEANS & GREENS, (“pasta fazool”) 
 
This is a hearty dish I’ve developed over the years, inspired by an old Italian joint on Buffalo’s west side, Santasiero’s, on Niagara Street;  (“fazool” is a corruption of the Italian word for beans, fagiolo.)  They always served hot yellow banana peppers on top of this heaping bowl of pasta, which I replace with some salsa. 
 
Ingredients :
1 jar of white beans, 400g net, as cooked cannelinis, locally called alubias blancas cocoidas.
1 large tub of baby spinach (or other mixed greens such as kale, escarole, arugala, etc)
Garlic — at least six large teeth.
Olive oil, to cover bottom of wok or kettle generously.
200g of tiny pasta elbows (here sized as #2)
1 liter of chicken stock.
As a Mexican version, add 1 small can (425g) of Campbells Caldo Tlalpeño soup (a spicy sopa w/ garbanzos and carrots) optional
Some spicy salsa (Costeña taquera, habanero, etc) or your favorite fried chili peppers, to taste
Large white onion, or leek, or other such allium.
Some dry sherry or brandy, if available.

In sauce pan,  add 1-liter of chicken stock; add one whole garlic tooth, smashed, peeled. Maybe add some water. Bring to boil, and simmer.  
Add pasta when liquid is hot, stirring a bit to prevent sticking. Remove the garlic tooth when pasta is almost done, al dente.
In wok or large kettle, add enough olive oil to cover bottom. 
To the hot oil, add quartered onion, coarsely chopped, to simmer slowly till onions are sorta transparent. 
Next, add to the wok, five tooths of garlic, smashed, peeled, chopped coarsely – but don’t burn the garlic! 
Add lots of greens to the wok – covering, to wilt. (They will cook down dramatically.) Add some water after adding the greens, to help wilting with steam.
When well wilted, add the pasta elbows and hot stock to the wok. 
Add beans and some of the thick bean juice to the wok, mashing some of them.
Add the can of sopa tlalpeño to wok to simmer a bit.
Add salsa to wok, to taste, but don’t over do it.
Add some apple vinegar or blonde sherry vinegar, to taste.
Add optional splash of brandy or dry sherry.
Provide additional oil & vinegars and salsa, at table.  
(Makes about six generous servings.)

 

2 thoughts on “REVIEW : MEL’s COOKBOOK FUND-RAISER

  1. At least you still have a library. The outgoing mayor of Colonial Beach VA, Robin Schick, helped build a library in Jocotán, Guatemala, only to have it burned in protests over a highway / railway / pipeline going through farm land. The protesters probably didn’t even know it was there for them.

    • Thanks, Ron. The rabble often doesn’t know what it is doing — witness the attack on US capitol, where “they” believed Trump’s delusional claim that he won.

      Q: The Don has never been shy about hiring expensive lawyers, which appeared in courts for him in seven states, with his “evidence” of rigged elections. But even in “red state” courts he lost. So let’s ponder how it is that he lost, while many Republican candidates won. Was it “rigged” only against him? A dubiously lame claim. He just can’t handle losing. He’s a sore loser, and his fans are poor judges of character. So “Let’s take down democracy” ?

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