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Bean there, done that.

So, just as an update… my lamb was a hit! Probably the best thing I’ve made since being here. I cooked a huge shoulder and seasoned it with cumin (dry roasted, then ground in a mortar and pestle), added a bit of salt and olive oil, and served it with cumin gravy, too. Yum!

Lately, we’ve been talking a lot about beans — and of course will need to be able to identify a bunch for our exams. The staff at Ballymaloe “decorate” the school with labeled food trays like this one to help us:


Rory mentioned the importance of soaking dried beans ahead of time; the flavor’s better and the texture’s better. He also said that when you are cooking your beans to never add the salt in the beginning because that “could encourage the skin to lift off and toughen the bean.” Interesting, eh? I’m looking at one of our Ballymaloe dried bean recipes now and it says, “Just before the end of cooking, add salt.”

After Rory’s bean talk, we sampled dishes with dried haricot beans made with a classic bouquet garni (bay leaf, parsley stalk, and thyme stalks) as well as a dish of huge and delicious Borlotti beans…

(Check out the long red Borlotti beanpod in my foraging basket…The dry beans inside have purple speckles.)


Rory cooked the Borlotti beans with Volparia red wine vinegar, tomatoes, chilli, garlic, and sage (which he calls a “good-humored” herb).


This led him into a minor tangent about another herb called pineapple sage, which, if you rub in your hands smells like fresh pineapple! He said it would be nice on slices of pineapple with some sugar and lime juice, but is probably more of an herb of interest than one of use.

Speaking of interesting herbs, check out this epazote! It smells just like gasoline when you rub it between your fingers. So strange.

It’s used in our Frijoles de Olla recipe, a Mexican bean dish that Darina demonstrated this afternoon. Here are a few shots from our Mexican spread. You can probably make out the guacamole, quesadilla, and black bean and salsa salad.



Those obviously non-bean desserts, by the way, are a blackberry and sweet geranium sorbet and a Thai coconut sorbet. Yes, they are as delicious and refreshing as they sound. I make the blackberry one on Thursday…

2 Responses to “Bean there, done that.”

  1. lee says:

    can we get a picture of your cumin lamb?

  2. The Sista' says:

    Yay Rosie! That is so exciting about your lamb. Can’t wait to sample it – heh heh!

    How do you pronounce epazote? I imagine you’ll be providing us with the British Isles pronunciation 🙂 Are all the more exotic herbs (epazote, pineapple sage) readily available in the US? Are they readily available in Ireland?

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