Warm Three Bean Dip

Though the name refers to a dip, this actually is not a dip. The only apt word I can think of is ‘scoop’. Instead of dipping your chip into something, you are scooping something with your chip. You get the idea!


Beans are one of the most ancient crops consumed by human beings. Historical evidence points to its consumption in regions widespread in Asia and South America, starting 7th millennium BC. Actual cultivation started later in the 2nd millennium BC. Today, it must be one of the most common staples present in all cuisines around the world.

Strictly speaking, beans like fava beans (broad beans) belonging to a particular species can be called ‘beans’, but in modern usage, the word has become a synonym for pulses or legumes as well. Then there are other thing being called ‘beans’ though they are in no way connected to the actual beans. Examples are coffee bean, vanilla bean, coco bean, etc.


The beans’ claim to fame is that it is the chief food item that meets the protein requirements of vegetarians. According to nutrition experts, beans are comparable to meat in terms of calories, but far superior when it comes to fiber and water content. One cup of cooked beans provides about 12 grams of fiber, while meat has none. In addition, beans are high in antioxidants, and are good for digestive tract health.


Instead of the particular varieties of beans used here, you can choose any of your liking.


The molcajete goes well with the ancient crop of beans as it is also an ancient tool. It was in use during the times of the Aztec and Maya cultures. It is carved out of a single block of basalt stone. Comes in very handy in the kitchen.


Despite all the good it does, beans have this unfortunate blemish on its reputation due to its tendency to produce flatulence, giving rise to numerous stories and jokes. Soaking in water to which a pinch of baking soda has been added, or cooking with spices like coriander and cumin are supposed to overcome this problem. Again, in my opinion, moderate quantities will not cause any such problems.


The dip or scoop is served best with sturdy tortilla chips. And, if you like to spice it up a bit, try it with pieces of pickled jalapeno on the side… truly kicks it up a notch. A quick lunch or a snack, with hardly any effort!



Warm Three Bean Dip
Recipe type: Snack
  • 1 cup butter beans
  • 1 cup red kidney beans
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lime
  • 1 bunch (4 or 5) scallions
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves
  1. If using the cans of already cooked beans, drain and wash the beans. If using dry beans, soak them for 6 hours ahead of time and boil them.
  2. Thinly slice the scallions and cilantro leaves.
  3. Juice the lemon.
  4. Using a molcajete (traditional grinding stone from Mexico), crush the garlic cloves. If you do not have a molcajete, you can use any other means for the crushing.
  5. Add the three beans and crush them, along with the garlic. It is not necessary to make each bean into a paste; a rough crushing will do. It is good to leave a few whole beans uncrushed.
  6. Scoop out the crushed beans into a serving dish.
  7. Add the olive oil, lime juice, and salt, and mix well.
  8. Add the sliced scallions and cilantro and blend in.
  9. Keep aside for 30 minutes at room temperature for the flavours to meld.
  10. Serve with tortilla chips and crackers to scoop.


Monkey Bread with Pecans and Blueberries

Time to put away the utensils and dig in with your bare fingers! Yes, it is Monkey Bread time!

A cluster of warm, sweet, delicious pieces of bread, baked usually in a ring shape in a bundt pan… and you pull apart these pieces just like a monkey! Hence the name, monkey bread.

Somewhere along my peregrinations over the alleyways of the cyberspace, I came across the name, ‘monkey bread’. And without a second thought, I knew I had to make it, I had to eat it. It was just hours from thought to action, and here we are with a lovely, gooey, fragrant monkey bread! 🙂

There are various theories about how it got its name… its resemblance to the fruit of the monkey puzzle tree, the monkeying around you have to do to make the dish (absolute pish-posh; it is an easy dish to make), and my favourite… one can channel one’s inner monkey while eating it!

Monkey bread does not have a long tradition on the food scene, the first mention of it appearing in cookbooks and magazines in the 1950s, according to the foodtimeline. Nancy Reagan used to serve it at the white house, during the Christmas season.

Many of the traditional recipes use yeast in the monkey bread dough, which in my opinion is a lot of time wasted, waiting for the yeast to act. Instead, you could use a combo of buttermilk and baking powder to get the same buoyancy.

You prepare the dough, cutting in the butter and then adding the buttermilk.

The dough is divided into small pieces and rolled in brown sugar.

These are then layered at the bottom of the pan along with nuts and dried fruits.

And if you want a really short shortcut, you could use the biscuit dough that comes in a tube instead of making your own dough.

The pecans and blueberries used in the recipe can be replaced with any nuts and dry fruits.

The giant baobab tree (of ‘The Little Prince’ fame) is called ‘monkey fruit tree’ in Africa. And the insides of that fruit looks very much like monkey bread. Do take a look




Monkey Bread with Pecans and Blueberries
Recipe type: Snack
A 8 or 9 inch bundt pan works well for baking this monkey bread.
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 tsps baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ cup butter
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup pecans (can be replaced with walnuts)
  • ½ cup dried blueberries (can be any dried fruit)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg powder
  • 1 ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup butter
  1. Soak the blueberries in one cup of warm water for 30 minutes. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Lightly toast the pecans. Let cool and keep aside.
  3. Mix half a cup of brown sugar with the cinnamon and spread flat on a platter.
  4. Melt together 1 ½ cup brown sugar and ¾ cup butter. When fully melted, remove from heat.
  5. Pour a quarter of the butter-sugar mix into the bundt pan and swirl around to coat the bottom. Keep aside.
  6. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
  7. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in ¾ cup of butter into the flour. Add the buttermilk and mix into a smooth dough.
  8. On a floured surface, roll the dough into a log and cut into three pieces.
  9. Take one of the pieces and roll it into a longish rope.
  10. Cut the rope shaped dough into uniform sized pieces, about 1 inch in diameter.
  11. Shape each piece of dough into a rough ball and roll in the brown sugar-cinnamon mix to coat.
  12. Place the round shapes at the bottom of the bundt pan in a single layer.
  13. Sprinkle half the pecans and blueberries over the dough.
  14. Spoon a quarter of the butter-sugar mix evenly over the layers in the bundt pan.
  15. Repeat the process with the remaining two portions of dough, interspersing with layers of pecans, blueberries and butter-sugar mix.
  16. When all the dough is used up, pour the remaining butter-sugar mix on the top.
  17. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  18. When done, remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  19. Invert on to a serving platter and serve warm.


Kicked Up Potato Skins

You go to any news site or open any newspaper… there is at least one article on some scientific research which apparently proves that some food item or other is bad for you, healthwise. Go to the same web site, open the same newspaper a month later and you will find reports of another research project which proves the exact opposite. And if you pay attention over time, this cycle will repeat itself over and over, for sure.
Take the case of butter. More butter, better food… that was the motto of the times of Julia Child. Then came the butter police with their cautionary tales and scary statistics. Research was quoted linking butter directly to high cholesterol, leading to heart health problems. Today? Today the cycle has come full circle… to the conclusion that butter, in fact, is good for you, particularly for your heart! 🙂
Another case in point is that of potatoes. At one time, it was believed, based on “scientific research” that the skin on the potato contained toxins. So users were advised to peel the potatoes diligently. Then, later came research with the findings that the potato skin is loaded with potassium and iron and niacin and all kinds of goodies, in addition to essential fiber! That is where the situation stands now. Will it change again? Who knows, we can only guess!
I personally find all this a bit amusing. And if the dish I’m planning to cook with potatoes will be better with skins, I keep them on; otherwise peel them. I keep it that simple.

So the other day, when the craving for potatoes hit me, as it does every so often, I chose to do a combo – a dish of potato skins stuffed with goodies. And what did I do with the scooped out potato flesh? That is a topic for another day! 🙂
Starting with nice mealy large potatoes is the key to arriving at potato skins worthy of being stuffed. And smear them with some salt before baking to get the skins tasting even better. Out of the oven, just slice them and scoop out the flesh.

I used a simple mix of some veggies along with black beans and corn for the stuffing. Actually, you can try any of the combinations that you have used elsewhere. One of these days, I’m going to do a chopped meat version; should be yum.

Just chop up the vegetables and saute them all together.

And for the sauce, I used a bit of soy sauce, sriracha and some mixed herbs. This mixed herbs is a staple in my house. I grow herbs like rosemary, thyme, sage and such, during the summer and fall, on my window sill. When the weather gets too cold for them and they start kind of drooping, I harvest them all and put into a warm oven to get slow dried. Crush them all together when perfectly dry and you got a year’s worth of fragrant herbs. Store them in an airtight container on the door of the freezer.

So you just cook the ingredients all together…

And pile them up in the potato skins.

And top them with some shaved melting cheese.

Place under the broiler for 5 minutes and you have the perfect combo of a gooey cheese melt in a crispy outside.

Serve with thinly sliced peppers and mini greens.





Kicked Up Potato Skins
Recipe type: Snack
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 1 + 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • ½ green pepper
  • ½ orange pepper
  • 1 cup black beans, from a can
  • 1 cup corn, from a can
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce (or any other chilli sauce)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs of your choice
  • Chedder cheese shavings to tp
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degree farenheit.
  2. Smear the potatoes with 1 tsp of salt and the vegetable oil.
  3. Place them on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes to an hour, till done.
  4. Allow them to cool outside the oven.
  5. Chop the onions and celery into small pieces.
  6. Slice the garlic thinly.
  7. Slice the peppers into thin long strips.
  8. Drain the beans and corn and keep aside.
  9. In a pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil.
  10. When the oil is hot, add the onions, celery and garlic.
  11. Sauté them till transparent.
  12. Add the black beans and corn to the mix, along with enough salt, and stir well.
  13. Add half the sliced peppers and the sauces and herbs to the mix.
  14. Mix well and take off the heat.
  15. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthwise.
  16. Scoop out the flesh from the inside, leaving a quarter inch border all around, forming a shell.
  17. Set the oven on Broil.
  18. Divide the prepared vegetable mix among the potato shells.
  19. Top with shaved cheese and keep under the broiler for 5 minutes.
  20. Serve on a platter garnished with the rest of the sliced peppers and mini greens.