Byron Bates thinks big, really big when he makes these beans. The recipe can be cut down to fit your needs. Note: To plump raisins, place them in a saucepan covered with water or fruit juice. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat and cook for a couple of minutes or until raisins are soft and plump.
To most Americans, a taco is a corn tortilla that is bent in half to form u-shape, fried crisp, and stuffed with a ground beef mixture topped with cheese. But in Mexico, tacos are made with fresh, hot soft tortillas that are rolled around meat, beans, or even fish. Consumed daily by millions south of the border, they are usually eaten as a snack, as a light meal with a bowl of soup, or as an appetizer. Nothing could be simpler than this carne asada taco which is filled with a marinated skirt steak that has been grilled and served with hot, soft corn tortillas and your choice of condiments.
Everywhere that I’ve traveled in Mexico where there is an abundance of fresh seafood, there is an abundance of ceviche. This version, which I was served in a small restaurant in the seafood market in Cancun, is a variation of the more typical fish, onion, and chile ceviche.
"Holy" basil is widely available in Thai stores. The stems are purple and the leaves are pointed, distinguishing it from regular sweet basil. I actually prefer the flavor to "regular" basil—it’s slightly more bitter and fragrant, with a unique aroma. The basil doesn’t require much cooking, as too much heat makes it bitter and destroys the delicate flavor.
Andouille (On-do-ee) is a sausage very popular here in Louisiana. The lean pork is not ground but cubed. Garlic, onion, herbs and spices are then added and it is stuffed into a larger-diameter casing than most sausages. It is then heavily smoked. I find that the heavy smoking makes the casing a little too al dente so I just peel the casing off before cutting it up to add to the gumbo. Tasso is made of lean thin slices of various cuts of raw pork roast. The slices are then well seasoned with a rub or shake and smoked through. It is great for seasoning beans, greens, soups and gumbos and for the cook’s privilege of sneaking a bite or two while preparing a dish. Serve over steamed white rice with crusty French garlic bread for dipping and a side salad. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.
Since Chile has a 2600-mile coastline, I would be remiss if I didn't include a fish recipe from that country. There is a minimum of grazing land in Chile, so instead of beef being the major source of protein, it is fish and shellfish. The wines of Chile are quite good, so be sure to include a nice chilled Chilean white wine when you serve this Chilean ceviche. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.