Mark Bittman’s Bean Patties


A little over a week ago, I found out my cockatiel, Riley, is going to need surgery.  About two months ago, Riley developed an abscess on her wing.  I took her to the vet and got it cleaned out but Dr. Dill said he thought there was damage to the feather follicle.  If there was damage to the feather follicle every feather that grew out of it would cause another abscess. The only way to prevent this from happening would be to remove the follicle. We couldn’t really be sure until it happened again.  Sure enough, it happened again so we scheduled surgery for October 15.  In 20 years of having birds, I have never had to experience surgery for one of my birds.  I have had handicapped birds, birds with behavioral problems, birds who plucked themselves,  a bird with gout, a bird who poked a hole in her beak, a bird who scalped herself and two birds with a disease the vet didn’t even have a name for but never a bird that needed surgery.  I am a total mess worrying about Riley.

To make matters worse, there was a problem with my paycheck this week.  Yeah, so it was really short and I won’t get the money until my next paycheck.  So after paying my bills and setting money aside to pay for Riley’s surgery, I don’t have much money left in the budget for anything else.  So this week all my recipes are going to be made from stuff I already have in my pantry.  One of the great things about being able to cook and having a moderately well stocked pantry is I am always able to cobble something together for a meal.  It may not be the most amazing meal I have ever made but it will keep me from going hungry.  I can usually make it taste pretty good too.

One of the things I always keep in my pantry are a couple of bags of different kinds of beans.  Beans are cheap and nutritious.  They can be made in tons of different ways.  My favorite way to make beans is into a patty to serve as a sandwich.  I like Mark Bittman’s recipe for beans patties because of all the recipes I have tried for bean patties, and I have tried dozens, his stay together best if you follow his directions.  Feel free to use any seasoning blend you like instead of the chili powder.  I have used taco seasoning and Shawarma spice blend with good results.


Bean Patties

From How To Cook Everything The Basics

2 cups beans, cooked, or from a can, drained, any type of beans can be used I like chickpeas

1 medium onion, cut into chunks

1/2 cup rolled oats, more as needed

1 TBS chili powder, or spice blend of your choice

salt and pepper, to taste

Bean liquid or water, as needed

In your food processor, add the beans, onion, oats and chili powder; sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Let the machine run, occasionally stopping to scrape down the sides.  until the mixture is throughly  combined.   If you don’t have a food processor, chop your onions finely and add everything to a large bowl.  Use a potato masher to mash everything together.    Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.  You want a moist consistency that will easily form into patties.  If the mixture is too wet, add more oats 1 tablespoon at a time.  If the mixture is too dry, add 1 tablespoon of bean liquid or water at a time.  Shape the mixture into 4 patties.  Let the patties sit another 5  minutes.  Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the patties.  Cook, undisturbed, until brown and crisp on one side, 3-8 minutes.  Add more oil to the pan, if necessary.  Carefully, flip the patties and cook on the other side until the is browned and the patties feel firm, another 3-5 minutes. 

Pressure Cooker “Refried Beans

On the box my Aroma Turbo Rice Cooker came in it says that my pressure cooker holds 2 to 8 cups of food.   That number is rather misleading because it doesn’t take into account the amount of empty space needed for the pressure cooker to come to pressure.

Most pressure cookers recommend not filling them more that 2/3’s full.  This includes all the ingredients and liquids combined.  They also recommend not filling the pressure cooker more than  1/2 full if you are cooking things that expand in volume like, legumes, rice, and other grains.

If you aren’t sure what 2/3s of your pressure cooker is simply take the number of cups your pressure cooker holds and multiply it by .66.  For example, my pressure cooker holds 8 cups of food.   8 x .66 = 5.26.  My pressure cooker holds a maximum of 5 1/4 cups of food.  I know that doesn’t seem like much until you realize that all my recipes are for 2 -3 people.  I rarely cook more than 5 cups of food at a time.

So why does all this matter?  A pressure cooker needs a certain amount of empty space in order to come to pressure.  If it doesn’t have that empty space your pressure cooker never comes up to pressure and your food never cooks.  If you over fill your pressure cooker with ingredients that expand, you can possibly clog the pressure release value and cause other safety mechanisms to malfunction at best or shoot scalding hot liquids out the pressure release valve when you quick release your food.  This could cause severe burns.  According to my research, the most common reason for malfunctioning pressure cookers or injury to a cook is over filling your pressure cooker. Yeah, I learned this one from personal experience.  I wasn’t burned but it was an absolutely awful mess to clean up.  Since I have learned about maximum fill lines I haven’t had any more accidents.

This week’s recipe is for a simple refried beans.  Since I got my pressure cooker I have stopped buying cans of cooked beans and started buying bags of dry beans.  Cooking beans is one of the places that pressure cookers really shine.  I hardly ever cooked dried beans because I don’t usually have 60 minutes to 3 hours to cook an ingredient before I even start cooking a meal.  In the pressure cooker, most soaked beans cook in under a half hour and most unsoaked beans cook in under an hour.  Go to Hip Pressure Cooking for a list of beans and their pressure cooking times both soaked and unsoaked.

Refried Beans

1/2 tsp canola oil

1/2 small onion, chopped

1/4 tsp cumin

1 cup pinto beans, soaked

1 cup  water

In a small frying pan, saute the onions, until soft, 2-4 minutes.  Add the onions and the remaining ingredients to the pressure cooker liner.  Bring to pressure on high and cook 7-10 minutes.  Open with a natural release.  Sprinkle beans with 1/2 tsp salt.  Mash the beans with a potato masher until the desired consistency is reached. 

10 Recipes Every Beginning Cook Should Know #4 Beans and Rice

1452193853784One of the first cookbooks I ever cooked from was Mollie Katzen’s vegetarian masterpiece, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. The book taught me a lot of things, like vegetables are not evil and it was possible for me to cook from scratch.  Although the Enchanted Broccoli Forest didn’t convert me to being a vegetarian, it did make me appreciate a meatless meal.

So this week’s 10 recipes every beginning cook should know is beans and rice.  I choose beans and rice because it is a nutritious yet very cheap meal. Although beans and rice sounds rather boring, in reality it isn’t.  Aside from the traditional recipes like red beans and rice or black beans and rice, you can find a ton of variations.  My favorite variations of beans and rice come from a blog called No Meat Athlete.  He has a post where he has a master recipe and 5 variations on the master recipe.  Later on he posted a 6th variation that I haven’t tried yet.  I have tried most of his variations and liked them so from time to time I will post my small batch adaptions of his recipes hear.  If you can’t wait you can find all his bean and rice recipes at No Meat Athlete.  I don’t usually use half cans of an ingredients but with the remaining tomatoes with green chilies I make a salsa for chips.

Mexican Beans and Rice

1/2  cup dry rice
1 cup canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/ 2 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced an
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 can tomatoes with green chilies, drained
juice of 1/2 a lime
2 TBS cilantro, chopped
Cook the rice, according to package directions.  Heat oil in a large pan, Saute the onion, cumin and chili powder until the onion is tender.  Add the beans, tomatoes and lime juice.  Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes no longer taste raw.  Stir the cilantro into the rice.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a side of sliced avocado and warm corn tortillas.

Black Beans and Rice

My coworker, Liz, once commented on how she wished she could cook like me. My lunches always look so good and how she can’t boil water. I looked at her and said “of course my lunches always look good. Do you think I bring my cooking failures to work?” I don’t care how long you have been cooking or how good of a cook you are there are days when nothing goes right in the kitchen.

How do I know this? Well, I am a fairly competent cook. I have been seriously cooking for about 15 years and everything I attempted to cook yesterday failed and failed spectacularly. The first cooking failure of the day, a pot of black beans. I wanted to make black beans and rice for lunch so I threw some dried beans into a pot, covered them with water and got them cooking . I sat down to watch a little Supernatural and promptly fell asleep. I didn’t wake up until my beans boiled dry and started stinking up the house.

Cooking failure of the day #2 Since I wasn’t, obviously, having black beans and rice for dinner, I decided to make gingerbread pancakes instead. I got everything mixed up and cooking only to discover my pancakes weren’t rising. Even though I had checked the recipe twice, I forgot the baking powder. Worse yet, I was totally out of baking powder so I couldn’t even fix my mistake.

So you see even a competent, experienced cook can have an off day in the kitchen. I ate a couple of hard boiled eggs and went to bed knowing tomorrow would be a better day in the kitchen.

Black Beans and Rice

3/4 – 1 cup black beans, drained
1 1/2 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup white rice
1 cup water
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Serrano chile, seeded and minced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
Drain the beans and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add rice. Stir frequently until the rice begins to brown. Add the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Let rest for 10 – 15 minutes. In a separate saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until brown. Add the chilies, cumin and oregano. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add the beans and stir to combine. Mix beans into the rice and salt to taste. Cook 5-8 minutes or until heated through.