2Using the pot you’re going to cook the beans in, sauté some onion and garlic (celery and carrot too, if you like) in olive oil or lard until soft.
3Add the beans and their soaking water, making sure the beans are covered by 2 inches of water. Stir and bring to a hard boil.
4Boil the beans for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 to 2 hours.
5When you start to smell the beans along with the aromatics, you’ll know that the beans are about three-quarters of the way done. Add salt to the pot (about 1 rounded tablespoon per pound of beans) and cook for about 30 minutes more.
6To test if the beans are done, skim a few out with a slotted spoon and blow on them: If the skins wrinkle, they’re done.
Steve Sando, bean impresario behind Rancho Gordo, outlines the steps from beans in a bag to glorious pot o’ beans. Dried beans may not be fresh, per se, but the ones you're using shouldn’t be more than two years old. Soak them first, and then use the soaking water to cook them. A quick, hard boil followed by a long, slow simmer will get them cooked up right. (Click here for Steve's bean-cooking recipe.)
Most granola is a fancy twist on toasted oats—consider that when contemplating the exorbitant prices retailers charge for it. The thing is, granola is incredibly easy to make at home, and for a fraction of the cost. This recipe is a granola base to which you can add whatever dried fruit, nuts, or other tasty bits make you happy. Feel free to tweak this with other spices, a little less honey, more salt—it’s quite forgiving, and customizing your own blend is the fun of making your own. If you want to experiment even further, try using other rolled grains such as spelt or barley and wheat instead of oats. Read more.
Basic Chocolate Mousse
Simultaneously rich and light, chocolate mousse just requires a little bit of finesse, and the freshest, best-quality ingredients (eggs, chocolate, and cream) you can procure. Be sure to chill your cream very well and get every speck of water out of the bowl and whisk you'll use for the egg whites, then use a light hand when folding in the whipped cream, and you'll have a perfectly fluffy and decadent dessert. Read more.
Basic Whipped Cream
Homemade whipped cream is so easy, and so much better than the stuff in tubs and cans. Perfect proportions of heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla are whipped just until medium peaks form; easy to customize and ready to top any dessert or drink you can dream up. Get the recipe.
Basic Caramelized Onions
Caramelized onions add a great sweet and savory note to all sorts of dishes, from dips and salads to omelets and pizzas, and they're a must for good French onion soup.The only difficult thing about making them is the wait, but you can't rush deep golden-brown perfection. Read more.