I would not cook so joyfully, nor clean half so willingly, without a public radio program called The Splendid Table. I download podcasts of this show from iTunes (a subscription is free, and all the archived shows are free as well – you can set yourself up with a Splendid Table bonanza and work your way through them, as I did) and listen to them in my kitchen as I clean and cook. A sinkful of dishes flies by, as does the prep for a three-course meal.

Now that I’ve worked my way through the archives and the show seems to be heavily in reruns, I have been experimenting with other radio shows to keep me company in the kitchen. KCRW’s Good Food is good, but doesn’t hold my interest so completely as Lynne Rosetto Kasper and her Splendid Table gang. This American Life is always absorbing, but there’s something about listening to food programming in the kitchen that just makes me really happy.

Tacos with cinnamon refried beans and cherry tomatoes

Last night I listened my way through a series of short podcasts made to herald the show’s new book: The Splendid Table’s How To Eat Supper while I gave the kitchen a much needed cleaning following a long weekend of friends and food. By the time I was done I didn’t have an ounce of energy left to make my own supper, but luckily that is the whole point of the book and these short podcasts – how to make your weeknight supper delicious and varied yet simple and not time-consuming. So I made my very first Splendid Table recipe, “Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Clove,” and then used those in tacos with the rest of the roasted tomatillo salsa, some of my new cherry tomatoes and some parsley.

Now the beans didn’t knock my socks off, but that wasn’t the point. They were tasty and filling and more creative than I would have come up with on my own at that point, and, best of all, I made them in a kind of mindless stupor and they still turned out exactly as they were meant to. I’m posting the recipe below, but what I truly want to share is the joy of this program, this absolutely free (I have donated money to American Public Media out of gratitude), absolutely addicting hour you can spend with someone who loves food and knows how to talk about it. Recipe follows…

Refried Beans with Cinnamon and Clove (this recipe is straight from a weekly e-newsletter I get from the radio show The Splendid Table)

Serves 4 to 6

5 minutes prep time; 18 minutes stove time
The beans hold in the refrigerator for 5 days; add liquid as needed when reheating

You’d never guess you can create such lushness from opening three cans. Cinnamon and cloves with beans make an uncommon blend – one that turns the beans sweet and fragrant.

The beans make a sublime burrito. Dip tortilla chips or stovetop-grilled whole-wheat tortillas into them, and be sure to pass hot sauce and grated cheese at the table. Another way I love them is with salad – hot, meltingly suave beans sharing the fork with a few leaves of crunchy tart greens – that is supper in my book.

Cook to Cook: Melting in a small amount of butter after mashing the beans brings this dish together. Don’t skip this step.

Good-tasting extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
Salt and fresh-ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, fine chopped
1 fresh jalapeño, seeded and fine chopped (I used tabasco because I was too tired to chop a chile)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
One 14-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained
Two 15-ounce cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1-1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons butter
1. Generously film the bottom of a 10-inch skillet with olive oil, and heat over medium-high heat. Saute the onions with salt and pepper to taste until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. You want to hear a sizzle as they cook.

2. Add the garlic, jalapeño, cinnamon, and cloves, and cook the mix until it is fragrant, about 1 minute, taking care not to burn the spices. Add the tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pan. Saute for another minute.

3. Stir in the beans and water. Bring to a fast simmer, crushing the beans with a potato masher (or the back of a large spoon) as they cook, and scraping the bottom of the pan as the beans begin to thicken. Simmer until the beans are thick, about 10 minutes. Blend in the butter, and taste for seasoning just before serving.

One comment on “Splendid

  1. Ms Heather says:

    funny, i tried listening to the splendid table the other day and ended up with a weird file type my computer couldn’t deal with. why doesn’t she use .mp3s?

    your clafouti pictures make me happy and nostalgic. especially in that quintessentially you green baking dish.

    any ideas yet for the lemon verbena? i planted it in my garden and it smells SO good. i fear it may not last, though. apparently it’s tricky to grow.

    love you.

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