It's Halloween and you've spent so much time on your costume that you haven't had a minute to think about dinner. Not to worry.
There is still time to serve something hauntingly delicious. And if you have any black dishes left over from the 1980s, now is the time to break them out.
You can decorate your table quickly, using black fabric if you have it, or orange, gold or dark purple if you don't. Scatter dried leaves on top and set low candles everywhere possible. Add pomegranates and white mini pumpkins here and there.
I like to serve beverages in old vessels — anything from small Mason jars to tarnished silver flutes — no matter what goes into them, and I like the room lights dimmed or entirely off.
Today's recipes call for dried beans and you won't have time to soak them overnight; instead, boil them in water for 10 minutes, cover, rest for 10 minutes, drain and use as you would soaked beans. In a pinch, use a good brand of canned beans.
Forbidden rice, which is black, was once eaten only by China's emperors but is now widely available. It has an aroma similar to jasmine rice and a texture chewier than either white or brown rice. It is delicious paired with creamy white beans. For a more substantial meal, fry four spicy sausages, such as Franco Dunn's Calabrese, slice them and scatter them on top of the beans and rice before adding the sauce. Vegetarians can top the beans and rice with sliced and steamed winter squash instead.
Forbidden Rice, Evil Beans and Pumpkin Blood
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 cup Forbidden rice, rinsed in 3 changes of water and drained
— Kosher salt
— Boiling water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, minced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white beans, such as marrowfats or cannellini, soaked for a few hours, drained
1 or 2 fresh haba?ros or other very hot chiles
— Several threads of saffron
1 teaspoon hot water
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons whole milk or half-and-half
? cup creme fraiche
— Haba?ro or other bottled hot sauce
First, cook the rice. Fill a steamer or other deep pot with about 3 inches of water.
Put the rice into a deep bowl that will fit inside the steamer, add a pinch of salt and completely cover the rice with boiling water; you should be able to see the water a bit above the rice. Set the bowl into the steamer, cover the pot and cook until the rice is tender, about 50 minutes. Begin checking after 30 minutes, as cooking times vary based on the age of the rice. When tender, turn off the heat and let the rice rest, covered, in the steamer.
Meanwhile, cook the beans. Pour the olive oil into a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add the onions and saute until soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, saute 2 minutes more and season with salt. Add the beans and quickly pour in enough water to cover them by about 2 inches. Add the chiles, increase the heat and when the water boils, lower the heat and simmer gently until the beans are very tender.