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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Beatles LOVE

My good friend Sue and I kept a promise we made to see the Beatles/Cirque Du Soleil's LOVE, and made it a celebration of both of our recent gigantic birthdays.  Best show ever!

See waiter in rear waiting to deliver bad news about guacamole
Of course where there's a celebration there's food, and dinner at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill at Caesars Palace, while overlooking the sports book and watching our World Series game bet pay off, was a fine start to the evening.  The only disappointment was that I had my heart set on some guacamole but our waiter sternly explained that Mesa Grill is Southwestern Cuisine, thus no guacamole.  Good churros though.

We took our meager winnings back to the Mirage, and from the moment you walked near the theater, the iconic music of a thousand fantastic memories, playing over loudspeakers, created a great mood for what was to come.  Yes, Sgt. Pepper, we really did enjoy the show.  (Here's a sneak peak -  By the way, Beatle Sir Paul McCartney is the passionate vegetarian who launched the Meat Free Monday campaign with his passionate vegetarian daughters Stella and Mary.) 

The next day we had brunch at the Mirage's Cravings Buffet, and, thank you very much, there was awesome guacamole at the "Latin" station.  There were also really good sauteed plantains, fresh salsa, and roasted potatoes with peppers and onions.  I was very inspired to create a couple of recipes with the plantains sitting on my kitchen counter when I returned home....

1.  In a bit of oil, saute cubed, ripe plantains, red and/or yellow bell peppers, onions, and zucchini until tender and lightly caramelized. Season with your favorite salt and fresh black pepper.  Note: plantains are ripe when the outside skin is blackened. 

Add some black beans, cooked from scratch or canned will be fine, and stir to combine.  Add a pinch or two of Hatch chile powder and stir again.  Sprinkle some fresh cilantro leaves over the top.

You can eat this in a bowl as a quick, fresh chili, or use it as a filling for fresh tortillas.  I really like these green ones that are made from cactus leaves, available at supermarket and farmers' markets.  Garnish the tacos with some guacamole and dig in.

2.  Make a slower-cook vegetable and bean chili, with a single bean of your choice or any combination of beans you like.  I used cooked from scratch black beans and Melissa's Steamed Lentils, which have become a favorite pantry staple from coast to coast.

I began by sauteing diced shallots, carrots, and celery in a stockpot.  Then I added some crushed tomatoes, a few dashes of liquid smoke, the black beans, and a bottle of beer.  Simmer for at least an hour, season to taste, add the lentils, then continue cooking at least 30 minutes.  You can add additional crushed tomatoes, liquid smoke, Hatch chile powder, and s&p until you achieve the taste and consistency you like.  Ladle into bowls, top with a dollop of plain yogurt, garnish with sauteed plantains and fresh cilantro.

Invite over a good friend or two, open more beer, turn on the Beatles, and have a great celebration! 



  1. Hi to beautiful Nancy, glad to see you were inspired. These all look yummy! I just happen to have some plantains and lots of black beans, but no Hatch chile power. Is it hot or semi-hot?

    Actually, I think the sauteed plantains with vegetables in the photo with step 1 make a delicious dish too.

  2. The Hatch powder comes in both mild and hot. Another thing I like to do with the plantain/bean mixture is to crack a couple of eggs over the top, cover, and cook over medium heat about 10-12 minutes until the eggs are set. Enjoy with warm tortillas or crusty bread.

  3. That sounds delicious! I will have to try that.