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Quick Refried Black Beans

Surround with tortilla chips for a dip or spoon alongside eggs or grits. If serving "on the side," double recipe and it will serve at least 12. Make 1 or 2 days ahead and reheat in the microwave or on the stove.

3 tablespoons corn oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled (we used 1 teaspoon; we preferred less)
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup canned ready-cut tomatoes with the juices
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained but not rinsed

In medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes.

Stir in cumin, oregano, crushed red pepper, tomatoes and beans. Transfer to food processor and pulse 8 to 10 times to make a coarse puree.

In large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add beans and bring to boil, stirring constantly. Turn heat to low and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, 6 to 8 minutes, or until liquids have reduced and beans are thick. Serve hot. Makes 2 1/2 cups, about 6 servings

Adapted from "1,000 Mexican Recipes" by Marge Poore

SCALLION AND CHEESE GRITS

The time that I made breakfast for the man who would become my husband, I made these grits. We ate them in large, rimmed soup plates, crowned with a fried farm-fresh egg and salsa. The rest is history. Prepare them up to the point of baking at least one day ahead. Heat as directed; they'll take about 10 minutes longer.

7 cups water

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups quick grits

5 tablespoons butter, plus butter for the pan

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

3 large eggs

2 to 3 teaspoons Tabasco jalapeno sauce or 1/2 teaspoon regular Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Put water in large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Stir in salt. Add grits in slow, steady stream, whisking constantly.

Reduce heat to very low. Cover and cook, stirring often, until grits have thickened and softened (taste to be sure), 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.

In medium nonstick skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in scallions and garlic and cook, stirring often, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Stir grits well to break up any lumps. Stir in scallions, eggs, green Tabasco and pepper until well blended. Stir in 3 cups Cheddar and Parmesan until melted and smooth.

Spoon into prepared dish. Sprinkle with remaining Cheddar. Bake, uncovered, about 30 minutes, or until hot and edges are bubbly and beginning to puff. Cut into squares to serve.

Makes 14 to 16 servings, as part of a large multicourse brunch. If it's the main course, it will serve 10 to 12.

Miriam Rubin

Monday, November 19, 2001

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