1 pound black beans

10 cups water

1 ham hock

1 bell pepper, seeded and minced

1 onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Scotch bonnet chile, seeded and minced (optional)

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Wash the beans and soak them overnight. Simmer them in the water with the ham hock for about three hours, or until tender.

Saute the bell pepper, onion, garlic, and chile in the 2/3 cup olive oil until the onion is tender. Add this mixture to the beans, adjust the salt and pepper, add the oregano and sugar, and cook for about 45 minutes. Just before serving, add the 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Serves 6.

- adapted from `The West Indies Cookbook,' by Connie and Arnold Krochmal (published by Chile Pepper magazine) BANANA FRITTERS

1 egg, beaten

4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Salt to taste

4 to 5 ripe bananas, thoroughly mashed with potato ricer or fork

vegetable oil for frying

1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix together the egg, sugar, flour, and salt. Then thoroughly blend in the mashed banana.

Add 1/4 inch of the oil to a skillet; heat to 370 degrees F. Drop heaping tablespoons of the mixture into the oil and fry until well-browned and crisp. Remove fritters with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels, and keep them warm in oven.

Meanwhile, mix together the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon.

Serve with a generous coating of the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon mix. The fritters are delicious served with a tart apricot sauce.

Makes 8 to 12 fritters.

- adapted from `Down-Island Caribbean Cookery,' by Virginie F. and George A. Elbert (Simon & Schuster)

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