Mexicans love beans. They're an essential part of our daily diet. As a teenager, I remember my mother whipping up amazing dishes with just beans, chilies and masa.... you could make an infinitive amount of delicious meals with beans- she would say- and she's right!
Black beans, pinto beans and bayo beans are the most common varieties in Mexico. In the north part of the country, where I'm from, we favour black beans. Black beans are full of iron, rich in fiber and a fab source of protein and antioxidants. They also have the highest content of omega 3-fatty acids from all the beans. They work wonders with your lower intestine and if prepared correctly, with a pinch of Epazote (a Mexican herb) you can even minimise their gassy effect!
Apart from all their health benefits, they are absolutely delicious! I try and make them from scratch if at all possible, check out my recipe for black beans from scratch. It's cheaper and better for you. You can make a big batch, portion it and freeze it. But if you are stuck, tinned ones are ok too (like these La Sierra ones from Picado). I of course only buy/eat Mexican whole black beans because I like their flavour. Do not confuse them with the Chinese black beans you can buy in most supermarkets and Asian shops, they are NOT the same variety. Chinese black beans are smaller and flatter, derived from soy and with a completely different taste!
The recipe here for Enfriojoladas (or a sort of bean flavoured enchilada) is the result of me finding a bag of frozen black beans in my freezer, which were crying to be eaten. I would have normally made some spicy refried beans, but today, I felt I needed to give them a little more love, so ended up tweaking an old recipe and making them into a sauce for enfrijoladas. I loved how they turned out. The taste is subtle, but flavoursome and although it is a classic vegetarian dish, I used a tiny bit of Old Farm's fabulous pork lard to heat them on. If you want this fully vegetarian, substitute the lard for olive oil and double the quantity. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
Lately I've been testing a bunch of very complicated recipes on my kitchen. I like the challenge of testing or developing a recipe that's complex and produces a dish that's both beautiful and full of flavour... but when it comes to do lunch for one or two, on those days when I'm pushed for time, tired and irritable, all I want is something simple and easy, but comforting as well. Since I moved full time to work in Picado, those busy days have multiplied and so has my stash of handy brunches and lunches.
This Huevo Verde, or Green Eggs recipe is one of my favourite ways to eat eggs. Less than 10 minutes from start to finish! I love it in soft, warm corn tortillas, a sprinkle of feta cheese and a slice of avocado. I use green Jalapeño chilies if I find them, but if you can't, use whatever type of green chili you have, as long as you know you can stand its heat. If you're a chilli head, you might want to use two jalapeños instead of one!
A bit of advise though, use THE WHOLE chili, don't bother deseeding it; I promise you deseeding chilies is useless! The seeds are not what hold the heat, but the white veins to which they're attached to (aka the placenta), so unless you take everthing out, the chili will still be hot, so save yourself some work and don't deseed it; besides, what's the point of taking everything out anyway?! if you do, you're left with a piece of tastless, green weed! Man up and eat a bit of chili, it's good for you!
Oh! I made this is lunch for one, so if you're sharing it with a love one, double it!
Let's set the record straight: if it's not cooked, it's not a salsa. This lark of chopping raw tomatoes, onions, chillies and add some lime juice and a truckload of coriander (cilantro) and call it a 'salsa' is completely preposterous in my books. Everyone who's ever been in one of my workshops knows how much I hate that. Call it a Pico de Gallo, a salad, a topping, but please, please, please, don't call it a salsa coz it's not.
We have tons of ways of making salsas and very family would have a favourite method and ingredients: sometimes we cook the ingredients and then blend them, sometimes we blend the ingredients and then cook them, but at some point in the making of the salsa process and with very rare expemptions, the ingredients are cooked.
Now by cooking I loosely include things like toasting, charring, boiling, pan frying, oven or open fire roasting, grilling, etc. some salsas might require a couple of these methods at the same time, for example, If you are making of a mole, you will have to toast, pan fry and boil ingredients. Every salsa is different and there are thousands of recipes.
Having said all this, the salsa I'm sharing here with you is pretty much RAW.... and yes, I dare to call it a salsa!! Before you tell me this is a do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do-kinda-thing, let me tell you that the devil is in the detail, or better said in the name. By calling it 'raw' in Spanish we are heavily impling it's an unfinished salsa, a salsa that is yet to be cooked... and the cooking is going to happen the moment you drop a couple of tablespoons in the very, very hot beef broth called Caldo de Res, which this salsa is destined to go to.
So now you know why I'm making a 'raw' salsa and why I can call it a salsa. It is made as a topping or accompaniment to a particular dish called Caldo de Res. Although the salsa flavour is odd and unfinished to my taste, and let's face it, it doesn't look too attractive either, the minute it hits the hot broth on your plate, it'll instantly cook and it will add not only colour, but a wonderful taste to an otherwise plain and clean dish. If you have any of the salsa left, you can keep it in the fridge for up to a week, or you can turn it into a quick sauce for chilaquiles by cooking it in a little bit of onion and oil.
Go on, make this Caldo de Res and this raw sauce for dinner, it will change your world!
I'm run down. This is not surprising at all after two weeks of wisdom tooth drama, which included a painful surgery, and a dose of unexpected and horrific influenza; my body just shut down and although I feel way better now than I felt last week, I'm tired, cranky and my energy levels are at an all-time low. So lately, all I can think of is broths... restorative, nurturing and above all, really, really tasty.
When I was little, I used to dread 'caldo de res' days. Mam loved it and I just felt all those chunky veggies and the meat was way too crude and rustic. How wrong and silly of me! When I make some, I feel instatly better... like generations of Ramirez and Garzas are behind me, feeding me, nurturing me, making me regain my balance.
This is one of my favourite caldos (broths) now. It's simple to make and has all the goodness my body needs. It's light and super tasty. I make it in my pressure cooker, but if you don't have one, you can still make it in a large pot, just cooking time will increase to about 2 hours. In any case, it's totally worth the effort.
Serve it with some warm corn tortillas, some lime wedges and with a couple of spoonsfulls of this Salsa Cruda. Mexican caldos are often all about the toppings or acommpaniments, like raw onion and bananas for this beef Caldillo or the numerous toppings for the legendary Pozole Rojo. The raw salsa required for this caldo de res, is dead simple to make and it will give the broth some colour, brilliant flavour and a tiny bit of heat. Check out the recipe here.
This is one of my favourite lazy lunches at Picado. When I'm busy in the shop and I don't want to distract myself from whatever I'm doing, this is my go to dish. It takes not time to make and I always have the two main ingredients in the fridge: tortillas and cheese.
Now, if I were to plan to make quesadillas, I would get proper cheese and make them a bit more complicated and complex. I would use corn tortillas instead of these mini wheat ones, I would add huitlacoche or some other sofisticated and delicious ingredient to the filling and I would NEVER use ready grated cheese, but for some reason or other, I never feel like planning to eat quesadillas! For me, they're a spur of the moment type of thing, a quick, uncomplicated breakfast or lunch, that it's both satisfying and warming. My mother makes complicated and delicious fillings, she makes a meal out of them... while I just want them now: simple and quick.
So once you have recovered from the shock of seeing supermarket, ready grated cheese in my fridge, the rest is quite simple and I must say, if you make this recipe with proper cheese, some really good quality cheddar or a great sheep's cheese, the results are far better, but again, this is something I keep in the fridge for exactly the type of days when all I want is a 10 minute lunch from start to finish. My choice is a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses as it recreates the flavour of the Mexican cheese I would most use for this. If you're stuck though and you only have cheddar, by all means, use it!
About 4 months ago, I started stocking Crushed Sweet Chipotles in the shop, they're not a traditional product in any shape or form, but they are delicious and although a product of modern times, I absolutely adore them and I keep a bottle in the fridge at all times. They're smokey, tasty, spicy and good with anything, I swear!
So here you have it, a very quick and lazy way to make quesadillas for those days when you don't have time for anything else. They're tasty and well worth the foodie stigma of having supermarket ready grated cheese in the fridge! - lol -