Monday, November 10, 2008

These are a few of my favorite things

When I moved to Vancouver I found good Mexican food (or Tex-Mex, or Cali-Mex, or anything) to be in very short supply. "Short supply" meaning "nonexistent." At first I sobbed and moped around the house, hankering for a small bite of El Cholo's fajitas, or even a nibble of a baja fish taco. Margaritas? Forget about it. The situation was almost too disheartening to bear.

But one fateful day, I took matters into my own hands and started making Mexican-styley food myself. One of the first recipes I found was for these "Mexican-Style Beans" from the Schwarzbein Principle Vegetarian Cookbook and ever since I first made them I haven't stopped. Now, I cook these puppies up by the bucketfull and freeze them in two-cup increments and then use them for months in all sorts of recipes, from bean burritos, to enchiladas, to that squash casserole I made the other day. Sometimes, when it's very late and I'm very hungry I eat them just as they are, warmed up in a bowl with some sour cream/cheese and cilantro.


Mexican-style Beans

2 Tablespoons oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 diced green or red bell pepper (I usually use red)
1 small diced fresh jalapeno pepper, or just add in some red pepper flakes or tabasco sauce to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro (or 1 teaspoon coriander, or both)
4 cups cooked and drained black beans or pinto beans*
1 cup tomato sauce, enchilada sauce, or canned diced tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

*I cook my black beans from dried for this recipe. 2/3 lb. of dried black beans will cook up to the 4 cups necessary for this recipe. Soak dried beans for 4 hours and cook in a pressure cooker for 7 whistles and let the pressure release naturally. If you don't have a pressure cooker, soak beans over night and boil 1 hour or until done or just buy canned, it's okay.


In a large nonstick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, add onion, garlic, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper, cumin, oregano, and coriander if using. Saute until vegetables are softened and nearly tender, about 5 minutes.

Add drained beans, enchilada sauce or tomato sauce or tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste (it will need a LOT of salt) and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in cilantro, taste, and adjust seasonings.


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