Tag Archives: recipes

cooking

Bean, Cheese, and Kale Tacos

tacos

Tonight, I decided to make tacos from some half-used ingredients I had lying around the kitchen. They actually turned out really well, so I thought I’d share the recipe. It seems that often my favorite meals end up being the ones that arise from cleaning out the fridge. Trying to answer the question “what ingredients to I need to use?” often engenders more creative cuisine than “what would I like to cook?” Here are approximate recipes for 12 tacos (4 servings):

Beans
beans

  • 250g (1/2 lb) dried beans (I used Rio Zape, but any kind will do)
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Soak the beans in water to total about 4 cups for at least 6 hours. Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Once the onions start to become translucent, add the carrots. After another couple minutes, add the garlic and sauté for a minute. Add the beans and their soaking water, a bit of salt and pepper and the cumin. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Let the beans simmer until tender (about an hour) stirring occasionally. You might need to add water to keep the beans mostly submerged throughout cooking. Once the beans are tender, mash them to desired consistency.

beans cooking

Kale

  • 4-8 stalks, cut into narrow strips (I used black/Tuscan kale, but any variety will do)
  • juice of half a lime
  • handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalepeno pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
  • salt to taste

After chopping the kale sprinkle a little salt on it. Squeeze and mash the cut leaves with your hands until they start to give up some of their juice. Add the remaining ingredients, stir it together and let stand for about an hour.

Tortillas

  • 200g (1 3/4 cup) masa harina
  • approx 250 ml (1 cup) warm water
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder (optional)

Measure the masa harina and baking powder into a large bowl. Use your fingers to slowly stir in warm water until the dough forms a slightly sticky ball. Cover the ball in plastic wrap and allow it to rest at least one hour. Form 12 equal sized balls from the dough. Heat a cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Using a tortilla press or rolling pin, roll tortillas to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cook for about 1 min each side.

Assembly
Spoon a dollop of beans onto each tortilla, and add a little shredded cheese. Top with the kale mixture and garnish with crumbled dry salty cheese (I had feta lying around, but cotija or any such variety will do).

cooking

Granola!

Granola, Cooked

Inspired by a write-up in a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated, I decided to make granola today. The recipe I used didn’t differ much from recipes I’ve used in the past, but a key technique — tamping down the raw granola and not stirring during cooking — resulted in a much chunkier texture.

(Meta) Recipe

  • 5 cups rolled oats (raw) 
  • 2 cups chopped raw nuts
  • 2/3 cup sweetener
  • 1/2 cup fat
  • spices
  • 2 cups dried fruit
  • any other adjuncts you desire

For the sweetener, I used a mixture of equal parts maple syrup and turbinado sugar. I imagine that any combination of sugar based syrups and sugars would work as long as there is enough moisture to hold the oats together. I used olive oil for the fat. For spices, I just used salt (1/2 tsp) and cinnamon (1 tsp). I used raisins for the dried fruit. If you are using roasted instead of raw nuts, include these with the adjuncts rather than the nuts.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 325˚. Mix the sweetener, fat and spices thoroughly in a large bowl. Stir in oats and nuts, and mix until evenly coated.
  2. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper and pour the mixture onto the sheet. Tamp the mixture down until it evenly coats the sheet.
  3. Bake for around 45 minutes until golden brown, rotating the baking sheet once. Do not mix! Remove from oven and allow the granola to cool completely before handling.
  4. Break the granola into the desire size of pieces. Add the dried fruit and any other adjuncts you might want — I added some shredded coconut.
Tamped down and ready for the oven.
Tamped down and ready for the oven.

Comments

This definitely was the best result I’ve had making my own granola. It is still a bit on the sweet side for my taste, but it seems that lowering the sugar content might also result in a less crunchy concoction. I’ll have to experiment next time. I’m excited to have the granola over yogurt for breakfast tomorrow!

 

cooking

Lentil and Brown Rice Stew

For the past couple months, I’ve been experimenting with a recipe for a lentil and rice stew. Like most things I cook, the initial inspiration for this recipe was necessity: what can I cook without having to go shopping? Here is the recipe for tonight’s incarnation:

Ingredients (makes about 6-8 entree-sized servings)

  • 1 small yellow onion, medium dice
  • 3 medium carrots, medium dice
  • 3 ribs of celery, medium dice
  • 4 tablespoons fat (I used half butter and half olive oil)
  • 1.5 cups dry lentils, soaked for a few hours
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 teaspoons berbere spice mix, more if you like the heat (see Notes)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • water for cooking

Method (cook time ~7 hours, mostly unsupervised)

  1. Cover lentils with a few inches of water, and let them soak for about 4 hours. They will absorb quite a bit of water.
  2. Dice the onion, carrots and celery to about a quarter inch dice.
  3. Heat a large pot (enameled cast iron works well) to medium high heat. When the pot is hot, add the fat of your choosing, and once the fat is nice and hot, add the onion, carrots and celery. Turn down the heat to medium and saute until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. I usually let them brown a little bit too; it gives the final product a bit more sweetness.
  4. Add the berbere spice and a bit of salt and pepper to the mirepoix. I usually start with about 1/2 teaspoon of salt since the berbere has salt in it too. Stir until the spices are evenly distributed.
  5. Drain the lentils and add them to the pot. Add the rice and stir until all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
  6. Add 5 to 8 cups of water depending how thick you want the stew. Increase heat to high until the stew reaches a full boil. Then reduce heat to low/medium low and cover.
  7. Allow stew to simmer for about 2 hours stirring occasionally. If it seems to dry, you can add water, a little bit at a time. Once the lentils and rice are tender, add salt and pepper to taste.

Notes Like most stews, this one seems to improve with longer cooking times — it’s always better reheated the second day.

Berbere is a spice mix used in East African cuisine. It is possible to buy a mix, but I like to make my own and keep it sealed in the freezer. That way, I can personalize it to my taste. The mixture I use is primarily ground red chilies and paprika, but also includes salt, ginger, onion and garlic powders, fenugreek, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and allspice.

This stew is a good base to use up just about any vegetables you have lying around. Roasted squash, baked (or microwaved) sweet potato, kale and tomatoes are all good additions. Additions of cooked vegetables or greens should go in after the rice and lentils are cooked tender, while tomatoes can go in after adding the spices to the mirepoix mixture and before adding remaining ingredients.