Wow, so there has been a lot going on around here lately. I won't bore you all with the details, but I will say it has been work-related - though not my being busy with work. Other than that, Brett and I have been doing just dandy. I have been cooking up a storm as I haven't been working so have had plenty of time to make more involved meals.
I have been having a lot of fun in the kitchen, though I admit, it looks like a disaster area much of the time. :-) It seems that just as I finish one pile of dishes, it is time to eat again. And, while cooking at home is certainly more nourishing and even cost-effective, and well, damn better tasting, it does mean that there will be yet more dishes. I think that dishes and aphids in my garden are going to be my lifelong "Newman" to use a Seinfeld colloquialism.
Anywho, enough of my complaining and onto the goods!
My mom bought us a juicer for Christmas a few years ago, and for whatever reason, we used it once or twice and then it was relegated to the top of the cabinet that I like to refer to as the "Land of Misfit Appliances". Well, I have been wanting to incorporate more raw fruit and veg into my diet, because, well, I like them, and I decided to bust it out again. It has been making up for lost time! We use it all the time now.
One of my favorite juices is nothing special and something I'm sure most of you are already familiar with: Carrot Apple Juice. It is so simple. I just juice 6 apples (my favorite to use are Pink Lady or Honeycrisp, they are tart but also still plenty sweet) and about 8-10 peeled carrots. Stir it up and you are set. Brett even likes these and I got to tell you, there is no way in hell I would get Brett to eat 8-10 raw carrots, but I learned he will drink them. :-)
Wanting something a little different, I came up with this lovely algae looking concoction. I made the Carrot Apple Juice as described above. I them transferred the juice to a blender where I added two bananas, 1 tbsp. spirulina powder, and about 12 ice cubes. Then I just whirred it up! It makes enough for three meal-sized glasses. I know it doesn't look that good, but it certainly doesn't taste how it looks.
There is a blog I really enjoy called Herbivoracious. The author provides mostly authentic Latin/Mexican recipes that have been "vegetarianized". I find that I go there and not only want to try some of his recipes, but I get ideas for my own. You should seriously check out his blog, it is really cool.
I saw a recipe on his blog awhile back for Bocoles. Bocoles are bean and corn masa patties that are then fried. They are a popular Latin street food and don't they look damn tasty? Well they are. I adapted his recipe a little bit using refried pinto beans instead of black and using carrots instead of sweet potatoes for the spicy topping.
I also made a nice spicy table chile sauce to go with it. It is really spicy so use sparingly.
de Arbol-New Mexico Table Sauce
6 de arbol chiles, wiped clean
4 New Mexico chiles, wiped clean
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
salt (to taste)
Heat up a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the chiles on both sides being careful not to burn them. This should take less than 20-30 seconds on each side. You can often see the color being intensified and this is a good sign that they are ready to be flipped.
Once the chiles are toasted, let cool for a few minutes. Then remove stem, seeds and ribs. Transfer to a blender or bowl and pour the boiling water over the chiles and cover. Let the chiles reconstitute for about 15-20 minutes.
Then add the garlic, citrus juice, and salt and blend.
Now you have yourself a basic table chile sauce. You can use whatever dried chiles you want for this recipe. Making a basic table sauce is also a good way to get to know the different flavors and subtleties of each chile.
I had lots of refried beans left over from the Bocoles, so I decided to turn the remaining beans into a nice soup. And it sure was tasty!
Refried Bean Bisque
2-4 tbsp safflower oil
2 red potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 pimento sweet peppers, seeded and chopped
2 jalapenos, seeded and minced
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 cup refried pinto beans
4-6 cups water
salt to taste
In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat, as though you were stir-frying veggies.
Add the potatoes, chiles, and onion, and fry for about 10 minutes until they start to get a little color. By caramelizing the veg, we will get a much deeper array of flavors than if you simply boiled them.
Add the garlic and fry for about 5 minutes, until the garlic begins to get fragrant.
Add the refried beans and water and simmer, covered, for about an hour or until all the veggies are nice and soft.
Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
Transfer to a food processor and blend until very smooth.
Using a wire mesh strainer, begin to strain the soup over the soup pot in batches.
Once done, heat thoroughly and add salt to taste.
Side Note: If you have a vermicomposting system as we do (a worm farm), the left over veggie pulp from both soup making and juice making is the perfect food for a hungry worm. This also means that there is absolutely no waste. That I dig. Pun intended. ;-)
I don't know how everyone else feels about this, but I think that soup on it's own is just not going to cut it. I needs bread to make it a complete and satisfying meal.
Now, I will be the first to admit that breadmaking is not my forte. I am more of a punk in the kitchen, I like to let things happen organically and with breadmaking, you can't really do that. Let's just say I have had a lot of messy failures in my attempts at breadmaking.
This was one of my more successful attempts and I even managed to "punk it up" a little.
I used this recipe for Whole Wheat Rolls, but instead of the herbs used in the recipe, I kneaded in ten jalapenos, ten cloves of minced garlic, 1 tbsp cumin, and 1 tbsp Mexican oregano. Instead of making small rolls, I made six large-ish loaves. After they were baked, I brushed the tops with butter and sliced them into breadsticks, which we dipped in that tasty soup.
And finally, though it doesn't look like much, this is the gem of this post. This is the best soup I have ever made/had. It was an idea I had when I wanted to be lazy, but still have something tasty and healthy and I never imagined it to be as amazing as it really is.
This is like the Mexican equivalent to Chicken Noodle Soup, except without the icky meat. It is comforting like you wouldn't believe and it has perhaps the most amazing smell I have ever had the pleasure of smelling. And it is EASY TO MAKE.
I am not one to toot my own horn but this really is an amazing soup. I encourage you all to try this and let me know what you think. Maybe I'm just crazy, but it seems like the perfect comfort food to me.
Black Bean-Tomatillo Soup
1 onion, chopped
4 jalapenos, seeded and minced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can tomatillos, chopped
2 cups black beans, cooked
4-6 cups water
a couple dashes of cumin
salt to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
In a large soup pot, combine all the ingredients except the cilantro. Simmer, covered for 2-3 hours or until the veggies are soft.
Right before serving, stir in cilantro.
Serve with saltine crackers and enjoy!
That really is all you do. It is such a clear soup, it tastes and smells so clean. The cilantro added at the end gives it the crisp brightness and the tomatillos add an almost lime like flavor.
Brett and I were talking and thought that if you removed the beans, added cucumber, and pureed the whole mess that it would also make a nice cold soup for summer. Very refreshing.
Well, that's all for now.
'Til next time!