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Ayocotes are big, flat-ish beans (I’ve sometimes called them beans on steroids) that were popular in pre-Hispanic México and during the colonial time, but somehow got out of fashion. You can still find them, though, and luckily for those in the US, Rancho Gordo sells quite a variety of them. To make the ones here, I combined their instructions on the bag, Sara Kate Gillingham‘s idea of adding beer (that I got off an Instagram of hers) and my aunt’s recipe in Puebla, México. Here I’m using the same ones my aunt used for the recipe she gave me, scarlet runner beans.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb Scarlet Runner Beans
  • 1/2 head of garlic, each clove peeled, left whole
  • 1 box of baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 10-15 cilantro sprigs
  • 1 pasilla chile
  • 1tbsp dried epazote
  • 2 bottles Red Stripe beer
  • 10 c water

Prep

At least 6 hours before (or better yet, the night before) soak the beans in cold water. I recommend checking them for stones or little pieces of dirt that sometimes get into the bags of beans. As a child it was my favorite part of helping my dad cook beans: the game of find the pebble in the bag. But I digress.

In a large pot, add the soaked beans, including the soaking water (you’re throwing out flavor otherwise) and add the 10 cups of water. Turn stove to high heat and, when the water is warm but not boiling, add the garlic, cilantro, pasilla, mushrooms, epazote and beer. Bring to a boil. The liquid will foam. Remove it with a spoon (beans are famous for causing gas. According to my aunt, removing this foam is what makes the beans less gass-y).

Lower the heat to low and cook, covered, for about 2 hours or until  the beans are soft. I like my beans on the less-saucy side, so I discarded a lot of the liquid after they were cooked (normally I would save it for a tortilla soup, but not this week). Once you have the desired quantity of liquid, season with salt and pepper to taste.

These beans work wonderfully as a side-dish or added to a quinoa salad. If you try them, let me know what you think!

photo 1 (2)

Cinnamon muffins

I posted about this on my Instagram over the Holidays. It was a recipe I modified while baking with my favorite aunt in México. It’s about three weeks late in posting, but here goes.

Yield: About 18-20 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter
  • 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 2 c flour
  • 3 to 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • about 2 tbsp powdered sugar, for topping.

Prep

  • Butter and flour muffin pan (I used a 12-muffin one)
  • Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside
  • In a large bowl (or in the electric mixed one, if you have it), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
  • Add vanilla
  • Add eggs one at a time, making sure to beat well in between each addition
  • Lower speed and alternate adding the dry ingredients and the milk
  • Batter should feel heavy. If too dry, add a little more milk.

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  • Pour about two tablespoons of dough per muffin space.

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  • Bake for about 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown.
  • Remove from oven and let cool  a bit. Remove them from pan carefully, while still hot, otherwise they will stick to the pan.
  • When fully cooled, top with powdered sugar.

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It’s been months since I’ve posted here. Studying for grad school qualifiers will do that to you. I made myself focus on the books and not cook as much, so therefore there was hardly anything to post. But now the test is over and I am back in the kitchen and loving it.

This recipe begins as many do: With a bunch of things left over in the fridge and the need to make something with them. That, and a strange craving for soup (don’t get me wrong, I love soups, but I’ve never been the biggest fan of them).

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chopped collard greens, stems removed (I got this from about 1 large bunch)
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz baby spinach
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 c hot water
  • generous sprinkling of dried oregano
  • 1 can cooked chickpeas, drained
  • 2 c vegetable or chicken broth
  • 7 oz (1/2 can) coconut milk
  • 1/2 c ground cashew nuts, unsalted
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice of 1/2 a lime (about two tbsp)

Prep

  • Cook the chard in a large pot of water until just wilted. Drain.
  • In the same pot, heat the olive oil. When glistening, add the onions and garlic, reduce heat slightly and cook until translucent.
  • Add spinach and the cup of hot water.
  • When the spinach has wilted, add the cooked collard greens, oregano, chick peas and the two cups broth of your choice.
  • Season with salt and pepper, bring to a soft boil and let the flavors mix, about five minutes.
  • Remove from heat and let cool slightly. With an immersion blender, blend until you have a smooth and uniform soup.
  • Return to the stove, add coconut milk and pureed cashews and bring to a soft boil, reducing thickness of soup until desired consistency (I like my soups on the creamy side, so I reduce them quite a lot).
  • Add the lime juice, taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

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Soup freezes well; picture doesn’t do justice to the flavor punch that this experiment turned out to be.

 

Your guide to pies

The wonderful ladies at The Kitchn have written a guide on how to bake home-made pies. :) Love it. It says a lot of what I have always felt: It’s about the flavor, not about the looks. If you are like my mom, whose artistic abilities and patience allow her to replicate the picture or even make it better, I am in awe of you. But the rest of us fret about the look of our baked goods. It also talks about crusts and all the steps for the pie. Joy.

Go and check it out! :)

Last week, while watching PBS on my iPad, I saw a small video of Aube Giroux’s Strawberry Basil Tart. I fell in love with the film, the music, the recipe and the aesthetic of the dish. As I always say, food IS art, and she proves it.  This little thing has managed to jump over several desserts I have in my favorite rotation and jumped to the top 5. Will surely be making it for my next get-togethers.

While her video is impossible to replicate or top, I am being courageous here and posting the photos of my preparing it at home and the end result (I forgot to take a picture of the syrup and of the yolks before adding them to the milk). I actually had to make-do with only one cup of basil, but it still came out delicious!

Creamed butter with ground almonds

Masa a medias

I actually did a little dance of joy when this was done. Such great texture and so easy to roll!

Masa fuslereada

Freshly out of the oven

Masa horneada

Basil and strawberries waiting

Albahaca y fresas

Preparing the custard…

Basil and milk

Finger-straining the yolks after one fell into the whites…

Colando yemas

The finished product! So pretty, I don’t want to touch it.

Pie listo

Now go, get the ingredients and make it. It’s soooo good!

This weekend I shopped, but for baking stuff, so when it came to cooking today’s lunch I had to go with the three things I had on hand (you will see the Campari tomatoes from last week). I could’ve done an episode of 5 ingredient fix… It turned out to be soo yummy and creamy I am in love with it and am taking some for lunch tomorrow.

FISH À LA “WHATEVER-IS-IN-THE-FRIDGE”

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tilapia loins, cut in cubes
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 4 Campari tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 c white wine (I used Chardonnay)

Prep:

Heat one tablespoon oil in a medium temperature and fry the onion. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes soften a little. Add the parsley and garlic. Mix well. Remove from heat and pour into bowl. Return the pan to the flame, add second tablespoon oil and when hot, add the tilapia cubes. With a pair of tongs, turn tilapia so that all sides are white and seared. Return tomato mix to pan. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mix will look creamy. Add the wine and let it reduce until the creamy texture returns.

Pescado c:jitomate y cebolla

(apologies for the less-than-stellar picture, I forgot to take a picture of the plated version before eating it :D) It may not be the best-looking thing, but trust me, it was good.

Notes

Because tilapia is such a delicate fish, it will cook quickly. As you see from my picture, several of my cubes broke apart, so be careful if presentation matters.

The middle of the summer is always the time in which I least want to cook. Not because I don’t want to, necessarily (though when I’m really tired I don’t), but because it’s too hot to cook! So I end up craving salads and other cold meals.

This is an adaptation of a recipe I found in the Epicurious website. As usual, I’ve adapted it to make-do with what I had at home. I used tri-color quinoa, but any color will do.

(WARM) KALE AND QUINOA SALAD

Serves about 3 as a main dish

Ingredients:

  • 1 c quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
  • 2c water
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/4 c pistachios, shelled
  • 6 or 7 Campari tomatoes, washed and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/4 c white balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 head of kale (about 4 cups), washed, stemmed and chopped

Prep

Add two tbsp olive oil to a large pot or casserole over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they become translucent. Add the quinoa and stir a bit to mix it in. Add the kale and the water.

Quinoa Kale raw

Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, or until water is absorbed and the quinoa has gotten fluffy. Remove from heat and toss to start cooling it.

Quinoa kale cooked

Meanwhile, mix the mustard, vinegar and remaining tablespoons of olive oil to make vinaigrette. Mix until emulsified.

Once the quinoa-kale mix has cooled, add it to the pistachios and quartered tomatoes.

Tomatoes and pistachios

Drizzle the dressing on top, add salt and pepper to taste and mix.

Quinoa kale mixed

Notes

I find that refrigerating the salad overnight enhances the flavors. You can heat it up a bit (hence the “warm” in parentheses) or you can eat it chilled.

I got distracted and neglected the onions a bit, so some of them caramelized. I think it works to the advantage of the dish.

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