Pureed beans are made with Frijoles de la Olla that are placed in a blender or food processor and pureed until smooth. They serve many purposes such as bases for soups and enfrijoladas. But also, they can be seasoned and turned into what the Yucatecan people call Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans.
Frijoles Colados are pureed beans that are seasoned by being cooked and thickened a bit over sauteed onion. If you keep on cooking the Frijoles Colados about 15 minutes more, you get to to have a smooth version of the Refried Beans.
Continue reading Beans: Basic Pureed Beans
The Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans, are what the Yucatecans call Frijoles de Olla that have been pureed and then seasoned by being cooked in sauteed onion. They are cooked just for a couple minutes as they season. So its like a gently seasoned and lightly thickened Bean Puree.
They are like a dish made in between the Bean Puree and the Refried Beans. If you continue to cook the Frijoles Colados, you get to a consistency of a smooth version of Refried Beans.
Continue reading Beans: Frijoles Colados or Strained Beans
The uses of beans in Mexican cooking are immense. Although you can buy them already made, if you make them at home they have a much nicer flavor and you will give your kitchen an irresistible smell. You can make a lot of them and refrigerate a batch which should last in the refrigerator for about 4 to 5 days. You can freeze another batch which will last for months.
I will give you two tips, included in the recipe below, if you make them at home:
1. Don’t add the salt in the beginning or it will toughen the beans. Add it at least after an hour of cooking when the beans are already a bit soft.
2. You don’t need to soak them the night before cooking. Yes, that helps to reduce the cooking time, but it is not necessary. If you do soak them, don’t soak them more than 12 to 14 hours, because they may begin to ferment and you will finish with a Chinese rather than Mexican tasting dish.
Continue reading Beans: Frijoles de Olla or Beans from the Pot
You will find that refried beans are one of the most common sides for traditional Mexican dishes. From breakfast, to dinner, they are always a welcome companion. You can make them with different kinds of beans, like Black, Pinto, or Peruvian. The choice in Mexico varies among regions but also among cooks. I tend to use the Pintos more, because they have a creamier consistency and softer flavor. The Black, delicious as well, have a stronger flavor and texture. The Peruvian have a peculiar flavor, that is hard to define, but it is stronger than the Pintos and lighter than the Black.
You can make the Refried beans in a traditional way, which is by mashing the Frijoles de Olla in the pan with onion that has been sauteed in lard, or you can substitute for oil. You can also make quicker and smoother Refried beans, by skipping the mashing part, and placing the Frijoles de Olla in the blender, to make a smooth Bean puree that you can then thicken and season.
Continue reading Beans: Refried Beans
One way to add a nice rustic feel to a dish is to char, or roast, a few of the ingredients. Charring concentrates and deepens the flavor of an ingredient and brings out a subtle sweetness.
It is one of the signature cooking techniques in Mexico where, traditionally, ingredients like chiles, onion, garlic, spices, herbs, tomatillos and tomatoes are charred on comales or directly over the flame. If you don’t have a comal, or don’t want to cook directly over the burner, you can just as easily char ingredients on a grill or in a skillet.
OR, the way I find to be the easiest and fastest: in a pan under the broiler in your oven. Put the ingredients on a large sheet pan leaving plenty of space between them so they roast, not steam, and broil until they are nicely browned on one side. Carefully flip and repeat on the other side.
You want the outside to darken until almost black, and the inside cooked and transformed, but not burnt.
Below are the specific techniques for a couple of the ingredients most often charred in Mexican recipes: tomatoes and garlic.
Continue reading Charring ingredients
Cleaning and cooking nopales can seem challenging if you are not familiar with the ingredient. Truth is, cleaning them, can be a bit daunting at first. That’s why I CANNOT wait for cleaned and diced fresh nopales to be readily available in grocery stores here in the US, just like they are in Mexico. But while that happens, let me give you some tricks.
First, to choose them, you want paddles that are bright green and although soft, not limp. The smaller the paddle the more tender it will be, but large ones are delicious too.
Continue reading Cleaning and Cooking Cactus Paddles or Nopales
This is a versatile basic green tomatillo salsa. It can be drizzled on top of Mexican Antojos, such as Tostadas, Tacos, Quesadillas and Sopes… It can also be used to make Green Enchiladas or Chilaquiles. It can be spooned on top of eggs in the morning, used as a side garnish to grilled meats and as the seasoning to bake some fresh flaky fish in the oven. I could go on and on though…. here it goes:
Continue reading Cooked Salsa Verde
We’ve all heard that word here and there: “emulsify.” Why do we need to emulsify a vinaigrette? It is simple, emulsify is just a sophisticated word used for saying that you are making ingredients that would not naturally mix together, like water (or vinegar or wine or citrus juice) and oil, come together. And we do want them to come together so that when we add the vinaigrette to a salad or a dish, we’ll be able to taste their combination and not their disparate routes. If you don’t make them mix, you may get one forkful of unappetizing oil-covered greens, and another that tastes overly acidic, making your eyes squint.
To make them mix, or to emulsify, all you need to do is whisk with a fork or whisk or puree in a blender. By mixing fast, the oil breaks into the tiniest of droplets so that it has no choice but to mingle with the other ingredients. However, as it is natural, with the passing of time, the oil will separate again.
In my kitchen, as in most Mexican kitchens, most of my vinaigrettes are oil based. I usually do a ratio of 1 vinegar (or citrus or fruit juice) to 2 or 3 of oil, depending on how acidic my vinegar or juices are and if I am adding other things.
Continue reading Emulsifying an Oil-Based Vinaigrette
It’s true you can always buy frozen puff pastry at any grocery store. But, in less than the time it takes for the frozen puff pastry to thaw, you can make your own from scratch. I have a simple recipe I learned at L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland, that is the one I turn to time and again. I just adapted it to make a larger quantity and also to give you a bit of a more detailed description.
The key to making good puff pastry dough, or any flaky dough for that matter, is keeping everything very cold (well the flour and salt are fine at room temp!). You’ll want to cut your butter into chunks while being very cold.
Begin by simply placing your flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add your chunks of butter and pulse several times (about 10 times) until the butter chunks are reduced to pieces about the size of peas. Feel free to use your hands to feel the mixture to estimate the size of the butter pieces.
Continue reading Hojaldre or Puff Pastry
For years, I’ve managed to turn every Mexican vacation into a working trip. As soon as I touch Mexican soil, I set up interviews, plan research tours, library searches, cooking adventures, all the while trying to tweet and instagram. And facebook, pinterest and blog too… My appetite expands outrageously as if giving me a chance to try all that my eyes can see and my mind can gather. Even with the best of intentions to relax and disconnect, they only last so long.
My family had been enthusiastic about it until recently: my husband announced last summer he’s had it. He won’t travel with me to Mexico when he wants us to vacation, together.
So when I suggested we go visit for the December holidays, he said “no, no, no Pati, you can’t control yourself there.” I kept pursuing Mexico because I missed it so bad, seeking out a place where I wouldn’t be tempted to work. San Miguel de Allende sounded like just the spot.
Continue reading Homemade Cajeta