mexican

SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS

SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS

Finally last Sunday I got to sit outside in the garden with a glass of cold German Riesling. I started to think about summer dishes. The warm spell unfortunately didn’t last long (just one afternoon). Cold Monday meant that instead of courgette spaghetti with coriander pesto I ended up making these hearty sweet potato and black bean enchiladas.

Of course enchiladas are Mexican but out of laziness and convenience I used my new Creole seasoning mix. I did want to try it out and let’s be honest there are many similarities in the spices used in Creole and Mexican cooking. No need to be a purist on a Monday evening right? If you want to use single spices than a mixture of cumin, coriander, paprika, chilli, thyme, oregano will do the trick. This is what I love about cooking, you can always improvise and make each dish your own.

Otherwise this is a pretty straightforward dish to make, it takes a bit longer than my usual Monday evening meal but it’s worth the effort. It also tastes great the next day (yes I scoffed the leftovers) and freezes well too so its perfect for batch cooking. Don’t forget the usual guacamole, salsa, sour cream (cashew lime cream) and a crunchy salad.

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SWEET POTATO AND BLACK BEAN ENCHILADAS
Oil free if no vegan cheese used

1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chipped
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 tsp Mexican, Creole or Cajun spice mix
1 Tbs tomato puree
440g (1 lb) sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1cm dice
1 tin of black beans
1 cup enchilada sauce
1/3 cup water
salt and pepper
10-12 corn tortillas
80g (3oz, about 1half cup) vegan cheese (optional), shredded

enchilada sauce
2 tins of tomatoes
1 clove garlic
1 tsp Mexican, Creole or Cajun spice mix

To serve:

salsa
avocado
cashew lime cream (1 cup cashews, 1/2cup water plus more if needed, juice of a lime, salt to taste)

  • Preheat 80ml (1/3 cup) of water in a medium sauté pan with a lid. Add the onion, celery, garlic and pepper, sauté till softened adding more water if needed.
  • While the vegetables are cooking, blend all the sauce ingredients in a blender. Set aside.
  • Add the tomato puree and spices to the vegetables and cook for one minute.
  • Next add 250ml (1 cup) of the enchilada sauce, sweet potatoes, black beans and water. Simmer covered for 20-30 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are cooked and the sauce is very thick (see picture of the mixture).
  • In a large baking dish, spread about 1/4cup of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish. Put about 2-3 heaped tablespoons of the filling in the centre a corn tortilla, roll and place into the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Poor the remaining sauce over and top with the vegan cheese if using.
  • Bake for 30 min in a 180C oven.
  • Serve with the cashew lime cream, avocado and salsa.


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FIERY BLACK BEANS

FIERY BLACK BEANS

We don’t tend to include beans in the list of superfoods, but they certainly are worthy of the name. I do think the word superfood is misused for marketing and shameless profiteering. Even the health food industry is governed by money and you are more likely to profit from the latest miracle seed or berry from the South American rainforest than something so ordinary as a bean. In my view all vegetables, beans, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds are all superfoods.

Beans offer a great nutritional value for money. Especially if you buy them dried, just as I did to make my fiery black bean recipe. A half a kilo pack of black beans will easily serve 8 people. Black beans are packed with protein and don’t be fooled by being told beans are not a high quality protein, black beans do contain all the essential amino acids. They are a great source of iron and calcium, 2 of the minerals people think you can’t obtain from a vegan diet in adequate amounts (I get tired of hearing this). Beans are also full of fibre, one nutrient most people aren’t getting enough. They are not only cholesterol free but have been shown to help reduce cholesterol, balance blood sugar and even have cancer fighting phytonutrients.

Many people get intimidated by cooking beans from their dried state. Cooking some types of beans can indeed be a bit frustrating. My Achilles heel is cooking dried Egyptian broad beans, I have now given up on them and buy these in a tin. Most beans are however more straight forward. First soak soak soak. Soak the beans over night (not longer than 24hrs) and drain the water. If you forgot to soak your beans it or simply don’t have the time, place the beans in a large pot with about 2- 3 x the volume of water. Bring to a vigorous boil for 10min, turn them off and let the whole thing stand for at least couple of hours. Now you can proceed as you would with the beans that had their long overnight bath. The first method results in more nutritious beans as the soaking makes minerals and vitamins more available.

Cooking times have to been taken lightly, they will vary due to size or freshness of the beans. I go by taste, my personal preference. And I will disagree with the TV chef Gino D’Campo, beans really shouldn’t be al dente, they should be cooked through. Even if this means that some of your beans fall apart during the cooking process. I like to use a piece of kombu seaweed in my beans, this is said to make the beans easier to digest (less flatulence), it also adds to the flavours. Other flavourings I often use are: bay leaf, thyme, parsley, rosemary, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, garlic. These are best fished out and discarded when your beans are finished. Last time I cooked my black beans I searched for the kombu but it had melted into the beans. One way to add iodine to your diet :) In many recipes you can use the cooking liquor (i.e. stews, soups, dips), it is usually full of flavor. I have used my cooking liquor in my fiery black bean recipe below.

fiery-black-beans

FIERY BLACK BEANS
We had these with some chipotle spiced tomato sauce, guacamole, salad, tomatillo salsa, corn tortillas and even baba ghanouj. You can also just serve them with rice and fruity salsa. Add some stock and a bit of lime juice to any leftovers for a quick fiery soup.

Serves 8

500g (17oz) of dried black beans
piece of kombu seawead (I used 2x 1cm strips cut from a large sheet)
2 bay leaves
1 Tbs rapeseed (canola) oil or 80 ml (1/3 cup water)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped into small dice
2 cloves garlic, finely choppped
1 red Cayenne chilli pepper (deseed for a less fiery meal), finely chopped
1 chipotle chilli (soaked in boiling water for 30 min), finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp oregano
salt to taste

  1. Soak the beans overnight and drain. (or use quick cook method described above)
  2. Add the beans, kombu, bay leaf and water to cover the beans with 2x volume of water, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and gook gently till beans are soft (about 40-60min).
  3. In a large casserole heat the oil (or water) and add the onion, pepper and garlic. Cook till softened. Add the chillies and cook for further 2 minutes.
  4. Next add all the spices and cook for further minute.
  5. Using a slotted spoon remove the beans from cooking liquor and transfer to the casserole dish. Add about 1 cup of the liquor together with some salt and pepper.
  6. Simmer gently for about 30-60min, add some more of the cooking liquor if the beans start drying out and stick to the bottom of your casserole.
  7. To serve in tortillas make sure all the liquid has cooked out but beans are still moist. If you serving these with rice you want a bit more liquid in your beans that will serve as a sauce.

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MEXICAN TOFU SCRAMBLE WITH CORN TORTILLAS

MEXICAN TOFU SCRAMBLE WITH CORN TORTILLAS

Last week we stopped at my favourite Mexican shop Otomi. They carry Mexican mirrors, Luchador costumes, tortilla presses but mainly some lush Mexican ingredients. I usually stock up on some tomatillo salsa and chipotle peppers there. This time I also grabbed some fresh corn tortillas (like Otomi on Facebook and they will let you know when these are in stock). Kids also tried a Mexican sweet, ground peanuts with icing sugar pressed into a patty. To my surprise they found it way to sweet!

The corn tortillas became an integral part of our Sunday morning brunch, they became the perfect vessel to hold my tofu scramble. I did regret not having any avocados to go on top of my creation. Avocados never seem to last in our house :) The scramble turned out great, I could have eaten the lot myself.

I used some chipotle sauce from Otomi to spice up the scramble but a fresh red chilli or any hot sauce will be great too. My 1 Tbs was a bit conservative since I am feeding kids. If you like it hot add some more. I spiced mine up with some spicy tomato salsa. A nice platter of tropical fruits on the side and you can really feel the Mexican sunshine coming into the dining room...

mexican-tofu-scramble-2

MEXICAN TOFU SCRAMBLE WITH CORN TORTILLAS
serves 4

ingredients
1 small onion
1 small yellow or red pepper
1 celery stick
1 tomato
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp oregano
300g (10oz) tofu
1 tbs chipotle sauce
1/2 - 1Tbs Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
fresh coriander
8 corn tortillas
salsa to serve

mexican-tofu-scramble

Method
  1. Chop the onion, celery, pepper and tomato into small dice.
  2. In a medium frying pan heat about 60ml (1/4 cup) water. Add the onion, celery and pepper. Cook till softened for about 10min, adding more water if the vegetables start to stick.
  3. Next add the tomato, cook for couple of minutes till starting to break down.
  4. Add the spices and cook for a minute.
  5. While the mixture is cooking crumble the tofu.
  6. Add tofu, chipotle sauce and Bragg Liquid Aminos to the pan and mix well together.
  7. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring to combine all the flavours, and most of the moisture has evaporated.
  8. Lastly add the yeast flakes, stir to combine.
  9. Heat your tortillas in a hot dry frying pan.
  10. Fill the tortillas with tofu scramble, top with coriander and salsa. Enjoy!

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MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP

It would be near impossible not to get touched by the story of Stamatis Moratis that was published in the New York Times. This man’s incredible recovery from terminal lung cancer is just amazing. It is not an unexplainable miracle, this is the power of healthy food, absence of stress and being a part of community (and a bit of luck). Moving to the island of Ikaria is not practical for everyone however learning from the “Ikarian” life style would make a huge difference to anybody’s life.

The Ikarians stop and relax, socialize, don’t stress over not having much. They play dominos and drink wine. They centre their diet around plant based foods most of which they grow themselves. They live to a ripe old age without being plagued by the diseases most Westerners seem to suffer from.

Believe me I am inspired! Food? I have that covered, I do rather well in adhering to the whole foods plant based diet. Unlike the Ikarians I do not drink wine much at all. I don’t think it is wine that makes them live as long as they do. Having friends to share a glass of wine with is more important that the wine itself. A shared pot of green tea will surely do the same. Being around good friends is good for the soul and body.

And so is soup. This one has more Mexican influences than Ikarian but it does use their favourite staples, beans, potatoes and vegetables. My friend K shared it with me which made it taste even better. Make it today and share with a friend or a loved one.

Link to the original article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/28/magazine/the-island-where-people-forget-to-die.html?smid=fb-share&_r=1&

Mexican-bean-soup


MEXICAN-STYLE BEAN AND VEGETABLE SOUP
I have grated the carrot, it thickens the soup and I like grated carrot in soups. You can just dice it if you wish.

Serves 4

ingredients
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated (or finely chopped)
1 red pepper, cut into 1 cm pieces
1 larger potato, peeled and cut into 1 cm dice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tin of red kidney beans no salt added, drained
1 cup tomato passata
3 cups vegetable stock
2 large tortilla wraps
fresh coriander or spring onions for garnish
Optional : cashew cream made of 250ml (1 cup) of cashews and 180ml (3/4 cup) water

  1. In a large soup pan heat about 60ml (1/4 cup) of water and saute till softened. Add more water if the onion starts to stick.
  2. Next add the chilli, garlic, celery, grated carrot and red pepper to the onion and saute for about 5 min, adding more water if needed.
  3. When the vegetables have softened add the potato and spices. Cook about 1 min.
  4. Add the beans, passata and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for about 20-30min until.
  5. While the soup is cooking preheat the oven to 200C. Cut each tortilla in 10 wedges, place on a baking tray and bake till crisped up, turn them over half way through. About 5-10 min. The tortilla wedges will start to brown at the edges.
  6. Serve the soup with the wedges on the side garnished with fresh coriander/spring onions and cashew cream if you wish. It is delicious without the cream too.
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MEXICAN LAYERED CASSEROLE

MEXICAN LAYERED CASSEROLE

When you are constantly trying to come up with new recipes things can get a bit heated in the dining room. I am talking about feeding kids. They can be tricky customers. And sound creatures of habit, they like to eat what is familiar. Mum’s experiments can get rather a cold reception. Sometimes they just look at a dish in front of them and say YUCK. I just keep trying and it seems to be paying off at times.

Only last week my daughter ate (not happily but ate) a portion of miso dressed kale. Normally she only likes kale chips. After years of trying to persuade her she finally started to eat avocado this week, she will only eat it with raspberry or strawberry vinegar but it is going down. She is particular about her carrots they have to be raw not “wet”(meaning cooked). Pineapple she consumes in huge amounts provided it has been made into a smoothie. Even cherries and apricots get a seal of
approvement but only if “smoothified”... Peppers disappear into tomato soup and butternut squash into my mac and (no) cheese. It does take a lot of concocting but there is always a way.

Last night I was expecting the “Yuck I am not eating that” at dinner time. And yes those were the first words she uttered when she spotted the casserole dish. Honestly all she could see was the tomato sauce on top! I served her up one stripy wedge anyway. After tasting it she smiled and said: “Yummy! This is one of the best things you have ever made!” My son gave it 10/10. Two super endorsements! I thought this could be a kids pleaser but never imagined it would be this successful. Even the spinach layers disappeared!



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MEXICAN LAYERED CASSEROLE
I used shop bought refried beans. You could make your own but it is a weekday and I know kids adore the taste.

As my kids are not keen on too spicy so I made half of the casserole with added jalapenos and half without. I marked one side of the casserole dish so I didn’t make a mistake of mixing it up, the dish will turn when you layering it. Imagine the look on their faces if they bit into a jalapeno!!!

ingredients
tomato sauce
1 Tbs olive oil or 60ml (1/4cup) water
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tins of tomatoes

spinach tofu layer
220 g (1/2lb) frozen spinach, deforested (or use lb of fresh)
250g (1lb 1oz) tofu
1 tsp dried onion
1/2 tsp dried garlic
2 Tbs nutritional yeast flakes
salt and pepper to taste

jalapeno peppers
8 soft corn tortillas
1 tin of refried beans
vegan melting cheese on top (optional)

method
  1. First make the sauce. In a sauce pan heat the oil (or water) and saute the onion till soft.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
  3. Add the spices, cook about 30 seconds.
  4. Next add the tomatoes, season, bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 30minutes.
  5. Next make the spinach layer.
  6. Put spinach, tofu, nutritional yeast flakes, dried onion and garlic, salt and pepper into a food processor. Process till quite smooth (it will resemble ricotta cheese).
  7. Now layer the casserole. Make sure that you use a deep round casserole dish that will fit the tortillas snuggly. First put some tomato sauce on the bottom. Layer: tortilla, 1/3 refried beans, tortilla, 1/2 spinach with tofu, tortilla, tomato sauce topped with jalapenos, tortilla, refried beans, tortilla, spinach with tofu, tortilla, tomato sauce with jalapenos, tortilla, beans, tortilla, tomato sauce with jalapenos. Top with vegan cheese if desired (I like it with or without)
  8. Bake at 180C. Bake it covered for the first 20min and than uncovered for 15min.
  9. Let sit for 10min before serving, you will get better layers. Serve with a crisp salad and some avocados (or guacamole).

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