Thursday, September 23, 2010

Comfort Food

So often when I write recipes here they are somewhat involved, so I thought it might be good to have some balance and feature a few things that are for those nights when what you want more than anything is to get home, make something quick and simple, relax with a glass of wine and watch a DVD.

One of the first things that Neil and I used to eat for dinner when we first met and were living in Washington Heights was refried beans.  At the time this was very exotic: I was from Canada and Neil from Connecticut.  What did we know from Mexican food?  Certainly I used to go out for Tex Mex in Toronto but mostly it seem all about melted cheese and salsa over some kind of chicken wrapped in a tortilla, and the idea of making Mexican at home hadn't even entered my mind.  Then, there I was in the middle of this very Latin neighborhood and the grocery store seemed to be aisles of Goya products.

I'm not sure what it was that finally got me to take the leap.  I think it must have been the joy and pleasure we used to get when we treated ourselves to a trip downtown and dinner at MaryAnn's (which I recently revisited after years and was plesantly surprised at how much I liked it and how happy I was to see 2 for 1 Margaritas and free salsa and chips!)

I bought a can of black beans and a can of pinto beans, opened them, drained them and emptied the beans out into a pot with heated oil in it (a couple of tablespoons of canola or olive oil).  I then added about 2 tablespoons of Mexican chili powder1 tablespoon of cumin powder and a good pinch of cayenne. salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste - I  continued to mash the beans over a medium heat until they reached a mashed potato with lumps consistency.  

Here it is at the start of mashing:
Sometimes I'd add a little dried oregano or even a little bit of the jarred salsa I was using.  Always taste and adjust seasoning.  Finally I'd just take the pot off the stove and place it on a trivet on the table (in front of the TV) with a big bowl of corn chips (always buy non gmo chips) and some salsa (I use HOT organic 365 Whole Foods brand these days).  

Here they are fully mashed and ready to eat:
Takes about 3 minutes and is one of the most satisfying things I make.  If you feel guilty you can always make a simple green salad to go with this.

Did you ever notice that when you buy a bag of corn chips you end up with a third of the bag in little crumbs that are just useless for dipping in anything?   The solution I  have found is to whip up a few eggs with maybe a dash of cream and add a handful of corn chip remnants and let it all soak for a minute.  While you're waiting add a splash of oil into a skillet and get it hot, then throw the corn chip and egg mixture in and cook it like you would scrambled eggs (always use eggs from a farm not a factory) It's like a Mexican Matzoh Brei.  Melt some cheese on at the last minute and serve with some of your left over salsa.  Yummy!  And so easy.
Lastly,  when all else fails, good bread toasted with cheese on it and maybe some preserves always hits the spot.  I had some left over candied sour cherries and some Kunik cheese and it made one hell of a satisfying lunch!

1 comment:

Neil said...

Neil here! I said to Mark last night (and this was before he posted about "our" refried beans habit): "I've changed my mind about what my last meal would be if I ever find myself on Death Row. Always thought it'd be pizza and french fries. But i think your refried beans with corn chips has edged them out..."

OK, and this is the kind of foodie nightmare UFG gets to live with: I love best if I can control my appetite for them at night so I can leave some for the morning: cold refried beans and chips is the BEST breakfast!

Yes, pity the UFG...

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