Monday, May 23, 2011

Cuban Black Beans and Mexican Rice

First, a shout-out to my friend Madeleine Baker-Goering, who gave me this cookbook in college. These two recipes are on pages 136 and 137. I don't think it's a coincidence that they are together in the cookbook.

I have not tried many other recipes from this cookbook, but so far I haven't been disappointed. These two recipes are tasty and easy.

Okay, now for the recipes.

Cuban Black Beans

Serves 4 (I modified the original recipe slightly)
1 can of black beans (standard size - can't remember the oz)
1 c. water
Enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the saucepan
1 clove garlic
1/4 c. chopped onions
1/8 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 t. oregano
1 bay leaf (to be removed prior to serving)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro leaves and stems

Mexican Rice
Serves 4
3/4 c. long-grain white rice
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes (good for lazy cooks - if you're feeling industrious, you can peel, seed, and chop one medium tomato)
1/2 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of a medium saucepan
1 tsp. salt
1/2-1 c. frozen peas and carrots (again, for the lazy cook - you can peel and finely chop 1/2 carrot and use 1/3 c. green peas)

Here are my ingredients, laid out really pretty-like on the counter:

I recommend starting by cooking the rice. Soak it in hot water for 15 minutes, and then rinse and drain it.

While it soaks, you can chop the cilantro.

I apologize for the sideways picture. I'm new to this blogging thing, but I'm sure I will figure out how to fix it for next time.

The directions say to puree the tomato, onion, and garlic in a blender, but I don't think that will give it enough of a smooth texture. I used my hand blender and it turned out perfectly. I'm sure a food processor would do the same thing.

Fry the rice in the oil until it turns light gold in color (about 10 minutes). Here's what the rice looks like when it's all done frying:

Pour off the excess oil, stir in the tomato puree and cook until almost dry (about 3 minutes). This will release a burst of yummy smell into the air.

Then, add the vegetable stock, salt, carrots and peas. Cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Now, for the beans ...

Heat the oil on medium-low heat; add the garlic, onion, cumin, orgeano, bay leaf, salt and pepper and saute the mixture until the onions are translucent. (I have not mastered this skill yet. I always scorch the onion and garlic. Here's a picture of how NOT to do this step.

Rinse the beans in a colander, and then add them to the yummy garlic-onion-spice mixture. Your kitchen probably already smells awesome; this will only make it better.

Add 1 cup of water and crank up the heat to get this boiling. But only for a little bit - bring the heat down to medium or medium-low so that the most of the water boils off. Look for the soup-y texture, and then let it stay warm for just a bit after that.

This is what you are going for. When you see this, remove from the heat and dispose of the bay leaf.

See, I'm not kidding ... throw away the bay leaf! There are bad consequences for eating this. Don't test the limits of the universe.

Here's what the rice looks like when it's done.

Okay, here's the end product. I served it with blue corn tortillas, lettuce, cheese and plain yogurt. Along with a yummy peach.

Good luck, and enjoy!

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