Sure, we've had tacos. Lots and lots of tacos. Using store-bought taco mix and hamburger and then all those tortilla chips or taco shells you buy in the bags and boxes. But this. Now THIS...it is the BEST WAY to eat that kind of food. The old-fashioned, fried-in-oil way.
Here's what I wrote about tostada night. And I should tell you, I had to kind of hunt for yellow corn tortillas. White corn rules the market. I think it's semi-tasteless.
You know how you end up with days and days of leftover pinto beans whenever you cook up a pot? I mean … I like them. Don’t get me wrong. But I can only eat them so many days in a row before I’m ready to swear off them forever. Of course that wears off after a month or so and then I’m ready to cook up another batch.
One way I’ve discovered to use those up is to make homemade refried beans with them. Most of us are used to just opening cans of refritos (refried beans) and using those for our tacos or whatever. But those canned varieties really miss the boat in flavor when compared to the homemade variety. They always seem a little watery to me. And bland. I’m giving you a recipe that I’ve adapted from “The New Moosewood Cookbook,” by Mollie Katzen. I think the cumin really makes or breaks these beans. See what you think.
Tostada night is a great weeknight dinner event, and a fantastic way to get the family together to hang out and eat. I draw them into the kitchen when I start frying corn tortillas. It works every time. When I was a kid there were no bags of tortilla chips, or prepared taco shells. My mom cooked corn tortillas in oil on the stovetop. Nothing beats that flavor. I think we gave up that practice because we started shying away from frying due to its’ status as an unhealthy way to prepare food, and it was a messy and left oil clouds hanging in the room for a few hours. I keep the mess down by putting my frying screen over the top of the fry pan. I can’t do anything about the oil clouds, but my 10-foot ceilings sure make it easier to ignore!
Lay out some lettuce, salsa, onions, tomatoes and grated cheese (or go really authentic and use queso) and start frying tortillas. Let the family build theirs as they come out of the skillet. They will stay there and eat them, waiting for the next one to come out of the skillet. And as they stand there, you will hear a lot more about their lives. Just be careful not to fry your tortillas too long. They really only take about half a minute or less on each side.
Refritos (refried beans)
By Karen Paulson
Adapted from “The New Moosewood Cookbook,” by Mollie Katzen
Leftover pinto beans, drained (maybe 2 cups)
1 1/2 C minced onion
5 or 6 (or more) medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Be sure it’s an old skillet that you don’t care about scratching. Add the onions, garlic and cumin. Heat, stirring, until the onions and garlic are starting to get soft. Add the beans. Heat and smash the beans to the consistency you prefer.
If you really want to add flavor, cook your pinto beans with a couple of halved, seeded jalapeno peppers. You can also consider adding a small bell pepper to the bean mixture when you make it in the skillet.