Saturday, June 19, 2010
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.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Since I became vegetarian in January, Frittatas have become my new meatloaf. My go-to dish. The entrée I whip out when I don’t have a lot of time or imagination. Like meatloaf, frittatas are made from whatever ingredients you have on hand, they have a short prep time, and a little bit of oven time to give you a chance to gather your wits about you (read: drink a glass of wine and check out the newspaper).
Similar to quiche, frittatas are egg-based and can be the vehicle in which to hide all kinds of edible treasures from meat to veggies to cheese or all of the above. Most frittatas are started on top of the stove and finished in the oven. That’s how I do mine, although you can do the entire dish from start to finish on the stovetop. Unlike quiche, frittatas are generally not known to have a crust. Mine does. So if you are a frittata purist stop reading now. You’ll see my version as an abomination.
My frittata recipe culminated out of my love for all things hash browned. As far as I am concerned, no egg-y meal is really complete without hash browns on the side. The crunchier the better, I figure. And so I played with my food one afternoon and conceived this fine frittata with a hash brown crust. I hope you enjoy it.
Hash Brown-Crusted Frittata
2 medium-sized russet potatoes
6-8 eggs, beaten and set aside
1-2 C veggies of your choice, lightly sautéed and set aside
1 C cheese of your choice
Herbs of your choice
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Microwave the potatoes on high for 3 minutes. They should be softened, but not cooked all the way to a mashable stage. Handling them carefully so as not to burn your hands, grate the potatoes on the large side of a cheese grater. You can leave the peels on or take them off.
Preheat a non-stick skillet on medium high. Heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon of butter. Swirl it around to coat the pan. Transfer the grated potatoes to the skillet, patting it down into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. DO NOT STIR AFTER THIS POINT! After about 4 or 5 minutes, gently tilt the pan that you can glimpse the underside of the potatoes. Are they getting brown and crisp? Keep checking until they look like golden, brown and delicious hash browns.
In another oven-safe skillet (cast iron is really the best), heat 1 Tablespoon oil and 1 Tablespoon butter. Drizzle it over the potatoes in the non-stick pan. Then carefully invert the second skillet over the first one and flip over. Now your potatoes are in the second skillet and on their way to hash brown perfection.
Once you are satisfied that the potatoes are well-browned on the underside, remove the pan from the heat. Arrange the reserved veggies, cheese, herbs and spices over the potatoes. Pour the eggs over the mixture and lightly tamp down anything that’s sticking up out of the eggs. If you need more eggs, go ahead and beat them up and pour them in.
Put the frittata in the preheated oven and bake until the eggs are set, usually about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to finish cooking in the pan on the counter.