Rice and Beans

 

I always have canned beans on hand. Dried beans of course are the  preferred  choice, and I use those often, but canned beans are a lifesaver for quick week night meals. Especially for vegetarians. Today, for example, I had some ripe avocados that I wanted to use before they spoiled. Guacamole  is always my choice, because the family loves it. And when considering a main dish of the same cuisine, I didn’t have much choices. Hence decided to make this simple, one-pot  Mexican  rice and beans.

Rice and Beans

Ingredients:

Onions – 1 medium-sized, diced finely
Carrots – 1 medium-sized, diced finely
Garlic – 2 cloves
Green bell pepper – 1 medium-sized, diced finely
Green chilies – 2 (I just slit them in half, if you like it spicy, dice it finely)
Tomato paste – 1 tsp
Rice – 1 cup (any kind, I used basmati)
Red kidney beans – 1 can, rinsed many times
Cumin powder – 1tsp
Salt – to taste
Vegetable or Chicken stock – 2 cups (can be substituted with water)
Cilantro for garnish

Method:

1. In a wide, heavy bottomed pan (I used my pressure pan) add about a tbsp of olive oil. Add onions, garlic, carrots, bell pepper and green chilies and sauté on medium heat for about 5 minutes.
2. Add the tomato paste, salt and cumin powder and sauté for a few minutes more.
3. Add the rice, and mix well, till every grain is coated well with the onion-tomato mixture.
4. Add beans, stock and bring to a boil.
5. If using a pressure pan, at this point close and cook for 2 whistles. If it’s a regular pan, cover and cook till all the water is absorbed, for about 15-20 minutes.
6. Let it sit, covered, for about 5 min.
7. Fluff the rice up with a fork, and serve, garnishing with chopped cilantro.

Tips:

1. Use any kind of rice. I used basmati. If using brown rice though, soak it for about 30 minutes first, and then follow the recipe.
2. This rice can be eaten as is, or served with toppings (sour cream, lettuce, grated cheese, the works). Or wrap everything up in a tortilla and serve as a burrito.
3. Skip the beans, and serve the spiced rice as a side for fish or chicken.

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Entre Suspiro y Suspiro

Entre Suspiro y Suspiro is a fancy, distinguished Mexican restaurant, serving authentic Mexican food fused with international flavours. It’s just around the corner from Metro Opera. It’s cheerful, with eclectic art from Mexican artists and a huge collection of Tequila bottles. The previous two times that I’ve been there were a bit disappointing, but today was different.

We ordered mojitos, it was quite a warm day, and the drink was minty, and icy fresh. I have no idea what the amuse-bouche we got was called, but it was yummy nonetheless.

We started off with ‘Guacamole Suspiro’, which was chunky and fresh, but I would have liked a bit more lime. Our next starter was ‘Quesadilla de cuitlacoche’. Warm, fresh and absolutely delicious. I couldn’t get enough. Then we had a Ceviche with Prawns, fish, mushrooms marinated in a tomato, lime sauce. Yum!

Guacamole suspiros - Entre suspiro y Suspiro

Ceviche vuelve a la Vida - Entre suspiro y suspiro

Quesadilla de cuitlacoche - Entre suspiro y suspiro

I opted for ‘Langostinos de Rey’ (langoustines with caramelised onions and fresh tomatoes and avocados) and S had the fish of the day ‘Mero a la Plancha’ (grilled sea bass with a mango-chili sauce). I found the sauce a bit too sweet for my taste, but the langoustines were delicious. The main course was served with warm, fresh corn tortillas.

Mero a la plancha con salsa de mango - Entre suspiro y suspiro

We tried the vanilla ice cream with chocolate and mint sauce for dessert (my favourite pepper ice cream was missing from the menu) and columbian coffee. Would have had some tequila shots, but it was 3PM, and i had to pick the kids up from school. Definitely the next time.

An slightly expensive but delicious meal!

Chipotle-style burrito bowl

If you have lived in the USA, more likely than not, you have had a burrito at Chipotle. I lived in Alpharetta, GA for 4 years, and I used to eat at a neighboring Chipotle once in 2 weeks. The “once a week” mother-ship was Sweet Tomatoes.

I was craving a burrito bowl after reading Rads’ attempt at it. My cilantro-lime rice, fajita style vegetables, mild tomato salsa, chunky guacamole, and beans were all a near perfect match to the Chipotle burrito. I give you the method (not recipes) here, have a go at it, and change whatever suits you.

Cilantro-lime rice: Cook long grain (or basmati) rice, mix in lime juice, salt, lime zest and chopped cilantro while it is hot.

Fajita style vegetables: Onions and bell peppers cut into strips, pan sauteed (or grilled) in olive oil with salt, pepper and oregano.

Beans – I couldn’t find black beans, so I used kidney beans. I added a bay leaf and roasted cumin powder to the canned beans.

Mild salsa: Fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, red onions, cilantro all chopped finely, sprinkle of lime juice and salt.

Guacamole: Mash one avocado with fork, mix in chopped red onions and tomatoes, lime juice and salt.

Here is how I tweaked some aspects:

1. I roasted the jalapenos under the broiler, peeled and chopped them. I also added one raw jalapeno. Different flavors. Almost sweet roasted jalapenos and crunchy raw ones.

2. I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. Healthier I think.

3. Instead of tortilla chips, I used good old potato chips (because my kids like ’em better).

4. I didn’t do the corn salsa, because it isn’t summer and I couldn’t find corn on the cob. I don’t like canned/frozen corn. I don’t mind frozen peas or canned beans, but not corn. I’m crazy like that.

Tips:

1. Do not use normal white or yellow onions. Red onions are the way to go, because they have lesser moisture and also taste and look better.

2. Don’t let the chopped avocados sit out too long, they oxidize and turn an awful grey color, hit them with lime juice as soon as possible.

3. If you can find the giant 13″ tortillas, by all means make yourself a burrito.

4. If you like meat or chicken in your burrito, go here for the marinade recipe.

5. Add lettuce, grated cheese, or anything else you like.

6. This is a great way to use up left over steamed rice. Warm it up first by sprinkling some water and into the microwave for a few minutes.

Let me know how your attempt went.