My cousin's companion, Phil, recommended the book World Vegetarian by Madhur Jaffrey when I told him I was looking for a good Indian cookbook. This book is actually better than just a good Indian cookbook, because it has vegetarian recipes from all over the world. Knowing that Phil is a stellar chef, I trusted him enough to borrow the book from the library (requiring about a two week wait because all copies of the cookbook were already checked out). Now I'm ready to buy the book. From only one recipe. Yes, my husband had the same reaction: "Don't you want to try some more recipes before you buy it? All I want's a damned lantern! And I already have it picked out!" It's a seven hundred page book -- I can't possibly try them all in the nineteen days left I have with the beloved book! Just let me buy it! Maybe I'll check it out from UCCS where I would get to keep it for three months. Ahhh...the benefits of being "faculty." By the way, if you're thinking about going vegetarian for a month like Liz, Michael, and we are, this would be a great book to have! We're going veggie in August (just for kicks) and would love for you to join us!
Anyway, we had our first dinner out of the new cookbook tonight. Frijoles Charros (or, in English, Black Beans Charros). I've seen other recipes for the same thing, made with pintos and bacon, but I'm going to trust Madhur on this one. I don't know that I could improve on her recipe. Although, I did add a few extra condiments at the end. I googled the recipe to see if I could find one already on the web, but apparently nobody's copied it word for word onto the web. So here, as a service to all of web-surfing humanity (and especially my father-in-law, whom I know will love this meal -- plus he will soon be entering the Guiness Book of World Records soon as the oldest man known to have his wisdom teeth removed and this would be a great post-surgery meal), I'm posting the recipe.
Rosario Guillermo's Black Beans Charros
This stew, spicy and tart, may be served with heated corn or wheat tortillas, or with plain rice.
1 1/4 cups dried black beans, picked over, washed and drained
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 teaspoons canola or olive oil
5 tsp very finely chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
6 canned plum tomatoes, finely chopped, plus 1/4 of their liquid (or one 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes)
1/2 cup of the tomato liquid
1/2 to 1 jalapeño chile or any other fresh hot green chile, very finely chopped
2 T finely chopped cilantro leaves
Soak the beans overnight in water to cover by five inches. Alternatively, you may quick soak the beans (in large saucepan, cover with five inches of water, boil for two minutes, turn off the heat and leave for one hour). Drain thoroughly and discard the soaking liquid.
Add four cups of fresh water to the beans and bring to a boil in a heavy medium pan. Cover partially, turn heat to low, and simmer gently for one and a half hours, or until the beans are tender. (Alternatively, cook the beans in a pressure cooker. Cover them with water, bring the pressure cooker up to pressure, cook for 12-15 minutes, turn off the heat and let them sit until the pressure is back to normal.) Transfer half the beans and their cooking liquid to a blender or food processor, add the salt, and puree. (Alternatively, blend in the pan with a handheld blender.) Return the pureed mixture to the pot with the whole beans and combine well.
Put the oil in a large frying pan and place over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and garlic, stirring and sautéing until golden. Add the chopped tomatoes and their liquid (I used 21 ounces out of a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes because I wasn't about to finely chop canned tomatoes) and the jalapeño, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook gently for ten minutes. Stir the tomato mixture and the chopped cilantro into the beans, and bring to a simmer over low heat. Simmer gently for five minutes and serve hot. We garnished it with diced avocado (sorry, Michael) and sour cream. Should have added a bit of queso fresco, too. Or cheddar cheese.
I had leftover basmati rice from a previous meal that I put on the bottom of the bowl, plus the avocado, sour cream and a garnish of chopped fresh (local from our CSA!) cilantro on top. It was so good that Scott had two servings and both the girls ate their meals...well, until Callie discovered the cilantro. She's not eating anything green these days. Maybe it's a rebellion because green is nearly opposite orange (her favorite color) on the color wheel. Okay, she's clearly not thinking it in those terms, but maybe subconsciously. By my assessment, it was a successful meal.