Frisoles Colombianos con Arroz, Chorizo, y Aguacate

Easy Colombian Beans with Rice, Chorizo, and Avocado

Serves 4

Frisoles with Rice, Chorizo, and Avocado

Frisoles with Rice, Chorizo, and Avocado

How about impressing your friends with a delicious and easy to make Colombian dinner. Frisoles or fríjoles are a very typical meal in the state of Antioquia where my city Medellin is located. Frisoles is the food of the mountains, the food of the people, and the food of comfort. If you find yourself in Medellin, rest assured that there is a pot of pressure-cooked beans in every kitchen on a daily basis. These beans may have been made for lunch but they reheat beautifully for dinner or for the next day’s breakfast. Lunch tends to be the main meal served in Colombia. Lunch will consist of a “la sopa y el seco”, translating to the soup and the “dry”. The dry portion can consist of either meat and rice or potatoes with vegetables or a salad. Beans can be served as the soup portion of the lunch. But like many Antioqueños, I love to mix my beans with my seco.

When I cook my beans I make them in a thicker broth and serve them together with rice and meat on a plate. In this recipe I serve them with chorizo. There are two ways of making this bean recipe. You can use either canned beans or pressure-cooked beans. Canned beans is an easier and quicker option. These are generally a good option depending on the brand. You may find some brands a little tougher than others, which will require that you cook them longer on the stove. In this recipe, I use canned beans and make a vegetarian version of the frisoles. Alternatively, I promise you that it is very easy to pressure cook beans. I like to pressure cook pinto beans with beef stew meat and other seasonings for an outstanding meal.

Ingredients

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  • 1 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 cup diced red or green pepper (1 small pepper)
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion (1 medium or ½ of large onion)
  • 1 glove of garlic passed through a garlic press or minced
  • 1 cup diced tomato (fresh or half of a 14 oz can) Use more tomato if you want
  • 2 – 14 to 16 oz. cans of beans with their liquid (pinto or borlotti)
  • ½ cup to 1 cup of water
  • ½ cup to 1 cup of chopped cilantro (coriander leaves)
  • ½ to 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher or regular salt
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • Black pepper to taste

Preparation

You begin by making the “sofrito”, a tomato sauce used as a base in Latin American and Caribbean cooking. In some instances the sofrito is made by pureeing raw vegetables and seasonings and then adding the puree to a recipe. I chose not to puree my sofrito in this case. I like the added texture of the vegetables in the beans.

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Making the sofrito

  • Heat the oil in a large pot
  • Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes
  • Add the pepper and cook for 2- 3 additional minutes
  • Add the tomato and cook until most of the liquid disappears, about 5 – 10 additional minutes.
  • Add the cans of beans with their liquid
  • Add the water (can add more if you like the beans to have more of a soup consistency)
  • Add salt, cumin, oregano, and black pepper.

    Add Beans and seasonings

    Add Beans and seasonings

  • Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low heat for 10 – 15 minutes or until beans are tender and the liquid is thickened.
  • Add cilantro
  • Adjust salt and pepper

    Ready to Serve

    Ready to Serve

You are ready to serve. Accompany the beans with chorizo, rice, and avocado slices.

Buen Provecho!

Additional Comments:

Rice: I like to serve this recipe with yellow rice however white rice is perfectly fine and probably more typical in Colombia. I use long grain white rice. To make yellow rice, the purist would use saffron, which is an expensive spice and imparts its unique flavor. However, I make the poor man’s yellow rice using turmeric powder which is less expensive than saffron. Turmeric does not impart a flavor, but gives its beautiful golden color to the food it is used in and offers added health benefits.

Chorizo: Chorizo can be either a fresh sausage that needs cooking or a cured sausage that can be eaten as is.  If you live in London there is only one chorizo brand to be purchased, and that is the fresh chorizo sold by Brindisa at Borough Market. It is by far the best quality fresh chorizo I have purchased and prepared in my life. If you live in the states you’ll have some varying options available to you but it is also very dependent on geography. Here in the suburbs of Philadelphia, I find most chorizos are extremely fatty, tough, and chewy. That said, my quest for excellent chorizo is still on going. I have in my refrigerator a brand I bought at Whole Foods recently. I’ll let you know how that is.  I may have to resort to making my own chorizo!

Arepas: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention arepas. Any Antioqueño would tell me I’m crazy for serving beans without arepas. Arepas are flat breads made with freshly ground maize but today there are “instant” arepa flours that you can purchase in the stores (Masarepa and P.A.N.) There are many ways to serve arepas, as an accompaniment to a dish or on their own. Arepas are also great for stuffing. This is definitely a fun topic for a future blog.

Avocados: see my posting on guacamole to learn more about avocados

https://thelabyrinthguide.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/guacamole-a-family-affair/

To read my favorite Colombian food blogger’s site:

http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/

For more on the pressure cooked Colombian beans:

http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/cazuelita-de-frijoles-colombian-beans-cazuela

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Mi Chimichurri Es Tu Chimichurri

My friends have been after my Chimichurri sauce recipe for a while now. I have experimented with various recipes over the years and have finally put the following recipe in writing.

Parsley, Green Onion, Cilantro, Garlic, and Lemon and more.

Parsley, Green Onion, Cilantro, Garlic, and Lemon and more.

Chimichurri is a sauce originally from Argentina and is widely used in Latin America cuisine. It is a herb sauce used on grilled meats, both as a marinade and as a finishing sauce. The origin of the word has two possible explanations. One is that the word came from the Basque region of Spain, from the Basque word tmimitxurri, which translates “a mixture of things in no particular order”. The other explanation is that the word originated during the English invasion of the Rio de la Plata Region of Argentina when the prisoners of war would request condiments for the food and say “che, mi curry” where “che” is an Argentinian expression for friend or man so it would translate to “ hey man my curry”.

There are many variations of chimichurri. Some use parsley as the main herb, some add oregano, and others use cilantro and parsley. I like to use cilantro, parsley, and green onion. I also like to make my sauce thicker with more of a dipping sauce consistency. My family loves chicken with chimichurri sauce. I brine the chicken (a recipe soon to come), I then pan fry or grill the chicken, cut it into cubes, and then we dip the chicken into the sauce. Alternatively, you can cook the chicken breast and when ready to serve drizzle the chimichurri on top.

My recipe makes about 1 ½ cup to 2 cups of chimichurri sauce. The sauce freezes very well, so what we don’t use in the first serving, I place in an appropriate container, label, and freeze for later use. When I defrost the sauce, I let it come to room temperature and then serve it. The sauce is never heated.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro or about 3 – 4 cups (can keep some of the stems)
  • 1 Bunch of Flat Italian Parsley or about 3 – 4 cups (remove most of the stems)
  • 3 Green onions chopped  (about 1 cup)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar (I like the fruitiness of the cider vinegar but you can use red wine vinegar as well)
  • 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice (about the juice of 1 lemon depending on size)
  • 1 tsp. of salt (or more if needed)
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper (or more if needed)
  • Optional ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • Optional red pepper flakes if you want a kick
  • ¾ cup of canola oil

Preparation:

Place all the ingredients except the oil in a food processor. As you start mixing, slowly drizzle the oil into the mixture.

Mix all ingredients except oil in food processor.

Mix all ingredients except oil in food processor.

When everything looks well chopped and mixed with the oil remove and place in serving dish.

Slowly add oil as the food processor is chopping.

Slowly add oil as the food processor is chopping.

Serve as a dipping sauce or drizzle over meat, pork, or chicken.  Chimichurri can also be used as a marinade.

Mi Chimichurri

Mi Chimichurri

Buen Provecho!

Colombian Kheema Matar

 

Kheema Matar – Ground (Minced) Meat and Peas

A Story of Food, Friendship, and Finicky Eaters

When we lived in Westport, CT one of our dearest and closest friends were from India. We spent countless evenings talking, laughing, dancing, drinking, and mainly eating. Some gatherings were planned and others were very spontaneous. We would telephone each other and the next thing we knew we would have planned a feast of Indian, Colombian, and/or American foods with whatever ingredients were in our houses. The beauty of having friends from different cultures is that as we get to know each other we come to the realization that we have much more in common than we think. As my girlfriend and I cooked together we realized how similar Colombian and Indian food was. Sure, there were differences, but more often than not, she would identify a Colombian dish I’d make with an equivalent Indian dish and visa versa.

My children were finicky eaters when they were young. There was a New York Times Article in 2007 that explained how being a picky eater was a “genetic” trait. My children took after my husband who had also been a picky eater as a child and had outgrown this trait. At the time, my children’s main diet consisted of pasta with white sauce (no red sauce), chicken nuggets, and mac-n-cheese with a limited selection of vegetables. Being the foodies and cooks that both my husband and I are, we made countless attempts to try to get the children to sample new foods and to eat what we cooked for the adults at home but these efforts were in vain. Then one day my friend made Kheema matar, which is an Indian ground meat and pea dish. It is typically made with ground lamb but she had used ground beef that evening. She used beef because she knew I was not very fond of lamb. (who’s the finicky eater now!) The dish is beautifully seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger, hot pepper, cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, and garam masala (more on this later).

Coriander, Cumin & Cayenne

To my surprise, my children ate the Kheema at her house that night. I don’t know why they ate it since it was so different to what they typically liked, was it that food always tastes better at other people’s houses, were they being polite and obedient and doing as they were told, or was it the magic combination of flavors that woke up their taste buds. Whatever it was, that Kheema dish was a turning point for our family. It marked the beginning of the changes in our home cooking and my children’s eating habits. I looked up my Madhur Jaffrey Indian cook book, made some adjustments to her Kheema Matar recipe, and made it a family staple. It opened up a whole new world of adventurous eating for my children and a gradual farewell to their culinary finickiness. It also made my life easier. I could now cook one meal for the whole family. And as many of you know, this is HUGE!! Sure, I initially hid some of the ingredients by blending or food processing them, something I no longer need to do. But even today, I have kept some of these techniques out of convenience. I prefer to food process a bunch of onion, garlic, and ginger than dice it.

We moved from Westport, CT to West Chester, PA and missed our friends terribly. We have visited each other over the years. We now live in London so it’s even harder to get together. The thing we missed the most was the spontaneity of our gatherings and the culinary experiences we shared.

So below I share my version of Kheema Matar. It is a recipe of delicious comfort food that brings back wonderful memories of our friends in Westport. It is a recipe of a meal that marked a pivotal moment for our family cooking and of the triumphant accomplishment of a mother who finally got her children to move beyond “white pasta”. Today, our 14 and 13-year-old children are foodies-in-training developing amazingly sophisticated palates. This makes my husband and I very happy because now the whole family can share and enjoy exciting culinary adventures together.

Kheema Matar by a Colombian

My cooking technique reflects more of an American/Colombian style. This dish is relatively mild but you can add more spice and more heat as you like. If you have never cooked “Indian”, this is a great introductory recipe.

Ingredients

Serves 6 – 8 (great as left overs)

  • ½ Large Onion (4 – 6 oz)
  • 7 – 8 garlic cloves
  • 1” – 1 ½“ of fresh ginger, peeled cut  into 4 pieces
  • ½  to 1 hot green or red pepper
  • 2 oz. of water
  • 2 Tbs Canola Oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ⅛ to ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 oz. of water
  • 2 lbs of Ground Meat (you can mix ground beef with ground chicken or turkey)
  • 10 oz. frozen peas defrosted ( I like to be generous with the peas)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 – 2 lemons juiced (or limes if that is all you have)

Method 

  • Begin by making a paste with the first five ingredients.

Make a Paste with:
Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Hot Red Pepper, and Water

  • Then heat the oil, and stir fry the paste for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add the ground coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, and sauté for 1 -2 minutes.
  • Add the additional 4 oz. of water and the ground meat.  Stir, bring to a boil, lower the temperature, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.

The Paste with Ground Meat

  • Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and simmer for 10 more minutes.

Add peas, cilantro, garam masala, and salt.

Add the Lemon Juice

  • Adjust salt if needed.
  • Serve with white or Basmati rice.

Extra Tips

GingerI like to buy fresh ginger. With the skin on I cut the ginger into 1 ½ “ pieces. I wrap the individual pieces in plastic wrap, I place the pieces in a small freezer plastic bag and freeze them. When I am ready to use, I pull out however many pieces I need, I defrost them for a couple of minutes, peel, and prepare as needed. I always have fresh ginger available for use.

Cilantro: I buy a fresh bouquet of cilantro. I place it in a container with water as soon as I get home. I store it in the refrigerator. It keeps for up to two weeks. Remember to check the water level in the container.

SeasoningsYou should be able to find ground cumin, cayenne pepper, and ground coriander at a regular food store. However, garam masala is a special indian blend of spices that you may only find in an Indian store or specialty store. There are many types of garam masalas. A typical garam masala is a blend of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cumin seeds, cloves, peppercorns, and nutmeg.  If you live in a big city you’ll have ample access to these more exotic ingredients. But do not fret, if you live in the US you can order spices from Penzey’s online.  http://www.penzeys.com/

RiceWe eat a lot of rice in our home. I love to use a rice cooker because I get perfect rice each time. I put the rice in the pot, add water, and salt and program the cooker for when I need my rice.

About picky eaters being a genetic trait:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/10/dining/10pick.html?pagewanted=all          

Guacamole, A Family Affair

There is nothing more delicious than freshly made guacamole and it’s so easy to prepare. Our family loves cooking together and we often make guacamole. Recently, my son, Connor, who loves to help in the kitchen with anything that involves chopping, helped prepare the onion and smashed the guacamole. My husband, Curt, and daughter, Clara, the family photographers, helped stage the photo shoot.

And well, Maya of course helped by making sure that the floors remained free of any food particles.

Vacuum Cleaner Extraordinaire

Our Family Guacamole Recipe

Ingredients

– 2 Hass avocados: cut, peeled, and smashed 

– ¼ to ½ of a medium onion depending on how much onion flavor you like (I use yellow or red onion): finely chopped

– ½ to  cup of fresh cilantro: chopped 

– 1 to 2 limes depending on their size: squeezed 

– ¼ to ½ of a jalapeño pepper or hot red pepper (depending on how hot you want your guacamole): finely chopped. If you don’t have fresh peppers then use a couple of dashes of Tabasco sauce.

– Salt to taste: Be generous
Note: There is no mayonnaise or sour cream added to an authentic guacamole recipe.

Preparation and Tips

I like to buy avocados that can be ripened at home. They start out feeling hard to the touch and are a very dark green color. Over a few days they will ripen, feel softer to the touch, and the skin will turn dark brown. If I feel the avocados are ripened but I am not ready to use them then I store them in the refrigerator for later use.

First I cut the avocados in half lengthwise…

Then I quarter them…

Then I peel the skin off. When an avocado is perfectly ripened the skin should peel off easily.

 Then I cut the avocado quarters, place the pieces in a bowl, and smash.

I add the rest of the ingredients, the chopped onion, cilantro, hot pepper, lime juice, and salt to taste.

I mix well. I am very generous with the salt.

I plate the guacamole…

 And serve.

Fresh Guacamole

The Mexican Molcajete

In our US home, I mix the ingredients in our “molcajete”, a Mexican mortar and pestle made from lava rock. You can also prepare salsas or grind spices in them. It is said that molcajetes impart a special flavor to the food prepared in it. We hand carried our very large and heavy molcajete back from Mexico eleven years ago and only spent ten dollars on it. I have seen them available on Amazon.com ranging in price from $18 – $60 depending on the size. It’s a great way to prepare and serve guacamole.

A Mexican Molcajete
A mortar and pestle carved out of lava rock