Yummy Beany Burrito

This was my lunch today:

 

Now you’ll probably think, “how on earth does she have the time to make herself a lunch like that on an ordinary weekday”, followed by “she must have gone out for lunch”. Actually, I made it myself, but used mostly leftovers from last night’s dinner, except for the corn tortilla, which is fresh and home made. I am getting ready for my next cooking class “Mexican Fiesta” and have been making tortillas non-stop. I went and bought myself a cast iron skillet yesterday, which makes much better tortillas than any of the pans in my cupboard. It wasn’t too expensive, even by OZ standards and is well worth it. I am also getting better at getting the right dough consistency, which just like pasta making, requires patience and practise. I watched about 20 YouTube videos, in English and in Spanish, as well as reading countless blog entries. Now you’re probably wondering why I am not going to the store and buy them instead of going through all this trouble. And believe me, I would, were we anywhere close to a place that sells good tortillas. The only thing you get in Perth is the El Paso brand and it’s relatives, which if you’re like me and religiously read through the list of ingredients, is not an option. Numbers, preservatives and additives galore. That’s why they have a shelf life of a million years.

I haven’t tried to make flour tortillas, mainly because of a good friend who is a celiac and she’s coming to one of the cooking classes. Speaking of which, I seamed to have found my calling. Mexican Cooking classes! Nothing has ever created such an interest before. So far I have 3 full classes for next month, of which all the proceeds go to a post-Christmas shopping trip to NYC! Sorry I made you think they would go to a charitable cause there for a second. Next year, I promise. This is my first profit ever, and I need to reward myself. Bingo! 

Back to food! What you see on the picture is actually a burrito – pre-wrapped. I did wrap it in aluminium foil after I took the picture. It does hold everything together so much better and keeps things warm. But you don’t have to, and for the environment’s sake, probably shouldn’t. What went in it? Pinto beans, tomato salsa fresca, brown rice, avocado slices and a sprinkle of medium cheddar cheese. Of course there are all kinds of ways to make your burrito, but I love beans in all shapes and colors and wouldn’t substitute them for anything. The salsa is straight forward; all you really need is good tomatoes, fresh coriander (cilantro), fresh chilies, onion, garlic, lime juice and salt.

As to the remaining ingredients for my burrito, I have to have avocado. I can’t really have any Mexican food without it. I also love the brown rice in it. It rounds it all up, and soaks up some of the spice, in case you went a little over board. I am pretty ambivalent about the cheese. It’s definitely not a must. That’s pretty much it. Check it out. It’s delicious, fun, good for you and the planet and you can eat it with your hands!

My kind of Re-fried Beans

 

 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans (about 2 cans of beans, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil          
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chili, chopped (ribs and seeds removed) – I used one small chipotle pepper in adobe, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander (cilantro), leaves coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, or more to taste

Method 

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, jalapeño, cayenne and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Add beans, 1 cup of water and tomato paste; bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Add corn; cook to heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in coriander (cilantro), lime juice and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Tomato Salsa Fresca

Ingredients

  • 6 ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 bunch coriander (cilantro)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño chili, chopped (ribs and seeds removed) – I used a regular red chili, fresh jalapeños are impossible to find here
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt to taste

Method

Mix all ingredients together. Adjust seasoning with more lime juice and salt if necessary. Sometimes a little sugar helps to make it a bit mellower.

Corn Tortilla

 

Makes 3 or 4 burrito size tortillas

You’ll need a large ziploc bag and a rolling pin.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup MASECA (white masa harina flour) – no other flour will do! Believe me, I have tried!
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

Method

Put flour in a bowl. Pour in half a cup of water. Mix gently with your hands. Dough will be dry. Slowly add more water, bit by bit, while continuously kneading dough. You want to get a soft, pliable dough which isn’t too sticky or too dry. Knead for a few minutes. Cover dough in cling wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.

Cut the ziploc bag in half along the creases. You want two equal size sheets.

Divide your dough into 3 or 4 equal pieces. Shape each of them in a ball. Cover with cling wrap.

Place your cast iron skillet or heat proof pan on high heat.

Place one ball of dough in the center of one half of the ziploc bag. Cover with second half. Flatten the dough with your hands. Now use rolling pin and roll the dough evenly into a large circle. This requires a bit of practise and patience. If your tortilla turned into an awkward shape, turn it back into a ball and start over.

Once the tortilla is about as thick as a piece of cardboard (1-2 mm), remove top sheet of ziploc bag. Turn tortilla over onto your palm and carefully remove other half of ziploc bag.

Place tortilla onto your palm, so that top half of tortilla is resting on your palm and the other half is freely hanging below. Tilt hot pan slightly towards you hand and glide tortilla onto pan, beginning with the overhang. (YouTube offers several corn tortilla videos, in case you need visual instructions.)

Cook on each side for one minute.

Wrap tortilla in kitchen towel to keep warm. Now it’s time to make the next one. In case you need to keep your tortillas warm for a few hours, wrap them first in aluminium foil and then the kitchen towel. Place the package in a warm oven. Of course, should you be so lucky to have one, use your tortilla warmer…

Burrito Assembly

Heat the Tortilla

To ensure that the tortilla is nice and soft and will roll easily, it is best to quickly heat it up in the microwave. Wrap the tortilla in a paper towel, to prevent it from drying out, and heat it for about 30 seconds.

Assemble the Burrito

It’s easier to roll the final burrito, if you line up your ingredients a little off-center on the tortilla. Start with a bit of salsa, followed by rice, which will absorb any juices that seep through. After the rice, add a layer of cheese before your beans, so that it will sandwich and melt nicely. Finish with avocado slices and a bit more salsa and you’re ready to roll. Try to keep your fillings 3-4 inches wide and about 7 inches long. Leave about 4 inches on the bottom end of the filling and about 2 inches on the top end. If you add more, your burrito may not close properly.

Roll the Burrito

Fold the short end of the tortilla up (where you left 4 inches of space) so the contents don’t spill out of the bottom.

Fold the long side, with the smaller empty space, over the top of the filling. Place your fingers perpendicular across the fold, cup the tortilla over the filling and push the edge against the filling to make sure the fold is tight.

Wrap the remaining long end over both folds.

Turn burrito over and lay it folded side down. Let it rest for a moment to ensure the tortilla has time to mould itself closed.

Wrap it in aluminium foil, because even the most perfect burrito may leak a little bit.

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