Check out this fantastic and hearty black bean and chipotle chile soup I made this week. There are three reasons I love this recipe: First, you can make it in the blender—so it’s very easy to clean up afterward. Second, the whole recipe from prep to bowl can be made in 15 minutes or less! And last but not least, this recipe is very healthy—it’s low-fat and high in fiber. It makes a great first course if you divide into smaller portions, or with a little bolillo roll and butter, it can make an excellent and filling lunch or dinner.
I love, love, love the little community we’ve grown on our Facebook fan page. A week or two ago, I posted a question asking fans what their favorite Mexican recipes are that they’ve adapted for crock-pot cooking. Overwhelmed with the number of delicious suggestions, I decided to whip up a batch of slow-cooked frijoles as my final tribute to National Slow-Cooking Month. (Thanks to Tortilla fan Annette for giving us the basic cooking instructions she uses.)
The results were tremendous, so I recorded a video recipe to show you just how I did it. As we’re preparing for a blizzard here in Chicago this week, I’m glad to have leftovers of this hearty, warm bean dish that is great as a snack, a side dish, or a main dish….
During my last visit to Mexico, one rainy afternoon I spent several hours leafing through my suegra’s cookbooks looking for some new tricks and some family recipes.
After writing several recipes down, I decided to just use my phone to take a photo of each recipe card so that I could have all the recipes without all the work of writing them down. Plus, they’d be easy to access in the kitchen and as an added bonus, they’re in the original handwriting of whichever relative gave my suegra the recipe. Some of them were even typed on a typewriter!
A month or two ago, José discovered my little secret while browsing the photos on my phone and he was like a little kid opening presents on Christmas. Now he’s always stealing my phone when he’s hungry! Last week he was scrolling through the recipes looking for something different that I hadn’t yet attempted to make and he came across this recipe for filete de res a la Chiapaneca, or Chiapas-style steak. It’s another recipe of Tía Carola’s and it came with minimal instructions as usual. I had to modify the recipe slightly because on the first taste test of the salsa, José said it didn’t taste quite right. But this version I’m sharing here is super sabroso and sure to delight the whole family….
For weeks, José has been bugging me to make his Tía Carola’s frijoles charros. Outside of El Charco de Las Ranas, his favorite taquería in Mexico City, Tía Carola’s frijoles charros are the only ones he has ever raved about.
When I asked for the recipe a few weeks ago, it felt like I was playing “teléfono descompuesto” with at least three people – where something surely gets lost every time someone relays the message on to another person. José called his sister, who called his aunt; then his sister called him back and he translated the ingredients to me. Note that he only relayed the ingredient list and not the portions. And he only got a vague set of instructions. Apparently, Tía Carola is not exactly keen on lots of details and also hasn’t made this dish in at least 10 years. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit nervous about making this vaunted recipe with such a vague idea of what I was supposed to do.
I returned from the store with a big bag of frijoles pintos (in English: pinto beans). José argued with me that I had bought the wrong beans because they were supposed to be frijoles bayos. I knew that, but couldn’t find them at the store so I settled confidently on a hand-sifted bag of carefully chosen pinto beans. I settled the argument with a quick google search that ended in my favor, which had me secretly feeling proud on the inside that I knew frijoles pintos and frijoles bayos were not the same, but often interchangeable because of their similarities in taste, color and texture ‑ especially in this recipe.
I knew when José argued with me about the beans that he was going to be a tough customer to please. I lit one of my San Judas Tadeo candles (the patron saint of lost causes and desperate situations) and hoped for a culinary Hail Mary pass with my limited instructions and the guesswork lying ahead. I was short on time with no room for mistakes since I was making the frijoles charros for lunch on a weekday and all I had as a backup were some emergency TV dinners in the freezer. Who could have ever imagined there could be so much pressure behind a pot of beans?
As I served the frijoles charros, my stomach was in knots. Would they live up to Tía Carola’s recipe? I waited for the verdict as he savored the first spoonful….