Nopalito: Tostadas de Picadillo and Frijoles Pinquitos Refritos

Having grown up in Arizona of course Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines so I am super excited that Food52 Cookbook Club is going through Nopalito by Gonzalo Guzmán and Stacy Adimando this month.

The first recipe (well two) that I thought I’d tackle is the Tostadas de Picadillo (otherwise known as Ground Beef Tostadas) with Refried Pinto Beans (Frijoles Pinquitos Refritos).

This tostada consists of a corn tortilla (which I bought from Woolies – I only found white ones so that’s what we used) that has been made crispy (we did this on our electric skillet but the book recommends frying in oil or baking), smeered with refried bean, then topped with a ground beef mixture and the side fixings (we’ve used lettuce, red onion, coriander, Mexican cheese, sour cream and lime juice).

The ground beef mixture (picadillo) is made by frying off some beef mince that has been generously salted, then cooking with onions, jalapenos, oregano, cumin, tomato paste and chilli powder. Then you add a tin of diced tomatoes and cook the mixture for 20 minutes. Finally you add some diced potato and shredded carrots and cook for a further 20 minutes until the vegetables have cooked.

The picadillo was really yummy, and I could see this being used for more than just tostadas, it would be great on nachos or tacos too. It was relatively easy, but I was suprised by the long cook time and kinda got caught out in the moment and had to come up with a quick dinner for our eldest who had a performance he had to be at well before we were finished cooking. Whoops!

The refried pinto beans were super easy. We halved the recipe because there was no need for 6 cups of beans for this meal, so we used 2 cans of pinto beans, draining one but keeping the liquid in the other. We warmed these up together and put them in a saucepan of hot oil for a couple minutes with some oregano and onion, then once they were cooked we blitzed them with our new stick blender. I thought this recipe was pretty good but was lacking in seasoning and I would definitely add salt next time. They also turned out paler than I imagined they’d be, not sure if that is the type of pinto beans we get here in Australia or if I needed to cook them longer or in a different oil. Normally I use some pinto and some black beans in my version, so it may just be what I’m used to.

Overall I was pretty happy with our first effort and I look forward to exploring this book a bit more over the next few weeks.

Meatless Mexican

I was so excited to see that you can now buy canned pinto beans in Woolworths that I couldn’t wait to have bean burritos for dinner. (We seriously bought 12 cans of them and also 12 cans of black beans because they were super cheap this week!) This is a meal we do quite often that I’ve adapted from several recipes to easily accomodate vegans, but you can also easily add an animal protein for the meat lovers (or if there’s a crowd to feed). But on Mondays, this is often what it looks like.

Mexican corn cake

It started with this recipe, but my method is much simpler, and instead of butter and milk, I use canola oil so vegans can enjoy it too.

Preheat your oven to 180C. Cook 1 1/2 cups frozen corn with 1/4 cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes. While this is happening, chuck the following ingredients into a small casserole dish: 1/2 cup canola oil, 1/3 cup masa, 1/4 cup polenta, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 tspn baking powder and 1/4 tspn salt. Then add the corn and water and use a stick immersion blender to mix it all together and to break up the corn kernels. Bake in a water bath, covered, for about an hour. I use a large ice cream scoop to serve like you’d see in many Mexican restaurants in the US.

Mexican rice

I got the original recipe here, but I’ve changed it so I can make it in my rice cooker.

Place 2 cups long grain white rice, 1 diced onion, 1 diced green chilli, 1 can chopped tomatoes, 2 cups vegetable stock, 1 Tbspn cumin, 1 tspn minced garlic, and 1/2 tspn salt in your rice cooker and stir together. Let it cook and then devour!

(If you have lemon or lime juice on hand, or fresh coriander, throw some of that on before serving. Usually we make guacamole, but alas there were no avocados at the store, so today we served it plain.)

“Refried” beans

I’m not sure where this recipe originated anymore, but basically it’s another throw everything in and give it a stir recipe. Drain and rinse 1 can of pinto beans and 1 can of black beans and place in a small saucepan. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, 1 small diced onion, 1 tspn garlic, 1 diced green chilli and some salt to taste. Cook on high until the stock has reduced by half (about 20 minutes). Mash with a potato masher or use your stick immersion blender (this helps break up the onion and chilli). If it’s too watery continue to cook until desired consistency.

From here I just set out other staples (chopped tomatoes, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, sour cream, salsa, hot sauce, tortillas, taco shells and corn chips if I have them) on the table and everyone does what they want. I made myself a bean burrito with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream in a wholemeal tortilla and then had rice and corn cake on the side (sadly our salsa was moldy and we’re out of hot sauce – clearly I’m in holiday mode still). If we’d had guacamole, I would’ve made a cheese quesadilla and had everything else as sides to dip them in. Aaron and my oldest two like to chuck everything into a tortilla as part of their burritos. Or if we have corn chips they like to make nachos and throw everything on top of corn chips and cheese that they’ve warmed together in the microwave.

The only things that make this meal vegetarian rather than vegan are the dairy products that accompany it (ie sour cream and cheese). If we were to serve this meal to vegans I’d simply make sure to have guacamole as a creamy condiment for them and wouldn’t sprinkle cheese on the refried beans like I did tonight.