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Frijoles Negros

Frijoles Negros con chorizo y queso

There are many different Frijoles recipes using different beans, Kidney, Pinto, Black eyed and Black beans and range from Frijoles Charros (Cowboy Beans) to the Tex-Mex staple of Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans), however I like the Frijoles Negros that I always order at Wahcha (a Mexican restaurant chain here in the UK).

It has a smooth consistency that you can dip nachos and bread in and makes a great side or a base for a Conchita Pibil taco.

Ingredients

400g cooked black beans
½ red chilli, finely chopped
50g butter ( some more is better )
1 small onion, grated or finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped

For the topping (optional)

½ red chilli, finely chopped.
2 stems of coriander, torn.
1 banana shallot, finely sliced.
100g of cubed or crumbled Chorizo.
grated Lancashire or crumbled Feta cheese to taste.

If you want a vegetarian version, leave out the Chorizo obviously!

Method

  1. Cook the onion in the butter until soft then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute then add to a food processor.
  2. Drain the beans reserving the cooking liquid. Add the cooked beans with a little of their cooking liquid to the food processor.
  3. Whiz the mixture until you get a smooth, tomato ketchup consistency (add a little more of the liquid if it’s too thick)
  4. Remove to a bowl and season to taste with a little salt and pepper and allow to cool.

For the topping.

  1. Add the Chorizo to a tablespoon of Olive Oil and fry until toasted and the oil is coloured red.

Allow to cool and add to the Frijoles with finely chopped shallots and chilli, a garnish of coriander, the chorizo (and oil) and Lancashire cheese.

They’re perfect with a bowl of tortilla chips and an ice-cold beer.

Cochinita Pibil – Yucatán-Style Barbecued Pork

To kick off the 24th UK National BBQ Week I fancied cooking something a little special ‘Low and Slow’ rather than a bog standard BBQ Pulled Pork or chancing my arm with a British Grass Fed Beef Brisket (They can often end up dry as they are bred quite lean for the UK market).

I had been watching a Covid-19 lockdown rerun of Rick Stein’s “The Road to Mexico” and in the final episode, where he heads east from Oaxaca to the Yucatan Peninsula, he had a Pibil taco ( the Piib is the Mayan method of cooking meat in a earth oven, a Piib, with hot stones covered with banana leaves for an extended period of time), so I decided it was time to try a Pibil but in my Nova Kamado Oven not digging a my garden up for an earth oven!

The Conchita Pibil is one of the mainstays of the Festival of Pibil, that takes place in a number of Central South America countries that formed the ancient Mayan civilisation, and normally uses the juice of the bitter Seville Oranges as the base along with Achiote.

The trick with this Pibil is to build up the flavour layers as you go, the result is spectacular and knocks the standard BBQ Pulled Pork into a “cocked hat……”

Ingredients

1.8kg boneless pork shoulder cut into 3cm thick slabs
3 Plum tomatoes, sliced
1 red or green pepper, sliced
1 large brown onion, sliced thinly
12 bay leaves
1 whole head garlic, separated into individual unpeeled cloves
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
40g of achiote (annatto) seeds
2 tablespoons of Mexican oregano (or normal Oregano if you can’t get Mexican)
3 whole cloves
1 large Ceylon cinnamon stick, or a medium piece of standard supermarket cinnamon
2 tablespoons of whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon of whole cumin seed
1 tablespoon of whole Allspice berries (a teaspoon of ground Allspice can be used at a pinch)
180ml of bitter (Seville) orange juice, or 60ml each of lime, orange, and grapefruit juice
60ml) of white vinegar
15ml of dark soy sauce
Salt (I used some home oak smoked sea salt flakes, to add another layer smokiness to the marinade)

Optional:
6 to 8 banana leaves (see note)

Method

1. Break up the garlic bulb but don’t skin the cloves, and thread them all onto a metal skewer and grill directly over the flame of a gas hob until completely blackened on all sides. Alternatively toss the cloves in a hot dry frying pan for about 3 to 4 minutes. Peel the blackened skins off the cloves when cool enough to handle.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat until shimmering then add the achiote, oregano, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cumin, allspice and toast, continually tossing until fragrant, this will only take a couple of minutes so be careful not to burn it. Transfer to a blender along with peeled garlic, Seville Orange juice or the Orange\Grapefruit\Lime mix, vinegar, soy sauce, and a big pinch of salt. Blend the mixture until smooth and season to taste with more salt if required. The mixture should be quite salty and have a consistency like tomato ketchup as you want it to cover and stick to the meat, if it’s too thick then thin with a little water until it flows a little more easily.

3. Pour marinade over the slabs of meat massaging it in with your hands. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least for an hour but preferably overnight.

Marinade

4. Lay out a large piece of baking parchment then add a layer of sliced onion, tomato and bay leaves and lay the meat on top, add more onion, tomato and bay as you go. Wrap the parcel tightly with another sheet of parchment and then the whole lot with a sheet of thick foil so that the steam will be kept in.

Ready to wrap

note: if you have banana leaves light toast over a flame to make the leaf more pliable then lay one out and add the onion tomato and bay with a single slab of the pork and wrap, creating a tight parcel with another leaf then tie tightly with twine.

5. Set your BBQ up for indirect cooking and get the heat up to 130 – 150C add a chunk or two of wood (use a fruit wood for a sweeter smoke, apple or cherry works well), adding more wood each hour. Cook the meat until the internal temperature is around 95C (at this temperature the collagen breaks down so the pork will “pull”) and the meat feels soft when probed. It’ll take between 4 to 5 hours.

Smoked and tender

6. Remove pork from the BBQ and transfer the parcel to a platter or shallow bowl. Unwrap and serve immediately, shredding the pork between two forks pouring over any juices that are left in the parcel.

Cooked and unwrapped

Pulled Pibil

Serve and enjoy by stuffing it into tortillas with pickled red onions and salsa with some frijoles on the side

Pork and Pancetta Stuffing

Pork Pancetta Stuffing Balls
Pork Pancetta Stuffing Balls

It’s that time of year when the Turkey needs stuffing! This year I’ve gone for a  Butterfly Turkey Crown, which I’ll spread the stuffing over before I fold back together and roast. I’ve plumped for this slightly smoky Pork and Pancetta stuffing which should keep the breast moist and flavourful.

If you don’t have a bird to stuff just roll it into balls and cook  for 20 mins or so until they are cooked though and browned.

Ingredients

  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/3 lb (150 g) mild pancetta, cut into fine dice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 8 oz (227 g) white button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb (454 g) pork sausage meat
  • 3 cups (750 ml) bread cubes, without the crust
  • Zest of 1 unwaxed Lemon
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • Salt and pepper

Method

1.In a large saucepan, soften the onions and pancetta in the oil. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, then leave to cool.

2. Add the sausage meat, cooled onion mixture, breadcrumbs and lemon zest along with the herbs and seasoning to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Use to stuff the bird of your choice or roll into balls and cook separately and serve……..

Paul Hollywood’s Pain De Campagne

Pain De Champagne
Pain De Campagne
image: alittlethoughtforfood.com

I’ve been watching last year Oregano grow like mad this year and needed to cut it back before it went to seed. I was wondering what to do with leaves rather than just dump them in the compost when I remembered this recipe in Paul Hollywood’s Bread
book, that Kimbob’s bought me for Valentine’s

Makes: 1 loaf

Tip: I use dried yeast when making wholemeal bread as the re-activation in warm water gives the heavier wholemeal flour a helping hand to rise. Feel free to use easy bake dried yeast or fresh if you want. You don’t need to activate the Easy Bake yeast just add it to the flour and stir in.

Ingredients

  • 400 g strong bread flour
  • 100 g rye flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dried yeast (or 7g easy bake dried yeast\20g fresh yeast)
  • 50 g butter, diced and softened to room temperature
  • 1 large bunch of oregano, de-stalked and finely chopped
  • 300 ml water

Method

  1. Activate the dried yeast by whisking the sugar into 160 ml of the water until dissolved, then add the yeast and whisk again. Leave in a warm place for 10 – 15 mins or until 2cms of froth covers the surface, whisk again and use (Not required for Easy Bake yeast)
  2. Add the flour, salt and chopped herbs into a bowl and mix thoroughly
  3. Add the butter and rub completely into the flour mix
  4. Slowly add the yeast and water and mix in with your hands until all the flour from the side of the bowl, has been incorporated.
  5. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 6 minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl and leave to rise for 2 to 2.5 hours until doubled in size.
  6. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Return the dough to the floured surface and shape into a ball, then slightly flatten with your hands and dust with some rye flour. Using a sharp knife, mark out  the traditional square shape on top of the dough, pop onto a baking tray and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 8. Bake for 30 minutes until until the bread is risen, the crust is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy with butter, or as the base for a slice or two of Mature Cheddar Cheese on toast or dunked in a bowl of my Bacon and Lentil or  Minestrone Soup

 

 

 

Pepper, Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Pepper Chickpea and Spinach Curry
Pepper, Chickpea and Spinach Curry
Image: http://www.alittlethoughtforfood.com

I fancied cooking something vegetarian for a change, this tasty one pot dish is quick and easy to prepare and is substantial enough to fill a hole in anyones appetite. It’s only about 170 kCals per portion too.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 Red Chilli
  • 2.5 cms Root Ginger, peeled
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 3 mixed peppers, diced
  • 1 tbsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 1 400g tin of Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 400g tin of  Chickpeas, drained
  • 1 bag of Spinach, (200 – 250gms)

Method

  1. Whizz the Garlic, Chilli and Ginger in a blender until it forms a paste, (you can substitute paste versions of these instead and use as directed on the tubes\jar)
  2. Heat the paste and olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pan, until it becomes fragrant and starts to sizzle (be careful not to burn the paste or it will become bitter)
  3. Add the onion and peppers and fry for a few minutes, util the onions start to become translucent)
  4. Add the spices and tomato puree and cook for a few moments
  5. Add the Chickpeas, and Chopped Tomatoes plus a splash of water and simmer for 10 mins.
  6.  Add the spinach and cook for a few minutes until it’s wilted, then stir through the curry.

Serve with some plain boiled rice and a Naan or Chapati and enjoy this healthy delight…..

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

 

 

 

Basic Wholemeal Bread

Basic Wholemeal Bread
Basic Wholemeal Bread
Image: http://www.alittlethoughtforfood.com
#alittlethoughtforfood

“Once you’ve grasped the recipe for wholemeal bread you’ll never stop making it” was something I heard a long time ago and it’s true. This easy recipe make two small 450g loaves or a single 900g one. As it doesn’t contain any of the flour ‘improvers’ and preservatives that you find in commercially bought loaves, it won’t last as long, so I normally make two small ones and wrap one tightly and pop it in the fridge to keep for a day or two.

 

Tip: I use dried yeast when making wholemeal bread as the re-activation in warm water gives the heavier wholemeal flour a helping hand to rise. Feel free to use easy bake dried yeast or fresh if you want. You don’t need to activate the Easy Bake yeast just add it to the flour and stir in.

Ingredients:

  • 450g strong plain wholemeal flour
  • 225g strong plain white flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp dried yeast (or 7g easy bake dried yeast\20g fresh yeast)
  • 25g butter, cubed
  • About 450 ml warm water (2 parts cold to one part boiling), the true amount depends on the day and the flour

Method

  1. Activate the dried yeast by whisking the sugar into 160ml of the water until dissolved, then add the yeast and whisk again. Leave in a warm place for 10 – 15 mins or until 2cms of froth covers the surface, whisk again and use (Not required for Easy Bake yeast)
  2. Sift the white flour into a large bowl
  3. Add the wholemeal flour and salt and stir.
  4. Rub the butter into the flour mixture and make a well in the middle.
  5. Mix the activated yeast liquid and enough of the remaining water into the flour to make a soft dough.
  6. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  7. Shape into a round an place in a clean large and lightly oiled bowl, pop into a large plastic bag or loosely cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.
  8. Oil two 900g loaf tins.
  9. Once the dough as risen (You can tell if it’s fully risen as the dough won’t pop back when you press your finger lightly into it), knock it back on a lightly floured surface, divide into two (if you want two loaves), roughly shape into rectangles and pop in the tins.
  10. Cover and leave to rise again, for about ½ hour or until doubled in size.
  11. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 230°C/450°F
  12. Dust the loaves with a sprinkling of wholemeal flour and cook for 15 mins then reduce the temperature to 200°C\420°F and cook for another 15 to 20 mins until the bread is risen, the crust is lightly browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom
  13. Turn out and cool completely on a wire rack

Slice and enjoy with butter, jam or anything you fancy………

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
Spiced Butternut Squash Soup
image: alittlethoughtforfood.com

This creamy, hearty yet healthy soup, tantalised the tastebuds of my colleagues when I bought a batch to work for my lunch. at around 200 kcals per portion (without an added dash of cream) it makes a tasty and filling lunch.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 medium brown onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 kg Butternut Squash, peeled, de-seeded and roughly chopped
  • 2.5 cm root ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and sliced thinly
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion, ginger and chilli. Cook on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the Butternut squash , ground spices, cumin seeds and garlic  and cook for a further 5 minutes until the aromas are released.
  4. Turn up the heat, then add the stock plus a good grind of black pepper and bring to the boil.
  5. Turn down to a simmer and allow to bubble slowly for 30 to 35 mins or until the squash is cooked (press against the side of the pan with the back of a spoon, it should be soft).
  6. Blend to a fine consistency with a stick blender, you might need to add some more hot water if the soup is too thick.
  7. Season to taste, then top with a swirl of single or soured cream (optional).

Serve with a hunk of home made bread like my Irish Soda Bread and enjoy…

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

North African Style Chickpea Soup

North African Chickpea Soup
North African Chickpea Soup with Sundried Tomato and Olive Bread
image: A Little Thought for Food

Carrying on with the health kick I made a soup that definitely hits the mark on all counts, a tasty filling and healthy soup that weighs in at a lowly 150kcal (approx) per portion! Try it and you won’t be disappointed.

It’s worth taking the time to skin the baby broad beans, as the soup looks and tastes nicer without the white sheaf that surrounds each green bean

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
  • 2 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 1 medium carrot, finely diced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp Harissa
  • 1 litre hot vegetable stock
  • 400g can chopped plum tomatoes
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 100g frozen baby broad beans, skinned
  • zest and juice ½ lemon

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the onion, celery and the carrot. Cook on a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft.
  3. Add the cumin,  garlic, harissa and tomato puree and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes until the aromas are released.
  4. Turn up the heat, then add the stock, tomatoes and chickpeas, plus a good grind of black pepper.
  5. Simmer for 8 mins.
  6. Then throw in the broad beans and add the lemon juice,
  7. Cook for a further 2 mins.
  8. Season to taste, then top with a sprinkling of lemon zest.

Serve with a hunk of home made bread like my Sun dried Tomato and Olive or Roasted Fennel and Olive and enjoy…

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Bread

Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Bread
Sun Dried Tomato and Olive Bread
image: A Little Thought for Food

This is a variant of the Roast Fennel and Olive bread, I wanted to try and get some more Mediterranean flavours in, the recipe was a trial run and didn’t come out too badly. I’m going to try adding some sundried tomato puree to the water next time and maybe some roasted garlic. The basic recipe is listed

Makes 1 large loaf or 2 smaller ones

Ingredients

  • 700 g strong white bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 7 g sachet dried active yeast
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs
  • 2 tsp olive oil from the sun dried tomatoes
  • 75 g Sun Dried tomatoes (in oil), drained,  roughly chopped and dried in kitchen towel,  dusting them in a little flour will also help them to be mixed into the dough
  • 150g quartered Kalamata Olives, drained and dried in kitchen towel, as with the tomatoes, dusting them in a little flour will also help them to be mixed into the dough
  • 1 tsp Zatar (optional)

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir in the sugar and yeast with the herbs and 1 tbsp of the oil and 425ml of lukewarm water.
  2. Mix to a soft dough, then transfer to a floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  3. Knead in the olives and tomatoes until evenly distributed.
  4. Place in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead again briefly.
  6. Shape into a sausage shape about 32cm long, slash the top a few times with a sharp knife and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet.
  7. Drizzle over the rest of the oil. Cover with a tea towel again and leave to rise for 20 minutes.
  8. Scatter the Zatar and a little flaked sea salt over the top.
  9. Preheat the oven to 230°C, gas mark 8. Bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes or a bit longer if your mixture is a tad dense It should have risen and be golden and also sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

Cool on a wire rack before slicing, serve with a bowl of hearty and warming soup like  my Bacon and Lentil or North African Chickpea

Roasted Fennel and Olive Bread

Roasted Fennel & Olive Bread
Roasted Fennel & Olive Bread
image: A Little Thought For Food

I am currently really excited by the thought of making my own bread, by hand not with a bread machine. I regularly make Irish Soda Bread and a variant using cheese but wanted to try something completely different. I found a recipe for a roasted fennel seed bread online which just seemed a bit plain, so I jazzed it up with some olives.

Makes 1 loaf

Ingredients

  • 700 g strong white bread flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 7 g sachet dried active yeast
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and roughly crushed
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 7 tbsp quartered Kalamata Olives, drained and dried in kitchen towel, dusting them in a little flour will also help them to be mixed into the dough

Method

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and stir in the sugar and yeast with half the fennel seeds, 1 tbsp of the oil and 425ml of lukewarm water.
  2. Mix to a soft dough, then transfer to a floured work surface and knead for 6-8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
  3. Knead in the olives until evenly distributed.
  4. Place in a clean, oiled bowl and cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 1-2 hours or until doubled in size.
  5. Turn the dough out onto the work surface and knead again briefly.
  6. Shape into a sausage shape about 32cm long, slash the top a few times with a sharp knife and transfer to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Scatter the rest of the fennel seeds and a little flaked sea salt over the top.
  7. Drizzle over the rest of the oil. Cover with a tea towel again and leave to rise for 20 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 230°C, gas mark 8. Bake the loaf for 30-35 minutes or a bit longer if your mixture is a tad dense It should have risen and be golden and also sounds hollow when tapped on the base.

Cool on a wire rack before slicing and buttering, Serve with a hearty soup like my Bacon and Lentil soup