Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘queso fresco’

My sister, a vegetarian, loves the bean and cheese burritos we ate growing up. A flour tortilla spread with canned refried beans, sprinkled with grated Tillamook cheddar, micro waved for a minute and rolled up. An easy recipe even my sister can make! (Just kidding, Diana!) Very simple and ingenious, but I associate canned refried beans with the taste of vomit. I just can’t stand them. I also prefer to stay away from shortening-filled, white flour tortillas. I love corn tortillas, which typically consist of just corn masa, water and salt, but sometimes I just want a burrito.

I decided to try a fat-free whole wheat tortilla recipe with my kind of ingredient list: short! Just whole wheat pastry flour, water and sea salt. The fewer ingredients and steps included in the recipe, the more likely I am to try it. If you love store-bought white flour tortillas, this recipe may take some getting used to. I love the nutty taste of whole grain products; I will always choose whole grain over white when presented with an option. So, this recipe worked out perfectly for me. Simple, quick, easy and no added fat.

Finish off the tortilla with some of my favorite items: pinto beans, queso fresco, and avocado pico de gallo. A yummy, slightly more time-consuming version of the menu staple of my childhood. Not that time-consuming if you think ahead though! I soak the beans overnight, cook a large batch, and use them throughout the week in many applications. I can do that, because of my love of beans, but cooked beans also freeze well if your family or stomach complains of bean overload. The rest really comes together quickly, although I am less likely to attempt the long versions of these items during hot summer days. The less I turn on the oven or stove top, the better. Prepare for many blog posts involving green salads and fresh fruit during the summer!

Whole Wheat Flour Tortillas

Yields about 4 large tortillas

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 to 3/4 cup water

1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions

In a large bowl combine the flour and 1/2  cup of water. Mix well. Add more water if needed, to get the mixture to a dough consistency. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is soft. Make it into balls (4 to 6 depending on size). Roll each ball out as flat as possible on a floured surface.  Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the rolled out tortilla to the pan and cook for about 45 seconds to 1 minute or until it is bubbling and starting to brown. Then turn it over and cook for another 45 seconds. Wrap each tortilla in a clean kitchen towel as soon as it comes out of the pan.  Serve immediately. These tortillas are better freshly cooked, they don’t reheat as well.

Fill with warm, cooked pinto beans, queso fresco and avocado pico de gallo. Enjoy!

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I fell in love with a Mexican . . . cheese! Yes, my boyfriend hails from DF, or Mexico City for all the non-Spanish speaking folks. He introduced me to fresh Mexican cheese, or queso fresco. Great on tostadas, enchiladas, tacos, taco salads, taquitos, pretty much anything with jalapenos or cilantro included in the recipe. Beats the heck out of greasy shredded cheddar. Cheddar has its applications as well (a grilled cheese sandwich with gooey, sharp white cheddar and garlicky kosher dill pickles, yum!), but when cooking Mexican food, nothing beats fresh queso fresco (kind of redundant, huh?). It doesn’t really melt, but caramelizes if baked in the oven or under the broiler. Yummy! One problem, it never goes on sale! Once and a while, maybe, by fifty cents. Pretty expensive stuff. And when I started to shift my eating habits more towards the organic options, I couldn’t stand the thought of cutting out my new favorite cheese. So, I researched my options the way I always do, online. I found plenty of recipes for homemade queso fresco, and they sounded so easy, I wondered why I never thought of it before. I tried it out with some organic milk, and sure enough, it turned out wonderfully! And so easy to make. I can now make my own organic lime and sea salt queso fresco, with my own spin and control over sodium and preservative content. I am so in love with this cheese, that the other cheeses may start to get jealous. Oh well, I may have one great love, but I can have some fun on the side once and a while, right? I mean you, cheddar!

Lime and Sea Salt Queso Fresco

I adapted this recipe from the recipe on this website.

Yields about 1 cup crumbled queso fresco

1 qt whole milk, do not use ultra pasteurized

1 lime, juiced

1 tsp sea salt

Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the milk almost comes to a boil. Tiny bubbles should  form around the edges of the pan, but do not bring the milk to a full boil. If you use a thermometer, the milk should reach about 195 degrees. Add the lime juice. Stir and then remove from the heat. Let sit for about 10 minutes. The curds should start separating from the whey almost immediately.  After 10 minutes, stir and then pour the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. (There are uses for the whey if you want to save it). Sprinkle the curds with the sea salt. Gather the curds in the center of the cheesecloth, and form it into a loose ball. Top it with a plate and some weights (canned food works well) to help with the draining/firming process. Refrigerate (make sure there is a bowl under the strainer!) for a few hours until the majority of the whey has been pressed from the cheese. Remove the cheesecloth and store the cheese in the refrigerator in a covered container for 5 to 7 days, depending on the freshness of the milk.

Read Full Post »

I grew up in the land of canned beans. Black beans, re-fried beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, great northern white beans, even green beans, all from the can. I helped my mom can peaches, pears, cherries, green beans and plums in the summer heat. We took out our frustrations on large batches of strawberries, blackberries and raspberries, smashing them into submission with generous quantities of sugar for homemade freezer jam. We peeled and sliced apples in the fall for homemade chunky applesauce and my mom’s famous apple pies. So much work, but so worth it. My mom conquered these challenges with grace, but found dried beans intimidating. She found them too time consuming (right, homemade canned pears take no time!), and thought they never tasted right. Funny to me now, that such a simple ingredient can scare even those with the greenest thumbs and greasiest elbows. Now, guess my favorite kitchen staple. Yes, dried beans. So versatile, tasty, nutritious, satisfying and inexpensive! Even my mom no longer fears cooking this wonderful nutrient source.  Currently, black beans, pinto beans, great northern white beans and pink beans all line my shelves. If I cook the beans myself, I control the amount of salt and flavorings added, not some giant corporation. I can cook the beans with onions and garlic, and let them absorb all the wonderful flavors. Just don’t add salt or anything acidic (tomatoes, vinegar, lime juice, etc . . .) until the last five minutes of cooking, after the beans soften. Salt and acid toughen the beans if added too early. Smash pinto beans with sautéed onions and garlic for homemade re-fried beans not even close to the canned variety that always taste like vomit (at least to me). Puree navy beans with roasted garlic or roasted red peppers for a delicious mayonnaise replacement. Stir great northern white beans, spinach and homemade pesto into chicken soup instead of  pasta. So many possibilities, I never need to make the same recipe twice. My latest bean adventure includes homemade tomatillo salsa, diced tomatoes and avocados, cilantro, green onion and queso fresco. Serve with chips for a yummy dip, or on top of spinach leaves for a cold taco salad. If your bean fear stems from a less than desirable side effect (to put it nicely!) that only means you need to eat more beans! Believe me, the more you eat, the more your body builds up a tolerance to them. So, step away from the canned food aisle and into the land of heavenly, homemade beans.

Pink Bean and Tomatillo Salsa Salad

Yields 6 to 8 servings

1 cup beans (I used pink beans, but pinto beans or black beans work too)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

Cover the beans with water and soak them overnight. They will expand, so make sure to use plenty of water and a large container.  Drain the beans and rinse them well. Place them in a large pot and cover them with water. Add the garlic cloves. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook them at a fast simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste, and continue cooking for 5 more minutes. Drain the beans, but do not rinse them. Discard the garlic. While the beans are cooking, prepare the tomatillo salsa.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

1/2 lb tomatillos, soaked in water and husks removed

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

1/2 bunch green onions, washed and roots removed

1/4 bunch cilantro leaves, washed

1/4 cup water

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Roast the tomatillos and garlic on a rimmed baking sheet for about 15 minutes, or until tomatillos soften slightly and change color. Remove from oven and cool briefly. Puree the tomatillos, garlic, green onions, cilantro, water and salt and pepper until smooth. Pour the warm salsa over the warm, drained beans, and refrigerate until cold. Combining the salsa and beans while they are still warm lets the beans soak up more flavor. While the beans are cooling, prepare the rest of the salad ingredients.

1 poblano pepper

2 roma tomatoes, diced 1/4 inch

1 avocado, peeled and diced 1/4 inch

1/4 bunch cilantro, minced

1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

6 oz queso fresco (1/2 of a wheel)

Roast the poblano pepper under the broiler, turning occasionally until the skin is black and blistered. Immediately put the pepper in a plastic bag and refrigerate until cool enough to handle. When cooled, peel off the blackened skin and remove the stem and the seeds. Cut the pepper into 1/4 inch dice. Combine the diced pepper, tomato, avocado, cilantro, green onions, and queso fresco with the salsa-marinated beans. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with corn chips.

Read Full Post »