Friday, March 9, 2012

The Unrefried Beans

Well, what can I's pretty hard to make refried beans look appetizing....

Last weekend while at one of my very favourite quick lunch spots, Que Pasa Mexican Food Store, I picked up a bag of dried pinto beans with the good intention of making my very own homemade refried beans. I've never actually done this before but for years I've been meaning to. I've always loved a good refried bean burrito with melted cheese on top and it's always bothered me that the cans of refried beans in the store are almost always loaded with salt and fat. So since I took today off work as a much needed vacation day I thought I'd dust off the ol' slow cooker and put it to work.

I searched through many online recipes before I stumbled upon the Chef Claude's recipe below. Most recipes called for bacon fat or pork lard, GASP! I searched and I searched until I found one that was healthy sounding and animal fat-free. This recipe was easy as can be and tasted better than any store bought refried bean can I've ever found. Serve in a burrito with tortilla chips or as a bean taco as I did.

Refried Beans
adapted from Refried Beans without the Refry by Chef Claude

2 cups dried pinto beans, rinsed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chiptle puree
1/2 jalapeƱo, deseeded and chopped
1 onion, chopped
5-6 cups water (or enough to cover beans well)
salt and pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into a slow cooker for 5-7 hours. Once beans have cooked drain and reserve the water. Puree slow cooker contents adding reserved water (I did not need to add any water) as needed to reach the desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie....something warm to tuck into

When I think of Meat Pies, I immediately think back to the comforting beef and chicken pot pies that my family would eat made fresh from Lunn's Pasty Deli and Coffee Shop located in the town where I grew up in Sidney, B.C.  This place has warm flaky pies and every kind of pastry imaginable, they are the real deal. Even now at Christmas my parents still bring home a box of Lunn's mince meat pies and other assorted pastries...wouldn't be Christmas without them! So it goes without saying that my standard for meat pies is pretty darn high. A soggy, flavourless, mushy meat pie simply will not do.

So when I saw Jamie Oliver making his Chicken Pie on his Meal In Minute's television show I knew I had to give it a go. Even more tempting since he promises it can be done in under 30 minutes. I was a little intimidated with using puff pasty as I've never really used it before and it just sounds fussy and finicky which puts me off a little since I generally lack patience with such things. So I was pleasantly surprised at how easy packaged puff pasty is to handle. Foolproof really.

I set the timer and went to work and managed to get the pie into the oven in 11 minutes flat! Wow! even with my little guy running around at my feet. And it definitely satisfied the comfort food craving I had. Another winner in my book.

Chicken Pie
adapted slightly from Jamie Oliver's Meal's In Minutes

2 chicken breasts
a pat of butter
a bunch of green onions
2 carrots, quartered and diced
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
11/2 tablespoon plain greek yoghurt (the original recipe calls for creme fraiche which I couldn't find)
1 egg
1 large sheet of puff pastry from a 14-ounce package
pinch of nutmeg
3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
11/4 cups good chicken broth
a few handfuls of frozen peas
1 tablespoon flour

* The original recipe also called for mushrooms which I unfortunately was forced to omit due to one member of this household being "allergic" to them. It would definitely be a great addition.

Slice chicken into 1/2 inch strips. Put a lug of olive oil and a pat of butter into a large pan. Add chicken and cook for 3 minutes or so. Meanwhile put slice the green onions and add to the pan along with the peas and 1 tablespoon of flour, stir. Add the mustard, yoghurt, chicken broth and stir. Add thyme and nutmeg, continue to stir. Add salt and pepper.

Lightly dust a clean surface with flour and unroll the sheet of puff pasty. Use a small knife to lightly crisscross and score it. Take the pan of chicken off the heat. Tip the filling into an ovenproof baking dish slightly smaller than the sheet of pasty. Cover the filling with the pasty sheet, tucking it in at the edges (like in the picture). Quickly beat the egg, then brush it over the top of the pie. Put into the oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden and gorgeous.

So good I went back for seconds...

Pretty as Pie

Even this guy liked it! Victory!