Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Easy Homemade Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

Spicy Refried Beans
I've been meaning to try making my own refried beans for some time now and finally got round to doing so...just in time for National Vegetarian Week!

In case you don't know, the term refried is actually a mis-translation of refritos, which actually means well-fried, not fried twice.

My recipe is for a spicy version, similar in taste to the expensive, small tins you can buy in the UK. Providing you have most of the ingredients to hand, it works out at around £1 to make this recipe, equivalent to around 2-3 large cans. You could, of course, make a larger batch which would be even more economical.

Serves 8-10 as a starter, or side dish
  • 2 cups of dried pinto beans (no need to pre-soak)
  • 6 cups of boiling water
  • 6 tbsp. vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tbsp. pickled jalapeños
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste (optional)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
Place the beans and water in a large pan.
Boil rapidly for 10 minutes (uncovered), then reduce the heat and simmer for a further hour (with the lid on).
Drain, reserving some of the cooking liquid, then mash or blend the beans, adding back some of the reserved cooking liquid until you have the texture and consistency you prefer.

Finely chop or blend the onions and chillies.
Heat the oil on a medium heat and add the onion and chillies  Cook for a few minutes until softened.
Add the remaining ingredients and stir well.
National Vegetarian Week
Finally stir in the mashed beans and mix well to combine the ingredients.

Serve warm with tortilla chips, salsa and guacamole or use to stuff burritos.

Top tips: Eat half and freeze half of the mixture. Defrost and heat in the microwave, adding a little extra boiled water if needed.
For a mild, child-friendly version, omit the salt, chillies and chipotle paste from the main mixture. Serve the adult's portion with the above ingredients added to taste.

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Monday, 1 May 2017

Sri Lanka: The Cookbook - Review & Giveaway

Sri Lanka: the Cookbook
I've only recently discovered the joys of Sri Lankan food, so I was delighted to be offered a copy of this book for review. Sri Lanka: the Cookbook gives a comprehensive introduction to Sri Lankan cuisine and explains the ingredients and cooking techniques.

Written by husband and wife team Prakash Sivanathan and Niranjala Ellawala, the book shows their knowledge of and passion for the cuisine of their former homeland:

“My wife and I have lived in London for many years, but I was born a Tamil in the Jaffna peninsula in the north of Sri Lanka, and Niranjala is a Sinhalese from the south. Between us, we have a deep understanding and love of the unique styles of cooking that together make up our island’s cuisine. We hope this provides a record of Sri Lankan history and diversity for generations to come.”

One thing I must say is that this probably isn't a book for novice cooks as the ingredients lists tend to be longer/more exotic and some of the recipes are a little more complicated than other books I've reviewed. You also need to be fan of coconut/coconut milk as similar to Thai food, these feature heavily. Having said that, if you already have a well-stocked spice rack and are used to cooking Indian or Thai food, I'm sure you'll love this book.

I also need to point out that this is not an exclusively vegetarian book, but as Sri Lankan food is naturally vegetarian-friendly, many of the recipes are either vegetarian, pescatarian or easy to adapt. All of the recipes are marked as to their suitability for vegetarians, but I did notice a few non-vegetarian (fish-derived) ingredients in some of these. They are easy to omit though, without losing any the authentic flavour of the dishes.

I've only tried out a few of the recipes so far, but I particularly liked the pol roti (spicy, coconut flatbreads) and poosanikai kari (pumpkin curry), both of which were fairly easy to make, but tasted very different to the Indian-style food I often cook.

SRI LANKA: THE COOKBOOK is published by Frances Lincoln, 6th May 2017, RRP £20.00
Also available from Amazon and other book shops.

I have one copy of this book to give away. Simply add your details to the Rafflecopter widget and comment below, stating your favourite spice. UK ENTRANTS ONLY. Closes 12am 12th May.

Integrity Statement I was offered a copy of the book to review plus another to give away. All views expressed ere genuine. 

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