After our sun-soaked Christmas holiday in Cancun, Mexico, I decided that I needed to start cooking Mexican cuisine when we got home. This was music to EPC’s ears, who had thoroughly enjoyed refried beans, tortillas, guacamole, salsa, enchiladas, and even a Margarita right alongside me! Of course I whip up the odd Tex-Mex dish, or more correctly Edmonton-Mex dish, but I wanted to get to crux of it and delve into a cuisine that I had little experience with.
One could argue that being a vegetarian makes it impossible to delve into Mexican cuisine, since even the beans, something all vegetarians hold dear, are traditionally made with pork fat; even Rick Bayless includes lard in his recipes. I had a tough time searching out a vegetarian Mexican cookbook that I thought would be authentic, or as close to authentic as a vegetarian could get. I came across an older cookbook – published in 1996- by Kippy Nigh who owns a vegetarian restaurant and bakery in San Cristobal de las Casas. I thought to myself, if the woman who wrote the cookbook owns a vegetarian Mexican restaurant in Mexico, you can’t get more authentic than that! In addition, I spent a few days in San Cristobal de las Casas about 20 years ago, so I figured why not try it for nostalgia’s sake alone.
As I mentioned in my last post I had to take a trip to one of the city’s Mexican grocery stores to find my ingredients. Now I am set!
EPC loved the soup and had two helpings. I was a little less enthusiastic, but the soup was good, just not as good as I expected.
I thought that the soup would be a little spicier from the addition of the dried chile. Next time I would definitely add 2 chiles. Adding one cube of vegetable broth to the 5 cups water would also be a good idea and help to round out the flavour. The soup itself tasted like your basic tomato soup, but once you had the crispy tortilla strips, avocado and cheese it was transformed. As for the Tortillas in Bean Sauce, they were delicious. Sadly, I forgot to warm the tortillas before dipping them into the bean sauce. The dipping went well, but when I folded them over they cracked.
1 medium onion sliced
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1/2 pound of tomatoes seeded and chopped ( I used a 19 ounce can of diced tomatoes)
1 or 2 guajillo chiles
5 cups of water (or vegetable broth, or 2 1/2 cups of each)
1 sprig of fresh epazote (I used a dry sprig)
6 corn tortillas, cut in strips
1/4 pound of jack cheese, grated
3 green onions, chopped
- In a large saucepan heat the oil and sauté the garlic and onions
- Add the tomatoes and chile, and sauté until the tomato dissolved.
- Blend and strain through a medium mesh strainer (I blended the soup, but did not strain)
- Add 5 cups of water and the epazote, and simmer for 25 minutes
- Spray the tortilla strips, or bruch lightly, with olive oil and bake them at 350°C until crispy
- Place the tortilla strips in bowls and top with cheese and avocado.
- Ladle the hot broth into the bowls and serve
Tortillas in Bean Sauce
1 cup of refried beans (I used canned)
1/2 cup of water
1 cup of grated Jack cheese
Mix the beans and water and heat over medium heat.
- Soften the tortillas one by one on a heated skillet.
- Dip each tortilla in the bean sauce, then place on a plate.
- Add some cheese to half of the tortilla and fold the other half over.
- Keep them warm in the oven at low heat so they don’t get cold before serving.