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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mexican Fiesta

I love Mexican food, but my repertoire has been pretty much limited to opening a can of tortilla soup and adding more black beans, corn, tomatoes, and cooked chicken. Now that I have discovered Compare Foods I am branching out. Compare Foods has piles of the fresh produce used in Mexican cooking, and not at specialty prices like Harris Teeter.

This weekend I made my standard Black Bean Salad, kicked up a notch. Now, I have been making this salad for years and taking it to potlucks, as an antidote to all the pasta salads that are on the tables.

Black Bean Salad

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn (you can also use fresh or frozen and either yellow or white)
 1/2 c.cilantro,  chopped (can use parsley, but cilantro is better)
1 red bellpepper, chopped (either raw red bell pepper...or green...or chopped canned piquillo peppers.
1T cumin
Italian dressing to taste

My secret ingredient, that nobody believes, including me, is the Italian dressing.  It does not make sense for Mexican cuisine, but it is perfect flavoring.  The cumin brings it to fiesta time.  This time I used the chopped piquillo peppers for the first time, because I did not have any fresh peppers, and it was much better.

Now for the soup.........

I bought some tomatillos this week at Compare Foods because I found this recipe for Mexican Chicken and Tomatillo Stew online.  I did make some changes, but it was the best soup I have ever made.  Much better than my doctored up canned tortilla, for sure.  I am getting some confidence in the soup category, at last.

You can go to the link to print the recipe.  Now here are my changes:

When I poured in the carton of broth, I also put it 1T of the defatted chicken gelee (from my roast chickens) that I keep in the freezer. I did not put any protein into the stew, but will stir in leftover fish, shrimp or chicken into the individual soup bowl.  I made the flour tortilla strips to stir into the stew, which nicely thickened the broth, but I topped each serving with (homemade) deep fried corn tortilla strips.  Instead of garnishing with avocado, I stirred prepared guacamole into each serving. I confess that I forgot the cilantro.  That would have sent it over the top.  Thank goodness I have leftovers so I can add it.

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