Black Bean Dip

By Corinne

Cilantro seems to be one of those things that people like or REALLY dislike. The people who like it always seem to like it a lot. To me, cilantro tastes fresh and almost a bit citrusy. The people who hate it usually describe it as tasting like soap. That all being said, this black bean dip is for sure for the cilantro lovers! The ingredient list is short, and it’s a nice complement to salsa.

Time: 5 minutes

You will need:

  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • a generous handful of cilantro including stems-see photo below for an idea of how much- you could of course use less if that is your preference
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • juice of two limes

Drain and rinse the black beans. Give the cilantro a rinse, but don’t worry about drying it. Add beans, cilantro, 1-2 cloves of garlic, and the juice of two limes to a food processor and pulse until combined. Serve with bread or tortilla chips, or as a yummy spread on a wrap (think the way you might use hummus). This is fine made the day before, but doesn’t keep well for more than a few days because of the mass of cilantro. I used canned beans, which I usually find salty enough, but if you are using dried beans that you’ve rehydrated, you may wish to add salt.

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Pozole Soup

By Corinne

I first came across pozole at the Gunflint Tavern in Grand Marais MN. I then returned home to spend several hours reading about this delicious soup and about hominy, which I had only vaguely heard of in reference to movies that take place in the south.

If you’re new to hominy, What The Hell is Hominy, Anyway? is a pretty basic primer.

Finding hominy in Thunder Bay turned out to be something of a challenge. It seems like it’s something that’s probably more widely available in larger (or more southern) centers. If you can find canned hominy, I’m sure that would work just as well and be a lot less trouble than using dried. If you’re in Thunder Bay, you can find dried hominy at Renco’s Foods on Court St. They have it at the Bulk Zone too, but it’s sort of ground (maybe what gets used for grits? I have no idea) but that’s not what you want for this recipe.

While traditional pozole generally  uses pork shoulder, making enough soup to use such a large cut of meat would make a lot of soup. I’ve substituted two bone in chops instead. It seems like a lot of traditional recipes also call for tomatillos- which I also had difficulty finding in Thunder Bay (I did find them at the Bulk Zone, but didn’t use them in the recipe)

I make no claims that this is anything like traditional pozole, but it is delicious and worth the time. It also has had the side effect of making me a bit obsessed with hominy.

Time: about 25 minutes prep, 2 hours simmer *see note about hominy prep, if not using canned

Serves: 4 generously

You will need:

  • 2 bone in pork chops (about 500g, about 1lbs)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium/large onion diced
  • 1 beer, preferably something Mexican like Corona (omit or use a GF beer for this recipe to be GF -or you could just use broth to deglaze)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro finely minced (measure after mincing) plus more for garnish if desired
  • 2 tbsp pickled jalapeños minced
  • 2 cups hominy* canned if you can find it
  • 3 poblano peppers
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin (I always toast and grind mine so it’s more flavourful, you may want to add more if you’re using regular ground cumin)
  • 10 cups water or combination of water and chicken broth (3 tbsp veggie bouillon if using plain water)
  • juice of one lemon
  • lime wedges
  • avocado for garnish if desired
  • Salt and pepper

*If you can find canned hominy, by all means, use that. If using dried hominy, start this recipe the day before by cooking the hominy. I skipped the soaking overnight step and cooked it in the slow cooker on low overnight. It still took until early afternoon before kernels were tender and had popped. I cooked the whole bag of dried hominy and froze what I didn’t use in two cup portions so that I won’t have to do this step again for a while.

In a dutch oven or other heavy bottomed pot, add 1 tbsp canola oil and heat over medium high. Season chops on both sides with salt and pepper, and cook, turning once, until they have some good colour – it doesn’t matter if they are cooked through as they will cook in the soup. When both sides are browned, remove from pot and add chopped onion.

Cook onion for about 5 minutes until translucent. It will probably pick up a lot of colour from the browned bits from the pork chops. Add minced garlic cloves and stir for one more minute. Add the beer a bit at a time, scraping up all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot until you’ve added the whole beer. Return the pork chops to the pot, and add the water/chicken broth.

Add the 1/4 cup minced cilantro, 1 tbsp cumin, 2 tbsp minced pickled jalapeño peppers and two cups of hominy to the pot. Simmer soup uncovered over medium for 1 hour.

While soup is simmering, char poblano peppers. This can be done on the BBQ, in the oven under broil, or in the flame of a gas stove. You want the outside skin to be charred and blackened all over. This took me 20 minutes in my toaster oven on the broil setting. When peppers are charred all over, either toss into a paper bag and close, or put into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam. When peppers are cool enough to handle, peel off skin, chop roughly and add to soup.

After soup has simmered for an hour, remove pork chops and shred the meat from the bone. Discard bone and return meat to the pot. Add the juice of one lemon. Simmer uncovered for another hour.

All of this uncovered simmering is going to cause your soup reduce somewhat and that’s just fine, though you can taste and add more liquid if desired.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with additional cilantro, slices of avocado, a squeeze of lime slice, and cheesy tortillas if desired.

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Chipotle Pepper Beef

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By Corinne

This supper is full of some of my favourite flavours. Cilantro  is one of those weird things that people either love or hate. I like cilantro so much that I often eat a sprig or two when I’m prepping it just because it SMELLS SO GOOD! I do find that it doesn’t keep too well in the fridge, so don’t buy it too much in advance, and try to use it up within a few days.

You will need: 

  • 1.5-2 lbs of inside round steak or roast(or other lean cut), sliced very thin
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • about 1 cup fresh tomatoes (I used cherry this time because it’s what I had. 1-2 roma tomatoes also works well)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin (preferably toasted and ground)
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (more if you like it spicy) do this with the leftovers
  • 3/4  cup water
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • additional cilantro for garnish

Thinly slice red pepper and set aside. Thinly slice jalapeño into rounds and set aside.

Thinly slice beef. This is sometimes easier if it is partially frozen, so feel free to put it in the freezer for 40 minutes or so before slicing. Add beef to pan with 1 tbsp of oil over medium high heat.

Quarter and thinly slice onion, add to pan with the beef. Cook for 10-15 min.

While beef is cooking, give the cilantro a good rinse as it’s often sandy and give it a rough chop. Reserve some of this for garnish. Use a food processor, blender or hand blender (what I used) to process the ingredients for sauce. Process tomato, water, cumin, cilantro, garlic and chipotle pepper together until you have a fairly smooth sauce.

Add sauce to beef and onion mixture, cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 35-45 minutes until sauce is thickened and beef is tender.

For the last 10 minutes of cooking, add red pepper strips and cook uncovered for the remaining time. Cook until peppers are tender but still have a good colour.

Serve over avocado lime rice, garnished with jalapeño slices, additional cilantro and a few wedges of fresh lime.

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