Saturday, April 16, 2011

Red Bean Chilli con Carne

Last weekend I really wanted to cook some new, saucy Mexican dish. As I was turning the pages of the cooking book I saw the following recipe and it was so colorful that I immediately felt my mouth getting wet. It was really hard to resist, especially given that I had all the necessary ingredients in my kitchen. The only alternation that I made was to use canned beans instead of dried once (more or less double amount compared to the dried once). This way I avoided the overnight soaking part of the recipe so I could start directly.


1 1/2 cups dried red beans
500 gr lean beef steak, chopped in bite-size pieces
2 tbsp avocado oil (you could use any vegetable oil as well)
2 large onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh green chilli, seeded and finely chopped (you could use dried chillies as well)
1 tbsp paprika
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 can (400gr) chopped tomatoes
1 1/2 cups beef stock or water
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp hot pepper sauce or tabasco
1 fresh red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3-4 tbsp fresh coriander and some extra to garnish, finely chopped
salt to taste

1. Wash the beans well and soak them overnight in a large amount of water. The next day cook the beans in water for about 2 hours or until almost soft.
2. Heat the oil in a large, flameproof casserole pot. Add the onion, garlic and green chilli and cook over a medium fire until soft. Transfer to a plate.
3. Increase the heat, add the meat to the pot and brown on all sides. Season with paprika, cumin and coriander.
4. Return the onion mixture to the casserole, add the tomatoes, beef stock or water, chilli flakes and hot pepper sauce or tabasco. Drain the beans and add to the pot.
5. Bring to simmering point, cover and cook in the preheated oven at 180°C for about 2 hours. Stir occasionally and add extra water if the casserole gets dry.
6. Season the casserole with salt, add the chopped red pepper and chopped coriander and continue cooking in the oven until the beans and the meet are tender. Garnish with some chopped coriander and serve with steamed white rice.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Spring Couscous

Since I started working I obviously have much less free time, which during the weeks means pretty much that I have to either cook on everyday basis something fast and easy or otherwise prepare something from the previous evening, preferably something that would last for a couple of days. Yesterday I made Stratis' favorite burgers with potato puree. Today we still had few burgers left but there was no side dish since we finished all the puree yesterday.

Generally, I really enjoy the idea of couscous as a really fast yet delicious side dish. You could flavor it with spices and herbs or by using chicken stock instead of water to soak it in. Mixing in chopped vegetables like tomatoes, onions, paprika, cucumber, broccoli, mushrooms etc is also great.

So on my way home I already knew what I would cook. A friend of mine cooked a similar recipe few years ago at our ethnic dinner party. I changed it a bit mainly by adding zucchini and olives and using less lemon juice but the main idea is same. It's a great side dish and if you increase the amounts of veg and use less couscous you could make a wonderful salad too!


3 cups couscous
3 large ripe tomatoes
1 zucchini, diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup parsley, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp black olives, finely chopped (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Place the couscous in a large bowl, add lightly salted boiled water enough to cover, cover with a lid and let the couscous absorb the water.
2. Meanwhile in a non-stick pan heat the oil and stir-fry the zucchinis for 3-4 minutes, until they get a light golden color.
3. Dice the tomatoes trying to keep the juice and set aside,
4. Once the couscous is soft, mix it with a fork to make it fluffy.
5. Add the fried zucchinis, tomatoes, olives (if using) and the lemon juice and mi well. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!