banana bread pudding–Guatemala 3

It was just last week that I cooked my first Guatemalan food. A friend had asked me to help teach a cooking unit to complement her class service project. Her students had made guacamole as a class a week earlier, but Teacher Traci asked me to do a bit of research and come in with a few recipes that would delve just a bit deeper into Guatemalan fare. Crispy corn tortillas and the accompanying black bean paste have already been covered in this week’s posts. Tonight I finish with my favorite of the recipes we made.

Already a fan of bread pudding, I fell hard for Bocado de Reina. I had only a small sample in class, but have since made it at home and devoured all but one slice. It’s a great way to start the day (banana, bread, eggs–how could it not be a Balanced Breakfast?) and is also sweet enough for dessert. Drizzling it with a bit of (fat-free) half-and-half makes it even dreamier.

One student commented that it tasted like a “super moist bread pudding.” Bingo. That’s exactly what it is. I’ve linked the original source below, though I used more than the two cups of bread called for and passed on the raisins. Also, the original recipe didn’t say if the bananas were mashed or cut up. I always have too-ripe bananas on hand, so mine were mashed. The end result was amazing, so I’ll do the same the next time I make it. The lone piece left in the pan is marked for tomorrow’s breakfast, so I’ll be whipping one up again soon.

crazy-moist banana bread pudding

Bocado de Reina

Translated as “bite of a queen,” it possibly suggests this dish is “food fit for a queen.” Stirring a handful of raisins into the batter is optional.

2 cups crumbled bread (I used nearly double that)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk (I used full-fat the first time and fat-free the second–both work well.)
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 bananas, peeled

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 8-inch round cake pan. In large bowl, sir together all ingredients. Transfer batter to pan. Bake 45 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

black bean paste–Guatemala part 2

Foodforfun has taken a (culinary) trip to Guatemala. Last week, I walked six high-school students through a few Guatemalan recipes at the request of their teacher and my good friend, Traci. You can circle back to Monday’s post for more background as well as the skinny on the Crispy Corn Tortillas we made. Today it’s all about the black bean paste we spread on top of those tortillas.

Our recipe called for soaking and cooking dried beans, a step I did the night before the class. The beans were then pressed through a mouli food mill (a hand-held contraption from another decade–mine a gift from my mother-in-law), which left the skins behind and produced a creamy, yet sort-of chunky (think guacamole) bean paste. The paste was mixed with a bit of vegetable oil and cooking liquid, then “fried” to dry it out just a touch. The final spread was warm, savory, full-flavored, and oh-so-amazing.

Another bean paste recipe I had found online kept things super-simple by stirring a touch of oil into canned refried black beans, then cooking this up in a skillet. I was glad we spent the extra time soaking and cooking dried beans, as the canned version would have been less full-flavored than our from-scratch batch. As well, simmering the beans with onion, garlic, and cilantro added background flavors.

While delicious, this bean paste will win no beauty contests. Only the bravest of the students dared work the beans through the food mill to produce the dark, mucky-looking mixture. In the end, everyone was willing to sample the beans as the “puree” was seasoned to taste with salt. And all agreed the final spread made a perfect topping for the tortillas. Sprinkled with cotija cheese, it was slightly more attractive and the salty tang of the cheese offered great flavor balance. All of this on the crispy corn tortillas? Perfection.

the retro mouli food mill

food mill at work

Fried Black Bean Paste (Frijoles Negros Volteados)

2 cups dried black beans, soaked overnight and drained
1/2 head garlic
1 small onion, cut into 4 wedges
3 sprigs fresh cilantro
6 cups cold water, plus more as needed
Sea salt, to taste

Rinse beans; transfer to large saucepan. Add garlic, onion, cilantro, and water. Bring to a boil; partially cover. Simmer 1 hour or until beans are very tender. If beans begin to dry out before fully cooked, add more hot water as needed. There should be a cup or so of bean liquid left in pan when beans are fully cooked.

Remove garlic; squeeze softened cloves out into beans. Discard garlic peels. Remove and discard onion and cilantro. Set beans aside to cool slightly. Pass beans, garlic, and enough of liquid for creamy consistency through food mill. Final “puree” should have consistency of guacamole. Season with salt.

black bean paste ready for crispy corn tortillas

Guatemalan fare–the first installment

One of the best parts of making a career from your passion is that work and play become the same thing. When my friend, Traci, asked if I would lead a class on Guatemalan cuisine for her students at an area high school, it was an automatic “yes.” This sounded like tons of fun.

The irony of it all is that I have not a drop of Latino blood and have not (yet) been to Mexico. Still, the Internet is a fine research tool and I enjoyed learning about authentic Guatemalan cuisine. My first step was to write up a “report” so Traci and her class could decide what they wanted to make when I stopped by.

The final verdict was a menu of elote (roasted corn with various toppings), crispy corn tortillas, black bean paste (essentially refried black beans), and Bocado de Reina–a Guatemalan bread pudding. These were easy recipes to work through and the experience went amazingly well. The six students were fun to work with and turned out a mouthwatering spread.

the Guatemalan feast

I’ll use each of this week’s posts to highlight a recipe. Today, we talk tortillas. I brought in white corn tortillas from a Mexican market as 1) they’re extremely inexpensive compared to mainstream grocers and 2) quality is so much better when food is made by authentic small-batch manufacturers.

The crispy tortilla “recipe” was as simple as heating about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a skillet. We didn’t measure temps, but I’d imagine we were looking for 350-360°F. To test for the right temp, we tossed in a small piece of tortilla to see if it sizzled without immediately shriveling and turning dark. I put two students in charge of the tortillas and they did a bang-up job. The final tortillas were perfectly crisped without being brittle or burnt. These young women have a future as Mexican street food vendors if they so choose.

On Wednesday, we’ll circle back to the black bean paste that we used to top the tortillas. Until then, ¡Buen provecho!

frying up

stacked up