The world is an ever-changing an uncertain place these days. While medical and essential workers are putting in more hours than ever (Thank you to those on the front lines!), many of us are finding ourselves homebound and seeking solace in the comfort of our kitchens. A restless and anxious day can be soothed with the right drink in hand or a satisfying meal. Here are a couple recipes from Oaxaca that offer a fresh way to use pantry items you might already have on hand, such as dried beans and beets (yay for long-lasting root vegetables!).
Beetlejuice Cocktail and Black Bean Soup with Chochoyotes (Corn Dumplings)
photo by Rambling Spirits
This looker of a drink comes from our friends at Rambling Spirits, who offer mezcal tours and craft cocktails here in Oaxaca. Not only good looking, the balance of beet juice and ginger paired with smokey mezcal and lime lends to a cocktail that touches all the taste buds.
2 oz mezcal (ideally espadín)
1oz beetroot juice
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz ginger syrup
Garnish with rim of cracked black pepper and sea salt.
Shake, strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass.
Add lime wheel. Enjoy!
To make the beetroot juice:
If you have a juicer, you can simply juice beets, however a blender will suffice as well. To use a blender, peel and chop your beets, add to a blender with ½ cup of water and then fully pulverize. Strain and discard pulp and you are left with the juice! Beetroot juice is best enjoyed fresh as it quickly loses its nutritional value.
To make the ginger syrup:
Blend ginger with enough water to fully pulverize in a blender. Strain the juice and set aside. Take the ginger pulp and place in a saucepan, cover the pulp with fresh water. Let it reach a boil and then let simmer for 20 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Strain and discard the pulp. Add the cooked liquid to fresh liquid and measure. Add an equal amount (volume) sugar to liquid and let dissolve. Ginger syrup can last up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
Bean Soup with Chochoyotes (Corn Dumplings)
I don't know about you but I equate comfort with soup. I've been know to make huge pots of soup in the middle of summer, which I am happy to eat for days on end.
This is a traditional bean soup, brought to you in collaboration with our dear friend Isabel, an amazing cook who has a home restaurant in Teotitlan del Valle. The bean recipe is based on hers, and then expanded upon with the addition of corn masa balls and garnishes to make it a whole meal.
The chochoyotes are Mexican corn dumplings made with nothing more than corn flour (masa harina), water and salt. Optional additions include pork lard, green onions, epazote, cheese etc. but simple is great too. I used a red corn flour and green onions, which lend to a pretty pink color with green flecks.
2 cups black beans
1/2 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
Chili peppers to taste (dried, canned or fresh)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sale + to taste
Ingredients for Chochoyotes (Corn Dumplings):
3/4 cup of corn flower/masa harina
1/2 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
Start by rinsing the beans using a colander and checking for any "bad beans" or debris that sometimes ends up in dried beans.
I like to soak the beans overnight to make the cooking process quicker and the beans easier to digest. Drain the water the following day and set the beans aside.
Heat olive oil in a large soup pot on low heat. Roughly chop the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Add the onion and garlic to the pot until golden brown. If you are using fresh peppers (such as jalepeno) you can add them at the same time. Then add the tomatoes to the pot, and let cook for about 5 minutes.
Now add the beans and about 2 quartz of water. Add a couple teaspoons of salt, and if you are using canned or dried chilis, you can add them here.
Bring to a boil and then drop the temperature to achieve a low boil. Cook for about 2 hours, but stir regularly to ensure there is enough water. If the water line hits the beans, add more. Start checking beans to see if they are done after 1 hour.
While the beans are cooking you can prepare the chochoyotes. Add flour and salt to a medium sized bowl, plus any extra ingredients you want to use. Then add water and knead together until you can form one ball. If the mixture sticks to your fingers, add more flour. If it crumbles apart, add more water.
Once you've achieved the right consistency, make 16 small balls with the dough. Press your finger into each ball until you get a flatter disc shape with a belly button.
Back to the beans ...
When the beans are soft to the bite, and the skin begins peeling off a bit they are ready! The water level should be just above the beans by 1 centimeter.
Transfer half of the beans and liquid from the pot into a blender, and blend until creamy. Return to the pot. This achieves a soup that is both creamy and textured.
Add the chochoyotes one by one into the soup pot, and give them about 10 minutes to cook. You can keep cooking if the soup is too liquid-y until you achieve the consistency of your choice!
Serve hot with sliced avocado, crema (or sour cream) and cilantro. Enjoy!