Making Mexican Abroad: Expat Rice and Bean Burritos

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If you’re an American, you know one of the first things you miss when you move abroad is good Mexican food. Something happens when you cross the Atlantic and suddenly restaurants get it all wrong changing the flavors to suit the local appetite; enchiladas end up way to creamy and salsa tastes more like pizza sauce. After living in Querétaro, Mexico for almost a year during college, I learned what real Mexican is all about: soft corn tortillas, creamy avocado, and the fresh flavors of cilantro, lime, and spicy chili pepper. After a year or two pining for a taco, I finally decided to make my own Mexican abroad.

In France, you can easily find a good avocado and some fresh cilantro (coriandre) for a few euros, in fact at the farmer’s market here in Dijon a bunch of cilantro costs only 50 cents! You’ll also find tortillas (flour are much easier to find than corn), and tortilla chips (get the nature bag, the gout mexican is weird combo of spices and paprika) in the international aisle of the supermarket. Black beans or refried beans are hard to find, but canned kidney beans are a cheap and easy replacement. As for the spices, load up on some cumin and chili pepper in the spice aisle, and add a lemon to your basket being easier to find than limes, they do the trick.

Rice and Bean Burritos are a simple way I found to bring all the flavors together for an easy and healthy lunch that will satisfy your craving for Mexican. I adapted this recipe from Kimberly Snyder’s Beauty Detox Foods Black Bean Burrito recipe, and it has become one of our favorite meals and a really great way to feel a little closer to home on those days when you just need a quick break from expat life. If you’re not abroad, try the recipe for  a healthy dose of homemade Mexican.

The recipe is simple, so head out to the market, stock up and make these tonight!

rice-bean-burrito-ingredients

(Expat) Rice and Bean Burritos

  • One can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • One cup brown rice (I use a ready in 10 minutes kind, but just in case, click here for how to make brown rice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (if you can’t find it, add some chopped fresh chili peppers or extra chili powder)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced or mashed (didn’t have one for the pics- they’re delicious even without!)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro, to taste (I like a tablespoon or two)
  • Flour tortillas (Corn if you can get them)
  • Optional: chopped spinach or any other veggie (added vitamins!), shredded cheese, hot sauce, lemon/lime

rice-bean-burritos-recipe

Directions:

1. In a medium pot, cook the brown rice. When the rice is cooked, rinse the beans and add the beans and seasonings (but not the cilantro, add that later!) to the to the rice. Adjust salt and peppers to taste, and set aside.

2. In large sauce pan sauté the onion in a little olive oil until it is translucent, add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Add the peppers (and any other veggies) for about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

3. Prepare the tortillas, toasting them directly on your burner or using another pan. When they are soft, starting to fill with air, and a little crispy (about 1 minute, keep your eyes on them, they burn fast), remove them from the heat. Add about half of the chopped cilantro to the rice and bean mix, then spoon about a quarter of the rice and beans onto the middle of a warm tortilla. Add a spoonful of sautéed peppers and top with a few avocado slices. Sprinkle some extra cilantro, a few drops of lemon juice, and cheese over the filling. Gently wrap the burrito, bottom fold first then fold in both sides. Drizzle with some extra hot sauce if you like, and enjoy!

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Do you have any tricks for bringing Mexican home when you’re abroad?

Besos, Dianne

Christmas Traditions : Gingerbread

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Sugar and spice and everything nice, what says Christmas like gingerbread? The American classic comes as a sweet and crisp cookie while France’s pain d’épice, Dijon’s speciality, is a delicate spicy bread. I made a stop at the original Mulot and Petitjean shop at Place Bossuet Dijon for a peek into the world of French gingerbread and couldn’t resist sharing it with you for the holidays. Like the inside of a real gingerbread house, the shop is decorated like the original shop with sweetly colored wood decor and bright red and white timber outside, and in the back kitchen the products are packaged and prepared. The recipe has been passed down through 200 generations, using wheat flour and honey to make the delicate sweet spice bread which is served naturally, with candied fruits, filled with jams or chocolate or glazed. I love a little piece with a hot cup of tea or a sweet nonnete filled with apple or raspberry jam.  Be sure to stop by for a treat if you are ever in Dijon!

mulotpetitjeanshop

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Mulot and Petitjean’s recipe has stayed the same since 1796, but why not try this Gingerbread Recipe Round Up to take your Christmas gingerbread to a whole new level…

These Gingerbread Waffles from Alaska from Scratch have got me thinking about adding a waffle maker to my Christmas list, they’re the a perfect Christmas morning treat!

I’m sure Santa wouldn’t say no to a few Mini Gingerbread donuts from Mess makes Food.

Mini Gingerbread houses from Honestly Yum look adorable topping off a creamy Christmas latte or use the recipe to make the classic gingerbread man or delectable decorations for the tree.

There’s always room for a French macaron. These Gingerbread Macarons from Life’s a Feast look delish. Add a creamy lemon filling to imitate the sumptuous lemon gingerbread flavor from Pierre Hermé, mmm.

And for a very French Christmas, try Pain d’épice with Caramelized Shallot and Mango and Foie Gras from Herve Cuisine as an hors d’ouvre.

How will you be enjoying your Pain d’épice/Gingerbread this year?

Besos, Dianne

Easy Homemade Pumpkin Pie

I know it’s a little late for another pumpkin recipe in the blogosphere, but after Thanksgiving I got a few requests for pie recipes and even if it’s not a traditional Christmas recipe I’m pretty sure that Brenda Lee was passing around some pumpkin pie when rocking round the Christmas tree.

Outside of the States it’s hard to find canned pumpkin puree and rather than having to bring a load over in your suitcase, making your own puree couldn’t be easier. In France the markets are filled with beautiful pumpkins waiting for some sugar and cream. A simple homemade pumpkin puree can be made by roasting, boiling, or steaming the pumpkin. I usually steam as it is faster and keeps more vitamins and benefits in the pumpkin. With a good knife cut off the pumpkin skin and cut the pumpkin into small chunks. Place it in the steamer for 15-20 minutes. After steaming, let the pumpkin strain a bit and drain any excess liquid (this step will help the pie set). Blend the strained pumpkin on low and voila, pumpkin puree. Make it a few days ahead and store it in the fridge to save your self some work on the big day.

homemade-pumpkin-puree

Homemade Pumpkin Pie

With the pumpkin puree prepared ahead of time this really couldn’t be easier to make, and if you’re living abroad this recipe calls for basic ingredients that you can find almost anywhere!

First mix the dry ingredients. Then add the wet ingredients. Finally, stir in the pumpkin puree. Pour into the pie crust (see recipe below). Bake on high heat for 15 minutes, then put the oven on low and bake for another 40-50 minutes. To check if the pie is set stick a toothpick in, it should come out clean. Makes one 9 in. ie, or a few personal cocotte pies that are seriously adorable

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 eggs + one yolk
  • 1 1/2 cups liquid cream (low fat is ok!)
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree

For the crust I like this  No Roll Pie Crust from Allrecipes.com, again, just mix it all together and  press it into the pie plate. Voila! 

  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

So sweet, creamy, and rich, it really is the perfect taste of autumn. At home or abroad, I hope you’ll give it a try! 

Bon appetit!

Besos, Dianne

(title photo from Offbeat and Inspired)