I loves me a good theme (note: this is intentionally really poor grammar) and this week it is all about Mexican food.  Cinco de Mayo is May 5th. and talk about a good excuse to pull out your Dora The Explorer vocabulary and celebrate all the amazing food that can be found in that region.  The food found there is of course much brighter and more delicious than what we see again and again in the North.  Hopefully this will change.  I remember the first time that my sister brought me to Frida’s in Toronto.  I really had no idea how bright and different this cuisine could be.  Leave it to my sister to find the very best place to eat.

http://www.fridarestaurant.ca/

PLUS, Frida Kahlo has always been one of my favourite artists.

Sadly, I actually had to look up when Cinco de Mayo was the other day totally dumbing-out on what Cinco means.  What can I say?  The babes watches a lot more of “Shaun the Sheep” than she does Dora right now.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x3muy9_shaun-the-sheep-life-s-a-treat_music

Tonight I had NOTHING planned so I was thrilled to find this easy recipe which I figure should be quick and help lift our spirits on this very grey and rainy day.

http://vegetarian.about.com/od/vegetarianmexicanrecipes/r/beancumin.htm

Ingredients:

•2 tablespoons vegetable oil
•1 onion, chopped
•3 cloves garlic, chopped
•1 teaspoon cumin
•3 teaspoons chili powder
•1/2 teaspoon oregano
•3 15 ounce cans black beans
•black pepper, to taste
•salsa
•shredded cheese
•fresh chopped basil

Preparation:
Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion, cook 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, chili powder and oregano.

Puree one can of black beans, add to pot. Add second can of black beans (do not puree). Drain last can of black beans and add to pot (do not puree).
Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often. Add black pepper, to taste.
Top with salsa, shredded cheese and fresh basil.

But what about tomorrow? 
I happened upon this recipe the other day and saw two magical words:   slowcooker and pork. 

Princess! 
Where have you been? 

I’ll put this in the cooker tonight for tomorrow’s dinner.  I’m not going to buy all those different peppers but instead will use a few of the dried that I have in the house.

http://www.food52.com/recipes/10642_slowcooked_pork_tacos
Serves 4 to 6, depending on hunger level (I really like when recipes put that in)

Pork Tacos:
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder (not too lean), cut into 3/4-inch chunks
Kosher salt
Vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 poblano pepper, finely chopped
1 serrano chili, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, with their juices
1 1/2 cup chicken stock (homemade or low sodium)
2 large limes
Corn tortillas (I’ll make some flour ones)
2 avocados
Pickled onions (recipe below)
Cilantro, washed and dried (ACK!!! my nemesis!  I am not going to buy any-this just ends badly for me)
Sour cream (optional)

1.Put the cumin and coriander in a small pan and set over medium heat. Toast the spices for a minute or two, shaking the pan occasionally, until they’re fragrant. (Be careful not to scorch them.) Grind the spices finally using a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in both chile powders and the oregano and set aside.
2.Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the pork well with salt and add about half of the meat to the pot. Brown it well on all sides, about 4 minutes total, and transfer it to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Add more oil and brown the second batch of meat, adding it to the bowl once it’s done.
3.Lower the heat to medium and add another tablespoon of oil to the pot. Add the onion, poblano, serrano and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so, until fragrant. Stir in the spice mixture and cook for another minute.
4.Return the meat to the pot, with any juices that have accumulated, and add the tomatoes and chicken stock. (The meat should be covered in liquid – if it’s not, add a little water.) Squeeze in the juice of half a lime and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Turn the heat up to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Turn down the heat, cover the pot and simmer gently for an hour. Uncover the pot and continue to simmer until the pork is very tender and the sauce is reduced and thick, 30 to 60 minutes longer. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed, and squeeze in the juice of another half a lime.
5.To serve, heat the tortillas in the oven or in a dry pan. Peel and roughly chop the avocados and cut the remaining lime into thin wedges. Fill each taco with some of the pork, pickled onions, avocado, cilantro and sour cream if you like. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing. 

Pickled Onions, à la aargersi:
1 medium red onion
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 medium beet, peeled
Handful cilantro
Cider vinegar

1.Slice the onion thinly and put it in a microwaveable container. Add the salt, sugar, beet and cilantro. Cover everything with 1 part water to 2 parts vinegar. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, and microwave for another minute. Cool, then cover and refrigerate overnight.

NOW HERE IS THE UPDATED REALITY:

Now those instructions are terrific and you will end-up with a lovely meal BUT I like my slowcooker because I don’t have to do all of that so above are all the ingredients (including a fozen shoulder roast) waiting to be plugged in the next morning.

Here’s a quick salsa made of leftover pineapple (score!  no wastage), chopped tomatoes and a bit of fresh oregano from the windowsill.

Here’s the finished product.  Homemade tortillas, a good helpingof the pork and a bit of salsa and lime.  We ate like kings and this was ready when I got home from coaching my badminton team to a semi final victory!
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