Erica's Cocina

Lets have some fun making some AWESOME and authentic Mexican Food

Lentil Soup (Sopa de Lentejas) November 19, 2010

It’s a chilly day here in Southern California, so I thought, what better thing to warm me up than a nice bowl of Sopa de Lentejas, or in English, Lentil Soup. There are probably a million different variations to this recipe. But I particulary love this one. Bacon and lentils go sooo well together, they should be married! Growing up, during the winter months we ate tons of soups. I love soups, they have tons of flavors, textures, and they satisfy the most hungry tummies. They are also so easy to play with and  make them your own ;O)

Lately, when I am recipe testing I also read up on the history of whatever dish I am making, if there is one. According to Wikipedia, Lentil Soup was once considered a food for the poor. Hmmm, little did they know that what they were eating was not only economical but is packed with vitamins and minerals. So go ahead, save some money and enjoy a fulfilling bowl of this soup ;O)

 

Lentil Soup (Sopa de Lentejas)

Preparation Time: 10 minutes     Cook Time: 40-50 minutes     Serves: 4-6

 

Ingredients:


2 C. Dry Lentils

8 Slices of Center Cut Bacon

1/2 Onion

1 Garlic Minced

1 Jalapeno

2 Roma Tomatoes or 1 Large Tomato

2 Qt. Veggie or Beef Broth

1/2 Tsp. Cumin Ground

3 Cilantro Sprigs

 

Directions:

First off, you want to sort the lentils. Make sure to remove all debris that might have been left behind during packaging. Next, rinse the lentils under cold water until the water runs clear. Set aside.

Now for the chopping….

Chop the tomato into small dices.

 

Chop the onion into small dices.

 

Cut the bacon into small pieces.

 

Now lets get to cooking :O)

Add bacon to medium heated pot and cook until crisp. Takes about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn. Once nice and crispy, remove and set aside in towels so they can drain. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the drippings. This will give your soup TONS of flavor!

 

To bacon dripping add onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté until onion transparent, 3-5 minutes. To the jalapeño, you want to do two little slits on it. Just enough to break the skin, but not slice through it. This will release the flavor without making it too spicy.

 

Add tomato and sauté until skin starts to loosen up, 3-5 minutes.

 

Add the reserved bacon and lentils. Stir until all ingredients are mixed together.

 

Add broth and cumin. Season to taste with salt if needed. Remember the broth already has salt in it so taste before adding some. I find many times, I don’t need to add salt. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce heat to low. Add cilantro, cover, and cook for 40-50 minutes or until lentils are tender. You will notice the fat from the bacon rise to the top during cooking. I usually remove this with a spoon half way though cooking and at the end. You want to have the bacon flavor but not all the grease ;O)

 

You are now ready to enjoy this delicious bowl of Lentil soup…

Buen Provecho!!!

 

 

Note: As mentioned earlier, there are tons of variations to this soup. You can easily make this a vegetarian dish by omitting the bacon, use olive oil to sauté the ingredients, and use veggie broth. Great add in are carrots, potatoes, celery. Go ahead and play with it. See what you come up with. One word of advise is when adding ingredients, make sure to chop them small. You don’t want them so big that they over power the lentils. Lets not forget, the lentils are the star of this dish ;O)
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Frijoles de la Hoya (Beans in a pot) September 28, 2010

Frijoles de la hoya literally means, beans in a pot. You will find these beans in almost every Hispanic home. They are the foundation to an array of scrumptious dishes and they can also be enjoyed right out of the pot. I do this often ;O) Nothing better than a bowl of fresh frijoles de la hoya. When I was growing up, I could eat beans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner without any complaints. Once you have these freshly made beans, you’ll never go back to those can beans again, trust me. Buen Provecho!

Ingredients:

16oz or 2cups Dry Pinto Beans

8cups Cold Water

1 Garlic Clove

Salt

Directions:

Sort beans by removing any debris and cracked beans. Rinse under cold water to remove any dirt.

In a pot, add beans, water, and garlic.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover. Let simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender.

Add salt to personal taste and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes so the beans may absorb the flavor. Make sure not to add salt before the beans are tender. Adding the salt before will not let the beans become tender. You will end up with tough skin. No bueno ;O) Remove from heat. Refrigerate unused portion.

Now that you know how to make your own awesome Frijoles de la Hoya, you can go on and make tostadas, sopes, refried beans, etc, etc.  The possibilities are endless!

BUEN PROVECHO!

 

Restaurant Reviews August 26, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Cooking Stories,Restaurant Reviews — ericascocina @ 9:14 PM
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Look out food lovers…

I will soon be adding a Restaurant Review section to my blog ;O) It will include everything from the ambiance of the restaurant, decor, service, presentation, and of course how tasty the food was. You are going to get nothing short of good honest material, nothing sugar coated, my friends.

I will set it up as a Jalapeño rating, the more Jalapeños, the better! One of course, is not good at all. Three right smack in the middle, average. Five, AWESOME, meaning you definitely need to give this place a try!

 

Update! ;O) August 13, 2010

Filed under: Cooking,Cooking Stories — ericascocina @ 1:28 AM
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It has been over a month since I have posted and I apologize for the lapse…

Sooooo much has happened since my last post, but you better believe I’m going to UPDATE you on every detail!

Two weeks ago, I finished a six-week Condensed Culinary School series at EatzLa in West Hollywood. This course was amazing! It went through the whole shebang. Started with basic knife skills, flavorings/ aromatics, and mother sauces. Working with mother sauces opened my eyes to an array of inspirations for recipe tasting. I will be sure to give you the recipes when I perfect them ;O) Then we moved on to making pizza and pasta from scratch. Let me tell you, after making my own pasta and finding it was not that difficult at all, I do not think I will ever buy packaged pasta again. It was simply amazing! We then moved on to chicken, seafood, beef entrees and sides. I learned about sauces that go well with these proteins and again, I came out with sooo many inspirations for me to work with. One of the coolest things I did was ignite some Cognac to make one of the sauces. Wow, that gave it such wonderful flavor. Although I learned a lot in this series of classes, I was also pleasantly surprised to find that many of the technical skills taught I already used on a regular basis with my cooking. When I first heard the word “searing”, I was not sure what the heck that was. However, when it was demonstrated, I was like, Oh I sear all the time (hahahaha). It also made me realize cooking is one of those things that either you have a niche for it or you do not. Some things just can’t be taught; like properly seasoning. I was amazed on how many people under seasoned their dishes. All in all the class gave me the confidence that I am going in the right direction with my cooking ;O)

Along the way, I also purchased some amazing hardware, a WÜSTHOF Classic Icon Knife! I had tried about three other knives and none of them seemed to “feel right”. Then, she handed me the Classic Icon, it was as if it was custom built for my hand. The curve on the handle was perfect, the weight was exact, and the style was ALL me. The search was over; the decision made in less than 30 seconds. It was destiny ;O)

 

 
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