Saturday, November 13, 2010


A few weeks ago while in Toronto for the weekend for a wedding, James and I discovered a hidden gem of a Mexican restaurant in Kensington Market.  According to Yelp, La Tortilleria is closed now, which is a bummer.  I suspect they just moved to a new location in the Market or else another Mexican place opened up using the same name.  Either way, the food was amazing, though admittedly a bit slow to come.


One of the things we had that we liked the most was called Guacanachos.  I know, right.  What a weird name.  I've never heard of anything called that before and let me tell you, I love Mexican food.  I loved it already, but living in Texas and a few visits to Southern California here and there cemented it.  Now that I live in Canada, I realize that most of the people up here have never actually had real Mexican food.  At least not in Vancouver.  I make things at home all of the time that I remember eating out and loving.  That fills the void a bit, but I really wish we had some good burrito places up here.  My favorite was always Freebirds in Dallas.  If you live anywhere near one, then you know what I mean.

Anyway, we loved these Guacanachos so much that they've been put into our regular rotation at home.  This might seem like a really boring recipe, but trust me, it's awesome in its simplicity.  Basically you have tortilla chips layered with fresh guacamole and refried black beans.  That's it.  Part of the key is to have salty black beans.  I'm already a guacamole fiend.  James makes the best, too.  We'll frequently make a bowl of 2 avocado guacamole to munch on while watching a movie or something.  I'm such a freak for it that he usually lets me have about two-thirds of it.  Soooo good.

If you're making this please, please, please make your own guacamole.  That weird stuff that comes out of a plastic tub is never good and then you'll think my recipe sucks.  It's super easy to make, so don't worry.  The hardest part is having patience while your avocados ripen!  Everyone makes guacamole slightly differently so don't get too hung up on being exact about things.  Just throw some stuff in and enjoy it.

The color is off in this photo.  I couldn't quite get the color right again.  I just put it up here so you can tell what kind of consistency you're aiming for.

James' Awesome Guacamole

2 ripe avocados
1 juicy lime
salt and pepper to taste

Optional Ingredients - Add one, none or all of these!

fresh tomatoes, diced (not canned tomatoes ever)
diced onion (I like to use red onion, personally),
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 Tablespoons diced fresh cilantro
1-2 Tablespoons orange juice

Remove the skins from the avocados. Mash the avocado up into little pieces in a small to medium bowl.  I usually use a fork, but James likes to use two butter knives.  His way takes longer but it always ends up with lots of chunks of avocado in the guacamole, which I have to say, I prefer.

Once the avocado is in little pieces, squeeze the lime into the bowl.  Add a bit of salt and pepper and mix with the fork or knives again.  At this point, taste the guacamole to see if you need to add a little more lime or salt.  Now add in any of the remaining ingredients that you're using.  We usually add diced tomatoes and onions.  I love the addition of garlic, but James isn't as much of a garlic hound as I am so he usually leaves it out.

 Home-Style Refried Beans (from Viva Vegan! by Terry Hope Romero)

2 Tablespoons corn, peanut or olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced small
1-2 jalapeno or serrano chiles, seeded and minced (it's okay to use jalapenos in a jar, I usually do)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground chile powder, such as ancho or a blend
2 (15-ounce) cans black beans drained and rinced or 3 1/2 to 4 cups of cooked beans
1 bay leaf
2 cups water
salt and fresh pepper

In a large, heavy cast-iron skillet, combine the oil and garlic and cook over medium heat.  Allow the garlic to sizzle for 30 seconds, then add the onion and jalapeno.  Using a wooden spoon to stir occasionally, fry until the onion turns translucent, about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle in the cumin, oregano, and chile powder and fry for another 30 seconds.

Stir in the beans, bay leaf and water and increase heat to medium-high.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium again and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, or until more than half the liquid has been absorbed but about half an inch of liquid remains.

Remove the bay leaf and discard.  Use a potato masher to mash the beans smooth (I usually use my immersion blender), then stir to form a thick, moist paste, anywhere from 5-8 minutes.  If refried beans appear to dry out, add a little water a few tablespoons at a time, until your desired consistency is reached.  Serve immediately.



tortilla chips
refried black beans

Place chips on a plate.  Spoon guacamole randomly over the chips.  Spoon some refried black beans over that.  Add a few more chips and then another layer of guacamole and another layer of beans.

Eat and enjoy!

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