gratinated bean tortillas

I was supposed to post this last Friday (had it all set to go) but then the unspeakable happened and posting anything didn’t feel possible.

Sadly I’m not shocked that we had a terror attack in Sweden. I’ve talked to people several times about the fact that it wouldn’t be a question of if, but a question of when – and many others have said the same thing. And the fact that we feel that way is horrible. I was sat in my office when I got a message from S saying “Are you ok?” and with a screenshot from Swedish Radio’s Twitter-feed saying a lorry had just crashed into Åhléns department store in central Stockholm – 600 metres from my office. No one on my floor had heard the news yet, but they soon spread and we all turned on various live reports. Everyone’s phones were ringing – friends and family trying to make sure you were ok. The police closed down the entire underground system and all inner city buses, and people were ordered to stay inside their offices. Shoppers were locked into shops for their safety.

What I have to say I was wrong about though is our response. Despite the obvious – that they have security warnings out and train for these kinds of horrors – I didn’t think they would be this well-prepared. They have done a fantastic job, they responded quickly and forcefully, were quick to send out a picture of the suspect to the media and arrested the driver that same evening. My mum always said she was worried about me living in London because it’s a big terrorist target and I always replied I would be more worried about it in Stockholm – but I am glad to say that I believe the police force has surpassed the whole nation’s expectations. And we have shown them how much we love them for it.

I don’t think I’ve quite processed it yet though. It was only two weeks prior that I was worriedly texting my friends in Parliament hoping they were ok and thanking whatever powers may be that S had only worked a half day that day. I had worried calls from my family asking was he ok, and was trying to process that a spot where I had frequently walked at exactly that time on exactly that weekday had been subject to a terror attack. Hearing from my friends who were on lock-down in their offices in Parliament and who couldn’t leave to go home until 6-7 hours later. And then it happened again. But this time in my town. On a road that I frequently walk down and very well could have been on a Friday at 3pm. But at least this time I knew that if everyone was where they were supposed to be, I would be the only one of my close family and friends near the attack.

No doubt it will all sink in soon enough. There are many emotions tumbling around inside me right now, but at the moment the strongest of them all is still pride. Pride in our police force, pride in the love we as a people have shown them (if you haven’t seen the police cars overflowing with flowers it’s a beautiful sight) and pride in our response as a nation. I have never seen so many people gather at Sergels Torg as they did for the vigil on Sunday afternoon. The flowers that were put on a fence by the place of the attack had to be moved because the fence was beginning to collapse.

So right now we are a country in mourning but we’re trying to go on as normal, if only with a little more love for one another.

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Something I’ve discovered I really like, which surprised me a bit, is bean chillies. It started out before we were getting married when I decided to try 5:2 to help me get in better shape. Not being the kind of person who could eat only once a day I would have to split my 500 kcal intake between lunch and dinner – which obviously isn’t the easiest thing to do. But to my rescue came M&S and Eat. Eat had a really nice Pho noodle soup which was only about 220 kcal and a side-order ham hock and egg salad which was big enough to work for lunch and which, including the dressing I never ate, contained about 270 kcal. M&S had a range of salads and soups too, but they also sold these little one-portion tins of three bean chilli in their Count on Us range. One tin was 200g and had, I think, 214 kcal worth of food and I would sometimes eat several each week. On fast days I’d eat them either with just a small amount of added sweetcorn, or with those ‘zero calorie noodles’, and on non-fast days I would eat them with sweetcorn and cheese on top of a baked potato. I actually still have a few that came with me to Sweden, but unfortunately they don’t seem to sell them in most M&S shops any more.

So when I got my slow cooker and was thinking about what to make first it was only natural that the three bean chilli with sweet potatoes became my fist course. And now that I feel like trying to eat more vegetarian it’s only natural that I turn to beans again. Because working out 3-5 times per week, and wanting to add muscle rather than just lose weight, I still need my protein.

I like black beans and kidney beans (and chickpeas – do they count as beans? I’ve read that they can also be called garbanzo beans) but I’m not as keen on white beans. I think it’s the ‘white beans in tomato sauce’-associations that put me off them. With the success of my three bean chilli, I’ve wanted to make something else bean-centred, but haven’t quite known what until last week when I was browsing Ica’s recipe bank for vegetarian mains and found their “gratinated bean tortillas” recipe. Seeing as I love enchiladas I was thinking this would be a good substitute, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed.

I think the dish was ok – but it was too sweet. Using normal tinned tomatoes and pasta sauce (rather than enchilada sauce) meant that it lost those enchilada-associations I was hoping for, since there was very little spiciness. Having looked for enchilada sauce sold separately in the supermarket (for another recipe I want to try – a slow cooker enchilada quinoa casserole) but not having found it, I have instead found a recipe for homemade enchilada sauce that looks fantastic. So next time I make these bean tortillas (and there will be a next time because other than the sweetness they were very tasty) I will make sure I have a batch of that homemade enchilada sauce to go with it instead of the tinned tomatoes and pasta sauce.

In case you want to try this recipe as it is anyway, here it is.


Ingredients (8 tortillas)

1 tsp oil

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

2 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

3 tbsp tomato purée

390g tinned, crushed, tomatoes

380g kidney beans

380g black beans

300g sweetcorn

8 medium tortillas

390g pasta sauce with chili

100g cheese


Chop up the onion and fry in the oil. Add garlic, cumin, chili powder and stir.

Add tomato purée and crushed tomatoes and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.

Rinse the beans and add them and the sweetcorn to the pan.

Put the tortillas in an oven dish and fill with the bean mixture. Top with pasta sauce and grated cheese.

Bake at 225 degrees Celsius for 12 minutes.


Serve with guacamole or salsa and sour cream.

/t

slow cooker mexican shredded beef burritos

When I worked in London we didn’t have a lot of nice lunch places around the office. Most often that meant having just a ready meal or sandwich from a local supermarket or something from the office restaurant (which was always a, shall we say, interesting experience…). But sometimes when the weather was nice and I didn’t feel stressed I would walk over to Embankment and treat myself. Some days that meant getting a Katsu curry at Wasabi, other days it meant getting a fully loaded Mexican Burrito from Wrap It Up!. The burritos were so good – huge and filled with shredded beef or chicken, rice, black beans, salad, cheese, guacamole and sour cream. Freshly wrapped up in foil, with the cheese melting with every step, I’d carry it back to the office and tuck in.

Lately I’ve felt a bit been-there-done-that with many of the slow cooker recipes I’ve been looking at since pretty much all I’ve had this autumn and winter have been soups and stews. I also had a real craving for Mexican (or European Mexican shall we say) food, and being in London over the weekend made me remember the cheesy, spicy burritos I sometimes had for lunch. So I went looking for slow cooker beef burrito recipes online and came about this Mexican shredded beef recipe. Often the pulled pork/shredded beef/chili recipes require lots of different ingredients that I don’t have or can’t that easily get hold of – especially since they’re often American. This required some spices I didn’t have at home but that I knew I could get at my local supermarket, so I decided to give it a go.

I don’t think it’s very often when you try and remake something you’ve had when eating out that the result exceeds your expectations, but this time it really did. It was exactly what I was craving and it really did feel like I was eating one of those Wrap It Up! burritos. I first had it for lunch, reheated in the microwave, with guacamole and when I bit into that first bite with the melted cheese and the spicy beef I knew I had found something good.

I should warn you though that this recipe makes a lot of beef ! And I mean a lot. Especially when you add rice, sweetcorn and beans like I did. I used 4 portions of rice, 200g sweetcorn and 380g (one box) ready to serve black beans. This mix is very beef-heavy, so if you want a more equal mix between your beef and the rest I would probably recommend using the same amount of rice, sweetcorn and black beans, but halving the beef (or cooking all of it but using half for something else). Unless you’re cooking for an army, in which case feel free to double the rice, sweetcorn and beans.

I would also recommend actually letting the sauce reduce down for at least 10-15 minutes, as it says in the original recipe. I didn’t have time to do that since I was doing the last bits in the morning before going to work, so mine only simmered for about 5 minutes. This unfortunately meant that the flavour of the sauce wasn’t as intense and there was way too much of it since burritos can’t be too liquid – or the tortilla will just become sloppy. Apart from that the result really was fantastic.


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Ingredients (many portions)

Spice Mix

1.5 tbsp chipotle powder

1 tbsp smoked paprika

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp All Spice

1 tsp coriander powder

2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

black pepper

Beef

1 – 2 tbsp olive oil

1.5kg beef brisket

5 garlic cloves

1 onion

0.75 cup orange juice

2 tbsp lime juice

400g crushed tomatoes

500 ml beef stock

Burritos

4 portions long grained rice

200g sweetcorn

380g black beans (cooked/ready to serve)

grated cheese

soft tortillas

guacamole and/or sour cream


The original recipe recommends cutting the meat up into three similar-sized pieces, but I chose to keep mine in one large piece, since I’ve learnt my slow cooker seems to make the meat drier than some others.

Combine all the spices for the spice mix in a bowl, then sprinkle a few teaspoons over the beef and pat it in.

Heat the oil in a pan and brown the meat on high heat. Remove the meat from the pan and add to the slow cooker.

Fry the garlic and onion on medium heat until soft.

Add the orange juice and lime juice to the pan, then add the remaining spice mix.

Pour the contents into the slow cooker together with the chopped tomatoes and beef stock. Your beef should be mostly covered, but if it’s not – add water until it is.

Cook on low for 6-10 hours – the bigger the piece(s) of meat the longer the cooking time.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred it with two forks. Set aside.

Pour the sauce into a pot. Simmer on the hob until thickened enough for your liking (at least 10-15 minutes), then pour as much as you like over the beef (though not all!).

To make my burritos:

Measure out four portions of long grained rice and cook according to the instructions.

Drain the black beans and rinse thoroughly.

Mix the rice, sweetcorn and beans into the beef.

Put a good-sized dollop of burrito filling in the middle of a tortilla. Top with as much cheese as you feel like, then fold it and wrap it up in foil.

Serve with guacamole and/or sour cream.


This is one meal I’ve made that I won’t grow tired of having both for lunch and for dinner several days in a row.

/t

taco pizza parcels

In the past decade or two, something has happened in Swedish homes. Fridays have become synonymous with ‘fredagsmys’ (Friday coziness) and fredagsmys has become synonymous with tacos. And now I don’t mean real tacos like you get in Mexico – I mean mince fried in a taco spice topped with various vegetables, some salsa, sour cream, guacamole and cheese, and put in either a hard taco shell or a soft tortilla. Every Friday evening.

It started when I was little with the Swedish contest to find our Eurovision competitor. In Sweden we take Eurovision very seriously, and we have competitions where the public calls in and vote for their favourite. Their score combined with that of a jury decide who gets to go to Eurovision. Over the years things have changed a bit (undoubtedly because people realised they could make quite a bit of money on this) so now we have six competitions to find our contestant. Four regular shows, from which one person/group goes straight through to the final and one to the ‘second chance’, the second chance show, and then the final. Six Saturdays in a row. So Eurovision-craziness in Sweden usually begins around February-March, and I remember from when I was little that these Saturdays were often accompanied by tacos. Don’t get me wrong – I love tacos, but maybe not every week.

They were often also the food of choice when we had parties when we were 7-10 or so. It’s such an easy food to make and as a kid it’s quite fun to get to pick and assemble your own food. It’s also good because if you don’t like something you just don’t take it.

So a few months ago I was browsing around Ica’s recipe collection, thinking that I wanted to make pirogues. But making pirogues involves making the dough, and at that time I just felt a little bit too lazy for that. Then I came across this recipe (which they call taco pirogues) and thought I’d give it a go. It looked easy, sounded nice, and because you don’t have to make your own dough it was also quite quick.


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Ingredients (6 pcs)

500g mince

1 pc taco spice mix

90g frozen sweetcorn

1 pc pizza dough

1 pc tomato sauce (may come with the pizza dough kit)


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Brown the mince in a frying pan, then add the frozen sweetcorn and the taco spice mix. Depending on what mix you’re using, you might also want to add 50-100 ml water to make sure it blends with all the mince. Once it’s well incorporated, add the tomato sauce. Leave on a low heat to simmer a little.

Roll out your square, pre-made pizza dough to make it a little larger, then cut into six similar sized squares. Fill these squares with one sixth of the mince, and fold as you please. I’ve found that it’s easier to fold them as squares (i.e. folding in the corners towards the middle), but the original recipe has folded them in more traditional triangular shapes. It’s easier to get the dough to stick together if you brush some milk or beaten egg on the edges before you fold them.

If you want to, brush some milk or beaten egg on top (this creates a glossier finish).’

Bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for 10-15 minutes.


If, like me, you can be a bit lazy from time to time, these parcels are great. They’re quick, easy, tasty, and keep well in the freezer for those days when you don’t have anything at home.

The original recipe calls for carrots instead of sweetcorn, but I think sweetcorn goes better. You can of course add other vegetables as well, but I recommend being a little sparse with your additions, because it can be difficult enough to fit the filling in the parcels already!

I have made these twice now. The first time I bought just a pizza dough and used a herb and garlic tomato sauce for the mince. This time I bought a pizza kit, and used that tomato sauce instead. Both work, but I think the pasta sauce was actually nicer, because it added a little more flavour. If you do use pasta sauce though, remember not to take too much. I think my sauce package carried around 250 ml.

If your mince mix is too runny, try to let it simmer for a while to reduce the water.

I’ve had these parcels for both lunch and dinner, and for lunch they work on their own, but if you’re having it for dinner I would recommend having some salad on the side. They’re probably also very nice together with guacamole or a flavoured crème fraîche.

/t