Cuban beans & rice burgers, and cuban sofrito

Sofrito – cuban style

Aww, man, I’m having trouble writing this post! I was going to keep it simple and brief, and that is still my intention! But I can’t even get started. I keep wandering around, watching Malcolm dismantle the kitchen shelves. (In theory, I’m reorganizing the shelves under the counter to make a home for my new food processor. In practice, Malcolm is spreading pots, pans and dishes all over the kitchen floor). This post feels significant, somehow. It feels like an ur-Ordinary post. It covers Ordinary themes and motifs. I feel like I’ve been assigned an essay on how this meal exemplifies various qualities we go on and on about here at The Ordinary. What are those themes? I hear you asking. And will they be on the test? Yes! It’s all on the test, all of it! First of all, we have sofrito. Sofrito was one of the first things I wrote about, nearly a year ago, in its Spanish form, which is tomatoes cooked very slowly till they’re an intensely delicious paste. I first discovered sofrito, in any form, because of Mongo Santamaria’s brilliant song of the same name, which is one of the first songs I posted. Sofrito fascinated me, at the time, because it’s one of those foods (here comes a theme, take this down in your notes!) that appears all over the world in different forms. It travelled with imperialism and colonialism – people brought the recipe with them from home, and then it changed over time, to become new and distinct and definitive of their new home. Second of all, we ate cuban beans and rice two nights in a row, once as, well, beans and rice, and once as beans-and-rice burgers. Repurposing leftovers is a thing we do. We do it all the time! We even invented a scheme to define it! What were the other themes? I can’t remember! because Malcolm is banging pots and pans around my head and singing “let’s go to the creek creek creek.”

Okay, back to simple and brief. We got some green and purple peppers from the CSA. I don’t love green peppers. I’m sorry, but there it is. I like red peppers! Especially roasted. I was searching my mind for a way to “use up” the green peppers, and I thought of the radio dj describing sofrito, after playing the mongo santamaria song, a year ago. It sounded good. I read some descriptions of it, and I decided to have a go at making it. Obviously it’s not officially cuban, it’s my odd version of cuban sofrito. But it’s very tasty! A relish, almost. And then I just went crazy with a cuban-themed meal. I decided to make black beans and rice, with a cuban sort of flavoring, and I made crispy smoky tofu to take the place of ham. So that’s what we did. The boys loved the tofu, as I’ve described. And David and I loved the burgers we made the next day with the leftover beans and rice. Amazingly flavorful, and a with nice texture. I didn’t try grilling them because of a big dinner-time thunderstorm, but they worked well pan-fried in olive oil.

Cuban beans & rice burger

Here’s Mongo Santamaria’s Sofrito. I know I’ve posted it before, but, remarkably, it’s been nearly a year!

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Black Bean Burgers

Black bean burger

It’s a vegetarian classic! These are simple, but they have a lot of flavor. Although basically comprised of black beans and bread crumbs, they’re flavored with sage, basil, smoked paprika, cumin and fennel, which makes them more tasty than any old beef burger, baby! I baked them on an oiled baking sheet, but you could cook them in a frying pan as well, and they might be slightly less dry. I served them on sweet potato buns, and the flavors mingled well with the cardamom. I also topped them with a bit of brie and some arugula. My boys ate them with barbeque sauce!

Here’s De La Soul’s Bitties in the BK Lounge
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