So, it looks like this is quickly becoming a food blog... Perhaps it's just that cooking and eating and writing and thinking about food is most of what I do for fun these days, and so it always feels like the appropriate topic of conversation. Is it? Do you all like hearing about our eating escapades?
In any case, this time around, the fair Mexican mole is our topic of conversation. (Though just now after reading the Wikipedia entry for "Mole sauce," I'm not exactly sure this can be labeled as such, since it doesn't neatly fall into any of the categories laid out there. But it was delicious!)
The idea for this dish came from an invitation to a Mardi Gras-Chocolate Party (hosted by some local Madison foodies) we got a couple weeks back that encouraged us to bring something chocolate to pass. Because I figured most things there were going to be of the sweet variety, I thought it would be fun to make something savory and chocolatey. We also had this bar of 85% cacao Dagoba chocolate that was far too bitter for actual eating but that I thought would make a delicious mole sauce. First I thought about making something like empanadas with a mole filling, but then that seemed like too much work. And so, the idea for mole black bean quesadillas was born!
This also gave me the opportunity to use our new pressure cooker, which I'm quickly learning to love. We've decided to go BPA-free (see Consumer Reports review of BPA in canned food here), giving up canned foods for the most part, and definitely at least canned beans for now (just in time for my history of canning dissertation!). So the pressure cooker really comes in handy for this. We buy lots of beans in bulk at the co-op (so cheap!), and then after soaking them overnight in 3 parts water to 1 part beans, cook them in the pressure cooker for just 4 minutes, let the pressure drop, and voila! delicious, perfectly-cooked, non-salty, non-chemical-filled beans! We've then taken to freezing portions of these beans in 2 cup servings, so that they can be had on hand for a quick meal, just like a can of beans. Now I just have to figure out what else the pressure cooker is especially handy for (I've been eying this book Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure, by Lorna Sass, lately, so maybe someday I'll get some more ideas from there).
So, for this meal, I cooked a bunch of beans, and scooped out four cups to use in this recipe. Beautiful, shiny black beans:
I then combined these beans with 2 cups sauteed onion, 6 cloves minced and sauteed garlic, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, flour, vegetable broth, the crushed chocolate bar, sugar (which I only added because our chocolate was unusually bitter), and salt. And then it looked like this:
Finally, I made some quesadillas with this black bean-mole combination, some shredded Cedar Grove cheese, red onions, and pickled jalapenos on wheat tortillas (Trader Joe's has good trans-fat-free tortillas, which are actually surprisingly hard to find elsewhere). We used some of the leftover filling to make a quick burrito with the same ingredients, plus a thrown-together slaw of shredded cabbage and lemon juice.
Sadly, we didn't end up making it to the chocolate party, but at least Justin got to enjoy the fruits (or the quesadillas?) of my labor:
(We were so proud of how these turned out that I allowed myself to imagine that, if we had gone to the Madison foodie chocolate party, someone there would've exclaimed, "Whose quesadillas are these?! I want to hire this person to be my chef/caterer/food-provider," and a whole new life for me would've been born. I guess I'll just stick with my regular life for now...)