From Too Many Chefs -

January 23, 2005
Mexican Black Bean Tart With Cornmeal Crust - IMBB 11

The genius of Mexican food is that it satisfies and energizes with simple ingredients combined simply.

For today's bean themed Is My Blog Burning? hosted by Cathy at My Little Kitchen, I created a Mexican style tart that would work well as an appetizer or a main dish. I'm particularly proud of the crust on this tart, but I warn you that you might have to limit yourself when you start eating. The finished tart is filling and spicy and you will want to overstuff yourself.

The recipe I give below should work fine for a much larger tart than the one I made. I first sized the ingredients for a 9" round tart (surface area approx 63.6 square inches - 4.5" radius) , but ended up baking it in a 13" x 4.5" rectangular tart pan (surface area 58.5 square inches). It's the first time I've been able to use this pan and if you decide to make this as an appetizer, you should see if you can get hold of one yourself.

The crust is crunchy, the bean filling is rich and satisfying and the salsa on top will keep you awake and enjoying my Mexican Black Bean Tart with Cornmeal Crust.

Mexican Black Bean Tart with Cornmeal Crust.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into 32 small cubes and chilled
1/4 cup ice water
pinch of salt

Black Bean Filling:
2 cans drained black beans, pref. organic
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
big pinch of salt
1 tablespoon Tabasco or Louisiana hot sauce
1 taspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons tequila

1/2 cup shredded Chihuahua cheese

2 tomatoes, ripe and red, diced
1 jalapeno, chopped small
1 anaheim pepper, chopped small
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
6 green onions, slices thin - white and green portions
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
1 clove garlic minced fine

Some explanation for those without easy access to some of these ingredients and some suggestions for substitutions - Cilantro is also known as coriander. It's used in Mexican cuisine as a fresh herb. If you are really lucky and have epazote, a delicious herb found in Mexican produce marts available, substitute some for the cilantro or add a bit in addition to the cilantro. If you must, substitute flat leaf parsley, but it really won't be the same.

Anaheim chiles as seen here are larger long banana shaped chiles with a light green flesh and a very fresh taste. They are mildly hot and very fruity. If you must substitute, try a little more jalapeno and a little green bell pepper in its place.

Chihuahua cheese is not, contrary to my frequest assertions, a cheese made by milking tiny rat-dogs. Rather, it's a flavorful mild light yellow/white cheese made in the Chihuahua region and also known as Oaxaca or Asadero cheese. Its flavor, according to one web site, is similar to an unaged montery jack. Cut jack with mozarella to approximate if Chihuahua cheese is not available. The Chihuahua region abuts Texas. The city of Juarez across the border from El Paso is in Chihuahua province.

OK, now that the substitutions are handled, here's how to make this tart.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Sift AP and cornmeal and salt together in a large bowl. Cut the bitter in and mix with your hands and/or a fork until the mix looks like a uniform mix of tiny crumbs or meal. You want to break the butter down, but not melt it too much.

Mix in the ice water well. You may need less water if the air is humid. I made this one on a very dry winter day.

Form the dough into a ball in your hands. Flour the worksurface and flatten the ball out into a disk. Roll the disk out into the appropriate shape for the pan you are using (a big circle if you're using a 9" tart pan, a rectangle if you're using a rectangular pan). You may need to fold the whole mess in again, rotate and reroll the dough.

Once it holds together well and is large enough, move the dough into the tart pan and press down to make sure it squares off at the sides. Patch any holes and trim any overhang.

Prick the bottom with a fork several times. If you wish, you may add a piece of parchment and some pie weights to keep bubbles from forming. Place the tart crust in the 400 F oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. If you have extra dough left over, make braids out of it and bake in the oven with the crust for chef's treat breadstick.

While the crust bakes, either in a blender or in a bowl with an immersion mixer, mash up the black beans. Add the olive oil, tequila and lemon juice to help it along if the beans are too dry to mash/blend.

Mix in the cilantro, salt, pepper, Tabasco, cayenne pepper, and cumin (and olive oil, lemon juice, tequila if you haven't already) and mix well. Taste for heat and salt and adjust.

When the crust comes out, let it cool five minutes, then spoon in most of the black bean mix. You're aiming for almost filling the crust. Leave 1/16" between the top of the crust and the bean mix.

Spread 1/2 cup Chihuahua cheese on top of the black bean mix in the tart. Put the tart back in the 400 F oven for 18-20 minutes until the cheese on top is brown and the beans are heated through. Because of the water in the recipe, the crust will shrink away from the sides of the pan. You can try using milk instead of water, but keep the mix cold cold cold.

While that bakes, make the salsa:
Mix together chopped ingredients well and let sit to let the flavors meld. If you prefer, you can make this the night before.

When the tart comes out let it cool for 10 minutes before removing it from the mold. It should come away easily. Slice into 1.5" slices and spread the salsa on top of the tart with a spoon.

Serve warm as an appetizer or main course with Margaritas or shots of good tequila. I'm a big fan of Don Julio Reposado.

You're going to have leftover salsa and bean dip if you used the smaller rectangular tart pan. They make great nacho toppings along with some more chihuahua cheese.

Another month, another great IMBB theme. Keep 'em coming, and we'll keep cooking!

Posted by Barrett in Maryland at January 23, 2005 8:20 AM | TrackBack

The sheer torment of seeing this gorgeous dish without tasting it is too cruel. I'll have to make one soon.

Posted by Elsa on January 23, 2005 at 11:17 AM

Hi Barrett - I agree with Elsa!! I saw the title and my stomach started growling, but then I saw the picture and I was in love! This really sounds and looks incredible! Thanks so much for participating in IMBB 11!

Posted by Cathy on January 23, 2005 at 3:56 PM

Barrett - you have officially outdone the bean this time around! This tart looks and sounds absolutely amazing. Like chili and cornbread took a step up and decided it liked the view from there much better. Have I stopped making sense? Probably because I'm so hungry now! Thanks!

Posted by Jennifer on January 24, 2005 at 4:29 PM

Mmm, sounds yummy Barrett! Reminds me of my sister's 7 layer dip, a fantastic appetizer that usually fills you up - or maybe that's just because I eat to much - which I think might happen with this one too...

Posted by ZarahMaria on January 24, 2005 at 5:33 PM

Barrett - Truly amazing looking (finally got internet on my own computer with the better monitor back), and it sounds like it tasted as good as it looks!

Posted by Charlotte on January 24, 2005 at 11:19 PM

This was the best new recipe I have tried in a while. I made lunch for bible study making new recipes, imagine trying out 4 different recipes at once! I made it in a 9x13 and only had two little pieces left. Even those were good the next day.
Keep up the good work!

Posted by Elise on February 2, 2006 at 2:09 PM