Friday, May 20, 2011

Bean Nachos

In the late eighties I discovered a café in Sydney called Dean’s. Dean’s was (and still is) located in Kellett Street, Kings Cross. It was a small, somewhat dingy café with retro memorabilia hanging off the walls and old fifties tables and chairs with rattan chaise longues for furniture.

Dean’s was one of the few vegetarian restaurants in the Cross at the time. Not that I cared too much – but their menu was faithful. It included vegetarian lasagne, baba ganoush, vegetarian pate, and the piece de resistance, bean nachos.

Because Dean’s was open until impossibly late on weekends, we’d frequently head there after a night our clubbing or as the obligatory dawn end to a dance party. Our menu choice: the monster nachos. We’d get one, share it, and woe be tide anyone who was tardy into getting to Dean’s. There was never any left for them!

We made friends with the people who ran Dean’s and eventually some of us even got jobs there. I asked what the secret of the beans on the nachos was, and I was told to mind my own business. But late one night, one of the staff admitted to me that it contained parsley and he thought it made all the difference. I think the fact that the beans were blended into a paste helped too. There were no unsightly whole kidney beans hanging off the corn chips. No cloggy ground beef. Just beans. Refired ones, I guessed.

We had some great nights at Dean’s Café. In the summer of 88/89, a stinking hot year, I remember sitting on one of the chaise longues at about 4.00am. The duke box had been turned off and the ghetto blaster was playing instead. Can You feel It by Mr Fingers was pumping through the restaurant. We were hot, we were young, and in fact, I think we still might have believed at that point that we had the world at our feet. When I close my eyes, I can still feel the sheen of perspiration on my skin, and smell the acrid smoke of cigarettes trapped in my hair, thanks to the appallingly bad air circulation in the clubs we liked to go to then.

It’s worth saying that the first time I ever heard of sticky date pudding was at Dean’s Café. Therefore I’m going to say that I believe, unequivocally, that Dean’s invented the dish, which has been popularised in restaurants and cafes across Australia as standard dessert fare. Thank God Dean’s recipe for flour free chocolate cake never took off in the same way - it wa just too good to share.

I’ve always taken the special people in my life to Dean’s for a nachos. “Trust me,” I tell them. “This is the best nachos in the world”. Once they’ve had it, they always agree.

1 can refried beans
large pinch of freshly ground black pepper
small pinch seas salt
1 tblsp dried parsley leaves
1/4 cup of tomato puree
8 drops Tabasco sauce
100g plain corn chips
80gm grated tasty cheese (low fat is good!)

1 avocado
8 drops Tabasco sauch
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

2 tblsp sour cream to garnish
2 tsp hot chilli sauce to garnish

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
2. Combine the refrued beans, tomato puree, Tabasco sauce, parsley, pepper and salt in the bowl of your Kitchenaid (or another bench top mixer). Mix oon first gear until ingredients are well combined. Taste - this mix is really about the pepper so add a little more if you feel it needs it.
3. Arrange the corn chips on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Pipe teaspoonfuls of the bean mix onto each corn chip, using a piping bag fitted with a 1cm round piping tube.
4. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of grated cheese on top of the bean mix. Bake in th oven until cheese is melted - about five minutes.
5. Pipe half a teaspoon of guacamole onto each nacho. Then carefully position a quarter of a teaspoon of sour cream on top of the guacamole. Drizzle hot chilli sauce over each. And serve!

1. Scoop the avocado flesh into a small bowl. Add the Tabasco sauce, lemon juice, salt and pepper and mash together with a fork. Switch to a spoon and mix until ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix! Chunky guacamole is what you want.

Notes: Any left over bean paste can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge. It will keep for about a week. This bean paste also makes a great dip! Refried beans have less than 1g of fat per serve so they’re a relatively guilt free treat! The cheese and the sour cream are where the fat is in this recipe. If you’re watching your fat content, choose light versions of each to limit fat intake. In Australia, Doritos Original Corn Chips are gluten free and therefore are a great choice for your base corn chips. If you’re a wheat eater, you might like to choose the Nacho Cheese Doritos to further add to the flavour of this meal.

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