Hal Peterson

This is a very colorful dish well worth the effort of layering.  The
black beans are even more flavorful the next day, so make them ahead
of time if it's convenient.

Serves 4 to 6

	8 corn tortillas
	vegetable oil for frying

	1 1/3 cups dried black beans

	3 medium onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
	3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
	1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
	1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
	1 teaspoon minced chiles
	1/4 cup vegetable oil or butter
	1 medium tomato, chopped
	juice of 2 oranges
	salt to taste

	2 large ripe avocados
	1 large garlic clove, minced or pressed (or to taste)
	juice of 1--1 1/2 lemons (or to taste)
	salt to taste

	shredded lettuce
	grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
	sour cream (optional)
	Salsa Mexicana Cruda

Cook the black beans.

Pour vegetable oil into a small skillet to about 1/2-inch depth.  Heat
until the oil is hot enough that when you drop in a tiny piece of
tortilla, it quickly rises to the surface.  Fry the tortillas, one at
a time, for about one minute on each side until they are crisp.  Drain
the tortillas on paper towels and set aside.

To make the black beans, saute the onions, garlic, cumin, coriander,
and chiles in the oil using a large skillet or medium saucepan until
the onions are soft and translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.  Drain the
cooked black beans and add them to the skillet.  Mash with a potato
masher or spoon until most of the beans are mashed.  Add the tomatoes
and orange juice.  (Throw in the orange halves after squeezing out the
juice if you like.  Just remember to remove them before serving.)
Cover and simmer on very low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring
frequently to prevent sticking.  Add salt to taste.

For the guacamole, slice the avocados in half.  Remove the pits and
scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon.  In a mixing bowl, mash the
avocado until fairly smooth.  Add the garlic, lemon juice, and salt to
taste.  Or use a food processor for a very smooth guacamole.

Now it's time to layer the tostadas.  You can make them for your
guests or have them make their own.  For each serving, start with a
crisp tortilla, cover it generously with shredded lettuce and then
black beans, topped with grated cheese, guacamole, and Salsa Mexicana
Cruda.  Top with sour cream, if desired.

1.  We never put the orange peels in with the beans.  They're bitter
    and we're leery of pesticide residues on the outside.

2.  2 cups of onion is a lot.  We've never put more than a cup in the
    dish, and usually less than that.

3.  Let me know if you want the subrecipe for soaking and cooking the

4.  Let me know if you want the subrecipe for Salsa Mexicana Cruda,
    which we never have:  Pace does just fine.

5.  We always build our own at the table, and we usually use raw (not
    fried) tortillas and wrap them like a burrito.  I prefer the fried
    tortillas, but if it's one extra step too many on a busy day, then
    they're fine either way.

6.  We don't use sour cream or cheese because of Danette's allergy to

7.  We've never had it with the minced chiles because we don't have
    those on hand.  We do at the moment, though, so our next batch
    will be chile'd.

8.  You didn't know there was a guacamole recipe in the deal, did you?

9.  If this doesn't addict you to cumin and coriander, nothing will.
    Speaking for myself, I wipe down the insides of the spice jars to
    get the last few grains.