Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mexican Food at Home

As of late I've been completely obsessed with making Mexican food at home... and I'm talking authentic fresh completely homemade Mexican (not silly TexMex!) Maybe it has something to do with the fabulous summer weather we finally have been able to enjoy this week or maybe it's just because Mexican is just so freaking delicious. Who knows? Recently I purchased Thomasina Miers Mexican cookbook, Wahaca, which I completely adore. It's full of amazing recipes (like tons and tons) and everything looks healthy, delicious and what I see as being authentic. (I've unfortunately never been to Mexico, not yet at least.)

I was inspired to make two Mexican meals last week with recipes I found in my new favorite cookbook. I'm not very good at completely following directions so these are my recipes adapted from Thomasina's to my taste. Corn tortilla quesadillas with poached chicken, peas and mozzarella with black bean soup and fresh tomato salsa. Then Tinga chicken tacos with refried beans, pickled onions, guacamole and fresh tomato salsa. Yummy!

A perfect lunch for a sunny day. 
The fresh salsa in the soup made it even more delicious.

 Corn Tortilla Quesadillas and Black bean soup for 2:

For the quesadillas you'll need:
4 Corn tortillas
1 poached chicken breast, pulled into small strips (poach for 15-20minutes with bay leaves, black pepper corns and a few slices of onion.)
Hand full frozen peas (soak in boiling water for a few minutes until unfrozen)
2 packets fresh mozzarella (make sure to really ring out all the milk otherwise your tortillas will get soggy.)

Fry in dry frying pan on medium heat until golden brown and cheese has melted.

For the black bean soup you'll need:
1 can black beans
2 tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 piece ancho or chipotle chili (depending on how hot you like your food)
1 medium size shallot chopped
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
A splash chicken stock with a bit of water

Roast tomatoes and garlic cloves with the skins still attached in a dry old frying pan to blacken the edges a bit (gives amazing grilled flavor). While roasting start sweating onions in olive oil in a medium saucepan. Once translucent add chili, oregano bay leaves, a little salt and pepper, and roasted tomatoes and garlic (don't forget to remove the skins.) Then add your can of black beans (the entire can, don't rinse) plus a little chicken stock. Allow to simmer for a few minutes. To finish use a hand held mixer wand to puree the soup.

Serve with a fresh tomato salsa.

Chopped tomatoes
Chopped green chili to taste
Chopped cilantro
Chopped spring onions
Lots of salt and lime juice

Oh and a bit more...

A fun Friday dinner.

Love the neon pink color of the pickled onions especially against lime green.
Plus the left overs the next day tasted just as good, if not better!

Tinga Chicken Tacos with Yellow Rice, Refried Beans, Pickled Onions, Guacamole, and Salsa for 4:

For the Tinga Chicken Tacos you'll need:
1 whole chicken around 1.5 kilos
1/2 yellow onion
2-3 garlic cloves
3 Bay leaves
5-10 black pepper corns

Poach the chicken whole with these taste makers for 30 minutes. Allow to cool in cooking water for a few minutes before allowing the chicken to rest on a cutting board. Once cool enough to work with, pull chicken into small strips removing all skin and bones.

Mean while make this delicious sauce...
1 whole ancho chili (soak in boiling water for 10 minutes to soften, remove seeds if you don't want too much heat. You can use chipotle too, just didn't have it at the store when I went.)
4 tomatoes
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
1 yellow onion
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Roast tomatoes and garlic cloves (in their skins) until blackened a bit in a dry old frying pan for flavor. Mix everything in a blender (except the onions and the sugar, those come later) into a liquidy paste. In a frying pan fry the onions in a pad of butter until translucent. Add sugar, plus salt and pepper and continue to slowly cook the onions until sweet and light brown. Turn up the heat a bit and add the blended sauce. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes to reduce some of the water content. Add shredded poached chicken and continue to cook for a few minutes until everything is combined. Holy moly this is so good!!!

I made my sides really mild (I was so scared I made the chicken really hot.)

For the refried beans you'll need:
1 can black beans (the whole can, don't rinse. I've also found the cheaper beans work better than organic.)
1 half yellow onion
1 centimeter piece chili
1 garlic clove chopped into a few chunks
bay leaf
Chicken stock

Fry onions in a little olive oil quickly, add the rest of the ingredients. (Mind not to add too much stock or salt because the beans are already a bit salty.) Simmer on low heat until much of the water is reduced and you're left with thick fragrant beans.

Yellow rice:
Jasmin rice
A pinch for turmeric

Cook as usual but with a pinch of turmeric in the water. Ta da!

Pickled Red Onions:
1 large red onion
1/2 lime juice
pinch of salt

Soak sliced red onion in boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and add juice of the lime. Watch as it turns the most amazing color of neon pink!

2 Avocados
1/2 lime juice
big pinch of salt

Mush together. Insanely easy and delicious. One can also add all sorts of other fun ingredients pressed fresh garlic, chopped tomato, cilantro, chopped red onion etc. But I went the simple route.

Tomato salsa:
3 tomatoes
chopped cilantro
1/2 lime juice
big pinch of salt

Chop tomatoes and salt generously. Add lime and cilantro. This is also super simple, but I think I've decided it's almost at it's best this way.

Phew! I feel like I just wrote a cookbook. Hope you'll try something like this. I sure will make these many times again. So yummy!

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