Rajas tacos with Cactus salad

Rajas means strips of poblano chilli and these strips are mixed with some crème fraiche, garlic and creme fraiche. I served this with a cactus salad. Cactus tastes like a non-spicy jalapeno so really delicious with a bit of cheese. I got the recipe from ‘Wahaca – Mexican Food at Home’ by Thomasina Miers. I’d probably reduce the amount of crème fraiche in the recipe in the future but it was a really delicious, fresh meal. I had to get both the poblanos and the cactus from Mexgrocer which worked out cheaper than Amazon and they have all sorts of tequila if you’re into that.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • oil
  • 2 onions
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tin poblano peppers (780g)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 250ml crème fraiche (I think you could get away with 180ml)
  • pinch allspice
  • pinch oregano
  • 8 mini tortillas
  • 80g Wensleydale or Mexican queso
  • 6 vine tomatoes
  • 1 440g jar cactus
  • 1 small onion
  • 10g parsley
  • 10g coriander leaves
  • 25g parmesan cheese
  • 1 lime

Method

1.) For the tacos, peel and dice the onions, heat some oil in a pan and cook on a low heat until very soft.

2.) In the meantime, peel and finely chop the garlic, then add to the pan with the allspice and oregano. Cook for a couple more minutes then season with salt and pepper. Move to a large bowl.

3.) Pour in the creme fraiche. Then drain and slice up the peppers, add and mix everything.

4.) For the salad, chop up the tomatoes and add to a salad bowl. Grate the parmesan and add that. Peel and finely dice the onion, parsley and coriander. Add to the salad. Drain the cactus, add in. Chop the lime in half and squeeze in the juice. Mix everything together.

5.) Crumble the wensleydale cheese. Assemble the tacos by adding some crème fraiche mixture to the taco, sprinkle over some crumbled cheese. Serve with the salad.

Halloumi Fajitas

I’m a bit behind on my posting recently having been a bit preoccupied with my new job and the unexplainable fatigue that you get in your first weeks doing almost no work. The pictures for this were hidden behind pictures of the stuff we stole from other countries in the British museum, the original Twinings tea shop, and the old disused Strand tube stop. I don’t often make fajitas but I don’t know why as it’s super easy. The recipe on BBC Good Food had two blocks of halloumi but I decided to sub one of them for some plant pioneers chicken pieces just because I really like them and to mix up the textures a bit.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 225g block halloumi
  • 300g plant pioneers ‘chicken’ pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 mixed peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 lime
  • 8 tortillas
  • 1 avocado
  • small bunch corriander
  • sour cream (to serve)

Method

1.) Chop the halloumi into slices. Place some kitchen roll on a plate. Enough to fold over. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a pan and add the halloumi. Softly fry until it starts to brown, turn over and brown the other side. Remove to the plate and dab with the top of the kitchen roll.

2.) Fry the plant pioneers pieces in the pan until defrosted then remove to a plate.

3.) Peel and slice the onion, take the middle out of the peppers with the seeds and slice up the rest. Peel and finely dice the garlic.

4.) Heat up the rest of the oil in the frying pan and add the onion and when it’s almost soft, add the peppers. Fry for a couple more minutes then add the coriander leaves, the garlic and the paprika and fry for one more minute.

5.) Slice the lime in half and remove the pips. Add the halloumi and the ‘chicken’ pieces back into the pan. Squeeze in the juice of the lime and stir until everything is hot. Turn off the pan.

6.) Peel and chop up the avocado.

7.) Warm the tortillas if so desired. Spoon on the fajita mixture and add a dollop of sour cream and some chunks of avocado. Serve.

Mexican stuffed peppers

Looking for another recipe from Rick Stein’s ‘Road to Mexico’, I stumbled upon this stuffed chilli recipe which I was able to adapt for an English kitchen. I served the chillis with some couscous (rice would probably work too but I hadn’t thought about sides and couscous takes 10 minutes) and stale tortillas crisped up in the oven. I used 1 tsp chilli flakes, I would like it a bit spicier so I’d go for 1.5 tsp. Ancho chilli flakes and chipotle chilli flakes are both readily available in Sainsburys as opposed to the guajillo chills Rick Stein suggests. I also used pointed red peppers in the absence of poblanos and brownie points for you if you’ve ever heard of epazote – I subbed with oregano.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 300g goat cheese
  • 250g ricotta
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 6 pointed red peppers
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • coriander leaves
  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 3/4 tsp ancho chilli flakes
  • 3/4 tsp chipotle chilli flakes

Method

  1. ) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (160 degrees C fan)
  2. ) Peel and finely chop the garlic and the onion. Measure out 350ml water.
  3. ) Place half the garlic, half the onion, the tomatoes, the tomato puree, the water, the chilli flakes and 1/2 tsp oregano, salt and pepper in a large pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. ) In a frying pan, heat some olive oil then add the onion. Cook for 5 minutes or so then add the garlic and cook for a further couple of minutes.
  5. ) Add the bay leaves, the sugar and the rest of the oregano then place in the pointed peppers. Add some water and cook for 15 minutes, enough to cover or if not, turn the chillis over halfway through.
  6. ) In a bowl, mix the ricotta and goat cheese. Chop up the jalapenos and mix with the cheese.
  7. ) Take the tomato sauce and whizz it in the blender until smooth.
  8. ) Heat some oil and add the tomato sauce back in the pan to thicken for about 10 minutes.
  9. ) Chop up some coriander leaves for the garnish and set aside.
  10. ) When the chillis are cooked through, remove from the heat and leave them to cool until they’re cool enough to handle.
  11. ) Slit one side with a sharp knife, stuff the chillis with the cheese, seal them up by poking through toothpicks and set them aside.
  12. ) When the sauce has thickened, pour some of it into an oven proof dish, place on the chillis, pour the rest of the sauce around the sides.
  13. ) Serve by removing the toothpicks and garnishing with coriander leaves.

Potato Taquitos

I always ask my husband if there’s any kind of food he wants when I do my weekly shopping but getting a response is like getting blood out of a stone. However, this time, I did get an answer of Mexican so I planned a couple of Mexican dishes. This potato taquitos was one of them from ‘Wahaca’ by Thomasina Myers. Thomasina Myers won Masterchef a while back and now has a chain of Mexican restaurants in the UK called Wahaca. I’ve only been once but I have the cookbook. It’s a little less heavy on all the very specific Mexican chillis in the ingredients list than the Rick Stein book I’ve mentioned in a previous post. However, I still sometimes struggle to find some of the ingredients, it is ridiculous how hard it is to get adobo chillis in this country especially considering it’s tinned. I don’t have that problem with this recipe, these are all fairly standard ingredients. The recipe does deep fry the taquitos but due to the fact that I grew up watching a BBC show called 999 (the emergency phone number in the UK) which featured a chip pan fire on every single episode, I am now terrified of deep frying anything. However, I find pan frying gives you nice crispy browned tortillas anyway and without all the oil waste. I served with salsa, tomatoes and sour cream on the side.

Makes 5 taquitos

Ingredients

  • 650g potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 200g lancashire cheese (or another mild flavoured crumbly cheese)
  • 1 lime
  • sunflower oil
  • 5 tortillas

Method

1.) Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes.

2.) Throw them into a pan with some boiling water and cook them until they’re tender.

3.) While these are cooking, peel and finely chop the onion and chop up the jalapenos. Halve the lime and crumble up the cheese

4.) Heat some oil in a frying pan and add the onion. Cook for about 7 minutes.

5.) Add the drained potatoes to the pan with the onions and add the jalapenos and fry for a couple of minutes.

6.) Tip the mixture into a bowl and add the cheese and some salt and pepper and squeeze in the juice of the lime. Give it all a stir.

7.) Add enough oil to the pan to cover the pan and then add a tortilla. Fry for a minute or so or until gone stiff and lightly browned.

8.) Add 1/5 of the potato mixture to one half of the tortilla and fold over

9.) Brown for a couple of minutes, then flip over and brown the other side. (You could lightly brown both sides, stick toothpicks through to seal then deep fry if you want to do it the book-way)

10.) Repeat with the rest of the tortillas and potato mixture.

11.) Serve!

Mexican Lentil Soup

After enjoying the banana flavour in my Mole sauce the other week, I decided to give this lentil and plantain soup from Thomasina Myer’s ‘Wahaca’ cookbook. Thomasina Myers was the winner of Masterchef a few years ago and she has a chain of Mexican restaurants in the UK called Wahaca. As the original recipe calls for very ripe plantains, I thought I could get away with using bananas. The ones I used were fairly ripe and I think that helps the flavour to come through more. This soup also really benefits from a nice kick of chilli.

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 500g green lentils
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2 very ripe plantains/bananas
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 litre stock
  • coriander leaves
  • sour cream to serve
  • 1.5 tsp chilli oil
  • 1 carrot

Method

1.) Peel one of the onions and chop in half. Peel the carrot and chop in half. Peel a garlic clove and bash it a bit.

2.) Boil some water, pour over the lentils in a saucepan, add the bay leaves, the garlic, the carrot and the onion.

3.) Cook for about 30 minutes, until soft.

4.) While this is cooking, heat a frying pan and dry roast the tomatoes. I struggled a bit with this as the tomatoes kept rolling around in the pan. I don’t think you can go too wrong with this as they’ll just break up when you cook them later. Set them aside.

5.) Peel the other garlic and chop it up finely. Also peel and finely chop the garlic. Peel and slice one of the bananas.

6.) Heat some oil in the frying pan and add the onion and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the garlic, fry for one more minute then add the banana and the oregano. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle in half of the sugar. Turn the heat up and caramelise the banana.

7.) Add the tomatoes into the frying pan and let them break down. Chop up the coriander leaves.

8.) Drain the lentils and stir through the contents of the frying pan, lime juice and stock and the coriander stalks.

9.) Simmer for 15 minutes.

10.) To prepare for eating, peel and slice up the other banana and caramelise with the rest of the sugar.

11.) When the lentils are done, blitz with an immersion blender enough to thicken the soup a little but that there are still plenty of whole lentils.

12.) Season with more salt and the chilli oil.

13.) Serve in bowls with the coriander leaves and a dollop of sour cream.

Mole Sauce

In the UK, we have a celebrity chef called Rick Stein who has a fantastic seafood restaurant in Barnes, close to where I used to live in London. As with most of our celebrity chefs over here, he’s had a couple of tv series where he goes to another country, tries the food and makes his own recipes (sounds like the dream job to me!). I bought his book ‘The Road to Mexico’ as the dishes in there all look absolutely delicious. Unfortunately, I haven’t used the book much because the recipes are either fairly hard work or have ingredients I can’t find or more often – both. I decided enough was enough and I would make something out of this book, even if I had to change a recipe. As a result, this delicious Mole sauce. The sauce is quite rich and sweet so you can’t have too much of it in one go. I would serve it with some plant based steaks – I recommend the ones by plant pioneers.

Serves 8 – 10

Ingredients

  • 2 mild chillis
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
  • 30g panko breadcrumbs
  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 120g blanched almonds (or flaked)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 5cm cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 small unripe banana
  • 130g raisins/currants
  • 1 onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 litre stock (I used vegetarian beef flavoured stock powder)
  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Method

1.) Toast the breadcrumbs, chillis, chilli flakes, sesame seeds, almonds, coriander seeds and the cinnamon stick until smelling fragrant.

2.) Grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder. It’s quite a lot of stuff so I found it easier to do it in 2 lots.

3.) Peel and chop up the banana, peel and chop finely the garlic and peel and chop the onion. Weigh out the raisins.

4.) Heat the oil in a frying pan and then fry the bananas for a couple of minutes. Add the raisins and fry for one minute more. Then add the garlic and onion and fry until soft. While the onion is cooking, make up the stock.

5.) Now, add the contents of the pan, the spice mixture, the oregano and the stock to a blender and blitz. Again, you may need to do this in two lots. At this point with the sesame seeds and banana it’s almost like a beautiful peanut butter milkshake.

6.) Add back to the pan. Break up the chocolate and drop into the sauce. Simmer gently for 15 – 20 minutes until the sauce is lovely and thick. Season and serve as you wish.

Before the chocolate has melted