Ihave to admit I have been a tad ambivalent about Mexican food. I put this down to marrying a man whose OE included months of travel in Mexico and Central America which meant as a young-married I became an early adopter of refried beans and tortillas. It didn’t take long before I refused to countenance another black bean, or launch into yet another failed attempt at making our own tortillas ( it would be a year or two yet before El Paso discovered New Zealand and in the meantime I was displaying ignorance and limited cooking skills by using cornflour).
But now, with Mexican food trucks and cafes popping up all over and inspired by the ready availability of the necessary ingredients, I’ve been researching the old dishes. Tortillas, tacos and quesdillas now as then are DIY projects filled with what is available, interesting or cheap. I have no intention of ever making my own tortillas again but I have re-worked some of the dishes that were intended for family meals. Complex bean, rice and vegetable layers have morphed into simple salads, chilli and cheese fry-ups have been slimmed down, and shortcuts have been taken with just about everything. Authentic no, but tasty, yes.
FRIED TOMATOES AND CORN SALAD
An easy take on a favourite salad. Serves 4 1 medium onion 1 small bowl of ice cubes 6 Tbsp good olive oil 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 4 generous handfuls of rocket washed and dried A few basil leaves 2 cobs of corn 4 large tomatoes 1⁄ cup of instant polenta (fine cornmeal)
2 Pinch of sugar Salt and pepper Light cooking oil (for frying) Salad garnish: tomato and cucumber, seeded and diced Peel and cut the onion into halves then slice as finely as possible. Divide into two. into the ice cubes. The othe salad dressing. Whisk the ol dressing until well combined Put the remaining onion slic Slice the corn kernels from boiling water, drain and coo drain again, then add 1 Tbsp Slice off the top and base of the garnish) then cut into tw cornmeal into a shallow bow and pepper. Heat a frying pa about 2 tsp oil. Dip the toma coating each side then fry in and brown. Add more oil for Meanwhile, drain the onion corn, rocket and basil and to dressing a good shake or st and add as much as preferr with diced tomato pieces an
SPICY KUMARA SOUP
The original recipe featured research revealed Mexico’s as sweet potatoes the peso It’s still a leap in the dark as use but long green (unname using commercial stock ens sugar. Serves 6 1 Tbsp light cooking oil 1 large red onion, chopped 2 mild chillies, seeded and A sprig of fresh thyme, str make about 2 tsp herbs 2 large carrots, diced 675 g kumara, peeled and 1 litre of chicken stock (pr 1 cup milk 1 Tbsp brown sugar 1 tsp salt 1 tsp dried chilli flakes Black pepper Garnish: a slice of pickled of thyme. Heat the oil in a large sauce until soft but not coloured. A cook for a minute or two. Ad lower the heat and let all the