Viva Mex

The Press - Zest - - Eat -

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

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