Posts Tagged ‘Mexican’

Browsing The Book People I came across a bargain – Weber’s Complete Barbecue Book for £6 and it has quickly become a summer favourite. So many rubs, marinades, sauces and ideas for outdoor eating – no more plain sausages and boring burgers!!

One of the first recipes I stumbled across was the Layered Mexican Salad and it turned out to be so easy – perfect for throwing together when you have a last minute get together.  I love it! I have amended the dressing slightly as instead of using a poblano chilli I have been using up the Chipotle in Adobo in the fridge, just adding to taste.  Works a treat!

Layered Mexican Chicken Salad (courtesy of Weber’s Complete Barbecue Book)



4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried marjoram

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs


1 large poblano chilli

125ml soured cream

25g coriander leaves, and tender stems

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper


250g Cos lettuce, thinly sliced or shredded

175g yellow, or blue corn tortilla chips, crushed

175g ripe tomato, diced

2 Haas avocados, diced

1 can pinto or black beans, rinsed

Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the chicken thighs, turning several times to coat them evenly, then cover and refrigerate for 30 mins to 1 hr.

Prepare the barbecue for direct cooking over a medium heat. Brush the cooking grates clean. Grill the chilli over direct medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, with the lid closed as much as possible but turning occasionally, until the skin is blackened and blistered. Transfer the chilli to a small bowl, cover with clingfilm and let steam for about 10 minutes. Gently peel the skin from the chilli and remove the seeds. Put the chilli in a blender with the remaining dressing ingredients and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve,

Arrange a bed of lettuce on a large platter and then add the chips, tomato, avocado and beans in separate sections on top.

Grill the chicken over direct medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, with the lid closed as much as possible but turning once or twice, until the meat is firm and the juices run clear. Transfer the chicken to a chopping board and cut into 1cm strips. Place the chicken on a separate section of the platter. Serve the dressing alongside.

Summer dining

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Taco Time

Tacos are a perfect Saturday night dinner – quick to prepare and fun to eat. Tacos were responsible for successfully getting Izzy to try lettuce and avocado – and liking them! No luck with tomatoes though – we have tried everything and she is not having a bar of it – just does not like them. I love them and so don’t understand – but then again she loves cucumber and I don’t. She is certainly developing her own tastes.

A box of El Paso Taco Kit, a pack of lean mince, maybe a can of red kidney beans, a shredded iceburg lettuce, grated cheese, chopped tomatoes, salsa, mashed avocado with a squeeze of lime (and chilli if you are so inclined) and there you have it – a fun meal for all the family! Bowls on the table and everyone can serve themselves – I find this a great way to get kids involved with their food.

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You may have gathered by now that we do like one pot dishes – it saves on the washing up!! One pot dishes are definitely back in vogue – especially with the slow cooking phenomenon. Throughout the winter my colleague Phil would regale us with tales about what his slow cooker had produced the night before – that is if he had remembered to turn it on!

There are so many variations on one pot dishes that you can find something to fit anyones taste. It’s also a great way of adding extra veg & pulses.

James was in charge of dinner tonight and took on Thomasina Miers ‘Mexican Food’………can’t go wrong in my eyes! This recipe uses Chipotle puree and so although not very hot it does leave a tingle in the mouth and so probably not one for Izzy. I am not sure that I would leave this out to adapt to Izzy’s taste buds as it’s the chipotle that gives the dish it’s smokiness which makes it special.

One-pot Bacon, Beans & Pumpkin (courtesy of Thomasina Miers – Mexican Food)

Serves 4


160g dried pinto beans

2 Tbsp olive oil

200g pancetta, diced

1 white onion, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin

500g pumpkin, peeled and diced

2 red peppers, deseeded and sliced

2 tsp Chipotle puree

2 bay leaves

5 sprigs of oregano

200g baby tomatoes

500ml chicken stock

To serve:

100ml sour cream

40g pumpkin seeds, tossed

a small handful chopped coriander ( we leave this out as we are not coriander fans!)

Soak the pinto beans in cold water overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, add the pancetta and cook until slightly golden.

Add the onion, garlic and cumin and cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the pumpkin, pepper, chipotle, herbs and baby tomatoes.

Cook until everything has slightly softened, then add the beans and the stock.

Cover with baking parchment and a lid and place in the oven or carry on cooking on the stove for about 45 minutes until the beans are soft.

Serve with sour cream, pumpkin seeds, and the fresh coriander.

Thanks James!!

On another note I had a delivery today…….YAY!! When it comes to Cookbooks I feel like a junkie looking for the next hit. I get such a thrill when a new one arrives……

I have had the Ottolenghi book in my Amazon basket for ages and with the second book – Plenty – just released I decided to order them both. My boss is a keen cook and he loves this book and so I hope it lives up to his recommendation. As I type this James is sitting next to me flicking through them – there have been lots of oohs aahs and plenty of ‘look at this’ …….. it’s looking good! Watch this space!!

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Ever since Thomasina Mier’s ‘Mexican Food’ came through the door I have been dying to make Tortilla Soup – my favourite Wahaca dish to date. Even Thomasina states ‘If you cook just one thing from this book, cook this’. However this is not a dish I could whip up with a quick trip to Sainsburys – a bit of pre-planning and organisation is required.

I made what has become my weekly pilgrimage to Borough Market and a stop at the Cool Chile Co meant I finally had everything I needed. I was all ready to make up my own Chipotles en adobo but I was so pleased to find a jar already made at the Cool Chile Co. One less job! The Chipotles en adobo is what gives this dish its wonderful smoky flavour and so leaving it out is definitely not an option. At Wahaca I usually opt for the addition of chicken and so I cooked a couple of chicken breasts and then diced them up, adding them to the bottom of the bowl.

The preparation of this dish was a team effort (as most usually are) and it was no more complicated than any other soup. Getting the ingredients in is the hardest part. Give it a go – you won’t be disappointed!! It was delicious and, as expected with Mexican food, finished off with a kick – zzzziiiingggg……

The whole point of this blog is cooking dishes for the whole family, however this is possibly an exception – probably not one for the kids!

Tortilla Soup (courtesy of Thomasina Miers – Mexican Food)


3 Tbsp lard or olive oil

2 onions, sliced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

100g fine polenta

1 heaped Tbsp Chipotles en adobo (this is a separate recipe – shout if you want to try it and I will post)

2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp dried oregano or 1 Tbsp fresh

sea salt & black pepper

1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

For the garnishes

1 ripe Hass avocado

lemon or lime juice

300ml vegetable oil (which can be reused)

2 corn tortillas or 2 chapattis

2 ancho chillies, deseeded and stems removed

100g feta cheese, crumbled

a small handful of coriander leaves, chopped (we always leave this off – we are not coriander fans)

100ml sour cream

Heat the lard or oil in a large pan, add the onions and sweat over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the onion is completely soft before adding the garlic. Add the polenta and continue cooking for 5 minutes before adding the Chipotles, the tomatoes, sugar, oregano and seasoning. Cook for another 5 minutes, add the stock and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Blitz in a food processor until the soup is smooth. Leave over a low heat for at least 5 minutes  before you eat.

Meanwhile, assemble all the garnishes for the soup. Halve the avocado, remove the stone, peel and dice the flesh, sprinkling with a little lemon or lime juice to stop it discolouring.

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep frying pan and cut the flat breads into thin ,short 3 cm strips Tear up the ancho chillies into rough pieces. Test the oil, and when it is shimmering hot (and makes a tortilla strip sizzle), add the strips and cook until crisp and golden. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon on to a plate lined with kitchen paper and fry the ancho chilli pieces until they have puffed up. This only takes a few seconds, so watch them like a hawk and try not to burn them or you will lose their lovely sweetness.

Serve the soup in bowls with all the garnishes laid out in small bowls or on plates so that people can help themselves at the table.

NOTE: You can also add a rehydrated ancho chilli to the soup base for a rich, earthy flavour

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Dining out London style!

Thursday was a particularly delicious day that was more about eating than cooking!

My team mate Jo turned 24 (am feeling so very very old) and as Jo is a complete cheeseaholic but has never visited the holy grail of dairy – Neals Yard Dairy at Borough Market. It’s a cheese lovers paradise and I can never walk out empty handed!!! Came away with a divine blue cheese with the intention of making a pear, pecan & blue cheese salad tonight but as luck would have it I have left it in the fridge at work!! ggrrr….Monday night then!

My favourite place in London

My favourite place in London

So one of the things I always see (and smell) at Borough is the Raclette stall. I have never tried Raclette and so Thursday seemed like the perfect day to give it a go.

According to our friends at Wikipedia Traditional Raclette is a semi-firm, salted cheese made from cow’s milk. However, varieties exist made with white wine, pepper, herbs, or smoked. The cheese originated in the Swiss Canton of Valais and it is usually fashioned into a round of about 6 kg (13 lb).

The Raclette cheese round is heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners’ plates; the term raclette derives from the French racler, meaning “to scrape”. Traditionally, it is accompanied by small firm potatoes, gherkins, pickled onions, dried meat, such as prosciutto, sliced peppers, tomato, onion, mushrooms, pears, and dusted with paprika and fresh-ground black pepper.

Our serving at Borough was served with just potatoes, small gherkins & pickled onions and it was comfort on a plate. Such a treat!

Raclette under the grill

Raclette under the grill


Louise digs in!

Louise digs in!

Cheesy Jo enjoys her toasted cheese sandwich!

Cheesy Jo enjoys her toasted cheese sandwich!

So from one yummy meal to another! In the evening I headed into Covent Garden to meet my dear friend Meredith for a long overdue catch up. It is such a joy to enjoy a long dinner with a fellow cook and food lover! My current favourite restaurant is Wahaca (opening in Canary Wharf in Nov – awesome!!) – its amazing and so reasonable for the quality of food and the location! Wahaca serves Mexican food but no Taco Bell style food. Check out the menu on their website – I guarantee you will be salivating in seconds!! Similar to Wagamama there is a no booking policy (so there can be a queue), close tables, open kitchen and general chaos!

We had a selection of Street Food to start – Pork Pibil, Shrimp Ceviche Tostada, Chorizo & Potato Quesadilla and Devon Crab Taquito, accompanied by a Margarita or 2……

An hour or so later we were ready for a bowl of Chicken Tortilla soup – it was so delicious but I just couldn’t fit anymore….. I loved the way his dish was served. All the ingredients were arranged in the bottom of the bowl and a hearty tomato soup is poured over this at the table. Oh, and there were a few more Magarita’s…..

A fab day full of a variety of culinary treats and great company!

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