Posts tagged ‘Mexican’

April 18, 2012

Grilled Corn Salsa

The other day I was on the phone with my Mom and mentioned we bought some shrimp for dinner at the seafood market. She replied in her best Americanified Paul Hogan impression, “are you makin ‘em on the BARBEEE?!”

None of my family have made the journey Down Under yet, so besides what I tell them, Crocodile Dundee, Men at Work and Shark Week are what their impressions of this country are based on. No biggie.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a barbeque to throw shrimp or anything else onto. We happen to have the tiniest balcony ever affixed to an apartment – so we won’t be making anything on the barbee until we get a place that can fit one. As soon as we do, I will be happy to perpetuate the stereotype.

Luckily! caramelizing corn kernels in a skillet with olive oil, salt, pepper and smoked paprika takes the flavor of this salsa to a new sweet/smokey/addictive level. Try it! It’s way better than boiling the corn and a tad easier than firing up the grill.

Grilled Corn Salsa
Makes 2 1/2 cups
– 3 ears of corn, kernels removed from cobs or 2 cups of frozen corn, thawed
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
– salt and pepper
– 1 small red onion finely diced
– 1 fresh jalapeno, deseeded and finely chopped
– 1/4 chopped coriander
– juice of half a lime

Over a medium high heat, heat olive oil in  large pan or skillet. Add corn, paprika, salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring only once or twice for 5-7 minutes until the corn is golden. Take off heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes

Combine corn, onion, jalapeno, coriander and lime juice in a bowl and toss to combine. Serve with enchiladas, tacos, eggs, rice, etc.

 

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April 16, 2012

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Caramelized Onion Enchiladas

First thing’s first! I need to clear something up for the sake of American/Australian food relations: pumpkin and winter squash are the same thing.

It’s called butternut squash in America, but butternut pumpkin in Australia. I often cook with Japanese pumpkin (like in this dish) which is also known as kabocha squash.

TomATE-o, tomAH-to.

Since I live in Australia now, I call it pumpkin. And sometimes I say ‘herb’ with a hard ‘H’. Assimilating – check me out!

I like to roast a small pumpkin or half a large pumpkin at the beginning of the week and keep it in the fridge to throw into salads, soups and curries throughout the week. It’s best to tackle this whole vegetable in one go (you need a little muscle to hack into these things, so it’s best to chop it all up at once.) Once roasted and ready to go, throwing together meals in pinch is much easier.

Pumpkin is my superstar vegetable. With its rich texture and sweet flavor, it’s filling but relatively low in calories, loaded with fiber and vitamins, and something special happens when you mix it with melted cheese. The pumpkin kind of enhances the flavor of the cheese. Like, cheesy pumpkin tastes more cheesy that other cheese-coated vegetables. Does that make sense?

That’s why it’s easy to trick children into eating vegetables by mixing mashed butternut pumpkin in with mac and cheese. (p.s. I’m going to be such a stealth/good mom.)

These enchiladas are the cheese-covered culmination of a few easy steps. You can prepare most of the elements ahead of time (the sauce, the pumpkin and the caramelized onion) or use what you happen to have in the fridge. If you have sweet potato, go ahead and use that in the place of the pumpkin. Or replace the black beans with lentils or white beans.

I like to make my own enchilada sauce – it’s easy and I usually have the ingredients on-hand. But you can replace it with a salsa that you like or a pre-made enchilada sauce. Go nuts.

Enchilada Sauce
adapted from Emeril Lagasse

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan heat oil, add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute.
Add chili powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add stock, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Stir to combine.
Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and smooth out. Adjust seasonings to taste.

Roasted Squash or Pumpkin
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 2 cups squash or pumpkin (I used Japanese pumpkin), cut into 1 inch/2.5 cm chunks
– salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 220 C/425 F.
Coat pumpkin in olive oil and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes until soft and slightly golden.

More hints for roasting pumpkin:
You can roast in larger chunks if it’s too much of a hassle to cut, roasting time will just be longer.
I always roast with the skin on. Once the skin is cooked it’s soft and easy to remove, but not at all unpleasant to eat. I usually just eat it.

Caramelized Onion
– 1 large red onion, cut into thin half-moon shapes
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 2 tablespoons water
– salt

Heat olive oil in a large pan over a medium high heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.
Add a tablespoon or two of water and cover the pan. Lower the heat to medium low and continue to cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding more water if the pan is dry.
Cook until onions are deeply brown/purple (if using red onion) and jammy. Set aside or store in the fridge for up to 3 days (or freeze for up to two months.)

Pumpkin, Black Bean and Caramelized Onion Enchiladas
(Makes 8 enchiladas)
– Olive oil or baking spray, for greasing
– 8 tortillas (I used small ones)
– 2 cups enchilada sauce, divided.
– 1 can (1 1/2 cups) cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
– 2 cups roasted pumpkin
– 1/2 cup caramelized onions
– 2-3 tablespoons crumbled queso blanco or feta cheese
– 1/3 cup finely grated cheddar cheese.

Preheat oven to 190 C/375 F.
Grease a baking dish and cover the bottom with 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce.
Assemble the tortillas with pumpkin, black beans, onion and queso blanco/feta.
Roll  the tortillas and place in the baking dish seam side down.
Repeat 7 more times, packing the rolled tortillas tightly together in the baking dish.
Cover with the remaining sauce.
Sprinkle with cheddar.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and a little golden in spots.
Serve with corn salsa, fresh cilantro and a little dollop of sour cream.

January 12, 2012

Mexican Breakfast

Hopefully by now you are familiar with the amazing concept of the breakfast burrito.

Fluffy scrambled eggs, cheese, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, maybe a little cheeky chorizo up in there – all wrapped up in a big burrito. Did I mention you get to eat this for breakfast?

In the spirit of this great dish, along with a commitment to a healthy start to the new year – I made my own Mexican-themed breakfast*.

A corn and black bean hash: herb-flecked, spice-laced and veggie-packed with a little crunch for good measure, topped with a perfectly poached egg. This is in no way a replacement for the glorious brekkie burrito, but as a lady I like to have options. Mexican breakfast options.

*Not limited to breakfast time. Breakfast for dinner is a popular option in my kitchen. As is breakfast for lunch. Go nuts!

Mexican Black Bean and Corn Hash
Makes 4 servings

- 1 15.5 oz/440 gram can of black beans, rinsed
– 2 ears of corn, husks removed
– 1 small red onion, diced
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 1 small jalapeno, finely chopped
– 1 big handful of baby spinach
– 3/4 cup leftover roasted pumpkin or butternut squash, diced
– 1/2 teaspoon smokey paprika
– 1/2 teaspoon cumin
– 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– Olive oil
– Salt & Pepper
– 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

For corn: In a large pot bring water, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of sugar to a boil. Add corn and boil covered for about 5 minutes. Remove corn and let cool. Once cooled, cut the kernels off the cob with a large, sharp chef’s knife. I did this in a large bowl, while holding the ears of corn upright (this helps prevent corn kernels from flying all over the place.) Set kernels aside.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for about 2 minutes before adding the garlic and jalapenos. Cook an additional 2 minutes.

Add black beans, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper to the skillet and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add a tablespoon or two of water if at any point the pan looks dry.

Stir in spinach until wilted. Add pumpkin, corn, salt and pepper (to taste) and stir well to combine.

Remove from heat and top with fresh cilantro.

Serve with an egg cooked in the style of your choosing. My favorite is poached. For advice on how to cook the perfect poached egg, see Elise at Simply Recipes – she’ll hook you up.

December 8, 2011

Pumpkin and Feta Quesadillas



Who said Mexican food can’t have roasted Japanese pumpkin and Greek cheese in it? Nobody, that’s who. And hey, worse things have happened to Mexican food before.

Pumpkin quesadillas aren’t the usual gooey, cheesy affair – believe me, there’s a place in my heart for that, but today pumpkin wins out.

These are hearty yet simultaneously light and pack a little unexpected punch with the help of some cayenne pepper. The pumpkin (I chose a sweet Japanese/Kabocha) plays off many cheese choices nicely – if I didn’t have feta, I would have used a goat cheese, an aged cheddar or some parmesan.

In conclusion: be a rebel, make a multicultural quesadilla of your own. Do it.

October 24, 2011

mexican night, fresh and healthy-style

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I love Mexican food and I love cooking it at home for a fun, easy-to-share meal. I think in some circles Mexican food has a bad  reputation and I can see why, as it can easily stray into greasy, gooey, cheese-filled territory. I won’t linger on my disdain for the bleak Old El Paso section of the “international foods” aisle, I want to talk about easy, fresh and healthy Mexican at home.
One of my favorite aspects of cooking your own Mexican is that you can improvise and make it your own. Tacos can have anything in them from beef, to fish, to vegetables to eggs. Don’t be afraid to mix it up.

Some tips for keeping your Mexican fresh:

  • Use fresh cilantro/coriander. It really cuts the heat in any spicy Mexican dish and adds a cool, crisp aspect.
  • Make your own salsa and incorporate good quality ingredients. A simple salsa doesn’t need much else besides fresh tomato, chopped onion, cilantro and salt and pepper. You can also add ingredients like roasted corn or for a perfect partner to fish add some mango, papaya or pineapple to your salsa.
  • Use ripe avocados to make your own guacamole.
  • Cook your favorite vegetables with Mexican seasoning (recipe below). You can roast or pan grill them with a little olive oil and a generous sprinkling of this seasoning mixture.
  • Use cheese as a garnish to your tacos, fajitas and burritos. A good mature cheddar will stand out and add flavour without creating a cheese-centric main course

Mexican Seasoning
I decided to create my own Mexican spice blend which serves as a vegetable seasoning as well as the spices for a beef marinade.
Adjust the volume as needed, maintaining a similar ratio. I made extra to have on hand for our next Mex night.

1 tbsp Cumin
1 tbsp Paprika (I used smokey but sweet would be nice too)
1 tbsp Chili powder (non-spicy)
1 tsp Cayanne pepper (if you don’t like it on the spicy side, leave it out)
1 tbsp Oregano
1 tbsp Garlic Powder (crushed up dried garlic flakes work too)
Salt&Pepper

To make a marinade, combine 3 tablespoons of the above spice mixture with 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup lime juice and two minced garlic cloves. Pour over meat and refrigerate for 1-8 hours.

Our Mexican menu this week:
Carne asada (grilled marinated lean rump steak) and vegetable tacos with broccoli and carrot slaw and spicy guacamole.

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