“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.” ― Julia Child

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Let's Talk About Mex, Baby

¡Hola amigos! ¿Cómo está usted?

Did I ever mention that I loooove Mexican food?

It's true, I do. I love it!

I've had a serious jones in my bones for some serious Mexican since, well, since I got here. Unfortunately, 'here', i.e. the Garden of England, is not known for its preponderance of Mexican restaurants. I think there probably about 10 in the whole country. Oh, sure, we can buy the Old El Paso Fajita and Taco kits in the supermarket, but that's really about as close as any Englishman ever comes to eatin' some full-on, screamin' Mexi.

So now I've been here almost 4 months (doesn't seem possible, does it?) and it was getting to be an urgent situation.
The other day I went to jolly old Waitrose and found some nice whole wheat tortillas and some pinto beans, thinking, 'I'll cook some south of the border-type cuisine sometime', and I really didn't think about it much beyond that.  Well, this morning that all changed. Today, being a Wednesday, was my day off, and I woke up and suddenly realised it was Cinco De Mayo. The day all Mexican restaurants go nuts. Free shots of Cuervo Gold for everybody!! Many of my happy memories of the States revolve around Mexican food... if I may just take a moment here to give a shout-out to my favourite Mex joints (and maybe yours too...)

So I resolved that tonight was gonna be a Mexi-fest. At least for me. Trouble is, I'm really up against it here in the land of Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding (both terrific in their own way, don't get me wrong), because the acquisition of some bona fide Mex ingredients does require a bit of detective work and my family (with the exception of Christopher, bless his cotton socks) are not fans of the peppers and the spicy and the ooh, ow, that burns, I don't like food that hurts me, ooh, ow. So I knew I had to do something that was doable for all tastes.Hmmm... Quesadillas! Yeah....

Last week I had the good sense to soak some of my pintos and cook them and then freeze them, so they could just be reheated and doctored up. I already had the tortillas, as I said, and I'd also got some tiny on-the-vine tomatoes, and a little plant pot of fresh coriander (aka cilantro) that I bought on clearance from Waitrose. (It seems like a pricey store on the face of it, but do a bit of hunting at the right time of day and you can find some good deals).

This morning my Sis arrived and Mum wanted to go to Jempson's, a lovely supermarket in Peasmarsh where one used to be able to run into Fab Macca Wacky Thumbs Aloft and family shopping in their wellies and jeans, and since I was needing supplies I came along. I bought some lovely stuff I'll tell you about later, but let's focus. I purchased a little pack of about 4 small jalapeño-type chilies, 2 limes (natch), a 4-pack of Sol beer (Muchas cervezas!), a jar of roasted red peppers, and some mushrooms.

I started by cutting up a medium red onion, one half in larger pieces to be sautéed over a low heat until it started to caramelize, and the other half chopped finely to go in the salsa. Then I went to the backyard to snip some coriander off the plant, which got chopped finely also. Then one of the chilies was de-seeded and chopped finely. Then all 9 of the tomatoes, chopped finely and added to the salsa, then a squeeze of lime. Done & dusted. Next came the mushrooms which I sliced and sautéed also. The pintos were in the pan with a small knob of butter, some garlic salt and a bit of water to get soft, after a while I took the tater masher and just pressed down on them enough to make them semi-smooth. There was some chicken left over in the fridge from the other day which I de-boned and then I grated some cheddar. Okay, ready!
All I had to do was assemble the chicken-onion-mushroom quesadillas (making sure to only put roasted red peppers in mine and Chris's) and cook them and we were away. Pop open the bottle of Sol, add the lime wedge, and it was fiesta time, amigos!

I still have a pack of tortillas left. I'm thinking sopapillas. ¡Muy delicioso!

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