Thursday, May 29, 2014

My Love for Mexico, Part 2

If you're coming fresh to Part 2, see Part 1 for the lead-in. This is my ode to Mexican food and uses the leftovers from my Mexican-marinated chicken tacos with homemade cooked salsa, refried beans and avocado.

A note on refried beans: for convenience, I used a prepared can (La CosteƱa, to be exact) for the recipe. To save a couple dollars, and for homecooked-wholeness and health, if I had the time and foresight, I would soak some dried black beans overnight and cook them until tender in unsalted, boiling water. After draining, and retaining 1/4 cup of water, I'd add a generous amount of olive oil (start with a few tablespoons), the water and one finely chopped garlic clove to the beans, heating gently. As the garlic cooks through, stir and mash beans with a fork. Add either more water or oil to achieve a consistency you prefer (definitely not runny!). Season with salt and pepper, and a shake of smoked paprika for extra flavour.

So... you've got some cooked salsa, refried beans, red onion/cilantro, avocado, and tortillas leftover? And some eggs? Perfect, huevos rancheros it is!

Huevos Rancheros (The below recipe is for 1, for more, you just need more salsa and eggs!)

I love cooking eggs like this. Basically, you're poaching the eggs in a sauce that also seasons and makes it into a complete meal. The Moroccans and north Africans do something similar, called 'shakshuka', where the tomato-based sauce features cumin and roast peppers more prominently.

2 eggs
Enough salsa to fill a small 15cm pan with a generous layer

Reheat salsa over medium heat, and when bubbling, make two wells in your salsa for the eggs. The deeper the better. Crack eggs, one at a time, into the formed wells. Reduce heat to low and cover pan with a lid. Check after 3-4 minutes. You can tell if the eggs are cooked by how much the yolks jiggle when you shake the pan. I prefer mine a little soft.

My first well (top) wasn't quite deep enough

As the eggs cook, prepare the rest of the dish. Reheat refried beans, and warm through tortillas in a dry pan over medium heat. When eggs are ready, you should be able to slide the eggs/salsa easily onto a plate. Season eggs with a pinch of salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve tortillas and refried beans topped with avocado (seasoned with black pepper) on the side. Top with cilantro/onion and a generous squeeze of lime juice.

Best breakfast/brunch/lunch, ever.

So, so good. And especially for the fact that it's full of good, healthy stuff! Even the black beans are very good for you, too. Let's face it, you can't be guilty with this one.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Love for Mexico, Part 1

While I continue finishing a post on my recent travels through South East Asia, I wanted to mark my return to the pursuit of deliciousness with some food I prepared earlier. (Thanks to everyone who have been visiting during my hiatus, whether old or new readers, and even if you arrived here by accident, it still fills me with joy when I see my visitor counter going up!)

Slow-braised oxtail stew with carrots, peas and Goose Fat-roasted Sweet Potatoes
(photo courtesy of my brother's Instagram)

While life continues to sort itself out, I've been cooking. And because I'm in the northern hemisphere now, the produce just keeps getting better and better as we approach summer. Of course, at the sight of a full oxtail in the local butcher, I couldn't resist slow-braising it in some red wine and freshly made chicken stock (from the roast a night before) with a bay leaf, some garlic, onions and carrots... but last night, I reaffirmed my love for Mexico.

The inspiration came from seeing corn tortillas in one of the ethnic supermarkets, all the way from Guanajuato, Mexico and complete with the 'Hecho en Mexico' logo. The rest followed: some spare tomatoes in the kitchen, green onions, green peppers and iceberg lettuce on special, a bright leafy bunch of cilantro (coriander) from the Asian grocer, complete with it's roots, ripe avocados, limes, red onion, garlic, a can of tomatoes, a can of refried black beans (found next to the tortillas), and some essential herbs/spices (ground cumin, oregano, ground chilli, smoked paprika). A visit to Dublin's best butchery got me some chicken breasts to give my tacos extra excitement.

Breakfast in Mexico City, 2009

Having travelled* to Mexico for two months previously, I feel I have a really good understanding of Mexican flavours.  (*By now, everyone knows my 'travelling' means eating, right?) Whenever the stars align for some homemade comida mexicana at home, I am brought straight back to memories of eating tacos fresh from one-man food carts, standing around or sitting on plastic chairs with locals on the side of the street.