Saturday, 27 July 2013

Lunch with MexiGeek: apple and pumpkinseed salad with queso fresco

I don't normally do lunch posts (even though "lunch" is traditionally the main meal of the day in Mexico), but this was a pretty damn good salad.

Salads based on green leaves aren't the most typical of Mexican dishes; mexican cuisine has other ways of getting a good portion of veg into your diet.

But I love a good salad for lunch, especially on a hot day.

The inspiration for this salad came from three things:

1) those blue cheese and walnut salads that were all the rage in middle-brow cafés several years ago (I used LOVE shit like that!)

2) the fact that I have a big block of Gringa Dairy queso fresco in my fridge

3) Gringa Dairy's website, which suggests crumbling their cheese over salads

So I toasted some pumpkin seeds and some sesame seeds, peeled and chopped an apple, and tossed it all with some rocket and a bit of fresh basil.

I "bruised" the basil leaves in my hands, by the way, so they would release more flavour. I probably got that trick off Jamie Oliver.

Then I crumbled some queso fresco over the salad and dressed it with balsamic vinegar and agave nectar (thanks to Luchito for inspiring that!).

They sell agave nectar everywhere now thanks to Chris Martin's wife, but if you really can't get hold of some honey would work fine.

On the side I served some tortilla wedges filled with some of my homemade coriander pesto.

This is totally "fusion food", of course, but still one if the best salads I've ever had. Possibly it could have used some chopped celery, but there you go.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Blue corn tortillas from the Cool Chile Company

Tortillas don't need to be a blank canvas

So I was browsing the Cool Chile Company's website a few weeks ago and I discovered they are doing blue corn tortillas now!

This is amazing because blue corn, though prized in Mexico, is virtually unknown in the UK.
I recently wrote about my experiences making homemade blue corn tortillas. But I'm aware this is outside the comfort zone for many readers.

So, as with white corn tortillas, it's Cool Chile to the rescue.

I reviewed CCC's white corn tortillas ages ago; they remain the only corn tortillas available in the UK that I endorse.

When I tweeted my excitement about the blue corn, CCC offered to send me some. They arrived while I was on holiday at home, cooking with mi madre.

Just in time to be used for tacos de carnitas, in fact!

My original idea was to use some of the blue tortillas for tacos and turn the rest into tortilla chips ("totopos").

But instead we finished the lot in one night.
"Anyone want another taco?"
"Aye, just one more then."
Until they were gone.

Which should indicate how much we liked them.

They were a bit paler in colour than my homemade blue tortillas. I assume the dough was a mixture of blue and white corn, which would undoubtedly make the dough easier to work with.

I found 100% blue corn dough quite fragile (blue corn is less starchy than white corn). And Cool Chile Company tortillas have to go through el monstruo (their awesome tortilla-machine).

Another advantage of mixing corn varieties is the tortillas can easily stand up to heating, reheating, frying, dipping in chile sauce (enchilar-ing), and all the other things a tortilla has to do.

Also Mrs MexiGeek, who is still a bit unnerved that there is such a thing as blue corn, preferred the mitigated shade of blue.

The bottom line is these are excellent tortillas and a great way to lend a taste of Central Mexico to your cooking.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Breakfast with MexiGeek: more fun with queso fresco

The morning after making queso fundido I found myself with leftover cheese and tortillas, plus my homemade coriander pesto and a bottle of Cholula.

So I fried two tortillas (because one just wasn't enough), then fried an egg over-easy in the same oil.

The tortillas were homemade too, by the way. I had replenished my supply of Maseca on a recent trip to Lupe Pinto's. I pretty much bought everything they had in the shop.

I spread one tortilla with my coriander pesto, put the egg on top, then sprinkled it with Cholula and crumbled queso fresco from Gringa Dairy.

For the record I topped the lot with the other tortilla and sprinkled some more Cholula, but I went for an open-faced presentation for the photo.

The coriander pesto doesn't show up in the photo (drag) but it was still delicious.