Tag Archives: Chilli

Leftovers? A Tex-Mex feast is in your future…

I opened the fridge yesterday, and looking back at me was the remains of last night’s braised pork roast, and the remains of a roast chicken I bought from the local mega-mart for a quick lunch a couple days ago, and an idea struck me almost instantly.  It rarely happens like that, but this time it was a brilliant plan.

I whipped up a quick enchilada sauce (recipes aplenty on the net, but here’s what I did…

  • 1/4 cup oil (light olive)
  • 1 finely diced onion, but grated is fine (even a couple tbsp dried would work)
  • 2 cloves crushed or grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup stock or wine, or mixed
  • 1 tbsp powdered cumin (or crush some seeds)
  • 1/2 tbsp powdered coriander (or crush some seeds)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

In a shallow frying pan (not a saucepan) fry the onions in the oil until beginning to take a nice rich brown colour.  Add the garlic and fry for about 1 minute.  Add all of the spices and herbs (not the salt and pepper).
Add the flour, and cook for about another minute, before adding the puree and stock/wine.
Simmer until about the thickness of the tomato puree.  Add more stock if too thick.
Taste, and season.

In another frying pan, I added about 2 cups of oil, and brought it up to a low frying temp.

The Chicken

A great snack, or part of a Tex Mex Feast

A great snack, or part of a Tex Mex Feast

Then I chopped up the chicken and added some cheese to it (I used some cheddar I had grated in the fridge, but crumbled feta or cotija would have been better).  To this I added the Mexican spice trinity (Cumin, Coriander, Chilli), and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Opening a pack of corn tortillas (and they need to be corn, not flour), I dredged them quickly in the hot oil to soften.  Just a few seconds each side.  Then I dropped some of the mix into the middle, and simply rolled them into a tight barrel (about thumb thickness) before placing them seam down on a baking tray.

Setting them aside, I turned my attention to the pork.

The Pork

Slightly over cooked, but bursting with flavour, and very simple to make.

Slightly over cooked, but bursting with flavour, and very simple to make.

The pork was already somewhat shredded from the braise, but if your using a normal roast pork, I would wrap it in foil with some stock or a can of tomatoes, and cook it for a couple more hours to make it shreddable.  Fatty cheap cuts are best, like a shoulder or butt.

Using the corn tortillas again, I dredged them in the hot enchilada sauce to soften.  Then I wrapped the pork mix in a barrel about the size of a golf ball in diameter.  Note I did not season the pork more.  That’s what the sauce is for.

Placing the pork enchiladas in a baking dish, snug but single layered, I then covered them in the remaining sauce, spreading it evenly.  Top the dish with some cheese, and maybe some sour cream at this point (though I added the sour cream at serving).

The Cook

Cook the Enchiladas covered for about 10 minutes, then uncover and add the taquitos to the oven.

Cook for 15 minutes, or until the taquitos are a nice light golden brown.

Remove from the oven, and rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve them with shredded lettuce, diced tomato, diced onion, some cilantro, cheese, a home made guacamole, and sour cream, all nicely presented in separate bowls for people to help themselves.

It’s a simple meal, thrify if you want to just use leftovers, but good enough to do from scratch as a purpose meal.  It’s amazing delicious, and you’ll look like a food hero in front of your friends and family…of just make a ton of taquitos to enjoy with a cold beer while watching the football!

Mega Death Sauce

So I love chilli’s, and hot sauces are a staple for me.  I really enjoy starting the day with some eggs drizzled with a kicking hot sauce, but I have never categorized myself as a chilli head.  Maybe I’m in denial.

Anyhow, my wife returned from taking number 1 son to a Rugby tournament this weekend, and brought me home some Mega Death sauce, one of the range of Hot Sauces offered by Blair’s (out of Ascot Vale in Victoria).

Mega Death Hot Sauce- Love the Coffin packaging.

Mega Death Hot Sauce- Love the Coffin packaging.

I can confirm, it’s hot.  Very hot.  In fact, here’s hot potent it is:

I dabbed a drop onto my finger to taste it, and it performed as you would expect, the burn was immediate, then blossomed into something more.  It might not have been the hottest I have tried, but as a measure of it’s flavour (yes there was one mixed in with the tongue numbing heat), I was immediately inspired to come up with some recipes for the sauce in various concentrations.  But I digress.

The next morning, despite eating a full meal of Spag Bol and Salad, and taking a nice hot shower, I rubbed my eye with the offending finger…it still burned.  That’s how well this sauce lingers.

Anyway, the important this is that this is a great hot sauce.  Not just the searing heat, but the great blend of fruitiness, smokiness from chipotle’s, and spice gives this a delicious palette.

Here is their website, so check them out, I can really recommend the Mega Death (it’s the only one I’ve tried).

https://www.deathsauce.com.au/index.html

In the mean time, what is your favourite recipe that has hot sauce as an ingredient?

Genuine Mexican Delicacy: Chilli Relleno’s

When I mention the words “Mexican Food”, what comes to mind?  Nachos perhaps, covered with melted cheese, guacamole, and sour cream?  Crunchy tacos filled with mince and lettuce, topped with cheese and a salsa?  Maybe Fajita’s (pronounced fa-hee-tahs), with sizzling strips of beef or chicken served on a warm flour tortilla with grilled onions and capsicums?

Sadly, wrong on three counts.

Mexican food is one of the most loved foods in Australia at the moment, yet in truth, we’re actually eating Tex/Mex food…not original Mexican fare at all, and I think it’s time we all learnt a little bit more about true Mexican cooking (and perhaps a little about some of the pronunciation).

The fact is, Mexican cooking is something we can and should all adopt.  Authentic Mexican food is not born from modern kitchens and closely guarded recipes or techniques.  It traditionally makes the most of the cheap cuts of meat from old animals that served duty as egg layers or beasts of burden, so Mexican food makes delicious use of cheap ingredients using simple techniques and very little kitchen trickery.  Its a food that is ideal for the household on a budget, and these days, who isn’t?

Mexican food is more corn than flour…ground maize (or masa) that is formed into a dough (for tortillas; pronounced tort-ee-yah) or a cake (for tamales) and used to carry tid bits of slow cooked cheap cuts of meat, or to soak up the flavours of a punchy mole (pronounced mol-ay) or sauce.

Mexican food uses foods that are readily available, and therefore cheap to find.  Small amounts of slow cooked shredded beef, pork, and chicken (meat and offal) is what you’ll find on taco’s and inside burritos, not minced meat and not choice steak, and you’ll almost always find it served with a hunger buster like beans or rice.

Seafood is used more often that you think, with much of Mexico’s population living along coastlines.  Fish and shellfish are as likely to be in a stew or taco as shredded chicken.

And of course there’s chillies.

So Mexico is famous for hot food, no doubt, but not all chillies are hot…and many Mexican dishes rely on the flavour of the chilli itself, rather than the heat it may bring, so there are many dishes that use varieties of chillies (or peppers) that have little or no heat at all.   On the mild side are Capsicums and, if you can find them, Pobano’s and Anaheims…also called “Bull Horn Chilli’s” in Australia.  Hot Chillies are usually used sparingly, to add a zing to normally delicate dishes, while the milder chillies are used whole, as an ingredient or vegetable/fruit in it’s own right.

Look for chillies that are longer and narrow, rather than ball shaped.

Look for chillies that are longer and narrow, rather than ball shaped.

Which brings me to my most favourite of all Mexican dishes.  It’s a dish of stuffed chilli’s, usually stuffed with a mild melting cheese (traditionally queso, a Mexican cheese, fried in an egg batter and served with a smooth salsa or a Mole.  It’s as easy to cook as it is sublime to eat.

Chile Rellenos (pronounced re-yen-nyohs)

  • Look for chillies that are longer and narrow, rather than ball shaped.  Larger is easier, smaller works too.  Try Bullhorns for mild…Jalapeno’s (pronounced Ha-leh-pen-yohs)if you’re more adventurous.
  • Make a slit in them and extract the seeds.  Try to keep the slit as small as possible, but large enough to do the job.
  • Blister the peppers in a scorching oven, or over a gas flame, and place them in a plastic zip bag to steam a little.  You really want to blacken the skins here, it makes a big difference.
  • Remove when cool, and gently scrape the skin off.  It should peel off quite easily.
  • While they’re cooling, think about a stuffing.  It’s a great use of leftover rice, or you can simply use some mild cheese.  The key is not to overpower the flavour of the chilli.  It’s a delicate dish.  Gently stuff your chilli’s with your stuffing, and set aside.
  • Separate a few eggs, about 1 for every two small to medium chillies, and beat the yolks with a generous pinch of salt until light.  You can add some corn flour or rice flour to the yolks too, it will help with the final batter, but just a tablespoon or two.  Now beat the whites, with a splash of white vinegar, until peaks form.  Stir in half the whites into the yolk mixture to combine.  Gently fold the yolk mixture back into the remaining whites.  You want to maintain as much volume as you can.
  • Put a frying pan on the stove, medium heat, with about a 1cm layer of neutral oil.
  • Dollop some of the batter into the pan into a shape and size that matches your chilli.  Now put your chilli to bed on this batter.  The batter will keep it off of the bottom of the pan.  Cover with another dollop of the batter and shape (or add more) until the chilli is completely covered.
  • Cook until the bottom is browned, and turn over, cooking until the flip side is brown.
This method is a revelation.  Master this and you'll be egg battering everything.  It's is fool proof.

This method is a revelation. Master this and you’ll be egg battering everything. It’s is fool proof.

 

 

 

 

When done, serve with a nice salsa and a dollop of sour cream.

When done, serve with a nice salsa and a dollop of sour cream.

Some other tips for authentic Mexican?

  • Slow cook your meat for your tacos and burritos, and try chicken (pollo) or pork (carnitas).  I cannot say this enough.  Ditch the mince!
  • Look for Corn Tortilla’s, not flour.  Maize is Mexican…wheat not so much (it’s also gluten free folks).
  • Play with chilli’s…even mild ones have amazing flavour.
  • Use shredded cabbage on your taco’s, not lettuce.
  • Try fish or prawns on your Taco’s…in fact, prawn tacos (or tacos de camarones) are by far the best tacos you can eat.
  • Make your own salsa!  Don’t buy the stuff in jars…it’s just rubbish  Use google for some ideas if you need, the results are amazing.

Remember, you don’t have to eat expensive to eat well.  Enjoy a Mexican feast today, and maybe even throw a Mexican themed party and try some authentic South of the Border cuisine.

Thai Fish Cakes

At work today, Ngaire asked for some advice on how to cook some Trevally that she had on hand.

Now whilst Trevally is highly praised as a sport fish, as a table fish it is not quite so revered.   If you are going to eat it, it needs to be well bled when caught, and you really want to keep only smaller legal fish given the risk of ciguatera.

Our preferred methods tended toward the more gentle treatments:  poaching in a court bouillon, steaming, etc.  Then it hit me that the best way to use the Trevally might be as a Thai style fish cake.

I really love the spongy texture of a Thai fish cake, and the freshness of the coriander/cilantro within the cake itself, so i set about my preferred search engine, and came up with a few ideas.  The pick of these I sent via email, and went back to work.

On the way home, i dropped into my local grocery store, and low and behold Pink Snapper was beautifully laid out in the ice case and the recipe for the fish cakes came flooding back to me.  10 minutes later, I had 600 grams (2 fillets) in my hands and I was headed back home.

To be honest, I made the cakes to the letter of the recipe I found, and it was left wanting.  I found the seasoning was a bit off, and perhaps the fish a little mild.  So, with a bit of tweaking, I think I found the right balance.  Here is MY recipe for Thai fish-cakes.

Ingredients:
500g White fish fillets, cod/snapper/dory/trevally
1 Tbsp salt
1/2 Cup Fresh Coriander/Cilantro
1 Egg
4 Tbsp Red Curry paste (if you are one of the cool kids, you can make this from scratch)
3-6 Anchovy Fillets (the milder the fish, the more anchovies)
2 tsp Red Chilli (dried is fine)
3 Tbsp corn flour (corn starch)
1 Shallot (eschallot), finely diced
1 Spring (green) onion finely sliced
Neutral oil for cooking (peanut or canola)
Sauce
Juice of 1/2 large lime
1/3 Cup Sweet Chilli Sauce
2 Tbsp Fish Sauce

Method
Combine the sauce ingredients, and let rest
Using a food processor, chop the coriander.  Remove any tough stalks, and add the fish in pieces.  Blitz until well chopped.  Add the egg, anchovies, curry paste and chilli.  Blitz again, until well combined.  Finally add the cornflour, green onion, and eschallot.  Mix until well combined.
On a medium heat, add enough oil to a pan to cover by about 1 cm (up to 1/2 inch).
Using your hands, form balls with about 1/2 cup mix, and press slightly to make a cake about 2cm thick.
Fry the fish cakes until golden brown, and turn over.  When both sides are cooked, remove to a plate lined with paper towel, or a rack to drain, and season with a little salt.
Serve with the dipping sauce, and a nice Thai salad.