The list of ‘annoying things I have read recently on obsessive clean-eating blogs’ is a long one, but hovering somewhere near the top is the suggestion that you should keep loads of cooked quinoa in your fridge, ready to whip up into a healthy salad or a ‘snack’ at a moment’s notice. There are two things wrong with this recommendation. Firstly, quinoa is not a ‘snack’. Snacks are portable and easily nibbleable commodities, like apples, granola bars and – if you must – almonds. They are usually sugary and designed as treats between meals. Much as I love quinoa, I would not consider munching on its dry, nubbly grains much of a treat if I were in the middle of a catastrophic blood sugar slump between lunch and dinner, with only the prospect of cake standing between me and an otherwise inevitable desk nap. Nor would I carry it around in my handbag. But the main gripe I have with what I shall henceforth term ‘The Cooked Quinoa Fallacy’ is, simply, who on earth can afford to cook quinoa in large batches just so it can hang around in the fridge on the off-chance you might use it in the next few days?Read More
There are few things sadder than a ‘chilli con carne’ done badly. Soggy mince; a sour, acidic tomato sauce; bullet-hard kidney beans straight from a can; the overpowering musk of cumin powder…this is a dish that is surprisingly easy to massacre. Perhaps it has something to do with being a student staple, much like its mince-sharing partner, spaghetti bolognese. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that it is often served, entirely unimaginatively, with a bland canvas of white rice. Or perhaps it’s because bad chilli con carne can be smothered in cheese and crammed into a burrito and thereby turned into something vaguely acceptable, so why bother perfecting the thing?Read More
Apologies for the radio silence; I’ve been in Thailand. Isn’t that a great sentence to be able to write? Photos and Thai-inspired recipes to follow shortly, but for now I am going to share a rare savoury breakfast treat. This brunch is not for the faint-hearted: it’s big, rich, hearty and very substantial. If that puts you off, you’re probably reading the wrong blog. If not, let me get you even more excited. Imagine plump, juicy kernels of sweetcorn whisked into a pancake batter spiked with chopped jalapeño, spring onions and a generous spoonful of blushing paprika. These are fried until crispy on the outside and tender in the middle, and served with bacon, grilled cherry tomatoes and an avocado and mango salsa.Read More
The other night, I got back to York after an exhausting couple of weeks down south. I'd spent the afternoon sleeping haphazardly on the train, groggy and disgruntled after a fortnight of very little sleep. I came home, dazedly unpacked my bag, and then was forced by increasingly prominent hunger pangs to consider the somewhat urgent question of dinner. All I wanted to do was lie like a starfish on my bed and sigh in a plaintive and exhausted fashion, preferably while a willing minion worked busily downstairs to prepare me a delicious feast that would then be spoon-fed into my recumbent mouth. Unfortunately, no such minion materialised and I was forced to de-starfish myself and actually figure out how I was going to sustain myself gastronomically.Read More
I love what the summer is doing to my cooking at the moment. Something about hot weather just gives me an urge to serve up a feast to a crowd of people, preferably in my garden, with some magnificent form of fish or beast as its centrepiece, adorned by an array of fresh, vibrant salads. Recently there was a fabulous barbecue in which I cooked an entire salmon, rubbed with Cajun blackening spices and grilled on each side until the skin was rich and crispy, while the fish stayed beautifully moist and pink. We ate it with tortillas and freshly made guacamole, and a wonderful variety of salads and salsas (mango, chickpea and spinach salad; fennel, apple and mint salad; cucumber and melon salsa; fresh papaya and avocado salsa; watermelon and feta salad), all washed down with oh-too-moreish mango mojitos.Read More
A couple of weeks ago, I escaped the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden for a brief but deliciously enlightening adventure into Spanish and Mexican cuisine. Condesa is a little wine and tapas bar, tucked away amidst other more imposing pubs and chain restaurants in this ever-heaving district of London. Blink and you'd miss it, so make sure you keep your eyes wide open as you walk past, because it would be a sad thing if you did miss out on the delights Condesa has to offer (not least of which is Daniel, the rather charming owner).
I was expecting a large restaurant, so was surprised to find myself in a small and rustic-looking wine bar. You can perch at the bar on stools and read off the menu and wine list written on a large blackboard across the wall, or sit at small tables dotted along the side of the room. The place definitely has atmosphere for being so small; everyone around us seemed to be having a great time, and there's a really laid-back feel to everything. It's a proper Spanish tapas bar, not an English restaurant attempting to take some of those elements and enlarge and commercialise them. This is evident from the extensive list of wines written on the board, from Argentina, Chile, Spain, Mexico and France; it's obvious that the food and wine are of equal importance at Condesa.
It's a bit of a treat for wine lovers, particularly with Daniel's expert knowledge to recommend wines to match the food. We started with an Amontillado sherry, which with its sweet, honeyed tones was the prefect thing to whet the appetite before the food commenced. We also sampled a range of Mexican wines, which I found very intriguing, having never tasted wine from that part of the world before. A sweet but crisp and refreshing Chenin Blanc, Daniel explained, gains its sweetness from the salty sea breeze that perfumes the grapes, lending them a distinctly honeyed aftertaste.
Condesa offers big, bold, vibrant food, yet also food that demonstrates a huge amount of skill and care in the blending of flavours and textures. The specials board changes every two days, and ingredients are carefully sourced from Mexico, Spain and local suppliers, with emphasis on quality and authenticity. There's a separate lunch and dinner menu, the former featuring bocadillos (home-made sandwiches), with fillings such as pulled pork, chicken chipotle, jamon serrano with olive oil, and goat's cheese with cranberry sauce, all costing around £5-6. The latter showcases a range of Spanish and Mexican classics, such as charcuterie, ceviche, tostadas and quesadillas.
If you're looking for fancy, artistically-presented restaurant food, with foams and garnishes and the like, go somewhere else. This is the kind of food I really love to eat, the kind that makes me fail to see the point in Michelin-starred places: it's hearty, generous, but also perfectly balanced to deliver a really exciting taste experience. There's meat and cheese. Toasted bread. Olives. Chilli. Beautiful fresh fish and seafood. I really cannot think of what more a person could want.
My favourite dish was the pork pibil sliders, beautiful soft buns filled with slow-cooked pork shoulder that had been marinated in anatto seeds, orange, lime and grapefruit, lending the meat an incredibly rich, salty, tangy flavour. It was served with a tomatillo dip, which was an amazing blend of spicy and cooling at the same time - ice cold yet tingly on the tongue, the perfect zingy complement to the rich meat.
Another favourite, and one which I think epitomises the food at Condesa, is the charcuterie board. Daniel explained the provenance and production process of everything on the plate, which featured - among other delicacies - the famous Iberico ham, which was slightly sweet and salty and melt-in-the-mouth rich. My favourite, though, was the mojama - dried tuna, served drizzled with olive oil and almonds. This is like nothing I've ever tasted - it's basically tuna, cured in the same way you would meat. The result is an incredible concentration of its sea-sweet saltiness, perfectly offset by the grassy oil and the toasty almonds.
We also tried a delicious Manchego; Daniel explained that he had sampled a nine-month old cheese, but thought it would be too dry for local taste, so chose a six-month specimen instead. It was perfect, delivering that sweet grainy taste I love so much about manchego. You can't serve manchego without membrillo, quince paste, which was also excellent. We also had two different types of olives - manzanilla, and guirdillo, which were slightly spicy.
The Mexican dishes on the menu were probably the most exciting. A ceviche of tuna, with lime, olive oil and agave, had an incredible soft, melting texture, but still retained that subtle flavour of the sea, lifted by the zing of the citrus, perfectly 'cooked' cubes of delicate tuna keeping their shape and flavour. Served on top of a crisp tostada, which balanced out the sharp citrus with a deep, buttery toastiness, it was utterly gorgeous - the kind of fresh-tasting food I could eat all day.
In the same vein and equally wonderful were the prawn tostadas. On top of corn tostadas (baked not fried), sat a fabulous medley of prawns fried with onions, leeks, red cabbage. The prawns were beautifully fresh and sweet, almost buttery in flavour, with a lip-tingling hint of spice. What really made the dish was the habañero mayonnaise, which lent a delicious creamy texture and spice to the whole thing. What I especially loved, though, was that the sweet prawns weren't overpowered by this assertive layering of flavours.
In a similar category to the pork sliders - that of sheer, unadulterated, carnivorous joy - are the braised pigs' cheeks. It's no secret that I love pigs' cheeks, economical morsels of meat that braise down into succulent melting goodness. These were cooked in a mixture of PX sherry, bay leaf, leek, onion, carrot, and served on roast potatoes. I have to say that after the other vibrant, zingy flavours we'd eaten, I found these a little bit on the bland side, but I think that may have been simply because everything else was just so zingy, spicy and delicious. A plate of these on their own would, I'm sure, satisfy any ardent meat cravings. The cheeks were deliciously tender and the sauce rich, thick and meaty.
The ultimate in crowd-pleasing dishes, though, is the corn truffle quesadilla. Both this and the pigs' cheeks were originally on the specials menu, Daniel told us, but they proved so popular that he's decided to put them permanently on the menu. You can't really go wrong with crisp, toasted tortillas sandwiched around melting cheese and earthy, salty, rich corn truffle (a fungus which grows naturally on ears of corn and has a similar deep flavour to Italian truffles). The combination of textures is so satisfying, as is the gooey richness of the melting cheese and deeply savoury truffle within. This is proper comfort food, at a different end of the scale to the vibrant ceviche and tostadas - I would recommend having all of them, to experience the delightful differences in flavour and texture.
To finish, we devoured a plate of exceptional cheeses: Manchego, Valdeon (a Spanish blue cheese from Leon), and Murcia al vino (a goat's milk cheese, the rind of which is washed with red wine during maturation). The Murcia was soft and creamy with that unmistakeable goat milk tang; the Valdeon also deliciously creamy with an assertive blue cheese sharpness. These came with membrillo and fig jam, the latter absolutely wonderful with the Valdeon. To wash all this down, a glass of Crema sherry, which is aged for longer than the other sherries on the menu and as a result is darker and sweeter; it's a great match for the tangy cheese.
The eating experience at Condesa is just as a tapas bar should be - portions are small enough to order a few and make for satisfying sharing, but large enough that you don't feel cheated and have to order out of your price range in order to fill up. The prices are reasonable, too - charcuterie plates range from £5-11, meat dishes around £5-6, fish dishes between £8-11, while salads are around £4-6.
Condesa was genuinely one of the best restaurant experiences I've had in a while. I loved the informality of the place, the friendliness of the staff, the buzzing atmosphere, the delicious wines. Most of all, of course, I loved the vibrant food, which I found truly exciting, a really refreshing change from the standard things you find in restaurants all the time now. I would urge anyone feeling slightly jaded by the generic restaurant scene to go along and let Daniel surprise them with his fabulous and expertly-judged food and wine; I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
(Also, apologies for the slightly dodgy photos - my camera is useless in dim lighting so I had to use my iPhone, which isn't much better...)
Nutmegs, seven dined as a guest of Condesa. Many thanks to Lucy for arranging the evening and to Daniel and his staff for being such excellent hosts.
In honour of the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May) this Saturday - from what I gather from reading various US-based food blogs, across the pond it's basically known as an excuse to gorge oneself on nachos, tacos, enchiladas and the like - the lovely people at Discovery sent me a load of fajita-themed goodies to celebrate with. I have a bit of a soft spot for Discovery ever since I won a KitchenAid blender at one of their competitions last year, and am still trying to work my way through the huge stash of goodies I picked up then. Included in this treasure trove are their new Green Jalapeño Relish, a fajita kit and their mild and medium salsas; pretty much everything you need to whip up a perfect Mexican celebratory supper. They were even nice enough to send me a pan and a chopping board, so I literally had everything I needed to cook said supper...apart from maybe a hob. (Note to Discovery - I'd like an induction one, please, and you can deliver it any time that's convenient).
Rather than make your standard fajitas, however, I decided to do something a bit different. If you're feeling lazy, it's stupidly easy to whip up fajitas with Discovery's fajita kits, which include basically everything except the meat and veg (it's even easier if you follow their recipe for all-in-one chicken fajitas, where everything is fried in one pan). I love their fajita spice mix, which contains just the right amount of heat, flavour and piquancy to liven up chicken and make an authentic-tasting dinner, and they have a great range of salsa and relish (guacamole, sour cream topping, whole red and green jalapeños...) to make your fajita more interesting on its journey from plate to mouth (the green jalapeño is even better for being green - you can pretend it's one of your five-a-day!)
I've made this Mexican salad on several occasions, though, and figured it was time to blog about it. The photos aren't great, and certainly don't do this vibrant salad any justice, but given that the fifth of May is nearly upon us, I may as well suggest it to you as a dish for the occasion, as it's utterly delicious.
OK, so this is my interpretation of Mexican. I rarely eat Mexican food and have never been to Mexico, but I know what ingredients can be combined to make something vaguely authentic. This salad features all the staples - sweetcorn, beans, red peppers, avocado, lime juice, chilli, coriander and spiced chicken. Only instead of being stuffed into a tortilla, they're served in salad form. The chicken is coated in Discovery fajita spice mix and seared over a high heat, then serve atop its colourful bed of sweet, tangy, crunchy vegetables. The dressing is a mixture of lime juice, coriander, and Discovery chipotle paste. If you've never tried chipotles, you're missing out. They're smoke-dried jalapeños and they have the most incredible addictive aroma and flavour. They lend the salad a real kick. Discovery do them in a handy paste form which is ideal for adding to sauces and stews, but you can also buy them as dried whole chillies.
When I first made this, I used freshly cooked black beans, as they seem more Mexican (and by that, I mean they're normally the kind I find in burritos I buy every now and again). You can use a tin of black beans if you can find them, but I've never succeeded - in which case tinned kidney beans are fine. Discovery also do refried beans, which might work, and cannellini beans would probably work too. The point is to have those pillowy, starchy pulses to contrast with the crisp crunch of the vegetables. This is a pretty easy salad - you just chop stuff and put it in a bowl, and some of it you don't even need to chop because it comes out of a tin (not normally my style of cooking, but sometimes there's something so therapeutic about just opening tins and throwing things into a bowl, particularly when the end result is this good).
The avocado is, in my opinion, essential. It gives a really gorgeous creamy texture to the salad, and I love its mild flavour against the spicy chicken. Avocado, lime and coriander are such an excellent trio, and they feature well in this dish. It's such a healthy-looking and healthy-tasting plate, and pretty filling considering there aren't really any carbohydrates involved, but go ahead and add some nachos or a tortilla if you're that way inclined.
The beauty of this salad is its versatility. If you omit the chicken, you can stir some grated cheese into the vegetable mixture, sandwich it between two tortillas, and fry it in a pan to make a lovely melting quesadilla (be warned, though, that it'll be impossible to flip without at least some of the filling leaking out). That's how I first came across this combination, and it was delicious. You could wrap the whole thing in a tortilla and eat like a fajita, or stuff it into tacos, or maybe even bake it into enchiladas. Add some feta cheese instead of the chicken to make it vegetarian, or even coat slices of halloumi with the spice mixture and fry. Use steak or pork instead of chicken. Change the vegetables a bit. It's up to you.
My version has a bit of yoghurt on top - I didn't have any sour cream, but that would be preferable - and is served with lime wedges and Discovery salsa alongside. I find it quite spicy, but you can add some of that feisty green jalapeño relish if you want to make it hotter. Use it as a template for your own Mexican-themed feast, and enjoy its fresh, tangy, spicy flavours and beautiful vibrant colours.
Happy Cinco de Mayo! Will you be cooking up anything to celebrate?
Mexican spiced chicken salad (serves 4):
- 1 x 400g tin sweetcorn, drained
- 1 x 400g tin black beans or kidney beans (or cook your own from scratch if you like)
- 4 sweet pointed red peppers, chopped into 1cm dice
- 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
- Juice of 1 lime
- A large bunch of coriander, finely chopped
- 1 tsp Discovery chipotle paste
- 2 ripe avocadoes, sliced or cubed
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 sachet Discovery fajita spice mix (mild or medium, depending on your preference)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- To serve: sour cream or yoghurt, lime wedges, and Discovery salsa
In a large bowl, mix together the sweetcorn, beans, peppers, spring onions, lime juice, coriander and chipotle paste. Toss well and check the seasoning - if you like it spicier, add more chipotle. Gently fold in the avocadoes without turning them to mush. Divide the salad between four plates.
Thinly slice the chicken breasts and coat in a couple of tablespoons of the spice mix and the oil. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a high heat then add the chicken, turning occasionally until slightly charred on the outside and cooked through. Taste - you might want a bit more spice mix if it's not flavoursome enough for you.
Divide the chicken between the plates. Top with a dollop of sour cream, a wedge of lime, and Discovery salsa, if you like. Serve immediately.
I know nothing about Mexican food. My experiences of said cuisine have been largely limited to homemade attempts at fajitas (read: cook chicken. Cook peppers. Roll in tortilla wrap. Add sour cream and salsa from a jar), and a trip to Wahaca in Covent Garden (delicious - must go again sometime). It is, perhaps, the cuisine I am least familiar with and cook least often. For no particular reason, I suppose - mainly lack of knowledge and experience. I used to enjoy burritos from The Mission in Oxford when I was there as a student...at least, I enjoyed the first few mouthfuls, after which I would start to feel mildly sick, but obliged to continue until the bitter end as said meaty wrap had cost me over a fiver.
So when I was invited to take 'the Mexican challenge', in association with Discovery (whose brand name is synonymous with make-your-own fajita kits) and Benito's Hat (Mexican restaurant with three branches in London), I was more than a little apprehensive. I had visions of said challenge perhaps involving an all-you-can-eat-tacos contest, a guacamole mud fight, or some kind of re-enactment of an Aztec sacrifice. Fortunately, it involved none of the above (although all of the above could certainly have happened on the actual night I'm sure, had enough margaritas been involved).
The Mexican challenge took place at Waitrose Cookery School in Finchley Road. I was completely charmed upon entering this place; it reminded me a little of Masterchef, with its individual fully-equipped cooking stations and its walls decorated with gorgeous kitchen ingredients and paraphernalia. I was even more charmed when I promptly received an enormous margarita to sip as I mingled with my fellow food bloggers. A complete cookery school situated directly above a huge Waitrose supermarket from which one could pillage ingredients - basically my idea of heaven. When we were given our own Waitrose aprons, I started to plot how best to smuggle mine out under my jumper (I never managed to achieve this - don't worry, Waitrose, your aprons are safe).
Before I start, I'd like to apologise for the quality of the photos on this post - I totally forgot to take my camera, and ended up having to use my iPhone. I emphatically wish I'd remembered, but oh well. Bear with me - you can still get the gist!
|Felipe making prawn tacos|
Next, Felipe made shrimp tacos - buttery, garlicky fried prawns coupled with paprika and a garlic and chipotle mayonnaise, served in a tortilla with iceberg lettuce, lemon juice, and a salsa of tomatoes, onion, coriander and salt. These really were scrumptious - I love the soft, doughy bite of a tortilla wrap against the snap of a crunchy lettuce leaf, finally yielding to the juicy bite of a seared prawn. Even better when everything is flavoured with the gorgeous smokiness of chipotle chillies.
Speaking of chipotle chillies, I've discovered a few fabulous ingredient. I'd never tried them before, but one sniff of a jar of chipotle paste and I was blown away. They have an incredibly smoky, almost fruity flavour, quite unlike the abrasive heat of a regular supermarket chilli. I'm a complete sucker for anything smoked - smoked garlic, smoked fish, smoked meat...I once bought a jar of smoked roasted peppers from a stall at the Real Food Festival, which was incredible. I can't wait to get myself a jar of chipotle paste and use it in sauces and stews; its flavour is unlike anything I've tried before. I kept coming back for second helpings of Felipe's shrimp tacos, savouring the marriage of creamy mayonnaise and fiery, chipotle-enriched salsa.
And then it was our turn to cook.
|Left: Waitrose Cookery School. Right: my workbench and choice of ingredients.|
I was like a child in a sweet shop after we were allowed to go and pick our ingredients. (There clearly weren't many health and safety guidelines for this evening - who thought it would be a good idea to let a load of margarita-influenced food bloggers loose on Waitrose's pristine knives, pots and pans?!) There were two huge worktops covered in all sorts of edible wonders; the first packed with Discovery products, the second with fresh vegetables and a fridge. There were courgettes, peppers, oranges, lemons, limes, herbs, spices...and a huge bowl of perfectly ripe avocadoes.
A perfectly ripe avocado is a very, very rare thing. They're pretty much impossible to locate in supermarkets, which charge extortionate prices for something mendaciously termed "perfectly ripe" that in fact has the same texture as a raw potato. I spent a few moments lovingly cradling one of these jade specimens in my palm, before hoarding three and moving to my cooking station, relishing their rampant ripeness. I also went a bit crazy for the huge platter of raw prawns and the perfectly filleted sea bass, ingredients I could never normally afford but were here for the taking. I may have selected a few extra prawns for 'testing'.
|Our lovely larder|
Unable to decide which would be more blender-worthy, I made them both. One was vaguely Mexican, the other not really Mexican at all, but a mish mash of some of my favourite things on a plate.
My first recipe was inspired by Felipe's prawn tacos. I made something vaguely approaching guacamole, spread it onto crunchy lettuce leaves, then topped it with garlicky buttered prawns. The idea was a prawn taco with none of the carbohydrate, something easily nibbled as a sort of canape, but packed with flavour. I also thought it would be easy to present in an attractive way, Masterchef-style. I have to say, this dish really was delicious. I mashed the avocadoes with lots of lime juice, chopped coriander, chopped tomato, and a little sour cream and chipotle paste to add a gorgeous smoky tang (I basically just went a bit wild with the Discovery ingredients, chucking them in with abandon and tasting occasionally to check I hadn't ruined everything with a smidge too much sour cream). The result went incredibly well with the rich, juicy prawns, the crunch of the lettuce leaf providing a delicious texture.
Although the food tasted good, the incident where I tried to open the foil lid of the sour cream sauce with my teeth and it splattered all over my face and apron was not particularly dignified. Thank the lord for those Waitrose aprons, or my nice new top might have been ruined forever.
My second recipe was pan-fried sea bass, with a crust of spices (cinnamon, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper), served on a salad of baby spinach, avocado, raisin, orange, pumpkin seed, coriander and lime juice. Perhaps it sounds a bit odd, but I think it worked - the meaty fish with its flavoursome crust stood up to the fresh, citrussy flavours of the salad, but there was a lovely crunch from the pumpkin seeds to contrast with it all.
I honestly found the experience quite stressful. My hands were actually shaking a little as I deposited my ingredients on my workbench and tried to think about where to start making my two dishes. I can only assume that such trembling was down to my extreme desire for the KitchenAid blender. If I was that nervous cooking for the Benito's Hat team to win a blender, I really can't imagine how the Masterchef contestants feel in front of Gregg and John (or Monica and Michel Roux, in the case of the Professionals series). I always ridiculed them a little for letting nerves get in the way of the prize, but now I completely empathise. No more will I chuckle as a chef accidentally slices off a finger under the searing gaze of Monica Galetti, or drops his dish on the floor under the stern eye of John Torode.
After a speedy thirty minutes of cooking time had passed, we waited as our dishes were tasted and judged. After each had been tasted, it was brought to us to try ourselves. I ate a lot of excellent food that night from my fellow bloggers; highlights included Mexican roasted sweetcorn from Jackie and a delicious green dip for tortilla chips from Colin, the ingredients of which I've shamefully forgotten. Katie, who was cooking on the bench opposite me and therefore bore witness to my mania and sour cream disaster, came up with what she termed a "student meal" but which was very tasty: quesadillas with melted cheese, salsa, and sour cream. We sat around and stuffed ourselves with various tortilla dishes, prawns, chicken, sour cream, guacamole, and other Mexican delights, until finally the judges announced the runner-up and winner. Colin was duly rewarded for his green salsa with a free meal at Benito's Hat, as was the lovely Rosana.
As you will know from the picture at the head of this post, I won the blender. I was absolutely thrilled, especially given the superb standard of the other dishes, many of which were - I'm sure - far more Mexican than my attempts. Although Ben, upon second glance, revealed that he hadn't noticed the orange segments in my sea bass salad. I hope he doesn't have a phobia of oranges and is, to this day, regretting handing me that cumbersome KitchenAid box.
Carrying said blender home on the tube and then train all the way to Cambridge was interesting, to say the least - particularly trying to negotiate the automatic ticket barriers when I had no hands spare to extract my ticket from my bag. However, the blender is now installed in my kitchen where it has provided me with glorious smoothies every morning.
I had a fantastic time at the Mexican Challenge. Not only did I get given a goodie bag packed with Discovery ingredients and a KitchenAid blender, but I also got a bit of insight into the cooking at Benito's Hat, where the emphasis is all about fresh, local ingredients and helping Mexican food shed its greasy, Tex-Mex image. I almost wish I'd won the runner-up prize so I could go and eat there, though I think I'll be paying a visit anyway sometime soon.
I'm also feeling rather inspired to broaden my Mexican cooking horizons - any suggestions as to what one can make with a KitchenAid blender and some Discovery salsa?!
|Me with my two culinary creations. Check out the apron!|
1 whole peeled Jicama (350-400g)
1 whole peeled cucumber (250-300g)
1 whole lime (1/8 cup squeezed juice)
2 whole lemons (1/4 cup squeezed juice)
Dry roasted peanuts (50g)
Fresh chopped coriander (20g)
Parmesan cheese (30g)
Paprika one pinch
Benito's Hat Prawn Tacos (serves 4):
Place a frying pan on a low heat. Add the butter, garlic, prawns and paprika and cook for 4 minutes stirring occasionally until the prawns are cooked thoroughly
Heat the Discovery Plain Flour Tortillas in another pan and then place on a serving dish. On each tortilla place the lettuce and add Pico de Gallo. Put the prawns on top and cover with the Discovery chipotle and garlic mayonnaise. Place a lemon segment on the side of each plate.