After 17 years in Ireland, I've grown use to missing things... I miss my family and I miss seeing my niece and nephews grow. I miss a lot of birthdays, christenings, weddings and of course funerals... I miss friends, I miss the sun, I miss my mama's cooking and my papa's rants. I miss fruit (papayas or mangos never taste right here) and truth be told, I miss taco trucks too. I miss the running up to Christmas and the Christmas markets and I miss the buzz of Independence month in Mexico every September... there is a time of year, however, that makes me feel glad I live in this tiny, evergreen island... and that is Easter.
Easter was always a somber and serious time for me growing up in Mexico. Despite not being very religious, my mam would take us to see the stations of the cross being enacted on the streets and then go home to watch a lot of Jesus movies. Before the joys of Cable and Netflix, you were guaranteed a dose of Ben-Hur, Jesus of Nazareth, Barrabas, The Prince of Egypt and the 10th Commandments movies on holy Thursday and Good Friday. If you were lucky, they'll show The King and I and late at night, during the witching hour, you could catch the 1970s movie version of Jesus Christ Superstar (although you wouldn't tell anybody you watched it as it was too racy for a Jesus Movie).
In short, all I remember of my growing up years and Easter is being UBER bored! No Easter Eggs, no Easter dinner with lamb and stuffing and all the trimmings. No Easter bunny, no easter chocolates and definitely no egg hunts. Very, very sad indeed! There was one thing that made it all worth it though: Capirotada!
Capirotada is a mish-mash of things that, on paper sounds a little gross, but in reality, make a delicious dish! It is a bread pudding traditionally cooked during the lent period and always eaten on Good Friday. Some people class it as a dessert, for me and my family, is a meal! My mother would always make a huge batch of this for Good Friday and we would sit to eat it with joy and gusto! I made it in a ring cake tin, but you can use a regular pyrex dish or a square tin. As long as it is sealed and gives you enough depth to do 3 layers. There's a lot of liquid in this dish, so avoid loose bottom tins! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Happy New Year everybody! 2016 was certainly a busy and weird year for me. It saw loads of ups and downs and a trip to Mexico after a long absence. It was great to see my family, to get a rest and to reconnect with friends. I came back all fired up and full of beans (literally!) so I am determined to make 2017 a good year. Loads of projects in the pipeline, some real work on my book - been putting it off for far too long- but mainly I want to write regularly in the blog again.... for a while I got bogged down with life and work and with that of the sudden death of my brother, I sort of lost my mojo a little... so making good to the promise to spend more time here with you, alas, here I am, writing another recipe.
These days I'm trying to find quick and easy ways to eat well and quick, this fabulous Bayo Bean Soup is a great example. It's full of flavour and quite wholesome, with the added bonus of taking just about 20 minutes to make. I used Bayo beans because I like them a lot, but you can use Black beans if that's your thing. Also, I used tinned beans - love La Sierra ones for quickness and tastiness - but by all means, you can cook the beans from scratch and then make them into a soup. Here's an older post on how to cook black beans from scratch, but same applies to bayo and pinto beans.
This soup is a take on Frijoles Charros, or Charro Beans, a very traditional, hearty soup form the north of Mexico. I got really good quality smoked pancetta in the shop, but every suppermarket stocks some sort of pancetta and if all fails, streaky rashers would do too. I hope you like this recipe as much as we did!
A while ago my friend Emma and I spent a morning cooking and shooting this recipe, but for some reason or another, I only got to post the results today. These tacos are, by far, one of my favourite Mexican 'antojitos'. Antojito literally means small craving, but it is a word used in Mexico for light suppers mostly made with a big component of masa (in this case a tortilla) and a tiny hint of guilt. My mother would always serve them with a bowl of sopa de fideo, a chicken soup with very fine strings of pasta, similar to angel hair. This is a great way to use up the stock where the chicken was cooked. I love making these with leftovers of the Sunday chicken roast, so I bypass the soup, but this reminds me I must blog the recipe soon!
When people come to Picado looking for taco shells, I make a point of telling them they're not Mexican, so they need to buy them in the supermarket along with all the other tex-mex ingredients they sell. I then proceed to tell them they can make their own... but people often frown upon frying tortillas and in this age of 'clean eaters' and misinformed nutritional gurus that fill the internet and our bookshelves with their mantra, it is hard to advocate for fat. Fat and sugar have become the devil. The fact that I feel the need to apologise for a fried taco says it all. Seriously people, we need fat to have shiny hair and good nails and good skin; we need fat to process essential nutrients too, so banning fat from your diet is not a great thing. Yet, there is fat and there is FAT. I'm not going to go into full-ranting mode here, I'm only going to ask you to find out the difference between natural fats (animal or vegetable) and the fats made artificially in a lab to add flavour or stability to a product and preserve shelf life.
Emma asked me what was the difference between this technically fried chicken taco and one made from a taco shell. So let me tell you here what I said to her. A Taco shell has been processed to become 'shelf stable'. The shell is partly cooked and needs to be finish off before it becomes a taco. Anybody who has used these things, can see the puddle of unknown oil that comes out of them when you bake them.
No amount of soaking a corn tortilla in oil will ever render the same results, as corn tortillas do not absob a lot of oil when you fry them and if you leave them sitting on a puddle of oil, they will fall apart and desintegrate. They will never absorb oil so that when you bake them, the oil comes out; so I would love to know what industrial process is used to make this happen... or perhaps I don't want to. A serving of these shells contains 11% of fat and 15% of your daily recommended amount of saturated fat and 6% of your daily recommended intake of salt. This is three shells only!! Who would only eat three?! 4 or 5 is the norm and this is before you add any fillings in them, this is just the shell!!
My golden tacos become fully formed tacos first and then they are shallow-fried till crispy and when it comes to flavour, there is no comparison whatsoever between the two. Homemade all the way! When you make your own, you know what oil and how much you're using. They're also sturdier on account of a proper corn tortilla being used, so they will fill you up more than the processed ones, you might need 4 for a full dinner rather than 5 or 6. There is less salt and let's face it, once you know what goes on your food and you take the trouble to make it, it becomes important for you. There is extra satisfaction and a party on your tastebuds at the end. Not an industrial process in sight.
So, next time you think of buying ready made taco shells, think of all the things we don't know about how they're made... think of all that salt, saturated fats and industrial processes and then the satisfaction of making a few of these by yourself. Go on, try it and see how delicious and easy they are!
I've been playing around with snapchat for a couple of days. I must confess that I've been quite slow getting into it. I've tried it a few times, downloading the app, trying to use it and then after some frustrating attempts to snapchat, deleting the app and giving it up.
This has happened two or three times, but as frustrating as I found the app to navigate through, I kept hearing all these great things about it. I've found it very, very difficult: I couldn't really see how ten second segments could amount to anything, and that I think was my main problem with it... I'm a talker and ten seconds of talk amount, in my books, to absolutely nothing... what I failed to understand is how all these ten seconds can link to form a sort of story, which plays for a day and then it is lost in cyberspace.
So this week, I decided to give Snapchat a last chance. I took a couple of YouTube tutorials, got loads of advice from fellow blogger friends and Snapchat extraordinaires Karen Coakley and Niamh Shields. And so, after quite a few hours of playing around, I think I finally got it!! I published my first few Snapchat photos, videos, I played with the filters and today I actually use snapchat to post a recipe!
Overall, I feel pretty chuffed that I seem to have gotten the hang of it, the total estate of confusion and complete and utter 'to-old-for-this-lark-feeling is almost gone! So here's what I did in snpachat today. I hope you like the recipe. Bear in mind this is my very first recipe video, so the camera work is a little shaky. These Drunken Huevos Rancheros are absolutely delicious, easy to make and most of all perfect for a quick supper. Follow me on Snapchat as 'MexicanCookEire' !!
Mexicans love beans. They're an essential part of our daily diet. As a teenager, I remember my mother whipping up amazing dishes with just beans, chilies and masa.... you could make an infinitive amount of delicious meals with beans- she would say- and she's right!
Black beans, pinto beans and bayo beans are the most common varieties in Mexico. In the north part of the country, where I'm from, we favour black beans. Black beans are full of iron, rich in fiber and a fab source of protein and antioxidants. They also have the highest content of omega 3-fatty acids from all the beans. They work wonders with your lower intestine and if prepared correctly, with a pinch of Epazote (a Mexican herb) you can even minimise their gassy effect!
Apart from all their health benefits, they are absolutely delicious! I try and make them from scratch if at all possible, check out my recipe for black beans from scratch. It's cheaper and better for you. You can make a big batch, portion it and freeze it. But if you are stuck, tinned ones are ok too (like these La Sierra ones from Picado). I of course only buy/eat Mexican whole black beans because I like their flavour. Do not confuse them with the Chinese black beans you can buy in most supermarkets and Asian shops, they are NOT the same variety. Chinese black beans are smaller and flatter, derived from soy and with a completely different taste!
The recipe here for Enfriojoladas (or a sort of bean flavoured enchilada) is the result of me finding a bag of frozen black beans in my freezer, which were crying to be eaten. I would have normally made some spicy refried beans, but today, I felt I needed to give them a little more love, so ended up tweaking an old recipe and making them into a sauce for enfrijoladas. I loved how they turned out. The taste is subtle, but flavoursome and although it is a classic vegetarian dish, I used a tiny bit of Old Farm's fabulous pork lard to heat them on. If you want this fully vegetarian, substitute the lard for olive oil and double the quantity. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!