I'm run down. This is not surprising at all after two weeks of wisdom tooth drama, which included a painful surgery, and a dose of unexpected and horrific influenza; my body just shut down and although I feel way better now than I felt last week, I'm tired, cranky and my energy levels are at an all-time low. So lately, all I can think of is broths... restorative, nurturing and above all, really, really tasty.
When I was little, I used to dread 'caldo de res' days. Mam loved it and I just felt all those chunky veggies and the meat was way too crude and rustic. How wrong and silly of me! When I make some, I feel instatly better... like generations of Ramirez and Garzas are behind me, feeding me, nurturing me, making me regain my balance.
This is one of my favourite caldos (broths) now. It's simple to make and has all the goodness my body needs. It's light and super tasty. I make it in my pressure cooker, but if you don't have one, you can still make it in a large pot, just cooking time will increase to about 2 hours. In any case, it's totally worth the effort.
Serve it with some warm corn tortillas, some lime wedges and with a couple of spoonsfulls of this Salsa Cruda. Mexican caldos are often all about the toppings or acommpaniments, like raw onion and bananas for this beef Caldillo or the numerous toppings for the legendary Pozole Rojo. The raw salsa required for this caldo de res, is dead simple to make and it will give the broth some colour, brilliant flavour and a tiny bit of heat. Check out the recipe here.
This is one of my favourite lazy lunches at Picado. When I'm busy in the shop and I don't want to distract myself from whatever I'm doing, this is my go to dish. It takes not time to make and I always have the two main ingredients in the fridge: tortillas and cheese.
Now, if I were to plan to make quesadillas, I would get proper cheese and make them a bit more complicated and complex. I would use corn tortillas instead of these mini wheat ones, I would add huitlacoche or some other sofisticated and delicious ingredient to the filling and I would NEVER use ready grated cheese, but for some reason or other, I never feel like planning to eat quesadillas! For me, they're a spur of the moment type of thing, a quick, uncomplicated breakfast or lunch, that it's both satisfying and warming. My mother makes complicated and delicious fillings, she makes a meal out of them... while I just want them now: simple and quick.
So once you have recovered from the shock of seeing supermarket, ready grated cheese in my fridge, the rest is quite simple and I must say, if you make this recipe with proper cheese, some really good quality cheddar or a great sheep's cheese, the results are far better, but again, this is something I keep in the fridge for exactly the type of days when all I want is a 10 minute lunch from start to finish. My choice is a mixture of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses as it recreates the flavour of the Mexican cheese I would most use for this. If you're stuck though and you only have cheddar, by all means, use it!
About 4 months ago, I started stocking Crushed Sweet Chipotles in the shop, they're not a traditional product in any shape or form, but they are delicious and although a product of modern times, I absolutely adore them and I keep a bottle in the fridge at all times. They're smokey, tasty, spicy and good with anything, I swear!
So here you have it, a very quick and lazy way to make quesadillas for those days when you don't have time for anything else. They're tasty and well worth the foodie stigma of having supermarket ready grated cheese in the fridge! - lol -
This recipe was born pretty much out of sheer greediness and a tiny bit of research. I'm quite partial to a good chocolate torte and while devising a vegetarian menu for one of my Supper Clubs at Picado, I experienced a deep craving for a chocolate torte with a Mexican twist. So I put my thinking cap on and within a couple of hours, the bones of this recipe where pretty much there.
First thing I decided to do was to incorporate chilli to the torte as it goes really well with chocolate. Now, contrary to all those crazy chilli-chocolate recipes out there, I do not believe fiery hot Bird's Eye chilli flakes are the best way to go. Bird's Eye chilies contain a lot of heat, but in my opinion, are very one-dimensional in taste. I prefer something fruitier, deeper in flavour and much more mellow... Mexican dried Mulato or Ancho chilies are perfect for the job as they're both sweet with very tame heat and with deep fruity tones that compliment dark chocolate to a T! I had dried Ancho Chillis handy and my favourite Mole uses them too, so I settled for them.
Once I settled on the chilli, I turned my head to the source of moisture in the torte. If you read the blog regularly, you know I'm a big fan of cooking with both Tequila and Mezcal, so, I decided to go for a dash of Mexican Tequila to booze it all up a bit and add moisture to the torte. I know from experience that chocolate tortes can be quite rich and sweet, so to contrarest the sweetness I served the torte with some fresh berries and some cream; you can use raspberries or strawberries. For this recipe, I whipped some double cream with a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar and another dash of Tequila for good measure!
The result was truly spectacular and with Valentine's Day fast approaching, this is really a great dessert for a romantic meal for two! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
The humble and yet gorgeous potato, Ireland's national vegetable, is without a doubt my favourite root vegetable. Mexicans have had a love affair with potatoes for a couple of centuries and potatoes feature in many Mexican dishes. So when the people behind the campaign Potatoes: More than a Bit on the Side asked me a few weeks back to take part on the campaign I was more than happy to come on board.
As many of you know, I adore potatoes; they're not only healthy and nutritious, but also delicious and super versatile. Potatoes are naturally fat-free, low in sugar, high in fibre and potassium and amazingly quick to cook. Like Susan Jane White so perfectly puts it in her foreword to Lucy Madden's wonderful book The Potato Year, 300 Classic Recipes -isn't it great to find a food you love that loves you back?-
So I threw myself to the task with gusto. There are so many great Mexican dishes that showcase potatoes at their best, I particularly love papas con chorizo or my mother's famous pickled potatoes but being January and with all that blues after the Christmas excesses, I wanted something delicious, fast and low in fat that would suit my current clean eating buzz. When I think of potatoes, I think of street tacos immediately. No self-respecting taco stand in Mexico would ignore the deliciousness that potatoes bring to a warm corn tortilla. They're a match made in heaven. So I set to devise a healthy taco recipe that would use my favourite potatoes: the Irish Rooster.
These tacos are truly tasty and quite healthy. They're vegetarian friendly and if you want to make them vegan, just take out the dairy from it. If you have good tolerance for heat, make them a little spicier by adding 2 rather than 1 chipotle chili in adobo. Remember to always start by adding a little bit of chili at a time. You can always add more if you think it's not spicy enough, but you can never go back if you add to much chili from the beginning! My advice is, taste first, add more later!
Also, if you want to go the whole authentic hogs, make some simple red salsa from my recipe here and top your tacos with it. It makes such a difference to make a salsa from scratch instead of using one from a bottle and it will only take you about 15 minutes to make! I hope you enjoy these amazing tacos as much as we did!
To learn more about this awesome campaign and to help us highlight potatoes as the original superfood, go to Potatoes: More than a Bit on the Side for ROI or Potatoes: More than a Bit on the Side for the UK, where you'll find gorgeous recipes, tips and loads of information about potatoes. Also follow the hashtags #TastyPotatoes and #morethanabitontheside on twitter and instagram, some great stuff there!
Today I felt like going back to the keyboard and write something. Ever since the sudden death of my brother, I've been feeling pretty down and uncharacteristically uninspired. Normally, my head is buzzing with ideas, yet for the last couple of months, it's been all slow and fuzzy... I've been doing just the bear minimum and coping the best way I can. A few weeks ago, I went back to the kitchen and forced myself to cook again. Cooking makes me happy and I was desperate for some joy.
I believe things happen for a reason and getting back into the kitchen coincided with an all-too-short-but-meaningful recipe testing internship our friend Emma Clarke, aka @grumbletum on twitter and instagram, did with me. I love Emma's wackiness and her no-nonsense approach. So Wednesdays were set aside to spend them in the shop with Emma, cooking and testing recipes. We always eat what we cooked, which made the day even better.
One of the first recipes we worked on was this Salsa Tatemada or charred salsa and I thought I'll share it here with you. Lovely Emma is now finished her spell with me and she's off to work in one of my favourite shops on the planet (Sheridan's Cheese Mongers), so keep an eye for the gorgeously chatty blond in there. You'll know is Emma when you talk to her, there's something about her witty ways that sets her apart from the crowd.
This a very classic charred salsa, commonly made in most homes in Mexico, where the majority of the population have gas stoves (electricity is quite expensive), so if you have an open flame stove, this salsa will be even better made on it by sticking the ingredients in a skewer and gently roast them on the open flame. My recipe here, requires to char them in a pan because I have to do with what I have, which is an electric hob.
Make sure you use a cast iron pan or skillet, as most other pans will burn badly. If you can't find fresh jalapenos, use any fresh chili you can find. We cannot be choosy with fresh ingredients like chilies in Ireland unfortunately, but we are getting better at sourcing the good stuff. Anyhow, this salsa keeps well in the fridge for about a week in a covered container. I hope you enjoy it as much as Emma and I did!