Heavens! You know it must be an incredibly serious issue when Obama weighs in:
Who knew that adding peas to your guacamole would be such a big deal? And honestly, I can’t say I wouldn’t give it a go. I love guacamole but a bit like (another heresy coming up) adding stuff to the basic hummus recipe, I say why not?
It’s not as though it often gets served without other flavours.I mean, once it’s loaded with a load of sour cream and salsa, who’s going to spot the peas? Or even the avocado, with some salsas I’ve tried.
To be honest, this week’s was very simple, in that I left out the red onion and had very little coriander, but still darned tasty in my book. But next time…well, I may just give those peas a go. Sorry, Mr President, #peaswin.
Well, possibly not directly from their country of origin, but one of the great things about the web has been the specialist websites that concentrate on a particular cuisine, or a couple of related ones. Here’s some choices from a couple of favourites of mine:
It’s no secret that I love France, and have spent many happy hours there, with lots of great food. Cheaper than a trip, Bien Manger can deliver the best of France to your doorstep. You could choose a hamper, with choices such as classic, trendy or signature, but I’d be focused on the regional ones if the foodie you’re giving to, like me, has a favourite area. Given my most recent trip, then I’d go for the Taste of Brittany, giving you some great things like the cider, salted butter caramel sauce and sardines. Although probably there’s not a Breton dish that combines them all together!
Heading a little further south and I’d pick Delicatezza for Italian food. For something quite luxurious then the Truffle Hunters Hamper, which would give them whole black truffles (perfect to go with scrambled eggs over the holidays) or white truffle laced acacia honey. There’s plenty of sweet stuff as well on there, if you want to balance the savoury and sweet.
If we travelled a bit further north, then ScandiKitchen is a great source for all types of Scandinavian food. There’s a great hamper of all kinds of Scandiavian goodies, but sadly I’ve written this too late for you to get a guaranteed delivery pre Christmas. If you have an early January birthday to buy for then they could still get this for you.
Keep heading further and further west, and we would just about end up in Japan. The Japan Centre is still one of the best sources of all kinds of Japanese goods, and for a keen food and culture enthusiast, then I’d take the fun angle this Christmas and go for the Christmas Pop Culture set. This somes up the madness of Tokyo to me, which is usually just a few paces from tradition and serenity. But instant ramen, sweets and drinks could be just the thing to offset all the traditional Christmas turkey.
Really I think you can find any type of cuisine. MFL seems to have a thing for Estonia, and I can find quite a lot sites covering that, and I can find a site devoted specifically to the food of Trinidad. So whatever they are into on the food front, then a bit of research and you’re in with a good chance of finding it. Just need to get a shuffle on as guaranteed delivery is fast closing.
Hopefully, it means avoiding fake Mexican and getting into the real stuff! I know it might mean a margarita here (I know it’s a Monday night, but what the heck, it might have fruit in it).
I really enjoy Mexican food, although am completely rubbish with heat, but thankfully there is such a massive variety. Plus I adore avocado, and lime, and coriander, so really it’s a great cuisine for me. If you’re a bit short on Mexican ingredients, then I wrote about great places to stock up your store cupboard from.
I also practiced my Mexican flavours in the autumn, with a Day of the Dead celebration. Certainly more savoury and tasty than Halloween, and the smoky flavours of something like chipotle has to be perfect for autumnal days. But given the spring weather seems to have taken a colder turn then it may just be perfect right now.
However you choose to do it, it’s got to brighten up a Bank Holiday Monday, really couldn’t be better timing. Spice things up, skip your usual bank holiday bbq and throw a fiesta!
I think next year we might skip Halloween and move to the three day celebration of the Day of the Dead. Whilst I am not very good with lots of spice I do love Mexican food. Sadly, there’s no Wahaca on the doorstep here, and I wouldn’t be massively keen to cross the threshold of Chiquitos, so it’s a bit DIY.
Things like the tins of Chipotle powder make for great looking gifts but also are really practical in terms of having great ingredients to hand without them going off.
MexGrocer is an online operation and is pretty comprehensive, everything from rice to cactus leaves. I don’t know how to use the cactus leaves but if you have a recipe now you know where to find them! It may be easier to buy the green corn tortillas which are made with the cactus leaves.
If you want a high street alternative, then there are some good gifts from Wahaca at Boots (haven’t checked if these are exclusive to Boots, possibly). I would go for the Spice Tower as a good standby.
Was it just me that was surprised? I mean, we love fajitas and cook them a lot for family suppers, but of all the meals that would pass as a dinner party in the last year, I’ve only served fajitas once. There again, may not be typical, as I’ve not served up a creme brulee either!
To me though, fajitas are too good to save for special occasions, and are a great food for kids as well, not to mention a great way to use leftovers. Having just bought Mexican Food Made Simple, we’re going to be having a lot of Mexican food here, and we don’t have any fancy stuff to cook or serve with. I know they are true Tex Mex, but I’d rather stick with their Mexican than Texan origins for inspiration. If you wanted to gift some great stuff for great fajita dinners, here’s a few pointers from me:
* Tequila. Sorry, you can’t serve Mexican in my book without a margarita to hand. I can’t admit to being a huge connoisseur of tequila (not enough nights at Wahaca yet) so my cupboard has Jose Cuervo Classico in it. And I also have a bottle of their margarita mix on standby, in case we are right out of limes and the margarita mood takes me! I like it because it’s sour, and it’s not a pre-mix so you add your own tequila, to your own taste. Or tolerance level.
* The name fajita comes from the Spanish for belt or girdle, and this dish was traditionally made from beef skirt. Thankfully, skirt is more readily available now and you should get the best skirt you can. For me, I would add mine to my Riverford order, but I’m also not completely stuck on tradition and happy to make this with chicken too.
* There should be chillies somewhere in this. Try Cool Chile Co, who have a large variety of dried chillies, whether you want them whole, powdered or crushed. You can also get all the other herbs you might need, not to mention your own tortilla press. If you want to have a go at growing your own, then try World of Chillies. We’ve got three different types on the go for the first time this year.
* If you want something more fancy to cook these on, then try Casa Mexico for a range of skillets. They add a bit of theatre to the table, so if you are serving these up for a dinner party they may be just the thing. Casa Mexico also do great tableware, including oil cloths to really brighten up your table.
What I wouldn’t do is wait for one of those fajita kits to come out at Christmas time! These suppliers will give your fajitas a more authentic edge. Whether you do the hat dance is up to you.
I’m a couple of weeks behind the launch date, but I wanted to feature Thomasina Miers’ Mexican Food. I have had two of the best evenings at Wahaca, which takes Mexican food, and tequila, to another level for me. The difference between Wahaca and somewhere like Chiquitos is like the difference between Burger King and Hawksmoor. So, if you think you don’t like Mexican, buy this and experiment.
And if you love Mexican, buy it and enjoy cooking from it!
I’ve added a few others that will give you a different spin on Mexican, to show it’s not all tacos and cheese.
1. Mexican Food Made Simple – What else can I write about this? I love the way Tommi writes, I love the food her kitchens turn out, and I am buying this for myself if it doesn’t arrive on Mother’s Day. And think Mexican doesn’t cover sweet stuff? Check out the pancakes with vanilla ice cream, caramelised pecans and salted caramel sauce.
3. Essential Cuisines of Mexico – Diana Kennedy has been writing about Mexican cooking for over 40 years, and this is a fairly new updated and revised version of one of her earlier books. This will take you through the whole spectrum of Mexican cooking, from tamales to tortillas through to breads and desserts. It is said the Diana is to Mexican food what Julia Child is to French, so that’s not too bad a recommendation!
4. The Well-Filled Tortilla Cookbook – a little more amusing, and single minded in pursuit of the perfect filled tortilla. You can make it crispy or soft, bake it or fry it, and fill it with all sorts of stuff, savoury and sweet. I would think this was a great book if you have kids, as this is the sort of food I always find kids will try, as it has that level of interactivity to it. Not to mention it’s wonderfully messy to eat!
5. Tequila: A Guide to Cocktail, Types, Flights and Bites– well, couldn’t finish this without bringing out the tequila. Wahaca takes tequila as far from the Tequila Shots Girl as it’s possible to get, and this book is in that spirit (no pun intended). This will tell you all you need to know,what you should be tasting and what goes really well with it.
It may have felt like the endless winter, so spicing it up in the kitchen just may help it feel like the sunshine is back! A bit of spice can go a long way to cheering up cold, grey days! Enjoy!