Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Taste Of Mexico

With these burritos ambassador you are really spoiling us
A very sunny Saturday morning, me and Lola cycled through Herbert Park to the Mexican Ambassadors residence. It's Mexican food week, and the Mexican Ambassador has flown in the lovely Margarita Carillo de Salinas, well known Mexican chef, to give lessons and also run the restaurant in the Hilton Hotel for the week.

The group started with an overview of Mexican cooking, chili identification - and a quick run through of the recipes we'd be making later. Then it was across to the gorgeous sun filled kitchen to get stuck in. Though there were quite a few of us there, we all managed to get some hands on experience. Slicing and softening banana leaves over the heat. Cleaning, seeding and soaking chillies. Folding and frying burritos. Tucking marinated chicken legs into their banana leaves and getting them ready for steaming.
What struck me most about the day, was Chef Margarita's obvious enthusiasm and joy in preparing food. Her philosophy about food was refreshing and one that I could really relate to. Her emphasis was to get stuck in and 'Just cook, do it' Making the simple statement that if you're to avoid nasty such as additives and sugar and salt - you should just cook from scratch. That it's easy and simple and a great way of showing love for family and friends. I love you - now eat my food!

Two tips that I'll start using today are

1) Add sea salt during the cooking process and keep table salt for the table - seems sensible enough. She made the point that adding table salt during the cooking process can give the food a bitter taste

2) Always cook your onion a little before cooking the garlic to avoid burning your garlic

The main ingredient in a lot of these recipes was chillies, large dried chillies with seeds removed, cleaned, soaked and then liquidised to make both soup and marinate. I was firstly surprised at the volume of them we used, but then also surprised at the level of spiciness of the food. Don't get me wrong the dishes were pretty hot, but very much edible, or maybe I'd deadened my palette by sampling the various dried chillies earlier in the day.

We left with a greater understanding of Mexican cuisine and a promise that we would never eat in taco bell! The flavours of this food are really different to anything I had ever tasted before and totally different to what you get in most Mexican restaurants I've been to. Huge thanks to the Ambassador and her lovely family who let us into their home and were so welcoming. It really made me want to pay Mexico a visit!

We're hoping to cook these recipes soon, if we can find a place in Ireland that sells those amazing dried chillies that are a staple in Mexico. We may blog them separately then, but included are some pictures of the day and of the finished dishes.

1) Tacos Gobernador
Shrimp and Cheese Tacos

2) Sopa de Tortilla al Chile Pasilla
Tortilla Soup with Pasilla

3) Barboca de Pollo
Steamed cooked chicken in aromatic herbs
Me and Lola with our Mexican Cooking Certificates - sweet!


Anne said...

Aww, that looks lovely!

6th Class Enquiry said...

Ooh, that looks like such fun! I had read about the Hilton bit but didn't realise that there was a cooking demo in the ambassador's house as well.

I'm not sure which chillis you were using but they have dried anchos and chipotles in a new range in tesco. They're fairly expensive for a small amount tho :(

aoife mc said...

Oooh this looks great! Thanks for sharing the knowledge :)

Anonymous said...

fred says yum!

Lu said...

Hey Anne - we miss you!
Naomi I think they were Anchos - they're huge things - good to know Tescos has them if all else fails
Aoife - was a fun day hoping to cook some of these at home really soon

Lu said...

Fred - Lucy says thanks!