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guacamole

 

The first time I tried proper guacamole I was 17. I was at my friend Emily’s house, her parents were out and we were entertaining her French exchange. By entertaining, I mean incessant giggling and the odd shot of tequila. Food was taken seriously in that house and I’ve never tasted a guacamole that tasted as good since. Until now.

I had no intention of sharing this recipe. I was just using up some odds and ends. But then the husband said that it tasted like something Paddy would make. This is the highest form of praise that can ever be uttered in our household. Our friend Paddy is an incredible cook – I don’t know how he makes everything so flavourful and just downright delicious, but he does.

Anyhoo, I passed Ridley Road market on Friday after work and was amazed to see some traders still there. Packing up, but still calling to the crowd advertising rock bottom prices in an attempt to shift the last of their stock. It was like an episode of The Apprentice only without the worn clichés and bad grammar.

I picked up four avocados, 10 nectarines, a bowl of cherries and a punnet of strawberries for £2. Awesome. After a weekend of determined scoffing, a heavenly breakfast of cherry and basil compote plus a concerted effort to palm some off on the boys at supper club, I still had two (slightly squidgy) nectarines and two avocados left.

Serves: 4

2 avocados (squidgy)

3 spring onions, as finely chopped as you can get them

1 very ripe nectarine, finely chopped

1 tsp of salsa picante verde de chile habanero

A generous pinch of salt

A handful of coriander leaves, chopped

The juice of one and a half limes

As I said, I was just using up some odds and ends. I was playing. I chucked the onions, the avocado and coriander in a bowl and squeezed over the juice from one lime. I squished it together and tasted. It needed a kick. I didn’t have any fresh chilli, so I reached into the cupboard where I have several bottles of weird and wonderful things stashed. This particular bottle of fire is from Casa Mexico on Winkley Street. It’s hot as hell. I sloshed some in. Phew, it certainly had a kick now. I needed some sweetness to offset the heat. I cursed myself for not having any mango. And then I saw the nectarine. I went for it. More lime, a generous sprinkle of Maldon salt et voilà, holy Guacamole was born.

 

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quesadilla recipe, Mexican food

Our friend Paddy is an exceptional cook. And every time he makes quesadillas, I am blown away by just how delicious they are. I was even more amazed when he told me what was in his quesadillas: peppers and peaches? Who knew? I forgot to ask Paddy for the proper recipe, so I have just made it up based on a half-memory of the ingredients he divulged at our Mexican extravaganza on New Year’s Eve (okay, I admit, I was too drunk to write it down!). Mine were not as good as Paddy’s, but delicious nonetheless.

Serves: 8 as a starter

16 large flour tortillas (so easy to make, or use pre-prepared ones)

3 red peppers

Half a tin of peaches in juice (drained)

1 small red onion

1 bunch coriander

1 red chilli (seeds removed)

A generous heap of grated Applewood smoked cheddar (or other smoked cheese). I used a smoked Gouda, because my stepmother gave me one and I’m on a budget here people!

quesadilla recipe, Mexican food

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Roast the peppers until the flesh is soft and the skin is slightly charred. Remove from the oven and skin. Obviously they will be hot – if you don’t have hands made of asbestos, like me, drop them into a sandwich bag to cool and the skin will just slide off. Remove the stalk and seeds and throw into a blender. Peel the onion, chop into quarters, drain the peach slices and chuck into the blender with the peppers. Pulse until the ingredients are finely chopped, but not liquified.

Take a tortilla, spread with a layer of the peachy filling and sprinkle over cheese. top with a further tortilla and fry in a griddle pan until brown on each side. Cut into quarters and serve with guacamole.

 

 

Decadant chilli con carne with mango and avocado salsa

Decadent chilli con carne with mango and avocado salsa

Serves: 6-8

For the chilli:

500g casserole steak / braising steak

1 tbsp flour

salt and pepper

Oil for frying (I used approx 1 tbsp chilli-infused)

2 red onions, finely chopped

1 red chilli finely chopped (add an extra tsp of chilli powder if you don’t have one)

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 courgette, halved and sliced

Half a red pepper cut into chunks

Half a green pepper cut into chunks

2 tins (800ml) chopped tomatoes

1 beef stock cube

1 tin kidney beans

1 tin black beans

1 tsp mild chilli powder

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

Half a tsp cinnamon

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp cocoa powder (or two squares of dark chocolate, if you have it)

1 tbsp dark brown soft sugar

A splash of balsamic vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

Toss the steak in flour and season generously. In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, brown the steak in batches on a high heat and set aside. Turn the heat down and fry the onions, garlic and chilli until soft. Add the peppers and fry for a further three minutes. Throw the steak back in and chuck in the tomatoes, stock cube and dry ingredients. Top up with 100ml water, if necessary and add a splash of balsamic (about 2 tsp). Stir and bring to the boil then leave to simmer gently for up to 2 hours until the meat is soft and falls apart and the sauce is rich, dark and pungent. About 20 minutes before serving, stir in the courgettes and beans.

Serve with rice and salsa.

For the salsa:

Half a ripe mango diced

1 small ripe avocado diced

2 spring onions (scallions) finely chopped

Three red jalapeño (from a jar) finely chopped

A handful coriander (cilantro) leaves finely chopped

Couldn’t be easier: simply mix all the ingredients in a bowl and tuck in!
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