Chilaquiles is a traditionally Mexican dish. Chilaquiles are all about spices and flavours. I get excited when I think about chilaquiles. I have very fond memories of eating chilaquiles with special people and as such, associate it with breakfasts made for people I love. I first learned about chilaquiles from my parents. I had it a few times in Mexico City, and again when visiting my best friend in Visalia, California. This is one of those recipes where everyone has a slightly different method of making it and none of them are wrong! What I’m going to share with you is my recipe, altered based on ingredients I can easily find in Melbourne.
If you use corn tortillas, often times you find yourself opening a pack, not wanting to use them all and sometimes, they’ll dry out.
Have you ever done this and thrown them out? Don’t! I have a delicious recipe for you to use. Save those dried out corn tortillas!
Ingredients you’ll need
Old corn tortillas, but you can use fresh as well!
Red, brown or white onion, whatever you have in your pantry
2 nice, big aussie garlic cloves
1 blanched and skinned tomato OR
2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1/4 cup water
salt to taste
2-3 beaten eggs for every 4 tortillas (optional: see note)
feta cheese OR
romano cheese if you don’t like feta
a paper bag
a comal or cast iron skillet you can toast your jalapeños on
Start by heating up your comal or hot plate and begin toasting the jalapeños. Make sure you rotate them frequently to get all sides nice and even until they look like the photo on the right or you can even go a little longer depending on how much flavour you want.
Pop them into a paper bag and let them steam in there for about 10 minutes. Have a special cutting board set aside just for prepping hot chillies or you risk adding a bit of spice to anything you cut on that board in the future. There shouldn’t be too much risk as jalapeños are relatively mild, but if you have a delicate palette, be warned! If you want to be extra careful, use gloves when handling the chillies so you don’t risk cross contamination the next time you touch your eye or … well I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination. I’ve had it all happen. Milk on standby.
Once the jalapeños are done in their sauna, take them out and with a sharp paring knife, cut a circle into the skin around near the stem at the top. This will make it easier for you to grasp the thin membranous skin that should now peel off very easily. What you should be left with is a clean, naked jalapeño. Repeat this process for all the jalapeños you’re preparing. When done, cut off the stems and discard along with the skins. Make a slice down the body of the pepper and de-seed and de-vein. If you like more heat, though, leave them in! My grandfather used to insist on whoever was making his salsas to grind the seeds and add them in for extra heat!
Toss the prepared jalapeños into your blender with the garlic and small/medium sized onion and your skinned tomato. If you don’t have one on hand, you can used some tomato paste and a little water. Blend well! If it’s not blending well, put in a splash of more water. Add a pinch of salt.
A warning, if you’re not sure how much heat you can take, start with blending one jalapeño and taste and take it from there. If you’ve added one and it’s just too much, add more tomato to make it milder. You may have to adjust your other ingredients accordingly. If you know how much heat you can take, ignore this!
Once your salsa is made, set aside. Break or tear your tortillas up into quarters or sixths. You don’t want them too much smaller than what’s shown. Tortilla chip/bite size is what you’re after. Heat a large cast iron skillet and add enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom. Once it’s hot, add the tortilla chips and toast until they’re golden brown. This should take several minutes. Keep turning them to ensure an even browning. If you’ve decided to use fresh corn tortillas, fry them in oil until golden, but not browned.
This next step is optional, but I really like the addition. Add your beaten eggs and coat the tortillas. Once the egg is coated and cooked, add your salsa and combine well.
This part smells AMAZING.
Once they’re cooked to your satisfaction, turn off the heat and serve.
Top with a very dry and crumbly feta or romano if you’re not a fan of feta, cilantro/coriander and sliced avocados. Drizzle some crème fraîche on top. Or lime juice. Usual sides include refried beans and fried eggs. It is a breakfast food, but you don’t have to follow those rules. I don’t. I’m an adult now. I can make these decisions. So can you.
Tostada literally means “toasted” in Spanish. It’s a corn tortilla that’s fried until crisp, drained and then used as a base for toppings. It’s a nice little twist on a crunchy taco because it’s more versatile and you can fit more toppings on it! The best part about tostadas is they’re quick and great with leftovers. If you’ve made a big batch of frijoles, make these and use up some of that pinto beany goodness.
Can I also just say that these are amazing when made fresh? They’ve got nothing on those stale-grease pre-made shells from that old-company-that-shall-not-be-named.
Ingredients you’ll need
Corn tortillas (I get the 10pk Woolies home brand and they’re fine.)
A cast iron pan for frying
Your choice of topping
Have all your toppings ready and set aside. Get your pan nice and hot, then add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom, maybe 1cm deep.
Add your first tortilla to the hot pan with some heat-proof tongs and flip immediately, then back. Keep turning occasionally after this, and carefully, until it’s golden brown evenly on both sides. As long as your pan is hot enough, they should only take a couple of minutes until golden. Pick them up with your tongs delicately, as they should be crisp and prone to cracking now and place on a plate prepared with paper towels to drain. Set aside and repeat process until you have enough shells for your guests.
Once they’re all done and are cool enough to handle, spread a thin layer of refried beans to the base. You want to do this because this will act as a tasty adhesive for more toppings. After this is done, get creative! Add your favourite crumbly or shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, sour cream and hot sauce. Try them with shredded chicken, carnitas, seasoned beef mince, avocado, onions, salsa, prawns, the possibilities are endless!
How easy was that? The only thing left to do, is eat and enjoy your delicious tostadas.
(Pictured: hubby @wombat1974)
Mole Poblano is a sauce. It’s spicy, it’s chocolatey, it can be mild or hot depending on how you prepare it. It’s also one of my hubby’s favourite dishes and the dish most associated with Mexico.
Mole Poblano comes in little glass jars.* I used to be scared of things that came in little glass jars because I thought there was too much effort and difficulty involved in making something out of them.
Let me demystify these little glass jars for you!
Mole Poblano Sauce
Ingredients you’ll need:
Jar of Mole
Chicken or vegetable stock cube
Cream or sour cream
1/4-1/2 cup raw sugar
Once you open this little jar of magic, you’ll notice there’s a layer of oil coating the top. This doesn’t go in your sauce, though if a little gets in, it’s fine. It’s there to act as a preservative and to keep the paste, well, pasty. It’s sort of like adding olive oil to the top of opened containers of tomato paste so mould doesn’t grow on it. (I just learned that, how cool is that trick?!) Anyway, it may take a bit of effort to get a spoon in there and gouge some out. The oil is messy, btw. Don’t wear white while making this.
Pop some in a saucepan. The amount I have shown will make enough for 2 dishes and then some, depending on how much of it you want smothering your food. I like it suffocating.
Put it on the range with the smallest flame and set it to low. Add enough water to cover the bottom of your saucepan and add a chicken or vegetable stock cube. Massel brand is great and gluten-free. With a wooden spoon, as the saucepan heats, mash the mole paste so it starts to dissolve and incorporates the water. Add more water if it’s too thick or you think it’s going to burn. Once the water and stock is incorporated, you should have a nicely thick paste. From here, you’ll add the sour cream. Add anywhere between half a cup to a cup or more, depending on your taste. I’ve added about 3/4 of a cup of sour cream to mine. Then add about 1/3rd a cup of raw sugar and keep stirring until everything has dissolved. Taste. Is it too spicy? Add more cream. Not sweet enough? Add more sugar a tablespoon at a time.
What you should have now is a rich smelling, nicely thick, chocolatey, spicy yet mild and delicious mole poblano sauce. Serve it on top of cooked chicken, either breast or pieces and/or by itself on top of refried beans and Spanish rice for a vegetarian delight (with the vegetable stock instead of chicken stock cubes.) Top with sesame seeds, avocado slices, fresh cilantro (coriander) and thin slices of onion. You can top it with even more sour cream as well should you desire to. Stir it around. Combine flavours. Experiment. Live a little.
*Note: Okay, Mole Poblano doesn’t ALWAYS come in glass jars, but there are over a dozen ingredients that need to be roasted, prepped, ground together in a molcajete that it’s easier to buy the glass jar that has everything in perfect proportions already.
I’ve seen and tasted some absolutely SHOCKING salsas in Melbourne. There’s no need for it to be difficult or tinned or jarred EVER. It’s so simple and is one of the freshest recipes I know.
I’ve had local friends repeatedly tell me this is the best salsa they have ever tasted. Once you try this, you will NEVER buy that salt and preservative riddled awfulness available in stores and food chains.
4 tomatoes of your choice (I like roma for this salsa)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 medium white onion, finely diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp granulated garlic
juice from 2 fresh limes (or equivalent amount from a lemon if you don’t have limes)
1/2 bunch cilantro (coriander), fresh, chopped coarsely
3 tbsp white vinegar
however many diced pickled jalapeño slices depending on desired heat
salt to taste
Blanch and peel skins off tomatoes. (Place in boiling water for a few minutes, then immerse in an ice water bath to shock the tomatoes making the skin easy to peel off.) Dice tomatoes into chunks and place in your bowl. Finely mince half a medium white onion and add to bowl. Add a tablespoon of tomato paste, a few shakes of cumin and granulated garlic. Add the juice from two fresh limes or lemons. Coarsely chop some fresh cilantro (coriander) and add. Add about 3 tablespoons white vinegar, and dice as many jalapeños as you want for the amount of heat you’re aiming for. (Add 3 diced jalapeño slices for mild.) Salt to taste.
Other elements can be added for depth of flavour. If you find something you absolutely love, I’d love to hear what it is!
Good by itself with tortilla chips. (Not Doritos! Mission have a really good salted tortilla chip that’s excellent with this salsa.) Also good as an ingredient in burritos, tacos or with rice and beans.
I’m sure some of you are asking what sort of trickery I’m going to present by suggesting a meatless beef burrito. I promise, no trickery is involved. Both my husband and I LOVE meat. That said, with the cost of premium mince (and you wouldn’t want to get anything less because you’d be paying for the fat that cooks away and isn’t consumed) on the rise and the recent reports from the export cattle industry, we wanted to look into perhaps not giving meat up entirely, but look into eating less meat-based meals during the week. Or, in this case, eating things we’d normally eat with meat, but with a substitute.
To those of you secretly groaning in your head, “Ugh, no, never.” give this a try! I promise my method of preparation won’t leave you hungry or dumping unfinished burritos in the bin. Have you ever spit out a Lord of the Fries burger? They’re pretty tasty, aren’t they? They’re also meatless. They use something called Textured Vegetable Protein, or TVP. You can buy TVP in many different forms, canned and ready to use, dry slices, dry meatball-sized chunks or dry minced. This is what we’ll be using for this burrito.
You can get TVP from most Chinese grocers, or online from these guys.
The best part about TVP in mince form is the texture. It feels like meat unlike veggie burgers made from tofu, legumes and nuts. Add the right seasonings and some might not suspect it isn’t meat if they weren’t told.
(I’ve only tested the mince form so I can’t vouch for the quality of the “sliced” or “meatball” versions.)
Meatless Beef Burritos
Ingredients you’ll need:
1 cup dried TVP mince
tsp granulated garlic
salt and pepper to taste
cumin to taste
lime (or lemon) juice
1 tsp parisian browning essence
1 beef stock cube or beef styled cubes (optional)
shredded iceburg lettuce
shredded cheese (I like colby)
tapatio hot sauce to taste
extra light sour cream (optional)
Comal or equivalent (hot plate or large dry pan to heat the tortillas)
In a bowl, add 1 cup of the dried TVP mince and 1 cup boiled hot water. The hot water will reconstitute the TVP. If you want to add a beef stock cube, add it now and mix it in well. (Personally, I don’t feel it needs it, but some people may like a beefier flavour.) Add to this the garlic, salt, pepper and cumin all to taste. Normally I add around 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp each. Squeeze in a little lime juice and about 1tsp of the parisian browning essence. This makes it look more like cooked beef mince. (It’s a psychological thing, but it does make it feel more like the real thing.) Mix well. It should look something like this when it’s done:
Pretty convincing, isn’t it?
Have your shredded cheese and shredded lettuce ready and heat your tortillas. I prefer to heat them on a hot plate rather than in the microwave because the microwave will make them go stiff and hard very quickly. If you heat them on a hot plate, they stay pliable and soft through the burrito folding process and well into eating-time. If using the large Mission tortillas, this batch should yield enough for four tortillas. If using the smaller flour tortillas, you might get six or eight burritos.
Once warmed, stack the tortillas on a preparing plate and add a couple tablespoons of the TVP mince, sour cream if you’re using it, the shredded cheese, shredded lettuce and some tapatio sauce. Then fold into a burrito and place on dinner plates. Continue until all burritos are made.
That’s it! Did I mention it’s cheap to make and lasts much longer than even frozen mince would in your freezer? Great for those on a budget. Quick as well.
Variations: You can use different filling ingredients as well. If you’ve made frijoles or spanish rice, the leftovers can be used to make burritos the next night. Mix it up.
If you make this, let me know what you think!