Invariably I cook meals of a distinctly Anglo/Franco/Italiano/Spanish persuasion, it’s what I grew up with and so what I rely on night after night. I know what works and I know how to twist this and that. More than anything, it is comfort.
But 2017 is the year I break out of my comfort zone and cross the continental barriers. Tall Hungry One, grab your passport, we’re going on a culinary world trip.
I thought I’d start with something I already love: Mexican! After living with my dear part-Mexican friend on and off for four years I felt like a bit of a whizz when it came to moles, chillies and beans. So I decided to go big and cook a Mexican Feast of delights, a Mexi-tapas if you will.
On the menu: Beef Quesadillas with Queso Blanco Sauce, Tequila-Lime Chicken Tacos, Grilled Shrimp Tostadas, and a side of Pinto Beans and Rice.
I failed to get off to a good start when I realised I’d forgotten to pick up any tacos, so off I went to Morrisons, and returned clutching the tacos and a new bottle of gin.
As I have previously mentioned, I am a stressy cook. Twice in the course of this evening I walked in circles after deciding on my next task only to change my mind three times. And it wouldn’t be a true Lotti Cooking Experience without a shouted threat of “oh, it’s ruined! Throw it in the canal, I’m going to bed.” But we got there in the end.
First off I marinated the chicken in a lime, tequila, jalapeno and garlic sauce.
Next the beef was browned, garlic, cumin, chillies and cheese were all and the whole gooey lot was popped into the oven to stay warm.
I was feeling a little too calm after this point and managed to convinced myself I had everything completely under control.
HOW. WRONG. WAS. I.
Suddenly everything needed to be done all at once. The table was covered in sullied mixing bowls, was half set with plates and glasses, part of a red cabbage languished on top of an empty carton of chopped tomatoes.
So I decided to calm myself down and whip up a batch of Queso Blanco sauce. And fall in love. For those not in the know, it is a spiced cheese sauce. Simple.
Apparently it’s not cool to eat the sauce straight from the pan. I didn’t agree but did understand that ideally there needed to be some left for the actual quesadillas, so I put down the spoon and carried on cooking.
The rest of the process was a whirl. But the outcome was delicious.
Beef Quesadillas with Queso Blanco Sauce
Tequila-Lime Chicken Tacos
Grilled Shrimp Tostadas
Yes. I made too much food. Did we eat it all * almost *.
Grilled Shrimp Tostadas: 3 chair legs out of 5 – I over cooked the shrimp and under-cooked the tostadas. Taste level was amazing though.
Tequila-Lime Chicken Tacos: 2 chair legs out of 5 – not impressed. The chicken lacked flavour, this one definitely needed work. Next time I’m adding in agave syrup to give it a sticky edge.
Beef Quesadillas with Queso Blanco Sauce: 5 chair legs out of 5. Yes the second quesadilla was slightly too done, but who cares when everything else is so damn incredible. That sauce OOOF that sauce gave me life.