Tlayudas – Mexican Open Pizza and Homemade Guacamole

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Homemade guacamole packs a punch well above the bought stuff.  I know this my trade mark line (yawn yawn!), but it really is a breeze to make and is so tasty you’ll be wishing you had bought more avocados. As well as being a moreish dip – I kid you not, if I leave the room with a bowl of guacamole and tortilla chips, when I return the contents of the bowl will be clean – it’s also the perfect filler for the Mexican pizza Tlayudas, pronounced something along the lines of (clae-yoo-das).

These pizzas can be made with Middle Eastern flat breads/pittas a supply of which I always have in my freezer. It’s simply a case of piling on all the ingredients, with the flat breads sitting directly on a frying pan and then folding them over slightly to give the appearance of an thick taco. You can fill the flat breads with whatever takes your fancy, however I find that guacamole; shredded, poached chicken; mozzarella; pecorino; spiced sun blushed tomatoes; spinach; tarragon and rocket really hits the spot.

Be warned eating this is not a tidy pastime. However, you can get seriously involved and at one with your food.

Let me know if you give them a whirl and leave a comment below.

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Homemade Guacamole

adapted from Thomasina Miers’s book Mexican Food Made Simple

Serves 4

1/2 a red onion, finely chopped

2 serrano green chillies (1 if you prefer it less spicy), finely chopped

3 large ripe avocados, stoned and skin removed

1-2 limes, juice

pinch of rock salt

handful  of freshly coriander, chopped

black pepper

1. After finely chopping the red onion and chillies (I tend to leave the seeds in to give it that extra kick) place them in a bowl and  mash them together a little before adding the avocado. If you don’t have a pestle and mortar I find a good sized bowl and an end of a rolling pin work really well.

2. Add the juice of one lime and stir well into the guacamole, along with the salt, pepper and the chopped coriander.

3. Taste and add the juice of a further lime if needed – down to personal choice. I love it limey so tend to add two.

4. Give a good stir and spoon into a serving bowl/dish.  Place in the fridge whilst you are preparing the ingredients for the Tlayudas. Do not prepare too far in advance as the avocado will begin to discolour.

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Tlayudas, Mexican Open Pizza

adapted from Thomasina Miers’s book Mexican Food Made Simple

Serves 4

2 chicken breasts, poached and shredded

1 large bag of spinach

1 tsp of butter

4 large Middle Eastern flat breads

a bowl of homemade guacamole, see above

2 large mozzarella balls, torn into smaller pieces

16 slow baked tomatoes with chilli 

2 handfuls of rocket

1 handful of fresh tarragon

rock salt and pepper

pecorino or cheddar cheese for grating

1. Poach the chicken (in boiling water for up to 20 mins) and then shred it using a fork.  Place to one side.

2. Place a saucepan on low heat and add the butter. Once it has melted add the washed spinach and cook for a minute until the spinach just wilts. Remove from the pan and strain the spinach, pressing down firmly with a spoon so that the water is removed as far as possible. Place to one side.

3. Heat up a large frying pan and when it is hot add a flat bread and press down gently. Sprinkle a drop of water and turn the flat bread over. Now you need to work quickly. Spoon on a generous helping of guacamole followed by the chicken, mozzarella, slow baked tomatoes in chilli, spinach, rocket, salt, pepper and some grated pecorino/cheddar.

4. The flat bread will begin to crisp up quickly and the mozzarella begin to melt, so carefully begin to fold the flat bread over. With a spatula lift the pizza onto a plate and serve immediately.

5. Repeat until everyone is served.

Dive in and enjoy. Don’t forget the napkins.


Mexican Tortilla Soup

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It’s been half term this week so until now I ‘ve not had a second to sit down and actually write a blog post. I had wanted to put up one of my ‘en papillote’ recipes, but although I ended up eating three fish meals ‘en papillote’  this week each time it was in the evening and by the time the little parcels of deliciousness came out of the oven the lighting was frankly too dark to get a good shot. Lightening or rather natural lightening is key to good food photography and whilst I am still learning I feel it is important to heed this one basic rule. When I started food blogging two years ago, virtually to the day, my food photography was pretty appalling and whilst I have not got to where I want to be quite yet, it has at least improved. This shot was taken at night and I look back at it now and cringe – in fact I think I may even re blog the recipe – Chilli Crab Linguini – with more appealing photographs as the recipe is a keeper and perfect for a midweek supper.

Anyway I digress, the recipe for today’s blog is straightforward and perfect for a light lunch. It uses a spoonful of the chipotle sauce that I blogged about a couple of months ago – hands up whose attempted to make it? I made another batch of 7 pots the other day as all the others had finished. By all means buy a ready made chipotle sauce but if you have a little bit of time (it really does not take long) I really urge you to try making your own chipotle sauce – recipe here.  The chipotle gives the soup an earthy, delicately spiced flavour – for those who have not tried chipotle chillies before they are NOT ‘blow your mind’ type of chillies but more of a smokey, gently spiced chilli that keeps you coming back for more. My seven year old loves the soup and does not find it too spicy for her palate.

Mexican Tortilla Soup

adapted from Thomasina Miers – Mexican Food Made Simple

Serves 6

4 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 corn tortilla, broken up

1 tbsp of chipotle sauce

2 (400g) tins of tomatoes

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp fresh oregano (or dried)

1.5 litres chicken/vegetable stock

salt and pepper to taste

Garnish

2 corn tortillas, chopped into 1 inch strips

vegetable oil, for frying

4 pasilla dried chillies, deseeded and stems removed (or you could use ancho)

100g feta cheese, crumbled

handful of fresh coriander, chopped

half a lime per serving

(You can also add avocado and sour cream although I omitted them for this shoot)

1. In a large pan – I find my large casserole Le Creuset pot is perfect for this – add the olive oil and when it is hot add the onion and gently cook for around 10 minutes before adding the garlic and the broken up corn tortilla. Leave these three ingredients to cook for another five minutes.

2. Now add the chipotle sauce, brown sugar, tinned tomatoes, oregano and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Leave to cook for another 10 minutes before adding the stock and simmering for a further 10 minutes.

 3. Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth and then let to simmer gently for a few more minutes.

4. While the soup is simmering, place the pasilla chilles in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes and then remove the stems and deseed. Pat dry with kitchen paper.

5. Heat up some vegetable oil in a small pan. You want to make sure that there is enough vegetable oil so that the tortilla will float on the top. I find that 200ml is more than enough – (you can reuse this oil fyi!). When it is hot and small bubbles are rising to the surface, gently add the strips of corn tortilla. They will sizzle immediately and begin to bronze quickly so move them around the pan for a few seconds so that they are bronzed all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper before transferring to a bowl.

6. Delicately place the chillies in the remaining oil. If they are still wet at all they will spit so be vigilant when placing them in the oil. Move them around in the oil for a few seconds then also place on kitchen paper. Chop up into bite sized portions and place into a bowl.

7. Crumble the feta, roughly chop the coriander and half the limes. (if you are using avocado – chop this is up into small cubes). Place in bowls on the table so that the hungry masses can add whichever garnish they wish to their Mexican tortilla soup.

Also if you are using sour cream, place in a bowl so those who wish can an add a dollop to their soup. I had this all ready and then forgot to photograph the sour cream on the soup as well. A case of being hungry so quickly wanting to photograph the soup and then eat with the rest of the family!


Chipotles En Adobo – a store cupboard essential

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If there is ONE new thing you do this year I urge, beg and plead you to try making your own ‘chipotles en adobe’, homemade chipotle sauce to you and me. If you like chutneys, relishes and jellies, and chilli of course, then this is culinary nirvana. OK, you probably think that I am going a little over the top here, but seriously you will thank me once you have made some pots of this sauce. It’s addictive and tastes seriously good, so much so that it is not unheard of for me to have it with my breakfast (whether it be french toast/fried egg toastie/grilled tomatoes/bacon buttie – basically it goes with anything, well maybe not cereal!) and then again at lunch time by placing a little dollop of it in my sandwich.

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Chipotles chillies, originate from Mexico and are in fact a smoked and dried jalapeno chilli. They are not like their spicier cousins, such as the serrano or the chile de arbol, instead they have wonderful smokey notes that give warmth and a little spicy kick that beckons you back for more.  They are sold dried or in an adobo (sauce).

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Now I can just hear you all saying ‘where on earth can I get hold of those types of chillies’? Yes it does take a little bit of forward planning, but as I don’t have a farmers market next door or a store that holds them near by, I get mine online from a range of Mexican grocers including Mex Grocer. It takes literally a few minutes to log on and order and hey presto within a couple of days you have your beautiful dried chipotles chillies. I imagine if you live in the US they are likely to be even easier to source as I know that Mexican food and products are far more commonplace than they are here in the UK.

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Making the sauce is incredible straightforward and the sweet smells coming from the cooking pot are wonderful.
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The sauce itself lasts for months so it’s great to have a private hoard in the store cupboard for personal consumption, although I will probably give a couple of my pots away to those I deem worthy of such culinary pleasures – basically family and friends who I know like chillies.

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My life has been made so much easier since I invested in my kilner wide neck funnel (see photo above). I know it will get a lot of use with all the chutneys and jams I make over the course of a year.

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Chipotles En Adobo

adapted from Thomasina Miers’s recipe in Mexican Food Made Simple

Makes 6 jars

200g chipotle chillies

1 white onion, chopped

1 bulb of garlic, peeled and chopped

3 tbsp fresh oregano

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed

4 tbsp olive oil

350ml white wine vinegar

50ml balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp black treacle

3 tsp tomato puree

6 tbsp demerara sugar

2 tbsp sea salt

1. Cut the storks off the tops of all the chillies and then place them in a colander and wash in cold water.

2. Transfer to a large pan and cover with water and simmer gently for around half an hour, by which time the chillies will be soft. Strain the water and place six of them into a blender along with the onion, garlic, herbs, cumin and 200ml of water. Blend until smooth.

3. Heat up a large pan (my Le Creuset pot is perfect for this) with the olive oil and when it is very hot add the blended chilli paste and stir continuously for a couple of minutes before adding the tomato puree, sugar, salt, vinegars, black treacle, along with 100ml of water. Turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes before adding the remaining chillies.

4. Simmer gently for a further 15 minutes, stirring throughout.

5. Transfer the sauce to a blender (or use a hand blender) and blend once again until you have a smooth sauce.

6. Place into your steralised jars and store in a dark, cool place.

This amount makes 6 small kilner jars, as shown in the photos. Whilst it lasts for months, I can bet that it won’t last too long once you have tried it as you’ll be putting it in and on everything.

Best of luck, a little bit of effort will reward you royally.