10 December 2012

GUEST BLOG: Mexican rave

By guest blogger TRACEY

We were dining Mexican style this Monday morning at the Approved Premises. There may have been a shortage of tequila, but the guys shot through the abundance of fresh chillies, onions and garlic with competence, speed and ease. This was the penultimate session in a block of six and it's great to see how their skills, confidence and knowledge have improved, to the point where one minute they're talking football, the next... the amount of onion and garlic they like in their dishes – now that's inspiring stuff!

It was unfortunate that the ‘bargain-priced avocados’ were rock hard! Rob had researched methods of softening them, one being, placing them in a brown paper bag with a banana - this would have been great had it worked. But we had to result to using the microwave to soften them, which took a good while. While they were softening, Rob explained that growing these pears in Mexico is the equivalent of growing apples in the UK. The then artificially ripened avocados were mashed and combined with chopped tomatoes, chillies, onions, lemon juice, seasoning, coriander and olive oil. The result was guacamole and we were each given the option of spicing it up with smoky chipotle.

The Mexican session is the one that really tests the opinion that ‘you eat with your eyes’ as the appearance and visual textures of the dishes can be a completely new experience and challenge! However, I was delighted that the initial reluctance and scepticism towards some of the ingredients were met with a curiosity to try the new tastes and textures - the re-fried beans shocked most and won over many!

Bread, baking powder, salt and warm water were used to make the tortillas, highlighting that these basic ingredients are so versatile, making so many different bread dishes across the continents, such as nan, pizza bases and dumplings. Such a great mix to complete the carbohydrate element of the eat well plate. To cook them, the guys rolled them flat, then dry fried them in a hot frying pan as the grated butter in the dough provided the fat.

I think the cumin-spiced salsa won everyone over this week - the tomatoes, onions, garlic and chilli powder were reduced down to create a slightly sweet and fresh-tasting sauce once the freshly chopped coriander was added. This was a great session, topped off by planning for next week’s store-cupboard session - the guys have chosen to finish with a four-course menu of lentil, carrot and noodle soup with turmeric and coriander, for the main, we’ll have a chicken Christmas dinner, then pancakes and/or!! carrot cake for pudding... Wow, Christmas really has come early!

There is a selection of photos from this session on the CGF Facebook page.

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