Monday, 5 April 2010

Mexican Fiesta

10. Guacamole Lupita Feint
11. Pico do Gallo (Tomato Salsa) Lupita Feint
Mole Chicken
Cointreau and Chocolate Mousse delicious.

I am slightly irritated by the fact that I spent lots of time preparing and cooking a large number of dishes for this Mexican Fiesta, yet only two of them actually came from the book. Must improve on this in the future.

The planned Mexican feast came with a number of hurdles. First, I was organising a surprise dinner party for a friend, so a) couldn't moan about how much work I was doing and b) I had to hold it on a Friday night, so as to coincide with afore-mentioned birthday. I don't normally 'do' Fridays. They pose problems in terms of preparation, and having to be organised diminishes the exquisite relief that the end of the working week brings. It also means that I can't have the bottle open before I have even put my bag down. Instead, I have to get my shit together... get changed, find recipes, start dicing... frankly, it's all a bit much. Fridays should be reserved for slovenly behaviour. A quick pasta, a few wines, some trashy TV and potato chips on the couch.

Having resigned myself to this sacrifice early, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to cook and how long it would all take to prepare. This did not mean that I was able to come home early and begin preparing it. What it meant was that we didn't eat until 9pm. Luckily we had plenty of nibbly, tappasy stuff to tide us over. The two Food Safari dishes were lovely, and made me fell a little guilty that they were the only 'challenge' items on the menu. I was a bit concerned by the absence of garlic in the guacamole, but managed to adhere to the recipe and we were duly rewarded. The tomato salsa was definitely improved by the inclusion of the last of the tomatoes from our garden (those not ravaged by the evil hail storm). I served it with a quesadilla, the recipe for which I actually saw on - ahem - Sunrise a few years ago. It's basically just grated cheese, fresh coriander and finely chopped jalepeno squished between two flour tortillas.

Back to the hurdles. Obstacle number two: Mexican stuff. Once again, I failed to procure the authentic ingredients I needed. This time, I didn't even pretend to try. One quick Google search revealed that the only Mexican warehouse in Melbourne is location in Tullamarine. If you're not from Melbourne, that's near the airport. A long way from the Dandenong Ranges. They may even have a different breed of possum out there (one which has developed a resistance to aviation fumes). So, rather than modify the recipes, I decided to find recipes that I could work with. Hence the tomatillo-free mole. Sorry Mexicans. You can rest assured that it was missing that special something, which may have been tomatillos, but I wouldn't know for sure, because as I've mentioned, I would have to drive for an hour and a half and spend about $15 in tolls to buy some, so I've never tried them.

City-link inspired digression. Sorry.

I used my trusty delicious. recipe index to find a suitable recipe for mole. I got a bit excited when I found it actually, as it seemed quite authentic (apart from tomato-tomatillo substitution).

Recipe: Chicken Mole
delicious. June 2004, page 64

2 onions
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large chicken, jointed
2 sprigs coriander (including roots), plus extra leaves to garnish
2 dried red chillies
410g can chopped tomatoes
4 tbspns toasted sesame seeds, plus extra to garnish
1 tspn smoked paprika (pimenton)
1 tspn ground cumin
1 tspn ground cloves
1/2 tspn allspice
2 pieces day-old bread, crusts discarded, chopped
2 tbspns olive oil
1 bay leaf
25g Mexican chocolate
Steamed rice, to serve

Roughly chop 1 onion and place in a casserole dish with the garlic, chicken pieces and coriander, the nadd enough water to cover chicken. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to low and skim any scum from the surface. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set aside. Strain the poaching liquid, discarding solids and reserving the liquid. Remove 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the cooking liquid and pour it over the dried chillies. Allow to soak for 30 minutes, then place the tomatoes, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin, cloves, allspice, bread, chillies and their soaking liquid in a blender and process until smooth.
Finely chop the remaining onion. Heat the olive oil in a sauce pan and cook onion for  1 - 2 minutes over low heat until softened, then add the the chocolate and chicken. Add enough of the reserved poaching liquid to just cover chicken and simmer, uncovered, for a further 25 minutes.
remove the chicken, cover loosely with foil to keep warm, then reduce the sauce until it is a thick enough consistency to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Coat the chicken in the sauce and garnish with the extra sesame, coriander leaves and serve with the rice.

I began my preparations enthusiastically. It is all a bit labour intensive (anything with 'stages' tends to make me a little antsy), but not difficult. I was chatting away happily (the margaritas possibly contributing to my buoyancy) to my guests, and happened to comment to one, 'this seems like it will have a bit of a kick - I hope you like chilli'.

As I watched her face fall, I immediately realised my error. I should not have said anything. Non-chilli loving guests would then have eaten my offerings, with me, totally oblivious, and perhaps bitched about me later. Instead, I was now RESPONSIBLE for ensuring that the meal was not too hot. I privately cursed my friendly off-handedness and considered my options. The chillies were soaking in the poaching liquid which was dangerously read and full of seeds. I had no alternative main course. I was torn. Mexican is supposed to be hot. My guest of honour had requested Mexican. My need to avoid upsetting anyone was causing me to panic. At the last minute, I decided to replace the lava-esque chilli liquid with some fresh poaching liquid.

I was both relieved and dismayed to discover upon serving the dish that it was rather mild. To me, it was missing the kick I had anticipated (although, as I've already mentioned, that could have been the tomatillos). Having said that, all guests were able to eat, and luckily, by the time main course was served, most were sufficiently lubricated that it probably didn't matter (little voice in my head is screaming, "but it matters to ME!!!!"). I now have no choice but to make the dish again. And chilli it up, I will.

We finished with a cointreau chocolate mousse, which was probably a bit too dense for me. Does this make me a hypocrite? In saying this, I am I not just like someone who claims not to like chilli?


Lebanese Restaurant said...

wow the photo looks great, thanks for sharing =D

Noman Khan said...

wow,delicius food.I like to eat this food.
Software Development