I had such a stroke of luck this week- when I looked in the fridge and saw I had peppers and onions to use up quickly, so I decided to make a spicy salsa.
The salsa turned out to be lovely- but the real joy was that now I also feel encouraged to try pickling, bottling and jarring up all sorts of other chutneys, jams and relishes with the same technique.
Perhaps some of the dishes featured today will inspire you in the same way... down Mexico way in fact.
We have spicy salsa with tortilla chips to start, followed by chili con carne with sweet potato wedges and a marbled chocolate cheesecake to finish.
To make the tortilla chips- just snip left over tortilla wraps into triangles, toss in a little oil and flavouring (garlic, chilli, herbs or salt and black pepper) and bake for a short time (10 minutes or so) in a hot oven (190 degrees), watching them carefully to ensure they don't over brown, until golden and crisp. So much nicer than yellowy store bought ones.
|Homemade tortilla chips|
To make the salsa- first sterilize your jars. Wash them well in hot water or put them through the dishwasher, and then place them on a baking tray in a cool oven (50 degrees) to dry completely whilst you make the salsa.
I softened 1 medium onion with a teaspoon each of garlic, chili and ginger paste (or you could use a crushed fresh clove of garlic, a thumb of ginger and a finely chopped red chili). I then added 1 coarsely chopped green and red pepper and softened those too. Next I added a tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of tomato puree and the following seasonings from the store cupboard: 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, a glass of red wine, a teaspoon of mustard, a dash of Worcester sauce, 2 teaspoons of chili powder, a tablespoon of Muscavado sugar and a teaspoon of salt. (If you don't have those precise ingredients - think barbecue sauce and add whatever you have to hand -but add extra chili for kick).
|Makes 3-4 jars|
|Pour into the hot jars|
Leave it all to bubble away gently for 30 minutes or so until reduced and thick. Pour into the hot jars from the oven and top with a greaseproof paper disc (or muffin case). Screw on the lids and leave to cool. Finito!
|Salsa with homemade tortilla chips|
I'm inspired now for other chutneys and relishes- so if you have a surfeit of any particular fruit or veg, think about using them up in a similar way (and send me your recipes!)
For the main course, I used another onion and red pepper from the fridge, gently softened in some oil. To this I added 200g of minced beef per person and browned that too. Next I stirred in 2 teaspoons of chili powder and 1 of chili paste. I then added a tin of chopped tomatoes, a dash of Worcester sauce, some tomato puree, salt and pepper. ( Are you getting the theme here- yes, leave it to bubble and reduce for a while before adding a can of beans (baked, kidney, pinto, flageolet whatever you have in cans.) Keep bubbling away.
For the sweet potato chips, I like to part bake the sweet potatoes in the microwave for about 5 minutes each, then slice them lengthways, toss in a little oil and roast in a hot oven (200 degrees) for 15 minutes or so until starting to crisp up.
Serve the chips and chili in a deep bowl with a side salad.
Dessert is so simple, it seems almost sinful.
Crush some biscuits to a powder (with a rolling pin or in a food processor- depending on your levels of aggression) and place in the bottom of a ramekin dish.
Mix together a tub of marscapone cheese and 2-3 tablespoons of Nutella (chocolate spread). Go for a marbled effect. Spoon over the biscuit base and serve with cream, or biscuits or grated chocolate.
|Marbled chocolate cheesecake|
So, amigos, I present to you my Mexican midweek menu.
Any leftover chili is wonderful in a baked potato, by the way. Just add extra beans to bulk it out if necessary.
There won't be any leftover cheesecake- trust me.