Mexican | The Proof of the Pudding


Disclaimer: it’s hard enough to make guacamole photogenic, but when it comes to a brown-coloured bean dip it’s pretty much impossible.

And with my camera skills we’re not off to the best start anyway. But please believe me when I say, if you could taste these two dishes you would be running out to the shops to stock up on pinto beans and forage for ripe avocados (Good luck to you on that last part, by the way. Like, seriously. I had a last minute panic on Thursday night because the 6 avocados someone picked out in the shop were all rock hard, so shoved them in a dark cupboard inside a brown paper bag snuggled up with some ripe bananas. I can’t say the results the next day were astounding, but it did the job well enough).

Anyway, I digress. I made these dips as accompaniments to the Mexican meal we had on my birthday last Friday, but feel free to have these with whatever meal you fancy. Personally, I could eat guacamole straight from the bowl. Sack that actually – just give me a ripe avocado, salt and a spoon and I’m in heaven.

There are so many variations of guacamole out there, so this is just my personal taste. I like my guacamole with bags of flavour from other ingredients aside from avocados and enough lime juice to keep a crew of sailors healthy. The bean dip originally came from our lovely friend Julia and is perfect served with tortilla chips and one (or two) margaritas.

Anna’s Guacamole

Ingredients (makes a lot! – enough for 12 people as a side) 6 avocados 3 tomatoes 2 small red onions 3 garlic cloves 2/3 red chilli Half a bunch of coriander 1 ½ limes

Salt and pepper

Method
1. Halve the avocados and remove the stone. Scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon – this should be pretty easy if the avocados are ripe. Mash in a large bowl with a fork

Zingy Bean Dip

Ingredients (makes a lot!) 2 tins of pinto beans, or other similar beans like borlotti beans 2 tomatoes Garlic cloves 2 limes Half a bunch of coriander Half a bunch of parsley 2 spring onions 2 tsp cumin

Method 1. Skin the tomatoes following the instructions in the recipe above. 2. Chop the spring onion, garlic cloves and herbs. 3. Drain the beans and add all the ingredients to a large bowl or blender. Liquidise or blend, depending on what equipment you have to hand. Adjust the seasoning to taste.

I had a really wonderful birthday, made so special by the company, the fabulous presents, the (strong) margaritas expertly made by dad…
…and this spectacular chocolate cake made by the ridiculously talented Kirsten…


Last Friday I gave you a sneak peak of what I was about to cook, and I’ve finally recovered from the weekend enough to write up the recipe for the main event of my birthday dinner: Puerco en Naranja (or Pork cooked in Orange Juice). This is a stunning recipe and perfect for a really special occasion. It takes a bit of time, but it is so worth it.

Mum ordered the pork from the butchers (it’s an unusual cut, so you will probably need to order from your local butcher, or at least visit the meat counter at the supermarket. However, if you fancy the flavour of this dish without the cost, you could try the same marinade with a cheap cut of pork like shoulder or even chops and just adjust the cooking times and technique). I gave the butcher the name for the order. He returned with the biggest cut of pork loin I’ve ever seen, chuckled and commented “Spears: never a small order”. Well he’s not wrong. But to be fair, every last morsel of meat was devoured.

Ingredients (serves 10 to 12) 9 lbs rib-end pork loin, with the bones chined and the skin scored (ask your butcher to do this for you) 10 cloves of garlic 2 tbsp salt 4 tsp oregano 24 peppercorns

6 oranges

Method 1. Pierce any exposed meat with a sharp knife and place skin side up in a large roasting tin.

2. Crush the garlic, salt, oregano and peppercorns using a mortar and pestle. Add the juice of 2 of the oranges and mix.

3. Slather the marinade all over the pork and give it a good massage, rubbing it into any cracks or cuts. Cover in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least one hour, but ideally overnight. We had particularly tasty results with the meat this time, which we are sure was at least in part due to the overnight (12 hours plus) marinade. 4. Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4. Remove the pork from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. Pour the juice of 2 more of the oranges over the pork and pop the orange skins in the roasting tin. Cover with tin foil and roast for 2 hours.

5. Drain off most of the juices and keep aside for later. Turn the pork and bake for a further hour uncovered. Baste every 20 minutes or so.

6. Turn the oven up to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 6. Turn the pork skin side up again and cook until the meat has browned and the skin has caramelised (this will take approximately 30 minutes).

7. Skim off any fat from the reserved juices, add the juice of the final two oranges and bubble over a high heat until reduced to a thick sauce.

8. Slice the meat – it should fall off the bones beautifully – and pour over the orange cooking liquid.

Serve with wraps, rice and whichever extras you like – we went to town and had beans, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, jalapeños, cheese and lettuce. I’m not sure how many of these are authentically Mexican sides but darn they taste good!
This recipe is in Recipes from the Regional Cooks of Mexico by Diana Kennedy. It was originally passed on to my parents more than 25 years ago by Professor David Weisblat, my dad’s boss while he was a postdoc in California. I’m told that David was a genius at cooking Mexican cuisine, and one night he scrawled this recipe on a scrap of paper for mum and dad. Now we have Diana’s recipe book, but I just love the jumble of words and instructions that David wrote so I thought I’d share it with you:

I (roughly) doubled the original recipe but you can easily scale it back if you’re not feeding such a crowd! So go on, treat yourself.

Recipes for some of the sides are to come later in the week….

It’s been a tough day. Gym. Sauna. Shopping. Manicure. Haircut. Basically, being 24 is pretty stressful so far.

I’m afraid there’s no new recipe today (you’ll have to make do with just one this week, but to be fair it was a good’un). This is the week of birthdays: first Ross, then me and tomorrow my mum’s. Wasn’t I the best birthday present ever for her 24 years ago? But seriously, she got to fulfil her wish of being married and having children before she was 30. Just. I’ve always had impeccable timing.

So today I give you the promise of delicious recipes to come next week. Expect flavour, expect Mexican, and expect meat. For now, here’s a sneak preview of what’s going to be happening in our household tonight…

Happy Friday one and all!