June 27, 2013

Authentic Guacamole Recipe - Guest Post

I was delighted when my friend Tanja accepted to write an article for foodmoods and share her famous guacamole recipe. So here is over to Tanja...thank you so much x


I have had quite a long love affair with Mexican food but really it’s only in the last few years I have discovered how to make it properly for myself. I fell in love with Mexican food almost 20 years ago, at a fabulous Mexican restaurant in Canterbury (Café des Amis - hopefully it’s still going!). For many years, however, there was a huge discrepancy between the quality of Mexican cuisine I had experienced there, and my own humble attempts to recreate these meals with bought cans of refried beans, tubs of guacamole and jars of salsa: I had a lot to learn. (Even a visit to Mexico in my early 20s did little to improve things - I’m ashamed to say that on my backpacker budget, I mostly lived off Philadelphia cream cheese sandwiches and apples!)

Over time, as my cooking skills developed, I learned how to make a passable salsa and refried beans…However, it was a modest little recipe book I discovered in a charity shop a few years ago which really opened up the treasures of Mexican cookery to me. Marlena Spieler’s wonderful book Mexican (Parragon, 2001) contains so many fantastic recipes (and mouthwatering photos), it’s truly revolutionised my approach to cooking Mexican food. I’m still working my way through the book, but so far every single recipe I’ve tried has been delicious. The range of dishes goes far beyond the typical enchiladas/nachos/fajitas clichés of Mexican cuisine - but still, nothing really beats good guacamole! Recently, a Mexican friend of mine came round for dinner and pretty much licked the bowl of guacamole clean: what higher praise is there?

Without further ado then, here’s the recipe for authentic guacamole - adapted from Marlena Spieler’s recipe; wolfed down by a real Mexican…

Authentic Guacamole Recipe
• 2 limes
• 2 avocados
• 1 ripe tomato
• 1 shallot (or a quarter of an onion)
• 1 green chilli (e.g. jalapeno or serrano)
• ½ tsp ground cumin
• ¼ ground Cayenne pepper
• Salt to taste
• Optional: fresh coriander or flat leafparsley

1. Squeeze the juice of both limes into a bowl.
2. Slice, remove the stones and dice both avocados; scoop all the flesh out of the skins & into the bowl of lime juice. Mash the diced avocado into the lime juice until it’s well mixed. (The lime juice will help to preserve the beautiful green colour of the avocado this way.) I always use a fork rather than a blender - roughly mashing it by hand keeps some of the texture.
3. Soak the tomato in boiling water for a minute or so, and then soak it in cold water for a minute or so - you should now be able to peel away the outer skin of the tomato easily. Slice in half, remove the seeds and dice what’s left of the tomato! Add it to the avocado/lime juice mixture but do not mash it in, just stir it in using a fork. (This means it will be a bit lumpy in texture - but more pleasing this way, I think!)
4. Finely chop the shallot (or quarter of onion) and de-seed and finely chop the green chilli - add these to the mixture, again just stirring in rather than mashing them in.
5. Stir in the spices and salt to taste.
6. If desired, you can chop and add a handful of fresh coriander or parsley - stir some in and sprinkle some on top as a garnish. Coriander is more authentic but parsley works well too…
You can serve the guacamole with tortilla chips or use it as an accompaniment to pretty much any Mexican dish you care to think of - I love eating it with lime rice and refried beans, but I often have some in a flour tortilla with spinach and feta for a tasty lunch. You could even spoon it into soup!

June 17, 2013

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble

Sticks of rhubarb were coming out of my bag pack, and one of my colleagues asked whether I was going to make a crumble with these. I replied that I intended on rather making a tart, to which he said ‘I don’t know why you French people always seem to want to make tarts! The best way to eat rhubarb is definitely in a crumble’. Having grown up with my grandma making rhubarb tart every Sunday as soon as it was in season, I didn’t see what was wrong with making a tart. I made it and it was delicious, but my colleague’s words were still at the back of my mind and I thought I should give a try to the crumble.

Though I will always remain faithful to the tart, I absolutely loved the crumble. It was perfect in the sense of how a perfect crumble should be: rustic, fruity, crunchy and so quintessentially British. I decided to add strawberries to the rhubarb, and when the two queen fruits of spring collide, it just feels like it was meant to be.

Have a lovely week, and if you find time to make this crumble, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Rhubarb & Strawberry Crumble – serves 6
• 600g rhubarb, cut into chunks
• 3tbsp vanilla sugar
• Zest & juice of 1 orange
• 300g strawberries, hulled and halved
• 100g spelt flour
• 70g rapadura sugar
• 100g butter, cut into small cubes
• 100g oats

1. Place the rhubarb in a saucepan, with the vanilla sugar, orange zest and juice. Cover with a lid and leave to cook for 5min. Remove the lid and leave to cook for another 5min, stirring every so often.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
3. In a bowl, mix the flour and sugar. Add the butter and rub with your fingers until it forms rough crumbs. Add the oats and mix.
4. Spread the rhubarb and strawberries in an ovenproof dish. Top with the dry ingredients. Place in the oven for 40min.
5. Serve warm or cold, as it is or with a scoop of ice cream.

Crumble Rhubarbe–Fraises – pour 6 personnes
• 600g de rhubarbe, coupée en cubes
• 3cs de sucre vanillé
• Zest et jus d’1 orange
• 300g de fraises, équeutées et coupées en deux
• 100g de farine d’épeautre
• 70g de sucre rapadura
• 100g de beurre, coupé en petits dés
• 100g de flocons d’avoine

1. Mettre la rhubarbe dans une casserole avec le sucre vanillé, zeste et jus d’orange. Mettre le couvercle et laisser cuire 5min. Retirer le couvercle et laisser cuire encore 5min, en remuant de temps en temps.
2. Préchauffer le four sur 180°C.
3. Dans un bol, mélanger la farine et le sucre. Ajouter le beurre et l’intégrer en mélangeant le tout du bout des doigts jusqu’à l’obtention de miettes grossières. Ajouter les flocons d’avoine et mélanger.
4. Répartir la rhubarbe et les fraises dans un plat à four. Ajouter les ingrédients secs sur le dessus. Mettre au four pour 40min.
5. Servir tiède ou froid avec une boule de glace.

June 06, 2013

Goat’s Cheese Quesadillas with Tomato & Basil Salsa

As I am now finishing my yoga teacher training course, I am reflecting on the past two years and what a life changing journey it has been. I was far from imagining all that I would learn along the way and the fantastic people I would meet. And there it is, the course is finished, but it also feels like the journey is just only starting. One of our course mates told us last weekend that going on the course was one of the best decisions she made in her life; it felt exactly like that for me too. I feel like a different person to who I was two years ago: I have grown and embraced the changes happening along the way.

Something that’s changed for me during the course is actually my diet. Whereas my diet used to include fairly big amounts of processed foods and refined sugars, I have discovered and learnt about whole foods and how having a healthy diet, listening to your body and its needs can make a huge difference to how one looks and feels. And I am so grateful to have adopted this in my everyday life and reconnected with nature and with my body. Another thing that I have learnt is to cook with love. Put love into what you cook and the result will be beautiful and nourishing foods for you and your family.

Today I’d like to share our recipe for quesadillas, quite a simple one, but made with goats cheese, a nice alternative to more traditional recipes using cheddar-type cheese instead. Quesadillas make for ideal finger food to share with family or friends. Place them on the table and share the love.

Goat’s Cheese Quesadillas with Tomato & Basil Salsa– serves 4
• Salt and pepper
• 1tbsp white balsamic vinegar
• 1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 4 tomatoes, cored, deseeded and cut into small cubes
• 2 sprigs basil, finely chopped
• 6 wheat or corn tortillas
• 200g hard goat’s cheese, grated
• 2 spring onions, finely chopped
• 1 green chilli, finely chopped
• 1 lime, quartered, to serve

1. Prepare the salsa: make the dressing by mixing salt, pepper, vinegar and olive oil in a bowl. Add the tomatoes and basil and mix well. Set aside.
2. Place a large frying pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, place a tortilla in the pan. Sprinkle a handful of goat’s cheese on one half of the tortilla, as well as a few spring onion and chilli slices. When the cheese starts melting, fold the tortilla in half and flip it over. Cook for another 20-30sec on the other side. Transfer the tortilla to a flat surface. Cut it in three triangles. Repeat with the rest of the tortillas until you’ve used all the ingredients.
3. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and the tomato salsa.

Quesadillas au Fromage de Chèvre et Salsa Tomates Basilic – pour 4 personnes
• Sel et poivre
• 1cs de vinaigre balsamique blanc
• 1cs d’huile d’olive vierge extra
• 4 tomates, épépinées et coupées en petits dés
• 2 branches de basilic, émincées
• 6 tortillas de blé ou de maïs
• 200g de fromage de chèvre à pâte dure, râpé
• 2 oignons nouveaux, émincés
• 1 piment vert, émincé
• 1 citron vert, coupé en quartiers

1. Préparer la salsa : préparer l’assaisonnement en mélangeant au fond d’un saladier ou bol du sel, poivre, le vinaigre et l’huile d’olive. Ajouter les tomates et le basilic et bien mélanger.
2. Faire chauffer une poêle à feu moyen. Une fois la poêle chaude, y étaler une tortilla. Sur une moitié de la tortilla, parsemer de fromage de chèvre, oignon nouveau et piment. Quand le fromage commence à fondre, plier la tortilla en deux et la retourner. Laisser cuire 20 à 30sec. Transférer sur une planche à découper. Couper en trois triangles. Répéter jusqu’à épuisement des ingrédients.
3. Servir avec quelques gouttes de jus de citron vert et la salsa aux tomates.