Mexican month on The Spice Trail

Last month on The Spice Trail I called for your favourite Mexican recipes and boy, did you lot rise to the challenge? The following round-up is a sensational celebration of Mexican cuisine, demonstrating just how diverse and exciting this nation’s food really is.

So let’s get this party started, shall we?

mex1 CollageHow about starting our Mexican feast with a few nibbles? Pridhi from Drizzling Delicacies has brought these Easy Homemade Nacho Chips (1) to the party, flavoured with roasted cumin and totally irresistible. And how about some dips to accompany those nachos? Louisa from Eat Your Veg has made a super easy, super healthy Holy Moly Guacamole! (2), while Nasifriet offers us her Guacomole with a Twist (3) – the twist coming in the form of grey shrimps and tiger prawns.

Grab some crusty bread for this colourful Mexican Oil Dip (4) from Sarah at The Garden Deli, featuring lots of Mexican-inspired flavours such as coriander, chillies, lime and tomato. I think Sarah’s spicy oil would be a wonderful accompaniment to this homemade Queso Fresca (5) from Lapin d’Or and More, which is also perfect served with pasta.

If there’s any bread or nachos left, you can use them to scoop up some of my very messy but incredibly moreish Queso Fundido (6), a Mexican version of fondue topped with spicy chorizo and a fun addition to any gathering.

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Time to clear away the nibbles and get properly stuck into our Mexican menu. First up is my Black Bean Soup & Chilli Baked Feta (7), a dark and deeply smoky soup which is a perfect match for the spicy, tangy feta cheese.

We’ve a couple of sweet potato dishes next. I love the look of this vibrant Sweet Potato Salsa (8) from Nasifriet, which sounds so zingy and refreshing, and then how about these marvellously vegetastic Sweet Potato, Zucchini and Olive Quesadillas (9) from Johanna at Green Gourmet Giraffe, in which the sweet potato becomes a replacement for cheese.

Similar to cheese-less quesadillas are these Cheater Tlacoyos with Nopales (Cactus) (10) from Janet at The Taste Space. Never having eaten cactus, I am really rather intrigued by these, which are served with a generous helping of refried beans – which I have eaten before and adore.

Janice from Farmersgirl Kitchen brings her take on a Mexican ‘Tortilla’ Bake (11) to our table, which looks so tasty and just the dish for using up a fridgeful of eggs and veggies.

How about following that up with a serving of these Bean Enchiladas (12) from My Kitchen Odyssey, made with blackbeans, mushrooms, chilli, garlic and of course lots of Mexican spice?

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Linsy from Home Cook Food shows us how to make her versatile Home Made Red Enchiladas Sauce with Roasted Tomatoes (13) next, which as well as being great in enchiladas is also ideal for chimichanga or any other Mexican dish requiring a tomato sauce. Indeed how about trying it in Linsy’s tasty Soy Chorizo and Vegetables Enchiladas (14)?

These Vegan Mexican Tamale Pies (15) from Shaheen at Allotment 2 Kitchen look just so tempting. I really wish she lived closer to me so I could sample some direct from her stall. She describes them as a Mexican version of shepherd’s pie, made from soy mincemeat and beans, topped off with a creamy cornmeal topping. Don’t they sound good?

Holy Mole! We have another stunning vegetarian dish next, this time from Sarah at The Fig Tree, whose Vegetable, Lentil and Bean Mole (16) features a lovely homemade Mexican spice mix as well as a whole host of virtuous veggies and even chocolate. A perfect meatless Monday meal, I reckon.

Beans feature a lot in Mexican cookery and there are no less than 15 different kinds in this Vegetarian Chilli (17) from Linsy at Home Cook Food. She describes it as a thick soup and is good served with quesadillas, corn cakes or  corn bread. I like the way she’s served it with a generous dollop of guacamole on top.

Another chilli next but this time a meaty Chilli con Carne (18) from Julie’s Family Kitchen, another entry to use that classic Mexican addition of dark chocolate. Now doesn’t that look like a satisfying bowlful?

mex4 CollageElle from What the Cook also brings a chilli to our Mexican table but this time it’s a Healthy But Hearty Chilli Con Carne (19), which she says not only tastes divine but also does you a bit of good too. It looks and sounds full of flavour and I like the idea of topping it with both fresh parsley and mint – a combination I haven’t tried before.

Not surprisingly, Martin from Spurs Cook has brought a football theme to our Mexican party with his Chicken Villa-jitas (20) – get it? To be honest, I don’t really understand the football references (I’m more of a rugby girl myself), but I do like the look of Martin’s tasty fajitas, flavoured with lots of cumin, paprika and coriander and I know they’d be a big hit with my kids too.

Dark chocolate with game is a splendid combination, as seen here in this Partridge with Chilli and Chocolate Sauce (21) from Solange at Pebble Soup, which she adapated from a Sophie Grigson recipe to suit her French guests. There’s some great advice about not covering the meat entirely with the chocolate sauce, otherwise it looks rather like… well, you’ll need to read that over on Solange’s blog…

Next up we have some Moreish Mexican Fish Tortillas (22) from Elle at What the Cook. The fish in question is haddock, which has been marinated in a whole host of gorgeous Mexican spices along with both grapefruit and lime juice – doesn’t that sound fantastic?

Finally it’s time to end our Mexican party with a little sweet something, or two. Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog brings us these Mexican Smoked Chilli Energy Bars (23). Perhaps they’re really a little two healthy for a pudding, filled with oats, nuts and dried fruit as well as  some of Gran Luchito’s excellent smoked chilli honey, and possibly more appropriate for breakfast, but I know I could happily tuck into one of these any time of the day.

This Mexican Spiced Chocolate Orange Cake (24) from Cakes From Kim definitely fits the pudding bill though, with its decadent three tiers of truffle-like chocolate cake flavoured with orange and cinnamon. I love the pretty skull decorations too, inspired by the Mexican Dia de los Muertos. What a perfect way to finish off our Mexican feast.

gran luchito gift set

And the winner is…

I think you’ll agree, we received a fantastic range of Mexican-themed recipes for this month’s Spice Trail challenge. But as usual there can only be one winner. So I have great pleasure in handing over to Alex from Gran Luchito to make that all important announcement…

“The overall winner has to be the Moreish Mexican Fish Tortillas from What the Cook. I loved the look of this dish. I can quite easily imagine stuffing my face with these on a beach in Mexico. I like the sound of the various ingredients going into the marinade, but it’s also a recipe which doesn’t seem to require too much messing around. Perfect. Congratulations to Elle at What the Cook who wins a box set of Gran Luchito chilli paste, mayo and honey.”

In acknowledgement of so many fine recipes, Alex has also nominated four more entries to receive runners-up prizes of a jar of chilli paste:

Well done everyone! We’ll get your Gran Luchito goodies out to you in the post as soon as you email me your addresses. Enjoy!

And thanks to everyone that took part in our glorious celebration of Mexican cookery. May’s Spice Trail is being hosted by Solange over at Pebble Soup and the theme this month is Vanilla. I can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with featuring this veritable queen of spices.

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Destination Mexico on The Spice Trail

mexican month

This month’s Spice Trail is a little bit different. Instead of celebrating an individual spice, we are celebrating a specific cuisine, and that cuisine is Mexican.

Mexican cookery is well known for its big flavours and exciting use of fresh, vibrant ingredients and bold spices like chilli, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. The basic staple ingredients of this South American country might be beans, corn and peppers but the food of Mexico is as complex and varied as any of the world’s greatest cuisines. From our old favourite chilli con carne and the classic mole sauce to sensational street foods and hearty, slow-cooked soups and stews.

If you love Mexican food as much as I do, then this month’s challenge is the challenge for you. I wait with eager anticipation to see what delights you bring to our Mexican table.

Win a Gran Luchito gift set

gran luchito gift set

If the sheer joy of sharing your passion for Mexican food wasn’t enough to entice you, I also have a brilliant prize for this month’s winner from the generous folk at Gran Luchito, who happen to know a thing or two about authentic Mexican food.

Gran Luchito offer a taste of Oaxaca rarely tasted outside of Mexico, a smoky deep flavour from the back country hills of the Mixes. Their range includes a smoked chilli paste, a smoked chilli mayo and a smoked chilli honey. One lucky winner, chosen by a guest judge from Gran Luchito, will receive a gift set containing samples of each of these delicious products.

How to enter The Spice Trail

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  • Display the The Spice Trail badge (above and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  • Up to three recipe links accepted per blogger, so long as they each one has a Mexican theme and features at least one spice.
  • Feel free to link up recipe posts from your archive, but please add the information about this challenge to the post and The Spice Trail badge.
  • Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Monday 28 April 2014.
  • If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see.
  • As entries come in, links to these will be added to the bottom of this page.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a gift set from Gran Luchito.
  • The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries.
  • Entries from bloggers all around the world are accepted, but unfortunately the prize can only be shipped to a UK address.
  • All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board.

I’m really looking forward to seeing your Mexican dishes. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

And thanks to everyone who entered March’s ginger challenge – I’ll be posting the recipe round-up and winner announcement very soon.

April’s entries

  1. Chicken Villa-jitas from Spurs Cook
  2. Easy Homemade Nacho Chips from Drizzling Delicacies
  3. Bean Enchiladas from My Kitchen Odyssey
  4. Sweet Potato, Zucchini and Olive Quesadillas from Green Gourmet Giraffe
  5. Home Made Red Enchiladas Sauce with Roasted Tomatoes from Home Cook Food
  6. Soy Chorizo and Vegetables Enchiladas from Home Cook Food
  7. 15 Beans Vegetarian Chili from Home Cook Food
  8. Holy Mole! from The Fig Tree
  9. Partridge with Chilli and Chocolate Sauce from Pebble Soup
  10. Guacomole with a Twist for the Umpteenth Time from Nasifriet
  11. Cheater Tlacoyos with Nopales (Cactus) from The Taste Space
  12. Mexican Spiced Chocolate Orange Cake from Cakes From Kim
  13. Chilli con Carne from Julie’s Family Kitchen
  14. Vegan Mexican Tamale Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  15. Black Bean Soup & Chilli Baked Feta from Bangers & Mash
  16. Sweet Potato Salsa from Nasifriet
  17. Mexican Smoked Chilli Energy Bars from Chocolate Log Blog
  18. Mexican ‘Tortilla’ Bake from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  19. Queso Fundido from Bangers & Mash
  20. Mexican Oil Dip from The Garden Deli
  21. Moreish Mexican Fish Tortillas from What the Cook
  22. Healthy But Hearty Chilli Con Carne from What the Cook
  23. Queso Fresca from Lapin d’Or and More
  24. Holy Moly Guacamole! from Eat Your Veg

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Thumbs up for…

Here’s a round-up of some of the tasty titbits I’ve been sent recently and marvellous morsels I’ve discovered for myself.

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Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling

I’m prone to tutting when we’re down our local and my husband buys a bag of pork scratchings. While I might surreptitiously steal one or two, they’re not usually the most pleasant experience – unless munching on deep-fried hunks of grease is your thing. However the pork crackling from Mr Trotter’s is in quite a different league and unlike anything you’d find on offer in your average pub.

Mr Trotter’s ‘revolutionary’ British pork snack was the brainchild of food writer Tom Parker Bowles, Great British Menu judge Matthew Fort, and Cotswold farmer Rupert Ponsonby. Unlike most scratchings made from imported Danish rind, it is cooked from 100% British pork, and uses no added MSG. Mr Trotter’s are triple-cooked for a fantastic crunch, and seasoned with natural yeast and sea salt. The Original variety is pretty good, but it’s the Jalapeno Chilli version that really floated my boat and I reckon it’s the perfect accompaniment to a pint of lager. Not too greasy, they’re light and crunchy, and very, very tasty. Not the healthiest snack in the world either but ruddy lovely nonetheless.

Gran Luchito Honey

gran luchito honey

You might have gathered I’m something of a chilli-head and so I was rather intrigued and quite excited to discover this pot of Gran Luchito Honey flavoured with smoked Mexican chillies in my latest recipe box from Kitchen Nomad.

I only had a small pot and all of it was used in a Chilli Honey Crumble, which was absolutely delicious, but I do wish I had some more as I think it would be wonderful simply spread on hot buttered toast. Fellow blogger Kelly Anderson mentioned recently on Instagram that she likes hers “drizzled over chocolate croissants” and I can imagine that working too.

It has a heavenly smoky sweet flavour, spiked with occasional bursts of intense chilli heat.

I must get my hands on more of this stuff. And soon.

Tomato Paste Collage

Olive Branch – Sun Dried Tomato Paste

I received a pot of this sun dried tomato paste from Olive Branch in my goody bag at Food Bloggers Connect back in the summer. Featuring sun dried tomatoes mixed with garlic, fresh basil and oregano, the paste packs a tasty punch and is bursting with flavour. We’ve been enjoying it smeared on bruschetta and it’s the perfect way to create a simple pasta bake, with the addition of black olives and mozzarella, for a quick and easy supper.

French’s & Frank’s RedHot recipe books

franks

While I’ve yet to buy a single Christmas present (and I plan to spend as little as I can this year by making as many gifts as possible), I think these neat little cookbooks would make fun stocking fillers for the fellow foodie in your life.

I haven’t tried the BBQ sauce, but I am rather partial to Frank’s RedHot sauce and, although French’s Classic Yellow Mustard isn’t a patch on our own very fine English mustard, it is a must when you’re enjoying American-style hot dogs.

Available from newsagents and most supermarkets, these pocket-sized cookbooks are just £2.99 each and provide a wide range of recipe ideas based on these three sauce brands. The recipes are pretty simple and while they won’t revolutionise your cooking, there are some good ideas for spicing up everyday meals. In particular I’m looking forward to trying Frank’s spicy cheese toasts and French’s easy peasy ribs.

Cool Chile Co – Diced Chile Ancho

Cool chile co - chile ancho

I think I might be addicted to this ancho chilli from the Cool Chile Co. It is a fairly mild chilli but one that gives a full-flavoured, smoky and fruity intensity to your Mexican dishes.

Apparently it’s an indispensable ingredient in Mole Poblano (a rich chilli, nut and cocoa sauce), although I’ve been using it in black bean soup and rajas tacos, two more recipes from this month’s Mexican Kitchen Nomad box.

But to be honest I think I could eat practically any dish if it comes with a handful of toasted ancho chillies sprinkled on top!

Disclosure: I was sent Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling and French’s & Frank’s Red Hot recipe books for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.