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.

mex2 Collage

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?

mex3 Collage

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.

spice trail badge long

Black bean soup and chilli baked feta

baked feta with black bean soup

Sadly I’ve never been to Mexico but it’s right up there near the top of my bucket list. When I make it there, this is the kind of food I picture myself eating, washed down of course with a bottle of ice cold cerveza.

This black bean soup and chilli baked feta were two of the recipes I discovered through Kitchen Nomad, which unfortunately is no longer operating. I really rather liked this food box scheme, where each month ingredients from another mystery location would arrive on your doorstep along with recipe cards created by a well-known chef.

Thomasina Miers provided the recipes for the Mexican month and these two dishes were our favourites, although my husband and I enjoyed them sin niños as the chilli would undoubtedly have proven a little two much for them both, even with their adventurous palates.

The baked cheese should really feature a Mexican queso fresco but Miers recommends feta as a good alternative for this classic dish. The feta tastes amazing melted into the olive oil and is brought alive by the flavours of garlic, lime, chilli and oregano.

The black bean soup is sumptuously comforting, with a subtle and smoky warmth from the chipotle and ancho chillies, and it tastes extremely good with a dollop of soured cream and some of the chilli baked feta on top. Comer con gusto!

chilli baked feta

Chilli baked feta

Serves 6

500g feta cheese
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
half tsp dried oregano
10 sprigs fresh thyme
2 chillies de arbol, chopped
juice and zest of 1 lime
120ml extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 180 C / gas mark 4.

Drain and slice the feta and place in an earthenware dish large enough to take the cheese in a single layer.

Sprinkle the garlic, herbs and chillies over the top of the feta, together with the lime juice and zest. Then pour over the olive oil.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until the cheese is soft and squishy and smelling heavenly. Serve with crusty bread and black bean soup.

black bean soup

Black bean soup

Serves 6

25g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
half an onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 tsp chipotle sauce
500g tin cooked black beans
salt and pepper
1 litre vegetable stock
juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp ancho chillies, crumbled
small bunch of coriander,  chopped
150ml sour cream

Heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and when it starts to foam add the onion and herbs. Sweat gently for 10 minutes until the onion is soft.

Add the tomatoes,  garlic and chipotle sauce and cook gently for 5 minutes before adding the black beans. Cook for a few minutes before adding the stock and lime juice. Then simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes.

When cooked, whiz it up with a stick blender. Don’t go at it for too long as you want this soup to have a bit of texture.

In a small frying pan, dry roast the ancho chillies for a few minutes until they start to smoke and then remove from the heat.

Pour the soup into six warmed bowls and scatter over a little of your chilli baked feta with some chopped coriander, crumbled ancho chillies and a spoonful of soured cream.

cooking with herbsspice trail badge square

I’m entering these dishes into my Spice Trail challenge, which this month is heading to Mexico in search of delicious delights, and also into Cooking With Herbs hosted by Karen at Lavender & Lovage as they feature fresh coriander and dried oregano.

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

spice trail badge square

  • 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

spice trail badge long

The Spice Trail: a new monthly event for food bloggers

spice trail badge long

Celebrate cooking with spices and win a Mexican recipe box

This month a new challenge comes to Bangers & Mash: The Spice Trail – a monthly food bloggers’ event, showcasing dishes from all around the world that celebrate cooking with spices. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m ever so slightly partial to cooking with spices myself. Being a family cook with two daughters (aged five and eight), some people are surprised at how much spice features in my food and I’m often asked how I persuade my children to eat spicy food or whether I have to prepare them separate meals in order to satisfy my personal spice cravings. Thankfully my girls are pretty adventurous most of the time. They were introduced to spices when I was weaning them onto solid foods, and possibly even earlier – when they were in the womb. (Both babies were overdue and I consumed an awful lot of spicy curries in those final days of pregnancy hoping to bring on labour!) Jess and Mia might not always be up for hotter, pungent spices but they’re more than happy to tuck into foods flavoured with spices like coriander, cumin, paprika, cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon – the list goes on. Family food doesn’t have to be bland food. So through this new challenge, I plan to offer you some of the beautifully spiced foods I like to feed my family – and I hope you will join in and share your favourite spicy foods too. Every month there will be a different theme; sometimes a specific spice, other times a particular world cuisine or type of food.

November’s challenge: cooking with chillies

To launch The Spice Trail, our first month’s theme is Cooking with Chillies and I’m really excited to see what delicious chilli recipes you have up your sleeves. My husband and I are both self-confessed chilli-heads and it’ll be fantastic for us to have a stock of new chilli recipes to work our way through. cooking with chilli Technically, chillies are only classed as a spice when they are dried or powdered, but I’m more than happy to accept recipes this month featuring fresh chillies as well. Quite simply, I love chilli in any form!

Win a Kitchen Nomad Mexican recipe box


Think of chilli and probably one of the first cuisines that comes to mind will be Mexican. That’s why I’ve teamed up with Kitchen Nomad for the winning prize for this first challenge, as their recipe box this month is full of the hot and spicy flavours of Mexico. The recipes in Kitchen Nomad’s Mexican box are from Thomasina Miers, an English cook, writer and television presenter. In 2005 she won the BBC cookery competition MasterChef, and she is founder of the Wahaca chain of Mexican street food restaurants. Dishes include stuffed chillies, black bean soup, rajas tacos and chilli honey crumble. I subscribe to Kitchen Nomad’s boxes and I am thoroughly enjoying working my way thorugh this month’s recipes and ingredients.

How to enter The Spice Trail

spice trail badge square Display the The Spice Trail badge (on the left and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they feature this month’s key ingredient – chilli (fresh, dried or powdered). 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 Thursday 28 November 2013. If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and The Spice Trail badge. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page. At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a fabulous Mexican-themed food box from the good people at Kitchen Nomad. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board. I can’t wait to see what dishes you come up with for The Spice Trail. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

November’s entries:

  1. Slow Cooked Mexican Style Beef from Mamacook
  2. Kinda Vietnamese Chicken Salad from Mamacook
  3. Pineapple, Cinnamon & Red Chilli Frozen Yoghurt from Deena Kakaya
  4. Sweet Lychee and Hot Chilli Dipping Sauce from Deena Kakaya
  5. Chilli Oil with an Indian Accent from Deena Kakaya
  6. Lamb, Butternut & Apricot Tagine from Eat Your Veg
  7. Homemade Harissa from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations
  8. Chilli, Ginger & Persimmon Tarts from Chocolate Log Blog
  9. Slow Cooker Coconut Lentil Curry from Recipes from a Pantry
  10. Lamb Curry from My Golden Pear
  11. Plantain Peanut Soup from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations
  12. Sicilian Style Beef Chilli Pasta from Spurs Cook

  13. Cheryl’s Paella from Bangers & Mash
  14. Chocolate & Chestnut Spiced Loaf from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  15. Vegan Spiced Parsnip Samosa Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  16. Pork Meatballs and Pasta from Searching for Spice
  17. Creamy Vegetable Soup from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations
  18. Tagliatelle with Lamb’s Liver from Bangers & Mash
  19. Smoked Mozzarella & Chipotle Cornbread from Fromage Homage
  20. Chilli con Carne from Jibber Jabber UK
  21. Luchito Honey Glazed Ham from Eat Your Veg
  22. Winter Root Soup with Spiced Tadka from Cook Eat Write

  23. Chilli Beef Pie with Spicy Potato Wedges from Bangers & Mash
  24. Joe’s Homemade Baked Beans from Eat Your Veg
  25. Chilli Con Carne with Black Bean Sauce from Reluctant Housedad’s Recipe Shed
  26. Peri Peri Sauce from My Golden Pear
  27. Scotch Bonnet Sauce from Tales from the Kitchen Shed