Mexicant

So it’s true confession time.  Sunday’s dinner was a disaster.  No, that’s not true.  Sunday I made a lovely meal of vegan tacos- three fillings and homemade tortillas.  Ok, no wait.  That’s not completely true either.

Sunday I had a bit of a disaster.  (ok, yes that’s true).   I proved the proverb that “a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing.”

As you would have read, (or if you haven’t read yet, you can below) I did a Mexican Cooking Class over the weekend.  It was fantastic.  I loved it. The class was fantastic and I left inspired.

Those closest to me know  that for me inspiration often comes in the form of diving head first into a hobby- photography, scrapbooking, cupcake baking, clarinet playing.   So they wouldn’t be surprised that after the class I was inspired to buy a tortilla press, flat pan and masa harina flour because I just knew that making homemade tortillas was my destiny.  Well….. it’s not.

Apparently being half Belizean does not a tortilla maker make.   Or the tortilla gene may have skipped me.

It all started off well.  I came up with three delicious, healthy and vegan taco fillings- roasted purple sweet potato with pan fried kale, dry roasted tomato and garlic; roasted eggplant with sautéed Portobello mushroom; and sautéed corn and chili and garlic with zucchini (for me).  I also made guacamole with roasted garlic, tomato, and chili.  It was super yummy! 

So the fillings were all going ok.  It was time to tackle the tortillas.

I knew something was wrong right away.  I think the part of the class where he mixed the dough must have been the part that I was distracted by tasting the yummy roasted tomato salsa.

Sidenote/Salsa Disclaimer—my mother blessed me (or cursed me) with two food related passions—chips and salsa and ice cream.   If you put chips and salsa in front of us, it’s like watching a demonstration of two Dyson vacuum cleaners.  We just inhale it!  And ice cream, well, my favourite food is ice cream and I can only blame it on someone eating ice cream every day she was pregnant…. 

Anyway, obviously I was distracted by salsa when he was measuring the tortilla mix, because I wasn’t sure of the proportions.  The measurements on the masa harina pack were for 20 tortillas (way too many) and even my Mexican cookbook was to make 12 to 16.  I tried to half it but I could tell it wasn’t right.  So I added more masa and then more water and then more masa and then before I knew it I was in over my head and not quite sure of what I was doing.

Then I made things worse by involving Barbie. Barbie is my pink Kitchen Aid stand mixer that I was given for my 30th birthday- I use her for lots of things, but perhaps this shouldn’t have been one of them.  Barbie does wonders for many batters and doughs, however maybe tortillas should be done the old fashioned way with hands and moosh.

Of course it’s easy to look back and play Monday morning quarterback—just ask the Denver Broncos, but at the time when you’re down it’s hard to tell what went wrong and how to fix it.  Unlike the Broncos, I could have just thrown out the mix and started again- which would have been smarter.  But I didn’t.    I kept going.

In my defence, I did make 3 or even 4 ones that were ok.  But they took forever and it was frustrating and I let my frustrations get to me.   The worse the tortillas were, the more flustered I got.  The Runner walked into the kitchen to check on my progress—I was about 2 hours into making a 30 minute dinner—and he had his hungry face on.  And I nearly burst into tears with frustration.  I explained to him what was supposed to happen to make tortillas- ball, press, peel, cook.  And he looked at the 3 sad finished tortillas, and I couldn’t explain where I went wrong.   It seemed so simple and straightforward in Saturday’s class but in my own kitchen, making my own dinner.  It was not simple.  It was awful.  It was frustrating.  It was a disaster.

Although I’m not one to admit defeat, in this case I did.  And it wasn’t a pretty sight.  Covered in flour, dishevelled, sweaty, and defeated I left the house in a huff.  Thankfully, it’s my policy to never live more than two blocks from a Mexican Restaurant, because that’s where I wound up on Sunday afternoon.  Ordering two orders of tortillas which tasted a lot like humble pie and defeat.

I’m not defeated, as The Runner and The Mom reminded me that some things require practice.  The Runner did say that the tortillas were “tasty” and “rustic” which is a good sign—although I’m not sure if he was talking about the homemade ones or the store bought ones!!!  I’ll try again—at least until I use up the masa harina—after that, does anyone want to buy a tortilla press?

A Typical Saturday- He Biked, I Learned to Cook Mexican!

Happy February!

Today was a fantastic way to start the month.  The Runner did a VO2 Max/Lactate Threshold test and is busy analysing his results.  He is exceptionally pleased with them and now is just trying to work out how to use them to improve his training.  Husky Long Course is a mere three weeks away and this year he’s either going to get an awesome time or possibly die trying.  He’s had three bad races there in the past three years he’s done the race– a torn Achilles the first year, a crash and a lost watch the second year, and bad cramping last year.  This year we’re hoping the curse has somehow been lifted!

While he was out testing, I was at a Mexican Cooking Class at The Essential Ingredient in Rozelle.  It was a Christmas present from The Runner and it was fantastic!  

First of all, I love that shop, it’s basically a cook’s paradise in Sydney.  They have lots of ingredients and cooking equipment and Le Creuset pots, and Kitchen Aid mixers and all sorts of other kitchen related things.  From obscure ingredients to obscure equipment, if you need it to cook with, they probably have it.

Secondly, the chef, Travis Harvey, who led the class was absolutely fantastic.  He’s just gotten back from filming an SBS series on Mexican Cooking with Peter Kuruvita and his passion and knowledge of Mexican cooking was fantastic!  He was really helpful and gave just the right amount of help but also let us play and cook ourselves.  The food was TO DIE FOR.  Literally, some of the best Mexican food I’ve had in a very long time.  I’m not a fish person, but the fish tacos we made were the best ones I have ever had in my entire life.  We made Baja Beer Battered Fish Tacos and the recipe is here on the SBS website along with 10 of his other Mexican recipes which are related to the show which are on the web as well.  

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Actually, everything we made in our class was tasty.  We made Ceviche with the Snapper that we learned to fillet in class– actually I watched other people learn, I have a thing with dead, whole fish.  (It’s their creepy, dead eyes and the thought of their scaly skin…I shudder just thinking about it).   We served it with tortilla chips and they were beautiful and tasty.

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Also, we made mini spit roast pork tacos with pineapple which were yum!  We learned how to make corn and flour tortillas and various salsas as well.Image

 

I was responsible for making two types of Chicken Tamales- one with salsa verde in banana leaves and the other with salsa roja in corn husks.  And they were fabulous!!!

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Best of all, everything we made were things that I could easily make again.  In fact, I bought a tortilla press, black beans and masa harina and tomorrow I’m going to make vegan tacos from scratch!  I think it should be pretty easy but of course, no cheese or sour cream to go with them but hopefully with guacamole, pico de gallo, and maybe even salsa verde we won’t even care!!

If you’re in Sydney, I highly recommend taking one of his classes-  I would do one again just to eat the delicious food!  You can book for yourself here.