Tuesday 27 September 2016

A taste of Mexico with an Irish twist

Mexican with an Irish twist, Lily Ramirez-Foran has the perfect sweet and savoury fusion dishes to get you hot under the collar - in a delicious way

Published 03/04/2016 | 02:30

Chilli and tequila Chocolate torte
Chilli and tequila Chocolate torte
Mexican Prawn Cocktail
Mexican Entomatadas
Chef Lily Ramirez Foran

Lily Ramirez-Foran is the author of the popular Mexican Food blog A Mexican Cook. She has been living in Ireland for over 16 years with her Irish husband and business partner, Alan Foran. Together, they run Ireland's first Mexican boutique grocer and cookery school, Picado Mexican in Dublin's Portobello (picadomexican.com).

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Lily, who has appeared on RTÉ's Today Show and has given cookery demonstrations at the likes of Electric Picnic, passionately believes in the Slow Food ethos of good, clean and fair food.

Currently working on her first cookery book, this month she will be giving a Mexican masterclass at the West Waterford Festival of Food.

This prawn cocktail recipe is a favourite of my Irish family. It's fresh and very easy to make. The secret is in the sauce, which has a small amount of booze. Don't mock it until you try it. It's delicious!

Mexican prawn cocktail

Serves 4

You will need

For the sauce:

200ml ketchup

2tbsp lemonade such as 7-Up

1tbsp tequila

1tbsp water

½ tsp hot sauce

For the rest:

400g king prawns, cooked and peeled

65g onion, finely chopped

5g fresh jalapeno chilli, finely chopped

Juice of 1 lime

200g tomatoes, finely chopped

2 ripe avocados, peeled and cut into small cubes

Method

Put the prawns, onions, chilli, lime juice and the tomatoes in a large serving bowl. Mix well and set aside while you make the sauce.

In a jug, put the ketchup, the 7-Up, tequila and water and mix well to have a thin but not runny sauce. Follow by adding the hot sauce and combine well.

Pour the boozy ketchup over the prawns and mix well. Follow by gently folding in the avocado cubes.

Chill until ready to eat. Serve this cocktail with home-made tortilla chips and watch it disappear in seconds.

Mexican entomatadas

This is one of my favourite mid-week dinners. Super easy and fast to make, plus really tasty. It's vegetarian-friendly and apart from your corn tortillas, you're bound to have everything else in the fridge already. Great for a meat-free day.

Serves 3

You will need

For the sauce:

6 medium size tomatoes, whole

1 garlic clove, peeled

1 fresh red chilli, whole

¼ cup hot water, from kettle

½ vegetable stock cube

1tbs olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

Salt to taste

For the filling:

250g feta cheese, crumbled

½ small onion, finely chopped

For the rest:

¼ cup vegetable oil approx

12 corn tortillas

Method

Put the tomatoes, garlic, chilli, water and vegetable stock cube in a blender or food processor and liquidise/blitz until you have a smooth sauce.

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a non-stick pan, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Pour the liquidised sauce and cook at medium heat, stirring occasionally until the tomato sauce has changed to a deeper colour and reduced and thickened a little, approximately 10 minutes. Season with salt and set aside. While the sauce is cooking, start making your filling.

Crumble the feta cheese into a bowl and mix it with the chopped onion. This will make a lovely vegetarian filling. Set aside.

Heat half the vegetable oil in a small, non-stick pan at medium to high heat. Drop a corn tortilla into the hot oil for about 15 seconds. Using a spatula, quickly, but gently turn it to the other side for another 15 seconds. Don't leave it too long or the tortilla will go crispy and it will be impossible to roll. What you are trying to do here is to heat the tortilla and make it flexible enough for rolling.

Lift the tortilla from the pan and gently shake any excess oil. Repeat this step, topping up the oil every now and then, until all your corn tortillas are heated making sure to overlap them in the plate to keep them warm.

I recommend you assemble the entomatadas on the plate you're going to serve them. Use warm plates. Take one of the tortillas and put some of the cheese filling in it. Carefully roll the tortilla to form a taco in the shape of a cigar. Repeat this until you have four cheese tacos on each plate.

Pour a generous amount of warm red salsa over the rolls. Be very generous with the sauce. Sprinkle any leftover of cheese filling on top of them.

Serve your entomatadas as soon as they're ready with a side of warmed refried beans and some some shredded iceberg lettuce.

Lily Ramirez-Foran joins Javier Garduno, creator of El Sombrero sauces, for a Mexican masterclass as part of The Cutting Edge of Cooking Demo in Waterford's Town Hall on Sunday April 17 at 2pm. Tickets are €20, visit westwaterfordfestivaloffood.com for details.

This recipe was conceived out of pure greed for something decadent and tasty. The torte is delicious, and if you can get Ancho chilli powder already made, you save a good 15 minutes from preparation time. Having said so, I find making my own Ancho powder quite easy and any leftovers can be stored in the cupboard for up to three months.

Chilli and tequila chocolate torte

Serves a party

You will need

2 dried Ancho chillies (20g)

200g dark chocolate, 70pc cocoa solids

200g butter, plus extra for greasing

Cocoa powder for dusting

4 eggs, room temperature

150g caster sugar

60g ground almonds

20g wheat flour

Pinch of sea salt

2 tablespoons tequila

Method

Prepare a round 23cm cake tin by buttering the bottom and sides and dusting it all with cocoa powder instead of flour. This will ensure your torte to be completely dark when it comes out of the tin. Preheat the oven at 170˚C.

Remove the stems and seeds out of the Ancho chillies. Gently toast the chillies on a hot skillet or pan at medium heat until they get slightly hard or crispy (takes about 5 minutes). Make sure you turn the chillies every few seconds to avoid burning them. Dried chillies are very easy to burn, which makes them bitter and not good for use.

Take the chillies off the heat and let them cool down for a couple of minutes. Pass them through a spice grinder or blitz them in your food processor or blender until they become a fine, dark powder. Set aside.

Melt the chocolate, butter and 4 tablespoons of the Ancho chilli powder you just made by placing them in a glass bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Make sure the water does not touch the bowl or your chocolate will split. Use a spatula or a small whisk to combine all ingredients as they melt. Once ready, remove the bowl from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly.

Once the spicy, buttery chocolate mixture has cooled down a little, stir in the eggs one at a time, making sure you incorporate each egg well, before adding the next one. Follow the last egg by adding in the sugar, almonds, flour, salt and tequila. Mix well.

Pour the chocolaty mixture into the prepared tin and baked in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the torte is firm. Take it out of the oven, let it rest for 5 minutes and then take it out of the tin and let it cool down completely on a wire rack.

Serve with some berries, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Keeps well for up to three days, but as the torte ages, the chilli flavour dulls and the tequila taste matures. It's truly delicious.

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