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Mild Zest in the Wild West …(of Wales)


So, myself and my lovely other are pretty snowed with spreading ourselves mighty thin as usual. We’ve been trying to have a West-Wales get away for an age, as it’s not looking likely that a tropical holiday is on the cards during the summer months due to the whole spreading ourselves thin thing.

So, we decide to go on a working/studying/blogging holiday to our friends; Lowri and Jason’s dreamy cottage Maes-y-ffynon in St Dogmael’s, Cardiganshire. My main aim is to get some cooking and blogging done as well as a little bit of proper work. This way, my fella gets to sample the fruits of my labour whilst writing his business plan for his MA. Perfect. Only thing is, when we get there, the weather is lush and the cottage is beyond dreamy and we just want to stay in/go out to play. Having said this, we do manage to achieve lots of stuff and manage to have fun times, relax, cook, eat, drink shandy, meet seals, fall asleep watching films, buy a Victorian house (in our heads) and walk and talk lots too. It’s incredible what a change of scenery can do for you.

The menus during the West-Walian adventure consisted of…a massive amount of healthy, fresh, herby salads, spicy zesty flavours, a hint of Mexican, Spanish, super-tropical splashes of colour and some filth (three types of cheese, creme brulee and mini cheese cakes). I also spent a lot of time with my flavour of the moment – Yotam Ottolenghi (not in the flesh unfortunately, just nuzzled in the pages of Plenty; his most recent, glorious cook book.)

So, here’s lunch menu numero uno… Quesadillas with black bean paste, red salsa, griddled sweetcorn salsa and rocket salad. This is my version of page 134 in Ottolenghi’s, Plenty. This little number takes half and hour to throw together and is a magical cacophony of flavours and colours, perfect for eating in the sunshine.

Serves 4 (or 2 if you’re on your holidays) 

8 small corn tortillas, jalapeno peppers & avocado slices to serve if you’re being healthy. If you’re being filthy – add sour cream and grated cheddar all the way. 

Black bean paste – 230g cooked black beans (canned are fine); 1 tsp ground coriander; 1/2 tsp ground cumin; 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper; 20g bunch of coriander (leaves and stalks); juice of 1 lime; 1/4 tsp rock/sea salt. 

Red Salsa – 1/2 small red onion, 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar; 3 spring onions, thinly sliced; 5 sweet medium tomatoes, diced; 1 red chilli, finely chopped (I leave the seeds in, but take them out if you are feeling mild, not wild), 20g bunch of coriander, finely chopped; juice of 1/2 lime.

Sweetcorn salsa – one corn cob, cooked and griddled, one diced red chilli, 20g bunch of coriander, juice of 1/2 lime. 

Rocket salad – 1/2 pack of rocket or a few handfuls if you’re getting it from the garden, 1/2 lemon juice and a dash of balsamic and extra virgin olive oil. 

Drain the beans, rinse and place, along with the other paste ingredients, in a food processor and pulse to a rough paste.

To make the red salsa, soak the onion in the vinegar in a large bowl for a few minutes. Add all the other ingredients and stir together. The colours here are phenomenal.

For the sweetcorn salsa, steam the corn on the cob for 2 minutes and then griddle it to make it golden and give it a char-grilled flavour. Slice down so that all of the kernels come away from the cob. Mix in the rest of the ingredients.

Toss the rocket salad together, warm the corn tortilla wraps in the oven and away you go. Fill each tortilla with whichever combo of ingredients you so wish and prepare for a fiesta in your mouth.

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