29 November 2016

5.05 Margarita Fajitas - Meat & Poultry - Low-Fuss

I'm not exactly sure how I came up with this dish, although I'm fairly certain that the name came first and everything just sort of fell into place around it. Either way, I make this a few times a year when I'm in the mood for something easy and tasty.

The "margarita" element refers to the cocktail and shouldn't be confused with the pizza (which is actually "margherita", anyway). Basically this dish has all the elements of a margarita carefully disguised with chicken, vegetables and spices.

300g chicken breast fillet, sliced into strips
1 red onion, sliced
1 red capsicum, sliced
1 yellow capsicum, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp ground  cumin seeds
30ml tequila
15ml triple sec
1/2 tsp caster sugar
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Olive oil

I guess you can use thigh fillet if you prefer, I just prefer breast (*wink*).

While I've specified a red and a yellow capsicum, this probably isn't necessary - I'm just channelling my inner Nigella again! Just use 2 of any combination of colours.

Okay, so the tequila, triple sec, sugar and lime (and to a degree, the salt) are the margarita elements. Basically, if you mix these elements together you'll end up with what is essentially the cocktail.

In relation to the olive oil, it doesn't need to be extra virgin. Just plain olive oil will do, or you can use a regular vegetable oil. You'll need approx. 1/4 cup of oil for this recipe.


1. In a bowl, mix together the chicken, garlic, cumin, coriander, sugar, lime zest, lime juice, a pinch of salt and approx. 1 tbsp of oil until everything is combined and evenly coated.

2. Heat another 1 tbsp of oil in a large frypan, then add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and fry until softened and it begins to brown. Place into a bowl and return the pan to the heat.

3. Add another tbsp of oil to the pan, then add in the capsicum and another pinch of salt. Fry until softened and the skin begins to blister, then place into the bowl with the onion and return the pan to the heat.

4. Add a final tbsp of oil to the pan, then fry the chicken until browned.

5. Return the onion and capsicum to the heat and mix together until all elements are relatively evenly dispersed.

6. Pour over the tequila and triple sec and stir until mostly evaporated. (This will take approx. 30 seconds)

7. Serve with wheat or corn tortillas and your favourite garnishes so people can assemble their own fajitas. (Usually I would just have some grated cheese, sour cream and salsa.)

Serves 4.

A video of this recipe is available at https://youtu.be/dNcA1B6HTQE.

22 November 2016

5.04 Arroz Rojo (Spanish Rice) - Rice & Pasta - Low-Fuss

The name of this dish literally translates to "red rice". It's also more commonly known as Spanish Rice or sometimes Mexican Rice.

You can eat it on its own, or top it with something tasty (such as chile con carne), or as a filling in burritos.

There's dozens of variants of this dish, and this is just my take.

2 cups of medium-grain rice
500ml vegetable stock
300ml tomato juice
1 capsicum, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
Olive oil (for frying)

I have specified medium-grain rice in an attempt to make this slightly traditional. If you can only get long-grain rice then you may need to add an additional 1 cup of water or stock as it will absorb more liquid.

If you'd prefer to use chicken stock instead of vegetable, then it shouldn't be an issue. I wouldn't recommend beef stock, however.

Recipes for this dish would usually include chopped tinned tomatoes, however I opted for juice instead as the flavour permeates more.

While I'm usually fairly disdainful of green capsicum, I really like the contrast with the red of the rice. Just use whichever colour you prefer.


1. In a saucepan, heat some oil over a medium-high heat.

2. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and fry until it begins to soften, then add in the garlic and fry for a further 30-60 seconds until it starts to brown.

3. Add the capsicum and fry until it just begins to soften, then add in the spices and fry for 30-60 seconds. (This is really just to toast the spices slightly and mellow the flavours.)

4. Pour in the tomato juice and stock and bring to a simmer.

5. Turn the heat down to low and add in the rice, stirring to ensure it doesn't clump at the bottom of the pan.

6. Cover the pan and leave to cook for 15-20 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.

7. Give it a stir and serve hot!

A video of this recipe is available at https://youtu.be/uGkpQvG2fIw.

15 November 2016

5.03 Mini Empanadas - Party Food - Intermediate

These tasty little treats are somewhere between a dumpling, a pie, and a savoury donut. If that sounds at all weird to you, please don't be dissuaded, because they're really good. (Flavourwise, anyway. Definitely not healthwise!)

2 cups of plain white flour
150g unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup water, chilled
1 egg, chilled
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Oil (for deep-frying)

Okay, so these ingredients are just to make the dough. I will include some filling options after the recipe but I'd like to stress the fact that you can fill these with practically anything. Experiment a bit!


1. Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and a generous pinch of salt into a food processor and blend until well mixed.

2. Add the butter and blend to a consistency like fine breadcrumbs.

3. In a bowl, whisk together the egg and water until combined.

4. Add the egg and water mix to the food processor and blend until everything comes together into a dough.

5. Scatter some flour on your bench, turn out the dough and knead for around 5 minutes then wrap with clingfilm and place into the refrigerator for around 20-30 minutes to chill.

6. Preheat your deepfryer oil to 180°C (350°F).

7. Cut the chilled dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each quarter out to approximately 1/2 cm thick (approx. 1/5 inch).

8. Use a round pastry cutter roughly 10cm (or 4 inches) wide to cut out circles of dough.

9. Place approx. 2 tbsp of filling into the middle of each circle. (Once again, the filling is totally by preference.)

10. Brush the edges of the dough circles with some water and press together, then fold the edges over a bit at a time to seal the empanadas. (This is called "crimping" for those of you who are new to this.)

11. Fry the empanadas in batches for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown, then drain on some paper towel before serving.

Makes 20-30.

A video of this recipe is available at https://youtu.be/soPUIKMs7do.


Okay, so I'll share 3 different fillings, none of which are too overly complicated.

Also, I will provide an alternative use for each filling in case you decide you like it and want to use it in other ways.

Filling #1: Potato, Chorizo & Cheese

Basically all in the name.

Alternate Use: Add some to a couple of eggs whisked with some sour cream for a simple and tasty frittata (basically an omelette).

1 cup potato, boiled and diced
1 cup chorizo, diced
1/2 cup manchego cheese, grated
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup coriander, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

I have specified that the potato should already be boiled and cooked, this is just to speed the process along. If you can't be bothered boiling a potato, I'm fairly sure I've seen pre-boiled tinned baby potatoes in most supermarkets (although I've never bought them!). Skins can be on or off, it's up to you.

If you can't get manchego cheese, just use cheddar.

I've listed both normal coriander AND ground coriander. Ground coriander is actually made from the dried seeds and has a completely different flavour to the fresh herb. If you want to leave out the fresh stuff then I'll understand, but please try to keep the ground coriander if you make this.


1. Place the chorizo into a cold pan, then turn on to medium high heat and fry until it releases its oil and begins to turn crispy. Transfer to a bowl and return the pan to the heat.

2. Add a splash of oil to the pan then add the potato and fry for 1-2 minutes or until the edges start to crumble.

3. Add the ground cumin and ground coriander along with a generous pinch of salt and continue to fry until the edges start to go crispy.

4. Transfer the potato to the bowl of chorizo and allow to cool.

5. Add the manchego, feta and chopped coriander to the bowl and mix until everything is evenly dispersed. The filling is now ready to use for both the empanadas and the alternative use.

Filling #2: Spicy Seafood

Once again, all in the name.

Alternative Use: Eat hot with some rice (kind of like a seafood chile con carne?).

1 cup raw fish, diced
1 cup raw peeled prawns, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1/2 cup chopped coriander
3 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp water
1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1/2 tbsp caster sugar

The type of fish doesn't really matter all that much. Use something you like if you have a preference.

Yes, yes, MORE coriander! As the season progresses you'll keep seeing it in my ingredients. I promise it's still my 2nd-most-hated herb, I just can't get away from it in this type of cuisine.


1. Add some oil to a pan over medium-high heat, add the onion along with a generous pinch of salt and fry until softened.

2. Add the garlic and continue to fry until it begins to brown.

3. Add the chilli powder and sugar and fry for 30-60 seconds. (The sugar will start to caramelise everything so keep an eye on it or it may burn.)

4. Add the tomato paste and water and stir to combine, then simmer until reduced slightly.

5. Add the fish and prawns and simmer until cooked.

6. Transfer to a bowl and mix through the coriander. Allow to cool completely if you're going to use it as a filling for your empanadas, otherwise eat it hot as per the alternative use.

Filling #3: Apple & Cinnamon

Pretty sure you'll be able to guess at least 2 of the ingredients in this!

While empanadas are traditionally savoury, I thought it was worthwhile experimenting with a sweet filling. Dust them with some icing sugar to add a little more sweetness.

Alternative Use: Add to the bottom of a lined cake tin, top with your favourite sponge cake batter, and bake as normal for an upside-down apple tea cake.

2 1/2 cups apple, diced
3 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tbsp of ground cinnamon
Zest and juice of 1 orange

For this amount of apple, it's basically 3 whole cored apples. I've never really paid attention to the type of apples I use in cooking. I know some are meant for baking, some for eating, etc. but I've never taken much notice. I think I used Pink Lady for this? And I left the skin on because, really, who can be bothered?

While this is a sweet filling, I've included salt. You won't need much of this, and it's really there to draw some of the moisture out of the apples so they soften faster.


1. Off the heat, add the orange zest and juice to a saucepan along with the sugar, cinnamon and a small pinch of salt. Stir together until combined.

2. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and cook until bubbling and reduced, stirring occasionally. (The ground cinnamon will thicken the mixture quite quickly, which is why I've recommended a lower heat than usual.)

3. Add the apple and mix until coated, then cook for approx. 5 minutes or until softened.

4. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool completely before using in either the empanadas or the alternative use.

A video of all 3 recipes is available at https://youtu.be/evlkbk_1jBs.

8 November 2016

5.02 Dips & Chips - Party Food - Intermediate

Okay, so moving on from tortillas into actual food territory, this week's recipe is actually 3 recipes (or rather 4, I suppose).

Today it's all about dips. While I completely understand that most people will buy premade dips and salsas, hopefully there's those random few (like me) who enjoy making their own.

It's worth noting that all of these dips can be used as fillings/sauces in tacos, burritos, quesadillas, or on nachos. No need to restrict yourself!


This is basically where pre-made salsas stemmed from. A bit of tomato, chilli, etc., basically all much of a muchness, right? Wrong!

While most pre-made salsas are suspiciously sweet or overpoweringly spicy, the traditional Pico de Gallo is a fresh, zingy concoction that's almost more of a salad than a dip or sauce.

3 tomatoes, diced
1 red onion, diced
2 jalapeno chillies, diced
1/2 cup coriander, chopped
Juice of 1 lime

The above ingredients are just a suggestion. If you prefer to change quantities or leave out something entirely - I'm looking at you, coriander! - then by all means go right ahead.


1. Place the onion into a bowl along with the lime juice and a generous pinch of salt. Mix together and leave for 5-10 minutes so that the acidity mellows the heat of the onion slightly.

2. Add in all the other ingredients and mix until combined.

3. Serve. (Hardly even cooking, and only slightly more difficult than opening a jar.)


I really struggled to name this salsa because I didn't want to confuse anyone who may mix it up with a normal salsa verde, but it got a bit too abstract ("verdamole", anyone?) so I thought I'd play it safe.

Basically, where as the Pico de Gallo is noticeably bright red, I wanted something predominantly green to put alongside it. Hence, one or two of the ingredients are decidedly not traditional to this type of cuisine.

1 cup tomatillos, diced
1 avocado, diced
2 spring onions, sliced
1/2 cup coriander, chopped
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp sugar
Juice of 1 lime

For those of you who are not familiar with them, tomatillos are kind of like green tomatoes. But don't confuse them with green tomatoes, because that's not actually what they are, despite the fact some people call them that. They're more closely related to gooseberries. Either way, they are quite tart and tangy and usually found in tins.

Your avocado should be ripe, but still slightly firm. It won't be easy dicing up a too-soft avocado without it getting a bit mashed, and crunchy avocadoes aren't very nice, so just make sure you get something in between.

Spring onions are milder (and greener) than the regular kind, which is why they work better in this recipe than, say, a regular white onion.

I know, I know... MORE coriander. I've mentioned before that I have a love/hate relationship with it, but when it comes to Mexican/Latin/whatever food it definitely has a place.

The sugar is there to balance out the acidity of the lime juice and tomatillos. You can leave it out if you want, but only if you're a bitter person (hehehe).


1. Place the sugar into a bowl along with the lime juice and a generous pinch of salt. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

2. Add the spring onions, stir and leave to mellow for 5-10 minutes.

3. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.

4. Serve! (Still easy... so far!)


Unlike the previous dips/salsas, this one actually requires a bit of work, because it's a double-layered dip meant to be served hot. That's right, some actual cooking involved!

I will also point out that both layers are great dips on their own if you can't be bothered making both.


1 cup kidney beans
1 cup cannellini beans
1 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

I used kidney beans and cannellini beans because they are the most widely available here in Australia. If you can get hold of pinto and/or black beans, they might be more traditional.


1. Heat some oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion along with a generous pinch of salt and fry until it begins to brown.

2. Add the garlic and fry until softened (approx. 1-2 mins).

3. Add the cumin and coriander and fry for 30-60 seconds.

4. Add the beans and continue to fry for 5 minutes or so until they begin to soften and break down.

5. Transfer the mixture to a food processor and blend until smooth.

6. Spoon into serving bowls. (TIP: Leave at least 1/3 empty for the top layer.)


200g manchego cheese, grated
200g fetta cheese, crumbled
150ml tequila
1/3 cup plain white flour
3 tbsp unsalted butter
Pickled jalapeno chillies, chopped (approx. 1/4 cup)

I find that a mix of melty and creamy cheeses get a good result, which is why I settled on manchego and fetta. By all means, choose your own combination.

I approached this the same way as I'd approach a fondue, then swapped out white wine for tequila. Because why not?

In relation to the jalapenos, I used half green and half red for aesthetic appeal.


1. Melt the butter in a pot over medium heat.

2. Add the flour and stir until absorbed and the mixture turns a light nut-brown colour.

3. Reduce the heat to low and add in the tequila, mixing to form a paste. (Be careful here as your pan may catch fire and, for once, that's NOT what I want!)

4. Add the manchego and stir until it begins to melt, then add the fetta.

5. Mix until everything melts together.

6. Turn off the heat and mix in the jalapenos.

7. Spoon over the top of the bean dip. (TIP: You'll want to serve this hot to prevent the cheese from solidifying too much. Not like BLISTERINGLY HOT, just hot enough to keep the cheese molten enough to scoop.)

Serve with corn chips. (Either make your own or just buy them.)

A video of all 3 recipes is available at https://youtu.be/xm6TAFxWVB8.

1 November 2016

5.01 Tortillas - Sides & Starters - Intermediate

Well, what better way to kick off FoodPoint Fiesta than with tortillas? These flatbreads feature prominently in most well-known Mexican dishes - such as burritos, fajitas, enchiladas, quesadillas, and even such things as tacos and nachos (when fried).

There's 2 types of Mexican tortillas, corn and wheat. This basically refers to the type of flour used as a base. In this entry, I'll be cooking both types.


Most people will be familiar with corn tortillas as the yellow coloured taco shells or the soft white varierty. These are actually the same product, except that the crispy shells are fried.

Corn tortillas are mainly used for tacos and corn chips (and anything corn-chip-related, such as nachos).

1 1/2 cups corn meal (masa)
500ml warm water
Vegetable oil, for frying
Corn meal, extra

Yep, that's really all they are, 4 simple ingredients.

As mentioned above, the colour of corn meal you use isn't important. The most widely available are white and yellow, but you can also find blue corn meal if that's your preference. It's worth noting that corn meal (also known as 'masa') is neither cornflour/cornstarch or polenta. You cannot substitute either of these for corn meal.

The extra corn meal is there in case your dough gets too soggy. Sometimes the humidity can affect the amount of liquid in the dough.


1. Place the cornmeal into a large mixing bowl, add a generous pinch of salt and mix together.

2. Pour in half of the water and mix until combined. Then add the remaining water a bit at a time until you end up with a mixture that resembles lumpy mashed potatoes. (Only add as much water as you need.)

3. Scatter some extra cornmeal onto the bench top, then pour the tortilla mixture onto the bench. Bring the dough together into a ball and knead for a few minutes until smooth. Wrap with clingfilm and place into the fridge for 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Cut the chilled dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls.

5. Either use a tortilla press according to the directions, OR (if you don't have one) place a ball of dough between 2 sheets of baking paper, flatten with the base of a heavy frypan, then use a rolling pin to roll the tortilla out to the desired thickness.

6. Repeat Step 5 until you have rolled all 12 tortillas.

7. Place a dry frypan onto a high heat. Brush one side of the tortilla with some vegetable oil, then fry in the hot pan for 30-60 seconds. Brush the other side with more oil, flip the tortilla, and fry for a further 30-60 seconds before removing from the pan.

8. Repeat Step 7 until all tortillas are cooked.

9. Either serve right away, or wrap in clingfilm and store the tortillas in the fridge or freezer until needed. (If refrigerated, use within 7 days).

Makes 12


Wheat tortillas have a softer texture than corn tortillas and can usually be rolled out to a larger, thinner size.

These would mainly be used for burritos, fajitas, enchiladas and quesadillas.

1 3/4 cups plain flour
300ml warm water
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder

A couple more ingredients than with the corn tortilla recipe, but I find this mix works best.

I have not tried this with wholemeal flour, however I suppose it would work much the same as plain white flour.


1. Place the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl along with a generous pinch of salt. Mix together until evenly dispersed.

2. Add the oil to the water and whisk until (mostly) combined. (It will start to separate as soon as you stop mixing).

3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix together until it starts to come together. 

4. Scatter some flour the bench top, then pour the dough onto the bench. Flour your hands and knead the dough for 5 to 10 minutes or until smooth and springy. (Be a bit rough with it, you're trying to develop the gluten.)

5. Allow the dough to rest for 15-20 minutes before moving on to Step 6.

6. Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Then, roll out each ball to the desided thickness and size with a rolling pin.

7. Place a dry pan over high heat and fry each tortilla for 30-60 seconds on each side. (If they start to puff up too much, just use your tongs to puncture some of the bigger bubbles.)

8. Either serve right away, or wrap in clingfilm and store the tortillas in the fridge or freezer until needed. (If refrigerated, use within 7 days).

Makes 12

A video of both recipes is available at https://youtu.be/9F2G_J4xqME.