Nopalito: A Midweek Mexican Feast and book review

What I thought was going to be a simple dessert post for my last post from Nopalito for the month has turned into a veritable feast! Our planned dinner got changed, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to cook from the book and then I got hit with a terrible headache and Aaron took over and did an awesome job. I snapped some photos of our dinner served “family” style at our dining table with some whole wheat tortillas, lime wedges, sour cream and Mexican cheese…

Chicken Tinga – we already had toastadas this month, but I was looking for a soft taco filling that would be relatively easy and flavorful and this fit the bill. We bought a $7 Costco chicken and shredded the breast meat which was mixed with tin tomatoes, a chipotle chile, onion, garlic and coriander. Aaron deemed it the nicest Mexican protein we’ve ever made, and he’s not wrong!

Toasted corn – I was looking for a corn alternative to the Mexican corn cake I normally make and this is what I came up with. We used frozen corn kernels and sour cream and crumbled feta and it totally stole the show in my opinion. It only takes 5 minutes as opposed to the hour the corn cake bakes too, which is such a time saver. It has pico de gallo stirred through it to finish it off.

Refried black beans – these were good but I wouldn’t say better than my version. It was dangerous again with the hot smoking oil and  adding the onion and beans and cooking it out. My version stews the beans for longer in stock with some onion and garlic and chilli before blending it with my immersion blender and seasoning with salt. It was still good though.

Mexican Rice – I was keen to try this compared to my version. I’m not really convinced that this is any better to be honest. In our rice cooker we put basmati rice, chopped onion, diced carrot, garlic, tomato paste and water and set it to cook. It was nice, but I thought it was lacking some spice as I normally add a green chilli and some cumin.

Pico de gallo – this was a real hit as well. It’s a simple mixed of diced tomato, jalapeno, red onion, green onion and coriander with some lime juice and salt. I loved the random punch of jalapeno that you’d get every few mouthfuls. Just enough to send your taste buds soaring.

I have been surprisingly impressed with this book over the course of the month. There are certainly a lot more recipes I’d like to try, especially the desserts and the drinks, but also things like tamales and salsas.  They all turned out well, some of the recipes were good while others were great! I’m glad we tried a different cuisine in Food52 Cookbook Club as sometimes it seems like we don’t branch out that much. It’s one of those books that I would definitely recommend checking out from the library before deciding to purchase because you might get some good ideas rather than recipes as such. That being said, I’m glad I found it for $2 on Kindle a few months ago!

To see the other posts I’ve done this month, click on the links below:


Nopalito: Chips and Guacamole

I held out as long as I could to try to get a sourdough post up this weekend but it’s just going soooo slow. I’ve had to retard the dough twice now because it’s finally reached the proper height right at bedtime, so tomorrow it should be right to be shaped and baked at last!

In the meantime, I thought I’d share my next Nopalito post for the month. It’s been a busy weekend here at Casa de la Rosas and late night simple meals have been our go to. Friday night the older boys were at Youth Group, in the madness or taxiing kids around we got the younger two Happy Meals and Aaron and I had a huge lunch at the Burns Club earlier in the day, so when we finally got home at 9:30 we were all a little hungry but nothing a good bowl of chips and guacamole couldn’t cure!

The guacamole is not dissimilar to our normal guacamole recipe, it was nice but not revolutionary (although if I’d gotten a hold of some tomatillos that all may have changed). It’s simply some onion, green onions, lime juice, avocados, jalapeno, coriander, tomatoes, and salt. The recipe made stacks of guacamole and we enjoyed it Saturday as well alongside some cheese quesadillas (or cheese crisps as we used to call them growing up). The one thing I thought it was missing was some garlic. It really makes the flavors of guacamole sing.

When we used to go out to Mexican restaurants growing up my favorite thing would be the table-side made guacamole and the freshly cooked tortilla chips. I could eat bowl after bowl of those bad boys and there is seriously nothing like them here in Canberra. In Nopalito you are given instructions for making them from scratch, but also how to fry store bought corn tortillas to turn them into chips. So since we don’t have a tortilla press, I thought we should give them a go (especially since I got a deep fryer for my birthday). It really is just a matter of getting canola oil up to temperature, cutting the tortillas into wedges and deep frying them until golden. When they come out of the deep fryer you pat them dry on paper towels and then sprinkle them generously with salt. These were certainly the closest I’ve come to recreating that memory of chips and guacamole but it’s still not quite right. It may come to making the tortillas from scratch if I can find myself a tortilla press. Yes, I need all the gadgets.

The last part of this month is going to be insanely busy so thinking of what I might make next from this book has been challenging, given I haven’t been organized enough to go hunting for some of the more unusual ingredients (chili varieties, tomatillos and corn husks come to mind). I’ll likely reserve my last Nopalito post for some of the desserts as they look like my kind of fast baking. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good Mexican wedding cookie?!!

Nopalito: Tostadas de Picadillo and Frijoles Pinquitos Refritos

Having grown up in Arizona of course Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines so I am super excited that Food52 Cookbook Club is going through Nopalito by Gonzalo Guzmán and Stacy Adimando this month.

The first recipe (well two) that I thought I’d tackle is the Tostadas de Picadillo (otherwise known as Ground Beef Tostadas) with Refried Pinto Beans (Frijoles Pinquitos Refritos).

This tostada consists of a corn tortilla (which I bought from Woolies – I only found white ones so that’s what we used) that has been made crispy (we did this on our electric skillet but the book recommends frying in oil or baking), smeered with refried bean, then topped with a ground beef mixture and the side fixings (we’ve used lettuce, red onion, coriander, Mexican cheese, sour cream and lime juice).

The ground beef mixture (picadillo) is made by frying off some beef mince that has been generously salted, then cooking with onions, jalapenos, oregano, cumin, tomato paste and chilli powder. Then you add a tin of diced tomatoes and cook the mixture for 20 minutes. Finally you add some diced potato and shredded carrots and cook for a further 20 minutes until the vegetables have cooked.

The picadillo was really yummy, and I could see this being used for more than just tostadas, it would be great on nachos or tacos too. It was relatively easy, but I was suprised by the long cook time and kinda got caught out in the moment and had to come up with a quick dinner for our eldest who had a performance he had to be at well before we were finished cooking. Whoops!

The refried pinto beans were super easy. We halved the recipe because there was no need for 6 cups of beans for this meal, so we used 2 cans of pinto beans, draining one but keeping the liquid in the other. We warmed these up together and put them in a saucepan of hot oil for a couple minutes with some oregano and onion, then once they were cooked we blitzed them with our new stick blender. I thought this recipe was pretty good but was lacking in seasoning and I would definitely add salt next time. They also turned out paler than I imagined they’d be, not sure if that is the type of pinto beans we get here in Australia or if I needed to cook them longer or in a different oil. Normally I use some pinto and some black beans in my version, so it may just be what I’m used to.

Overall I was pretty happy with our first effort and I look forward to exploring this book a bit more over the next few weeks.