Round Two: Mexican Vacation on a Budget


The search for the next local TV chef continues. Round Two – cooking on a budget. Each chef was allowed $25 to create a meal for four. Since cooking on a budget is what I am great at, I decided to kick it up a level and pull out all my great stuff. 

I love to travel and when I need a beach vacation, Mexico is my number one choice. My favorite part is the endless guacamole and the super fresh ceviche. Pair this combo with some black beans and corn tortillas and you have an amazing budget friendly feast that will feed a crowd.

 

Cuban Style Black Beans:

 1/2 Pound Black Beans (soaked overnight)

1/2 C cilantro 

1/2 jalapeño pepper diced 

4 C Water

1 Cube of bullion

1/2 Copped red onion

Tsp Cumin

Tsp Salt

1 Tsp pepper

1 Tsp brown sugar 

1/2 Lime

1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar

2 Bay leaves

1/4 cup Queso Fresco Cheese 

2 Tbs EVOO

Strate by browning onions in EVOO. Next, add beans with 4 cups of water. Then, bring mixture to boil while adding everything except vinegar and bay leaves. Once a nice boil is reached, lower flame to a high simmer and give a good stir. Add bay leaves and vinegar. Let beans cook at least an hour or until the beans reach a soft consistency. If you don’t have an hour, cook the beans before hand for 30 min in boiling water, rinse and then start with the first step. Serve warm and top with Queso Fresco. 

 

Ceviche:

 

1 Pound Fish (This can be ANYTHING from shrimp, catfish or flounder.)

6 Limes

¼ Cup red onion very thinly slices and soaked in cold water (the water takes out the bite)

1 Cup plum tomatoes seeded and chopped.

1 Cup Cilantro Leaves Chopped

1 Yellow piper thinly slices

Salt and Pepper to taste

 

Ceviche is a dish that is fully cooked without heat. The fish is prepared by soaking in citrus such as lime, lemon or grapefruit juice. It’s important to use very fresh fish in order to make sure the dish is safe to eat and tastes great. In some countries, the “milk” that remains after cooking is considered a hangover remedy but I don’t recommend it.   

The first step is to marinate fish in lime juice for at least 24 hours (The bigger the pieces, the longer it will take). The fish should be fully covered by the juice so that the meat is evenly cooked.  The acid from the citrus will affect any metal it comes in contact with so make sure to use a glass or plastic bowl. After the fish has soaked for 24 hours in the fridge, drain off all remaining liquid. Finally, add sliced peppers, onions, tomatoes, salt, pepper and cilantro. Stir everything gently and serve cold. 

This dish promises to impress a crowd and is a great option for some inexpensive entertaining. Just serve with tortillas and you have great guilt free fish tacos.

 

Guacamole:

You can’t have a Mexican meal without some creamy guacamole and chips. As the guilt free foodie cutie I have added my own twist.  Give it a try!

Dip-

3 Ripe Avocados (dark in color and soft to the touch)

1 lime

1 C cilantro leaves chopped

¼ red onion chopped

½ jalapeño seeded and chopped  

1 -2 plum tomatoes seeded and chopped (depends on if you like your guacamole chunky or creamy)

½ tbs garlic powder

½ tbs pepper

1 tsp salt

Chips –

2 Plantains (slice thin with a mandolin or the side of a box grater)

1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs salt 

2 Tsp brown sugar

Slice avocados in half and remove pit (save both for later). Spoon out the creamy inside and mash with fork in large bowl. Add cilantro, onion, jalapeño, tomatoes and garlic to the bowl. Next, add lime juice slowly until desired consistency is reached. The amount of lime juice depends on how soft the avocados are and prevents avocados from oxidizing and becoming brown but can also make the dip runny if you overdo it. Guacamole is great served in the remaining avocado shells for a nice presentation. Also the pits can be placed in the dip to help preserve freshness when storing in the fridge.  

Making the chips is easy and a much healthier choice then tortillas. Toss the sliced plantains with oil, sugar and half the salt. Spread evenly on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 8 min. Flip chips and sprinkle remaining salt on top. Then return to oven for addition 5 minutes or until they begin to brown and become crispy.

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