The wonderful flavours of Mexican cuisine lend themselves so readily to summer. The zing of salsa, the light crunch of cornflour tortillas and the crispness of fresh vegetables, the smooth green of avocados combined with spicy cooked meats all say "fiesta en el sol."
And a party in the sun is just what papa ordered for Father’s Day.
String up some bright, over-sized paper flowers, find a brightly coloured table cloth and napkins — and if you want to go all out — hang up a pinata and make your family fiesta complete.
Food should follow suit, and Everyone Loves Tacos by Felipe Fuentes Cruz and Ben Fordham (Ryland Peters & Small, $26.95) has lots of great ideas for making authentic tacos and burritos.
The reason everyone loves tacos is because the cook can set everything out and diners can assemble it with the foods they love best. It’s also dining at its most casual, a little messy and totally hands-on — happy food for kids and adults.
At its most basic, a taco (the finished dish) is a tortilla (the flatbread) folded around a filling. All by itself, that would be enough, but tacos get gussied up with some cheese, some salsa and other garnishes like a few chopped vegetables and sauces.
Everyone Loves Tacos gets the cook from the most basic recipes, starting with a recipe for making corn tortillas, all the way to dessert, finishing with dessert tacos like chocolate tortilla "hats" stuffed with fruit or the crispy rolled apple pie (recipe below).
Fresh tortillas can be the basis for a quick but substantial meal, especially for kids who are learning to find their way around the kitchen, so keeping a package or two in the kitchen is handy. If you find you aren’t eating them quickly enough while they are fresh, they can be frozen. But a frozen slab of 10 or 12 tortillas isn’t really what you want to end up with, so here’s the best way to do it:
Once frozen, the tortillas can be easily removed one at a time as needed. Leave to thaw on a plate or warm and soften in the microwave for about 10 to 15 seconds. Be sure they are completely thawed before unrolling them.
Get organized for your Father’s Day Fiesta with these festive recipes excerpted from Everyone Loves Tacos by Felipe Fuentes Cruz and Ben Fordham.
The taco recipe has an accompanying recipe for salsa, and there is also a fresh salsa recipe to serve with chips and an apple pie taquito to serve with ice cream.
The chorizo adds a touch of spice and great colour to the potatoes and spinach.
Cut the chorizo into slices about 5 mm (1/4 in) thick.
Peel the potato and cut it into small strips. Thinly slice the red onion.
Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the chorizo slices and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the potato strips and fry for 6-8 minutes until cooked. Add the onion, spinach, salt and white pepper and cook for another 1-2 minutes, then put them to one side.
Place the watercress and radish slices in two separate bowls on the table. Place the chorizo mixture in the middle of the warmed tortillas and add the crumbled cheese. Add a dollop of salsa and serve.
You can adjust the amount of chilis you use here to taste — this recipe is for medium-hot.
Put the tomatoes, onion and 250 ml/1 cup of water into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and discard the cooking water and set the tomatoes and onion to one side.
Place the vegetable oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the crushed dried chilis and fry for 1-2 minutes, being careful not to let them burn. Add the tomatoes and onion right at the end, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Transfer the cooled mixture to a blender, add all the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
Put a saucepan over a high heat, add the mixture from the blender and bring to the boil. Boil for about 1-2 minutes, adding 60-100 ml (1/4-1/3 cup) of water if the mixture is too thick.
This salsa is best served cold so allow time for it to cool or put in the fridge before serving.
Use a combination of boiled fresh tomatoes and canned plum tomatoes for this salsa. Just using fresh, or just tinned tomatoes simply doesn’t have the same result.
Cook the whole fresh tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for 12-15 minutes. Drain, discarding the water, and leave the tomatoes on the side to cool.
Once cooled, remove the skins and put the tomatoes in a bowl with the tinned/canned plum tomatoes. Squash the tomatoes with your hands (it is best to wear plastic gloves for this), then remove any big pieces and finely chop with a knife before adding them back into the bowl.
Add the onion, chilis and coriander/cilantro to the bowl. Add the salt and mix well.
The mix of cinnamon and nutmeg adds a hint of spice to the apple and, once the taquitos are baked, the crispy tortilla package provides a great contrast.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).
Mix 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the sugar and 10 ml (2 tsp) of the cinnamon together in a bowl and set aside.
Peel, core and cut the apples into small chunks. Place the apples, nutmeg and the remaining cinnamon and sugar in a saucepan with 120 ml (1/2 cup) of water. Mix well until the apples are coated. Cover, place over a medium heat and cook for 10-12 minutes until the apples are soft, stirring regularly.
Melt the butter and use a little to brush a thin layer over a shallow baking dish. Lay a tortilla flat and put 30-45 ml (2-3 tbsp) of the apple pie mixture in the centre. Tightly roll it up and secure the tortilla with a cocktail stick/toothpick.
Brush the taquito (the rolled and tooth-picked bundle) with a little melted butter, then sprinkle over some of the reserved sugar-cinnamon mixture.
Place the taquito in the prepared baking dish and then repeat the process with the rest of the tortillas and apple mixture, reserving about a quarter of the sugar-cinnamon mix for later.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes or until the taquitos start to turn golden on top.
To serve, remove the cocktail sticks/toothpicks and place two taquitos on each plate. Drizzle a zig-zag of agave syrup over the top and then sprinkle over the remaining sugar-cinnamon mix. Finally, add a scoop of ice cream to each plate and decorate with a mint leaf.