Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Weekend Eats 8 - Mexican

mexican ingredients
Masa Harina, Corn Husks, Habaneros and Chipotles
It's been a while since there was a weekend eats post because to be honest, we were just having the same gluten free meals over and over again because we love them so much. This weekend however we spiced things up a bit - literally!

We've been watching a fair bit of the Food Network recently and have been wowed by some of the foods that have been shown. It was an episode of Diners, Drive In's and Dives that tickled our taste buds so much that we decided to have a Mexican food weekend and do a bit of experimenting.

I love Mexican flavours but I've never been terribly adventurous with them. I always stuck to fajitas in restaurants (before becoming a coeliac, obviously) and have had a few quesidillas (none as good as our gluten free ones though) but other than that I hadn't tried anything, well, apart from chilli con carne but that doesn't count.

I'd heard of Tamales a while ago but for some reason I never thought about making them. That episode of Diners, Drive In's and Dives changed that due to the fantastic discovery of Masa Harina (corn flour). Now, I had been making gluten free batters with corn flour for ages, I say making I should say attempting to make because not one of the many experiments came out right. In actual fact, every attempt was nothing short of a disaster, the batters were simply horrible.

I gave up trying to make batter a long time ago but now I know why none of them ever worked. Talk about a light bulb moment! The stuff that you get in our supermarkets is actually corn starch meant purely for thickening things. I use it all the time as a thickening agent but as it said corn flour on it I assumed that it could be used as a flour too. No wonder I had so many failed gluten free batter attempts!

I'm not going down the blonde moment route, the bloody thing says corn flour on it, I assumed that's what it was! Alas, I have come to realise that you shouldn't assume anything from packaging.

So, masa harina, it's bloody fantastic. This is corn flour people, not that shite that puffs everywhere as soon as you go near the box. We made tamales and empanadas and they actually turned out how they were supposed to, result!

Actually, the tamales weren't perfect but that was only because we put too much masa (dough) onto the corn husks. Not bad for a first try though. I had been really looking forward to tamales but I forgot to put the pork on the hob so we were running really late and didn't get to eat until 10pm, I hate eating late, so I didn't enjoy them as much as I should have done.

The actual triumph of our lovely Mexican food weekend was the empanadas. I wasn't familiar with this food until I started looking around for other things to make with masa harina, so we just added it to the list of things we would have then forgot about it, focusing mainly on the tamales.

Oh. My. Gosh! Those things were delicious! I'm always at my best when I cook instinctively and so I didn't follow a recipe to create them, but they turned out to perfection. I am a huge fan of empanadas now.

Other meals included our trusty Chicken Kebabs, but instead of using our usual chipotle rub we used habanero instead. It gave a lovely heat but it wasn't mad hot. We also had our gorgeous quesadillas (note to self: take a photo for the recipe post next time!)

So that was our weekend of delicious gluten free Mexican foods. Here's looking forward to next weekend which is excitingly going to be a long one, I know for a fact that empanadas will be on the menu!

Tamale and empanada recipes to follow in the coming days - we even have photos!

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