Mango & Cactus Salsa… sure to improve your life

Mango & cactus salsa goes phenomenally well with seafood tacos
Mango & cactus salsa goes phenomenally well with seafood tacos

Salsa is a child of the summer.

The moment I have made salsas three times in the same week is the exact same moment I swap my ensemble of a Darrel Summers’ jumper, sensible trousers and discount shoe mart runners for boardies, a singlet and thongs. When the salsas come out it means the weather is hot, the living is easy and I don’t look so much like I belong on the set of late 80s-early 90s Australian sitcom, “Hey Dad”.

Salsa also refers to a particularly raunchy form of Latin American dancing. It is said that salsa dancing may have been named so because it was somewhat hot and/or saucy. Nice. I really like what they did there…

You were just the recipient of a random snippet of knowledge courtesy of your friends here at foodisthebestshitever.

I am a firm believer that your life can be improved by
1. The power of a good salsa. Applying salsa with relish (heheh) at your next summer barbecue (sorry northern hemisphere peeps… you can put that on hold until next year) or your Christmas lunch shall raise you to the pedestal that you damn well deserve.
2. Plenty of booze… get some cocktail action going and you won’t even care that you can’t cook for shit and the Christmas ham is now blacker than an emo kid in a black hole.
3. A good bowel movement on a regular basis will make good life really good and on the flipside, not having a good bowel movement on a regular basis can make life very bad. Not like the call girl with the long boots and red lipstick bad, but more like the out of order toilet at the music festival bad (if you are a bit too mature to be frolicking around with thousands of sweaty hipsters insert some kind of large gathering of your kind in there).
4. An arm that was just slightly longer so you could scratch that spot in between your shoulder blades when it gets itchy. That’s got to be a god joke right there. Upstairs, laughing their heads off at us idiots down below trying to scratch ourselves. Really funny guys…

So I find it only fitting that I should offer a salsa recipe for you to create in your home kitchen today. Also, in the lead-up to this coca-cola themed craziness, I shall try to pump out a few more easytastygood recipes to impress your peeps with this Christmas.

This salsa would be great to dress a prawn salad, it would find a happy home along side roast chicken or pork and, of course it would kick-ass on tacos… any tacos as long as they are heading directly for your face.

That's the salsa down the front
That’s the salsa down the front

If you really want to impress people make a pile of fish and prawn tacos with some avocado, pickled cabbage and this salsa and hand them out to all of your friends. Popularity guaranteed
If you really want to impress people make a pile of fish and prawn tacos with some avocado, pickled cabbage and this salsa and hand them out to all of your friends. Popularity guaranteed

MANGO & CACTUS SALSA (makes approx. 3 cups)

3 medium mangoes, flesh only, diced
½ cup cactus strips*, diced
½ red (salad) onion, fine dice
1 handful coriander, chopped
1 teaspoon hot sauce**
1 lime… maybe

• Mix all ingredients together to combine
• Adjust to your taste with a squeeze of lime juice if necessary

*Available from a purveyor of Mexican goodies… or probably at every large super market chain by the time you read this as the whole Mexican food thing is trending fairly heavily

**I am using the Byron Bay Chilli Co Cayenne Hot Chilli Sauce at the moment for no other reason than it tastes damn fine

Another day, another cook-off part 2

It was all about the beef ribs for me...
It was all about the beef ribs for me…

The dishes of Grazza McFilthy Mouth

So, as I previously promised you fine folks (hell yeah I’m talking to you) that I would post recipes for the dishes we cooked in our now legendary cook-off this week, I feel somewhat obliged to actually come through with the goods. I will put myself under un-necessary pressure to get this to the screen in front of you (or possibly behind you if you are a strange troupe of carnival folk who reside illegally in a crazy House of Mirrors and have subsequently taught yourselves to read back-to-front and upside-down) so you may read it now. Damn my inner decent human. Damn his britches…

Prawns with capsicum and feta
Prawns with capsicum and feta

VENEZUALA – braised capsicum, chilli, prawns and feta
I got hold of some super looking king prawns or shrimp or whatever the rest of the world calls them, and they made the dish. It was a very tasty combo but not quite good enough to woo a podium appearance from the judges… I pretty much followed this recipe here, except I used red and green capsicums, which was a course of action that probably made my dish very un-traditional. I don’t care; it was damn tasty, which works for me.

Lamb kabouli
Lamb kabouli

OMAN – lamb kabouli
This dish is good. So good in fact, they gave it a special name all of it’s own; the lamb kabouli. I used this recipe right here and it worked fine for me. The Omani spice mix was a cracker, aromatic with cardamom, cumin and coriander, a bit of heat from the cayenne and a nice sharp hit from the vinegar. I didn’t have any rose water though, so I didn’t use the required ½ cup… I could not have forced myself to put that much rose water in anyhow… maybe that’s why this dish didn’t win me the gold either.

MEXICO – grilled beef short ribs, mole sauce, charred salsa picante
This was going to win it for me for sure. This was bringing home the gold like an old Ford pick-up truck with a full load of boarder jumpers heading to the U S of A. There wasn’t a chance in hell this was not going to win… except that it didn’t. Whatever. It still won it my eyes… I was like the mother of a red-headed child… my little baby was always winning in my eyes… my darling baby. More on the winning dish later…

Beef ribs getting saucy
Beef ribs getting saucy
Ah, those ribs
Ah, those ribs

BEEF RIBS WITH MOLE SAUCE (for 4)
1.5kg beef short ribs
1 cinnamon quill
80g mexican chocolate (if you can’t get hold of it use 40g dark chocolate or a tablespoon of dutch cocoa)
2x 400g tin diced tomatoes

the paste
2 corn tortilla, grilled or roasted with a little oil until brown
80g raisins or sultanas
80g almonds, roasted
¼ cup pepitas, roasted
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, roasted
1 tablespoon coriander seed, roasted and ground
4 cloves, ground
4 cloves garlic
2-4 dried long red chillis (depending on how hot you like it), soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
½ cup water from the pot you simmered the ribs in
• Simmer the beef ribs in a pot of water for 2 hours or until they are tender
• Blitz ingredients for almond paste until it nice and pasty like your chefs’ tan
• Fry paste off in a little oil until you are starting to detect delicious aromas with your nose. Yep. I’m afraid I’ve put your nose in charge of this one
• Add all other ingredients and chuck some salt and pepper in there too.
• Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring regularly so the fruit and nuts don’t burn
• Check seasoning and adjust if neccessary
• Baste the ribs with the sauce and roast at 180C for 15-20 minutes, until they are starting to caramelise and look sexy
• Serve with extra sauce, rice, warm tortillas, salsa picante (recipe below), coriander and lime

SALSA PICANTE
4 ripe tomatoes, charred over a flame until they start to blacken and blister
1 eshallot or half a red onion, bruniose
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pickled jalepeno chilli, chopped
1 tablespoon of the jalepeno vinegar
a small handful of coriander, chopped
seasoning
• Peel the blackened skin from the tomatoes
• Put everything into a food proccesser and pulse into a chunky salsa type thing

Big assed risotto with chicken, chorizo and prawns to impress a crowd

aaaah, glorious
aaaah, glorious

When I pulled myself out of bed this morning I was met with the lingering smell of smoky goodness from our adventures the previous evening (just to clarify they were cooking adventures) and they memories came flooding back. No, that’s a lie. The memories sporadically trickled in like David Hasslehoffs fan mail.

A fuck off big paella pan screams out that you are not messing around in the kitchen tonight. Even if you are pan-frying two small children, you’re still not messing around. And this evening our paella pan screamed out to me.

So for the last day of work in my current employment, I decided what better way to say “fuck you life is going to be shit without me”… or maybe “thanks for having me, it’s been swell”, then to bring out my paella pan and cook a couple of small children (not local of course) if front of their very eyes. Now I don’t know if they came to say good bye, wish me well or just celebrate the fact I was getting out of their lives, but the thing is they came so I thought I should maybe put something a little more aesthetically pleasing on the table.

mis en place ready to go
mis en place ready to go
get Zac to cook
get Zac to cook

 

a good salad is a good accompaniment
a good salad is a good accompaniment

 

mmmm
mmmm. It tasted really good

Big assed risotto with chicken, chorizo, prawns, fennel and pickled chilli for a crowd

5 chicken marylands, free range fool, cut into three pieces. Roast that shit!

4 chorizo sausage, sliced

1kg king prawns

2 brown onions, diced

2 fennel bulbs, sliced

5 cloves garlic, bashed in a back alley brawl

1 quarter preserved lemon, flesh and pith removed, bruniose

1 lemon myrtle leaf, chiffonade

1kg risotto rice (aborio etc)

4lt hot stock – chicken or vegetable is good

5 guindillas (Spanish pickled chillis)

  • First you get one of your guests, say Soraya, to light the chiminea on the verandah
  • Once the smoke has died down get the paella pan hot, splash a little oil in the pan to heat up, then tell Zac the kitchen hand that he is going to start cooking dinner now
  • Get your self a beer and start instructing Zac on his culinary adventure
  • Sauté the onions, fennel, garlic and chorizo until fragrant and the chorizo is starting to free itself of its lovely red oil
  • Season
  • Add chicken, preserved lemon, lemon myrtle and rice
  • Cook out for a couple of minutes
  • Add stock and cook for 10-ish minutes, shaking the pan every couple of minutes, until rice is almost done
  • Add prawns and, if the risotto has taken all the liquid, add a little more stock (hot water will do because you’ve probably already used all of your stock) and cover with alfoil
  • Cook for another 5 minutes until this prawns are done
  • Garnish with guindillas, a squeeze of lemon and a splash of olive oil
  • Serve straight from the pan at the table, just so everyone remembers how OG you are
  • Get another beer and sit back and bask in your glory