Cherries and inappropriate watermelon*

(* We had summery fruits at the end, namely cherries and watermelon. We’re good at sculpturing body parts out of watermelon–with a spoon. Most of them looked like ovaries or eyeballs.)

First of all, happy birthday! You know who you are. If it happens to be your birthday too, happy birthday to you too.
Secondly, mexican food is on the agenda and has been for a while. This post will be very much like this post, with copious amounts of food photos. I’ll warn you now it’s not purist mexican, but it is damned tasty and closer to mexican food than most ‘mexican’ restaurants in Melbourne. Most things are kind of mexican?

On the menu:

  • Tortillas
  • Cornbread
  • Mashed avocado
  • Black beans (frijoles negros)
  • Coleslaw
  • Green chilli
  • Pulled pork
  • Pork crackling
  • Spicy cumin prawns
  • Salsa verde
  • Skirt steak
  • Tomato salad
  • Fetta cheese made from goats milk
  • Cherries
  • Watermelon

Table full of food/ Always more dishes than space/ The best table size

There’s a lot to get through. Hope you’re feeling hungry.

TORTILLA

Straight from a packet/ Vehicle for mexican/ Better when heated

CORNBREAD

Corn meal in bread form/ Good with stewed black beans/ Or in buttermilk

While corn is one of staples in Mexico, cornbread is not a mexican food. However, it is an important part of soul food in the southern states of the US. I find cornbread a tad dry and plain to have by itself, but it is very good with mashed avocado or beans.

MASHED AVOCADO

Mashed avocado/ Basis of guacamole/ Good in sandwiches


A bowl of mashed avocado with some chunks for texture. Though, if you did want guacamole, you all had to do was eat it with tomato salad.

BLACK BEANS/ FRIJOLES NEGROS

New fav'rite bean dish/ Rich in folate and iron/ As well as protein


Black beans (phaseolus vulgaris) in a tomato based sauce. In addition to being nutritious (lots of folate), it is also delicious. It’s slightly sweet from the tomato, a bit acidic from tomato and a bit of vinegar and naturally savoury since it’s a bean. In no way is it bland. This can be a meal on its own. It was particularly good in a soft taco with pulled pork, mashed avocado and tomato salad.

COLESLAW

Not your average slaw/ It does not swim in dressing/ Still tastes like cabbage

While coleslaw isn’t mexican, there is a similar dish called ‘curtido’. According to wikipedia, it is a “type of cabbage relish, lightly fermented. … In Mexican cuisine, curtido consists mainly of pickled carrots mixed with onions and chile [sic] peppers” (as an addition to pickled cabbage).
This coleslaw has cabbage, carrot, red onion and red capsicum, lightly dressed with homemade mayonnaise. It is sour, but not quite pickled.

GREEN CHILLI

For those chilli buffs/ For more burning sensation/ Complete with the seeds

Not a dish on its own, but a condiment. I enjoy filling up these posts with pictures.

PULLED PORK

Ingredient list/ Spices, oil and good salt/ Pig not pictured here

First, obtain your pig. Season with powdered corriander seed, cumin seed, chilli flakes and a cinnamon quill. Olive oil, and some salt. Add some water too.
The water is what separates this dish from other roast pork dishes. It will make the meat more tender (increased moisture content, but not so much that it boils the pork) and increases the crunchiness of the surfaces. The same trick is used for french baguettes for the characteristic crust.

It has a name: Pig./ But not 'Some Pig', that'd be sad/ Charlotte's Web ref'rence

Pulled pork for the win/ 'Pulled' meats are generally good/Sign of tenderness

The result is roasted pork so tender that its meaty fibres are easily prised apart with a fork.

PORK CRACKLING

Well-salted crackling/ Crisp, buttery and salty/ Waste no part of Pig

Pork crackling needs good salt. Preferably salt flakes. Salt flakes sound fancy, but it does yield a much superior result when making pork crackling. It tastes different too. For me, sea flakes are essential for two things. Pork crackling and sea salt caramels.
Pork crackling was great with pulled pork, or just by themselves. It was so good that the room fell quiet and not a peep could be heard… ‘cept for the -crunch!- of pork crackling.

SPICY CUMIN PRAWNS

Marinade and prawns/ Leave in fridge to absorb stuff/ The worst waiting game

Get your prawns and de-vein them. It’s not the most glamorous job in the world, but it’s well worth it. Marinate with olive oil, salt, juice of  lemon, juice of  lime, red chilli (however much you want) and cumin seeds. Let it sit and soak in delicious marinade for at least 30 minutes.

End of waiting game/ Soon, there will be chilli prawns/ Always a winner

Heat up your pan, and put all the prawns and marinade in. Let them sizzle, let delicious smells waft through your window, and earn well-deserved food envy from your neighbours.

Hey, is it a bird?/Not a plane, not bowl, nor plate/ A measuring cup

We didn’t have any bowls, so a measuring cup will do.

SALSA VERDE

Spicy green chillis/ Finely diced green capsicum/ Don't confuse the two

Green salsa is green/ No surprise, made from green things/ Add ALL the green things

Green salsa was made with canned tomatillos (never seen a fresh one, and the canned ones were disappointingly mushy), but tomatilos can be substituted with green tomatoes. We used raw canned tomatilloes and 2 green chillis. We also used a food processer. Salse verde is good with pulled pork, and prawns. Looks like it’ll be good as a dip too, like regular salsa.

SKIRT STEAK WITH CHILLI AND LIME

Big chunks of skirt steak/ Simple, flavoursome beef steak/ How can it go wrong?

I don’t even know where this came from. (presumably from a cow) One minute there wasn’t a steak to be seen marinating, or grilling or frying up in a pan, the next there was a steak being carved up. Steak well rested, and served medium.

TOMATO SALAD

It is near Summer/ Time for tomato salad/ Wish I had some now

Plain and simple. Good tomatoes, red onion (invisible in photo. They are sitting on the bottom) and parsley. Something to freshen up your palate after spicy food and meats.

Here’s a folded taco. Don’t fold them to make a ‘double taco’, the fold will just rip and be messy to eat. It contains pulled pork, pork crackling, mashed avocado, black beans and tomato salad. There is some coleslaw and tomato salad in the background.

Too much stuff inside/ There is only one problem/ Taco won't stay closed

An artists' palette/ Colours to mix together/ Where 'colours' is food

Here’s a plated up version of different things (Taco deconstructed?).
Back row (left to right): Coleslaw, tomato salad
Middle row (left to right): Whole prawn, half-eaten prawn, frijoles negros, mashed avocado
Front row: Goats fetta, skirt steak

Absent: Tortilla, cornbread, salsa verde, pulled pork, pork crackling, sliced green chilli

CHERRIES

Cherries are pretty/ Yet another summer fruit/ Best washed and served plain


WATERMELON

Watermelon face/ Addition to carrot face/ Faces everywhere


Some people see a watermelon. Some see a face too. Others see it crying tears of juice (and seeds).

Enjoy. (Recipes will be up when I get them. Most items above are just about preparation and adding enough spices as desired, but some dishes don’t have an obvious ingredients list.)

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Fruit infused vodka

This is not an instant noodle post, nor a places-for-eats post. It would almost be a recipe post, except for the fact there is no recipe. I wanted to share the colourful photos of fruit-infused vodka.
Vodka comes in many flavours nowadays. Most of time as alcopops, but sometimes as fruit-infused vodka. Unfortunately, many of these fruit-flavoured vodkas are simply that. Fruit- FLAVOURED vodka. So, we set out to infuse vodka with real fruit.

We made four different infusions:
1. Vanilla pod. The palest of them all, a pale yellowish colour.
2. An apple infusion with Pink Lady apples. A pale yellow colour, a warm tone.
3. Orange and lime. Another yellow, but tinted green.
4. Strawberry. Red. A bright pinkish red.

A rainbow line-up/ So, can you taste the rainbow?/ A Skittles reference

After 10 days or so, we took the fruit out and strained the vodka to remove any fruit bits. The question may have occured to you: what do you do with the fruit? The answer is: We ate them and enjoyed their sweet booziness in a drunken afternoon. (Only without the drunken afternoon part.)

Onwards to making a quick fruit relish/jam or making the vodka-filled fruit edible as a food item. The cream cheese pancake batter was made beforehand so that there may be eating as prompt as possible.

One, place your vodka-fruit dregs into a pan. Notice how washed out for colour these strawberries are. Some colour will return once they are heated and cooked through with sugar. Add however mush sugar you think it needs.

Strawberries are red/ There is no blue in the fruits/ It's still a poem

We also sliced up the apple into small chunks and cooked those with the strawberries. We started off with around 3 tablespoons of white sugar and added sugar as we went. While the fruit is slowly heated through with sugar to cook out some alcohol, we added some knobs of butter to another fry pan for pancakes.

Cooking out vodka/ A case of multitasking/ Cooking up pancakes

The cream cheese batter is lumpy, as you can see. But fear not! The lumps are from the cream cheese, and add an element of surprise to your pancakes. I like different textures. Homogeneny is good in supermarkets, but that can get boring.

A fluffy batter/ The thickness is deceiving/ Cream cheese makes it light

Back to the stewing strawberries and apples. See how the strawberries regain some colour? I have no idea how that happens, but I can put out a few theories. None of them involving aliens or magic. You can cook the strawberries and apple for as long as you like. We waited until a large portion of the alcohol cooked out for the ones who are light-weight drinkers. (Namely, myself. I can’t bring myself to drink anything that smells too strongly of something I use to wipe down benches in a science laboratory.)

So, back to the pancakes.

An observation/ Why do pancakes have a rim?/ A nearly-burnt rim

You can use vegetable oil to fry your pancakes if you don’t want to use butter. We’re fairly decadent when it comes to dessert. ;D

Speaking of decadence, we opted to use more of the vodka fruit. Meet our new contestants. Oranges and limes. Sprinkle some brown sugar over those and wait for it to caramelise.

Citrus caramel/ Candied vodka citrus rounds/ One can only dream

Pancakes onto a plate for sharing.

Plate up the pancakes/ Stewed fruit and buttery noms/ It's also boozy

Plated up for your viewing pleasure.

The side with stewed fruit/ How is the presentation?/ Stripey board as prop.

 

See the sliced pancake/ Soft, fluffy and cream cheese-y/ Much like buttermilk

My, oh my. Fluffy cream cheese pancakes are delicious! Buttermilk brings pancakes up to another level of fluffiness, but cream cheese is the level above that. The strawberries remind me of jam, but no surprises there. They are both basically fruit and sugar stewed together. Except this one has vodka in it. I suppose jam could also have vodka in it, but I’ve yet to see it. (But is it a good idea to start the day with boozy jam on toast?) The apples are even better than the strawberries, for they are still crunchy. The strawberries are just soft and pulpy.
With the oranges and limes, the pancakes take me back to primary school. Back in the good old days where we had pancakes with lemon juice and sugar. I enjoy pancakes with lemon and sugar, but this, this! This would be the adults-version. Save it for your next dinner party.