Today was a busy day. In the morning, I trekked up to Downer on the bus to meet Zoe, one of my Canberra blogging buddies, and her women’s group. Zoe told me about the group a while ago, and I had been wanting to check it out. Of course the reason I finally got off my butt and went was food-related: Zoe was on the schedule to give a demonstration of Asian cooking, featuring lots of authentic ingredients from Canberra’s Asian grocery stores.
I had a great time: met lots of interesting, friendly people; poked, sniffed, and tasted a variety of things I’d never come in close contact with before; learned some really useful information about how various ingredients should be used and where to get them; and, best of all, got to sample three fantastic dishes that Zoe prepared as part of the demonstration. They were really good: complex, flavorful, and authentically Asian tasting. I would have paid good money to eat any of them in a restaurant.
After an enjoyable and instructive morning, I headed back into the city centre to do a slew of errands before heading to the library to get some work done. I had already planned to grab some lunch at a Mexican place I had noticed recently that was conveniently located on my travels. I don’t get much Mexican these days unless I make it myself, and I had high hopes that this place might help satisfy my perpetual cravings.
Alas, it was not to be. It wasn’t bad; it was just that Zoe had set the bar so high already, with her portable gas ring and wok. She had demonstrated how, with good ingredients and a little care, it’s fast and easy to make seriously delicious food. And although my Mexican lunch was fast and easy, it wasn’t particularly delicious. So, after trying out a few of Zoe’s Asian techniques for tonight’s dinner, I’ll probably have to make a batch of this tomorrow, because now my Mexican cravings are stronger than ever.
All Season Salsa
I adapted this recipe from one in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone to increase quantities and to use canned tomatoes, because sometimes you really need salsa when you can’t get a decent tomato anywhere and all the readily available jarred salsa is execrable (yeah, I’m looking at you, English supermarkets).
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 small red chili pepper, halved and seeded*
10-12 sprigs cilantro/coriander
2 14oz/400g cans whole tomatoes, drained
Juice of 2 limes
Salt to taste
Put the first four ingredients in a food processor and pulse to chop finely. (You could also chop by hand if you’re so inclined.) Add the tomatoes and lime juice and pulse again. Taste and salt accordingly. Serve with tortilla chips, or any and all Mexican meals of your choice. (Also yummy with eggs at breakfast.)
* I use one small, very hot chili, which makes this big batch flavorful enough for me without inciting the dreaded “Too spicy!” reaction from Miss B. Can be adjusted according to your taste/spice tolerance.