Mexico has amazing food traditions, partly due to the amazing local ingredients that can be found there. So why not go beyond your local Tex Mex chain and get the kids to cook a Mexican meal?
As we enter the colder and darker months of autumn and winter, it will remind everyone of the joys of travel to sunny places where limes, avocados and tomatoes grow freely.
Here are some ideas you might want to try at home……
Try a little guacamole…
Avocado trees grow to up to 12m high in warm climates and produce more avocados than you can imagine! They make delicious salads and can be mashed up to provide the perfect food for babies. Guacamole is delicious and simple to prepare:
Take one or more ripe avocados. Cut in half, remove the seed from the centre and spoon the flesh into a bowl. Add some lemon juice and mash with a fork or use a hand blender to make a smooth paste. Crush a clove of garlic and add a little along with some salt and cayenne pepper to taste. The amount you add depends on how you like it – and this is a great lesson to teach kids about cooking – there is no ‘right’ amount of salt, or garlic, or cayenne pepper – the right amount is how you like it to taste.
You can experiment from here. Some people add some chopped tomato, chopped coriander/cilantro or a few chili slices. What about lime juice instead of lemon? You can eat your guacamole with tortilla chips, with vegetable sticks, on toast or in a wrap with refried beans or chicken strips.
A cheeky tomato salsa…
Tomatoes grow easily and lots of Mexican families will have a few tomato plants growing in the garden or on their balcony. Tomatoes are used in many dishes – as a salad, to add to rice, for stews or to make tomato salsa…..
Take a few ripe tomatoes and remove the stalks. Leaving aside the green centre, chop the tomato and stir in some really finely chopped red onion, some coriander, a little bit of vinegar and some olive oil and salt. And you have your salsa – enjoy with bread or use along with the guacamole in a mixed wrap
Refried beans everyday…
This is a Mexican staple dish and most families would have a batch on the go in the kitchen. It’s a great basic meal but also used as a base for Huevos Rancheros.
Heat up some olive oil and add a finely chopped onion. When the onion begins to become translucent, add a teaspoon of cumin seeds and continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Then stir in a tin of black beans and ½ a tin of water. Cook gently and when warmed through, mash so that about ½ of the beans are a paste but some remain whole. Add salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.
In the morning, try Huevos Rancheros…
This is a traditional breakfast dish and uses refried beans and tomato salsa.
Put some oil into a flying pan and heat up. Take a corn tortilla and brown on both sides. Place on a plate. Warm through some refried beans and then place on top of the tortilla. Place some tomato salsa on top. In another pan, heat up some more oil and fry an egg which goes on top of the salsa. You can also add some avocado slices or some sour cream or even some crumbled feta (in Mexico this would be cotija, a traditional cheese a bit like feta). Some more lime juice and a sprinkle of salt on the egg completes this delicious dish.
Red Rice is nice…
This can be a side dish to a larger meal. Or, combine the rice with beans for added protein.
Heat some oil in a pan. Add a cup of basmati rice and ½ teaspoon of salt. Stir in some tomato salsa (see above). Add 2 cups of vegetable stock, bring to the boil, stir once and replace lid and turn the heat down. Leave on a low heat for 15 minutes then lift lid and place sheet of kitchen paper over the pan and replace the lid. Turn the heat off and leave for 7 minutes This is enough rice for 2-3 people depending on what else you’re serving and how hungry people are.
Delicious Tres Leches Cake…
This translates as 3 milks cake – three different forms of milk are used to make it!
This recipe is a bit complicated so we’re relying on BBC Good Food for a recipe! < https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/tres-leches-cake>
Try some genuine Hot Chocolate…
The Aztecs discovered and cultivated chocolate and came to appreciate its delicious qualities. Celebrate their ingenuity with Mexican hot chocolate – similar to the hot chocolate we know but with the added surprise of some chili – not as crazy as it sounds!
Take 500ml of whole fat milk and warm along with a tablespoon of brown sugar and about 100g of chocolate, broken into chunks. Add a cinnamon stick and a few drops of vanilla essence. Warm very slowly, allowing the chocolate to melt into the milk and the flavour to seep from the cinnamon.
When all of the chocolate is melted and the sugar dissolved, bring the heat up but don’t allow the mixture to boil. Stir all the time. Now the tricky bit. Add a pinch of salt (yes really) and a few flakes of chili. Taste and add a little more if you like it. Then pour into cups and top with some whipped cream. You can even sprinkle some flakes of chocolate onto the top.
Now retreat to a cosy corner and enjoy your treat!!!
Deliberate Travel Kids makes educational activity workbooks for kids to let them explore the world from their own living room. The workbooks are for kids aged 6-12 and cover 13 different countries so far. The latest workbook is Mexico – 48 pages of activities to spark kids’ curiosity about the country, with interactive activities on the Aztecs, Frida Kahlo, alebrijes, Mexican food and Dia de Muertos. All workbooks are available to purchase as printed workbooks or digital downloads.