mexican fiesta

Mexican Fiesta

Renowned for its intense flavours and colourful presentation, Mexican food is the perfect fit for a fun party.
Full of healthy and inexpensive ingredients, what better way to feed a hungry crowd?
Assemble stacks of tortillas, salsas, salads and spicy fillings on the table and watch guests have fun making their own tacos, burritos and quesadillas.
To get the party started, have a huge jug of pre-made margarita mix on hand. I have added pomegranate juice for a twist on the original recipe. Lots of crushed ice helps to dilute it a little, but beware, as it certainly has a kick.
Every party needs a dip, so make this delicious guacamole. I like to finely dice the ingredients to retain their texture. Preserved lemon adds a subtle and complex flavour. Serve with organic corn chips, available from selected supermarkets and delis.
The empanadas are perfect party finger food. Make them ahead and reheat when required. I have also cooked them in the deep fryer with delicious results! If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own pastry, frozen shortcrust sheets are a suitable substitute.
Lots of fun, bright decorations will add to the theme. Don’t forget a piñata full of sweets for a midnight snack.

pomegranate margaritas

A margarita with a twist -pomegranate juice and plenty of crushed ice. Instead of a salty rim, try sugar.
700ml bottle tequila

500ml cointreau

500ml fresh unsweetened pomegranate juice

250ml freshly squeezed lime juice

¼ (quarter) cup icing sugar

1 lime, cut in half

crushed ice to serve

granulated sugar to dip rim of glass

In a large glass jug, combine tequila, cointreau, pomegranate juice, lime juice and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Refrigerate until required. Rub the cut piece of lime around the rim of the glass. Dip rim of glass in sugar for a decorative crust. Fill glass with crushed ice and top with margarita mix. Repeat with remaining mix. serves 10 – 12.

Preserved lemon guacamole

Chop the ingredients finely or blend for a smooth texture. Great as a dip or a flavoursome addition to tacos and burritos.

2 avocadoes, cut into small dice
250g punnet ripe cherry tomatoes, chopped
½ (half) red onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 green chilli, seeded and finely chopped
½ (half) preserved lemon, skin only, finely chopped
juice of 2 limes
few drops green Tabasco (optional)
salt and pepper to season

In a large bowl, combine the avocado, tomato, onion, garlic, chilli, preserved lemon, lime juice, tabasco and gently mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.
Serve the guacamole with corn chips.

Serves 4-6.


1 ¼ (one and a quarter) cups water
125g softened butter, cut into small pieces
1 ½ (one and a half) tsp salt
4 ½ (four and a half) cups plain flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely chopped
500g minced beef
1 tbsp fresh oregano, leaves picked and finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh coriander, leaves picked and finely chopped
½ (half) tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp smoky sweet paprika
½ (half) tsp hot chilli powder
1 tsp salt
½ (half) tsp black pepper
400 g tin Italian diced tomatoes
½ (half) cup raisins
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 egg yolk for glaze

To make the pastry, place flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the butter and mix until like coarse breadcrumbs. Add the water, a little at a time, until the dough forms. (You might not need all the water). Pat the dough into a ball and flatten it slightly. Wrap in plastic film and refrigerate for an hour.
To prepare the filling, cook the garlic and onion in the oil over low heat without colouring. Add the beef and cook until coloured, breaking up any lumps.
Add the herbs and spices, season with salt and pepper and stir well. Add the tomatoes and raisins and simmer for ten minutes over low heat to reduce the liquid. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
When cool, stir through the hard boiled eggs.
Preheat oven to 200C.
Divide the dough into 4cm balls (you should get 24) and roll each one out on a floured surface to make a thin circle. Place a heaped tablespoon of the mixture into the middle of each piece of pastry, seal the edges with a little water and pinch the edges or twist them to seal.
Line two oven trays with baking paper and arrange the empanadas on top. Brush with egg yolk to glaze.
Bake in the top of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and crisp all over.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool just a little before eating.

Makes about 24.


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