Mexican Chili Burritos

My love affair with Mexican food started whilst working as a waitress in New York in the summer of 2013. The all-male Mexican kitchen staff where I worked would arrive every Sunday armed with their wives secret sauces and fresh ingredients to make the most delicious family meals for us.

This mightn’t quite live up to their cooking but it sure brings back some fond memories!

Ingredients:

1 large onion, chopped

1 red chili, diced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp chili powder

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

500g minced beef

500ml tomato passata

200g tinned kidney beans, drained

 

For the guacamole:

2-3 avocados, mashed

1 red onion, fine chopped

2 tomatoes, diced

Salt & pepper

Squeeze of lemon/lime juice

 

For the burrito wraps I love to use a packet of BFree Gluten & Wheat Free wraps or alternatively, make your own green protein wraps using my recipe here.

 

Begin by heating some olive oil in a pot or large pan over a medium heat. Sauté the onion, chili, garlic and all spices for 5-8 minutes until the onions are soft and starting to lightly brown.

Add the minced meat, breaking it up so no large chunks remain and cooking until all meat is browned.

Add the passata and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, add the kidney beans and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

While the chili is simmering prepare the guacamole by mixing all ingredients and lightly warm the wraps.

Season to taste and serve in wraps with fresh guacamole and mixed leaves (grated cheese optional).

**This recipe also works really well in taco shells!

Image courtesy of: http://www.recipeshubs.com/mexican-beef-chilli/9061

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Tresind

Located on the second floor of the Nassima Royal Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, Tresind is a self-called “modernist Indian fine dining restaurant” that I have been eager to visit for some time now. My family and I are big Indian food fans, so with my folks and my sister in town it was the perfect opportunity and boy was it worth the wait!

Arriving for our reservation at 7 p.m. to an empty restaurant was a little worrying yet these worries were soon dismissed as by 8 p.m. almost every table in the house was full and remained that way for the entirety  of our meal. A few tables even had turn-overs during that time and most of the diners during our visit were Indian themselves which is always a good sign.

Upon making our reservation I had advised the restaurant about my food intolerances (no wheat or dairy) and they were most accommodating. Once seated, the head chef came to speak with me about what options he could offer me from the á la carte menu while my parents and sister chose the eight course tasting menu which consisted of 13 mini dishes.

I have to say that even though I wasn’t eating all of the dishes on the tasting menu the theatrical side of their preparations (especially those done at the table) and presentation was so enjoyable even as a spectator. Foodie or not, I would highly recommend choosing the tasting menu option which at 375 AED I think is fantastic value for the quality and quantity of food provided.

To kick off we were served an amuse bouche of a pani puri – a traditional Indian street food, but deconstructed and reinvented, prepared “science lab” style at our table. Designed to be ate in one bite, the spoonful was a burst of sweet and spicy flavours with textural interest thanks to the nuggets of crunchy chickpeas.

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Although I will feature some photos of the tasting menu I won’t comment on them seeing as I did not taste them. What I did taste first however was a beautifully presented tamarind dressed melon salad, sent compliments of the chef, before my  chosen starter of scallops arrived. I adore scallops but often they are a small dish for a big price. This was not the case here though with four plump scallops served alongside a rich peanut and chili sauce.

For main course I ordered the coconut fish curry – the fish was cooked perfectly so that when touched with my fork it fell away easily. The thick sauce and accompanying appam (a rice flour pancake with a steamed egg in the centre -something I was thrilled to see on the menu, bringing back sweet memories from my Sri Lanka trip last year!); soon had me realising that my eyes are bigger than my belly!

Some pictures of the dishes offered on the tasting menu are shown below.

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Overall Tresind proved utterly delightful in every way – from their food to the staff who were warm, friendly and well informed that I cannot wait for my next visit and try their new summer menu & you should too! 😉

http://www.tresind.com

 

Curried Okra & Roast Tomato Frittata

I love it when what begins as a random throw-together of ingredients becomes something delicious! I usually make a curry when cooking with okra, or ‘lady’s fingers’, but this time I tried my hand at something a little different.

Truth be told I’m not a big tomato fan but I had some big organic tomatoes from the farmer’s market that needed to be used up so I halved them and popped them into the oven with some olive oil to roast – which for me makes them instantly more appetizing! How long they take depends on their size but after approximately 20 mins at 200.C flip them so they roast evenly on both sides then return for another 15 mins.

Then I set about frying 2 cloves of garlic in 1 tsp coconut oil with some sea salt over medium heat. After 1-2 minutes I added a chopped fresh red chili (seeds and all!). Once the garlic had started to turn golden I added 1 tsp of curry powder for 1 min, to release the flavour, then I added 1kg of chopped okra and 1 tbsp coconut oil. These veggies really soak up the oil and in order to get them soft and tender more oil than I would usually use is needed.

Leave the okra to cook over medium-low heat, tossing continuously for 25-30 mins.

Once the tomatoes are roasted, make space to fit them, flat side down on pan and continue to cook over a low heat for a further 10-15 mins. **Note: Don’t turn the oven off – you’ll need it again soon!

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Also, throughout this recipe, while the veggies are cooking you don’t need to stay tied to the stove – leave them to cook while you go about your business in the house and just toss occasionally to ensure they are cooking evenly and that the temperature is not too high.

Finally, crack 6 eggs into a bowl and whisk then pour over the okra and tomatoes so that all are covered and transfer the pan from the stove top to the oven to bake until set (approx. 6-8 mins).

Allow to cool slightly then slice and enjoy! Or this recipe also tastes great re-heated the next day so bring leftovers for lunch 🙂

Roast Butternut Squash Soup with Crunchy Chickpeas

This dish is a real winter-warmer. There’s nothing better to warm the soul then a big comforting bowl of soup and this squash recipe is my fave.

You will need:

1 butternut squash

2 onions

1 clove of garlic

1 red chili

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground coriander

1 vegetable stock cube

For the soup:

First begin by washing and drying the whole squash.

Half it, remove the seeds and roast in the oven until browned and slightly blackened around the edges. You can score/diamond the flesh of the squash to speed up the process and ensure even cooking.

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While the squash is roasting, fry the chopped onion and garlic in a large pot over medium heat. Once starting to brown a little add 1/2 of the red chili; excluding the seeds if you don’t like it too hot.

Add the ground coriander and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave aside if you squash is still not ready, otherwise roughly dice the roasted squash and add to the mixture.

Dissolve 1 vegetable stock cube in 800mls of boiling water and add to the pot. Mix well and blend with a hand-blender or else you will need to transfer the mixture to a food processor (be careful if doing so and just add a little water at a time or things can get messy!)

Bring the soup to the boil then reduce to a simmer before serving.

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For the Crunchy Chickpeas:

Drain and empty the contents of one can of chickpeas onto a baking tray.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil then sprinkle with paprika and/or cayenne pepper if you want them extra spicy.

Toss well and pop in the oven to bake at 180.C. Make sure the chickpeas are well spread out on the tray so they will cook faster.

After 5 minutes toss the chickpeas to ensure even cooking as the edges tend to cook first. Then once browned and crunchy to taste, remove from the oven (approx. 10-15 minutes depending on your oven).

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Sometimes I play around with what toppings I add to my soup, for example below I added some sautéed leeks and pomegranate pearls & if you are a meat eater, fried bacon bits on this soup is really tasty.

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Versatile Veggies Part 1 – Roasted Aubergine

I’ve decided to do a series of posts to show you just how versatile one humble veggie can be and how many different ways you can make it a meal.

Aubergines, or eggplants, are up first and I love mine roasted. Below I will show you three different versions and how you can enjoy them. All three are roasted with coconut oil, salt and pepper.

First up you can slice them into thin discs and roast until brown and crisp.

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Secondly, you can halve and score them (make criss-cross incisons in the flesh) with a dash of paprika

Last but not least, whole roasted (with the skin pierced a number of times)

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I love the eggplant crisps as you would fries, but as a healthier savoury snack, they are also perfect for dipping in hummus.

The whole/halve versions I get more adventurous with and below I will share some previous versions I put together.

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Below is half an aubergine roasted and stuffed with sautéed onions, garlic and mushrooms mixed with quinoa, tahini, rocket and pomegranate. 601

Next is a real – “what have I got in the fridge?” lunch. I had some leftover lentil, bean and purple quinoa salads (see a recipe for the likes here), butterbean hummus, kale and cherry tomatoes.

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My fridge was really empty on this  particular day so the aubergine was the stand alone flavour hero and I just enhanced it with a mixture of fresh herbs, tahini and pomegranate seeds. 
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You can also find baby eggplants like these ones below, which I stuffed with goats cheese, cranberry and roasted squash inside – again leftovers from a previous meal (see here) and served on some greens with asparagus and tamari mushrooms. 

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All in all, you can see how one simple vegetable can be transformed into a multitude of dishes and customised to your own taste buds. Happy experimenting!

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Indian Pancakes

After moving to Al Barsha area this year I have become obsessed with the all-veg Indian restaurant chain, that is, Saravanna Bhavan, and their lust-worthy dosa. In less than 3 weeks I have visited 5 times – I know.. I may be O-D-ing but it is just so simply good – and only a 5 minute walk from my apartment!

So you could imagine my delight when I found stocked in the Blue Mart supermarket, next to my apartment, the Saravanna dosa pre-packaged dosa and idly mixture!! ❤

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Now admittedly mine are not a patch on the thin, crispy crepe-like dosas that Saravanna are serving up but it was fun for me to experiment and try my own take on Indian pancakes!

The mixture is also very simple to replicate at home consisting of rice flour and water with some salt, pepper and fenugreek for flavour.

There is a considerable amount of mixture in the bag and because I made them thicker than usual dosas and bigger than usual idlys, I trialled a few different versions, including stuffed, served with okra curry and Sri-Lankan egg hopper style, but the general method remains the same.

Heat oil in a pan. Pour the rice mixture in a swirl so it covers the entire pan.

For the first version I added some kale leaves then folded half the pancake over, cooking until golden on both sides.

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In the meantime I re-heated some Okra I had cooked with chillies and coconut milk and I served them together with some fresh basil and dill.

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Version two started the same as above but instead of adding kale I instead made a slight well in the centre of the pancake and inside cracked two eggs and added a sprinkle of curry leaves and ground paprika.

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 I then placed the lid on the pan so the eggs would steam-cook.

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Once the whites were set I removed the pan from the heat.

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Transfer to a plate, add some more fresh herbs and DIG IN! If you want your yolks set just leave for another 2-3 minutes on the heat but I love them runny!

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Carribbean-Inspired Fish Fingers

Scratch the breadcrumbs and say hello to the coconut!

This recipe is really easy to put together and only takes a few minutes to cook. Plus it’s surprisingly filling!

Ingredients: 

Any white fish, e.g.: Cod fillets x 4

1 bag Desiccated coconut (unsweetened)

2 Eggs

Sea salt & Fresh herbs to garnish

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Begin by preheating the oven to 200.C. Then line a baking tray with baking paper and cut the fish into your desired size pieces, or if the fillets are small as mine were, you can leave them whole.

Beat the eggs in a bowl & in another shallow bowl, or plate, pour a generous amount of the coconut flakes.

Dip the fish pieces first into the beaten egg, ensuring it is well covered and then roll it in the desiccated coconut until completely covered.

Place the coated fish pieces on the baking tray and repeat until all fish is prepared.

Bake for approx. 10 minutes, this may vary depending on your oven; or until golden brown.

Season with a good pinch of sea salt and some fresh herbs.

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Carb-Free Protein Wraps

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These carb-free, high-protein egg wraps are the perfect tortilla substitute. Whether you are wheat or gluten intolerant or just trying to limit your carb intake they are really quick and easy to whip up and taste good warm or cold – perfect for lunchboxes!

Ingredients:

(Serves 4)

6 eggs

1 handful kale, spinach, rocca or any green leaves of your choosing

Salt & Pepper

Coconut oil

+ Toppings/Fillings of choice

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How to bring it all together..

These couldn’t be any easier. Simply whizz all ingredients, except the oil, in a food processor.

Heat the oil on a pan, then once hot, pour a ladle-full of your green mixture into the pan.

After 2-3 minutes – when bubbles begin to form on the surface of the mixture – flip and allow to cook for another 1 minute on the other side.

Top/fill your wrap with your desired goodies – I chose roast squash, goats cheese, soaked dried cranberries (soak in warm water for 10 minutes so you obtain softened berries and a little syrup for drizzling) & fresh dill.

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Then Wrap & Roll!

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Beetroot, Walnut & Goat’s Cheese Burgers

I’ve been a long-time fan of The Happy Pear café & although gifted with their cookbook last year I hadn’t gotten around to trying many dishes from it so when a few friends were coming around for dinner lately I decided to whip it out and adapt their beetroot, walnut and feta burgers’ recipe for my wheat and lactose-free goats cheese, almond flour version. In the guys version they also use cheddar cheese which again I swapped for nutritional yeast which is a cheesy tasting B12 supplement found in all good health stores.

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The recipe was really simple to put together and the burgers were light but filling thanks to the nutty additions and the gooey cheese! The great thing about making these burgers in my home in Ireland was using the fresh mint, parsley, beetroot and spring onions straight from my parent’s vegetable patch! Fresh, organic goodness from right outside the kitchen window – ideal.

Ingredients:

Makes 4-6 burgers depending on how big you like ’em!

140g Toasted Walnuts

400g Cooked Beetroot

4 tbsps Fresh mint (chopped)

4 Spring onions

100g Goats cheese

80g Nutritional yeast

150g Ground Almonds

2 tbsp Coconut Oil

Topping:

Roast Carrot Hummus & Fresh Parsley

I served the burgers with roast carrot hummus (I highly recommend this!) and a tamari roasted portobello mushroom that I topped with a scoop of mashed chili sweet potato and some leftover burger mix and then baked for a further few minutes to crisp up.

Start by pre-heating the oven to 200.C

I like to get all my ingredients prepared for use first as it makes it easier once you start cooking and putting the recipe together.

So to follow my lead, scrub and grate the uncooked beetroot then chop the spring onions.

Roughly chop or crumble the goats cheese and the walnuts. If you bought your walnuts un-toasted just pop them in a dry pan for less than 5 minutes to toast. Keep a close eye on them as they can burn very easily and once happy with their colour, remove from the pan so they don’t continue to toast.

Heat the oil in a pan and cook the beetroot and spring onions for approx. 5 minutes then set aside to cool.

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In a large bowl, combine the beetroot mixture with the goats cheese, nutritional yeast, walnuts, mint and ground almonds and mix well with your hands (this part is messy – Wear gloves to avoid pink hands!).

Season with a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper then shape into your desired burger sizes.

Place the burgers on a baking tray and bake for approx. 25 minutes, turning halfway.

Top with hummus, fresh herbs or sprouts and enjoy!

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Almond Crust Pizzas

These bad boys have been something I have been trying to master for a long time now. I had previously attempted cauliflower and quinoa crust pizzas but let’s be honest we all knew it wasn’t real pizza! They never held their shape and admittedly sometimes had to be ate with a spoon! 😦

Until now that is!

I surprised myself with this clean cheat – it really does look, eat and taste like real pizza! Even my pizza-loving sister was amazed! Plus the almond crust makes them really filling so don’t be put off by their size.

Yes they take a bit longer to make then whacking a frozen store-bought version in the oven but that’s part of the satisfaction of making your own healthy clean cheats and not worrying about all the crap you’re putting in your body and onto your waistline!

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To make 3 mini pizzas – or 3 individual portions

Ingredients

Base:
180-200g ground almonds
2 eggs beaten
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (or parmesan if not dairy-free/vegan)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp oregano or basil (dried herbs are fine)

Plus extra meal for rolling the dough – I ran out of ground almonds so I improvised and used buckwheat flakes which worked perfectly too. The amount used is only minimal and only to stop the dough sticking to the rolling pin.

Toppings:
2 tbsp tomoto paste (sugar free)
1tbsp nutritional yeast
& Whatever tickles your fancy/is in your fridge!

I chose kale, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and capers purely because that was what I had in my fridge at the sporadic time of making!

What to do:

Begin by adding all of the base ingredients to your blender to make your dough. The mixture should hold together but if too wet add some more ground almonds or too dry add a little water.

Seperate the dough into 3 equal sized portions then roll into circular pizza-shaped bases. Add more ground almonds, as you would do with flour when baking, if the dough is sticking to the rolling pin.

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I recommend placing parchment paper on a chopping board and rolling from the centre of the dough outwards, rotating the board as you go, to get a good shape.

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Pop in the oven at 200.C and bake for approx. 8 mins or until golden brown. This may vary depending on your oven.

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Now add your toppings! Have fun here – why not do 3 different versions?!

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Place back in the oven for a further 7 minutes to allow toppings to cook.

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Remove & allow to cool for a minute or two before cutting with a pizza slicer!

Then try not to eat all 3 pizzas by yourself!!

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