Sun 10 Apr 2011
While some people find cooking to be the most stressful chore in the world, I find it relaxing and therapeutic. It’s something that sets me at ease and reenergizes my spirit, at the risk of sounding melodramatic! To me, there are few things in life more enjoyable than dabbling in the kitchen with some piano music in the background (Dustin O’Halloran is a new favorite, thanks to my friend Aoife for the recommendation!) with a glass of wine in one hand and a spatula in the other.
Life has been quite hectic for Mountaineering Man and me lately; it seems every weekend is booked with long-standing plans or some sort of obligation so it was a much-welcome relief when we found ourselves with no plans last Sunday. We went to Chapters Bookstore for a bit of browsing and then stopped into a cafe for coffee. For dinner we thought we’d hit one of the Mexican places in town, but found all four of them to be closed! So we did one better and hit the supermarket where we gathered some avocados, tortillas, tomatoes and a few other bits and headed home to cook.
While MM read the paper (which for him is necessary and blissful R&R time) I happily doddled around the kitchen, chopping and working away at creating a soul-satisfying Mexican meal. I started first by making homemade salsa, which isn’t so much difficult as it is time consuming. But again, I find standing at a cutting board for an hour to be relaxing so it was perfectly fine with me. Once you’ve tasted homemade salsa you will never buy store-bought again. Homemade salsa is fresh and bright and bursting with flavor – there’s no comparison to the tinny tomato taste of the jarred variety.
The salsa is also an essential ingredient in my guacamole, which I make by mashing avocados and then adding a couple of spoonfuls of the salsa. Throw in a bit of sea salt and a squeeze of lime and it’s ready to go. For our main course I simply cooked up some chicken and bell peppers with a packet of fajita spices I got at Marks & Spencer. Normally I’d make my own spice mix but I was at MM’s apartment and as he has no spices I would’ve spent a good 20 Euro on cumin, chili powder, etc. to make my own mix. In this case, a bit of cheating is fine!
To sit down to a table of hot tortillas, spicy chicken and peppers, guacamole, salsa and natural yogurt (I use this in place of sour cream) at the end of a leisurely Sunday was the perfect conclusion to an idyllically lazy day, and much nicer than eating out.
*There’s really no recipe for the chicken; I simply cut up some chicken breast and red and yellow bell peppers and cook them in a pan with a bit of olive oil and the packet of fajita spices.
Fresh Tomato Salsa
4 medium tomatoes – must be red and ripe!
1 small white onion
1 large garlic clove
1/2 jalapeno pepper
Handful of fresh coriander
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt for seasoning
Chop the tomatoes and onion into a small dice and put into a medium-sized bowl. Mince the garlic into fine bits and throw in. Carefully cut the jalapeno pepper and scrape the seeds and veins out, unless you want your salsa super spicy! Mince finely and add to tomato/onion mix. Roughly chop the coriander and toss in. Add the lime juice and olive oil and mix all together, add the sea salt to your taste and let sit in the fridge for at least one hour and up to 5 hours.