Tag Archives: Mexican

Leftovers rock- quick mexi potatoes

So I hate food waste. We throw out things like vegetables we intend to eat that eventually die in the crisper and last week’s dinner (which now looks scary so we sometimes turf the container too). We waste food for a variety of reasons (even if you don’t want to click the link, click the link because Dr. Karl wrote that piece and I love Dr. Karl). But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There’s one section of my extended family who don’t do leftovers. Food not eaten that night doesn’t get eaten. Either it goes straight into the bin or it goes into the fridge and then into the bin later. It’s weird. I love leftovers to the point where I plan for leftovers so I can have yummy lunches for the coming week or freeze portions to create a bit of variety at a later date.

Part of my planning for leftovers includes purposefully cooking a bit more veg than needed and the other night it was baked potatoes. I can’t stand turning on the oven for one or two tiny things, and maximising what you cook in the oven saves electricity and money. So cooking this recipe actually started about 2 days before I finally ate this dish when I rolled my spuds in foil and baked them in the oven until super soft.

This is not a recipe where you need ingredient amounts. You can even make LEFTOVERS SQAURED like I did here, where I added leftover beans to leftover potatoes. It’s a naturally gluten free recipe.

I added: leftover refried beans, tomato and cheese to a roughly chopped up baked potato in a baking dish of your choice. I added guacamole and spring onions to mine after it came out of the oven. Of course, you could add sour cream too.

I like this dish because it’s a little like nachos but uses less processed food. It’s great with sweet potato if you’re not a spud fan.

It’s also really nice done with Indian ingredients (leftover dahl and chopped veg with chopped coriander and a swirl of yoghurt on top after it has come out of the oven).

It’s not a gourmet dish by any stretch of the imagination but it’s solid food as healthy or revolting as you want to make it and is easy to produce in a big baking dish to serve as dinner or a side to something else.

Tuck in.

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Tortilla Bake

So back in high school, my first job was working at a Mexican take-away shop in the food court of a shopping centre. I know. Magical. We made nachos with liquid cheese and crumbed chicken burgers with the corn chips that crushed and were left in the bottom of the tub. Tres authentic. Three afternoons a week and all day Saturday I would smile patiently at the lady and her adult son who would come in, order, eat most of the meal and then come back with a complaint and demand a refund (Dad taught me how to deal with them and I would make every step of the meal with them watching me, asking them if I was putting on too much salsa, if they wanted me to zap the final product so it was extra hot, etc. etc. Thanks Dad). On Thursdays, in the lull between afternoon and late-night shopping, I would clean every inch of tiles and counter, scrub out the deep-fryer and fold a million paper napkins around two million pieces of plastic cutlery. I would get free pizza and garlic bread from the (also now gone) Italian take-away next door at the end of the night. I was so special.

I started on 6.64 AU an hour and started saving for a car immediately. Later I saved for schoolies and then moving out to go to uni. My first boss was great but the couple who bought the business later were really nasty and didn’t like that another part-timer and I had been working there more than a year and therefore couldn’t be easily fired and were also getting on in age (17. Over the hill).

Even thought the other girl quit, storming out one lunch after being accused of stealing from the register (an embarrassment I would also later be accused of) and I was berated in front of customers if I was too generous in my servings, I stuck at that job until I moved to Brisbane.

AND YET…

I never liked Mexican food.

That’s right. Mexican was never as popular in Australia as it has been for a long time in the USA, because Mexican meant Old El Paso taco shells or tortillas, salsa and sachets of mince meat seasoning. There were no other brands to buy, you couldn’t get flat bread in the bakery of the supermarket yet and so it was quite expensive. Add to that I never liked cheese and (still don’t like) sour cream, I was not one to beg for Mexican for dinner. Hell, I didn’t even like corn chips and salsa at parties.

And I’m not sure what changed. I’d like to tell you a story about a friend’s mum who made amazing authentic Mexican taught to them by Indigenous people of Mexico’s highlands (does Mexico even have highlands?), but I can’t. I have no idea when my taste buds changed (probably when I stopped being such a picky eater) but I would place a bet and say it was probably nachos. White people love nachos 😉

One dish that I loved and began recreating from the take-away store was tortilla bake. We made a chicken and a beef on and people lost their minds over it. This tortilla bake is obviously vego, could be vegan if cheese was left out and could be healthier if I had used less cheese. It was supposed to be special and “what the hell”, we had the cheese to spare. These days, I see tortilla bakes all over sites like Pinterest but, back in 2001, this was the best you could get.

In pictures, with explanatory captions, is my current incarnation of tortilla bake.

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I have, from the left, a can of Mexi beans (basically kidney beans in sauce but we had no home made ones), chipotle sauce, corn, pre-cooked capsicum and onion, olive oil spray, tortillas.

I have, from the left, a can of Mexi beans (basically kidney beans in sauce but we had no home made ones), chipotle sauce, corn, pre-cooked capsicum and onion, olive oil spray, tortillas.

Spray the bottom and sides of a pie dish, cake tin or whatever dish fits your tortillas and place your first tortilla inside.

Spray the bottom and sides of a pie dish, cake tin or whatever dish fits your tortillas and place your first tortilla inside.

Start layering. You can see a layer of beans, capsicum and onions, and corn here. Change the ingredient to suit your budget and preferences.

Start layering. You can see a layer of beans, capsicum and onions, and corn here. Change the ingredient to suit your budget and preferences.

Add a layer of cheese (I thought I'd leave out that photo because I'm sure you know what cheese looks like) and then add a second tortilla. . I've then used the back of a spoon to smear a layer of chipotle sauce onto this tortilla. This can be done on the first tortilla too, depending on your tastes.

Add a layer of cheese (I thought I’d leave out that photo because I’m sure you know what cheese looks like) and then add a second tortilla. . I’ve then used the back of a spoon to smear a layer of chipotle sauce onto this tortilla. This can be done on the first tortilla too, depending on your tastes.

Add another layer of beans, veg and cheese followed by a tortilla until you fill your pan. Our dish is really shallow so we only get two layers. Then add a final tortilla, more sauce and top with cheese. Chuck that puppy in the oven until the cheese is cooked and it's hot all the way through.

Add another layer of beans, veg and cheese followed by a tortilla until you fill your pan. Our dish is really shallow so we only get two layers. Then add a final tortilla, more sauce and top with cheese. Chuck that puppy in the oven until the cheese is cooked and it’s hot all the way through.

It's good to let it rest and firm up after you get it out of the oven. If you can wait. Otherwise, serve with sides of your choice, like a green salad, corn cobs, or in our case, European styled cabbage and mushrooms. Yeah, I don't know why we chose that either.

It’s good to let it rest and firm up after you get it out of the oven. If you can wait. Otherwise, serve with sides of your choice, like a green salad, corn cobs, or in our case, European styled cabbage and mushrooms. Yeah, I don’t know why we chose that either.

AI AI AI.

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GUZMAN Y GOMEZ

So I love me some Mexican. Mexican-styled beans with chipotle and rice are a staple in our house. We had been to Guzman Y Gomez at the Emporium and so got quite excited when we heard GYG was opening down the road from us at Southbank. I’m not going to wax lyrical about a “fast food” joint, but I will tell you that we both really liked it.

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We ordered a veggie burrito, veggie quesadillas and guacamole with corn chips. You can also order the burrito sans tortilla in a bowl, although they do have GF options. You can tell that someone has actually had to stand at a grill cooking onions, capsicum and mushrooms. Everything is made from very “real” ingredients. It was a bit on the early side of lunch so service was especially quick. We didn’t get drinks here but have always enjoyed the alcoholic slushies they sell- perhaps it’s the white trash coming out in us? 🙂 We spent just under $25 for our three items and were very happy in the tummy.

The thing I like about GYG is that it’s some of the easiest veganisable (I know, I know, not a word. Sue me) food around. Guac is included automatically for vego meal options and they practically expect people to mix and match. We have a carni (vore, not val) friend who likes coming here because he doesn’t like cheese and they reliably leave it off for him. You can get gluten free very easily. Everything is very mild and hotter flavours are added at the sauce station. The non-reusable serving-ware is easily broken down and they have two bins- recycling and “Everything Else”.

It really is the kind of place that’s easy to go with a diverse group of people and although it’s obviously not fine-dining, it’s a large, cheerful and efficient place that sells real food that’s really tasty. ‘Nuff said.

 

 
Guzman y Gomez on Urbanspoon

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