Monday, 9 September 2013

60's Design and Tacos

This past week has been full-on, and I've only spent four of these days at school, thanks to a mid-term break on Monday. Sunday was a city day: Made a classic banana cake in the morning before heading to the art gallery with Mum to see California Design - an exhibition about how California influenced architecture, product design, fashion and a way of life from 1930 to 1965. It was inspiring to be surrounded by so may objects that carried with them curiosity, discovery, and opinion. The exhibition also encouraged my personal interest with architecture and furniture design, particularly when I learnt about Charles and Ray Eames' meticulous ergonomic research and testing for their project simply named Chair.

The 'Z' chair / A cool lamp
Early afternoon we met Dad at the City Works Depot, which is home to several new and exciting places to dine and treat yourself. We had lunch at the Food Truck Garage, a recently new installment serving up fresh and re-vamped twists on classic takeaways such as burgers with a beef & beetroot patty, lettuce, tomato, gherkins and a mysterious "awesome sauce" (which earns its name). There are also hot dogs, tacos, home-made drinks and a weekly-changing specials, not to mention an effortlessly-cool, laid-back vibe.

I've been back to the grindstone stone since Tuesday, and working hard at that. The prospect of being House and/or School Prefects next year is weighing on my mind a lot lately and on those of my friends. It's odd and uncomfortable when you realize your competition is those people who you talk to everyday; being torn between wanting the best for yourself and the best for others. But as they say: que sera, sera. As the end of my school year is fast approaching - I effectively don't have a 'tern four' - study for external exams has continued off the back of mock exams just a few weeks ago. Oh, so intense!

Thank you thank you thank you, therefore, for long weekends, when you can spend the whole afternoon in the kitchen and not feel (too) guilty, taking time to make a dinner as completely from scratch as possible. Since my craving for home-cooked mexican, I hadn't found anything satisfying but simple enough to fulfill my hankering until now. Early in the afternoon I made the tortillas, stacked them, wrapped them up in tinfoil and left them on the bench. I put the chicken on to marinate in the fridge. Before dinner time, I barbecued the chicken, put the tortillas in the oven to warm up, made the salad, sliced the chicken, sliced up half an avocado and plated up. BUT I kept each component separate, so we could each make our tacos just the way we liked them.

Fresh Flour Tortillas

Makes 16

3 ½ cups flour
1 tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
½ cup neutral oil
1 cup very hot water

Place flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and add oil and hot water. Mix to combine and then knead for 3 minutes. The dough should be soft enough to roll easily. Cover and allow to stand for 15 minutes.
Divide into 16 portions. Roll into balls, then rolls out balls very thinly on a lightly floured board. If you want perfectly round tortillas, use a tortilla press or place a plate on top of each rolled tortilla and cut around it.
Heat a frying pan or hot plate and cook tortillas one by one over a low heat. Flip when bubbles puff up. The tortilla will start to fill up with air - when this happens flip it again, squash it down a bit, and continue cooking until a few browned marks have appeared on both sides (about 1 minute each side). Fresh Flour Tortillas can be reheated briefly in the microwave between paper towel or wrapped in tinfoil and heated in the oven.

Mexican Rub

Makes ½ cup

Finely chop 3 red chillies (or more or less to taste) and pound to a paste in a mortar and pestle with 4 cloves coarsely chopped garlic, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tbsp fresh or 2 tsp dried oregano leaves and 1 tsp salt. Mix in 1 tsp ground black pepper, the juice of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp olive oil Alternatively, whizz all ingredients together in a food processor. Mexican rub keeps for weeks in a jar in the fridge and is a simple way to transform fish chicken, pork and other meats. I marinated chicken breast in this rub for about 4 hours, barbecued it then cut it into strips.

Refreshing Chopped Salad

From Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals' 'Killer Jerk Chicken' meal
Serves 4

1 red pepper
1 red chicory
1 cos or romaine lettuce
2 limes
¼ of a red onion
a small bunch of fresh coriander
1 punnet of cress

Get a very large board that you're happy to serve on. Deseed and roughly chop the red pepper. Put the red chicory and cos lettuce on top and keep chopping until everything is fairly fine. Make a well in the centre. Pour in a few lugs of extra virgin olive oil and squeeze in the juice of 2 limes. Finely grate over the red onion quarter, season to taste, then toss everything together. Tear over the coriander, snip over the cress and take to the table.

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