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I have some kind of fondness for anything Mexican. I think I just like their idea of meat, cheese and corn in many dishes. I also will always want to try making something entirely from scratch and in this case it was tortillas. I love making bread dough, the act of kneading is just so soothing that I really can’t get enough of it so why not try something slightly different but almost like making bread and pastry combined. I found this wonderful recipe from the Homesick Texan whose images look absolutely mouthwatering. There were many tortilla recipes using corn flour (masa harina) but I had such difficulty finding where any store sold this that I gave up and found a superb plain flour recipe.

The beef taco recipe I found on the BBC website, not the most authentic of places to look but it seemed quite simple enough and came out surprisingly good too. If you don’t want to make the tortillas just scroll down for the beef recipe.

Texas Flour Tortillas (Homesick Texan)
Makes: 8 tortillas

Ingredients
Two cups of all-purpose flour (can make them whole wheat by substituting one cup of whole-wheat flour for white flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
3/4 cups of warm milk

Method
1. Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil. Then, slowly add the warm milk

2. Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed. Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft.

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3. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.

4. After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. (It’s very important to let the dough rest, otherwise it will be like elastic and won’t roll out to a proper thickness and shape.)

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5. After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the center until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. Keep rolled-out tortillas covered until ready to cook.

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6. In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. It should start to puff a bit when it’s done.

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7. Keep cooked tortillas covered wrapped in a napkin until ready to eat.

Notes
Can be reheated in a dry iron skillet, over your gas-burner flame or in the oven wrapped in foil.

Beef Tortilla/Tacos

Ingredients
For the beef filling
500g/1lb 2oz beef mince
1 onion, chopped
150g/5oz field mushrooms, sliced (optional)
1 green pepper, seeds removed, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp hot paprika
¼ tsp ground cumin
200ml/7fl oz beef stock
6 tbsp tomato purée
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Sprinkling of chilli power (optional)

12 taco shells/tortillas bought (or 8 fresh tortillas)
lettuce shredded
diced tomatoes
grated or shredded cheese (any kind but I used cheddar/mozzarella mix)
corn (canned or from freshly cooked corn)
tabasco sauce (if feeling adventurous)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

2. For the beef filling, fry the mince in a frying pan over a medium-high heat for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, or until browned. Add the onion, mushrooms if using, green pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or until the vegetables are softened. Stir in the paprika and cumin and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour in the beef stock and tomato purée and mix well. Cover and simmer gently for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

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3. To serve, place the taco shells on a baking tray and warm them in the oven for 2-3 minutes. Spoon the beef filling into the warm taco shells,  add toppings or basically whatever you like to add in and it’s ready to eat!

Impressions

I actually forgot to buy the capsicum and mushrooms. So basically my beef mix was beef, onions, chicken stock, tomato puree, spices and salt and pepper. With a sprinkling of chilli powder. I probably added a bit more paprika to my liking, but it’s basically all to your taste buds. It has a nice rounded taste of paprika which went really well with the beef and toppings.

I love recipes that just let you mix it up or add what you like. Just like a pizza. I probably could have added some fresh capsicum on top, avocado spread and onions too but I think it tasted delicious like that.

The tortillas were a joy to make, and very simple too. They came out soft and light, but a bit crunchy when using the skillet. Worked out so well, I’d probably make this again and again.

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 For something a little bit different, I’m going to post about my food travel when I went to North America. Well, I didn’t go overseas just for food, but searching for tasty food made my holiday all the more exciting.

My sister told me you must try poutine in Montreal, that’s what it’s famous for. For those saying, what are you talking about, what is this poutine? Basically it’s chips/fries with gravy and cheese curd pieces that start to melt with the hot gravy and fresh chips. I guess it’s similar to the UK version of curry and chips.

We went to Old Montreal to seek out poutine, I felt this part of the town was beautiful with all the French buildings, but also seemed like a tourist destination too.  Montreal Poutine didn’t seem to have all that great reviews in Urbanspoon but you think that a place specialising in poutine shouldn’t be all that bad so we went ahead and tried it anyway.

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As we were quite full from our breakfast, we just ordered the original poutine without any extras for all of us to share. The chips were nice and crisp, but also I love thick chips so that was a plus too. What I found a bit disappointing was the gravy and cheese didn’t have enough flavour.

I assume the gravy would have stock flavour to it, of either chicken or beef but couldn’t really taste anything all that much, and there wasn’t enough gravy too! The cheese wasn’t even salty, and I can usually pick up salt in food pretty easily.

Overall, I found it to be decent but nothing too special. I could go for chips with just tomato sauce any day.

Montreal Poutine on Urbanspoon

Montreal Poutine
161 rue Saint-paul est
Montreal, Quebec City H2Y1G6
Canada

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 I heard about Three Bags Full from a colleague and since it was near where we worked we decided to give it a try. I’m not big on brunch, it’s basically just breakfast late or lunch early and none of those sounds overly enticing to me. Cafe food on the other hand is something I’m quite fond of, it’s not too expensive nor heavy but just enough to satisfy the stomach.

Three Bags Full is quite a large place, I was really surprised at how large the space was and it was very busy. I guess people in Richmond really like their brunch and coffee.

I ordered one of their specials which was a Beef Burger with tasty cheese, onions, tomatoes, pickles with wedges and tomato relish.

It is similar to the Steak Sandwich on the menu but you get a couple of wedges too. As a burger, I did really enjoy it apart from the pickled red onions. I found these to be too sour for my liking. The beef was cooked just right, still a bit red inside so definitely not overcooked and the cheese lent itself. What I mean by that is, sometimes cheese can be almost tasteless and I find that most with hard cheeses. There is very little fragrance around them, but this had a good cheese taste so I’m happy about that.

I had to eat the burger using a knife and fork (shock and horror) because it was too large to eat by hands. The aioli they dress the salad with gave it a nice mayonnaise like taste to it and overall I couldn’t be happier.

The wedges with the tomato relish was decent enough, I found they weren’t overly crispy but I did prefer them to be a tad more crisp. The tomato relish on the other hand I have no real opinion on, it was slightly sour but I felt lacked the tomato flavour. It was neither here no there.

Impressions

You can see why people come to dine here. For people just wanting to relax, chill and drink a cup of coffee this is the place. However, if you want some satisfying meals, Three Bags Full, luckily does that too.

Three Bags Full on Urbanspoon

Three Bags Full

60 Nicholson St
Abbotsford VIC 3067

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I’m not sure how I came around to liking Panna Cotta’s, it’s probably Masterchef Australia but making a great Panna Cotta that is silky smooth, not too sweet but just enough richness is something I’ve been seeking in a recipe. I’ve made Vanilla Panna Cotta before but I’ve always been fascinated by mango jelly with Vanilla Panna Cotta. I found this recipe on Kothiyavunu.com and it looked great and panna cotta’s don’t take toooo much time, and it’s usually easy enough to make too so I had to try it out.

Mango and Vanilla Panna Cotta (Kothiyavunu.com)

Preparation Time : 10 minutes + Setting Time : 3-4 hrs
Cooking Time : 15 minutes
Serves : 4

Ingredients

Panna Cotta
Heavy Cream : 1 cup /240 ml (Or thickened cream)
Sugar : 1 tbsp /15 grms (or to your taste)
Milk/Half & Half : 1 cup /240 ml
Unflavored Gelatin : 1 packet /11/2 tsp
Honey : 1/3 cup /80 ml
Pure Vanilla Extract : 1 tsp

Mango Jelly
Mango Puree : 1 cup / 240 ml
Sugar : 1/4 cup /60 grms (or to your taste) – I used 1/8 cup
Cool Water : 3 tbsp/45 ml
Unflavored Gelatin : 1 packet /11/2 tsp

Method

Panna Cotta

1. Pour 1/2 cup of the milk into a bowl and sprinkle the gelatin over. Let stand until gelatin has softened, about 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine remaining cup of milk, cream, honey, sugar,and bring to a simmer over medium. Heat until all the sugar and honey have dissolved 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the the vanilla extract. Watch the nix carefully as it is prone to splitting.

3. Now add and mix the gelatin until it is completely dissolved and allow the mixture come down to room temperature.

4. Pour into the serving bowls/glass as desired, cover with plastic wraps and refrigerate at least 2-4 hours or until set.

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Mango Jelly

1. Sprinkle gelatin over cool water.

2. Pour mango puree and sugar in a small saucepan and simmer until sugar has dissolved.

3. Now mix the gelatin into the mango mixture and stir until gelatin has dissolved.

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4. Remove from heat and allow to cool; pour it over the frozen panna cotta.

5. Allow to set it in a refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours until set.

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Impressions

I think I made the worst mistake when cooking the panna cotta mix. I split the cream. Once it set, I realised that my thickened cream split into three layers! I tried scooping some of the fat from the top out (slightly yellow tinged) to make as “normal” as I could. The recipe wasn’t at fault though, I just left it on the stove too long and let it bubble/boil.

The mango jelly was easy to make, using the same kind of method as with the panna cotta mix and luckily I couldn’t have split that too!

The overall result was still quite decent. The panna cotta came out slightly grainy due to my neglect but flavour wise I couldn’t be happier. However, I found the use of thickened cream/heavy cream to be too dense for my liking. I’m not sure if using the standard cream would be harder to set but it didn’t seem as light as I would have liked. Other then that I enjoyed eating it and that’s as best of compliment I can give.

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