Anyone who’s come to ours for dinner before will be familiar with Thomasina Miers’ guacamole and tomato salsa recipes as we serve them for starters all the time. We make them in abundance, serve them with chips made out of deep fried tortillas and stuff our faces until there’s no room for mains. Im sure Tommi (how she introduces herself) would highly approve of our indulgence.
Tommi started her culinary career in Mexico where she fell in love with the cuisine, the people’s obsession for good food and the incredible variety of colourful ingredients. She has since done a grand job in bringing Mexican food back to the UK in the form of Wahaca, a hugely popular eatery that has won the Observer Food Monthly ‘best cheap eats’ award, has been voted London’s best Mexican and is generally brilliant if you’re looking for some tasty, fresh, and sharing-friendly food.
I was recently invited to a cooking session at the Wahacas in Stratford Westfield, where Tommi demonstrated how to make three recipes from the new cookbook, ‘Wahaca – Mexican Food at Home‘. The book doesn’t follow on from ‘Mexican Food Made Simple’, Tommi’s book released in 2010, but almost starts again including some of the classic recipes from that book and loads of new enticing ones that span from perfect dinner party sharing plates to slow cook comforting dinners for two.
What I loved the most about cooking with Tommi was her passion for the ingredients, especially those that spark up and spice her Mexican recipes. Pretty much every recipe (including some of the desserts) includes a variety of chilli, coriander, lime and salt, so if you’re interested in this style of cooking get yourselves these staples as a starting point. On the day we made Cucumber, chilli, beetroot & ricotta salad, Seabass Ceviche and Classic guacamole. The joy of these dishes was that they required no stove action. All of them could be prepared from fresh ingredients on the comfort of your kitchen table. A relaxing and fairly easy way to create food full of fresh zingy flavours (well, as long as you don’t challenge yourself to prepare all three in under 30 minutes like we did!).
My particular favourite was cucumber, chilli, beetroot & ricotta salad. The recipe uses ricotta flavoured lightly with anise from chervil (tarragon could be used as an alternative) topped with beetroot marinated in hibiscus syrup. It’s sweet, slightly floral, delicate, and together with crunchy cucumber, a bit of green chilli and garlic it makes a creamy but fresh salad, perfect as an accompaniment to her crunchy taquitos on the current menu.
The ceviche (raw fish marinated in citrus juice until ‘cooked’) recipe was good and very fitting with the new craze for peruvian food, heightened by the opening of Ceviche in Soho. It’s such a simple dish but out of so many peoples comfort zones, so I’m glad to see a recipe that makes the whole process of preparing ceviche seem do-able. I loved her use of grapefruit in the marinade, adding bitterness to the citrus tang, and the warm heat coming from Wahaca’s Habanero sauce (normally what you get in a little pot when you visit the restaurant, now available in bottles and soon to be available in Sainsburys..clever Tommi).
And the classic guacamole which she refers to as ‘the undisputed superstar’. I agree, life wouldn’t be complete without it, I simply love it. This recipe uses green chillies, red onion, garlic, a lot of lime, salt and coriander and a tomato to make it that bit summery. Though I think you can do what you like with guacamole and encourage you to experiment with these ingredients until you find the combination that suits you.
Wahaca – Mexican Food at Home hits the shelves on the 21st June (RRP £20, but closer to £10 on Amazon). I urge you to buy it, even if it’s just to gain access to the incredibly tasty pork pibil recipe and to try others like black bean and chorizo empanadas, chicken with peanut mole or grilled pineapple with toasted coconut flakes and dark caramel. If these still don’t get you drooling, you’ll even get it just to see a photograph of our homegrown Wahaca chillies on page 222!
The people at Westfield Stratford have also put together this video that shows off some of the recipes, and even features me attempting to put together the dishes myself!