Mexicali Feast

Mexican food is super trendy in Australia right now, and seeing so many taquerias popping up around town has me seriously craving the fresh, comforting flavours of Latin American cuisine. This bright, happy food takes a little while to prepare {especially the beans} so it's perfect for the weekend or to make in advance for a party. Yesterday I whipped up a few dishes for a build-your-own-burrito family fiesta, including Cuban-style black beans, guacamole, and roast corn and mango salsa. I know it's not authentic, but everyone loves a little grated cheese and sour cream in their tortillas, and adding different garnishes around the table makes a meal feel so much more like a feast!

Cuban Black Beans: In a large pot, soak a package of dried black beans in water for 12-14 hours or overnight • In a heated skillet, sauté 1 large white onion in 1 tbs vegetable oil • when onion is translucent, add in 3 cloves chopped garlic and stir for a minute • add drained black beans and enough water to cover everything by an inch • Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 hour • add in another 2 cloves of chopped garlic, pepper, and some coriander {if you like it, which I don't!} • return to simmer for another hour until beans and soft and the liquid is thick • garnish with fresh spring onions {or more coriander} •

Guacamole: In a bowl combine 3 tbs finely chopped red onion • 2 small de-seeded tomatoes,diced • 2 diced avocados • the juice of 1 lime • salt and pepper to taste •

Roast Corn, Capsicum, and Mango Salsa: Spread the kernels of a drained can of corn {obviously use fresh if in season}, 4 tbs diced red capiscum, and 2 tbs diced red onion on a baking sheet and place under the grill, stirring often to avoid burning • in a bowl combine the diced flesh of 1 mango, the juice of half a lemon, and some fresh cracked pepper • mix in the roasted veggies • garnish with 2 tbs fresh shredded mint leaves •

Tortillas: Better hosts than me might make their own tortillas, but I'm really liking the Mountain Bread corn wraps available at any grocery store here in Australia because they're made with a lot less junky preservatives than other off-the-shelf tortillas. To warm the flatbread without drying it out or making it go mushy, microwave it for 3o seconds wrapped in a clean tea towel inside a woven wooden basket. Place the basket on the table and let your guests dive in and serve themselves!

Catherine Roberts