So I got these tomatilloes at the market, and a whole big box of peppers and chillis and then I had this black chocolate and I had pumpkin seed meal, and all of this pretty much said ‘Mexican’ to me, but there’s a problem – I really don’t know thing one about Mexican cooking. I’m sort of aware of flavours that go together, but not how to make them do so, or anything like that.
When in doubt, I roast things, so I did that with the vegetables, and then stared at it all in confusion for a while, before sticking everything in a blender with a bunch of extra spices and other bits and pieces. It tasted pretty much as I imagine mole sauce is supposed to taste – spicy and chocolatey and dense – but then I didn’t know what to put it on. I wound up roasting some zucchini and pumpkin and stirring the mole through that, and then I didn’t know what to put *that* on. Rice? Corn chips? Tortillas? And what about protein? And – argh. I don’t know. I still don’t know. Something tells me it would be excellent on chicken, which is a fat lot of good to me right now.
Anyway, I do know that it’s a tasty sauce – fresh-tasting and bitter and chocolatey and aromatic and peppery-hot – so I’m writing it up here just as a sauce, and maybe one of you will be able to figure out what it’s for…
Your Shopping List6 tomatillos 4 small tomatoes 2 chillis (one red and one green is fun) 3 small round peppers 3 capsicums, assorted colours 5 long frying peppers, also sometimes called sweet chillis, assorted colours 1 bulb garlic 3 tbsp olive oil 1/2 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp oregano 50 g pumpkin seed meal, or pumpkin seeds, toasted and then ground 40 g black chocolate – 99% cocoa, so the really bitter stuff – chopped 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp chipotle pepper 1/4 tsp allspice 1/4 tsp thyme salt, to taste
Now what will you do with it?
If only I knew…
Stare at everything in bemusement for a while, knowing that these flavours go together, but really not how. Then shrug in a fatalistic manner, pull out a baking tin, and set the oven to 200°C.
Halve the chillis lengthwise and take out the seeds. Do the same with the sweet chillis. Halve the tomatoes and quarter the tomatilloes. Slice the capsicums into three or four flat sides and then halve the sides. Deal with the round peppers however you feel is best, but again, you want the seeds and stems out, and large chunks. Put all of this lot into a baking tin. Slice the top off the garlic, pour a little extra oil over it, and wrap it in foil. Put it into the same baking tin. Drizzle over the oil, and sprinkle with oregano and cumin. Roast for about half an hour, or until everything except the garlic is soft.
Incidentally, this all looked really pretty, but I was feeling so confused by the whole business that I forgot to take photos. Sorry.
Put the garlic back in the oven, while you stare despairingly at the roasted vegetables, which smell quite a lot like chilli, but are not providing further inspiration. Decide that putting them in the blender with all the other ingredients can’t hurt. Do so. Add a bit of salt, and the roasted garlic when it’s ready, and puree again.
You have now turned all those pretty, colourful vegetables into ugly sludge. But it’s tasty ugly sludge, so you blog about it anyway, while you wait for the pumpkins to roast and try to figure out what on earth to put with them.
Maybe you should have stuck to chocolate cake for dinner. Or made more of an effort to find a recipe.
(Nah, that’s crazy talk…)
(Well, not the bit about the chocolate cake)
Well, you could always start by knowing what you are doing. That would have been my choice, frankly.
I’m sorry, I really don’t know what the variations are, because I really don’t know what I’ve created. Maybe you can tell me?
This time last year…
Farmers’ Market: Autumn Equinox