COOKING WITH FRESH MEX [Ad]

Serious question time – is there anything better than Mexican food?

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always be a lifelong pizza gal (I’m not forgetting about you boo), and generally I’m a fan of most cuisines from around the world because let’s face it, I just really like FOOD, but there really is just something fabulous about Mexican food. For me it’s all about the super fresh produce, layers of deep smokey flavours, and of course, a good old whack of belly-warming spice.

When it comes to comfort food it just doesn’t get better than a good burrito or a big old pot of chilli, and one of my favourite places to get my tortilla wrapped fix is Fresh Mex in Aberdeen. Since 2015 they’ve been working their asses off to rightly assume their throne as the head honchos of Tex-Mex food, serving ‘nacho’ average grub to the masses from their burrito bar in central Schoolhill, Deliveroo, and more recently also from the Adams bar on Holburn Street.

It hasn’t gone unnoticed that since the start of this crazy Lockdown, all of our fave restaurants and diners have been putting their heads together to come up with amazing and inventive ways for us to be able to enjoy their dining experiences and amazing products at home, and not one to miss out on the trend, Fresh Mex have come up with a pretty fabulous way for you to have some fun in the kitchen and create some awesome Tex-Mex recipes of your own at home. Enter Fresh Mex Seasoning Kits!

The kits…

Fresh Mex have taken all of the classic seasonings and spices that they use in their flavoursome recipes and created these incredible and easy to use aromatic kits that can lend themselves to just about any Tex-Mex recipe, so when they got in touch and asked me to have a go at creating some of my own recipes at home, the answer was a resounding , , sí!

Here are the two seasoning kits and what they’re all about:

TEX RUB – SWEET & SMOKEY SEASONING KIT – £2.50/50g

‘Bring the authentic taste of Texas to your table with our quick & easy to use Tex Rub! Just add our seasoning mix to meat or vegetables to create a dish that’s bursting with FRESH, sweet and smokey flavour.’

MEX RUB – SWEET & MILD SEASONING KIT – £2.50/50g

‘Bring flavour inspired by the bustling streets of Mexico to your kitchen with our quick and easy to use Mex Rub. Just add our seasoning mix to meat or vegetables to create a dish that’s bursting with FRESH fiesta flavour!

Both kits are free of artificial flavours and preservatives, and are vegan friendly, hurray! The possibilities are endless with these expertly assembled mixes, but for me it there was only ever going to be one option…BRUNCH! The meal that combines two of my favourite eating experiences, breakfast and lunch, made all the better with some smokey and spicy paprika filled goodness, and washed down with a Fresh Mex Lime Lager, this was going to be a pretty perfect Sunday.

Now of course these rubs are going to be insanely good for meat and fish dishes, but as always it’ll be veggie all the way for me, and it’ll just just as bloody good, I guarantee it 😉

The recipes…

HUEVOS RANCHEROS (V)

If you ask me, Huevos Rancheros (or ‘ranchers eggs’) is about as close as it gets to perfection when it comes to a delicious Sunday brunch. Traditionally eaten for breakfast by Mexican farmers, this is a hearty dish designed to keep you fuelled up for a hard days work – but is equally good for if you plan on doing nothing more than sitting on your ass sipping a few cold beers on a sunny afternoon – we don’t judge.

This is an incredibly flavoursome baked egg dish consisting of a rustic tomato and bean base, usually served on a tortilla, but for the purposes of this recipe I’ve skipped the tortilla in favour of a side of tasty AF sweetcorn fritters (stay tuned for the recipe for those!).

Preparation time – 5 mins

Cooking time – 30-35 mins

Serves – 4

Ingredients

Flatlay of ingredients needed to make Huevos Rancheros using the Fresh Mex Sweet and Smokey Tex Rub
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • FRESH MEX Tex Rub
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (or passata if it’s all you had in the cupboard like me!)
  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow pepper
  • 1 tin of mixed/black beans (any will work!)
  • fresh coriander
  • 1/2 lime
  • 4 large eggs
  • To Garnish – 1 medium avocado, 1 spring onion, coriander, sharp cheddar cheese

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180°C
  2. Bring a couple of spoons of vegetable oil to a medium heat in a large pan. Finely dice the onion, garlic and chilli and add to the pan. Cook for 5 minutes or until the onion is nice and soft.
  3. Chop the fresh tomato and yellow pepper in to roughly 1cm pieces and add to the pan along with a decent whack of roughly chopped coriander. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Time to get the Tex Rub involved! We went with about 1 1/2 tbsps because I love a lot of flavour, but this is a powerful mix so start small and taste as you go along if you’re not feeling too brave,
  5. Add tinned tomatoes and your drained and rinsed beans along with a fat squeeze of lime and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer your tasty mix to an ovenproof dish, crack your eggs on top with even spaces between them (i.e one per quarter if you’re using a square dish). Season eggs with salt and pepper and whack the whole lot in the oven to bake for about 15 minutes (just check that your eggs are cooked – they should still be a little runny!)
  7. Once cooked, garnish with slices of fresh avo, chopped spring onion, grated cheddar and more fresh coriander, plus an extra sprinkling of your Tex Rub for good measure and serve immediately!

SPICY SWEETCORN FRITTERS (Vg)

One of my all time favourite brekkies is a stack of golden sweetcorn fritters topped with avo and a poached egg with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce, you just can’t beat it. It’s sweet, it’s savoury, and it’s just flippin’ delicious. When it came to dreaming up my perfect Tex-Mex Brunch, I knew that these tasty little cakes of goodness were going to be the perfect accompaniment – with a Fresh Mex twist of course!

Get to work on these guys while your Huevos are baking away in the oven.

Preparation time – 5 mins

Cooking time – 6 minutes

Serves – 4 (or two if you’re extra hungry!)

Ingredients

Flatlay of ingredients needed to make sweetcorn fritter recipe using Fresh Mex Sweet & Mild Mex Rub
  • 200g sweetcorn
  • 1/2 red chilli
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • coriander
  • Dairyfree (or regular!) milk
  • plain flour
  • salt & pepper
  • FRESH MEX Mex Rub
  • To garnish – lambs lettuce, cherry tomatoes, coriander, lime wedges
  • To drizzle (optional, but tasty!) – mayo & yogurt (vegan or regular), lime, Mex Rub.

Method

  1. Finely dice the chilli and spring onion and crush the garlic. Roughly chop a small bunch of coriander and add everything to the sweetcorn in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. In a separate bowl, make a batter mix by adding about 50mls milk to about 100g seived flour and mix until smooth. Season with salt & pepper and about 1 tbsp of your Fresh Mex Mex Rub and mix again.
  3. Add the batter mix to your fresh ingredients a few spoons at a time – (my ‘measurements’ are rough as hell so better to start slow and judge it as you go along!) Your mixture should be thick enough to hold together without being too runny or sloppy.
  4. Bring about 1cm of vegetable oil to a high heat in a large flat pan, and when hot, carefully spoon your mix in to the pan, evenly spaced apart. Your fritters should be about 12cm in diameter.
  5. Fry for about 3 minutes on the first side until golden then flip and cook for a further 1 – 2 minutes on the other side. Remove and allow to sit on some kitchen roll for another minute before serving.

Optional but awesome… While your fritters are sitting, scatter some lambs lettuce and some sliced cherry toms on to a serving platter. Serve the fritters on top. In a small bowl, mix a spoon of light mayo, a spoon of low fat yogurt, a large squeeze of lime and 1 tsp of your Smokey Tex Rub and mix well. Drizzle over the fritters, add a couple of lime wedges and go to town on those bad boys!

As a wee extra (because I love me an excessive amount of food lube!) we whipped up a delicious Avocado and lime dip to serve alongside everything. Just add 1 medium avo, about 100mls low fat greek yogurt, two garlic cloves, the juice of a whole lime, a small bunch of coriander and some salt and pepper to a blender and job’s a good ‘un! Oh and don’t forget to sprinkle a little of your fave Fresh Mex spice rub to serve 😉

Now all that’s left to do is gather your crew round the table, crack open a cold Lime Lager, dig in and enjoy! This really is the perfect brunch for sharing with friends or family, so get stuck in and have a good time.

Recipes cooked using Fresh Mex seasoning kits. Huevos Rancheros, Mexican spiced Sweetcorn Fritters, avocado and lime dip.

If you want to give creating your own Fresh Mex recipe a go, you can pick up the seasoning kits, either by ordering online, or you can pick them up at a whole host of locations by clicking HERE. You can even order the super refreshing Lime Lager here too!

If you give this recipe a try or come up with some of your own, I’d love to know so don’t forget to leave a comment.

Until next time

B x

Note – the products in this post were gifted, but the opinions and recipes are my own!

ABERDEEN RESTAURANT WEEK AT SIBERIA BAR & HOTEL [Ad]

Over the years that I’ve been frequenting Siberia, it has had many incarnations, all of which have at some point or another provided me with somewhere to eat, drink, have one too many a late night, and even work in. I must have eaten there a hundred times, but when I was invited to review the menu for Aberdeen Restaurant Week I knew I’d be trying something new and exciting, because if there’s one thing that this bar does well, it’s constantly bringing fresh new tricks to the table.

If you’re yet to get the low down on what Restaurant week is all about, head to my previous blog post which gives you a full overview HERE.

As one of Aberdeen’s most popular and thriving bars located right in the centre of lively Belmont Street, I’d find it hard to believe that there are too many of you that have never visited before, but just in case, here’s the vibe.

With a laid back, open and airy industrial feel, paired with modern furnishings and quirky-cool features, the atmosphere is always on point here, and the bar staff to match.

This bar and eatery is just as popular on a Saturday night when the vast array of flavoured vodka shots are flowing as it is on a chilled sunny afternoon while friends enjoy cold cocktails on on the outdoor terrace.

They will be offering both a separate two courses for £10 lunch, and three courses for £20 dinner option, and wanting to sample as much as possible, we showed up for dinner on a relaxed Monday evening. With a full menu change only recently having taken place, it was fab to see some brand new off menu items coming together to create this ARW offering.

The Starters…

If there is only going to be one veggie option, veggie haggis and oatcakes is a bloody good one in my books. Although missing the promised shredded beetroot which would have added a nice tang, the dish was still well balanced and tasty, with just the right amount of spice coming through in the kick of an aftertaste. A little whisky sauce would have gone a long way to counteract the natural dryness of the oatcakes, but overall this was a flavoursome starter that I would happily eat all over again.

Predictably Grant went for the Cullen skink, an all time favourite of his – so much so that he considers himself to be quite the connoisseur, so his opinion is usually pretty bang-on when it comes to this Scottish classic.

Adding a twist, the smooth creamy sauce was served solo in jug, ready for pouring over a freshly cooked fillet of smoked haddock which was resting on top of a pile of leeks and potatoes. Listed as being served with popcorn clams (which I mistakenly presumed to be a crunchy wee battered version, no?!) I was informed that the clams were actually blended in to the soup, which seems a little redundant, but didn’t make this starter any less tasty. Having a wee taste of Grant’s, I fully agreed with him with the smokiness and seasoning was absolutely on point, and the fish well cooked, flaky and delicious.

The Mains…

This is the part where I get to be all smug and pretend that I opted for the super healthy choice by going for the Scottish Bhudda Bowl – a generous bowl filled with Scottish pearl barley, root veg, whisky sauce and veg crisps. This certainly was a feast for the eyes and the presentation as with everything else so far was beautiful. Spiralled carrot and crisp beetroot made for great texture while the barley was wholesome and filling.

Expecting creamy whisky sauce which is a fave of mine and would have transformed this from a lunchtime to an evening dish, what came with it was more of a mustard vinaigrette, which for me, a bit like the avocado, didn’t really work with it. It was also a bit of a shame to see the same mini turnips that had featured on the starter, which means that if you are vegetarian, you are being served the same element twice, but overall this was still a flavoursome and healthy dish.

Grant chose the Breaded Lemon Sole, and purely on sight, this is a mouth watering plate. Crispy, golden fish resting on top of the chunkiest handcut chips, served with tangy home made tartare and roasted tomato ketchup, and a pea puree.

Siberia have taken a classic fish and chips and elevated it to restaurant standard with care and attention. For once me and my big gob have absolutely nothing else to say about this, other than that it was absolutely Delicious! I predict that this will without a doubt be the best seller during ARW.

The Desserts…(and cocktails)

Now I’m not normally one for a dessert, but one thing that lures me in every time is a sticky toffee pudding. This homemade pud with lashings of toffee sauce served with a quenelle of salted caramel ice cream hit the spot perfectly. It would have been rude not to go the whole hogg and try out a cocktail too, so for me it was the Mint choc chip to wash it down with and round off the meal perfectly.

Why have an After Eight when you can have an After Eight flavoured cocktail, right?

Although fit to burst after his main, Grant rose to the challenge to bring you guys the most extensive review possible and tried out the Mocha profiteroles with vanilla pod ice-cream. Not being a coffee lover I avoided stealing a bite of this one, but he assures me was sweet with just the right amount of coffee induced bitterness. It was well flavoured and garnished beautifully with micro mint and toffee discs.

Grant chose the Elderflower French 75 (which I absolutely did have a taste of) to accompany his pudding. This fresh and tart cocktail worked perfectly to cleanse the palette at the end of the meal and cut through the sweetness of his cream filled dessert.

Don’t forget that Siberia is one of over forty local Restaurants taking part in the latest instalment of Restaurant Week by offering amazing menus and events throughout the week so to get all the goss and plan your eating journey for the week, head to www.aberdeenrestaurantweek.com.

Have a fabulous restaurant week everyone, and don’t forget to share your food journeys with us throughout the week by using the following hashtags:

#COMEDINEWITH US

#ARW2020

Until next time food lovers!

B x

*This blog post is in paid partnership with Aberdeen Inspired, but as always, all views are 100% honest and my own.