The evenings are long and balmy and the family want to eat dinner on the back verandah. Their appetites are very variable at the moment, what with different levels of activity and various growth spurts going on. All we’ll need is a grab it yourself dinner and about fifteen mozzie coils, the anopheles are particularly frisky this year.
Our fajitas are more a homage to Mexican than the real thing. We had the real thing when we went to San Diego a couple of years ago, the kids still speak longingly of Nortes, next to our hotel, where we ate all manner of combinations of meat and corn by the outside fire. The Muffet loved tortillas at Nortes, but hates them here, I have to admit they’re a flabby imitation of the real thing and I’m not quite up to making them myself. We use Lebanese bread.
Set out a plate of Lebanese bread, a bowl of grated cheese, various bits of cut up salad, we use avocado, capsicum, lettuce, carrot and cucumber. Also wedges of lime, possibly some sour cream, a bowl of salsa and one of refried beans, which I’ll get to in a minute. At the last minute, bring out a plate of stir fried beef. You may want to bring it in a heated bowl, it goes cold quickly. You assemble the ingredients of your choice on the bread, wrap it up and eat it, then argue about who’s going to get the last bit of lettuce.
You can buy the salsa and beans anywhere you like, but I find it a little bland and unsatisfying and, in the case of the beans, slightly revolting. You guessed it, you can make your own! The salsa is particularly easy, particularly when Frank has in stock locally grown Roma tomatoes. A month ago you couldn’t get tomatoes anywhere, now you can get a bucketload for what you can find in the bottom of your handbag. You should make this about lunchtime, or the day before, the flavours develop. Cut up three tomatoes and deseed them, which is slightly annoying, but results in a lot less wet salsa. Resist the urge to add olive oil, bocconcini, basil, olives and balsamic vinegar, there’s something in the air in this suburb. And half a clove of finely minced garlic, the juice of half a lime, and one plantful of chopped up coriander. I also put in a teaspoon of sambal oelek and a couple of grinds of salt, taste it as you go. I don’t think I’ll stick in the fridge, it’s hard enough putting together a warm fajita.
The refried beans are pretty simple too, but not even fried once, which confuses me. The onion is, fry a finely chopped onion in a little olive oil over low heat until it’s soft. Add two cloves of finely minced garlic, one teaspoon of ground coriander and three of cumin. Stir it around for a few seconds, then dump in a can of red kidney beans. Most recipes suggest about a third of a cup of water should be added here, but one goes with beer, so that’s what I add. Continue cooking it over low heat for about ten minutes, then start mashing it with a potato masher. It will thicken up considerably when it cools, so don’t reduce it too much. Add salt to taste, don’t go overboard. You can make this ahead of time too, either heat it back up in the frying pan or zap it in the microwave.
Of course the kids are not going to have the salsa, beans or avocado, but that’s more for us. I should have got some tequila while I was out, I’m seriously going to start wearing a foil hat while shopping to prevent my brain being erased all the time.