Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mexican Fiesta

Last Saturday night, we had our first official family gathering post renovations. Although the majority of our renovations were completed early this year, we wanted to hold off on dinner parties until we purchased a new dining table. The year has been slipping away too quickly and as we are no closer to purchasing a table, we decided it was time to pull out the old trestle tables and have the man's family over for a meal.

Over the last couple of years we have fallen into the habit of having curry nights in colder months with everyone bringing a curry or two to share. As this was to be our first hosted dinner, I wanted to do something different and suggested a Mexican night which was warmly received.

I planned to make enchiladas and the man suggested that I make two different kinds, potato-chickpea-spinach filling with tomatillo sauce and smoky tofu and black bean filling with tomato enchilada sauce. As well as guacamole, salsa and cashew crema, I felt it would be a good time to try out a salad from Viva Vegan and settled upon the classic cabbage salad with cilantro-lime dressing. And then I felt like there should be some sort of appetiser and a dessert and went off to explore some further options.

On Friday night, my preparations began. I wrote out a task list, marked a few things that could be knocked off in advance and away I went. A couple of hours (and several dishes) later, two different sauces and fillings had been made for the enchiladas, black beans and cashews were soaking and the dressing for the salad was made.

The following day I made two types of flans from Viva Vegan for dessert, vanilla coconut and coffee flavoured (cafe con leche). They had the same caramel topping with a touch of lime juice so it was simple to prepare my moulds in advance with a double batch of this mixture. The fillings were fairly easy to make using agar flakes as the setting agent.

A few years ago I made a 7 layer dip to take to a party and it was very popular although I found it difficult to enjoy as there were too many layers to appreciate at once. I decided to cut back on the layers this time around and wound up with what I will call a triple layer dip. It starts with a layer of refried beans, followed by cashew crema and the top layer is a mixture of chopped avocado, tomato, olives and coriander. The dip was enjoyed by all and the man thought that it deserved a place on my blog. Other family members requested that the cashew crema recipe be posted as they thought it was fantastic as part of the dip and an accompaniment to the main meal.

It was great fun cooking so much food and I enjoyed dabbling in desserts which is something I should do more often!

Triple layer dip

Refried bean layer

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chilli (or to taste), finely chopped
310g tin pinto beans
1/2 cup cooked black beans
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 cup water
salt, to taste

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and fry the onion for about 5 minutes until soft. Stir through the garlic and jalapeno and cook for another minute. Add the pinto beans, black beans, cumin, oregano and water and simmer for about 10 minutes on low heat. Mash the beans with a potato masher or a fork until they reach the level of smoothness you want. Season with salt to taste.

Cashew crema layer (From Viva Vegan)

1 cup cashews
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave nectar (or use other sweetener)

Soak the cashews in water for at least 4 hours. Drain and rinse then place into a blender with the remaining ingredients. Process for a couple of minutes until a smooth paste is achieved. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Top layer

1/2 large avocado, diced small
1 medium tomato, diced small
8 kalamata olives, diced
1 spring onion, chopped
2 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped
squeeze of fresh lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste

To assemble, spread the refried beans evenly on the bottom of your serving dish followed by the cashew crema. Sprinkle the diced avocado, tomato, olives, spring onion and coriander on top. Add a squeeze of lime and some salt and pepper.


  1. What a feast! I think Mexican is a great idea for a large group, and those desserts look spec.tac.u.lar.

  2. Ooh, those flans look so cool. I always see people making creme caramel, and things like that, on cooking shows and think I should veganise them. Vanilla coconut sounds so yummy!

  3. Thanks Cindy, it was fun to do a big Mexican feast especially as I love cooking it so much. The desserts turned out well and were easy to make. I found them a bit sweet but everyone else really enjoyed them.

    Thanks Theresa, the vanilla coconut flans were the more popular of the two. I thought they would be good for the kids but the adults loved them too!