Monday 5 May 2014

Tomatillo salsa
Long-term Foodycat readers with good memories may recall that a few years ago I had a few goes at making my own cheese. I had varying results - my overall conclusion was that it takes a lot of milk and a very large saucepan to make a little cheese and it's worth paying other people to do. One of the cheeses that I made in that period was queso oaxaca, a knotted melting cheese, which I had never heard of or tasted before that point. The queso oaxaca tasted good and looked like the pictures, but I had nothing to compare it to, really, to know if I was getting it right.

Fast forward to 2014 and I was approached by and asked if I'd be interested in trying some of their products. I had a look at the site and noticed that they stock Mexican cheeses, so I would finally be able to taste queso oaxaca and figure out whether I was close to authenticity.

The box that arrived did not just contain queso oaxaca. They also sent me corn tortillas, chipotle sauce, a can of tomatillos and some queso chihuahua (which has nothing to do with dogs). Obviously it was time to plan a Mexican-themed meal or two.

We started, of course, with the queso oaxaca. It was absolutely delicious just eaten on its own, like a cross between halloumi and mozzarella. A little squeak under the teeth, but a really creamy and ever so slightly chewy texture and a good salty flavour. It came into its own in a quesadilla. Of which I took no photos because I was too keen to eat it.

As the queso chihuahua is described "as a good melting cheese, the richness and suppleness of Chihuahua cheese is preferred in baking dishes, fondues, pizza, and lasagna or casserole dishes" I decided to start our Mexican meal with queso fundido (I assume fundido comes from the same root as fondue and is all about the melted cheese).
I made a version with a layer of sauteed mushrooms underneath the melted cheese. We scooped it onto warm tortillas. Divine. The queso chihuahua also had a taste reminiscent of halloumi but melted into the most beautiful long strings.
mmm - stringy.
We also had some of the queso oaxaca on tacos. I cooked a steak, sliced it into ribbons and tossed it with some chipotle salsa. Then wrapped the meat in warmed tortillas with a little of the grated cheese. I am pretty sure my home made queso oaxaca would not have grated like this! The chipotle salsa had a good depth of flavour and a nice texture for this sort of thing.

Both of these cheeses are fairly expensive - this is not your everyday essentials cheese - but not unreasonably so. I would definitely buy it for another special meal, because it is delicious and that stretchy melting quality is very appealling. I couldn't see anything that said whether it was made with vegetarian rennet, so I'd have to find that out before making it the centrepiece of a vegetarian meal.
I also made some chorizo and roasted squash tacos, which I served with a basic tomatillo salsa - drained canned tomatillos, roasted green chillis, onion, coriander and a little bit of salt.
These tacos revealed something about myself that I should have figured out quite some time ago. I actually don't particularly like soft corn tortillas. I do, however, quite like plain tortilla chips. So a couple of days later I cut the remaining tortillas into wedges and fried them in a little hot oil until golden brown, crisp and curled. I sprinkled them with a little salt and drained them on some paper towels before piling them in a napkin-lined bowl.
We had some of the tomatillo salsa leftover too, so I mixed it into a mashed avocado for a guacamole. It was the perfect thing to scoop up with the chips.
It was only when I came to schedule this post that I realised it was going up on Cinco de Mayo. Appropriate, but entirely accidental.


Amy said...

Chorizo and roasted squash tacos sound really interesting and delicious! I love salsa verde and I bet it's great on those tacos.

Angie's Recipes said...

I love those tacos made with roasted squashes! I need to hunt down some Mexican cheese to try too.

grace said...

oh, how i wish it wasn't mushrooms under that gooey cheese! i might just consume it anyway. :)


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