The theme for this week’s menu was ‘Fiesta’ as we explored some of the foods of Central & South America. We discussed the ingredients and produce that grow in the region and looked in greater detail at the exporting of quinoa from Peru and how that has affected the prices and availability of quinoa for Peruvians. We compared the Mexican tortillas to the Spanish tortillas we made last week, and then looked at Quesadillas (essentially Mexican toasted cheese) and found comparisons in other parts of the world – cheese pizza/focaccia in Italy and toasted cheese in Australia. The students loved shaping the tortillas, cooking them and then topping them and the quesadillas with the salsa, guacamole and chili beans that we made. While the kids loved the carbohydrates, the sweet potato, corn and black bean salad was a winner with the teachers and parents. The highlight dish however was the dulce de leche cookies – a tribute to Argentina, but and exercise in fusion cooking, using Cadbury Caramello chocolate. This tied in the the Year 4 unit about settlement as we talked about the foods, traditions and cultures that people bring from different countries, and how they adapt and change using local ingredients. We broached the Year 5 unit about identity by beginning a discussion of what makes us Australian and how the heritage (and food) of our parents and grandparents shapes this identity.

Mexican Chili Beans with Kale & Quinoa

Ingredients

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon corriander

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 heaped tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 cup water

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup cooked quinoa

2 cups chopped kale

Method

Fry onions and garlic in alittle olive oil until translucent.

Add spices and stir for 2 minutes.

Add tomato paste, tomatoes, beans and water.

Simmer on low for 20 minutes.

Add kale and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in cooked quinoa and season with salt and pepper.

Wheat Tortillas

Ingredients

900g plain flour plus extra for dusting

2 tspn baking powder

½ tspn salt

2 tbspn butter

2 cups warm water

oil for greasing

Method

Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Rub in the butter with your fingertips to create crumbs.

Add water slowly, mixing with your hands to make a soft dough. You may not need all the water, but add a little if the dough seems too dry.

(alternatively you can do all of the above in a food processor)

Knead for a few minutes on a floured surface until smooth and elastic. Lubricate the bowl with oil and put the dough back into the bowl and let it rest, covered for 10 minutes.

Divide the dough into small balls (enough for the whole class) and roll out the thin circles. You can use the pasta machine to help get the dough nice and thin (about 1 mm thick).

Cook in a dry, heavy-based frying pan until the top is slightly bubbly then turn onto the opposite side for a minute or two.

Keep the cooked tortillas stacked and warm inside a clean tea towel.

Salsa

Ingredients

1 chili, deseeded and very finely chopped (optional)

1 bunch coriander, finely chopped

¼ red onion, very finely diced

5 tomatoes, finely diced

2 tablesppons of lime juice

½ teaspoon Maldon salt

1 tbspn olive oil

extra salt and pepper to taste

Method

Mix all the ingredients and season to taste.

Transfer to small bowls to serve.

Quesadillas & Guacamole

Ingredients

6-8 large tortillas

yellow cheese, grated

2 avocadoes, pitted, peel and roughly chopped

1 spring onion, white part only, very finely diced

juice of 1-2 limes

1 teaspoon Maldon salt

Method

Guacamole

Place the spring onion on salt in the lime juice and allow to sit for 5 minutes.

Add the lime juice mixture to the avocado and rough mash with a fork.

Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Quesadillas

Place one tortilla on a hot dry frying pan. Sprinkle over grated cheese and top with another tortilla.

As the cheese begins to melt and the bottom tortilla begins to brown, flip over and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes.

Slice into pieces and serve.

Sweet Potato, Corn & Black Bean Salad

Ingredients

1 cup raw quinoa

2-4 sweet potatoes (1.5-2kg) cut into 2cm chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper

3 corn cobs, husks removed

1 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

¼ red onion, finely chopped

1 red capsicum, finely diced

1 bunch coriander, leaves and stems finely chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

a good squeeze of lemon or lime juice

Method

Cook the quinoa by absorption in 1¾ cups of water and a pinch of salt.

Pour the cooked quinoa into a large bowl or tray and allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 180C.

Toss the sweet potato in the olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a lined baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.

Grill corn on a hotplate until slightly blackened. Allow the corn to cool and remove the kernels with a sharp knife.

Mix the quinoa, sweet potatoes, corn, black beans, onion, capsicum and coriander in a large bowl.

Dress the salad with the olive oil and lemon or lime jice. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix gently until all combined.

Dulce de Leche (Caramello) Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup butter (200g), room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup white sugar

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups plain four

1 cup cocoa

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 blocks of Cadbury Caramello, broken into squares

Method

Preheat oven to 180C.

Beat sugars and butter in a mix master until creamy.

Add eggs and vanilla and mix well.

Add flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Mix until combined.

Take a piece of caramello chocolate and shape the cookie dough mixture around it to form a ball.

Place on a lined tray and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

*If you are making these at home, you can halve the recipe and you will still have plenty