Atken Chen Cenote

Aktun-Chen is a Mayan word that means cave (Aktun) and underground river (Chen). In this episode Catherine gets a tour of the Cenote and discovers some of the incredible wildlife that lives where the sun can’t reach. Estimated to be over 5 million years old, the Cenote has been used by the residents of the area since the ancient Mayans.

Serves 4 as part of tapas

300g raw prawns

6 cloves garlic, sliced

1 lemon peel, sliced plus 1 lemon, zested

100ml olive oil 

½ tsp dried chilli flakes 

1½ tbsp sherry vinegar

1 tbsp chopped parsley, to garnish 

Crusty bread & lemon wedge, to serve

Method

Heat a large frying pan on low, add the oil, garlic and sliced lemon peel and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes. Strain the oil into bowl, discarding the lemon and garlic. 

Return this flavoured oil to the pan and add dried chilli flakes and prawns, sauté until cooked, they will turn pink, it takes about a minute to two on each side. 

Pour in the sherry vinegar and the lemon zest and parsley. Spoon into bowls and serve with crusty bread and wedges of lemon. Just before serving, add green onion and next 3 ingredients, and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange in serving glasses, and garnish, if desired. Serve immediately. 

Red Pepper and Black Bean

Ingredients

1 onion, sliced

2 red chilli, finely sliced

¼ tsp paprika

½ tsp ground cumin 

2 red peppers, sliced thinly 

300g cooked black beans

Olive oil 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Heat a large frying pan and add a little oil. Add the onion and red pepper and sauté for about 5 minutes before adding the chilli, cook for about 2 minutes then add the paprika, cumin and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir in the black beans and simmer until cooked and flavours have melded – this will take about 10 minutes, check the seasoning, adding salt and freshly ground black pepper if required. If it is too dry, stir in a little hot water.

Prawn, Scallop, Mango & Avacado Ceviche

Ingredients

½  Pounds Fresh Prawns

½  Pound fresh scallops

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander.

1/2 teaspoon oregano powder

1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded serrano chile

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

1/3 cup thinly sliced green onion

1 medium mango, peeled, pitted, and diced

1 medium avocado, peeled, pitted and diced

1/2 cup seeded and diced Roma tomato

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Garnishes: sliced avocado, mint sprigs, salmon roe (optional)

Method

Step 1. Peel and clean prawns, dice it into 1/3-inch cubes, and place in a glass bowl. Thinly slice scallops and add them to the same glass bowl. Toss them gently with olive oil and the next 4 ingredients. Cover and refrigerate up to 2 hours. Reserved some lime juice for later.

Step 2. Just before serving, add green onion and the next 3 ingredients, and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange in serving glasses, and garnish, if desired. Serve immediately. vanced settings.

Ingredients

700g fresh ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

½ red onion, finely chopped

2 serrano chillies (seeds removed), finely chopped

1 lime, juice only

Large handful of fresh coriander, chopped

¼ tsp dried oregano 

¼ tsp ground cumin, more to taste

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

To prepare the salsa

Mix together, check for seasoning, adjusting to taste. Allow to stand for an hour before serving.

Tequila Town

You can’t go to Mexico without sampling some Tequila! Anna and Gabriel took Catherine to Tequila Town, a boutique Tequila bar and restaurant in Playa del Carmen where they learned all about the Agave plant, the different grades of Tequila and all about the maturation process. Of course they tried a few different Tequilas and as Gabriel said ‘now you feel the power of Mexico!’

Coriander & Lime Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 4 

Ingredients

For the Sauce

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

400g canned tomatoes

1 tbsp. tomato paste

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp caster sugar

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 large or 12 small corn or flour tortillas

220g cheddar cheese grated (keep some for the topping)

220g cheddar cheese grated (keep some for the topping)

1 onion, finely chopped

1 chilli, finely sliced

350g cooked chicken, shredded

250ml sour cream

1 lime, zest only

1 bunch of chopped coriander

For the Salsa

2 avocado, diced

1 bunch of coriander, chopped

1 lime, juice and zest

Pinch of salt

Method:

To prepare the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until softened, this will take about 5 minutes and then add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and the chilli. Add the sugar and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Simmer slowly for about 15 to 18 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ fan 180°C / gas mark 5. Brush an ovenproof dish with melted butter. Place each tortilla, flat on a surface, sprinkle with some cheese, chopped onion, shredded chicken, chilli, 2 tbsp. of tomato sauce, a spoon of sour cream and lime zest.

Retain some cheese and sauce and sour cream for the top. Roll up all the tortilla and place them seam-side down in the baking dish next to each other. Pour over the remaining tomato sauce, sour cream and sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese on top.  Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 to 20 minutes until heated through and just lightly golden on top.

To make the salsa, combine the avocado, coriander leaves, salt and lime juice and zest into a small serving bowl to serve with the enchiladas.

Axiote Restaurant

Our contact in Mexico was Anna, whose sister Alex we had met and cooked with in Dublin. Anna introduced us to her fiance Gabriel, who took us to the restaurant he worked at – Axiote.

Owned by 2011 Mexican Chef of the Year Xavier Perez Stone, Axiote is regarded as one of the finest restaurants in Playa del Carmen, serving contemporary twists on classic Mexican ingredients

While we were there we were lucky enough to be treated to a cookery demonstration and tasting with chef Xavier. He prepared Shrimp Ceviche with local lime, coconut and avocado and a dish of Kidney Scallops, burned habanero sauce and roasted red onion, along with an appetiser of Avocado with grasshoppers!

Poutine in the Blue Mountains.

Cathrine and Mark go to Blue Mountain resort Ontario’s only year-round mountain resort, with over 50 different shops and restaurants also located there. While there they tasted poutine for the first time, a Canadian staple.

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