Mexican food is having a bit of a moment right now, and throwing your very own Mexican dinner party couldn't be easier.
Now, before you get all freaked about the thought of hosting a soirée (with cooking, eeps), remember that modern Mexican recipes rely on fresh, beautiful ingredients that shouldn't need too much work. Mexican food (yhink tacos, salsa, yum...) is fresh, punchy and perfect for sharing with pals.
So instead of reaching for the Old El Paso kit (no offence OEP, you've been kind to us over the years), why not up your culinary game by trying some of these yummy Mexican recipe ideas instead? If you follow this handy guide, we promise that pretty soon you'll be throwing THE best — and 100% Instagrammable — Mexican-themed dinner party, ever.
1. Set the mood
Ok, so not all of us have a massive kitchen/swank eating area, but the key to nailing a great dinner party is attention to detail. Think Mexican-style cantina with bright colours, woven placemats and twinkling lights. A few strands of cheap fairy lights strung up will look super effective (raid your mum's Christmas box) or else, use cool retro-style food cans to house candles. Download some traditional mariachi music to get everyone into the swing of things.
Credit: Pinterest/Glamour Brasil
2. Drinks and nibbles
Always welcome your pals with drinks and something to munch on. This means they're kept happy whilst you tinker about in the kitchen. Cocktails are always a nice idea, but can wind up being a bit of an effort. In our humble (and a bit lazy) opinion, Mexican food tastes best served alongside ice-cold beers with fresh lime. Also, this recipe for traditional salsa (pico de gallo) couldn't be simpler to knock up as a bit of pre-dinner munch. Serve with plenty of crisp, salty tortilla chips.
Pico de gallo
350g (12.oz) fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
1 red onion, very finely chopped
50g (1.oz/1 cup) coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 red or jalape.o chilli, finely chopped
Place the tomatoes, red onion, coriander, lime juice and chilli in a large bowl along with a large pinch of sea salt.
Mix well, check for seasoning and adjust the levels of sea salt to taste. Serve immediately.
Read More: This Mediterranean Octopus Recipe Will Bring You Sunshine
3. The table
Again, if space is an issue then just be a bit creative. Chuck some larger cushions on the floor for people to sit on, and decorate your surfaces with bright crepe streamers and lights - just remember, lots of colour. As we said before, eating Mexican food is all about getting involved with your food, so sitting on top of each other only adds to the overall experience! Oh, and don't forget, plenty of napkins!
Credit: Pinterest/Celebrations At Home
4. The menu
Dinner parties shouldn't be stressful, so don't get yourself in faff before you've even started. These three simple modern Mexican recipes are bona fide game-changers and will totally up your cullinary game. Make sure to use the freshest ingredients you can, and have some fun. Plus, rope a few chums in to help you with the prep (over a few pre-party beverages, of course).
1 tsp olive oil
225g (8oz) cooking chorizo, chopped into small chunks (omit for vegetarian guests)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
300g (10.oz/2. cups) manchego, grated
500g (1lb 2oz/31/3 cups) mozzarella, chopped into small chunks
4 Tbsp mascarpone
handful coriander (cilantro), chopped, to serve (optional)
tortilla chips, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200.C/400ÅãF. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, and fry the chorizo on a low heat for 5 minutes before adding the onion and chilli. Fry for a further 5–6 minutes, until the onions are just softened. Set aside 3 heaped tablespoons of the mixture.
Tip the rest of the chorizo and onions into a large shallow baking dish or four small ones. Pack the cheese down over the top, and dollop the mascarpone over. Transfer to the oven to bake for 20 minutes, until golden and bubbling.
Scatter with the reserved chorizo and onion mixture and serve immediately with chopped coriander and tortilla chips.
150g (5.oz/scant 1. cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
1. tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt
200ml (7fl oz/scant 1 cup) cold, dark Mexican beer
500g (1lb 2oz) cod or other firm white fish, cut into 2.5 x 5-cm (1 x 2-in) chunks
1 litre (34fl oz/4 cups) vegetable oil, to fry
taco shells, to serve
2 cos (romaine) lettuces, sliced, to serve
1 red onion, thinly sliced, to serve
salsa of choice, to serve
Prepare the lettuce and onion first, and any accompanying salsas, as the fish must be eaten as soon as it is cooked.
Mix together the flour, baking powder and sea salt in a mixing bowl.
Pour the oil into a large frying pan, no more than half full, and heat to 180.C/350ÅãF, or until a cube of bread turns golden within 30 seconds.
Just before you are ready begin frying, whisk the beer through the flour mixture and dip the fish into the batter. Stir briefly to coat, then drain each piece against the side of the bowl before carefully sliding it into the hot oil. You should be able to fry about four pieces of fish at a time. Deep-fry the fish for 2–3 minutes until golden-brown and crisp, then transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper while you continue with the rest.
Serve the fish immediately with the tacos, lettuce and onion. You can also serve it with (any leftover) pico de gallo.
4 large ears of sweetcorn
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
70g (2.oz/. cup) feta, crumbled
2 Tbsp sour cream
1 tsp chilli powder
2 Tbsp coriander (cilantro), finely chopped
Preheat your oven to 200.C/400ÅãF. Place the sweetcorn in a baking (sheet) tray and drizzle with the vegetable oil. Roast for 30 minutes on a high shelf.
Meanwhile, mix together the mayonnaise, feta, sour cream, chilli powder and coriander, and set aside.
As soon as the sweetcorn is ready, place a couple of tablespoons of the mayonnaise mixture onto each piece of sweetcorn and smoosh it down well over each ear. Serve immediately.
All of this food is meant to be served and eaten communally, so we recommend serving en masse once the food is piping hot and ready. Doing something simple, really well is the key to this dinner party's success, so don't worry about fancy plates and the like. Everyone is going to get messy either way!
All recipes courtesy of Alphabet Cooking: M is for Mexican (Quadrille £12) - available 8th September
Photography: Kim Lightbody