Chilli Rellenos

27 07 2011

 To make  really great chile rellenos you need to balance three ingredients just right

The first and most important is the chile. The pod has to be of the right size, thick fleshed, and with the right heat level. You want something along the lines of a large Jalapeno or Poblano because it has these characteristics. Here in Ireland I often find it difficult to get large chillies so often use those long Romesco peppers that you can get in some supermarkets, because the heat in these isn’t much more than a bell pepper I often chop up a jalapeno or two and mix them in with my stuffing.

Next the stuffing, you want to use a cheese that will melt well and has just the right strength of flavour, I personally like to use asadero  as it is a traditional Mexican cheese and goes well with the chillies. The basic recipe calls for just cheese but I often like to mix things up a bit and throw in some shrimp some lightly fried lardons… delicious!

Finally, the batter must be light and with just  the right amount of salt and black pepper to enhance the combination, but not detract from the flavors of the chile and stuffing. A great chile relleno captures the unique TexMex flavours of the USA

Ingredients

  • 8 Jalapeno or Poblano chillies, roasted, peeled, and de-seeded.
  • 8 sticks of asadero or mozzarella about the size of a finger.
  • 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup flour, plus more for the chiles
  • Oil, enough to cover 1½-inches deep in a skillet

Method:

Prepare chile pods. Peel and deseed the chiles. Remove the seeds by cutting a slit in the pod from just below the stem and slice about half way down the chile. Stuff the pods with the cheese, but don’t force things. The open edges of the chile must still come together. Hold the edges together with toothpicks.

Next, prepare the batter. Beat the egg whites with salt and pepper until stiff. In a separate bowl beat egg yolks, add salt and flour and mix well.

Fold the yolk mixture into egg whites just enough to mix. (Use quickly, as this batter will separate.) Roll chiles in flour to coat. Dip chiles into batter. Fry in hot oil until golden brown. If oil is hot enough, this will only take a few minutes. Turns chile once, then drain on several layer of paper towels.


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Stilton and bacon Empanadas

17 06 2011

I had some left over shortcrust pastry from baking a quiche the other day and decided to make something that I haven’t made for a very long time…Empanadas.

Cheese and bacon may not be the most adventurous or indeed traditional of fillings but it tastes delicious and who doesn’t love cheese and bacon?

In this particular recipe I am using a really sharp nutty stilton  which works brilliantly but you can just as well use any good hard cheese. I have often made these empanadas with a smoked cheddar and can safely say that they are to die for!

Ingredients:

Shortcrust Pastry – Click here to see how to make your own

75g good quality stilton

75g smoked bacon

1 egg

salt and pepper to season

Method:

Chop the bacon into small pieces and lightly fry, place into a bowl and crumble in the stilton.

Combine together the cheese and bacon and season with a little salt and pepper to taste – be careful with the salt and only add if you feel it is really necessary as the stilton is quite salty to begin with.

Roll out the pastry and cut out circles roughly 3 inches across.

Place your filling into the centre of the pastry circles and join the edges together with a little beaten egg to seal.

Brush the outside of the empanadas with the beaten egg to give a nice glaze and place into an oven preheated to 220 C for about 10/15 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden and puffy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Spiced Nuts

6 12 2010

 These spiced nuts are great as a quick and easy festive treat to pop out if friends pop over for drinks. I also like to package them up in little cellophane bags and give them as part of a lovely homemade gift.

You can pretty much adjust the spicing to suit your tastes, add something in, leave something out – anything works really.

Ingredients:

200g cashew nuts – you can use any whole nuts of your choice

1 egg white

50g caster sugar

½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp garam masala

½ tsp crushed chillies

Method:

Lightly whisk the egg in a small saucer or bowl

Mix together all the spices,sugar and salt

Pour the egg over the nuts, this will help the spice mixture to really stick to the nuts and make sure they are well coated.

Now add the nuts to the spice mix and mix them around so that all of the nuts are coated.

Place the nuts on a baking tray and pop into an oven that has been preheated to 180 C. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes turning the nuts midway through.





Spicy Breaded Mozzarella Balls

2 12 2010
 I am at a loss to think of many things that are better than gooey melted mozzarella cheese and crunchy fried  breadcrumbs with a little hint of spice. That is why I simply love these little fried mozzarella balls, they are delicious either by themselves, with a spicy tomato sauce or a sweet chili dip.
 
 Your guests will love how they taste and you will love how easy they are to prepare.
 
Ingredients:
1 lb drained bocconcini (small mozzarella balls)
3 large eggs
1 cup panko dry bread crumbs
4tbsp white flour
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1tbsp milk

Method:

Drain the liquid from the mozzarella balls and pat dry with some kitchen paper

Beat together the eggs and the tablespoon of milk with a little bit of salt, the milk will help make the egg wash really smooth and the egg will break down the membrane in the egg helping it stick better.

Mix together the flour, salt and pepper in a ziplock bag and then poured in the drained mozzarella balls making sure that they get an even coating. Shake off any excess flour.

Dip the balls into the eggwash ensuring they are well coated

Mix the garlic powder, cayenne and paprika in with the breadcrumbs and make sure everything is well combined before adding the mozzarella balls

place the balls back in the egg wash and then dip them again in the breadcrumb. This double breading will help ensure an even coating and will make the balls extra crunchy and delicious.

Fry the balls in vegetable oil for about 1 – 2 minutes until they are lovely and golden.

Serve immediately with a nice dipping sauce or keep warm until needed in a low oven





Pigs in blankets

26 11 2010

Pigs in blankets are  great, they make a perfect accompaniment to your turkey on Christmas day, they are great as a starter and make an excellent festive finger food.

I understand that in North America pigs in blankets are little Vienna sausages in pastry not dissimilar to a sausage roll, well these aren’t them.

In the UK pigs in blankets are a chipolata sausage wrapped in a piece of bacon and roasted in the oven and typically most people would have them only at Christmas time.

The trick to serving great pigs in blankets is to make sure you use the best meat that you can afford, there is nothing worse than pigs in blankets made from the cheapest nastiest frozen sausages wrapped in watery bacon full of preservatives.

In recent years I have started using olive oil infused with sage, rosemary and garlic when I cook my pigs in a blanket, all three flavours go great with pork and just really help to lift it to another level.

To make 24 pigs in blankets you will need:

24 good quality pork chipolatas

24 rashers of good quality bacon, I prefer to use maple smoked bacon but it is up to you.

500ml of extra virgin olive oil

24 rosemary stalks with leaves till attached (optional)

12 sage leaves

2 garlic cloves

a handful of rosemary leaves

Method

The first thing you need to do is infuse your olive oil with the rosemary, sage and garlic flavours, I tend to do this well in advance so that you really get the flavour of the herbs coming through in the oil, ideally 2 weeks to 3 weeks minimum.

Bruise the herbs so as to help release their essential oils and drop them into your bottle of olive oil along with the garlic which should be roughly crushed.

I tend to remove approximately half of the oil from the bottle before doing this both to allow for displacement and also so as to have oil to hand to help dislodge any stray herbs that get stuck to the neck of the bottle.

Refill to the top with oil and place in a cool dark place for as long as possible.

Wrap each chipolata in a rasher of bacon, you might want to flatten the bacon out with the flat of a knife

when each pig is safely in it’s blanket I like to secure them, you can use a couple of cocktail sticks but  I like to be a bit fancy and use a woddy stalk from some rosemary sharpened into a skewer.

Lay your pigs in blankets into an oven proof dish and drizzle with the infused oil, if you have any sage leave left over I like to scatter these over before popping the dish into a preheated oven at 185 c for about 35 minutes.





Devilled Eggs

25 11 2010

Love it or hate  it the festive season is fast approaching.

One of the biggest headaches in the run up to Christmas and New Year (I refuse to say “The Holidays”) is what foods to serve guests, particularly if you are hosting a party.

Big heavy sit down dinners are all very well and good on Christmas day itself but for more laid back occasions it is often nicer to serve a selection of delicious finger foods – not to mention easier! As such over the coming days I am going to be publishing a selection of my favourite recipes for easy and delicious party food that everyone is going to love.

Devilled Eggs are surprisingly simple to make and cost very little money, not only that you don’t need cutlery to eat them and your vegetarian guests can enjoy them too (vegans not so much)

To make 24 servings you will need the following:

12 medium or large eggs

4 tbsp mayonnaise

4tbsp dijon mustard

1 spring onion

2 tsp cayenne pepper

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Paprika

Some chives

Method:

First you need to hard boil your eggs,  when boiling eggs make sure that you take the eggs out of the fridge in advance and let them reach room temperature before adding them to the water.

Once the eggs are hard boiled and cool enough to handle you need to peel off the shell and cut the eggs in half lengthways.

Using a teaspoon remove the egg yolks and place to one side in a bowl.

Add the mayonnaise and dijon mustard to the egg yolks and mix until you have reached a smooth creamy consistency.

Very finely chop you spring onion and mix into your egg yolk mixture along with the cayenne pepper ensuring that it is well distributed throughout your mixture.

Season your mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

At this point you need to add your mixture to the egg whites; to do this you can either use a piping bag or you can fill them with a spoon.

To stop your eggs from sliding around on the plate you can place them on some fresh crisp lettuce leaves.

Using a sugar sifter sprinkle over a little of the paprika and finely chop some chives and scatter over as a garnish








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