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.






Jamaican Jerk Marinade

22 05 2011

Well it has been far too long since I last posted a recipe so I thought I would get back into the saddle with something nice and simple.

 Jerk is a style of cooking that originated in Jamaican and involves the use of a delicious hot and spicy rub or marinade to give a really great flavour to meat, fish and chicken, it is also equally good vegetables, Tofu or even just poured over some plain white rice (a favourite snack of mine)

Now I know not everyone enjoys a lot of heat in their food but I would argue that making any sort of Jerk sauce or rub without using Scotch Bonnet peppers is like trying to drive a car with no suspension, sure you can do it but it just isn’t any good. You really need the delicious fruity taste of the scotch bonnets to make the marinade stand out.

If you are concerned about the level of heat in the peppers then make sure that you remove all of the seeds and the little ribs off the inside and maybe use a mix of half scotch bonnet and half jalapeno but trust me you will be missing out if you don’t add any

Most supermarkets will sell you a jar of jerk sauce or little packets of jerk seasoning but as I have said loudly and often unless you are able to pop into a specialist food shop or deli and pick up something truly authentic then don’t bother, the mass-produced products are inferior in literally every sense

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks spring onion
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Jamaican pimento (allspice)
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ tsp  cinnamon
  • 4 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar

Method:
Put all of the ingredients into a food processor with a steel blade attached and blitz until you have the correct consistency – a slightly thick paste
Store leftover marinade in the refrigerator in a tightly closed jar for about a month.





The Moruga Scorpion

28 01 2011

I wrote recently about one of the handful of contenders to the throne of world’s hottest chilli – the Naga Viper.

Following up on that post I want to bring to your attention the Moruga Scorpion which has been developed by Jim Duffy from Refining Fire and is closely related to the Trinidad 7 pot which might I add is already a stupidly hot pepper.

The Moruga is reportedly hitting the scales at a mighty 1.46 million SHU – now that is just mental quite frankly, nearly 50% hotter than the Bhut Jolokia…

Until official tests are carried out and results are announced the Bhut Jolokia is still officially top dog but it will be interesting to see which of its heirs apparent will take the crown.

Now to get an idea of just how hot the Moruga is I have included a quick video of Buddah from I Love it spicy.com tackling one of these fiery little beggars.





Brussel sprouts with leeks and bacon

28 12 2010

When it comes to enjoying brussel sprouts I am normally in the minority,

There is something about sprouts that just seems to put people off; now personally I think a lot of it comes down to two things – how fresh they are and how they are prepared.

There is a huge difference in taste between wonderfully fresh sprouts still on the stalk and those little wizened ones you buy in those nets or even worse frozen.

When really fresh sprouts have a wonderful sweet nuttiness to them that I would defy most people to find unpleasant.

Of course it doesn’t matter how fresh the sprouts are if you are just going to boil the life out of them and serve up a big dish full of soggy, mushy balls with all the taste and goodness boiled out of them.

I like to go off on a bit of a tangent with my brussel sprouts, especially if I am going to be serving them to people that claim not to like them I prepared this dish of sprouts with leeks and bacon to go along with Christmas dinner this year and it was  a huge success, even with non sprout eaters – you know who you are 😉

*If you want to make a vegetarian version of this dish you can leave out the bacon and crumble in a little bit of stilton about a minute  before serving*

Ingredients:

250g fresh Brussel Sprouts

150g Leeks

4/5 rashers of bacon

1/2 of a small onion

garlic salt

black pepper

olive oil

unsalted butter

Method:

Remove the outer leaves from the sprouts and make a small cross shaped incision on the base, this will allow for faster more even cooking

Clean the leeks and split down the centre before chopping into thin slices,peel and finely dice half an onion

Cook the sprouts in boiling water for about 3 1/2 – 4 minutes before refreshing by plunging into cold water. Now cook the leeks for just long enough for them to start to soften before draining and setting to one side.

Chop the bacon into small pieces and place to one side, now take the sprouts and slice them into quarters, if any of the sprouts are particularly large you may want to chop them into more pieces.

Fry the bacon in a little olive oil until it has just started to crisp at this point add in the chopped sprouts and a good knob of butter.

Cook the bacon and sprouts for around 3 minutes stirring regularly, add in the leeks, black pepper and garlic salt, stir through well and continue to heat for another 2 minutes or so until the leeks have warmed through.

Serve immediately.

 

 





Real men DO eat quiche

27 12 2010

 

 Real men don’t eat quiche….

 I must have heard that line about a thousand times at this point, somehow there is this strange view that quiche is some sort of effeminate food that no proper man would touch for fear of developing breasts on the spot.

Well I happen to think that any man who is worried that his choice of food makes him look “faggy” has some issues that only a few sessions with a psychiatrist will be able to sort out.

Quiche is great!

You only have to take a cursory look at the basic components of a quiche to work out that this is food that is packing some serious flavours yet can still be light and delicate.

Quiche is also incredibly versatile; you can add pretty much anything you like into them and a quiche can be a great quick meal to knock up out of store cupboard staples or leftovers.

The simplest quiche to make is the ever popular quiche lorraine, which incidentally should NOT include onions. However I have decided to go for something a little more fancy and have included my recipe for one of my all time favourites: Chorizo and red pepper quiche.

Ingredients:

250g of good quality chorizo sausage

2 red bell peppers

1 clove of garlic

5 eggs

1 medium red onion

250ml double cream

250ml milk

125g gruyerre – you can use manchego if you want an authentic spanish cheese

3/4 tsp paprika

sea salt

black pepper

shortcrust pastry – shop bought pastry is fine but it is even better if you make your own.

Method:

Peel and finely dice the onion and garlic and set aside for later

Roll out your pastry to the correct size for the pie dish you are using and line the dish making sure it is well pressed into all of the nooks and crannies. Place the pastry lined dish in the fridge so the pastry can chill.

Stir together the milk and double cream before mixing in the eggs.

Grate the cheese and stir into the cream, milk and egg mixture until it is well incorporated, season with the paprika, salt and pepper.

Soften the diced onion and garlic over a low heat and place to one side to cool

Dice the chorizo and colour in a pan until it is lightly browned

Deseed the red peppers and slice into strips before mixing in with the chorizo, onion and garlic.

Take the pie dish out of the fridge and spoon in the mixture of chorizo, peppers, onion and garlic ensuring that it is well spread out and that all of the base of the pastry is covered.

Pour over the egg, cream and cheese mix and fill to the top of the pastry.

Bake in a 180 c oven for between 45 minutes and 1 hour or until the eggs have set and the top is golden brown.





9 vegetable chili con carne

21 11 2010

Chili con carne is a great family favourite; it is cheap, filling, easy to make and tastes great.

It can also be a really great way of making sure that you get your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables or of tricking fussy kids into eating veggies that otherwise they might push around  a plate without them even realising they are there.

This works great for pretty much anything that you would normally use chili with more or less the only exception being chili burgers or chili dogs.

If you want to make a vegetarian version of this chili you can use quorn or soya mince in place of the ground beef and some nice meaty mushrooms such as portabello in place of the chorizo sausage.

To make the chili you will need: 

200g chorizo sausage

500g ground beef

2 onions

4 garlic cloves

2 medium carrots

1 stick of celery

2 fresh tomatoes

2 red bell peppers

1/2 tin of kidney beans

1/2 tin of pinto beans

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1tbsp paprika

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp chili powder

2tsp Worcestershire sauce

1tbsp red wine vinegar

1tbsp brown sugar

handful of  fresh coriander

1 pint of beef stock or hot water

olive oil

salt and pepper to season

Method

Peel and roughly chop the garlic, carrots, celery and one of the onions,  take these vegetables and place them in a food processor and blitz them until you have  salsa like consistency.

Pour some olive oil into a large heavy bottomed pan and heat over a medium flame, add the vegetables you prepared earlier and sweat them for approximately 7-10 minutes

Whilst you are sweating the vegetables peel and finely dice the remaining onion and dice the chorizo sausage. Remove the leaves from the coriander and finely chop about half of the stalks that remain

Once the vegetables in the pan have softened add in the chorizo sausage,the coriander stalks, the paprika, the chili powder and the cumin seeds, continue to cook until the chorizo has just started to brown

At this point add in the remaining onion and the ground beef and cook until the beef has coloured

Now add in the sliced bell peppers, the kidney and pinto beans and stir everything together well before adding the tin of chopped tomatoes, the vinegar and about 1 pint of hot beef stock or water, leave over a medium heat for about 45 minutes stirring occasionally.

Remove the seeds from the fresh tomatoes and chop the flesh into  fine dice and roughly chop the coriander leaves add the tomato and coriander leaves into the chili along with the brown sugar and the Worcestershire sauce, stir together well.

Leave to simmer for a further 20 minutes before adding salt and pepper to taste.

You can eat this straight away but I prefer to leave it overnight in the refridgerator to allow all of the flavours to really incorporate into one another.

I like to eat this with boiled white rice, some salsa and some corn chips.





Winter Vegetable and Bacon soup

16 11 2010

With the weather getting colder and the nights drawing in sometimes I just want to eat something warm and filling.

This winter vegetable and bacon soup ticks both of these boxes and like all soups is cheap and easy to make.

If you make more than you need immediately you can portion it into ziplock bags and it will happily keep in the freezer until you need it.

You will need:

1 large potato

250g swede/turnip

1/2 tbsp thyme

bunch of parsley

4 carrots

4 parsnips

2 sticks of celery

2 leeks

2/3 bay leaves

1 large onion

2 cloves of garlic

200g pancetta

1/2 litre chicken or vegetable stock

salt and pepper to season

olive oil or butter

Chop the onions, garlic and celery and sweat with a little olive oil or butter for approximately 15 minutes until they have softened.

At this point add in the remainder of the vegetables having first peeled, cleaned and chopped them into manageable pieces, continue to cook for another 7-10 minutes

Now add in the chicken or vegetable stock along with the thyme, a good pinch of salt and pepper and the parsley which needs to just be roughly chopped and the bay leaves.

Turn down the heat and simmer for about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and pour everything else into a food processor and blend until you have a nice smooth puree.

Pour the puree back into the pan and thin with a little more stock if it seems too thick, add more seasoning to taste and warm through.

Fry your pancetta until crisp and drain of any excess oil, add to the soup and serve immediately in warm bowls.

If you wish to make a vegetarian version omit the bacon and ensure that you use vegetable stock.





Bubble and Squeak

12 11 2010

No Bubble and Squeak are not Disney’s newest cartoon creations or my pet mice or any other such nonsense.

Bubble and Squeak is a traditional British meal made with the leftover meat and vegetables from dinner, in particular a Sunday roast. The name  itself comes from the sounds that are made as the dish is frying in the pan.

Bubble and Squeak is one of these meals whereby everyone does it differently (and why shouldnt they!)  but two things are constant in most recipes; the bulk of the dish is made up of leftovers potatoes and cabbage or any other green vegetable such as sprouts.

Traditionally the left over beef from dinner was chopped up very fine and mixed in as well, a lot of people have stopped doing this but I think that it just isn’t bubble without it!

I’m not really sure that there is anything else out there that is as cheap and simple to make and yet tastes half as good as bubble and squeak, try it for yourself and find out.

To make your Bubble and Squeak vegetarian friendly just omit the beef.

To make bubble and squeak you will need

approx 1lb of leftover potatoes – boiled, mashed or roast any will do

approx 1lb of leftover cabbage or other green veg

leftover beef (if any is left!)

1 onion

salt

pepper

butter

Roughly mash your leftover potatoes and chop your cabbage and onion down into small pieces, mix this together and add salt and pepper to taste

shred your leftover beef as finely as you possibly can, combine this with your vegetables and pop in the fridge for about 20 minutes or so.

Melt some butter in a large frying pan add your mixture, fry until lightly golden brown.

Bubble and Squeak can be eaten by itself as a light meal or used as a side dish or my favourite as part of a cooked breakfsast.





Best roast potatoes in the world

9 11 2010

Being British I have eaten my fair share of roast potatoes, quite often as an accompaniment to roast beef but just as often alongside other less traditional dishes or just by themselves.

Some roast potatoes are good, some are ok and some are a downright insult. These roast potatoes are great.

Personally I love the mix of the regular potatoes with their new world sweet potato counterparts but you can exclude these if you want to keep things old school, if you don’t use the sweet potatoes then replace them with more white potatoes.

You will need:

2lb of white potatoes

1lb of sweet potatoes

2 large red onions

3 cloves of garlic

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar

fresh thyme

fresh rosemary

a handful of  sage leaves

sea salt

black pepper

 

Pre-heat an oven to 200 degrees C

Peel your regular potatoes and cut them into pieces of uniform size,  boil these for approx 6-7 minutes until they are part cooked.

At this point place the potatoes into a colander and give them a shake so that the edges get chuffed up. Pat dry the potatoes using some kitchen paper so they are as dry as you can get them.

place your potatoes into a large roasting tray and pour over a good amount of the extra virgin olive oil about 3/4 table spoons. Roll the potatoes around so that they are all evenly coated in the olive oil, season the potatoes with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

At this point pop the tray into the oven and cook for about 30 minutes, at this point they should be lightly golden brown .

Whilst the potatoes are in the oven by themselves you can prepare everything else; peel the onions and chop them into at least quarters, peel the garlic cloves and roughly smash them so that all of the flavour is released, clean your sweet potatoes and chop them into small chunks with the skin left on, remove any woody stalks from your rosemary and thyme.

Take a bowl and mix the herbs together with a good glug of olive oil and about 2  tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

Take your tray of potatoes and add in the sweet potatoes, onions and garlic making sure that everything is well distributed.

Now pour over the mix of herbs, oil and vinegar again making sure that everything is well coated and well distributed.

Turn the oven down to approx 180 degrees C and cook for a further 45/50 minutes until everything is crispy and bubbling.

Transfer to a dish and either serve immediately or cover with a lid and serve within 15/20 minutes at the most.





Kofte Kebabs

31 10 2010

 Anyone who has read my recipes before will possibly have noticed that I really do like Greek and Turkish food quit a lot, so much in fact that it is probably a very good thing that both cuisines can be some of the healthiest around.

 Kofte or Kefte or Kofta depending on where you are from are made of ground meat such as lamb that is worked with until it is almost like a paste mixed with herbs and spices and then formed into balls, cigar like sausages or worked around a stick before grilling – delicious 🙂

I happen to be particularly fond of a version that I used to have at a Turkish restaurant back home and that I finally managed to get right after many attempts. Whilst you can use most meats and even fish to make your kofte I find lamb to be the best however I do like a 50/50 mix of lamb and beef as well.

Ingredients:

500 g of ground lamb
1 handfull of parsley (stalks removed)
1 slice of white bread with the crust removed
1 medium red onion
1 garlic clove
1 egg
~12 mint leaves
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black
1/2 tsp salt

Method:

When you buy your minced lamb ask the butcher to mince it twice for you to try and get it as fine and smooth as possibly, if you don’t visit a butcher and don’t have access to a mincer at home then place the mince on a chopping board and using 2 knives try and break it down as much as possible- imagine you are playing the drums!

Very lightly toast your slice of bread and using a food processor turn it into bread crumbs, if you don’t have a food processor then it looks like you will get to work on your drum skills again.

Peel your onion and garlic and dice both as finely as you can, also at this point chop up your parsely and mint leaves finely.

Beat together your egg .

Add all of your dry ingredients to a mixing bowl which has been greased with a little bit of olive oil and give them a rough mix together. Now add in your beaten egg and really mix everything together well, you don’t want any pockets of meat that haven’t been seasoned or any big clumps of breadcrumbs.

Once your mixture is well mixed together cover the bowl with a clingfilm/a teatowel and pop in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

After taking your mix out of the fridge divide it into equal amounts and shape it as you wish; either into little meatballs, cigar like sausages, patties or shaped around a wooden skewer.

Now for the cooking, pop your koftes onto a nice hot charcoal grill / bbq or if you don’t have a grill/bbq available you can pop them into a hot frying pan.

Cook the kofte until they are done, if you split this amount of mixture into 15 small sausages you will need to give them 3/4 minutes each, different sized portions will differ accordingly.

Serve with some natural yoghurt, a nice simple salad and some flat bread.








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