Posts Tagged ‘chilli’

Jerk Chicken

Jerk Chicken

The Mayor’s Thames Festival was a few weeks ago and Erika and I spent some time there browsing the stalls and tucking in to some of food and drink that was on offer. We looked out for the amazing jerk chicken stall that we visited a couple of years ago but were unable to find it – eventually we got too hungry and settled for some lukewarm chinese food which was very disappointing.

This restarted the fire in my heart for jerk chicken. We tried it once before and despite the number of ingredients it tasted quite bland. Some surfing online revealed a recipe from Levi Roots (I adored his ‘Caribbean Food Made Easy’ series that was recently on TV). Initially the number of ingredients put me off but I soon realised we had most of them in the cupboard.

I made the marinade and covered the chicken with it. This went into the fridge overnight and the next day cooked it under the grill, regularly basting with more of the spicy marinade. I served the chicken with some corn salsa (sweetcorn, spring onion, chilli, salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil) and roasted sweet potato wedges which I sprinkled with all-purpose seasoning.

Overall it was a huge improvement on last time; still not as good as the jerk stall at the Thames Festival though. I think that is because they smoke the chicken as it is cooked on the barbeque, something which cannot be reproduced under the grill. The wedges were great (except for the use of all purpose seasoning), and although they didn’t crisp up up they were lovely and soft inside, and the corn salsa provided a zingy accompaniment to the dish.

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Chilli Con Carne

Chilli con carne

I like to vary the carbohydrates that I eat during the week, alternating between rice, potatoes, pasta and bread. When we’re thinking of something to have with rice, chilli frequently comes to mind. It’s delicious, simple to make and keeps well in the freezer – although my leftovers are often taken to work for lunch the next day. For some reason there’s no mention of chilli con carne on this blog so I thought I’d change that.

Chilli is similar to bolognese in that everyone has their own recipe and secret ingredients. Sit a few cooks down together and bring up the topic of the ultimate chilli con carne recipe and you’ll have hours of conversation over the best meats (either ground or diced chunks), whether beans should be added or not, the amount of tomato to use… I’m going to give my recipe but don’t take it as gospel. Use more or less beans, diced beef instead of minced beef, more or less chilli – it’s up to you.

This time I used British Cherry Bomb chillis – they’re pendant shaped and can be quite potent. Any other type of fresh chilli, or even dried chilli flakes will do.

Chilli also tastes better when made a few days in advance. Once cooked, leave to cool then put in the fridge and reheat gently before serving.

Chilli Con Carne
Serves 2 to 3 people
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: at least an hour

1 onion, half sliced, the other half diced
1 cherry bomb chilli, diced (include the seeds if you want it hot)
1 large clove garlic, minced
350g lean minced beef
1 beef stock cube
1/2tsp cumin
1 tin good quality chopped tomatoes
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
1tsp chilli powder
1tsp oregano
dash of red wine (optional)
olive oil
salt and pepper

Start by dry fying the mince in a pan until browned, strain then set aside.

Fry the onion, garlic and chilli in a little oil over a low heat until softened – this will take between 5 and 10 minutes. Add the cumin, chilli powder and oregano to the onions and stir before adding the cooked minced beef. Next add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, beef stock cube and some salt and pepper and stir well. Pour in the red wine if using – I often freeze leftover red wine in an ice cube tray and use a couple of cubes in this dish.

Leave to simmer uncovered for at least an hour – add some water if it gets too dry. Serve with some boiled rice, a jacket potato or even some nachos.

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Homemade piri piri chicken

Piri piri is the name that Angolans use to describe the bird’s eye chilli. The spicy marinade has been made famous over here due in no small part to the Nando’s chain of restaurants, where they serve up chicken, fries and coleslaw to thousands of hungry people every day.

You don’t have to go to Nando’s to have piri piri chicken. Indeed, it only takes a few seconds to make the marinade and you can prepare it in advance as it’s even better after a few days in the fridge. This stuff is perhaps less authentic than real piri piri as it uses red chillis instead of bird’s eye, but it still tastes great.

Both Erika and I much prefer this version to anything you can get from Nando’s. It’s a spicy, flavoursome sauce which tastes divine. Use chicken thighs instead of breasts as they’re cheaper and far far jucier and tastier. Pour the sauce over the chicken a good 12 hours before you want to start cooking as you want the meat to absorb as much of the fire as possible! We served ours with some coleslaw and corn.

Piri Piri Marinade
Makes enough for 2 large chicken legs
Prep time: 30 seconds

1 whole red chilli (including seeds), halved
1tsp oregano
1tsp paprika
good pinch of salt
clove of garlic
4tbsp olive oil

Put the chilli, oregano, salt, garlic and olive oil in a blender and whizz for a few seconds until you have a marinade. Leave it in the fridge until you need it – it improves with age and will be good for a few days.

Pour over chicken at least 12 hours before you need it then grill, griddle, fry or barbeque until cooked, basting with the leftover sauce regularly.

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Mexican bean soup

A quick dinner tonight. Erika and I have been busy recently, so it’s nice to have something which tastes good but doesn’t take too long to cook. I’d also had a tasteless, watery chicken fajita for lunch from the work canteen which didn’t satisfy my craving for mexican food so was delighted when Erika suggested having this!

I used the same Mexican bean soup recipe as before, but used some leftover cooking chorizo instead of the bacon and left out the roasted pepper.

Once again it tasted lovely, although it did need a pinch of chilli flakes as the red chilli I used didn’t pack enough heat. There was spice from the chilli, paprika-y saltiness from the chorizo and heartiness from the beans and spaghetti. Next time I’d like to make a huge pot and take it for lunch at work to have instead of the awful canteen food!

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Chicken arrabiata

We’re trying to use up things in the freezer at the moment and needed some way to use up a lone chicken breast. We reasoned that it would probably stretch furtherst in a pasta dish and decided upon making an arrabiata sauce to go with it.

A quick Google search tells me that our sauce wasn’t entirely authentic, but we just chose to make up a spicy tomato sauce and go with it!

Chicken Arrabiata
Serves 2
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins

1 chicken breast
160g pasta (we used conchiglie, but would have used penne if we’d had any!)
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 green chilli, minced (red’ll do too!)
1tbsp tomato purée
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp dried oregano
olive oil
salt & pepper
Grana Padano/Parmesan, to serve (optional)

1. Put the chicken breast in a pan and cover with boiling water. Bring to a slow boil and poach for 10-15 minutes or until cooked. When cooked, remove it from the pan and leave on a plate to rest.
2. Meanwhile, soften the onion in olive oil for 5 minutes before adding the crushed garlic and minced chilli. Cook for a further minute.
3. Add the herbs and then stir the tomato purée through. Leave it for 30 seconds or so before adding the chopped tomatoes. Season to taste and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
4. While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to the instructions.
5. When everything is ready, shred the chicken with your hands (or a couple of forks if it’s still too hot!), drain the pasta and then mix everything in together before serving with a sprinkling of Grana Padano/Parmesan.

This was the first time we’d poached chicken and it worked really well, cooking it through whilst keeping it soft and moist. The sauce had a pleasant warmth from the chilli (if you want more of a kick, you’ll want to add more) and was all in all a really nice, quick and easy meal.

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Sausage and tomato pasta

When we were deciding on dinners this week I was thinking of what we had in the freezer and remembered that there were some pork sausages, which gave me inspiration for tonight’s dinner. Once again it’s a simple dish, taking 25 minutes in total, and tastes delicious. Add more or less chilli depending on your personal preference.

Sausage and Tomato Pasta
Serves 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Three sausages
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red chilli, minced
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1tbsp tomato purée
150g pasta
basil leaves, torn
salt and pepper
grated Grana Padano, to serve (or parmesan if you prefer)

Start by dicing the sausages, then fry them in the olive oil for 5 minutes until they are browned. Add the garlic and chilli, and cook for a minute or so, before adding the tomato purée and tinned tomatoes. Season to taste and simmer for 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet and drain. Stir the sauce through the pasta, add the basil and serve with a sprinkling of cheese.

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An impulse buy of some Padrón Peppers from Brindisa at Borough Market on Friday meant that we needed to work some tapas into our dinners for this week. We were then at the market yesterday and saw some lovely looking prawns which we bought to go alongside the peppers, meaning that tapas night had to be this evening. Unfortunately we hadn’t planned to cycle 35 miles today so attempting to cook 6 different dishes whilst feeling rather tired was a considerable challenge.

Padrón peppers - fried and salted

Padrón Peppers
We first had Padrón Peppers eating al-fresco at a tapas bar in Barcelona. We didn’t know what they were when we ordered them and after over-hearing some Americans at another table complaining about them we were very apprehensive! There was no need to worry as they tasted wonderful and we’ve loved eating them ever since. I’m drawn to the russian-roulette style of eating, as one in thirty is super-hot. Tonight I had the hot one – last time around it was Erika’s turn and she had to run off to the kitchen for a glass of milk!

The peppers were cooked in olive oil in a hot pan for a few minutes until their skins blistered. They were sprinkled with salt just before serving.

Chilli and garlic prawns

Chilli and Garlic Prawns
The prawns were beheaded(!) and the intestines removed. Some oil was heated in a pan then a minced clove of garlic was added, then cooked for 30 seconds or so. Next the prawns, half a diced chilli, some paprika and salt were added to the pan and fried for a few more minutes until the prawns were cooked through.

Simple salad of cherry tomatoes, red onion and toasted pine nuts

A simple salad of cherry tomatoes, red onion and toasted pine nuts.

Smoked paprika almonds

Smoked Paprika Almonds
We found this recipe in a ‘Tapas’ book, but these nuts would make a fantastic snack in their own right and are exceptionally easy to make! Take as many blanched almonds as you’d like (we used a 100g bag) and bake them at 200C for about 8 minutes (don’t burn them!). Transfer them to a heatproof bowl and stir in a little olive oil so all the nuts are lightly coated. Then add a few grinds of salt and a pinch of smoked paprika and stir again to distribute the flavours. The recipe called for 1.5tbsp coarse sea salt (ground with pestle & mortar) and 0.5tsp smoked paprika for 500g of almonds, but I found these proportions to be too salty and not paprika-ey enough! Leave the nuts to cool and munch away!

Tortilla D'Espanya (Spanish Omelette)

Tortilla D’Espanya (Spanish Omelette)
An old favourite of Erika’s since well before she ever set foot on Spanish soil, Spanish omelette is something she’s been trying to perfect for quite some time. Today, we par-boiled sliced potatoes and then left them in a frying pan over a low heat with some chopped onion until everything had softened. We then beat 3 large eggs in a bowl and stirred in the potatoes and onions along with a little seasoning. The mixture was poured into a small, oiled frying pan and flipped over after 10 minutes or so. It tasted delicious, but fell apart a bit and had a huge hole in the middle – one day she’ll get there!

Romano peppers stuffed with feta cheese

Feta Cheese Stuffed Romano Peppers
Having picked up more Romano peppers than we really knew what to do with, we decided to try something decidedly un-Spanish – splitting the peppers in half, filling with cubes of feta cheese and dried oregano and grilling for about 15 minutes. We both learnt something new – that feta doesn’t melt! They were really good though and we’ll have them again.

All this was served with an ice-cold Estrella each and was definitely worth the hard work.

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