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Posts Tagged ‘spicy’

Chicken Enchiladas with a Smoky Tomato Sauce

Fajitas are a popular dish in our household. In fact I’ve stopped blogging about them now because there’s only so many photos you can take of the same dish! I just adore the spicy chicken with the charred vegetables, salsa, sour cream..yum yum yum. However, Erika and I thought we’d try something different but still stay with the mexican theme, so turned to a recipe on our delicious for chicken enchiladas with a smoky tomato sauce, which we halved to serve both of us generously.

The recipe blurb suggests that it’s not too spicy and is suitable for kids. Not being a child I added a bit extra smoked paprika in order to get more of that smoky flavour across. I also dropped the cocoa powder as I thought the use of it would make the sauce taste a bit too hot-chocolatey. Furthermore we poached then shredded a chicken breast and used that instead of the shop bought stuff as I find that has absolutely no flavour whatsoever.

Overall – very good. Spicy sauce, tasty filling with the stringy melted cheese on top, all in addition to the wraps which go wonderfully crispy after coming out of the oven. I still prefer fajitas but I’d be happy to alternate between the two!

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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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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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Griddled jerk chicken with mango salad and steamed rice

We’ve had jerk chicken a couple of times, most memorably at The Mayor’s Thames Festival a couple of years ago (along with some delicious, blackened, barbequed corn), but tonight decided to try and make it ourselves. We used a recipe for Grilled Jerk Chicken, but in hindsight I’m not sure that was the ideal recipe as Wikipedia tells me that jerk involves a dry-rub whereas this recipe uses a marinade.

We made the marinade as instructed (although with 25% less chilli) and then griddled the chicken which we served with steamed rice and a mango salad (fresh mango, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion and some fresh mint). It was okay and nice to have something different, but the chicken wasn’t anything particularly special – despite all the ingredients, there seemed to be very little flavour when it was actually cooked. We’ll have to hunt out a new recipe (suggestions welcome!)

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Mexican Bean Soup

Erika and I went out for lunch today so when dinnertime came we weren’t very hungry. We went to the supermarket for inspiration and I found myself craving a thick, spicy, tomatoey soup. Attempting to remember what we already had at home, I put a can of mixed beans, a pack of lardons and some mixed chillis into my basket and walked back thinking of a recipe.

A quick google didn’t come up with anything useful so I decided in my head what I wanted the finished dish to look and taste like and set to work.

Mexican bean soup

Mexican Bean Soup (Serves 2)

100g bacon lardons/pancetta
1 onion, half sliced, the other half diced
1 red chilli, seeds removed, minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tin of mixed beans
1 romano pepper, roasted, skin removed then sliced (optional)
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
250ml vegetable stock
25gr spaghetti, snapped into small pieces
1/2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp cumin seed
1/2 tsp coriander seed
salt & pepper

Start by toasting the cumin and coriander in a non-stick frying pan. Once nicely toasted, crush with a pestle and mortar and set aside.

Next, fry the lardons in a saucepan with a little olive oil until browned then remove from the pan and set aside. Put the onion, garlic and chilli into the pan then cook over a low heat until the onion has softened. Add the spices, salt and pepper and cook for a minute before adding the beans, the cooked bacon and the pepper. Stir in the tomato puree, then leave for a few seconds before adding the tinned tomatoes, stock and spaghetti. Bring to the boil then leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes until the spaghetti has cooked and the beans are soft. Check the seasoning just before serving.

If you like your soup smooth, blend it all. If you like it chunky, do nothing. If you don’t care too much (like me), blend half and stir through the remainder of the soup. Blending will change the colour from red to orange.

Considering this was made up as I went along it tasted delicious. It turned out more like a stew than a soup so a little extra stock would have made it a bit more soupy. Even Erika, who wasn’t going to have any, loved it (after picking out the bacon). The bacon didn’t really add too much to the dish so I’d be happy to make it without next time. I only added the pepper as we’d bought some earlier in the day and I think some thinly sliced carrot would be a good alternative.

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