Another Chilli Recipe

Since I was a teenager I have been on the search for the world’s best chilli con carne recipe. My idea of the best chilli is that it is hot enough to give me a warming glow, but not so hot that you lose touch with your other senses. It has to be meaty and chunky, and it has to have some beans to make me think that I am being “healthy”.

I am not sure if I have found it yet, but I think I am getting closer with this fabulous chilli recipe.

Chilli Con Carne

  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 45- 60 minutes in the oven; 3 hours in a slow cooker
  • Skill level: easy
  • Serves: 2-4

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250g minced beef
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 green, and 1 pepper
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 small bird’s eyes chillies, chopped (you can use other chillies at your own risk)
  • few splashes of Tobasco sauce (or other chilli sauce)
  • 1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • handful of fresh coriander chopped
  • 1 x 400g can of red kidney beans

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan with a lid and brown the minced beef. Add the onion, peppers, Worcestershire sauce, chillies, tobasco, tomatoes and tomato purée and beans. Crumble in the stock cube, and add the juice of the lime and the ground cumin, then add a little of the chopped coriander.
  2. Give it a good mix, then cover the pan and allow to simmer for 45-60 minutes, or a few hours in a slow cooker.
  3. Add lots more chopped coriander before serving on top of some rice or with some tortilla chips… Don’t forget an iced cold beer as my beverage of choice for the big people or some milk for the little ones.
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Cherry and Pistachio Stuffing

Growing up in Canada my mom always made a traditional stuffing that you shoved into the backside of your turkey, and for me it was the best part of Christmas dinner. Here in England though stuffing is a completely different creature all together, but no less delicious. This recipe is made in the traditional English style, but has a fruity modern twist that should delight even the most fussy eater in your house.

The best part of this recipe though is that you can make it now and freeze it. Just remember to take it out of the freezer a couple of days before so they have time to completely defrost.

  • Skill level: easy
  • Preparation time: 15 minutes
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 red onion, finely diced. (see video)
  • 450g/1lb sausage meat (if you can’t find sausage meat, just pick your favourite sausage and remove them from their skins)
  • 175g/6oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • zest 1 lemon
  • zest 1 orange
  • 100g/4oz shelled pistachios
  • 100g/4oz dried sour cherries (or dried cranberries)
  • 1 large egg
  • small bunch of parsley, chopped
  • drizzle of olive oil

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the onion and cook until soft, and then leave to cool.
  2. Roughly chop the pistachios (I used a food processor and then just pulsed them a few times).
  3. Mix the ingredients, except for the olive oil. The best way to do this is by hand. Once mixed roll the stuffing into 24 walnut sized balls and put on a baking tray. or in a freezer proof container if freezing.
  4. Drizzle the stuffing with olive oil and cook at 220°C/Gas 7 on the middle shelf of your oven for 20 minutes before moving to the top shelf for 10 additional minutes.

These stuffing balls can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or put in the freezer for 2 months, but remember to take them out of the freezer a few days before Christmas and thoroughly defrost in the refrigerator before cooking.

Pan Haggerty

Winter is truly taking hold here in Britain. The evenings are darker and there is a biting chill in the air. Personally, I love winter because it provides the perfect excuse to spend my evenings wrapped up in a warm blanket with the fireplace blazing, doing nothing but lazing in front of the telly with the kids and the missus. It also provides the perfect atmosphere for consuming some delicious one pot, carb heavy food.

Pan Haggerty is a dish that fits the bill perfectly. Traditionally a dish made to feed the coal miners in Northeastern Britain it is a dish perfect for taking the chill out of your bones, and for eating from large bowls in front of the television.

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Pan Haggerty

  • Preparation time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 25 minutes
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Skill level: easy

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 250g bacon rashers
  • 6 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 onions, peeled and sliced
  • 5 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 150g cheddar cheese, grated

Method

  1. Using a high sided frying pan, heat the oil and fry the bacon until it just begins to crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside. Leave the bacon grease in the pan.
  2. Place a layer of potatoes over the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry about presentation, just toss it in. Add a layer of onion, a layer of carrots and a layer of bacon. Repeat the layers, finishing with a layer of potatoes across the top.
  3. Pour the chicken stock over the pan, and cover. (If your pan doesn’t have a lid, just cover it over with a layer of foil.
  4. Leave to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and carrots are tender.
  5. When everything is cooked, heat the grill. Uncover the pan and top with the cheese, then pop it under the grill until everything is golden and bubbling.
  6. Serve in bowls with some lovely crusty bread.

 

Old Skool Pork Chops

Pork chops are still one of the cheapest cuts of meat available. The trouble with them is that they are so boring without a little work.

I think one of the easiest things to do to add a bit of flavour is to pair them up with their old friend the apple… And if you are feeling very daring, some cheese.

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Old Skool Pork Chops

  • Preparation time: less than five minutes
  • Cooking time: around 15 minutes
  • Serves: 4
  • Skill level: easy

Ingredients

  • 4 decent sized pork chops
  • 2 good eating apples, cored and cut into 8 wedges
  • knob of butter
  • handful of fresh sage leaves
  • 100 g strong cheese (stilton, taleggio, or strong cheddar)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6
  2. Season the chops with some black pepper and salt, then pour a glug of cooking oil into a pan. Carefully put your chops in the pan and cook until golden brown (3-4 minutes on each side).
  3. When the chops are nearly done, place them on an oiled baking tray. Add the apple wedges and a knob of butter to the pan and fry them until golden.
  4. Place a couple of apple wedges on each chop. Dress the sage leaves in a little olive oil and top each apple stack. If you are using the cheese top each chop with a knob of cheese. Place the chops in the oven for 5 minutes or so until everything is golden and melted.
Adapted from Jamie Oliver’s, Cook with Jamie

 

Another year, another Christmas Cake 

A few years ago I made the family a Christmas cake and every year since it has fallen on my shoulders to make another. Occasionally I try a different recipe, but Delia’s Classic Christmas cake is still the recipe that I think is best. It holds the booze well, it has the right balance of fruit and spice and it keeps for ages so you can make it weeks in advance and feed it up with alcohol to make it even more delicious.

WARNING: Beware, if you make this cake, then you will be required to repeat the following process every year until the end of time.

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Delia Smith’s Classic Christmas Cake

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  • Preparation time: 45 minutes + decorating
  • Baking time: 4 1/2-4 3/4 hours
  • Makes: 10-12 decent sized slices
  • Skill level: moderate

Ingredients

  • 450g currants
  • 175g sultanas
  • 175g raisins (I substitute the raisins for mixed dried fruit)
  • 50g glacé cherries, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
  • 3tbsp brandy
  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1/2tsp ground mixed spice
  • 225g soft brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 50 g flaked almonds
  • 1 dessert spoon black treacle
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest of 1 orange

Equipment

  • A 20cm round or an 18cm square cake tin, greased and lined with a double thickness of baking parchment. Tie a band of baking parchment around the outside of the tin for extra protection.
  • An electric mixer.
  • Two large, and several smaller mixing bowls.

Method

The night before you are going to bake this cake weigh out the dried fruit and peel, place it in a mixing bowl and mix in the brandy as evenly and thoroughly as possible. Cover the bowl and leave the fruit to absorb the booze for 12 hours.

Top tip: the black treacle will be easier to measure if you remove the lid, and place the tin in a small pan of barely simmering water.

  1. Heat the oven to 140 C/275 F/gas 1.
  2. Measure out all the ingredients. Make a list and tick them off as you go to ensure they are all there.
  3. Begin the cake by sifting the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl, lifting the sieve up high to give it a good airing.
  4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the butter and sugar together until it is light, pale and fluffy.
  5. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Add them to the creamed mixture (butter and sugar) a tablespoon at a time, keeping the mixer running until all the egg is incorporated. This method should ensure that the mixture does not curdle, but if it does, don’t worry.
  6. Once all the eggs have been added, fold in the flour and spices gently. Do not use the mixer (this is preserve the precious air).
  7. Fold in the fruit, peel, chopped nuts and treacle, and finely the grated lemon and orange zests.
  8. Using a large spoon, transfer the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin. Spread it out evenly with the back of the spoon. (If you don’t intend ice the cake, lightly drop whole blanched almonds all over the surface).
  9. Cover the cake with a double piece of baking parchment with a 50p sized (1 inch) hole cut in the center.
  10. Bake the cake on the lowest shelf of the oven for 4½-4¾ hours until it feels springy in the center when lightly touched. Sometimes it can take an extra ½-¾ hours longer, but in any case DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR FOR AT LEAST 4 HOURS.
  11. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the tin, then remove it to a wire rack to finish cooling. When it is cold “feed it”, wrap it in double baking parchment, secured with an elastic band, and either wrap again in foil or place it in an air tight tin.
  12. Continue feeding your cake at regular intervals until you are ready to eat or decorate your cake.