Saturday, 5 February 2011

Nom, nom nom...

Right so I've decided instead of just posting recipes, I'll do food themed posts instead. Posting recipes was the way that I made sure I actually blogged about something in a week when I lacked inspiration but I've caught the bug again and so these posts seem dull in comparison.

This week I had thought about posting about how you can cook one dish in a myriad of different ways. The point of this post is if you follow this blog and like to cook but maybe are a bit short of time, the point of this is to see how how you can take one base recipe and adapt it to your daily situation. Whether you have half and hour to cook dinner or half a day. There are certain recipes that I like that can be adapted extensively to suit your day. I'm guessing though that if you blog already, then you can cook as many parent blogs I read feature home baking or recipes. I'll see how it goes.

Chilli con Carne three ways

This seemingly humble dish has been adopted and simultaneously killed by the student population of the UK. For shame!! I love Chilli in all its various forms and with every topping and accompanment imaginable. Now I must confess that I only cook this two ways but there is a third option available. The first way is what I'd call the weekend way, where it is slow cooked for hours to produce a fantastically rich and melting stew.

4 tbsp olive oil
1 large green chilli, roasted, deseeded and pulped
1 red chilli, roasted, deseeded and pulped
4 garlic cloves, roasted and then pulped
1 green pepper, charred and then finely chopped

Fran's Spice Mix
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
5 black peppercorns
1 clove
1 tsp chipotle chilli powder
1.5 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano

2 tbsp tomato purée

500g red kidney beans
Flour (for browning)
Salt and pepper
500g beef skirt, diced
1 large onion, finely chopped
Bay leaf
250ml dark beer
600ml beef stock (plus more boiling water as the sauce cooks, if required)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
Worcestershire sauce (about a tablepoon)
1 tsp cocoa powder

To Serve
Juice of half a lime
Handful of chopped coriander

Roast the chilli and garlic in the over for about 20 minutes, on 190 degrees, before leaving them to cool down. Remove the seeds from the chilli and squash together with the garlic.
Blacken the pepper on top of the hob (if you have a gas hob, otherwise roast in the oven) and then transfer to a plastic bag to steam for a few minutes. Remove from the bag, skin, deseed and then chop finely.
At the same time, toast the coriander and cumin in a frying pan on a low heat, for about 10 minutes. Once cooled, grind them up with some black pepper and a clove and transfer to a bowl, add the other powdered spices.
While both these things are happening, cook the beans (soaked overnight) for 20 minutes, rinse and put aside until later on.
In a large pan, brown the seasoned meat and remove to a plate. This took about 20 minutes. In the same pan, add some more oil and soften the onions for about five to 10 minutes. Then add the pulped garlic and chilli, the bay leaf and the diced pepper and cook for another five minutes.
Add the powdered spices and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato puree and cook for two minutes. Return the meat to the pan and combine with the spice paste. Deglaze with the beer, then follow with the stock, tomatoes, a dash of Worcestershire sauce and more seasoning. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours, checking there is enough water as you go along.
After 1.5 hours, add the beans and cook for a further 1.5 hours. Just before the end of the cooking time, add the cocoa powder and cook for another five minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lime and a handful of chopped coriander stirred through (if you’re making this the day before then add the lime juice and coriander just before serving).

The second way involves just as much care and attention with the flavours but only takes half an hour in total from fridge to plate. I love this as a mid week supper and the flavours are so rich that people think you've been cooking for hours.

Second Way.

1 large onion or 2 banana shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red chilli deseeded or keep half with seeds if you like it spicy
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and roughly chopped
Olive oil, for frying
500g good quality beef mince
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
3 fresh tomatoes or 1 beef tomato, roughly chopped
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
100-200ml chicken or beef stock
3 tbsp tomato puree
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
400g kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper
Handful of chives, chopped
200ml soured cream
Boiled rice, to serve

Sweat the onion, garlic, chilli and thyme in 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan. At the same time, brown the mince in a separate pan over moderate heat in a little oil.
Add the dried spices to the onion mixture and cook until they release their aroma. Then stir in the beef and mix well. Add the fresh and tinned tomatoes and leave to cook down a little for about 5 minutes.
Pour in the chicken or beef stock and stir in tomato puree to taste. Drop the cinnamon and bay leaf in then bring to the boil and leave to simmer.
Once the sauce is beginning to thicken add the kidney beans and leave to cook for another 5-10 minutes to allow the beans to soak up the flavours. Check for seasoning.
Mix the chives and soured cream together. To serve, spoon the chilli into the centre of a mound of rice, with the soured cream and chives in a separate bowl on the side.

The third way involves buying a ready meal and pinging it in the microwave! 


  1. now my toasted cheese sandwich seems wholly inadequate XXX

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