Tag Archives: chilli

Crab Chowder

This was inspired by a recipe in Olive Magazine but because we couldn’t be bothered finding string and didn’t read the recipe too closely it was made a little differently. We always thought chowder had to be really rich and creamy which isn’t really our cup of tea so when this recipe with a clear broth and then just a dollop of sour cream on top came along we had to try it! The result was vibrant, fresh yet still comforting because of the sour cream and the avocado slices on top. We made a simple white loaf packed with olive oil (based on our bread recipe) to have with this and it went perfectly. This also has to be one of the easiest meals – in 30 minutes you’ll have a pretty impressive bowl of food on the table!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • One small white onion/half an onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large baking potato, peeled and diced into small cubes
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • A bunch of coriander, stalks sliced and leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely sliced
  • 1-2 pints of chicken stock
  • 1 large tin of sweetcorn, drained
  • 1 tin of white crab meat, drained
  • 1 avocado, cut into thick strips
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • Soured cream
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
Make sure you use a nice ripe avocado - it should be a little soft. This one was perfect!
Make sure you use a nice ripe avocado – it should be a little soft. This one was perfect!

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and when hot add the onion, potato, spring onions, coriander stalks and celery. Cook this together for about 1-2 minutes and then pour over the stock. Simmer for around 15-20 minutes or until the potato is tender. Add in the sweetcorn and the crab meat, stir through to heat and then add in half of the chopped coriander leaves. Spoon into bowls and serve with the sour cream, chilli slices, avocado, lime wedges and the rest of the coriander sprinkled on top.

Crab Chowder Done

We’re loving South American flavours at the moment, especially lime and chilli. This was so fresh and warming and definitely takes less than half an hour – perfect for perking you up after a hard day at work!

Thai Noodle Soup with Crispy Tofu

This was only our second ever time cooking with tofu. Bird is a big fan and often chooses it over meat options when eating Thai food out but our first attempt about two years ago fell a little flat (well, more accurately, it fell a little slimy). However we got a real craving for it and decided to try again. The tofu we bought helpfully had some cooking instructions on and told us to press the tofu for a better and firmer texture, we figured it knew best so went along with it. What a huge difference! Much firmer, much less fragile, and when cooked MUCH crispier! The extremely-helpful-packaging suggested a minimum of 10 minutes but we left ours for 30 minutes. To press tofu simply drain it of the fluid it’s packaged in and then wrap it in about 2-3 layers of kitchen paper. Place it on a chopping board with another chopping board on top and place a weight on it. This doesn’t have to be really heavy, we used 2 cookery books but a large saucepan would be perfect too. Then make yourself a cuppa and go and chill out for a while. When you come back to it simply unwrap it, use a fresh piece of kitchen paper to give it a wipe down and then get cooking!

Tofu marinading

Ingredients

  • 1 block of pressed tofu
  • 1 litre of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • A thumb sized piece of ginger, chopped into matchsticks
  • 1 red chilli, sliced thinly
  • 2-3 spring onions, white parts sliced thinly, green parts sliced thicker on the diagonal
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • Zest of 1 lime (you will use the lime juice to season later)
  • noodles, either straight-to-wok or dried ones cooked and drained
  • vegetables, we used baby corn, mange tout and pak choi but use whatever you fancy making sure you have a mix of crunchy and leafy
  • dark soy sauce
  • fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (or other flavourless oil)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • coriander leaves

Chop your tofu into 1-2 inch cubes and place in a bowl. Drizzle over around 1-2 tsp of dark soy sauce and let the flavour soak in. Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil, then add in the sugar, the white part of the spring onions, the garlic, the lime zest and most of the ginger and chilli – the rest will be cooked with the tofu. Let this simmer away for about 10 minutes to let the flavours mingle.

Onions, chilli, ginger

After this time grab a wok and heat the vegetable oil in it over a medium-high heat. Once hot throw in the tofu and the remaining ginger and chilli. Our tofu took about 7 minutes to become golden and crispy all over. Keep an eye on the tofu turning it over every 30 seconds or so to make sure it colours evenly. Put the noodles in with the soup and let it come back to the boil. This is the time to season it with dark soy sauce, fish sauce and lime – the amounts are completely up to you, try with 1 tsp of soy sauce and fish sauce and the juice of half a lime and then keep tasting and adding until it’s perfect for you.

Tofu fall

When the tofu is almost ready chuck the vegetables in with the soup, we reserved the leaves of the pak choi as they just need to wilt in. Let the vegetables cook for around 1 minute – you want them to retain some bite! At this stage pour the toasted sesame oil over the tofu, let it cook for a last few seconds and then tip into some kitchen paper to drain slightly. Season it with about 1 tsp of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice. Put any leafy vegetables in the soup to wilt and then serve immediately.

Crispy tofu

Dish yourself up a bowl of the noodle soup, top with the crispy tofu and garnish with the green parts of the spring onions and the coriander leaves – this would also be lovely with some crushed peanuts. We had ours with a wedge of lime to add extra zing at the table and a simple infusion of lemon and ginger to drink.

Tofu with noodle soup

This has filled us with confidence to try tofu again soon, maybe with a stir fry, a curry or a salad… any suggestions?

Smoky Sweet Potato Soup

It’s rare these days for us to have a soup without some delectable little morsel sitting on top of it jazzing it up – this time it’s crispy chorizo which adds a different texture as well as a big hit of smoky flavour. Taking a few minutes to create a topping for your soup makes all the difference, whether that’s simply some cheese crumbled or grated over, some crisped up meat or vegetables, croutons, pesto… the options are endless! It adds another dimension to soup which to some is a boring dish, we however are a little obsessed!

This is a favourite for autumn/winter; it is comforting, warming, sweet, spicy and smoky and just begs to be mopped up with a big hunk of bread. You can make this soup even sweeter, the flavours even more intense, by roasting the onion and potato first but honestly, the flavours are so great that if you are short of time (as we were) it really won’t suffer from just chucking it all in a pan.

Sweet potato soup ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into roughly 1 inch cubes
  • crushed chillies (as much as you like! We used around 1 heaped tsp)
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • Chicken or vegetable stock, enough to cover the vegetables
  • A chunk of chorizo, diced into 1 cm cubes

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, when hot add the onion and sweet potato. Stir to coat in the oil and cook for around 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and the sweet potato is starting to sear. Add the paprika and the crushed chillies. Cook this for a further couple of minutes and then cover with stock. Let this bubble away for around 15 minutes or until the potato is soft. Blitz the soup until smooth, we have a stick blender and think we’ve wanged on about it before but BUY ONE. They are cheap and make life so much easier if you’re anywhere near as much of a soup fiend as we both are. Your soup is ready to serve as it is, or perhaps with a drizzle of cream or sour cream. We chose to fry some cubes of chorizo in a non-stick frying pan until really crisp and top the soup with them and their oil. Enjoy! This would be lovely with our basic bread recipe or how about an adapted Paul Hollywood roll recipe, maybe with some manchego? What are your favourite autumn/winter warmers?

Sweet potato soup

 

Quick Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya

Believe it or not the origins for this recipe lie in an Asda magazine from about 1998. We mean really it’s origins lie in a Caribbean interpretation of some French and Spanish food but this one right here is a vintage Asda classic. Updated by the Bird clan with some chorizo and chilli (and what a bland dish it would be without them!), it’s now a firm favourite for when you want a comforting, warming, one pan dinner in around 30 minutes. Oh one tip though? Leave time for the pan to soak before you wash it up – that delicious crusty rice at the bottom makes it a hell of a job to clean!

Ingredients (serves two hungry people or three less greedy people)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 skinless chicken breast fillets, cut into strips
  • Chunk of chorizo, chopped
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 small green pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 green chilli, de-seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 340g can chopped tomatoes
  • 330ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 135g long grain rice

Heat the oil in a large frying pan/skillet and then add the onion and chorizo. Allow the oil to come out of the chorizo and the onion to soften for a minute or two. Add the chicken and cook for 4-5 minutes or until there are no visible pink bits left. Add the garlic and cook briefly – you don’t want it to burn! Add the peppers, chilli and chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Onion and Chorizo

Dissolve the tomato purée into the hot chicken stock – we might have mentioned this tip before but it makes it so much easier to distribute it evenly throughout the dish! Stir in the chicken stock/tomato purée mixture, the dried thyme and the rice. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. This last step is a bit open for interpretation, we tend to stir ours every five minutes or so to prevent it from becoming a total nightmare, and we have a well fitting lid so the stock to rice ratio usually works for us but if you need to add more stock then go ahead! Also it might be worth adding a layer of aluminium foil if your pan lid doesn’t fit too tightly.

And that’s it! Serve with salad if you want to be good but if you’re anything like us then serve yourself a mountain of the stuff and eat your way into a spicy, paprika-y, chicken-y carb coma.

Jambalaya

Sweet Potato, Rosemary and Chilli Bread

Bread time again! We thought we’d try something a bit different to warm us up during the recent cold snap. This sweet potato-based bread is our first foray into vegetable breads, and although it didn’t turn out quite perfect it still tasted totally delicious and we had to share it with you.

Here’s what you’ll need for a standard (about 800 g) loaf/boule:

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • A few sprigs rosemary
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • About 350 g strong white flour (enough to make it up to 500 g with the sweet potato) plus a bit more for kneading and making a crust
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 2 heaped tsp fast-acting yeast
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 300 ml tepid water
  • 1- 2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Start by taking the skin of the sweet potato, chopping it up into fairly small chunks and roasting it, along with the rosemary, seasoning (good pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper) and olive oil for about 45 minutes at around 180 °C. You want the sweet potato to be soft, not crispy – otherwise the next bit will be pretty much impossible!

Sweet potato for bread

Once the sweet potato has cooled down, roll your sleeves up, take a deep breath and force the roasted sweet potato through a metal sieve. Pushing it through with the back of a spoon seems to work pretty well, but it’s hard work! Take out any rosemary leaves and add them to the sieved potato, but discard the stalks. If anyone has any better ideas for how to smooth out the sweet potato, leave us a message in the comments.

That ordeal over and done with, add the sieved sweet potato to a measuring scales and add enough strong white flour to make up the total weight of the potato and the flour up to 500 g. Add to a mixing bowl with 1 heaped tsp yeast, the table salt, the honey and the extra virgin olive oil. You may want to use a food mixer with a dough hook to bring the mixture together, as it gets pretty sticky – we did, but it’ll work just fine with your hands. While you’re bringing it together, slowly add the tepid water, about 50 ml at a time.

Flour it up!
Flour it up!

Once the dough has all come together, by machine or hand, tip it onto a well floured surface and knead for about 15 minutes. You’ll have to flour the surface again and again as it will stay pretty sticky! Once it springs back place in a well-oiled bowl, cover with cling-film and leave to rise in a warm place. Once it has doubled in size (about 2 hours), knock back, shape (whatever you like – we did a boule but would like to try a loaf next time!) and leave to prove for another hour or so.

About 20 minutes before the bread is ready to go in the oven, preheat it to about 200 °C. Now for the chilli crust – this step is kind of optional, but we urge you to give it a go as the results are delicious! Mix together a couple of tablespoons of strong white flour, 1 tsp yeast, the dried chilli flakes, and just enough water to turn it into a spreadable paste.

SP bread with chilli

Just before the bread goes into the oven, put a few slashes in the top with a sharp knife and smear over the chilli and flour paste so that it forms a thin layer. Now put it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the top is dark and golden.

We ate our bread with some roasted red pepper and butter bean soup with some flaked pecorino, but it’s delicious all on its own!

Sweet potato bread done

Sticky Chipotle Chilli Chicken

What a revelation this is – chipotle chilli paste is AMAZING! It has already made an appearance on our pizzas, but that was the second time we had used it – the first was as a marinade for some delicious chicken, it provided a smoky flavour that just blew us away. This recipe also features a great side dish of squashed coriander potatoes, which we’ve nicked from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals – they’re the perfect accompaniment to spicy chicken.

For the marinade you’ll need:

  • 2 tsp chipotle chilli paste
  • 2 tsp honey
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

And for the rest of the dish:

  • Chicken – 4 thighs between 2 ought to do it, or a mixture of legs and wings
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 large potato
  • Small bunch coriander, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Green salad to serve

Firstly, make the marinade – mix up all the ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper. When it’s done, rub it over the chicken – you’ll need to get proper messy! – and put the result in a covered container. We left ours in the fridge overnight to marinade, but an hour or so should still give it a good flavour.

Chicken marinade ingredients

Once your chicken has been sitting pretty soaking up all that lovely flavour for a while, preheat the oven to 180°C and chop the normal potato into wedges (we normally get about 8 out of one medium potato), put them into cold water and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, chop the sweet potato into similar sized pieces. Once the normal potato wedges have come to the boil and been boiling for about 2-3 minutes drain them and leave them to steam so they are as dry as possible – this gives you lovely crispy wedges. Pop a roasting dish large enough for all of the wedges in the oven with 1 tbsp of olive oil in lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. Allow this to heat up for around 5 minutes and then throw your wedges in, tossing them around so they get coated in the sizzling oil. Put these into the oven, they will take around 40 minutes to cook and the chicken will take a similar time so grab yourself another roasting dish for the chicken and tip them into it, making sure to scrape all of the marinade over them. Put these in the oven too and then go and put your feet up for a bit!

Halfway through give the wedges a good jiggle and the chicken a mini jiggle to make sure it’s happy and then go back to putting your feet up, while sniffing at the intoxicating aroma and perhaps drooling a bit. Once the wedges have had 40 minutes and are lightly golden (but not really crispy) take them out.

Mixed wedges

At the same time put a little extra drizzle of honey onto the chicken for the last few minutes to make it extra sticky and delicious.  Tip the wedges into a large bowl along with the roughly chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime. Mash these together very lightly with a potato masher or a fork, you want big pieces still recognisable as wedges, but for all the flavours to mingle.

Smashed wedges

Chipotle chicken

Serve the chicken and wedges with a green salad and tuck in!

Chipotle chicken dinner

We think this at least rivals… well, actually we think it dicks all over… a popular chicken restaurant that rhymes with Schmando’s. Smoky, spicy, tangy, sweet – it doesn’t get much better!

Ultimate Comfort Chilli

We made this dish at the weekend, it was the perfect cheer-up food after a rain soaked Saturday. The smell of it cooking away slowly in the oven was incredible, you have to be very patient!

There are so many recipes for chilli con carne around, this one wasn’t particularly planned, we tend to throw in what we have lying around for a lot of our cooking so feel free to replace things if you don’t like that particular vegetable/spice or if you don’t have it in.

Ingredients (makes enough for 4-6 people):

  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 2-3 sticks of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped/minced
  • smoked pancetta (you don’t have to add this but it creates a gorgeous base of smokeyness)
  • 500g good quality lean beef mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1tsp cumin powder
  • ½tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1-2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1-2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1-2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tins/cartons of chopped tomatoes or passata
  • 1 tin of kidney beans in water
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • around 30g of really good quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • rice and sour cream to serve

If you wanted to make a vegetarian version of this dish one obvious substitution would be the meat for Quorn (other brands are available!), but we think it would be more interesting not to take the easy route and to bulk it out with lovely, meaty mushrooms and extra beans instead – some black eyed beans and/or pinto beans would make a lovely addition. To get more of the rich flavour without using beef stock cubes you could add a teaspoon of Marmite – it may sound odd but it gives that deep, savoury kick which you might miss otherwise.

Perfect for practising those knife skills.
Perfect for practising those knife skills.

To start with soften the onion, garlic and celery in a large casserole dish over a low heat, cook for at least 10 minutes but try not to get much colour at all on them, you want them to soften and sweeten. Add the diced smoked pancetta, we used barely any in this so you could leave it out if you wanted to but it definitely adds a little something! Fry this for a few minutes until it has lightly cooked and become fragrant and then add the beef mince, breaking it up with your fingers as you put it in. Immediately add 200ml of beef stock (use a whole stock cube to make it) – by not browning the beef off you’re making sure it cooks really slowly and melts in your mouth. Now it’s time to add your herbs and spices! The amounts listed above are a guide, obviously adjust to your own chilli preference and remember you can always add but you can’t take away. We were a little cautious at first and then added more about halfway through the cooking time.

Kidney beans

Once you have stirred the herbs and spices in add the chopped tomatoes followed by the pepper and kidney beans, give it a good stir, bring to a very gentle simmer and then pop in a really low oven (around 130°C) and leave alone for at least an hour. Cook for 3 hours minimum stirring every hour until you can’t take it any longer and have to eat some!

Right before serving place a couple of squares of dark chocolate on top and drool as they melt into the chilli. Don’t worry, this won’t add any sweetness, just the most fantastic, rich flavour.

Resist the urge to put your face in it...
Resist the urge to put your face in it…

Serve with rice and sour cream and if you’re feeling fancy (we were) some homemade guacamole.

We made a really simple guacamole by mixing 1 ripe avocado with a good pinch of sea salt, 1 diced tomato and a big squeeze of lime or lemon juice. Give it all a mix up and you’re ready for your Mexican feast!

... Now you can put your face in it!
… Now you can put your face in it!

This was the perfect meal to sit down to and ignore the rain lashing at the windows – warming, comforting and pretty healthy too.