Spiced Lamb Meatballs In A Stewed Tomato And Aubergine Sauce.

Spiced lamb meatballs cooked in a stewed tomato and aubergine sauce, served on a bed of couscous and garnished with herbs and toasted almonds.

This dish is the first time I have been genuinely happy with meatballs I have made, both the flavour and the texture are spot on. This is a fairly quick and simple meal to prepare, but has a depth of flavour that tastes like it has taken all day to prepare.

Firstly a spice mix is prepared from coriander seeds, cumin seeds and smoked sweet paprika – the spices are toasted until aromatic then ground in a spice grinder. Sliced almonds are then dry roasted in a pan until they are toasted on both sides, these give both a wonderful flavour and texture to the final dish.

Meatballs are then made in a small food processor which gives a smooth well mixed meatball, they are flavoured with some of the spice mix, salt, mint, parsley, onion and garlic. Some breadcrumbs and egg are used to help bind the meatballs. Once blitzed into a smooth paste, they are rolled, placed in a fridge for 10 minutes then browned in some hot oil. They are then removed from the oil and set aside as they are finished in the wonderful sauce which comes next.

The sauce is made from first frying garlic, onion, a red chilli and a peeled diced aubergine. Once softened some spice mix is added along with some diced peeled plum tomatoes. A little salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, some chicken stock, parsley and coriander leaf is added, then the meatballs. The pan is covered and left to stew on a low heat for 25 minutes, during which some couscous is prepared using chicken stock for extra flavour.

The meatballs are served on a bed of couscous, garnished with the toasted almonds and a lemon wedge.

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Serves Two

Cooking time less than 40 minutes

Ingredients and method

Toasted spices and almonds

2 tsp cumin seeds

2 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp. sliced almonds

Method: place a dry frying pan over a medium low heat. Add the cumin and coriander seeds and toast for approx. 5 minutes until aromatic, shake the pan frequently to turn the seeds and ensure they do not burn. Transfer to a spice grinder along with the smoked paprika and grind until a smooth powder is formed. Set aside for cooking.

In the same pan add the sliced almonds then increase the heat and toast the almonds until coloured on both sides, again shake the pan frequently to ensure even cooking. Set aside to garnish the dish later.

Meatballs

250g lamb mince

1 small brown onion

1.5 tsp spice mix

0.5 tsp salt

8 mint leaf’s

1 tbsp. chopped parsley leaf

3 cloves garlic

3 tbsp. breadcrumbs

1 egg

2-3 tbsp. vegetable oil

Method: Add the ingredients to a small food processor, blitz until combined and a smooth thick paste like consistency is formed.

Use wet hands to portion and roll the meatballs into small balls, about half the size of a golf ball is best in my opinion. I find it helpful to have a bowl of warm water to dip my hands into as wet hands make rolling the meatballs much easier.

Once rolled place on a flat plate, cover and place in a fridge for 10 minutes.

Remove from the fridge, then warm 2-3 tbsp. of oil in a wide frying pan. Fry the meatballs in batches so that there is plenty room in the frying pan. Brown the meatballs, then place them on some absorbent paper, set aside ready to add to the sauce.

Tomato and Aubergine Sauce

1 onions – diced

3 plum tomatoes –  skin, dice

3 cloves garlic – crush, chop

1 red chilli – deseed, dice

1 Aubergine – skin, dice

Rest of spice mixture

0.5 tsp salt

Handful coriander leaf – chopped

Handful parsley – chopped

150ml chicken stock

Juice of 1/4 lemon

2 tbsp. olive oil

Method: Heat a large deep frying pan (one with a lid) over a medium high heat and add 2 tbsp. olive oil. Once hot add the diced onion, chilli and aubergine, stir frequently and cook until the onions soften. Add the spice mixture and salt and stir through.

Next add the diced tomato, stock and herbs, stir through and bring to a simmer. Add the browned meatballs, lemon juice and stir through the sauce. Bring back to a simmer, place a lid on the pan, reduce heat and leave to simmer for 20-25 minutes.

Couscous

120g couscous

350ml chicken stock

Method: place the couscous and chicken stock in a sauce pan (one with a lid), bring the pan to the boil, reduce heat to low and leave until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid. Remove lid and fluff up with a fork prior to serving.

Serving

Place a bed of couscous on the plate, ladle the meatballs and sauce on top then garnish with the toasted almonds.

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Mexican dishes

 

Mexican Chilli Soup with Cheese Quesadillas

Mexican Soup

Mexican Prawn and Crab Soup

Spiced Bean Soup

Fantastic Tomato and Avocado Salsa

Tomato and orange pepper salsa

Spiced Coriander, Lime and Chilli dressing

Crab salsa taco bites with roasted refried bean stuffed Peppers

Grilled steak rice salad with spiced coriander dressing

Mexican Carne con Chile, Red Pepper Rice and Salsa

Fish Tacos

Blackened Salmon with flame roasted vegetable rice salad

Chicken enchiladas with tomato and guajillo chilli sauce

Spiced Chicken and Rice

Huevos Nachos

 

 

 

 

Mexican Chilli Soup with Cheese Quesadillas

A comforting soup flavoured with four different types of chillies, served with grilled cheese Quesadillas.

This is essentially soup and sandwiches – comfort food, Mexican style.

The soup is flavoured with four different chillies – Ancho, Guajillo, Chipotle and red chillies. The soup is rich, Smokey and very delicious with its flavour coming from a wonderful paste made from pan roasting the chillies along with tomatoes bell peppers, garlic, onions and spices.  Charring these in a pan before blending makes such a difference and really brings the flavours to life. Diced carrot and celery are fried, stock is added, then the paste followed by a good simmer. Before serving diced bell peppers, more sliced red chillies, diced onion and some fresh coriander leaf are added to give the soup texture and freshness.

The Quesadillas are the perfect accompaniment and very easy to make – just don’t tell anyone how easy! They can be made in minutes, and eaten even quicker.

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Soup gives 4 portions

Quesadillas recipe for 2 persons

Cooking time 40 minutes

 

Ingredients and Method

For the Mexican Chilli Soup

1 stick celery – dice

1 medium size carrot – peel, dice

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

4 tomatoes

3 small white onions – leave whole with skin on

1 ancho chilli

1 guajillo chilli

2 red chillies – thinly slice one chilli, Set aside in a bowl

4 cloves garlic – leave skin on the cloves

1 orange bell pepper – dice half the pepper, set aside in a bowl

1 red bell pepper – dice half the pepper, set aside in a bowl

1 red onion – dice, set aside in a bowl

Generous handful of fresh coriander – keep a few stalks aside and roughly chop the rest

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp smoked paprika

2 tsp chipotle paste

1/2 tsp oregano

4 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1.5 litres chicken stock

Method: Start by warming a large flat pan or griddle over a medium heat. Place the tomatoes, garlic, the chillies, half the bell peppers and onions on and dry fry until they become slightly charred, for approx. 7-8 minutes, turning halfway through. Add the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and dry fry until the spices become aromatic.

Remove the contents from the pan, add the spices to a food processor and leave the rest on a chopping board to cool for a few minutes. Once cooled remove the skins from the garlic and onions, but leave the skins on the peppers and tomatoes. Add everything to the food processor along with a few coriander stalks,  1 tsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp chipotle paste, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp oregano and 4 tsp brown sugar. Blitz until a smooth paste is formed, make sure you blend it well as the smoother the paste the smoother the final soup.

Add 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil to a deep soup pan over a medium heat, once hot add the diced carrot and celery and fry for 4-5 minutes until softened. Next add the chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Now add the paste and stir well, bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Complete the soup by adding the diced bell peppers, onion and sliced chilli then simmer for a further 5 minutes – enough to heat these through but not so long that they loose their texture. As a final step add the chopped coriander and stir through. The soup is now ready to serve.

For the cheese Quesadillas

4 corn tortillas (2 per person)

Canola oil – in a spray or ramekin with pastry brush

2 handfuls of sweetcorn

2 medium tomatoes – diced

1 small red onion – diced

Handful of coriander – roughly chopped

150g strong cheddar cheese – grated

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Pinch of sea salt

Garlic mayonnaise – optional, to serve

Barbeque sauce – optional, to serve

Method: Begin by pre heating your oven to 170°c, and warm a flat frying pan over a medium heat.

In a large glass bowl, mix the tomatoes, sweetcorn, coriander leaf, ground coriander, ground cumin, smoked paprika, salt and cheddar cheese.

Spray one side of the corn tortillas with canola oil then heat the tortilla on that side until golden, remove and repeat with the rest of the tortillas.

Assemble the quesadillas by spooning the mixture on the non cooked side of the tortillas then like a sandwich place another tortilla on top. Place the assembled quesadillas on a baking tray and heat them through in the oven for approx. 15 minutes, until the cheese in the mixture melts – this could be slightly quicker or slower depending upon how big the tortillas are and how much filling you have added.

Remove them from the oven, let them cool slightly then cut into quarters. As an optional garnish drizzle some garlic mayonnaise and some barbeque sauce  over them.

 

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Tomato Conchiglie with creamy béchamel and crispy cheese topping

Pasta shells cooked in a delicious tomato sauce, topped with béchamel sauce and cheddar cheese then finished under a hot grill.

 

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Serves two people

Preparation and cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients and method

200g dried Conchiglie – cooked to al dente as per packet instructions

150g mature cheddar cheese – grated 

75g butter

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 heaped dessert spoon plain flour

Approx. 500ml semi skimmed milk

Dried oregano – 1 tsp for tomato sauce, 1/3 tsp for béchamel 

1 tsp dried parsley

4 round tomatoes

4 cloves garlic

1 stick celery

1 red bell pepper

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp tomato puree

Black pepper for grinding

Sea salt – to taste

You need a food processor or mini chopper for the tomato sauce

 

To make the tomato sauce

In a large flat non stick frying pan dry fry over a medium heat, 4 tomatoes, 4 cloves garlic, 1 stick celery and 1 red bell pepper, turning occasionally until charred.

Remove from the pan and allow to cool on a chopping board. Then remove the garlic skins and the stalks/seeds from the bell pepper.

Transfer into a mini chopper along with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp brown sugar, 2 tsp tomato puree, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Blitz until a smooth sauce is formed, set aside ready to cook.

To make the béchamel sauce

Melt approx. 75g butter in a sauce pan then add 1 heaped dessert spoon of flour and stir into a paste.

Add a small volume of milk, 1/3 tsp dried oregano, 1 bay leaf, 4-5 turns of a pepper grinder and stir well until a smooth sauce is formed.

Increase heat slightly and add approx. 250ml of milk, stirring well to keep a smooth sauce (Tip: you can use a whisk or silicone spatula to help keep sauce smooth).

Keep stirring as the milk heats and the sauce thickens, once it becomes thick add another 150ml milk and keep stirring as sauce heats again. Bring the sauce to the boil, if the sauce is too thick add a little more milk, stir well and bring back to the boil then fish out the bay leaf and remove the pan from the heat – set aside ready to add to the dish.

With a béchamel you want to keep adding milk whilst heating the sauce until it no longer thickens as it reaches boiling point. I have listed the milk as 500ml, however you may need slightly less or more – cooking a béchamel is one of those things that it is difficult to list an exact quantity for.

 

Cooking the dish

Start by cooking the pasta to al dente as per packet instructions, then drain and set aside ready to add to the pan.

In a deep wide frying pan add the blended tomato sauce and gently heat through until it bubbles and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add the pasta to the tomato sauce, stir well and simmer the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes.

Pre heat your grill on a medium to hot setting (3/4 setting).

Give the pasta and tomato sauce another good stir then drizzle the béchamel sauce over the pasta, making sure the béchamel is distributed over the whole dish. Top with the grated mature cheddar.

Place under the hot grill and cook until the cheese melts and starts to colour, this should take 6-8 minutes depending on your grill. Once the cheese melts and colours like a pizza topping the dish is ready, remove from the grill and serve.

We had this dish with a leafy green side salad and some green beans, although it works just fine by itself – I hope you enjoy.

 

 

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Huevos Nachos

“Full Breakfast” nachos – tortilla chips with mixed beans in a spiced tomato sauce, sliced grilled chipolata sausage, fried eggs, chipotle mayonnaise, grated cheddar and a fresh delicious tomato and avocado salsa.

I started out planning to make some Huevos Rancheros but my imagination took over and I decided to experiment with this dish – I’m so glad I did. Essentially this is nachos crossed with a cooked breakfast with a Mexican twist, it may not be an authentic Mexican dish but it sure is tasty.

All the components in the dish work very well together – the crunch from the tortilla chips, the rich Smokey flavour from the beans, the creaminess of the chipotle mayo, the richness of the fried eggs, the flavour of the grilled sausage, the saltiness of the cheese and the freshness of the salsa. I hope I’m making you hungry.

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Serves Two

Preparation and cooking time 35 -40 minutes

 

Ingredients and Method

This dish involves making all of the elements and adding them together at the last minute

The spiced mixed beans

4-5 round tomatoes

1 red chilli

2 guajillo chillies

5 cloves garlic – leave skin on to dry fry

2 white onions – leave skin on to dry fry

1 yellow bell pepper

500ml chicken stock

Dash Worchester sauce

2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp smoked paprika

2tsp chipotle paste

350g mixed beans – rinse well

Salt to taste

Method: In a wide deep non stick frying pan, dry fry the tomatoes, chillies, garlic, onion and yellow pepper until they are coloured on all sides. All of these should be left in their skin. The garlic will cook quicker than the other ingredients, remove from the pan when the cloves soften. Once charred let all the ingredients cool and remove the garlic skins, onion skins and the stalks from the chillies and peppers.

Transfer the tomatoes, garlic, onions, chillies and pepper into a small blender/mini chopper and blitz until a smooth sauce is formed. Add a dash of Worchester sauce, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 2tsp chipotle paste and 2tsp sugar. Blitz again until combined with the sauce.

Add the sauce to a wide deep sauce pan and add the chicken stock, stir well and bring to the boil and add the rinsed beans. Bring back to the boil then reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes, stirring frequently. Ignore the instruction on the tin that they will cook in 10 minutes – its just totally wrong!

Set aside ready to add to the dish

For the salsa

3 round tomatoes -diced

1 ripe avocado – diced

1 red onion – diced

1 red chilli – seeds/stalk removed and finely diced

Juice of 1 and half limes

small handful of coriander leaf – roughly chopped

1/4 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Method: gently mix all the ingredients  in a large glass mixing bowl until the sugar and salt and combined with the salsa, cover and set aside at room temperature for 20-25 minutes. Mix gently again before serving.

To complete the dish

2 portions of lightly salted corn tortilla chips – 50-75g each

4 eggs – fried at last minute, sunny side up

4-6 large chipolata sausages – oven roast at 180°c for 20-25 minutes

Chipotle mayonnaise – combined 5 tsps. mayo and 1 tsp chipotle paste

1 small red onion – diced, for garnish

3-4 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaf – for garnish

25-30g grated medium cheddar cheese

lime wedge – as garnish

Plating the dish

Use wide deep bowls to plate the dish, start by adding the beans to the bottom of the dish, saving a little of the sauce as a garnish.

Layer the tortilla chips on top, then add the sausage and the salsa. Place the fried eggs on top of the nachos then complete the dish by adding the cheese, chipotle mayo, coriander and a little of the tomato sauce.

Add a lime wedge as a final garnish then serve and enjoy!

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King Prawn Dhal Curry

King prawns, potatoes and carrots in a delicious spiced lentil and tomato curry sauce.

A easy to make curry dish guaranteed to impress your friends and family – they won’t believe you didn’t pick it up from your local Indian restaurant.

Serve with choice of rice or Indian bread.

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Serves two

Preparation and cooking time around 1 hour

 

Ingredients and method

200-250g raw king prawns – devein, butterfly

100g peeled new potatoes – cut into small pieces to cook quickly

5-6 round vine tomatoes – cut into quarters

75g red spilt lentils – rinse thoroughly until water runs clear

1 medium/large carrot – peel and thinly slice into discs

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 medium size white onions – peel and dice

2 medium size red onions – peel and dice

1 small bulb of garlic – peel, crush

15-20g ginger – peel, thinly slice

1 heaped dessert spoon sliced Almond

2 bay leaves

5 cardamom pods

5 cloves

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp ground fenugreek

80g red split lentils – rinse thoroughly

1 tsp salt – plus extra to taste

water – see method

20-25g butter – cut into cubes

2-3 tbsp. chopped coriander leaf

Note: You require a stick blender (or glass blender) for this recipe

 

Method: Start by boiling the potatoes for 7-8 minutes , then drain them and set aside ready to add to the curry.

In a deep pan heat 2 tbsp. vegetable oil over a medium high heat and add a teaspoon of mustard seeds. Let the oil heat until the mustard seeds start popping like popcorn. Add the onions and fry for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onions start to colour. Add the garlic, ginger, bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, tomatoes and sliced almonds and stir through the fried onions. Next add half a teaspoon of cumin seeds, ground turmeric, ground coriander and a quarter of  ground fenugreek. Stir well and fry the mixture for 4-5 minutes.

Next add the washed lentils and stir well, then add enough water to completely submerge the mixture (I added 2 and a half mugs of water) and a teaspoon of salt. Stir well, bring to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  After this remove the bay leaves, cardamom pods and cloves from the sauce and blend into a smooth sauce.

Add the cooked potatoes and the thinly sliced carrot (these are both cut into small pieces so they cook quickly) and gently simmer in the sauce for 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently as lentils can stick to pans and burn. Taste test the sauce – you may want to add more salt or add more water, depending upon how thick you like your sauce. If your sauce is too runny simply continue to simmer until it reduces to your preference.

When the sauce add the cubes of butter and stir them into the sauce, this will add flavour and the classic gleam to the curry sauce. Complete the dish by adding 1 tbsp. of chopped coriander and the raw king prawns – let them gently poach in the sauce and serve as soon as they turn from grey to pink.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with the rest of the chopped coriander, enjoy!

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