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.
Soup gives 4 portions
Quesadillas recipe for 2 persons
Cooking time 40 minutes
1 stick celery – dice
1 medium size carrot – peel, dice
1-2 tbsp. olive oil
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.
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.
A wonderfully spiced and authentic tasting lentil curry with carrot and potatoes. Served with Basmati rice and a delicious cucumber and mint riata.
Sorry I haven’t written many recipes lately as I have been extremely busy, however I think I have made up for the delay with this one. Tastes like it is straight from a very good Indian restaurant, and it is so easy to make!
I also served this with shop bough roti breads, these are entirely optional.
Cooking time 45-50 minutes
Broken down into three sections – curry, rice and riata. It is best to soak the rice before you start, add make the riata and finish the rice as the lentils simmer.
100g red lentils – rinsed thoroughly
50g potato – peel, cut into 3-4cm cubes, pre cook in boiling water for 6-7 minutes
3 red onions – diced
1 carrot – thinly slice on diagonal
15g ginger – peel and grate
6 gloves garlic – crushed
5 green cardamom pods
6 fresh curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground fenugreek
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 bay leaf
2 round tomatoes – cut into 1/8ths
2 sliced green chillies
1/2 tsp salt
water – approx. 500ml of water, enough to submerge lentils.
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3tbs roughly chopped coriander leaf
Method: Start by heating the vegetable oil over a medium heat, once hot add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and the curry leaves. The leaves should sizzle and keep heating until the mustard seeds start to pop, a bit like popcorn.
Add the onion, chilli, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, cloves and cardamom pods then fry, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until onions soften and start to colour.
Add the lentils, turmeric, fenugreek and asafoetida then stir well until combined. Fry for 1-2 minutes stirring frequently.
Now add approx. 500ml of water (around the same volume as mixture in the pan, enough to submerge the lentils) and bring to the boil, stirring frequently so lentils don’t catch on the pan. Once boiled and add the pre cooked potatoes, carrot and salt then cover pan and simmer for around 35-40 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent lentils catching and burning.
You may want to adjust the seasoning or thickness of the sauce to your preference, either by adding more water or cooking uncovered for a few minutes to cook the liquid off. Before serving add the sliced tomatoes and coriander – cooking just long enough to warm the tomatoes through but not long enough to cook them (not long enough that skins start to peel).
Ladle into bowls or Balti dishes and enjoy!
120g basmati rice – rinse well and soak in water for 30 minutes before cooking
Method: soak the rinsed rice in water for around 30 minutes, this plumps up the rice and makes a real difference.
Once soaked cook the rice in the same volume of water as the rice in a covered pan for 10-12 minutes or until rice absorbs all the water.
Fluff up the rice before serving.
150g greek yogurt
1/4 lime – juice only
40g cucumber – peel, deseed, finely dice
5-6 mint leaves – bruise then chop
salt – just a pinch
Method: start by peeling, deseeding then finely dicing the cucumber. Many recipes will call for this to be grated, however I prefer the texture of the diced cucumber. Lay the diced cucumber on a clean kitchen towel or absorbent paper and the place more on top. Press gently and leave for 10-15 minutes to remove excess liquid.
In a bowl mix the yogurt, lime juice, cucumber, mint and a pinch of salt. Cover and set aside in the fridge until ready to serve.
This is best eaten the same day but will keep in the fridge for 1-2 days – any leftovers make a great dip for chips.
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Sweet potato fish cakes with a delicious garlic and chilli sauce.
A very easy to make recipe for restaurant standard fish cakes. Using tinned salmon and crab along with a few kitchen essentials, this recipe is a real winner. The sauce made from butter, garlic, chilli, lemon, white wine, fish stock, parsley, tarragon and diced tomato completes the dish.
The two most important things are to make sure the sweet potato mash is as dry as possible and also to avoid the temptation to turn them too early in the pan – otherwise they will not hold together as you cook. Please don’t mistake the colouration for burning, it’s this crust that holds the cakes together.
This recipe makes 6-8 fishcakes
For the Fish Cakes:
750g Sweet potatoes – peel and thinly slice
250g shredded crab meat – 2 small tins drained of brine
200-225g red salmon – 1 small tin drained of brine
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
25-50g breadcrumbs – see notes below
2- 4 tbsp. oil to pan fry – I used Scottish rapeseed oil.
You require a food processor for this recipe
For the Sauce:
2 round tomatoes – diced
1/3 glass of dry white wine
3 cloves garlic – crush or finely chop
1 red chilli – deseed and finely chop
200ml fish stock
1 tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
1/2 tsp dried parsley
Freshly ground black pepper – to taste
Method: Start by par boiling the sliced sweet potatoes – put them in a pan of cold water, heat through to the boil then simmer for 7-8 minutes. Drain them then put them back in the dry pan over a low heat for a few minutes (shaking the pan occasionally), then turn off hob and let the residual heat dry the potatoes. If they still seem wet leave them on the heat for a few more minutes. It is vital to dry the potatoes out as much as possible.
Once dried and cooled transfer the potatoes into a food processor. Add 25g breadcrumbs, 1/2 tsp black pepper, the crab and salmon and blitz until combined into a smooth paste. Check the consistency of the paste – you want it to be thick enough that patties can be formed in your hands without them immediately falling apart. If when you test the mixture it seems too wet add the rest of the breadcrumbs as they will absorb the excess moisture.
Start forming the fish cakes – you want them to be about 3cm thick and slightly wider than a standard coffee mug. Don’t make them much bigger or thicker than this as they may not hold together when cooked if they are too big or cook in the middle if they are too thick. See the picture at the top for an example of size. AS you form each one set aside on a plate ready to pan fry.
Before pan frying the fish cakes start to make the sauce as you want the sauce to reduce and intensify in flavour. Start by melting the butter in a small frying pan (a wide pan will reduce far quicker than a saucepan) then add the garlic and chilli then fry for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. Next add the white wine and cook it off for a few minutes, then add the fish stock along with the dried herbs. Stir well and leave sauce simmering on a medium low heat for 10-15 minutes or until it has reduced by half. Turn off the heat as the sauce will be reheated when the fish cakes are ready – the tomatoes, pepper and lemon juice are added as the sauce
To pan fry the fish cakes – use a wide plat non stick frying pan, take care not to overload the pan as you need enough room to flip the fish cakes, cook in batches of max 4 if using a 30cm frying pan like me. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in the frying pan over a medium high heat. Add the fish cakes one at a time, giving them a final squeeze into shape just as you add them into the pan. They will need approx. 4 minutes on first side – the clue that they are ready is you should be able to see the crust forming on the edges and the cakes should easily slide on the pan. It is vital not to turn them too early as the cakes will either fall apart or loose shape. Once turned they should cook slightly quicker on the other side – approx. 3 minutes . Again the fish cakes will slide easily on the pan when the crust is formed and they are ready. Transfer to the plate ready to serve, or place on a baking tray and keep in a warm oven if you are making two batches.
To finish the sauce – heat the sauce through over a medium heat, once hot add 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice and the diced tomatoes, stir through the sauce and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes. You want to warm the tomatoes through but not cook them, they bring a freshness and balance to the rich slightly acidic sauce. Add a little freshly ground black pepper to taste, then get ready to serve.
Place the cooked fish cakes on a serving plate and spoon some of the sauce over the fish cakes and onto the plate as shown in the pictures. Enjoy!