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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Grilled Ras el Hanout Lamb Loin Chop, Toasted Almonds and a Moroccan bean stew

Grilled lamb chop marinated in Ras el Hanout spice, served on a Moroccan bean stew, garnished with toasted sliced almonds and a little coriander leaf.

If I ever open a restaurant, this would be on the menu for certain. I have always been a fan of Moroccan cuisine and visited the coastal resort of Agadir a few years ago, where my love of the food only grew. Grilled meats and stews are the backbone of Moroccan cuisine and the inspiration behind this recipe was the local food I sampled in Agadir.

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Serves two people

Preparation time 15 minutes (plus 2-3 hrs marinating time)

cooking time 15mins for lamb, approx. 95 minutes for bean stew

 

Ingredients and Method

For Lamb

2 Lamb loin chops – 150-200g each

2-3 tbsp. Ras el Hanout spice mixture

1 tbsp. olive oil – plus a little to brush on grill pan

Method: Place the lamb chops in a food bag, then add the olive oil and Ras el Hanout. Tie the bag, shake well then massage the spices into the lamb. Place in a fridge for 2-3 hours and take out 30 minutes before grilling to bring to room temperature.

To cook the Lamb, pre heat the grill pan on a high setting, once hot brush the grill with a little olive oil (so spices and lamb don’t stick to it and burn). Once olive oil begins to smoke add the lamb to the grill pan, sear the chops on all sides then reduce heat to medium. Cook the lamb for 12 minutes (for rare) to 14 minutes (medium) , turning every few minutes. It is important to grill the lamb on all sides – including the bone and fat side, this adds flavour and helps renders the fat to make the meat even more succulent. You will likely need to use kitchen tongs to hold the meat when grilling on bone and fat side. Once grilled rest the lamb on a plate for a few minutes before serving.

For the bean stew

235g cannoli beans – drain and rinse well under running water

3 small red onions

4 cloves garlic – remove skin

1 red chilli – remove stalk and seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp medium hot chill powder

1.5 tsps. sweet smoked paprika

6 tbsp. sliced almonds – half for paste half for toasting

2 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaf

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp dried parsley leaf

1 tsp dried coriander leaf

500ml stock

350ml water

300g passata

1 dessert spoon brown sugar

Black peppercorns – in mill for grinding

1 tsp vinegar

Greek Yogurt – optional condiment 

Method: start by making a paste to flavour the bean stew. Add the red onions, garlic, red chilli, chilli powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika and 3 tbsp. sliced almonds into a mini chopper/food processor and blitz into a smooth red paste. Heat 1-2 tbsp. of olive oil in a flat deep non stick frying pan then add the paste. Cook the paste for 4-6 minutes, stirring frequently, loosen with a few tsp of water if paste sticks to pan – make sure it does not burn.

Once the paste is cooked add the beans and stir through the paste until combined. Next add the rest of the ingredients – the stock, water, dried parsley, dried coriander, passata, brown sugar, vinegar and a generous amount of ground black pepper. Stir well until combined and heat through until it begins to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Leave pan uncovered and let the stew slowly reduce for around 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the stew is reducing too slowly increase the heat slightly, if sauce has reduced too much simply add a little water to loosen it. The stew is ready when beans are softened and the sauce has reduced to a rich thick consistency.

To make the garnish simply toast the rest of the sliced almonds in a dry pan over a medium heat, turning frequently until the almonds toast and start to take on a golden brown colour. remove them from the heat and tip the almonds on to a plate. To serve spoon the bean stew on to the plate, place the grilled lamb in centre then sprinkle with toasted almonds and coriander leaf. Some Greek yogurt works very well as a condiment.

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Spiced Chicken and Rice

Chicken on the bone, with paella rice, vegetables, herbs, spices and garlic mayonnaise. A true one pot wonder.

It was a little hard to name this dish and really “spiced chicken and rice” doesn’t really do it any justice. This really is absolutely delicious, if I don’t say so myself! I wanted to make a dish like paella but with a very different flavour. I am very happy with the results and cant wait to cook this again, I hope you like it too!

The dish uses chicken wings with the skin removed, cooked on the bone this gives the chicken flavour and keeps the meat moist as the dish cooks. You could substitute wings for thighs or legs, but I think wings work best.

The wings are browned in a pan before adding a mixture of onion, garlic, red pepper, celery and red chilli. This is fried until the vegetables start to soften then a little sugar, black pepper, smoked paprika, ground cumin and chilli powder is added then stirred through the vegetables. Paella rice is added and stirred through the mixture to coat every grain in the flavour base. A glass of white wine is added then cooked off, followed by some tomato paste, chicken stock and a little water. The heat is turned down and the dish is left to simmer until the rice is cooked. The dish is garnished with some freshly chopped coriander, lime wedges and a generous drizzle of garlic mayonnaise.

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 Serves two

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 35 minutes

Ingredients and method

500g chicken wings – skin and connective tissue removed

4 cloves garlic – peeled, crushed and finely chopped

2 medium sized red onions – finely diced

1 red pepper – finely diced

150g Paella rice

125ml dry white wine

1 tsp Smoked paprika

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp brown sugar

2 tbsp. olive oil

500ml chicken stock – keep hot to add to rice

175ml water – add extra if liquid cooks off before rice is ready

2 tsp tomato paste

Black pepper – to taste

Salt – to taste

3 tablespoons chopped coriander leaf –  add to dish and for garnish

4 lime wedges – garnish

Garlic mayonnaise – in squeeze bottle to drizzle over dish

Method: Start by heating 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a wide deep frying pan, then add the chicken wings and brown over a medium high heat. Once chicken is browned add the celery, garlic, onion, chilli and red pepper, stir fry for 3-4 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp chilli powder, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper and 2 tsp of brown sugar and stir through the vegetables. Next add the paella rice and stir well until each grain is coated in the spice mixture, then add a glass of wine and stir until it is cooked off. Add 2 tsp of tomato paste and stir through the rice then add 1 tablespoon chopped coriander, 500ml chicken stock and 175ml water. Gently stir through the rice, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Leave uncovered for around 25-30 minutes until the rice is cooked. If required you can add a little extra water and cook for longer if rice is not ready, the chicken will only get more tender and fall off the bone delicious. Before serving check the rice for seasoning then add salt and pepper to taste. Complete the dish by adding lime wedges, sprinkling coriander, then drizzling a generous amount of garlic mayonnaise over the dish.

 

Tomato soup

A simple recipe for simply delicious tomato soup.

The great deep flavour comes from a flavour base of garlic, onion, chilli, bay leaf, carrot celery and Romano pepper. A balance of spices – turmeric, cumin, coriander, saffron and smoked paprika adds another dimension. Plum tomatoes, seasoning, a little sugar, basil, parsley and coriander complete this tasty soup.

This recipe works wonderfully with my Easy Homemade Bread recipe.

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Recipe for 4 large portions

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 40-45 minutes

Ingredients and method

4-5 cloves garlic – peel, crush

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red onion – peel, dice

2 white onions – peel, dice

1 large red chilli – slice (keep seeds for extra heat if you wish)

2 bay leafs

3 carrots – peel, slice

2 sticks celery – slice

1 Romano red pepper – remove stalk and seeds, dice

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp smoked paprika

Pinch saffron

6 plum tomatoes – cut in half

1 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp dried basil

1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley – plus a little finely chopped as a garnish

Generous handful of fresh coriander  – leaf and stalk

1.5L stock – vegetable or chicken

Salt and pepper to taste

Method: heat the oil in a deep soup/stock pot then add the garlic cloves and fry gently for around a minute. Add the onions red chilli and bay and fry for a further 3-4 minutes. Next add the celery, carrot and romano pepper and fry for a further 4 minutes. Add the spices and stir thoroughly so the spices coat the whole mixture, fry for a couple of minutes but take care not to burn the spices, loosen with a little water if the spices catch on the pan. Next add the tomatoes, sugar and herbs and stir thoroughly, fry for a further 3-4 minutes again add a little water if mixture catches on pan. Add the stock, a generous amount of black pepper but only a little salt – more can be added to finished soup. Bring to the boil then cover, reduce heat and simmer for around 30 minutes. After this remove from heat and carefully remove the lid, use a wooden spoon to remove the bay leaf (can be hard to find but is important!), then use a stick blender to blitz into a smooth soup. Taste for seasoning then ladle into bowls, dusting with a little finely chopped parsley as a garnish. You could also for extra refinement pass the soup through a sieve as an optional last step.

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