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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Oven Roasted Marinated Prawns with Makhani Sauce

Prawns marinated then roasted in a very hot oven, served with a delicious Makhani style curry sauce. Delicious!

King Prawns are butterflied then marinated in yogurt, garlic, cumin seeds, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, salt and lemon juice. They are put on skewers then roasted  in a very hot oven to try to replicate the traditional clay ovens used in Indian cuisine – which I’m guessing you don’t have either. The result is juicy prawns with a really delicious coating.

The sauce is made from tomatoes, onion, chilli, ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, almonds, desiccated coconut, bay leaf, cardamom, cloves, tomato pure, sugar, salt, and a little butter at the end to give it that classic gleam.

It may seem like a lot of ingredients, but really its quite easy. You can serve the dish with choice of rice or Indian bread, I opted for a good shop bought roti.

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Serves two

Preparation and cooking 35-40 minutes (plus 1hr marinating time)

 

Ingredients and Method

For the marinated Prawns

225-250g raw king prawns – devein and butterfly 

150-175g Greek yogurt

4 cloves garlic – thinly slice

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp hot chilli powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

Juice of half a lemon

4 long wooden skewers – soak in water before use

Method: Mix all the marinade ingredients (minus prawns) in a large mixing bowl until the spices and yogurt combine. Devein and butterfly the prawns and add them to the marinade. Mix gently until all the prawns are fully coated, then cover and place in a fridge for at least 1hr, or preferably overnight.

After this remove from the fridge and leave for 20 minutes to get to room temperature. Skewer the prawns, skewering at both ends so the prawns are skewered twice (head and tail). Have the prawns close together but not squashed – see picture below.

See the method for the sauce for cooking instructions, as these cook quickly and should be done when the sauce is ready.

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For the Makhani Sauce

3 medium size white onions – dice

2 large green chillies – remove stalk, slice

2 tsp mustard seeds

1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil

6 large round tomatoes – quarter

3 tbsp. desiccated coconut

2 tbsp. sliced almonds

1 bay leaf

6 cloves

6 cardamom pods

6 cloves garlic – crush or roughly chop

Thumb sized piece of root ginger – roughly chop 

1 tsp salt

3-4 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp tomato pure

2 mugs of water

1/4 tsp ground fenugreek

25-35g butter – cut into cubes

1/2 tsp garam masala

2-3 tbsp. chopped coriander as garnish

You need a blender and deep non stick pan with a lid

Method: Start by heating the oil in the pan, once hot add the onions and stir fry for 6-8 minutes until the onions colour. Next add the chillies, bay, cloves and cardamom and continue to fry for 2-3 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, tomatoes, tomato pure, almonds and desiccated coconut and fry for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 mugs of water and stir well, bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and leave to bubble away for 20-25 minutes.

After this carefully remove the lid, then fish out the bay, cardamom and cloves. Add 1 tsp salt and 3-4 tsp of brown sugar, stir well until combined with the sauce.

Leave sauce to cool (to prevent burns) and use the stick blender to form a smooth sauce. As the sauce cools pre heat your oven to its maximum setting.

Place the sauce back on a medium heat, stir and gently heat the sauce through. Add the garam masala and fenugreek – use your fingers and sprinkle them in otherwise they will form clumps that will be difficult to dissolve. Add the butter and stir it into the sauce as it melts.

Once your oven is preheated to its hottest setting, lay the skewered prawns on a baking tray – use a swiss roll style one as water will come out the marinade as it cooks. Add the prawns to the preheated oven and as they go in reduce heat to 220°C and cook them for 5 minutes. Remove tray from oven, drain off the liquid and return to oven for a further minute. Remove from oven and get ready to serve.

Before serving heat the sauce through until it bubbles. Ladle into serving bowls and sprinkle some coriander on top. Place on a serving plate and add the skewers alongside, as pictured below.

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Fantastic Tomato and Avocado Salsa

A great recipe for a fantastic, delicious and fresh salsa.

Works well as a side with any Mexican or Tex-Mex dish, or as a snack with some tortilla chips. For a list of my Mexican recipes please check out my Blog contents

The important thing with this dish is to use fresh, ripe, good quality ingredients to get the very best flavour. If you like it spicy, simply add some sliced or diced chilli.

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Serves 2-4 as a side dish

Ingredients and Method

4 large round ripe tomatoes – diced

1 medium size red onion – diced

1 large ripe avocado – diced

Juice of 1 and half limes

Generous handful of fresh coriander leaf and stalk – roughly chop

Generous amount of fresh ground black pepper

Sea salt – to taste, approx. 1/4 tsp

Sprinkle of brown sugar – to bring out flavours, approx.. 1/4 tsp

1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

Method: simply mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, adjust salt and sugar to taste, cover and leave at room temperature for at least 1hr for flavours to develop. Mix well again before serving.

Can be stored in an airtight refrigerated container for 1-2 days if you have any leftover.

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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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King Prawn Linguine flavoured with Prawn and Pepper sauce.

Linguine pasta with king prawns, in a delicious sauce made from red pepper, tomato, garlic, basil, oregano, onion, flavoured with a stock made from the prawn heads and shells.

In this dish I use a simple stock made from prawn shells and heads to get every bit of flavour from the prawns. This is added to a flavour base (red pepper, garlic, tomato, basil, oregano, tomato pure, olive oil and onion) and cooked down to intensify the flavour. The sauce is completed with seasoning and a little sugar for sweetness. The raw prawns are gently cooked in the sauce, then the pasta is added to the sauce for the final few minutes of cooking, then finished with a little lemon juice.

I am really proud of this recipe and hope you like it as much as I do. Its very easy to make and certain to impress friends and family.

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Serves two

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 12-15 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

150g good quality dried linguine – cook as per packet instructions to al dente 

250-300g Raw whole King Prawns – see method

250-300ml water

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 red bell pepper – remove stalk and seeds

1 large beef tomato – remove core

12 basil leaves – plus a few extra for a garnish

1 medium size red onion – peel

4 large garlic cloves – peel, crush

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp. tomato pure

1 tsp brown sugar

Freshly ground black pepper – see method

Salt to taste – season at end once stock has reduced

Juice of half a lemon – cut other half into wedges to serve

You require a mini chopper of food processor for this recipe

 

Method: Begin by removing the shells and heads from the raw prawns, devein the prawns and set aside.

Pour 250-300ml of water into a sauce pan and bring to the boil, add the prawn shells and heads and simmer for 10-15 minutes until stock has reduced to 200ml. Unlike stocks from vegetables or animal bones stocks made from shellfish absorb all the flavour very quickly. Once reduced set aside ready to add to the dish.

Make the flavour base by adding the red pepper, basil, oregano, garlic, tomato, tomato pure, onion and olive oil to the mini chopper, blend until a smooth sauce is formed. Set aside ready to add to the pan.

Cook the pasta as per packet instructions (around 10-12 minutes), as soon as this starts begin to cook the pasta sauce. Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the blended sauce, stir frequently and cook for 5 minutes to bring out all the flavours in the sauce. Take care not to burn the sauce and if it begins to catch on the pan add a little of the prawn stock to loosen it.

Next add the prawn stock to the pan, stir well, increase heat to bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add a tsp of brown sugar and a generous amount of black pepper, do not add any salt until the dish is reduced. Keep simmering and stirring occasionally until sauce has reduced in half (should take 4-5 minutes), then taste test and add salt to taste.

Once the pasta is cooked drain it and set it aside ready to add to the pan.

Add the raw prawns to the simmering sauce and gently stir until they change from grey to pink (60-90 seconds), take care not to overcook them. I would recommend deliberately undercooking them here as they will finish cooking as you add the pasta.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and gently stir the sauce through the pasta and cook for 1 minute. Finish the dish by adding  juice of half a lemon and stir through to lift the sauce.

Serve immediately and garnish with a few torn basil leaves.

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Roasted Marinated Chicken with Tomato Curry and Toasted Almonds

Oven roasted Chicken on the bone marinated in yogurt, spices and garlic. Served with a delicious medium spicy tomato based curry sauce and garnished with toasted almonds.

I love it when you design a recipe and it tastes just as you had hoped, this is definingly one of those occasions. The roasted chicken on the bone marinated in yogurt, garlic, turmeric, chilli, fennel seeds and garam masala is wonderfully moist and flavoursome. The medium spicy curry sauce made from tomato, onion, chilli, garlic, ginger, bay leaf, mustard seeds, cardamom, cloves and some butter is the perfect accompaniment to the chicken. A garnish of coriander leaf and some toasted almonds complete this dish.

Serve with choice of rice or Indian breads.

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Serves Two

Preparation time 15 minutes (plus 2-3 hours for marinating chicken)

Cooking time 35 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

For the marinated chicken:

2 large chicken thighs, on the bone – remove skin and membrane

6-8 dessert spoons Greek yogurt

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1/2 tsp salt

3 cloves garlic – thinly sliced

Method: Combine the yogurt, garlic, salt and spices in a bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and mix well until covered in the marinade, cover bowl and put in a fridge for at least two hours (overnight is even better).

To cook the chicken, remove the bowl from fridge 30 minutes before cooking to bring to room temperature. Heat your oven to 200°c, place the marinated chicken in a roasting tin and cook for 35 minutes. Rest the chicken for 5 minutes before serving.

For the curry sauce:

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

4 large round tomatoes – quarter

5 cloves garlic – peel, crush

Root ginger (thumb sized) – peel and thinly slice

2 bay leaves

2 large red chillies – remove stalks and seeds

2 small red onions – peel, dice

2 medium white onions

5 cardamom pods

5 cloves

15-20g flaked almonds – for sauce, extra below for garnish

1 tbsp.  brown sugar

Water – see method below

20g unsalted butter –  cut into cubes

Salt – to taste

Handful of almond flakes –  toast in a dry hot frying pan until coloured on both sides

Handful of coriander leaf – roughly chop

Method: Start by heating the vegetable oil over a medium high heat, add the mustard seeds and fry until they start to pop (like pop corn). Add the onions and fry for 4-5 minutes until they soften and colour. Next add the bay leaves, cardamom, cloves, chilli, ginger, garlic, flaked almonds and tomatoes. stir well and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add water to the pan, enough to cover the mixture (around 200ml), bring to boil then reduce to a simmer for 10 – 12 minutes.

Once the mixture has simmered remove the bay, cardamom and cloves.  Use a stick or standalone blender to blitz sauce until smooth. You may wish to add a little extra water depending upon how thick you like your curry sauce, take care not to add too much as it will dilute the flavour.

Bring the smooth sauce to a simmer then add 1 tbsp. sugar and season with salt to taste (I used 1 tsp salt), stir until dissolved into the sauce. Add the cubes of butter and stir as they melt into the sauce, they will bring the classic gleam to your sauce as well as adding flavour. Once the butter is melted into the sauce it is ready to serve.

To serve ladle the sauce into the serving plate, place chicken on top then garnish with toasted almonds and chopped coriander.

 

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