Shakshuka

There are 100s of different recipes for Shakshuka out there, Yotam Ottolenghi has several different versions himself, but here I have just provided a simple paired down version which can be easily rustled up for a fabulous brunch or a one pot supper.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1 large onion halved and thinly sliced

2 red peppers red cut into strips

1 tub of Chilli Gourmets Tomato & Chilli Sauce (Mild or Hot)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

A handful of spinach or Swiss chard

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons chopped coriander

Salt and black pepper to taste

6 free-range eggs

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes or so until soft.
  2. Add the peppers and cook very gently on a low heat for about 15 minutes
  3. Add the cumin, paprika and cayenne and cook in for about a minute
  4. Pour in the sauce and just a little water, add the fresh herbs and then continue to cook gently for a further 10 minutes. The sauce should be very thick.
  5. Sprinkle over the spinach then make little wells in the sauce with the back of a spoon and gently crack eggs into each on then season them with salt and pepper and cover the pan with a lid. Cook on a gentle heat until the eggs are just set – about 7-10 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle with a little more fresh coriander and serve with good crusty bread.

Mediterranean Style Fish

Ingredients (Serves Two)

200g haddock or cod fillets skinned (or monkfish)

1 onion halved and finely sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tub of Chilli Gourmets Tomato Sauce (Mild)

2 tablespoon of capers

75 g pitted black olives – cut in half

2 tablespoon finely chopped parsley

Method

  1. You will need a frying pan with a lid for this recipe. Heat the oil in the frying pand and sauté the onion until translucent
  2. Add the Chilli Gourmets sauce, the capers and the olives and warm through gently.
  3. Place the fish on top of the tomato mixture and spoon a little of sauce over the fish
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pan with a lid.
  5. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the fish is opaque and firm.
  6. To serve put half of the mixture on each plate and scatter with chopped parsley. Accompany with rice or new potatoes,

Patatas Bravas

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 I am no expert on Spanish food but I have eaten and made plenty of Patatas Bravas. Often they are served with or without the addition of garlic mayonnaise and very good they are too.  However I would urge you to give this version that incorporates the mayonnaise into the sauce, a try (a recipe taught to my brother by a Spanish chef in Brighton).

Ingredients

1 kg waxy potatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

Light olive oil for shallow frying

1 tub of Chilli Gourmets Tomato Sauce (Mild or Hot)

1 clove of garlic

1 teaspoon of Maldon salt

Pinch of Pimentón paprika

120ml of mayonnaise

1/2 teaspoon of ground white pepper

2 green cayenne chillies finely sliced

Method

  1. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place in a bowl of cold water. If you have time to leave them for an hour or two then do so but if not just drain & dry thoroughly when you are ready to start cooking.
  2. Pour some extra virgin olive oil into a large, non-stick frying pan so that you have about 1cm in the bottom. Fry the potatoes in a single layer for 2-3 minutes. You want them to remain firm and to not take on any colour at this stage. Drain the potatoes, dry on paper towels and set to one side.
  3. Crush the garlic and stir this together with the ground white pepper into the mayonnaise.
  4. Heat the tomato sauce through and reduce it by 1/3 being careful not to let it catch on the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the garlic mayonnaise. Warm this sauce through gently just before serving making sure it does not split.
  5. When you are ready to make your tapas heat a little of the light olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan and then shallow-fry the potatoes in a single layer for 4-5 minutes, turning them regularly, until crisp and golden brown. Drain the potatoes and dry them on paper towels.
  6. Spoon the potatoes into your serving plates, sprinkle with the Maldon salt & then drizzle over your warmed sauce – dust with a pinch of Pimentón and top with the chopped green chillies.

It is really important to serve the Patatas Bravas immediately whilst they are still nice and hot

This quantity should be enough for four people, maybe more depending on how many other tapas dishes you are serving.

Lamb and Pork Meat Balls with Spaghetti

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If you get yourself a packet of really good tasty sausages you can just remove the skins roll the sausage meat into walnut sized balls and hey presto you have meatballs. If you want to do this just follow the instructions from number four below. However I would urge to try this recipe the result is a succulent melt in your mouth meatball, they are a real crowd pleaser. If you are cooking for a lot of people make smaller meatballs and double up on the sauce!

Ingredients

250g lamb mince

250g pork mince

1 large onion very finely chopped

1 clove of garlic crushed

½ a large bunch flat-leaf parsley finely chopped

1 tsp rosemary chopped

50g grated parmesan – plus extra to serve

60g ground almonds

1 beaten egg

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

60 ml of white wine

1/2 pint of beef stock

1 tub of Chilli Gourmets Tomato & Chilli Sauce (Mild)

Method

  1. Heat a splash of olive oil in a small frying pan and sauté the onions & garlic until translucent. Remove from the pan spread then on a plate and leave to cool.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the lamb and pork mince, the parsley, rosemary, grated parmesan, ground almonds and the cooled onion and garlic mixture. Combine thoroughly. Stir in the beaten egg and season with salt & pepper.
  3. To check the seasoning take a thumb size piece of the mixture form into a ball and fry until cooked through and taste it. Be careful not to over season as the sauce will also add flavour but the meatballs should be seasoned enough to eat on their own.
  4. Now make all your meat balls rolling them into balls about the size of a walnut with your hands – the mixture should make about 40.
  5. Heat the oil in a large fireproof casserole dish and fry the meat balls in one layer until they are golden brown. Remove the meat balls and set aside.
  6. Turn up the heat and add a glass of wine and stir to loosen any juices stuck to the pan, reduce the liquid by half.
  7. Add the beef stock and tomato sauce and warm through. Now return the meat balls back to the casserole stir through and cook in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes. Check halfway through the cooking and add a little water if the mixture is reducing too quickly.
  8. At the end of the cooking time remove the casserole from the oven and leave to sit with the lid on whilst you cook your pasta.
  9. When the sauce and meatballs are ready, top the pasta generously with sauce and meatballs, sprinkle on some shaved or grated parmesan – whichever you prefer.

The Everyday Gourmet

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Whilst most of us don’t have the time to make gourmet meals every day it is possible to give even the most simplest of dishes a little gourmet twist with the use of one or two special ingredients.

Of course my different chilli varieties are often my inspiration for this but it could just be a very, very fresh herb, a really good quality cheese or a better than average oil that makes the difference and lifts your dish.  I am starting by posting just a few very basic recipes using my Roasted Tomato and Purple Haze sauce.

Please try them out, experiment and add your own ideas.  Gourmet does not necessarily mean complex but of course making really refined dishes does take a little more time.  But is always worth it!

Roasted Tomato & Chilli Sauce with Purple Haze Chillies

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When tomatoes are in season it seems a shame to do anything but keep it simple; a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of oil, a little basil, some good cheese, a hunk of bread – perfection!  But there comes a time, especially if you grow your own, when it does not seem extravagant to also turn them into sauce!

This simple recipe makes a quick and easy tomato sauce, with or without the addition of fresh herbs, which makes a great pasta sauce but is also an excellent base sauce that can be used to make a myriad of other dishes. If you are nervous of chillies just add one or two and then remove them before you process your sauce.

Ingredients

400-450g tomatoes (depending on size)

4-5 cloves of garlic

1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

1-2 Purple Haze chillies

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 200 ºC

Wash the tomatoes and place them in an oven proof dish big enough to hold them in one layer.

Add the whole garlic cloves (skin on), sprinkle with a little salt and then drizzle with olive oil, tossing the whole tomatoes in the oil.

Place in the oven and roast them for 10 minutes. Spilt the chillies lengthwise leaving the stalks on and then pop them into the dish and stir in. Return the dish to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes, just long enough for the tomatoes to soften.  The bigger the tomatoes are the longer this will take.

IMG_3283Remove the dish and set it aside until cool enough to handle and then remove all the stalks and skins of the tomatoes and garlic.

This is where you can tinker with the heat of the sauce. If you want just a hint of spiciness remove the chillies now and discard them. If you prefer a spicier sauce then leave one or two chillies in (removing the stalks).  Blitz everything together in a liquidiser.

Taste your sauce and add more salt if necessary then swirl in some fresh olive oil.The colour of your sauce will depend on the colour of your tomatoes! IMG_1458

In my humble opinion I think it is only really worth making a sauce with fresh tomatoes when they are in full season in the UK.  Out of season I tend to use a good tinned variety such as Cirio from Naples. You can still use this same simple roasting method to make your sauce.

Most major supermarkets now sell so-called “fresh chilli” sauces in their chillier cabinets but if you have a quick look at what they contain you will quickly realise that these are nothing like a fresh homemade sauce – frequently they have more than thirty ingredients!  In fact it is precisely this sort of thing that spurred me on to make and share my own homemade sauce – which I will now be selling at the local farmers markets near Heswall. Bringing the fresh back to fresh!

I will be posting a few recipes that have been adapted to use just one 340ml tub of my sauce. If you live elsewhere in the UK and want to have a go at making the sauce you can buy the Purple Haze chillies from me at chilligourmets.uk/order or if you also fancy trying to grow the chillies yourself then you can get the seeds from seaspringseeds.co.uk.

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My Mission

Chilli Gourmets combines my enthusiasm for both cooking and chilli growing.  There is a truly huge diversity of chillies in the world but to date only a very few varieties are commonly used in traditional cuisine or alternatively they are only grown and used locally in their countries of origin.  And whilst it is no longer a problem to find spicy food in the UK the beauty, aromas and flavours of different chilli varieties can rarely be found in our cooking and are almost non-existent in fine dining.

My mission is to not only change the perception of the chilli pepper in gastronomic circles but also to promote and encourage the use of more rare and unusual varieties and in addition, where possible, to have them locally grown in Britain.  Up until now the chilli has never had a particularly good image in “Haute Cusine”.  Apart from some rare exceptions such as the French Piment d’Espelette you will not often find chilli peppers used in top restaurant creations.  Whilst most chefs would not hesitate to make liberal use of sweet peppers in their cooking many of them shy away from the chilli in the belief that it will disrupt the delicate balance of their dishes or simply offend their diners.

I want to promote the chilli pepper as a culinary ingredient.  Apart from the many milder chilli varieties that exist the heat of chillies can be mastered to good effect with the right techniques, proportions and balance within a dish.   There are so many stunningly beautiful varieties that exist with a huge diversity of colours, textures, flavours and aromas that can be successfully introduced into a myriad of dishes.

Purple Haze & Apricot Habanero