Chocolate Chilli Cookies

These are spicy and delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 50g muscovado sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 1/4 tsp mild fresh red chilli, or chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 75g dark chocolate, cut into small chips

METHOD:

  • Stir the flour, cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, chilli and sugar.
  • Rub in the butter to achieve a fine breadcrumb texture.
  • Add the syrup and mix into a dough. Squeeze the mixture into a dough.
  • Kneed in the chocolate chops
  • Divide into 12 balls, and space evenly onto a greased baking sheet.
  • Bake at 180C for 8 to 10 minutes.
  • When they are out of the oven, lift them off the baking sheet onto a cooling rack as soon as possible.

St Emilion au Chocolat

I made this last night. We ate quite a lot of it today. It is very rich and most delicious. If you don’t have ratafia biscuits, you could use amaretti, or any other small almond biscuit.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125g butter
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 250g plain chocolate
  • 125g ratafia or amaretti biscuits
  • brandy
  • 150ml milk

METHOD:

  • cream the butter and the sugar together
  • beat the milk and egg-yolk together
  • melt the chocolate with a spoonful of water
  • Stir the melted chocolate into the mil mixture, and then beat this into the creamed butter and sugar.
  • In ramekins, put a layer of the chocolate mixture, then a biscuit and a teaspoon of brandy, and then another layer of chocolate.
  • Allow to set; store in the fridge.

The number of dishes is dependent on the size and number of ramekins – this is so rich that the smallest ramekins work the best.

Kabab-e kubideh – Minced meat kebab

When I was much younger, I lived in Teheran, and we used to have barbecues when we were out and about – often my dad would barbecue chicken, but we’ve had some amazing meals. We had a sort of portable barbecue, and some rush fans to get the charcoal glowing hot.

I made these kebabs under the electric grill at home, but they would taste so much better cooked under an open sky, the sun throbbing in the sky, with mountains on the horizon and an icy river flowing through the rocks below.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1kg beef mince, or 50/50 beef and lamb
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (about half a lime)
  • A pinch of saffron, ground in a pestle and mortar and dissolved in a tsp of hot water
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt

METHOD:

  • Chop the onion and garlic, and put it in the blender with the lime juice and blitz it.
  • Put the meat, onion/garlic/lime, salt, pepper, saffron and baking soda in a large bowl. Kneed the mixture with your hands for 15 minutes to make a paste
  • Divide the meat into eight or so lumps, and press this around the skewers. The skewers should be flat, so that the kebab doesn’t spin round. We used some stainless steel strips cut into 18 inch lengths. Mold the meat around the skewers. Once they are ready, set aside in a cool place.
  • If you are using a barbecue, this should be lit and burning for around half an hour before cooking, so that the charcoal is glowing hot. We had the grill set to high.
  • In a small pan, melt the butter and combine with a dash of lime and a pinch of salt. A little cayenne pepper could also be added here.
  • Brown the kebabs quickly on each side, so that the outer layer is firm; this is to stop the kebabs falling apart.
  • Baste with the butter and lime, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  • Serve with flat bread, and salad. The kebab can be garnished with lime juice or sumac powder. The best salad would be yoghurt, spring onions, herbs and garlic, perhaps with some walnuts.

Sri Lankan beef casserole

OMG this was delicious. I used a recipe from Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey, but adapted it because I didn’t have any brisket, just stew packs. I also had some wonderful local beef to use.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1kg beef (preferably brisket, tied for a roast, but diced for stew works OK too)
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 tsp whole coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
  • 4 tbsp olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 inch of cinnamon stick
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 inches of ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar, or 1 tsp lime pickle
  • 350ml stock
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 250ml coconut milk.

METHOD:

  • sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper
  • Put a small heavy pan over a medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the coriander, cumin, fennel and fenugreek. Toast for 30 seconds, and then empty onto a bit of kitchen paper or teatowel. Once the spices have started to cook, crush them in a pestle and mortar.
  • Preheat the oven to gas 3, 160C.
  • Put the oil into a large casserole dish. Once the oil is hot, brown the meat on all sides, and set it aside
  • Next, fry the onion ginger, garlic and cinnamon in the same pan. Cook for around five minutes.
  • Add the vinegar, stock, cayenne pepper, 1 tsp salt and the roasted ground sices. Stir together and add the beef. Bring to the boil.
  • Cover and place in the oven for around 2 hours.
  • When the meat is tender, transfer the casserole to the hob and stir in the coconut milk.

We served this with rice, but it also goes well with potato or bread.

Carrot and coriander soup with chilli and cumin

Last weekend, a friend and I dug up the last of last year’s carrots, where they had overwintered in the ground. I froze some and I also made this soup. I kind of made it up as I went along, using some ingredients that I already had.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 400g approx chopped carrots
  • 500ml vegetable stock (or other stock)
  • 150ml sour cream
  • Juice of half a lime
  • salt and pepper
  • A handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • A pinch of chipotle smoked pepper (from Seasoned Pioneers)

METHOD:

  • In a saucepan, fry the chilli and the onion slowly in the olive oil, until the onion is softening.
  • Add the cumin and the carrots, and cook for another five minutes or so.
  • Add the stock, and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Take of the heat, and add the sour cream, lime juice, salt, pepper, chipotle pepper and coriander leaves.
  • Use a soup wand to make a smooth creamy soup. Add a bit of stock or water if the soup is too thick.

Serve with brown toast.

Mushroom soup with cayenne and dill (Hungarian Mushroom Soup)

My brother-in-law, John, served this to us one evening. It was only the second time we met and the soup was one of the many highlights of the evening. The taste recalls the evening around 25 years ago.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • Salt
  • 400g mushrooms
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1 pint of stock
  • 1 tsp miso (you can substitute marmite if no miso available)
  • 150ml sour cream
  • 3 tsp lemon juice

METHOD:

  • Finely chop the onion and fry gently in the oil, with 1/2 tsp salt
  • Chop the mushrooms and add to the pan
  • Add the dill, thyme, paprika and cayenne, and cover. Cook slowly for around 7 minutes.
  • Add the stock and miso and bring to a simmer for three minutes.
  • Liquidise, and add the sour cream and lemon juice.
  • Reheat without bringing to the boil.

Serve with brown bread.

Mackerel curry with fennel and coconut

This is a fab recipe in Curry Easy by Madhur Jaffrey – I adapted it a little, and checked quantities against reality for Uist mackerel.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 mackerel, boned and split – to make six sides with skin on.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3cm ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped (or equivalent chopped shallots)
  • 6 tbsp coconut milk

METHOD:

  • Cut the mackerel sides in half, and sprinkle with salt
  • Combine the ginger, garlic, cayenne, paprika, black pepper, turmeric, lime juice and 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl
  • Put the oil in a large frying pan, over a medium-high heat. When hot, add the fennel seed and cook for a few seconds before adding the onion/shallots.
  • Within a few minutes, when the onions are softening,, add the bowl of spices and fry for another minute.
  • Add 250ml water, and bring to a simmer, turn the heat to low and simmer for another 7-8 minutes
  • Add the coconut milk, and bring back to a simmer
  • Add the fish, skin side down, and spoon the sauce over the fish. Continue to cook for another 7 minutes, moving the fish around and spooning the sauce over the fish.
  • Once the fish is cooked, serve with brown rice