Chile & Pistachio Caramel Corn

Do you want the good news first or the bad news? Right you are, let’s kick off with the good. The good news is that popcorn is a high fiber snack that will fill you up and put a smile on the face (unless you’re a total curmudgeon with no friends and a black cloud over your head).

The bad news, is that medical science has yet to find any nutritional benefit to coating the above mentioned popcorn with butter and sugar. And trust me, they’ve tried. How many randomized medical trials have failed to find a link between caramel corn and a long and healthy lifespan? (We don’t actually know the answer to this but do let us know, if you do)

But living to 100, isn’t all it’s cracked up, is it? So relax, kick back and make a batch of caramel corn. It will take you back to the state fair you went to as a kid and give you a big ole rush of nostalgia. You’ll end up looking for that stuffed animal you won as a kid, then remember that your dog ate it. Guess that goes under the bad news category too but not a lot we can do about that.

1 Package Red Chile Popped Popcorn

¾ cup brown sugar

3 Tbsp corn syrup

6 Tbsp butter

Scant ¼ tsp baking soda

½ cup chopped pistachios

Preheat oven to 250°F

Spray a baking sheet with vegetable oil spray. Place the popcorn on the tray.

In a saucepan, heat the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup. Simmer for five minutes – don’t stir it, just let it do its thing. Remove from the heat and stir in the baking soda. It will puff up and look impressive. Pour oven the popcorn, stir quickly to coat and then sprinkle the pistachios on top and stir again. Place in the oven and bake for around 45 minutes – stirring occasionally to ensure the kernels are evenly coated.

Spray a sheet of aluminium foil with some vegetable spray. Turn the popped corn onto the foil and allow to cool – breaking up any chunks. Store in a container, if you haven’t eaten the entire trayful of caramel corn first.

BBQ Spicy Shrimp

I’ve heard that there are finer things in this world than a BBQ but honestly, I’ve never come across them. Peace on earth? Yeah, maybe that might be better. A birthday where no one – I mean no one – gives you a pair of ‘novelty’ socks. Okay, that’s a contender too, but other than that, I’m stumped.

Why is a BBQ so great? Well, it involves fire + outdoors + adult beverages and – here’s the important bit – the risk that you could burn the living daylights out of dinner. I mean, think about it, everyone could start fighting over that rogue tortilla chip under the couch because you incinerated supper. Or – and this is probably worse – you undercook the food and give al dente a whole new meaning.

It’s kind of like Russian roulette but with friends and food. What’s not to like?

And it’s got drama and lots of smoke and the opportunity to really tick off your neighbors. I love it. And admit it, you do too. So mix up a batch of these spicy shrimp and enjoy the drama that is a barbecue. Don’t like shrimp? Use this marinade on chicken or a piece of salmon. It doesn’t really matter because let’s face it – you’re probably going to burn it anyway.

Kidding. Just kidding.

Serves 2 starving people, 3 normal humans, or 4 who are saving space for dessert

1 lb shelled and deveined large shrimp

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 clove garlic, minced

juice from 1 lime, about 2-2 ½ Tbsp

½ tsp Chile de Arbol powder (Cayenne)

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 Tbsp olive oil + additional to brush the limes

½ tsp sea salt + additional for the limes

1 lime, cut into slices

Mix the tomato paste, garlic, lime juice, cayenne and turmeric powders, olive oil and sea salt. It should form a thick paste. Place the shrimp in a bowl and coat with the paste. Pop in the fridge and let them hang out for half an hour or so.

Get your grill heated up to medium-high. Brush the lime slices on both sides with the olive oil and give them a sprinkle of salt. Place the shrimp on the grill and the lime too. You can use skewers but I think a good pair of tongs is your best friend. Grill until nicely seared on one side then flip and repeat. Shrimp cook fast – they only need a few minutes – so stay focused.

Macerated Berries with Habanero Chile & Lime

It’s summertime and as the lyrics go, the living is easy. I have no idea if your daddy is rich or if your mother is remotely good looking. And far be it from me to pry into your family photo album.

But I will say that it is summer and you must take it easy. Put the phone down, walk away from your computer, and stop watching all of those cute dog videos. Instead, sit outside. Take a deep breath. Watch a sunset. Write words like these that belong on a cheesy greeting card.

And eat. Eat like it’s summer and everything is ripe at the same time. Because, news flash, it is. It’s crazy time where you’re spoiled for choice. Berries, whether it’s straw, black, rasp or – you get the idea – are pretty darn tooting perfect right now. So indulge. Add some habanero chile with its fruity notes (I’ve been dying to say that) and serve with some COYO coconut yogurt alternative and you are golden. Just like your tan. Don’t you love summer?

Note: macerating is a fancy pants way of saying to mix fruit with some liquid to let juices form. So there.

Serves 3-4

1 lb mixed berries – strawberries with either blackberries and/or raspberries

1 Tbsp sugar

1 lime, zest and juice

¼ tsp habanero chile powder

Serve with COYO coconut yogurt alternative natural

Hull the strawberries to remove the stem. Rather than slicing the top off, which wastes a lot of berry, take a small knife and make a circular incision around the stem. This helps to remove both the stem and the white pith inside the berry without losing any berry loveliness.

Put the strawberries with any other berries you’re using, along with the sugar, lime juice and zest and the chile powder in a bowl. The habanero packs a punch, so if you’re nervous, start with 1/8 teaspoon and work up to find your chile comfort zone. Give the fruit a gentle stir and set aside to macerate for 15-30 minutes.

Serve with a healthy dollop of COYO and a spoonful of the juices. Sit back and enjoy.

 

Froached egg with chile breadcrumbs


What is a froached egg? Surely you jest. Have you been living under a rock? On second thought, don’t answer that. What, you looked froached up in the dictionary and there is no such word? You type it out and one of those annoying red lines comes up under it, indicating it’s misspelled?

But search ye ole world wide web and you’ll see that froaching (let’s go ahead and make it into a verb) is a cross between a fried egg and a poached egg. (Fr) ied+ p (oach) = Froach. So there.

Now, you can buy yourself some fancy, city slicker kit to froach your eggs or you can do like we do here at Chile Trail HQ and use a slice of bread. Yep, a slice of bread. Cut a ring out and cook your egg inside it. Better yet, turn the round into some bread crumbs and give them a hit of chile and top your eggs with those and you’re talking the real deal.

We’re not saying this is going to be the answer to all your problems. We can’t do anything about your commute, your teenage daughter’s phone bill or your taxes (you did pay that bill, didn’t you?). But we sure as shoot have breakfast covered.

1 slice bread

1 egg

1 Tbsp parsley

1 tsp lemon zest

¼ tsp chile pequin

olive oil

Salt

Optional garnishes (but c’mon, you know you want them)

Crumbled feta cheese

Chopped green onions

Sliced avocado

More chile pequin, naturally

Note: This recipe serves one but you can double, triple, etc to your heart’s content

Take a 3” ring and cut a round from the center of your slice of bread. Toast the round until crispy and then crumble into bread crumbs. Combine with the parsley, lemon zest, chile pequin, a dash of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and set aside.

Brush both sides of the slice (with the hole cut out) with olive oil. Heat a small, non-stick frying pan and cook the bread on one side for a minute or two over medium heat. Turn, crack the egg and place in the round. Cook until the white is solid but the yolk still runny – about 4 or 5 minutes.

Gently remove from the pan and top with the garnishes of your choice, including, of course, some extra chile pequin.

Slow cooked chile tomatoes with burrata & basil

In life, there are classics. Think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Or Bert and Ernie, if you’re more of a Sesame Street kind of person. Or peanut butter & jelly, for those of you who don’t get out of the house much.

The point is, there are certain combinations – pairings– that just sing. They work. They’re tried and tested. Are you with me?

Mozzarella and tomato salad is one such classic. It takes the very best mozzarella cheese, pairs it with the finest tomatoes and tucks in some fresh basil for good measure. A lick of extra virgin olive oil and you’re done. End of story, culinary happiness and everyone rides off into the sunset.

But we like to mess around with classics, here at the ranch. Not too much, but enough to give it the kiss of life. And no, I don’t mean mouth-to-mouth resuscitation – I’m talking about the kiss of chile. For this one, we top tomatoes with a mix of chile, a bit of brown sugar and some salt. Slow cook them in the oven until the flavor is intense and lip smackin’ good. Then plate them up with some burrata – kind of like mozzarella on steroids – basil leaves and you’re in business.

Any extra tomatoes can be placed in a glass jar, topped up with oil and popped in the fridge – ready for the next time you feel a classic coming on.

Preheat oven to 250°

3 lbs plum tomatoes

1 Tbsp mild chile molido

½ Tbsp hot chile molido

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp sea salt

3 Tbsp olive oil

Slice the tomatoes in half lengthways. Make a small v-shaped incision to remove any core. Place the tomatoes snugly together cut side up on a large baking sheet and drizzle the olive oil over them.

Mix together the chile powders, brown sugar and salt and sprinkle over the tomato halves. You’ll probably have more chile powder mix then you’ll need but stop complaining – you can dust it on pasta, mix some with mayonnaise for a sandwich or keep it in a jar for your next batch of tomatoes.

Cook the tomatoes for a couple of hours, then gently flip the halves so they’re now cut side down. Cook for a couple hours more – we’re talking 4-6 hours in total. They should have lost most of their moisture.

Serve with burrata (or plain old mozzarella), some basil leaves, and a healthy glug of olive oil and a few flakes of chile pequin, if you’re so inclined.

 

Baked Sweet Potato with all the fillings

Dinner for two sounds awfully romantic doesn’t it? I know what you’re thinking – candlelight, some soft jazz and a glass/two/bottle of Merlot. It’s a night to remember as you gaze at that someone special/mildly memorable and wonder if it would blow the mood to suggest binge watching Game of Thrones.

But folks, dinner for two can be something a lot more down to earth. Ditch the candles and bin the George Benson cd – dinner for two can be survival on a week night. If you’ve got children (I feel your pain) then it’s homework and tantrums and trying to prise a phone out of their sharp, beady talons. It’s laundry and work emails that don’t care what time it is.

Then suddenly 9:00 p.m. and you realize – hey, guess what? – you haven’t eaten anything since that highly suspect tuna fish sandwich at noon. It’s at times like this – and we’ve all had them – that you need something you can get on the table ASAP. Before you can press speed dial for pizza delivery, you can have a baked sweet potato done and on the table. (That is if you use our very good friend the microwave.)

And if you’re really tired, feel free to eat dinner in bed. We won’t tell. Honest.

Serves 2

1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes (about 1 lb total weight)

1 oz goat’s cheese or feta cheese, a nice size chunk

3-4 radishes, sliced thinly

1 or 2 spring onions, sliced

pumpkin seeds, to garnish

 

Green chile butter

1 stick/4 oz. butter, softened

1 tbsp cilantro, chopped plus extra for garnish

1 tsp green jalapeño powder

zest of 1 lime

Salt

Wash and dry the sweet potatoes and prick them all over with a sharp knife. Microwave at high heat for 5 minutes, check and microwave in 2 minute intervals until tender all the way through.

To make the green chile butter, mix the softened butter with the chopped cilantro, green jalapeño powder and lime zest. Taste and add salt as needed and place in a ramekin.

When the sweet potatoes are done, slice down the middle, add a healthy spoonful of the butter. Divide the cheese between the servings, add the sliced radishes and spring onions and garnish with a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds and the extra cilantro. Eat it up while it’s hot and then in bed – it’s a school night.

Dark Chocolate Chile Brownies

I think that the world would be a better place if we only ate more chocolate. You laugh, but I’ve got science on my side. Chocolate contains things with long names that do things to our brains that make us happy. Hope that wasn’t too technical? And yes, I could go into more detail but I’ve got a chile business to run, so just trust me, okay?

And everyone knows that chiles are good for you (natch) so if you combine the two, then you basically have world peace on a plate. I’d best get a tux and my acceptance speech ready for my Nobel Peace Prize. I’m so excited.

Now, chocolate and chile isn’t a new combination. Montezuma drank his hot chocolate with chile in it and mole is a splendid concoction of yumminess featuring – yep, you guessed it – chile and chocolate. So it only made sense to bring these two star-crossed lovers together in a chocolate brownie.

It’s got habanero for heat, chipotle for smokiness and our Chimayo blend because I never can leave well enough alone.

Makes 1-8×8” pan

4 oz (½ cup) unsalted butter + extra to grease the pan

2 oz. dark chocolate

1 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp vanilla

1/8 – ¼ tsp Chile Habanero powder (depending how hot you like it)

½ tsp Chile Chipotle powder

½ tsp Chile Chimayo blend chile powder

¾ cup sifted flour

½ cup walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350°

Grease an 8×8” pan.

Place the butter and chocolate in a bowl and set over a pan of simmering water to melt. Remove and stir in the sugar – it will look like grainy chocolate sand, but don’t worry. Slowly mix in the eggs. Then add the vanilla and the three chile powders. Gently fold in the flour and finally the nuts.

Gently fold in the flour — you’re not trying to beat it to death

Spread into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and check after 15 minutes, turning the pan if need be. The brownies are done, when they start to pull away from the pan slightly and a metal skewer inserted in the center of the pan is hot to the touch. Total cooking time should be about 20 minutes. Remove and place on a cooling rack. Slice and serve.

Ready to go into the oven.