Corn on the cob with basil butter, parmesan cheese and chipotle chile

Basil is growing like a weed in the palatial gardens of Los Chileros Manor. Our head gardener can barely keep up with it, but of course, the rest of the staff chip in to help. Needs must.

What? You don’t believe we have a head gardener let alone a staff of hundreds? Perhaps we exaggerate just a tad…But the point is that basil is going great guns, so water it, snip it, and get cooking. We like to look ahead to those basil-less days of Autumn and winter and make some pesto (freezes like a dream) and basil butter.

Basil butter couldn’t be simpler to make and it too freezes like a pro. It’s just the thing to pull out of the freezer on a cold winter’s day. Defrost, then spread on a crusty baguette and you’ll feel like you’re in the south of France, without the hassle of airport security.

But don’t freeze it all because summer isn’t gone yet. It’s perfect slathered on an ear of corn, then topped with some grated parmesan cheese and a healthy sprinkle of chipotle chile powder. Couldn’t be easier and everyone will think you’re a Michelin starred chef. Well, maybe not that crab apple of a neighbor but you’re never going to please her, are you?

 Corn on the cob with basil butter, parmesan cheese and chipotle chile

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks

heaping cup of basil leaves

salt

Corn

To garnish:

Parmesan cheese

Chipotle chile powder

In the small bowl of food processor, place the basil leaves and butter. Blitz until the basil is chopped and nicely mixed with the butter. Taste and add salt as needed. Place in a bowl and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Boil or microwave your corn. Microwaving is super easy – simply place an unshucked ear in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes. To serve, peel the corn, spread on some of the basil butter, sprinkle with the grated parmesan cheese and a healthy sprinkle of the chipotle chile powder.

Chile salmon with baby kale and chile lime sauce

At the Chile Trail, we’re not into fads or trends when it comes to clothes or cooking. And don’t even get us started on hairstyles…So go ahead and talk about super food this and super food that but all you’ll get from us is a big ole eye roll. And once you’ve finished singing the praises of Acai berries and spirulina and chia seeds (are they related to Chia pets?), we’ll ask you the only question that really matters: does it taste good?

Because, let’s face it, if it doesn’t taste good then why bother? Why be a martyr when it comes to what you eat? Why call some foods ‘good’ and some ‘bad’? So when folks started talking about how great kale is for you we let out a collected groan. Poor kale – as soon as it was saddled with super food status, it sounded about as appetizing as a piece of dry cardboard.

And that’s the problem, because kale is mighty tasty – especially those adorable baby leaves. So yes, it might be ‘good’ for us but we like it because it tastes nice, especially when you top it with a piece of salmon and some chile lime sauce. The sauce is made with COYO – that happy-go-lucky coconut yogurt alternative. Spike it with some lime and some ancho and chile molido and you’ve got something that will make you smile.

And isn’t that what food should make you do? Enough said.

Serves 2

2 salmon fillets, about 3/4lb total

Olive oil

½ tsp Ancho chile powder

Salt

2 handfuls of baby kale, arugula or baby spinach

2 flour tortillas

Pumpkin seeds (optional)

6oz COYO natural

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tsp Ancho chile powder

½ tsp Chile molido hot (or more to suit your taste)

Wrap the tortillas in foil and place in a low oven to warm.

Drizzle a bit of olive oil on the flesh side of both salmon fillets. Dust with the Ancho chile powder and a generous sprinkle of salt and gently rub in so evenly distributed. Heat a frying pan to medium and place the fillets flesh side down. Cook for several minutes then flip and cook until done. Take the fillets out of the pan, remove the skin and set aside.

While the salmon is cooking, make the chile lime sauce. Mix together the COYO, lime juice and zest and the chile powders. Taste and add more chile if you desire.

When ready to serve, place a handful of baby kale on top of a warm tortilla. Top with a piece of salmon and a dollop of the chile lime sauce. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds, if using.

 

 

Zucchini with chile negro, pine nuts & basil


It’s summer and let’s face it, Mother Nature is being a bit of a show off. She’s treating us like we’re minor royalty and dazzling us with all her best from raspberries so sweet they make you want to cry to tomatoes that taste – well, like tomatoes should taste. So we smile and say ‘yes please’ and ‘thank you so much’ and enjoy every last bite of it.

Of course we know it won’t last forever – it never does. We roll from one barbecue to the next putting a mental block on the words ‘autumn’ and ‘winter’. Right now it’s all factor 50, cold rosé, and nabbing the last beach chair before someone else does.

If we can be bothered to cook it has to be quick, simple and tasty. Luckily, just about everything is in season so it’s a bit of a no-brainer. If you’ve got your own vegetable garden – you-industrious-so-and-so – so much the better. Then you can saunter out and pick your own and be incredibly smug about it.

And while you’re at it, pick a zucchini while it’s still small and cute and before it looks like a club wielded by a grumpy giant. Make a quick chile sauce, toast some pine nuts – aka piñon or pignoli – tear some basil leaves and you are done. Because who wants to spend summer in the kitchen when all the fun is happening outdoors?

Serves 2-3 as a side dish

1 zucchini, about 8-9oz

2 Tbsp pine nuts

1 lemon, zest & juice

1 small clove of garlic or half of a larger clove

1 dried chile negro

pinch of cumin seeds

¼ tsp smoked paprika (sweet pimenton)

4 Tbsp olive oil

small handful of basil leaves

To make the chile sauce, place the dried chile in a bowl and cover with not quite boiling water. Allow to sit for around 15 minutes until soft and pliable. Remove the stem and seeds and chop roughly. Mix together the chile, lemon juice & zest, garlic, cumin seeds, smoked paprika and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Blitz in a blender, taste and add salt as needed.

Slice the zucchini into rings and set aside. Heat up a frying pan and toast the pine nuts until golden. Watch them like a hawk as they’ll burn before you’ve had a chance to check out your Instagram feed. Remove the toasted nuts and place in a bowl. Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and the sliced zucchini. Cook over medium high heat until nicely browned on both side. Add the toasted pine nuts, stir and remove from the heat.

Place the zucchini and pine nuts on a serving platter. Tear the basil into pieces and garnish the zucchini with it. Drizzle the chile sauce over and serve any remaining sauce in a bowl on the side.

Chile rubbed chicken thighs with double chile barbecue sauce

It’s here. It’s time. No excuses. Feel the burn. Yep, it’s barbecue season. The thought of lighting up the barbecue fills people with either 1) joy or 2) abject fear. Now don’t get me wrong – the joyful folk aren’t necessarily the best at the grill. They may like the stuff of a bbq – the smoke, the super-sized tongs, the apron which says something marginally inappropriate on it, the requisite adult beverage.

But these same souls may be the ones who get started telling a story only to find that their T-bone (which cost more than a mid-sized car) has turned to ash. The abject fear folk either shy away from barbecuing altogether (they tend to stay inside and microwave during the summer months) or they feel the fear and do it anyway.

Sometimes, these are the best at the barbecue. They approach it with reverence, with respect and with a healthy dose of fear. Because, let’s face it folks, you’re cooking with fire. Literally. If you feel a tad cautious then hats off to you. You’re cooking food over flames and if you think about it that’s got more than a hint of danger to it.

So for both you joyful and fearful folk we salute you. Get yourselves sorted before you light up and you’ll be one, two, maybe three steps ahead of the game. For this recipe, we marinated chicken thighs with Chipotle rub & mix but our Firecracker rub or Jamaican jerk mix would be ace too. For the barbecue sauce, we’ve used two dried chiles – a chipotle and a cascabel. As they say double the pleasure, double the fun. Enjoy!

Serves 2

Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp chipotle rub & mix

Barbecue sauce

½ red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 dried Chile Cascabel

1 dried Chile Chipotle

Juice of 1 lime

1-2 Tbsp cider vinegar

8oz ketchup

Brown sugar (optional)

If using wooden skewers, place in a bowl and cover with water so they won’t burn on the barbecue.

Cut the chicken thighs into cubes. Mix together the lime juice, oil and Chipotle rub & mix in a bowl. Add the cubed chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate for several hours.

To make the barbecue sauce, place the two chillies in a bowl and cover with hot but not boiling water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so until they are rehydrated and soft. While they’re rehydrating, heat up the vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion, cover and cook over medium-low heat until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Take the chillies out of the water, deseed them and remove the stem. Place the chillies in the saucepan with the onion and garlic, add the ketchup, lime juice and one tablespoon of the cider vinegar. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Taste and add more vinegar if it needs more sharpness. You can add a pinch of brown sugar as well if the ketchup isn’t very sweet.

Remove from the heat and either remove the chillies or if you like more heat, puree the whole mixture.

Skewer the chicken, and place them on a hot grill. Spoon some of the barbecue sauce into a separate bowl. Turn the chicken and brush with the barbecue sauce. Wait for a few minutes then turn again and brush the other side. Remove from the grill when cooked through and a nice golden brown and serve with the rest of the barbecue sauce on the side.

Vegetarian posole stew

We’d like to be the first to say Feliz Cinco de Mayo. It’s always a red-letter day here at Chile Trail HQ but even more so this year because – drumroll please – it falls on a Saturday. Can you believe it? No, we can’t either. Let’s just say that it’s Cinco & Seis de Mayo. Heck, let’s throw in Friday too and call it Cuatro, Cinco, Seis de Mayo. Ok, maybe a bit too long but you get the point.

So you know what’s on our minds. Yep, food. Everyone has a favourite but we’ve got a couple of thoughts (naturally).

Number one: make sure there’s a lot of it. There is nothing worse that running out of food and drink. People, your guests are hungry. They’re thirsty. Stock up.

Number two: variety. You’ve got your mole, you’ve got your guacamole, you’ve got your tres leche cake. This is a time to test the architectural endurance of your dining room table. We’re talking heaving folks.

Number three: delegate. You didn’t actually think we expected you to cook all that food, did you? Of course not. When someone asks what they can bring, tell ‘em. And when you ask us – and we know you will, right? – we’ll be bringing a pot of posole.

Now you know posole, but this one is vegetarian and vegan, all in one lip smacking tasty bowl of happiness. It’s so good that even the most committed carnivores will be pushing over old ladies to get a bowlful. But please don’t. There’s plenty to go around.

Vegetarian posole stew

1-12oz package of white corn posole

1-1oz package of posole spice blend

3 small zucchini, about 10-12 oz, sliced into discs (diced if larger)

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 small clove garlic, minced

1-14oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

Garnish (optional)

Chopped green onions

Chopped cilantro

Lime wedges

Sliced avocado

Place the posole in a non-reactive bowl or pan and cover with water and let soak overnight. Drain and rinse well. Put the posole in a large pot, cover with water and simmer for one hour.

Drain and add the posole mix and enough fresh water to cover. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for about 3 hours or until the posole has ‘popped’ and is tender. Check the water levels periodically and top up as needed.

Just before serving, warm the oil and sauté the zucchini over medium-high heat, just until tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the drained and rinsed black beans and the zucchini into the posole. Taste and season with salt and more chile if you desire.

Serve in bowls with your choice of garnishes.

Pink grapefruit, avocado & feta salad with a chile vinaigrette

Do remind me what you give for a first anniversary? Ah yes, of course paper – the ultimate romantic gift. To keep it practical, why not give a roll of paper towels or an old newspaper? The ‘modern’ option is a clock. Wow. Nothing says ‘I love you’ like a clock.

Why all this chat about first anniversary gifts? Because reader, next month is the anniversary of the announcement of Mike Smith’s ‘discovery’. Yes, Mike Smith from Denbighshire in England. You remember Mike, don’t you?

You don’t? Oh dear…Well let me refresh your memory. Mike from Denbighshire created the hottest chile ever recorded. It’s all coming back to you now, isn’t it?

Mike wasn’t out to create something super hot – he was after a pretty plant for his Chelsea Flower Show display. But his ‘Dragon’s Breath’ chile scores 2.48 million on the Scoville heat index – beating the Carolina Reaper, that clocks in at a cool – pardon the pun – 2.2 million.

Scientist figure that Dragon’s Breath is so hot that if you ate one you could go into anaphylactic shock. I’m going to trust them on this one. Here’s the thing – more heat isn’t always better. At the Chile Trail we’re all about heat but we’re also all about the food. If it’s too hot and you can’t taste anything then what’s the point?

Take this cute as a bug salad we whipped up. It’s got mild chile molido in the dressing and a sprinkle of chile pequin on top. Is it hot? Yes. Can you make it hotter? Darn straight you can – just add some more or use our hot chile molido instead. But it’s not so hot that you lose the flavor of the pink grapefruit, avocado and feta cheese. So congrats Mike from Denbighshire. We’ll be sending over a congratulatory paper plate to celebrate.

But the Dragon’s Breath chile? We’ll pass, but thanks anyway.

Serves 3-4 as a side salad

4 large handfuls of lettuce, washed

1 pink grapefruit

3 oz feta cheese, crumbled

½ avocado, sliced thinly

3 Tbsp lime juice

½ tsp mild chile molido

4+ Tbsp vegetable oil

chile pequin, to garnish

To segment the grapefruit, take a thin slice off the top and bottom, so the grapefruit can sit on a chopping board. Take a sharp knife and slice off the skin and white pith by cutting along the curve of the grapefruit. Next, make v-shaped cuts to release the grapefruit segments. When you’re cutting the segments out, hold over a bowl so you can capture any juice.

To make the dressing, mix the lime juice, chile molido and vegetable oil together, along with any grapefruit juice. Taste, add salt and a bit more oil if the dressing is too sour.

Arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter. Top with the grapefruit segments, feta cheese and avocado. Garnish generously with the chile pequin and drizzle the dressing over the salad. Serve any extra vinaigrette on the side.

 

 

 

 

Chile lime drizzle cake

There are may things we fear in life at Chile HQ: running out of box sets on a long weekend; unexpected visits from the in-laws; and any mail addressed from the IRS. But one thing we don’t fear is scurvy – that disease that was the plight of pirates and sailors in days of yore (I’ve always wanted to say ‘days of yore’ and now I have). Swollen gums, loose teeth, bulging eyes – hardly going to win any beauty contests.

Of course we now know what they didn’t. Scurvy is caused by a lack of Vitamin C, that cheery guy found in citrus fruit. It’s the reason we tend to drink a lot of margaritas early in the morning. Of course we tend to drink them early in the afternoon and evening as well, but that’s another story.

This time of year, we all hanker for an extra blast of the ole Vitmain C, don’t we? It’s cold, dark and even if our teeth aren’t falling out it feels like everything else is falling apart.

Of course, drinking on an empty stomach is a no-no, so we whipped up this Chile lime drizzle cake. It’s just the ticket to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. It uses both New Mexico green chile powder as well as green chile Caribe for that one-two chile punch that we know you love. It won’t bring world peace but it’s pretty darn close, and that’s as much as you can ask for, right?

Chile lime drizzle cake

7oz sugar

3 ½oz vegetable oil

zest of two limes

2oz lime juice

1-1 ½ Tbsp New Mexico green chile powder

6oz COYO Natural, milk yogurt alternative

2 large eggs, beaten

1 ½ tsp salt

1 Tbsp baking powder

10 ½oz all purpose flour

Drizzle glaze

2oz lime juice

2oz sugar

New Mexico green chile caribe

Preheat oven to 175°

One 2lb loaf pan (9 x 5 inches) or 3 mini loaf pans (6 x 3 ½)

For the cake, mix together the sugar, oil, lime zest, lime juice and green chile powder in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the COYO and the eggs. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the salt, baking powder, and all purpose flour. Pour half the sugar & oil mixture into the dry ingredients, and fold in gently. Repeat with half the COYO & egg mixture. Then finish off by folding in the rest of the sugar & oil mixture and lastly the Coyo and egg.

Grease the loaf tin(s) with butter and dust with flour.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin(s) and bake in the oven until a skewer inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. Approximately 50 minutes for a large tin and 30 minutes for the mini tins.

Remove the pan(s) and place on a cooling rack and let sit for five minutes. Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the lime juice and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the sugar is melted and the glaze warm. Alternatively, you can heat the sugar and juice in a bowl in the microwave for about 50 seconds.

Remove the cake(s) from the pan(s). Take a wooden or metal skewer and make holes in the cake(s). Drizzle the glaze and sprinkle with some chile caribe. Top slices with a dollop of COYO if you desire.