All that jazz chile cornbread

You’ve got to love a minimalist – that individual who honestly thinks that less is more. They love paring down their possessions to one set of underwear, some black pants and a white t-shirt. They talk about ‘freedom’ from possessions and how liberating it all is.

Yawn. 

And then there are the rest of us who feel that more is well, more. We like a Christmas tree that’s heaving with decorations. Stacks of books that double as side tables. Kitchen drawers crammed full of obscure but potentially useful gadgets. And disco balls. We really love disco balls. 

And when it comes to cooking we’re not shy of an ingredient or ten. Take our green chile blue cornbread mix. It is the bee’s knees on its own. It’s so good that all you need to add is water or milk and some eggs and you’re done. But, if you’re in a OTT mood, it’s just the ticket too. We like to add corn, semi-dried tomatoes, and crumbled goat’s cheese. You could toss in some chopped green onions, toasted pecans or pine nuts, and chopped cilantro too. 

The minimalist might roll their eyes but who cares. Go big or go home. 

1 x 9.84 oz package of Green chile blue cornbread mix

2 eggs, lightly beaten

¾ cup of buttermilk or milk

6 oz. corn kernels, about 1 cup

1 oz., scant ½ cup semi-dried tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 oz. soft goat’s cheese, crumbled

Butter

Preheat the oven to 425°F

Heat a 9.5” cast iron frying pan in the preheated oven for 5 or 10 minutes. While it’s heating, combine the cornbread mix with the eggs, corn, semi-dried tomatoes and cheese in a mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes or so to let the flavors marry.

Add a tablespoon or two of butter to the hot pan, return to the oven to melt the butter – this will only take a minute or two. Remove the pan from the oven, pour in the cornbread mixture – the butter will spit and sputter (this is a good thing). Return to the oven and bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean – about 15-25 minutes. 

Serve warm with butter. Any leftovers make a dandy stuffing. 

Charred Chile-Nut Brussels Sprouts

Spare a thought for Linus Urbanec, who holds the coveted title of most Brussels sprouts eaten in one minute. How many, you ask? Thirty-one sprouts. And before you say, ‘I could do that’, don’t. Just don’t. Urbanec had to spear each sprout with a toothpick, eat and swallow before moving swiftly on to the next. Can you imagine the internal reverb after eating over 30 sprouts in a minute? Ouch. On second thought, forget Urbanec – spare a kind thought for his friends and family.

(Word has it that a truck driver named Wayne Sherlock, topped this record in 2019, by two more sprouts for a total of 33. That might seem like a narrow victory but in life, every sprout counts.) 

Why our collective obsession with eating contest of any sort, where we watch and wonder if the contestant will swallow or spew? And why Brussels sprouts in particular? It’s pretty simple: when it comes sprouts, we hate them, so it’s fun to see someone suffer. Brussels sprouts are reviled, loathed, shunned, demonized and detested. And that’s just by folks who tolerate them once a year at Thanksgiving.

But it’s not fair. It’s criminal. Brussels sprouts are low in calories, a source of protein, and contain loads of Vitamin K and C plus Vitamin A, folate and manganese.  We’re talking super food here folks. And if they sometimes taste like boiled tennis shoes dressed with a jot of eau-de-sulphur, it’s hardly their fault. Far too often they’re overcooked into slimy submission. 

Toasting the seeds, nuts and chile brings out the flavor!

But give them a quick blanch in boiling water, then roast them and you’re golden. Top with some nuts, seeds and chile and you’re in love. And suddenly, you find yourself googling ‘Brussels sprout eating competition’. I mean, how difficult can it be to each 34 sprouts in a minute? Hold on, don’t answer that.

Blanch the Brussels sprouts for a few minutes then finish them off in a hot oven.

Serves 4 or 1 if you happen to be Linus Urbanec or Wayne Sherlock

1 lb. Brussels sprouts

2 Tbsp. olive oil

¼ cup pumpkin seeds

¼ cup hazelnuts

New Mexico Red chile pod

½ tsp ground turmeric

Zest of half a lime

Salt

To garnish (optional)

Cilantro leaves

Sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 425°F

Place the pumpkin seeds and hazelnuts in a small frying pan. Break up the dried chile, discard the stem and add to the seeds and nuts. Place over medium heat and toast the mixture for a few minutes. Remove from the heat, allow to cool. When cool, place in a blender with the turmeric and half a teaspoon of salt and the lime zest. Blitz until the mixture is the consistency of rough breadcrumbs.  

Trim the Brussels sprouts and slice them in half. Blanch them in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Pat them dry with a paper towel, place in a roasting pan, coat with the olive oil and season generously with salt. Place in the pre-heated oven and roast for around 15-20 minutes or until nicely charred on all sides.

Place the charred Brussels sprouts in a serving dish, generously top with some of the chile-nut mixture and top with an extra drizzle of olive oil, if you like. Add the cilantro leaves and sesame seeds, if using, and serve warm. 

Slow roasted garlic & chile cherry tomatoes

There are people who don’t like garlic. Of course, many of them are vampires, sleeping during the day and on a strictly no-garlic diet. If you’re a vampire or simply not a fan, then look away now. Go do a load of laundry, the crossword puzzle or call you mother – you know she worries about you.

But if you like garlic – nay, love it – then this is for you. There are lots of good reasons to eat garlic or Allium sativum, for you Latin lovers. It’s been used as a medicine for centuries and fans say it’s good for everything from a healthy heart to warding off the common cold (I bet vampires get a lot of those).

But let’s be honest, the main reason is that it makes food taste great. I dare you to walk into a home (preferably of someone you know), smell the aroma of garlic gently sautéing in olive oil and not salivate like crazy. 

For today’s ditty, we slow cooked garlic with cherry tomatoes, olive oil and chile (naturally). The garlic softens and the tomatoes become jammy and outrageously delicious. And what to do with it? Top a slice of sourdough toast. Toss with some pasta or serve with creamy, fresh mozzarella.

Serve to friends and loved ones and that slightly suspect guy from the office. It’s a sure fire way to find out if you’ve got a vampire on your hands. 

1 lb. cherry tomatoes, halved

6 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

½ tsp Chimayo blend chile powder

½ tsp Chile Molido powder hot

1 tsp salt

2 Tbsp. olive oil 

Preheat oven to 250º F

Place the tomatoes and garlic halves in a large baking pan. Sprinkle with the chile powders and salt and drizzle over the olive oil. Gently toss to coat. Turn the tomatoes so they’re cut side up. 

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 2 hours then take out and flip the garlic cloves (you can leave the tomatoes as they are). Cook for another hour or two until the tomatoes have lost much of their liquid and the garlic is tender. Serve warm or place in a clean glass jar and cover with oil until ready to use. 

Honey & Chile Chicken Skewers

Summer is racing by at a gallop, as if chased by a slightly/very aggressive Autumn, eager to take its place. But let’s put the brakes on, folks. Let’s wring every last drop out of summer because when it’s gone, it’s gone. Well, at least for another year. Before you know it, you’ll be sitting around the fire, knitting long underwear and searching the web for yet another root vegetable recipe.

Summer is like being a teenager. It’s silly and fun and I bet you dollars to donuts you’ll get your heart broken. But who cares? You’ll love every minute of it. Sure summer is hot. Sure it’s hazy. Sure it’s humid. So deal with it. Embrace it.

Spend every minute you can outdoors. Crank up the BBQ, open up that cheeky rosé you’ve been saving for a rainy day and breath deep. Because Summer won’t last forever. (Cue: Beach Boys song.) And if worse comes to worse, remind yourself that Christmas is only a few months away.

Sorry, scratch that.

Serves 2-3

1 lb. boneless-skinless chicken thighs

2 Tbsp. runny honey

2 Tbsp. sherry vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. tomato puree

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

1 tsp. Chimayo blend chile powder

½ tsp. New Mexico green chile powder

½ tsp. salt

Note: if you’re using bamboo or wooden skewers don’t forget to soak them in water for a half an hour or so before grilling. You’ll thank me, I promise.

Cut each thigh into about 4 chunks. Place the chicken in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients. Pour over the chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate for several hours.

Heat up your barbecue to medium high. Place the chicken chunks on the skewers and cook on one side until you get some nice grill marks – a few minutes – then turn and cook the other side.

That’s it. You’re done. Eat up. And don’t forget to do the dishes.

 

Peach salad with goat’s cheese, pecans and chile pequin

Anyone need a stove? Please, take mine and put me out of my misery. Even looking at it makes me break out in a sweat. These days, you’ll find me standing in front of an open freezer, eating ice cream out of the container. Classy, right?

We’re well and truly in the dog days of summer. It’s hot and steamy – the kind of days when it takes all the energy you can muster just to pop another ice cube into your gin & tonic. The idea of actually cooking something is absurd, laughable and down right sadistic.

And even if you could stomach a pot of boiling water, who wants a plate of hot pasta? Or how about a nice hot stew? No. Way.

Nope, what we want is something cool with no muss and no fuss. A slice of watermelon with a pinch of chile de arbol and flakes of sea salt. Gazpacho with a sneaky dash of habanero to jazz it up. Or how about slices of peach – sliced razor thin and perfectly ripe – with some crumbled goat’s cheese, pecans and an acidy vinaigrette and a generous sprinkle of chile pequin?

So please – take my stove. Just remember to return it in the Fall.

Serves 2-3

2 peaches, halved & sliced thinly

1-2 oz. goat’s cheese, crumbled

1 ½ Tbsp. chopped pecans

Chile pequin

Vinaigrette

2 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt

Pick a plate. A pretty plate. Arrange the peach slices with an artistic flourish. Remember, your eyes eat before your mouth does. Whisk together the vinegar and oil, taste and season with salt. Drizzle some over the peaches. Dot the goat’s cheese and pecans on top then wet them with a bit more vinaigrette. Sprinkle the chile pequin and serve, preferably in a cool place with a generous glass of rosé wine.

Chile Monkfish Skewers

Hope you’re ready to stoke up the barbecue because it’s only a box of sparklers away from the Fourth of July. And we all know a barbecue is a legal requirement on the 4th. Okay, maybe not a law that’s actually written down or something mentioned in the Constitution but it might as well be. So let’s get your shopping list sorted: warm beer, burned burgers and some dodgy potato salad with sun-kissed (aka food-poisoned) mayo. Top it off with ice cream that some numb-nut forgot to put in the freezer and you’re sorted.

Gonna be fun, right?

Or you could try – just try – and be classy for once in your life. Skip the beef and barbecue fish instead. Radical? Mad? Totally bonkers? Hear me out: monkfish is a dream to grill – full of flavour and firm enough to hold its own. Or you could use swordfish or splash out on tuna. Not feeling fishy? Go for chicken thighs. Put some rosé on ice to chill, crank the tunes and dazzle your guests.

Better yet, don’t invite any guests. Channel your inner curmudgeon. Just because you’ve got to barbecue doesn’t mean you have to share.

Serves 2-3

1 monkfish tail, skinned & boned, about 1 lb.

small knob of ginger, about ½ oz., peeled and finely grated

1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp chile molido powder hot

½ tsp Chimayo blend New Mexico chile

½ tsp salt

2 Tbsp. olive oil

zest and juice of 1 lime

To garnish (optional):

Chopped dill and/or cilantro

Lime wedges

Chile pequin

Mix the ginger, garlic, spices and salt together in a bowl, large enough to hold the fish. Add the olive oil, lime juice and zest and give it a good stir. Slice the monkfish into hefty chunks – about 1½” cubes, add to the marinade and place in the refrigerator for about an hour – no longer or the acid from the lime starts to ‘cook’ the fish.

Insert the chunks onto several skewers – if using wooden ones, make sure and soak them in water before hand. Grill over a medium hot fire, turning occasionally until all the sides are nicely charred. In total, about 8 minutes.

Serve with your choice of garnishes – you decide! Eat, enjoy and revel in summer.

Mango, habanero & lime ice pops

Summer doesn’t start for a good couple of weeks but it seems like nobody bothered to tell Mother Nature. Everything is growing like a weed, including – sadly – the weeds. Some old soul once said that a weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place. Thanks. Please do remind me of that next time I’m on my hands and knees, yanking out another ‘flower’.

And then there are the sounds of summer. The birds tweeting, the leaves rustling in the breeze, and your neighbor swearing (loudly) as he tries to start the riding lawnmower. Of course, there are always the folks across the street who decided to tear up their lawn and replace it with a paved patio, astro turf and giant plastic kids’ pool. Smile and wave. To each his own.

And you? You eye that spot in the shade and dream of something cold to eat and a restorative nap, camouflaged as ‘reading’. A chile-spiked ice pop is just what the doctor ordered. Eat it quickly before it melts and ignore the weed – I mean flower – growing next to you.

Makes 12 x 1.25oz ice pops

1 large mango, just under 1lb., peeled and pit removed

2 oz / ¼ cup granulated sugar

1/8 tsp habañero powder, or more to taste

zest & juice of 1 lime

juice of 1 orange

 

To garnish:

Chile pequin

Shredded coconut

Chopped pistachios

Make sure you cut away all of the flesh surrounding the mango pit and capture any juices too. Coarsely chop the flesh and place it and any juices in a saucepan with the sugar and 6 ounces / ¾ cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 6-8 minutes – until the mango is soft but not mushy. Add the habanero powder and blitz in a blender until smooth.

Place the mixture in the fridge and when it’s cool, add the lime zest and two juices. Give it a stir, taste, and add a dash more chile powder if you desire.

Sprinkle your preferred garnishes in the bottom of each mould, top with the chilled mixture and then finish with more garnishes – or leave ‘naked’ if you like. Insert the sticks and carefully place in the freezer. Freeze for at least 4 hours until frozen solid. Pop out of the moulds and eat.

Stay at Home Cinco de Mayo with 30% off at Los Chileros

Yes, you read that right. 30% off everything at Los Chileros. Are we mad? Of course we are (but you knew that already). Now before you get all giggly and giddy and run around the back yard in your birthday suit, it’s for three days and three days only. I mean, we’re crazy but not that crazy. You’ve got from today through Sunday (April 26th) to get your skates on start clicking that mouse with wild abandon.

So go to the Los Chileros website and start shopping. Enter the promo code SAFE to get your discount. It’s that easy.

If you need inspiration, we’re sharing our recipe for Citrus lamb with achiote and habanero. Yes, a discount and a recipe. So don’t be looking for a Christmas card from us this year, okay? Achiote is a real find (note to self: add to your Los Chileros shopping basket). It’s got an earthiness about it and lends a show stopping red hue to your food. For this baby, we’ve blended it with orange juice and some habanero. Well hello sunshine!

So what are you waiting for? Get shopping. Get cooking and remember…Keep calm and eat chile.

Citrus lamb with achiote and habanero

Serves 4

1.5 lb. cubed lamb shoulder

¼ package (.875oz/25g) achiote paste

8 oz orange juice (we used blood orange juice because we’re fancy)

½ tsp habanero chile

½ tsp salt

1Tbsp vegetable oil

To garnish, your choice of:

Tortillas

Cilantro

Diced white onion

Chopped tomatoes

Avocado

Extra habanero chile

Lime wedges

Sliced radish

Crumble the achiote paste in a bowl that is large enough to hold the lamb. Add the orange juice and whisk until the paste is blended into the liquid. Add the habanero chile powder and salt and then the lamb. Stir to coat. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, giving it a stir every now and then.

Remove the lamb from the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 250°F.

Heat a skillet to medium high heat. Add the oil to the skillet and brown the lamb in batches. Put the browned lamb in an ovenproof casserole, add the marinade to the skillet and cook for a minute until reduced slightly. Pour the marinade over the lamb, cover and place in the oven. Cook for several hours until the meat is tender but still holds its shape. Serve as is, or increase the oven temperature and crisp the meat. Serve on tortillas with your choice of toppings.

Eat until you’re too full to move.

 

 

Spice rubbed pork shoulder with posole

Ennui. No, it’s not a type of sausage or that tingling pain you get in your legs if you sit for too long. It’s a feeling of listlessness, lethargy and lassitude. A cloud of dissatisfaction that hangs over life. It’s marked by a tendency to gaze out the window and sigh for no reason at all.

Sure, winter doesn’t help. Winter doesn’t help anything unless you’re a hibernating bear or sell ski equipment. We’re fed up, longing for the lazy-crazy-hazy days of summer when we spent our days barbecuing meat, veg, the dog’s chew toy and our boots (the last two, just because we could).

That was life. This is like being forced to watch an Ingmar Bergman movie on repeat.

The solution? There isn’t one. There’s not a pill you can take or mantra you can chant. It just is. The good news? One day it will be gone. Poof! And suddenly you’ll make a tentative foray out of your reclining chair with the chip and dip tray and actually take the garbage out. Respect!

Rub the pork with the spice mix the day before cooking.

But in the meantime, cook large pots of comfort food to see you through your existential crisis. It won’t cure anything but it might – just might – lift your spirits a bit.

Serves 4-6

3 ½ lb boneless pork shoulder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cumin

2 tsp sugar

¼ tsp Ancho chile powder

½ tsp Chipotle powder

½ tsp Chimayo blend chile powder

1-12 oz package of White corn posole

2 Chile pods such as Ancho and New Mexico red

1 large garlic clove

Garnishes: chopped avocado, sliced radishes, cilantro, chopped green onions

Mix together the spices, salt, sugar and chile powders and rub on all sides of the pork shoulder. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap or place in a container with a lid. Pop in the refrigerator and let it do its thing overnight. Next, place the posole in a non-reactive bowl, cover with water and soak overnight.

The next day, pre-heat the oven to 425ºF. Take the pork out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Remove the plastic wrap (if using) and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Place in an ovenproof casserole dish and put in the pre-heated oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Reduce the temperature to 225ºF, cover with a lid and continue to cook for another 4-5 hours or until the meat is tender and flakes away easily.

Spear the garlic with a toothpick so you can find it easily in the cooked posole.

While the pork is cooking, make the posole. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the posole, then simmer for around 2-3 hours. After an hour or so, add the 2 chile pods and the peeled garlic clove. Stick a toothpick through the garlic clove to make it easy to retrieve once cooking is done.

Shred the cooked meat, discarding most of the fat (come on – it’s the best part). Mix with the pan cooking juices and return the oven to high heat and cook for another 10 minutes or so, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain the posole. Serve a generous ladleful of posole with some of the pulled pork and your choice of garnishes.

 

Lime habanero drizzle cake

Made a resolution this year? Of course you did. Let me guess…you’re going to the gym more often (that means more than once, right?). Or you’re going on a diet to lose weight. Perhaps, you’re doing ‘dry January’.

Well done. How’s it going so far? Because today is the day it’s predicted that most people will give up, concede defeat and grab a dozen donuts and chow down like there’s no tomorrow. Today’s the day you won’t go to the gym (again) and instead mix yourself a martini the size of Manhattan.

If that’s you – and perhaps it’s not. Perhaps you’re busy polishing your halo and looking smug. But if you did ditch your New Year’s resolution then cut yourself some slack. You’re in good company. Instead, put on some music. Pour yourself a glass of wine. Cancel the gym membership and bake yourself a cake.

Use lots of limes so it’s tart and juicy and makes you feel that the cake is really a carrier for much needed Vitamin C (it is cold and flu season BTW). Make a glaze with enough habanero chile to warm the cockles of your heart. And don’t worry about your resolution. Remember, there’s always next year.

1 cup sugar

½ cup vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. lime zest

¼ cup lime juice

¾ cup buttermilk

2 eggs, beaten

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp. baking powder

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

 

Glaze

¼ cup lime juice

½ cup sugar

¼ tsp chile habañero powder

1 Tbsp. lime zest

Note: you’ll need about 3-4 limes in total, depending on how juicy they are.

9×5” loaf pan, greased and floured

Preheat oven to 350°F

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, oil, lime zest and juice, then the buttermilk and eggs. Sift together the salt, baking powder, and flour and fold the dry ingredients into the wet, in three batches.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before turning the loaf out.

To make the glaze, put the lime juice, sugar, habanero powder and lime zest into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Heat for a few minutes. Use a skewer to poke holes in the loaf, almost all the way to the bottom. Brush or pour the hot syrup over the cake, allowing it to seep in.

Slice, serve and smile.