Chipotle roasted pumpkin with borlotti beans, green onions and avocado

Go ahead. Say it. I know you’re thinking it, so might as well. You think I’m a curmudgeon. A party pooper. A kill joy. See that wasn’t so difficult was it? And all because of one simple thing: I’ve had it up to here with Halloween.

I can hear the collective gasps. The shaking of heads. The pursing of lips and knowing glances. But if I’m the Ebenezer Scrooge of Halloween, then so be it. Halloween? No thanks.

What’s my problem? It’s simple. Halloween has gone way overboard and OTT. It used to be kids dressed up in homemade costumes. Bobbing for apples. Ghost stories and pillow cases to hold candy. It was simple, sweet and fun.

But today? Today it’s a competitive sport. Costumes are more tricked out than outfits on the Paris runway. No more pillow cases (heaven forbid) – now we’re talking about the equivalent of a Gucci handbag to hold candy. And don’t get me started on the lights, the gigantic tombstones and spiders that decorate front yards. It makes the Macy’s Day parade look like a small town country fair.

I could almost stomach it until the time a kid stuck his hand in the bowl of candy and grabbed a whopping handful and wouldn’t let go. His parents smiled proudly. So this year, I’m closing the curtains, turning off the lights and hunkering down until it’s all over.

The only pumpkin at my place will be this chipotle roasted pumpkin with borlotti beans. I’ll serve it with a sassy glass of red (or two) and wait until the kids are gone, Halloween is over and it’s safe to go outside. Halloween? Bah humbug.

Chipotle roasted pumpkin with borlotti beans, green onions & avocado

Serves 4

Don’t use the pumpkin you’d use for carving. Instead, look for a small pumpkin like the ‘Uchiki Kuri’, also known as the Winter, Onion, Hokkaido or Potimarron squash. It has a gorgeous yellowy-orange flesh with a lovely sweetness. If you can’t find that, then try a silvery-blue-skinned ‘Crown Prince’ or even a butternut squash.

Preheat oven to 425°

1 small pumpkin, about 1 ½ lbs

½ – 1 tsp Chipotle rub & mix

½ tsp Chimayo blend chile powder

2 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil

10 oz borlotti or other beans, cooked

½ avocado, peeled and diced

Small bunch of cilantro, chopped

2 green onions, chopped

Chile pequin

Salt

Slice the pumpkin into wedges – you don’t need to peel it. Toss with the oil and Chipotle rub & mix, the Chimayo red chile powder and a generous sprinkle of salt. Roast in the hot oven until you can insert a knife easily into the flesh of the pumpkin. If it’s getting a bit too brown, turn the heat down to 350°.

Arrange the pumpkin and beans on a platter. Garnish with the avocado, cilantro or parsley and the green onions and a generous sprinkle of Chile pequin.

Green chile & lime crab with avocado & mango salad


Folks think that at the Chile Trail we’re all about the heat and the hotter the better. Sure, we like things spicy but I’m here to tell you that there is a kinder, gentler side to us too.

Because the truth is, chile doesn’t have to hit you like an 18-wheeler to be good. It doesn’t have to rip your taste buds out and dip them into a hot lava flow. It doesn’t – well, you get the idea, right? Au contraire, mon ami (that’s French btw, and roughly translates “on the contrary sweet lips”).

Chile can be subtle. Chile can be smooth. Chile can be a tease. And frankly, not every dish is up to a Scoville busting, mouth incinerating blast of heat. Take this dish of crab, avocado and mango. It has a hint of heat thanks to some mighty fine Green Chile Powder. A nice hit of lime and a bit of mayo and you’ve something that sings. A sassy little salad on the side of mango and avocado and you’ll hitting all the high notes.

Yes, it’s got chile. Yes, it’s got some heat. But it’s also got class written all over it. And at the Chile Trail we ain’t nothing if we ain’t classy.

Green chile & lime crab with avocado & mango salad

Limes vary tremendously with the amount of juice they give you so you’ll need to do a bit of tasting and testing but we figure around 1- 1 ½ should do you. And don’t scrimp on the mayo – use a nice quality one, it’s worth it.

Serves 3-4

1 lb white crab meat

zest of 1 lime

juice of 1- 1 ½ limes

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 tsp Green Chile Powder, or more to taste

1 avocado, chopped

1 mango, chopped

Salt

Lettuce leaves

Green Chile Caribe to garnish

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the mayonnaise, Green Chile Powder and half of the lime juice and half of the lime zest together. Add the crab meat and mix gently. Taste, season with salt and add more Green Chile Powder if desired. Place in the fridge covered until ready to serve.

Mix the chopped avocado and mango in a separate bowl, add the remaining lime juice and a generous sprinkle of sea salt.

Place some lettuce leaves on each plate. Divide the crab evenly between the plates along with some of the avocado and mango salad. Garnish with the remaining lime zest and a sprinkle of Green Chile Caribe.

 

 

 

Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew


Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew

Think comfort food and you think winter. I think comfort food and I think, “Congratulations on making it through another day.” I pull the car into the garage, kiss the driveway (unless it’s summer when it’s so hot my lips would stick to the asphalt) and thank heaven I’m home. I can barely get in the door fast enough, close the curtains and breath a heavy sigh of relief.

Because, let’s face it, between work stress, traffic stress, and emails that ping into your inbox faster than you can delete them, we’re frazzled. We tired, pooped, caput, finito, my friend. What we need is a bit of comfort…that and a winning lottery ticket.

So I like to have a pot of pork, black eyed peas and sweet potato stew ready to heat up. It tastes great the first day and ridiculously good the next. Any leftovers you can pop in the freezer for a rainy day. Of course, I’ve never had leftovers but it’s a thought. And as with all things in life, a dash/jot/avalanche of chile makes it all so much better.

It won’t do your taxes. It won’t deal with that obnoxious know-it-all at work. And no, it won’t walk the dog. But it will handle just about everything else. Honest.

Pork, black eyed peas & sweet potato stew.

Make this in a slow cooker or a real low oven, around 250°.

Serves 4

1 medium red onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. oil

1 lb. diced pork

2 Tbsp. Carne Adovada mix (or more to taste)

½ cups stock or water

1 can black eyed peas or other bean

2 small sweet potatoes (about 10oz total weight), peeled and diced

To garnish:

Lime wedges

Avocado slices

Cilantro

Heat a heavy oven proof casserole dish on the stove over medium heat. Sauté the onion in the oil until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Remove the onion and garlic to a bowl. Sauté the pork in batches, browning on each side. Add more oil if needed.

Return the onions & garlic back to the pan and add the Carne Adovada. Stir to coat. Add the stock or water until the pork is almost covered. Place in the oven (or you can use a slow cooker) and cook until the meat is tender – 2-3 hours. When the meat is almost done, add the black eyed peas and sweet potatoes and cook for another 15-20 minutes until the sweet potatoes are cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a bit more Carne Adovada  if desired. Serve with lime wedges, cilantro and slices of avocado.