Chile-miso eggplant ‘steaks’ with orange-COYO drizzle

Thanksgiving used to be so easy. You’d cook like a mad thing, burn a few dishes, fall asleep during a bowl game and wake up at two in the morning with a glass of merlot clutched in your hand and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome blaring on the television. Ah, those were the good old days.

Now it’s a whole lot more complicated. You’ve got someone coming who is lactose intolerant. Somebody else who can’t eat gluten and another who is vegan. Suddenly trad turkey and trimmings just doesn’t cut it.

But fear not. Make a showstopper ‘free from’ dish – no meat, no dairy, no gluten and you’re sorted. Forget some sorry, last minute pasta with tomato sauce – that’s not “Thanks” giving it’s “I-couldn’t-be-bothered” giving. Meat eaters can tuck into turkey while your plant-based buddies smile smugly. It’s a win-win.

And when it’s all over, you can take your glass of wine, find a comfy spot on the sofa, and have a well deserved snooze. Just don’t forget to wake up before the credits roll.

Serves 2-3

2 medium eggplants, about 1.5 lbs total

Olive oil – about ¼ cup

2 Tbsp. yellow miso

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. mirin

½ tsp chile molido powder (mild)

1-5.3oz tub of COYO coconut yogurt alternative natural flavor

1 Orange

Handful of cilantro, about 5 oz., chopped

Chile pequin flakes

Preheat oven to 425ºF

Slice the eggplants lengthwise into ½-¾” slices. Place on a non-stick baking pan (you may need to use two pans). Lightly score each side of the slices with a knife in a diamond pattern. Brush liberally with olive oil on both sides, sprinkle with salt and place in the oven for around 15 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through.

While the eggplant is cooking, whisk together the miso, rice wine vinegar, mirin and chile molido powder. When the eggplant is golden brown, brush on the miso glaze and cook for another 5 minutes. Then flip the slices over and baste the miso glaze on the other side. Cook for another five minutes – the eggplant should be browned and thoroughly cooked through.

Remove from the oven. Whisk together the COYO with 2 teaspoons of orange zest and 2-3 tablespoons of orange juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable.
Place the eggplant slices on a platter, drizzle with the orange-COYO sauce, scatter the cilantro on top and finish with a sprinkle of chile pequin flakes.

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.

 

Spice rubbed pork stew with orange, beans & onions

It ain’t over folks. So don’t break out your linen pants or sundresses, because old man/woman winter hasn’t exited stage left. There is more to come, dollars to donuts. Don’t put away your sweaters or your snow tires and for heaven’s sake would you stop looking at that seed catalog.

When will we learn that we rush winter at our peril? Winter will leave when it’s good and ready. And before you think that a few daffodils blooming, mean that spring has sprung – well think again. You’ll be draping wee daffodil-sized coats on those daffy flowers when the cold snap comes back with a vengeance.

Besides, winter is an excuse to savor comfort food. Something cooked nice and slow. Lots of spice and not a lettuce leaf in sight. Because all too soon, spring will show up for its day in the sun, and then summer will be here with all its heat and humidity and suddenly winter won’t look so bad after all.

Serves 4

1 ¾ lb pork, cut into large chunks

1 Tbsp chile molido powder

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 whole ancho chile

1 large red onion

1 orange

¾ pint chicken stock

1-14 oz can of butter beans, drained

Olive or vegetable oil

Salt

Chopped pistachios & cilantro to garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 250°F

Mix the chile power, turmeric and cumin seeds together and rub over the pieces of pork. Place the pork in a bowl or re-sealable plastic bag and refrigerate for several hours or over night.

Slice the onion into thick rings. Heat a frying pan, add a drizzle of oil and cook the onions on both sides until gently browned. Remove and set aside. Sprinkle the pork generously with salt, add more oil to the pan if needed, and cook the pork in batches, browning on all sides. Add the onions back into the pan. Peel the zest off the orange using a vegetable peeler and add to the pork and onion mixture. Juice the orange and add along with the chicken stock and the dried ancho chile, making sure the stem is removed. The liquid should almost cover the pork and onions.

Cover and place in the oven and cook at low heat for around 2-3 hours or until the meat is tender and flakes easily. Alternatively, you can cook in a slow cooker. Remove the meat and onions from the cooking liquid and keep warm. Remove the grease from the liquid. (A handy way, is to pour the liquid into a measuring cup and pop it in the fridge. The oil will gather at the top and you can scoop it off.)

Place the liquid back in the pan, reduce until thickened slightly and add the pork and onions back in, along with the beans. Serve hot and garnish with chopped pistachios and cilantro, if you desire.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Summer Lovin’

Corn – specifically corn-on-the-cob – is one of summer’s greatest gifts. Only winning the lottery or finding my keys would make me happier than an ear of corn. I met a farmer who told me he loves the corn he grows so much that he eats it raw.

Okay, so maybe I don’t love it that much.

photo 1

But then he went on to say that he microwaves his corn (when he’s not chowing down on an ear in the fields). Four minutes per ear and the husk and silks slide off effortlessly.

Yeah, sure.

photo 2

So I tried it. And guess what? He’s right. You pop the corn (I’d do a max of two ears at a time) in the microwave as is – don’t peel it or anything. Set the timer for 4 minutes for one ear or 8 for two. Then stand back and watch that puppy twirl around.

Or better yet, make a Chile Butter to go with your corn.

Mix some softened butter (I figure about 1 tablespoon per ear) with some chile powder. I use Chile Molido (press here for the hot version!) but you can go for something hotter if you like. I add about ¼- ½ tsp for 4 tablespoons of butter. By the time you’ve finished mixing it your corn should be ready.

photo 8

Take it out of the microwave and slice off the bottom (stem end). Warning: it’s hot. Very hot. Then carefully pull off the husks and silks – they’ll slide off easily. It’s a piece of cake (or piece of corn), I promise.

photo 4

Slather on some chile butter and you’re good to go. Quick, easy and you’ve got a whole lot of summer lovin’.

Sweet as candy

Do you remember that time last winter? You know…. when the snow was up to your armpits and you were sure spring would never come. You walked into your local grocery store, staggered over to the veg department and there you saw it: a red tomato. It was a beacon saying, “Winter won’t last, I promise.” So you picked up that tomato and cradled it like a baby and went home.

SUMMER TOMATOES 1

But guess what? You sliced that puppy up and it tasted like nothing. Absolutely nothing. Cuz tomatoes may look nice in winter but they don’t taste so hot. So here you are – it’s late summer and winter seems pretty far away. But it’s not. So now is the time to eat your fill of tomatoes. Eat them raw, cooked and anything in between. Eat them until you’re positive you can’t stomach another.

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Because sooner than you think, winter’s going to be back. So make some memories now that will last you a good long time. This Tomato tart is a great way to boost your tomato intake. We slow roast them in the oven so the flavor is super concentrated – they taste like candy only way better. We use a store bought pastry because life is short and who needs the hassle of making it? But we don’t go for the cheapo stuff – we like Dufour pastry. Why? Because it’s made with lots and lots and lots of butter. Need we say more? And we didn’t say this recipe was lo-cal, ok?

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Here’s another tip. Make an extra batch or two of the tomatoes. Pop them in a plastic container and put them in the freezer. That should get you through this year’s winter.

Sweet.

Roasted Tomato, Green Chile & Goat’s Cheese Tart

Serves 4-6

1 ¾ lbs cherry tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
1-2 tsp salt
1-2 tsp chile molido mild
14 oz. puff pastry
3 oz. soft goat’s cheese
½ package New Mexico green chile, rehydrated

Preheat the oven to 220°.

Slice the tomatoes in half and place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle the salt and chile molido over the top. Place the tomatoes in the oven and cook for 1 ½-2 hours until the tomatoes have lost their moisture. They should be soft and slightly chewy. Remove from the oven.

SUMMER TOMATOES 3 SUMMER TOMATOES 4

Increase the oven temperature to 425°.

Place the puff pastry on another baking sheet. Place the tomatoes on the puff pastry, leaving a small border along all the edges. Slice the green chile into strips and add to the tomatoes then crumble the goat’s cheese on top.

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Place the baking tray in the oven and bake the tart for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is lightly browned and the cheese warm and melted. Slice into squares and serve hot or at room temperature.