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.

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.

 

 

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.