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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.

Chile Portrait: Ancho Chile

If a Chipotle chile is a can-can dancer—all showy, high kicks, look at me pleeeeze – then Ancho is the quiet man sitting in the corner, nursing a glass of absinthe and smoking a gauloise. You may not notice him at first but trust me, he’s worth a second look. While Chipotle has in-your-face smokiness and Habanero has enough heat to knock your socks off, Ancho has something altogether more subtle but equally appealing.

Let’s start with the basics. Ancho means ‘wide’ and the Ancho starts broad at the top then gently tapers to the bottom—kind of a heart shape. Fresh it’s called Poblano (it’s the chile used in dishes such as chile rellenos). Once a Poblano is dried, it gets the name change and has a deeper dark red – almost black – color and a mild, fruity flavor.

How mild? Okay, let’s talk Scoville. Scoville is a method of measuring chile heat. Developed by a man named Wilbur Scoville back in 1912, it originally used human tasters to measure the heat in a chile (imagine that job). Now we have a high-tech method called High Performance Liquid Chromatography that precisely measures the amount of capsaicin in chile.


Capsaicin is what gives chile heat. Ancho measures about 1,000-1,500 on the Scoville scale. To give you an idea of what that means, a Jalapeno is around 2,500-5,000 and a Scotch bonnet or Habanero is 100,000–350,000+.

But enough science. Just because an Ancho is milder, doesn’t mean it’s a culinary wimp. Far from it. Ancho offers a depth of flavor that is quite amazing. And Ancho is a great team player – pair it with other chiles and it truly shines. That’s why it’s one of the stars of mole – a sauce that comes from Mexico originally. (Actually, there are lots of different moles but many feature Ancho as a key ingredient. The Santa Fe School of Cooking has a great recipe for Roast Pork Loin with Red Chile Peanut Mole and even runs a mole class – one is scheduled in April.)

What else to do with Ancho? The dried pods can be toasted on a dry frying pan, rehydrated with hot water and made into an awesome chile paste that gives a bit of heat—but not too much—and a lovely, warm reddish hue to a dish. Or if you’re feeling a bit Martha, make a jar of our (soon to be) famous Ancho Chile Goat’s Cheese.

And as ever, if you’ve got a recipe with Ancho—or any other chile—send it our way. We’d love to give it pride of place on The Chile Trail.


Ancho Chile Goat’s Cheese

Goat’s cheese + olive oil + ancho chile. It’s quick, it’s simple and boy does it taste good. The key is to let the goat’s cheese marinade in the oil for a day or two so the flavors really develop. But let’s face it – life is short so please feel free to eat immediately. Slather it on a crusty baguette, crumble it onto roasted veg or place a disc on a grilled chicken breast.

6-8 discs of soft goat’s cheese, cut from a log or buy pre-sliced
1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups Olive oil
2-3 Tbsp Ancho chile powder
1 Ancho chile pod, washed and patted dry
1 Chipotle chile pod, washed and patted dry
1 Bay leaf

Take a small, scrupulously clean jar (a 1 pint capacity Kilner or Le Parfait jar is a great choice and looks nice too). Fill it ¾ of the way with olive oil. Place the ancho chile powder on a small plate. Place a disc of goat’s cheese in the ancho chile so it’s lightly coated with chile powder. Flip and repeat on the other side. Gently, place the disc into the jar filled with olive oil. Repeat with the remaining discs. Place the two chile pods and the bay leaf in the jar and top up with olive oil, if needed, so all the ingredients are covered in oil. Close and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.