BBQ Spicy Shrimp

I’ve heard that there are finer things in this world than a BBQ but honestly, I’ve never come across them. Peace on earth? Yeah, maybe that might be better. A birthday where no one – I mean no one – gives you a pair of ‘novelty’ socks. Okay, that’s a contender too, but other than that, I’m stumped.

Why is a BBQ so great? Well, it involves fire + outdoors + adult beverages and – here’s the important bit – the risk that you could burn the living daylights out of dinner. I mean, think about it, everyone could start fighting over that rogue tortilla chip under the couch because you incinerated supper. Or – and this is probably worse – you undercook the food and give al dente a whole new meaning.

It’s kind of like Russian roulette but with friends and food. What’s not to like?

And it’s got drama and lots of smoke and the opportunity to really tick off your neighbors. I love it. And admit it, you do too. So mix up a batch of these spicy shrimp and enjoy the drama that is a barbecue. Don’t like shrimp? Use this marinade on chicken or a piece of salmon. It doesn’t really matter because let’s face it – you’re probably going to burn it anyway.

Kidding. Just kidding.

Serves 2 starving people, 3 normal humans, or 4 who are saving space for dessert

1 lb shelled and deveined large shrimp

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 clove garlic, minced

juice from 1 lime, about 2-2 ½ Tbsp

½ tsp Chile de Arbol powder (Cayenne)

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 Tbsp olive oil + additional to brush the limes

½ tsp sea salt + additional for the limes

1 lime, cut into slices

Mix the tomato paste, garlic, lime juice, cayenne and turmeric powders, olive oil and sea salt. It should form a thick paste. Place the shrimp in a bowl and coat with the paste. Pop in the fridge and let them hang out for half an hour or so.

Get your grill heated up to medium-high. Brush the lime slices on both sides with the olive oil and give them a sprinkle of salt. Place the shrimp on the grill and the lime too. You can use skewers but I think a good pair of tongs is your best friend. Grill until nicely seared on one side then flip and repeat. Shrimp cook fast – they only need a few minutes – so stay focused.

Chile Almond Brittle

Sweet is good. Sweet & salty is better. Sweet, salty & spicy is a taste of heaven.

Everyone thinks that spicy is for savory not for sweet treats but man-oh-man are they wrong. A hit of chile is just the ticket for a dessert that makes you beg for seconds.

And whipping up something that hits the sweet, salty and spicy buttons in one go is easy-peasy. This chile almond brittle is a case in point. Melt some sugar to make a caramel and then jazz it up with some chile, almonds and a generous pinch of sea salt. Super simple but also super delicious.

Now that you’ve got your brittle, what to do with it? Well eat it while no one is watching, for one. Then when you’ve been caught red handed, mumble an excuse about needing to ‘test’ it for seasoning and pretend you hear their cell phone ringing.

This little ditty would be great on top of ice cream or chocolate mousse or – and here’s how we like at Chile HQ – on top of some COYO coconut milk yogurt. It’s creamy and rich and good for you too. And you know what health nuts we are at The Chile Trail. OK, maybe you didn’t, but body is a temple and all that jazz. We also used organic chile for the brittle – our own chile flakes. It’s big, it’s bold and man is it sweet.

Chile Almond Brittle

Folks have different ways of making a caramel and this is mine but if you prefer starting with a mixture of water and sugar, go for it. The important thing is to make sure it turns a deep, rich color – that’s when it’s got loads of toasted flavour. For added umph, toast the almonds before adding to the caramel.

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup sliced almonds

½ tsp organic chile flakes

Generous pinch sea salt

Place the sugar in a small saucepan. Melt it over medium heat and cook until it becomes a rich nutty brown caramel. Remove and stir in the almonds, chile flakes and salt. Quickly pour onto a silicone baking mat and spread out. Let cool then break into shards.

Serve with COYO coconut milk yoghurt and enjoy.

Spicy baked sweet potato wedges with lime

finaldishcentredGoodbye January. I’m sorry you ever darkened our doors. Am I being a bit harsh? Perhaps, and to be honest it’s not January the month that bugs me – it’s all the endless drivel about New Year’s resolutions, ‘clean’ eating, and colonic irrigation that’s got me down. And don’t get me started about dry January…

If you must go monastic in your eating and drinking, then why not do it in July when you can sip your wheatgrass/goji berry/kale smoothie quietly outdoors in a wooded glen away from the rest of us? Meanwhile we’ll be grilling burgers and eating slightly dodgy coleslaw that should have been kept in the refrigerator just a bit longer and enjoying ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-healthy eating, I’m just tired of it being the subject of every cookbook and dinner party. To be honest, I’m more of an all-things-in-immoderation-carpe-diem kind of guy. But if you’re one of those souls who is emerging from detox January, then may I help ease you back into the human race with my Spicy baked sweet potato wedges.

sweetpotatoingredientsYes, baked not fried folks. A hefty one pound sweet potato is tossed in a mere one tablespoon of oil then baked (not fried, did I mention that?) in the oven until oh-so tender. The secret – as in many things in life – is the spice. In this case, Los Chileros Abiquiu Steak Marinade.

sweetpotatoesinpanYes, I hear you voices of descent – steak marinade on sweet potatoes? What will they think of next? But here’s the deal: we call it steak marinade but it’s mighty fine on a whole host of things. The only thing it didn’t work with was when we mixed in a fruit salad but we’re confident that with a few tweaks we’ll have that recipe for you too. In the meantime, try these bad boys. I have a tray in the oven now and the aroma is maddening.

So bring on February – cheers!

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Wedges with Lime

Serves 3-4

1 lb. sweet potatoes

½- ¾ Tbsp Abiquiu Steak Marinade

1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil

1 lime, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 325°F

Peel the sweet potato and slice into thick wedges. One large sweet potato should yield about sixteen fat wedges. Place the wedges on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Coat with the oil and then rub the spice mixture onto all sides of the wedges, ensuring they’re evenly coated.

Place the pan in the oven. Turn the wedges every fifteen minutes or so until they’re cooked through (a knife or skewer should insert easily). It should take about 45 minutes. Remove, place on a serving platter and serve with the lime wedges.

sweetpotatoesfinaldishoffcentre