Corn on the cob with basil butter, parmesan cheese and chipotle chile

Basil is growing like a weed in the palatial gardens of Los Chileros Manor. Our head gardener can barely keep up with it, but of course, the rest of the staff chip in to help. Needs must.

What? You don’t believe we have a head gardener let alone a staff of hundreds? Perhaps we exaggerate just a tad…But the point is that basil is going great guns, so water it, snip it, and get cooking. We like to look ahead to those basil-less days of Autumn and winter and make some pesto (freezes like a dream) and basil butter.

Basil butter couldn’t be simpler to make and it too freezes like a pro. It’s just the thing to pull out of the freezer on a cold winter’s day. Defrost, then spread on a crusty baguette and you’ll feel like you’re in the south of France, without the hassle of airport security.

But don’t freeze it all because summer isn’t gone yet. It’s perfect slathered on an ear of corn, then topped with some grated parmesan cheese and a healthy sprinkle of chipotle chile powder. Couldn’t be easier and everyone will think you’re a Michelin starred chef. Well, maybe not that crab apple of a neighbor but you’re never going to please her, are you?

 Corn on the cob with basil butter, parmesan cheese and chipotle chile

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into chunks

heaping cup of basil leaves

salt

Corn

To garnish:

Parmesan cheese

Chipotle chile powder

In the small bowl of food processor, place the basil leaves and butter. Blitz until the basil is chopped and nicely mixed with the butter. Taste and add salt as needed. Place in a bowl and keep refrigerated until ready to use.

Boil or microwave your corn. Microwaving is super easy – simply place an unshucked ear in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes. To serve, peel the corn, spread on some of the basil butter, sprinkle with the grated parmesan cheese and a healthy sprinkle of the chipotle chile powder.

Zucchini with chile negro, pine nuts & basil


It’s summer and let’s face it, Mother Nature is being a bit of a show off. She’s treating us like we’re minor royalty and dazzling us with all her best from raspberries so sweet they make you want to cry to tomatoes that taste – well, like tomatoes should taste. So we smile and say ‘yes please’ and ‘thank you so much’ and enjoy every last bite of it.

Of course we know it won’t last forever – it never does. We roll from one barbecue to the next putting a mental block on the words ‘autumn’ and ‘winter’. Right now it’s all factor 50, cold rosé, and nabbing the last beach chair before someone else does.

If we can be bothered to cook it has to be quick, simple and tasty. Luckily, just about everything is in season so it’s a bit of a no-brainer. If you’ve got your own vegetable garden – you-industrious-so-and-so – so much the better. Then you can saunter out and pick your own and be incredibly smug about it.

And while you’re at it, pick a zucchini while it’s still small and cute and before it looks like a club wielded by a grumpy giant. Make a quick chile sauce, toast some pine nuts – aka piñon or pignoli – tear some basil leaves and you are done. Because who wants to spend summer in the kitchen when all the fun is happening outdoors?

Serves 2-3 as a side dish

1 zucchini, about 8-9oz

2 Tbsp pine nuts

1 lemon, zest & juice

1 small clove of garlic or half of a larger clove

1 dried chile negro

pinch of cumin seeds

¼ tsp smoked paprika (sweet pimenton)

4 Tbsp olive oil

small handful of basil leaves

To make the chile sauce, place the dried chile in a bowl and cover with not quite boiling water. Allow to sit for around 15 minutes until soft and pliable. Remove the stem and seeds and chop roughly. Mix together the chile, lemon juice & zest, garlic, cumin seeds, smoked paprika and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Blitz in a blender, taste and add salt as needed.

Slice the zucchini into rings and set aside. Heat up a frying pan and toast the pine nuts until golden. Watch them like a hawk as they’ll burn before you’ve had a chance to check out your Instagram feed. Remove the toasted nuts and place in a bowl. Add the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil and the sliced zucchini. Cook over medium high heat until nicely browned on both side. Add the toasted pine nuts, stir and remove from the heat.

Place the zucchini and pine nuts on a serving platter. Tear the basil into pieces and garnish the zucchini with it. Drizzle the chile sauce over and serve any remaining sauce in a bowl on the side.

Chile rubbed chicken thighs with double chile barbecue sauce

It’s here. It’s time. No excuses. Feel the burn. Yep, it’s barbecue season. The thought of lighting up the barbecue fills people with either 1) joy or 2) abject fear. Now don’t get me wrong – the joyful folk aren’t necessarily the best at the grill. They may like the stuff of a bbq – the smoke, the super-sized tongs, the apron which says something marginally inappropriate on it, the requisite adult beverage.

But these same souls may be the ones who get started telling a story only to find that their T-bone (which cost more than a mid-sized car) has turned to ash. The abject fear folk either shy away from barbecuing altogether (they tend to stay inside and microwave during the summer months) or they feel the fear and do it anyway.

Sometimes, these are the best at the barbecue. They approach it with reverence, with respect and with a healthy dose of fear. Because, let’s face it folks, you’re cooking with fire. Literally. If you feel a tad cautious then hats off to you. You’re cooking food over flames and if you think about it that’s got more than a hint of danger to it.

So for both you joyful and fearful folk we salute you. Get yourselves sorted before you light up and you’ll be one, two, maybe three steps ahead of the game. For this recipe, we marinated chicken thighs with Chipotle rub & mix but our Firecracker rub or Jamaican jerk mix would be ace too. For the barbecue sauce, we’ve used two dried chiles – a chipotle and a cascabel. As they say double the pleasure, double the fun. Enjoy!

Serves 2

Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

juice of 1 lime

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp chipotle rub & mix

Barbecue sauce

½ red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 dried Chile Cascabel

1 dried Chile Chipotle

Juice of 1 lime

1-2 Tbsp cider vinegar

8oz ketchup

Brown sugar (optional)

If using wooden skewers, place in a bowl and cover with water so they won’t burn on the barbecue.

Cut the chicken thighs into cubes. Mix together the lime juice, oil and Chipotle rub & mix in a bowl. Add the cubed chicken and stir to coat. Refrigerate for several hours.

To make the barbecue sauce, place the two chillies in a bowl and cover with hot but not boiling water. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so until they are rehydrated and soft. While they’re rehydrating, heat up the vegetable oil in a small saucepan. Add the onion, cover and cook over medium-low heat until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Take the chillies out of the water, deseed them and remove the stem. Place the chillies in the saucepan with the onion and garlic, add the ketchup, lime juice and one tablespoon of the cider vinegar. Cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes. Taste and add more vinegar if it needs more sharpness. You can add a pinch of brown sugar as well if the ketchup isn’t very sweet.

Remove from the heat and either remove the chillies or if you like more heat, puree the whole mixture.

Skewer the chicken, and place them on a hot grill. Spoon some of the barbecue sauce into a separate bowl. Turn the chicken and brush with the barbecue sauce. Wait for a few minutes then turn again and brush the other side. Remove from the grill when cooked through and a nice golden brown and serve with the rest of the barbecue sauce 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’.