Friday, 27 February 2015

Not quite so chilli, chilli

Most people who know me, know that I am not the greatest heat/spice fan. I'm getting used to it courtesy of my Cuisinart spice grinder, that allows me to customise my blends to suit my palate. However slowly, but surely, I am increasing the amount of heat in my diet, albeit if it's not quite in line with other peoples' interpretation of hot.

However this week has seen me laid low by a dose of the flu (and believe me just getting from bed to bathroom has been a monumental effort) followed by its' not so lovely friend conjunctivitis, so to say that I have been completely off my food is an understatement.

I've been launching myself out of bed to cook an evening meal, if only to save myself from my husbands' offer of shop bought ready meals which as someone with an existing digestive condition, does not bode well. Well today I had to go to opticians to get my eyes sorted, so en-route home was wondering what the hell I was going to cook that I probably couldn't taste that well, would tick the boxes of a heat lover, but still use up the food we bought at the weekend not anticipating my incapacity. I thought about chilli and came across some spring onions in my local greengrocers and the ideal came to me, a not so chilli-based chilli, with a Mexican inspired side of couscous containing spring onions and a stray Romano pepper found in the fridge charred over an open flame. You could also create some sides of sour cream, home made guacamole and tortillas if increasing the quantities and cooking for a crowd.

My recipe for two people therefore was:

For the chilli

1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
pinch (or two or more if you like) of dried chilli flakes
175 minced quorn (or meat if you prefer)
1 tin of plum tomatoes
1 tablespoon of Worcester sauce
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 small tin of kidney or cannelloni beans
Coriander, to garnish
Fresh red chilli, finely chopped, to garnish

For the couscous

150 grams of couscous
3 spring onions
1 Romano red pepper, chargrilled and skinned (you could use a regular red pepper instead)
1 teaspoon of vegetable stock
300ml of boiling water

To start, first of all char-grill the pepper. I normally do it over an open flame as I have a gas hob. But if you don't, or do not feel as brave, then you can place it under a grill, turning regularly until blackened on all sides. Put into a bowl, cover with cling film and allow to cool.

Next, chop the onion and garlic and place in a pre-heated pan containing a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Add salt and pepper and cook over a medium heat until softened. Add the tomato puree, cumin, coriander and paprika and cook on a low heat, covered, for 10 minutes to allow the puree to cook out. Next add the quorn or meat and brown, followed by chilli flakes to taste (or not as might be the case)

Once the quorn or meat is browned, add the kidney beans, plum tomatoes, Worcester sauce and balsamic vinegar. Chop the tomatoes with a pair of scissors and then bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover with a lid. Allow to cook for 20 minutes to allow the flavours to mingle.

Whilst the chilli is simmering, place the couscous in a bowl, add the vegetable stock and cover with the water. Cover with either a lid or cling film and allow to plump up. Meanwhile skin and de-seed the pepper and chop roughly. Finely slice the spring onions. When ready, fork through to separate the grains and then gently mix in the onion and pepper.

When ready to serve, place the couscous into a warmed deep bowl followed by the chilli mixture. Chop the coriander and use to garnish. And if you feel that you want a little more heat in your chilli, add the fresh red chilli, to taste.

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