Chilli con carne

Planning to make this dish couldn’t have been better timed. The weather is cold, and all you want to do is cuddle up at home and eat honest, hearty winter warmer food. This kind of food is not only easy to make (however will need you to be somewhat organized if using dried red kidney beans, as their soaking time takes a while), but it’s also very easy and versatile to adjust things to personal preference. If you like things very hot, add some chillies, or if you’re more in the mild camp reduce the amount. You can also add your favourite ingredients, even if I haven’t included them. This recipe makes chilli with a little bit of heat, but for my liking is on the milder side. This makes a big batch and serves about 6-8, and is perfect served with rice or jacket potatoes.

250g mince beef
2-3 dl dried red kidney beans (if using ready to use, tinned, 1-2 cans)
1 onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3-4  small, hot chillies, finely chopped (I used a mixture of red and green)
1 lemon, squeezed
1 tbsp sugar
black pepper
2-3 tbsp cumin powder
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
3 dl frozen sweetcorn
1 red pepper, deseeded chopped
4 medium size chestnut mushrooms, chopped
splash of
vegetable oil

1. If using dried red kidney beans, soak them overnight, or put them to soak in the morning, and they should be soaked when you cook them in the evening. Once soaked, discard the soaking water. Place in a pan, and cover generously with fresh water. Bring to boil, and let boil vigorously for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature, and simmer for another 50 minutes. The reason for this is because raw red kidney beans contain a very high level of toxin called Phytohaemagglutinin, which will be destroyed and reduced to a level where it’s not harmful.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan. I tend to use a wok pan, because I always make a lot of it. Fry the onion in the oil, until starting to get translucent. Add the mince beef. Fry, breaking into small pieces, until just about cooked.

3. Add the garlic and chillies. Once cooked, add the peppers, mushrooms and all the spices (not sugar). Stir together well, and fry for a minute or two. Add the chopped tomatoes, lemon juice and sugar. If the texture appears too dry, add some water.

4. Last, add the beans and sweetcorn, stir together and cook until everything is warmed through. Taste, and add any spices to your taste if required. If you think you would like your chilli to be hotter (as It all depends on your personal preference, and the hotness of the chillies you used), you could add some cayenne chilli pepper powder.


Chicken fajitas

I may be known for my fine dining hobby, but sometimes you just want that honest food that may be messy to eat. For my fajitas, I tend to make make everything apart from the tortillas from scratch. This Mexican food is enjoyed across the world, and making everything by yourself allows you to adjust the spicing to your liking. The tortillas are usually eaten with a selection of fried meat, fried peppers and onions, tomato salsa, guacamole, creme fraiché and cheese. I tend to leave the cheese out, and just to make things easier, fry the meat together with the pepper and onion. In my blog I have individual posts for my guacamole and salsa, so I won’t write them again on here, but I’ll include links for them. This is great comfort food for those cosy evenings in.

Tomato salsa
Homemade guacamole
crème fraiche
500g chicken breasts
2 peppers
2 onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 small green chilli
2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
splash of vegetable oil

1. Finely chop the chilli and garlic. Slice the peppers and onions, and set aside.

2. Cut the chicken breasts into strips. Fry in the oil, adding the cumin, salt and pepper. Once just about cooked through, add the other ingredients. Fry until onions are cooked.

Tomato salsa

This basic salsa can be eaten hot or cold, and is perfect as a dip with some tortilla chips or as one of the fillings for fajitas.

Tomato salsa
3-4 large tomatoes
2 onions
1 green pepper
1 small (hot) green chilli
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp lemon juice (1 lemon)
2 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp vegetable oil

1. Finely chop the garlic and chilli. I also use the seeds from the chilli. Chop the onion, pepper and tomatoes into small pieces.

2. Place all the chopped ingredients in a pan with the vegetable oil, and add all the spices / herbs. Fry for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the tomato paste and and the lemon juice, and mix in with the other ingredients.

The salsa is ready to be eaten immediately, or you can cool it to use it as a dip.

Homemade guacamole

For breakfast this weekend I had ham, homemade guacamole and poached eggs on sourdough toast. Below you can find my guacamole recipe, which truly is much better that the ones you buy from the shop. And it’s really easy to make too!

2 ripe avocados
2 small tomatoes (cherry or plum)
1 small green chilli
1 clove of garlic
handful of fresh coriander
1/2 lemon juice (or 1 tbsp bottled)
splash of cream, until desired consistency is achieved

Blend all ingredients together, adding cream until desired consistency is achieved.