. One portion of slices goes er is diced very small for the live oil and balsamic d and add the diced onion. ces into the ice cube bowl. the cobs, blanch in a pot of ol under cold running water, p of the dressing Set aside. f each tomato (retain for wo thick slices. Pour wl and add the sugar salt an, and over high heat add ato slices into the cornmeal n the hot pan until crisp r each batch. slices, add to the dressed oss gently. Give the tir vigorously with a fork red to the salad. Garnish nd cucumber. d red yams but when red yams were also known dropped. s to which ‘‘mild chilli’’ to ed) chillies work well. If sure it doesn’t contain epan and cook the onions Add the diced chillies and dd the carrots and kumara, e vegetables sweat a little. Add the stock and simmer until all the vegetables are tender. Cool, then working in batches, put in a blender or processor and puree (or push through a sieve over the saucepan). Return puree to the pan and, over low heat, add the milk, sugar salt and chilli flakes. Bring to a simmer stirring constantly. Taste and add pepper if required. If the soup needs thinning add water and reheat to a gentle plop-plop. Garnish and serve.
Chillies cut into long strips (rajas) are added to slowcooked sliced onions and then simmered in stock. In Mexico, asadero cheese and crema are added until all is a sweet, spicy,creamy tangle. Rajas can be served in tortillas, piled into tacos or served as a side dish with chicken or grills. A national dish that seems to be more tex than mex has layers of rice, corn and rajas, topped with crema and baked. 1 Tbsp light cooking oil 250 g onions, thinly sliced 6 poblano chillies 4 cloves garlic, diced 2 bay leaves 2 tsp thyme leaves chopped 3⁄ cup vegetable stock
4 225g asadero cheese, diced Heat the oil in a large frying pan add the onions and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes until just beginning to colour. Meanwhile heat a grill or oven to high and cook the chillies until the skin blisters and chars. Put them in a plastic bag until they are cool to the touch, then peel and pull out the stem and seed pod. Holding the chillies under a slow running cold tap makes an easy job of this. Slice the chillies into strips, add to the onions and cook for a minute or two. Add the garlic, bay leaves, thyme and stock and simmer until the liquid has evaporated. Add the cheese and cook over low heat until melted. Taste and add salt if needed.
A great guacamole needs the best avocados and the only way to be sure of that is to buy unripened fruit and allow them to ripen quietly on your bench without prodding or pulling out the stems. The stem holds the secret of ready-or-not. Press it gently and if it falls off the avocado is ripe. 2-3 ripe avocados 1⁄ tsp each of
2 cumin powder and black pepper 1 tsp salt 1 generous Tbsp lime juice (lemon juice if you must) 1 firm fleshy tomato, skinned and seeded Optional finely chopped coriander leaves to garnish Split the avocado, flip out the stone and scoop out the flesh. Keep it in chunks if possible and scatter with cumin, pepper and salt. Mash a little with a fork and add the lime juice, adding more to preference. Dice the tomato (discard any juice) scatter over. Mash again lightly and fluff up the bowl to incorporate the diced tomato. Scatter with coriander if using.
CHILLI CHOCOLATE MOUSSE
Inspired by Nigella Lawson’s instant chocolate mousse in Nigella Express (Chatto & Windus). It is sweet and very rich and is best served in small pots or glasses. Serves 4 75g small marshmallows 25g soft butter 150g dark bitter (at least 70 per cent cocoa solids) chilli-flavoured chocolate, chopped 40ml strong black coffee (a short black espresso takeaway is the easy option) 275 ml cream lightly whipped with 1⁄ tsp best
2 quality vanilla paste. Put marshmallows, butter, and all but a scattering of the chopped chocolate pieces (put aside for the garnish) and black coffee in a heavy-based saucepan over low heat and stir until the marshmallows have melted into the other ingredients. and you have a thick smooth mixture. Leave to cool a little then fold in the vanilla-flavoured cream. Keep folding and stirring gently until all the cream is incorporated. Pour into little pots or glasses and refrigerate for an hour or two until firm and set. If leaving in the fridge for longer than three hours cover the pots with food wrap to prevent a skin forming. Just before serving grate the reserved chocolate pieces over each mousse.
Hot and stripped: Rajas are chillies in strips. Hot salad: Cornmeal-coated tomatoes. Cool and creamy: guacamole