Over the weekend I went to see my dad and family for a chili night, it was so nice to get away from the city for a couple of days and enjoy a lovely home-cooked meal with my family. Having a lot of Spanish influences in our family, we decided to make a sort of chili con carne with nachos, patatas horneadas, pementos de padrón, guacamole and quesadillas; a proper feast! I absolutely love cooking, my passion for cooking and most of the things I’ve learnt have come from spending time in the kitchen with my dad, helping him make dishes and learning about different flavours and techniques.
My dad adapted his recipe from Jamie Oliver’s “cowboy style” chili, which took 3.5 hours in total but was completely worth it! I can’t put his recipe on here so I’ve just left a link for the original, which in itself is pretty tasty. I think the secret to it is the chili pepper seed coffee which I foolishly tried a spoonful of and regretted it for about 20 minutes while my mouth was on fire!
To accompany the meal, I made the sides; quesadillas con queso (which makes me laugh to say for some reason, so much cheese), fried pementos de padrón and the guacamole. I have to say, I think these might be added to my list of specialty dishes because although they’re not challenging to make, they are extremely tasty and quick which is perfect for me as a student!
Guacamole is very easy but requires quite a lot of arm strength; a good workout for the arm muscles with all the mashing involved, although I cheated and used a potato masher towards the end because I was getting so tired! This recipe serves about 6 people depending on how much each person eats, but we had loads left over anyway!
- 4 ripened avocados, cut into halves
- 1 large ripe tomato, finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- Juice of 1 lime and 1 lemon
- 1 small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
- Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
The method is so simple; scoop out the avocado insides into a bowl (save one stone to the side), then mash with either a fork or if you’re a weakling like me then some kind of masher. Don’t let them go too mushy though, leave it quite lumpy and bold. Add the tomato and all the other ingredients and mix together lightly until everything is integrated and season well with salt and pepper. I really did season with sea salt a lot because it brings out the fresh tastes of the avocado and garlic. If you’re not serving straight away then put the avocado stone you saved into the bowl with the mix before covering as it saves it from browning. This was served on the side with sour cream and used to dip the nachos/quesadillas in.
Next I made the quesadillas. These are just like tortilla sandwiches basically; fried tortillas with some kind of filling. They make a really nice side to any Mexican dish and I find myself having them on their own for dinner at uni sometimes as they’re so quick and easy to make yet very very satisfying. I made 8 quesadillas with this recipe, but cut into fours meant that I actually got 32 servings so plenty for the family!
- 8 tortilla wraps, can be any kind
- 300g grated mature cheese- I used 3 kinds to give the quesadillas more body
- Other fillings ie chorizo, chicken, ham (meat should be pre-cooked) are optional; anything goes well in these!
- Heat a lightly oiled pan big enough to sit one tortilla flat without it curling at the edges. Let it heat up for about 2 minutes until the oil moves very freely around the pan.
- Put your first tortilla straight onto the surface of the pan, letting it soak up the oil. I find that the first one is always somewhat oilier/greasier than the rest but this is normal and doesn’t make a difference to the taste.
- Add a handful of cheese to the exposed side of the tortilla, spreading it around to almost the edges but don’t go right to the end or there is a risk of it oozing out as it melts. At this point you can also add any other fillings that you’ve chosen.
- Add another tortilla to the top of the cheese, pressing it down so that the cheese sticks to it and creates a sandwich. Press the edges down so that the cheese won’t escape- the tortilla won’t be hot to touch but be careful not to touch the pan by accident.
- By this point the bottom of the tortilla should be cooked enough so using a large spatula, carefully turn the tortilla over so that the cooked side is now on top and the other side can be cooking. Each side needs only around a minute, you’re just trying to crisp the outside slightly and melt the cheese, it doesn’t have to brown or anything in the pan.
- Once the bottom side has cooked, carefully remove the quesadilla from the pan and put onto a chopping board or flat surface. It might look like the two sides are coming away from each other, but they eventually cool down and magically stick together. Cut the quesadilla into 4 pieces and put to one side on a serving plate.
- Repeat the process 3 more times, and serve!
These go great with guacamole and also dipped into the chili juice, so delicious!
For the pementos de padrón, or Padron peppers, the method is the simplest out of all three things I made!
- 1 pack of Padron peppers- a standard pack is about 140-150g
- Sea salt
- Heat up a pan with a generous amount of oil. It needs to be very hot so I let mine heat for about 4 minutes until the oil was popping slightly.
- Add the peppers carefully so that the oil doesn’t splash out of the pan and hit your skin.
- The peppers will crack and spit quite a lot so just keep bare skin out of the way, but keep turning them in the pan with some tongs so that all the sides are exposed to the oil. They will turn white/brown when fried so try to get them looking dappled but not overly cooked- I fry mine for about 4-5 minutes, constantly moving them around the pan.
- Turn off the heat and transfer the peppers from the pan to a paper towel for a couple of seconds to let any excess oil drip off of them.
- Season heavily with sea salt and put onto a serving plate- enjoy!
These peppers are quite sweet, they have absolutely no spice or heat to them whatsoever so they’re a really tapas dish even for children. You can stuff them with rice, soft cheese or even put them into chicken breast, they really go well with anything. The saltier the better as it brings out their sweet taste and this is how they’re traditionally served in Spain.
It was really lovely spending time with my family, especially mis abuelos and mi bisabuela, also my little cousin Teddy who was dressed in a Superman costume the whole time and looked absolutely delicious, he’s so adorable! If you have any interesting recipes for chili or quesadillas then let me know because I absolutely love these dishes and always want to make more!
Also; Happy mothers day to my grandmas and of course my mama!