Thursday, 15 October 2009

Meaty Nachos

This is one of my favourite quick and easy suppers. It's become very popular with my two men so I always keep the wherewithal to make this in the cupboard and freezer. It's easily adapted to suit JT. I like to fire it up and add lots of heat but you don't have to and if you prefer you can keep things on the mild side. In fact, treat most of the ingredients as optional, that is except for the tortilla chips, mince, salsa and cheese. Think of this a bit like a pizza - the tortilla chips are the base, the mince and salsa the toppings and then finally the cheese. I assemble at the last minute but frequently fry the mince mixture ahead of time and let sit in the pan (although it only takes a few minutes to fry it anyway). Although I recommend that you eat this fresh if you're having it for your main meal, we nearly always have a little bit left over that I cover with cling film and put in the fridge for the next day - a quick blast in a hot oven will do the necessary re-heating.

Meaty Nachos Quad

I must add that my knowledge of nachos and mexican cooking is practically zilch. I know the general make-up of it and I enjoy eating it but I don't know the finer details and distinctions. In fact, I don't know if these count as nachos at all but that's what they look like to me!

Meaty Nachos
Serves 2 (plus a baby)

200g (approx) bag of Tortilla Chips
500g minced beef
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic*
1/2 tsp cumin*
1 tsp paprika*
1/2 tsp ground coriander*
1 tsp cayenne (you could substitute this with some chilli flakes or chopped jalapenos)*
Dash of worchester sauce*
Dash of soy sauce*
1 tblsp sweet chilli sauce*
1 jar salsa
Cheddar, grated to top the nachos

*You could simply replace all these with a sachet of mexican spice mix


1. Finely chop the onion and garlic then fry over a medium heat for a few minutes.

2. Add the mince and continue to fry until the mince is cooked. Note: At this point lift out some 'plain' mince mixture for any babies or young children and set aside.

3. Add the spices and then the sauces to the pan and continue to cook for another minute.

4. Pre-heat the grill to high.

5. Spread the bag of tortilla chips over a large platter. Don't forget to put a few chips on a plate(s) for any bab(ies). Spoon the plain mince mixture onto their chips now to give it time to soak into the chips and soften them a little.

6. Spoon the meat mixture over the top of the tortilla chips.

7. Using a teaspoon, dot the salsa as evenly as you can over the meat mixture.

8. Finally top with the cheese and grill for about a minute - keep an eye on it the chips can burn easily. Any babies dishes I simply top with a little grated cheese and don't bother melting it.

I use a fish slice to serve it on to plates but your hands would do just fine. It's really a tear and share sort of dish. Enjoy!

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Monday, 5 October 2009

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

Choc-Cherry Cupcakes (18)

This was the September Nigella Cookalong. I like taking part in the Nigella Cookalong because it pushes me to try some of her recipes that I wouldn't otherwise. And these were exactly one of those recipes. Cupcakes can be much-a-do about nothing and while I love decorating them actually eating them doesn't excite me all that much. But these were such a surprise. They're lovely and moist - almost fudgey. And since I used a red and black cherry conserve instead of the specified morello cherry jam (simply because I couldn't get it) ther're wasn't an overpowering sour cherry taste. To top it off they're so simple. This is a one-pan recipe. Everything gets melted in one saucepan then poured into paper cases. Such a simple but delicious crowd pleaser to have up your sleeve.

(For The Cupcakes)

125g soft unsalted butter
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
300g cherry conserve
150g caster sugar
pinch of salt
2 large eggs, beaten
150g self-raising flour
12-bun muffin tin and papers

For The Icing
100g dark chocolate
100ml double cream
12 natural-coloured glacé cherriesServing Size : Makes 12


1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.

2. Put the butter in a heavy-bottomed pan on the heat to melt. When nearly completely melted, stir in the chocolate. Leave for a moment to begin softening, then take the pan off the heat and stir with a wooden spoon until the butter and chocolate are smooth and melted. Now add the cherry jam, sugar, salt and eggs. Stir with a wooden spoon and when all is pretty well amalgamated stir in the flour.

3. Scrape and pour into the muffin papers in their tin and bake for 25 minutes. Cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

4. When the cupcakes are cool, break the chocolate for the icing into little pieces and add them to the cream in a saucepan. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and then whisk – by hand or electrically – till thick and smooth. Ice the cupcakes, smoothing the tops with the back of a spoon, and stand a cherry in the centre of each.

Choc-Cherry Cupcakes (6)

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