As most great chefs, Thomasina Miers is well traveled and draws inspiration from each region she's connected with – Ireland, England and (especially) Oaxaca, Mexico. As fresh Ballymaloe graduates, her and Clodagh McKenna traveled the Irish country-side selling their home-made pastas, sauces and sourdough. It's beautiful to imagine how such humble beginnings and hard work have gotten these two celebrated chefs where they are today. With sustainability in mind, Tommi (as she calls herself) went from winning the famed TV show competition Masterchef to opening Wahaca – a number of authentic and sustainable Mexican street food restaurants in and around London, England. Oh, and she also loves chilies, so much so that she will share a tasting of them at this year's Lit Fest.
The chilli chocolate recipe is from her first solo cookbook Cook (2005). The other two are from her own private collection that she is doing especially for the chili tasting event.
Chipotles ‘En Adobo’
I have no photos of this recipe but it sounds so good that I had to post it! She writes: “En adobo’ means in a marinade. This marinade is a simple-to-make smoky, fiery, slightly sweet purée that harnesses the intense flavours of chipotle chillies. It lasts for months and soon becomes an indispensable ingredient in the kitchen, delicious in stews, pasta sauces, dressings and mayonnaises. Once you have started using it you may well find yourself wondering how you ever did without it.”
200g Chipotle chillies (about 65)
A head of garlic, cloves roughly chopped
A large, Spanish onion, roughly chopped
3 tbsp fresh oregano leaves or a few good pinches of dried oregano
1-2 tbsp thyme leaves
3 tbsp tomato puree
A tsp cumin seeds, crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
4 tbsp olive oil 350ml good quality white wine vinegar
50ml saba or good Balsamic (optional) 7 tbsp
Demerara or palm sugar
2 tbsp sea salt
Wash the Chipotles in cold water and drain. Snip off the stalk end of each chilli with scissors, which will allow the water to penetrate their tough skins. Cover with water and simmer for 30-40 minutes until completely soft.
When the chillies are soft, rinse off any excess seeds. Put the onion, garlic, herbs and spices into the blender 200ml of water and six of the chillies. Purée to a smooth paste (a stick blender is just as easy). Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan until it is smoking hot. Add the chilli paste and fry for about three minutes, stirring continuously with a spatula to prevent it catching and burning.
Add the vinegar, sugar, salt and another 100ml water and cook for another five minutes before adding the rest of the chillies. Cook, whilst stirring for a further fifteen minutes and at the end check to see if the purée needs more salt or sugar.
Store in clean jam jars or Kilner jars. These make great presents at Christmas or make a smaller batch just for you.
NOTE I often blend the chipotles into a puree after they are cooked which makes them easier to measure out into recipes.
A Blow Your Head Off Salsa
2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3 medium carrots, diced into small pieces
500ml water 2 Scotch Bonnets, stems removed
The juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp white wine vinegar or good quality cider vinegar
1 tbsp salt
½ tsp dried oregano or 1 tsp of fresh if available
Dry-roast the chillies in a pan until blackened and soft. Open out and de-seed. Heat the oil in a pan and sweat the onion and carrots for 10 minutes before adding the garlic. Cook until the onion turns translucent and then add the water. Bring to a boil and simmer until the carrots are soft. Add the remaining ingredients and purée in a blender until smooth.
Store in a clean sterilized jar in the refrigerator.
Chilli Chocolate Truffles
500g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) 200g chocolate (at least 40% cocoa solids) a good pinch of ground cinnamon a good pinch of allspice berries 10 cloves 1 teaspoon chilli flakes 400ml double cream 30g butter 50g cocoa powder
Grease a baking tin (approx. 30cm by 12cm) with a little vegetable oil and line with cling film. Break the chocolate into smaller chunks to make it melt more easily. Grind the spices and chillies with a pestle and mortar, and heat with the double cream in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add to the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and stir in. If you melt the chocolate with cream that is too hot, the chocolate will split, in which case you will need to stir a few tablespoons of cold cream into the melted chocolate. If the chocolate does not melt completely, suspend the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water to warm the chocolate gently. Stir in the butter. Pour the mixture into the tin, ensuring it is flat and has filled the corners, and freeze for 1 hour. Sieve half the cocoa powder into a large bowl. Turn out the chocolate mixture onto a chopping board and cut into cubes. Toss the cubes in the cocoa powder, sieving more over the truffles as you cut them to prevent sticking, and transfer them to a plastic bag. Store in the fridge or freezer.
Have a taste for heat?