Friday, 3 September 2010

C is for... Canapes: chorizo crostini and chilli con carne cups with corn chips

Canapes continued...

Chorizo crostini

I adore this spicy Spanish sausage spiked with piquant paprika. Richard made these, well, I helped a bit with toasting the bread and plating up, but that was essentially the full extent of my involvement in the production of this dish. Richard picked up some special cooking chorizo at Brindisa and cut it up and fried it off in a hot pan. Meanwhile, a finely sliced small baguette was toasting under the grill. I rubbed a cut clove of garlic on to the little toasts, Richard topped them with some chunks of chorizo, a drizzle of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and a quick grind of black pepper.

Chilli con carne cups with corn chips

Chilli con carne just had to feature somewhere, given the abundant and greedy use of the letter C in just one dish. This is the only "C" I had made the day before, largely so we could eat some for dinner and reheat the rest for the chilli cups. If you're planning on serving these as canapes, I suggest you do the same, or you'll end up making far too much for the cups and besides, it's always much nicer the next day.  I used to add some grated dark chocolate to my chilli, but I don't anymore as I think just a teaspoon of sugar gives a cleaner, fresher result. By all means, if you're horrified by this omission, bung some in - I'd recommend 1 oz of grated dark chocolate or a spoonful of good quality cocoa.

1 lb lean minced beef
1 large white onion, chopped
4 - 6 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 large red pepper, diced
1 red chilli, finely chopped (seeds in or out, depending on personal taste)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 - 3 tsp cumin seeds, dry roasted and ground
1 tsp brown sugar
generous amounts of salt and black pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
a splash of vinegar
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tin of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Place the onion, garlic and red pepper in a large heavy based saucepan with some olive oil and fry gently until soft and golden. I always dry fry the mince off in a non-stick frying pan and use a slotted spoon to transfer the mince, minus the fat, into the vegetable saucepan, because that's the way my mother does it and heart disease runs in my family. If you want to keep the fat in, just add the raw mince to the vegetables in the saucepan and fry it all together. Make a paste out of the cayenne, cumin, sugar, salt, black pepper, tomato puree and vinegar. Stir the fresh chilli into the mince, followed by the spice paste. Stir it thoroughly so all the minced beef is coated, then add the tinned tomatoes and about half a pint of boiling water. Stir again and leave the meat to simmer gently for about an hour or an hour and a half before stirring in the beans. Top up with more water if the chilli looks like it's getting dry and continue to simmer for another 40 minutes. Taste for seasoning and heat (if it's not hot enough add a few drops of tabasco. If it's too hot - you'll know for next time, but serve it this time with some fresh avocado on the side, doused in lemon juice to stop it browning. The cold, creaminess of the avocado will cool down the fire in your mouth). Serve in little espresso cups, with a few corn chips on each saucer.

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