Maple chilli hot chocolate

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Today I have double the reason to need warming and cheering. Not only has it been cold enough that we’re breathing steam inside gaddayum house over here. Not only has it been cold enough that I have been baking just to get warm. But now, to top it all off, there’s a Red Wedding quantity of blood coming out of me.

Sorry/not sorry. I had to go there. Because this recipe is completely perfect for when your pants look like something from Hannibal. Luckily enough, it’s also great for when you are deep-down-to-your-core cold from sitting still too long, or have just escaped from the torrential downpour outside and put your slippers on. Will Sydney ever stop raining? From the looks of it, probably no.

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To me this is the perfect hot chocolate recipe because you can make the chocolate flavour as strong as you like without it getting too heavy. This recipe also doesn’t have any cane sugar, which makes it (a) better for you (b) easier to dissolve the ingredients (c) more complex in flavour. Win, win, win. Plus there are only three ingredients! The chilli is totally optional anyway – you could add some ground cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger instead for a less intense variation. And – AND – if you go for cacao powder instead of your regular processed cocoa it’s actually super good for you.

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If you’re fatigued and in need of some serious comfort like me, this’ll pick you up. Or if your hands are purpled and the nerve endings in your nose feel like they’re on death’s door, it’ll sort that out too. Happy no-baby day, everyjerk! Let’s hope, having showed it means business, winter will back off a little.

PS: check out my crochet

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Ingredients:
3 tbsp good quality cocoa or cacao
3 tbsp  hot water
1 ½ tbsp. maple syrup
pinch of ground chilli
milk

Directions:
Combine chilli, cocoa, water and maple in bottom of mug. Stir well. Add the milk of your choice bit by bit, stirring extremely well with the first few additions. Place mug in the microwave and heat in 30 second burst for 1-2 minutes until warm.

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Beer bean stuffed chillies

 

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When life gives you ten limes for $2, make a whole bunch of mexican food. That’s what I always say. And by “always” I mean, just now. Because I did find myself in the situation of ten limes, some of which I had kinda planned on making into preserved limes before I realised how fast I was actually going through them. Especially once I started putting them in drinks.

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Here’s where these bad boys come in, because guess what? They’re giant green chillies perfect for stuffing withcheese and beans. And they were 50c each at the markets the other morning. I didn’t have my prime decision-making face on that day, but when I saw these I got excited, because I’d been wanting to try out a recipe from The Sprouted Kitchen cookbook that called for just this sort of thing. And limes. At least one of them.

I went and stood over the chillies, scooping four into my hands before pausing confusedly to look up at my sister. “I don’t know how many to get”, I explained, peppers spilling pitifully from my fingers (like larger, greener, gnarlier fingers on a large, green negligent hand).

“Six,” she said, “get six”. Which was actually the correct number for the recipe, as it turns out. Hurruh! I freaking love the markets. Take that giant hand!

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The only problem with this recipe is it can be kinda difficult to find these ingredients in Australia outside of a capital city. Even black beans can be hard to get your hands on. The point is: I have no idea what kind of chillies I used. I should have asked, but I was vague and fatigued and overwhelmed with market decisions. I’m sure you’ll forgive me. Banana chillies or whatever large chilli variety you can get your hands on are probably fine. Also, while I have seen canned chipotle somewhere in Sydney, I don’t remember where. I already had a small red chilli hanging around from mum’s garden, so went with that. The cheese I changed to more widely available cheddar, Jack cheese and cojita being pretty scarce hereabouts. Also, I added cumin, because I can’t help myself.

Below is my version of the recipe, which I’ve more or less translated into common Australian ingredients and measurements. And while this version differs form the original, these babies are still terribly delicious. You’d be awfully silly not to squirrel this recipe away in your brain, so that when the perfect chance arises to cook things inside other things you don’t miss it. And while you’re at it make a note to check out The Sprouted Kitchen for more whole food kitchen wizardry.

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Ingredients:
1 tsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small to medium red chilli, chopped (with half the seeds removed if you’re chilli-sensitive)
250g dried black beans
375ml of dark mexican beer (I accidentally used a light-coloured beer and it was fine)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
6 large chillies
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:
Soak beans in large bowl of water for 6-12 hours.

Add olive oil to a large pan on medium heat. Saute onion, chilli and garlic until onion is just softened. Add cinnamon and cumin and fry for a few moments until fragrant. Drain the beans and add to pan along with 2.5 cups of water. Stir and bring to simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, until the beans are just cooked. Add beer and cook for another 20 minutes, until beer has evaporated/been sucked up by the beans. Salt to taste and set beans aside.

Cut a slit down the middle of each chilli. Get rid of all the gunk inside: seeds, membrane, what-have-you. Set the chillies on a tray and use a brush or your hands to cover each in a small amount of olive oil. Preheat either the barbecue or actual grill or griddle to medium-high heat. In a bowl mix the cheese and lime juice. Stuff each chilli first with a few tablespoons of beans, then with a handful of cheese. Cook until the cheese is and chilli are both blistery, about 7 minutes. Then either turn down your grill/griddle or move to a less-hot part of the barbecue. Cook for another 10 minutes or until chillies are perfectly soft.

Serve with whatever mexican extras you fancy. I’ve gone with chunky guacamole, below.

 

For chunky guacamole:

Ingredients:
1 avocado
10 cherry or grape tomatoes cut into quarters
handful of fresh coriander
tbsp lime juice
salt

Directions:
In a bowl squish your avocado. Add quartered cherry tomatoes and coriander. Stir in lime juice. Add a few grinds of salt to taste.

Orange and Pomegranate Hommus

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Hey, look, another magic post from magic land, where I’m not anywhere near my laptop and posts keep coming at you the way mosquitos inexplicably fly towards your head when you’re asleep. And, look, another colourful foodstuff, because I can’t seem to stay away from brightly coloured things.

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This hommus recipe is based roughly on the ingredients list of Paradise Beach orange and pomegranate hummus, which is so so delicious, but so so hard to come by. Also, expensive. Actually, if you live anywhere in Sydney it’s not that hard to get hold of (they sell it at Harris Farm), but otherwise you might have to get yourself a hommus mule. Or – and here’s the genius thing – you can make your own! This one isn’t exactly the same as its packaged cousin, but it’s just as complex and addictive as the original, with the added bonus of being really, really yellow.
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Ingredients:

800g chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
4 tbsp orange juice
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 whole large red chilli (or chilli to taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp red onion
zest 1 orange

Directions:

Add chickpeas, garlic, onion, chilli, lemon juice, orange zest, orange juice to food processor and pulse until combined. Add remaining ingredients and pulse again. When all ingredients are well combined taste test and add more of any ingredient you think it might need. Serve with flatbread or crackers.

(I, of course, have no affiliation with Harris Farm or their delicious dip suppliers Paradise Beach.)