Ah, the life of a television chef. A kitchen casually furnished with the most expensive utensils, pots of fresh herbs, a fridge so large it could lead to Narnia and not a bad camera angle in sight. Then of course, there’s the lifestyle; endless socialising with every demographic imaginable, hours to kill at the local market and then the unconvincing speeches about how they juggle a demanding career with family time.
As people have become more interested in food, so chefs have become more interested in our domestic lives. There’s been a shift towards everyday cooking that seems to be a way of connecting to an ever-growing population of home cooks and food enthusiasts, who genuinely have to balance their food interests with work and family. A quick look at the titles in the cookery section of the book stores [that folk used to visit] is testament to this; Jamie’s 30-Minute Meals (Jamie Oliver), A Taste of Home: 200 Quick and Easy Recipes (Angela Hartnett), Real Fast Food (Nigel Slater), Mexican Food Made Simple (Thomasina Miers), River Cottage Everyday (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall), Cooking For Friends: Food From My Table (Gordon Ramsay), Nigella Express and Kitchen: Recipes From The Heart of the Home (Nigella Lawson).
A few months ago, I watched a repeat episode from the undisputed queen of comfort food, Nigella Lawson. During the programme, Nigella talked about her perfect sun-downer and bowl of chips. After a long day “at work”, her prefered method of unwinding is to drink an Americano cocktail and munch on some tortilla chips with her Jumbo Chili Sauce. The recipe for the sauce is from her brother-in-law and it looked so simple that I decided to give it a go. I thought that even I wouldn’t be able to mess it up.
It was good, but I thought it needed refining, so I spent a little time making it more palatable- more of a tickle than a slap. In essence, what I loved about the dip (and it is a dip, not a sauce), was the amount of coriander in it. I adore fresh coriander and I’m constantly trying to find vehicles for this wonderfully fragrant friend. My better half is not keen on coriander at all, but even she has succumbed to it through this very addictive dip. I now make this on a regular basis to get my coriander hit and I keep it in the fridge ready for that sun-downer moment. I may not live the life of a celebrity cook, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t deserve some tortilla chips and an Americano. Actually, make it a Mexican beer and I’ll unwind by telling you how difficult it is to juggle kids, cooking and a photo shoot. If only.
My perfect nacho dip
1 jar roasted peppers
1 bunch coriander (about 40g)
1 clove garlic
1 red or green chili
I always make this using a hand blender because it’s very quick and I can store the dip in the container it’s made in afterwards. It’s simply a matter of blending everything together, so for taste, the order that you add everything is unimportant. However, because I make this with a hand blender, I usually put the chili and the garlic in first to avoid them accidentally flying into my eye.
I roughly chop the chili and throw it in followed by the garlic and then all of the coriander. You must add the stalks. Too many people throw them away, but they contain the most flavour. Next, tip in the roasted peppers. Use peppers packed in oil, not vinegar, otherwise you’ll end up with a nasty after-taste. Using peppers in oil also means that you don’t need to add any extra oil. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice from one half into the colourful mix.
Now you’re ready to blitz it all. Once it has reached a nice consistency, you’re ready for dipping! The great thing about this dip is that you can tailor it to your own taste. I don’t add salt because the tortilla chips will be salty enough. I always use a whole bunch of coriander (up to 80g) because I love it. If I’m in the mood, I’ll add more chilis and keep the seeds in for extra heat. I love how quick it is to make and it keeps well in the fridge. Yet another weapon in the battle against gloomy, rained out days!