Spice it up on a cool night

When the night is cool or rainy, nothing can satisfy like a bowl of beef chilli. Try out our Tex-Mex Chilli and see for yourself.

Tex-Mex Chilli

A spicy beef chilli in the traditional tex-mex style

Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Tex-Mex
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Bruce Heck


  • 750 gm beef mince 10-15% fat
  • 2 medium onions chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed; large cloves
  • 2 green peppers optional; sweet peppers, not chilli peppers!
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil or other vegetable oil
  • 2 cans red kidney beans (400gm can)
  • 1 can black beans (400gm can)
  • 3 cans chopped tomatoes (400gm can)
  • 100 gm tomato puree (double concentrate)
  • 60 ml cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 4 tbsp mild chilli powder ** see notes
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 beef stock cubes
  • ¼ tsp black pepper finely ground
  • 150 ml sour cream optional
  • 50 gm sliced jalapeño peppers optional; use pickled jalapeño, not fresh


  1. Put the oil, onions and garlic (and green peppers if using) in the stock pot over a medium high heat and saute until softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.

  2. Put the beef mince in the pot and brown thoroughly. Add the onions and garlic to the mince and stir.

  3. Add all of the dry spices and the stock cubes and stir thoroughly.

  4. Add the vinegar, chopped tomatoes and tomato paste. Rinse the cans of tomato with a bit of water in each can and combine to make one can full of water. Add to the chilli and stir.

  5. Drain the beans in a colander and rinse. Add the beans (and the jalapeños if using) to the chilli and mix thoroughly.

  6. Simmer the chilli over a medium low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

  7. Serve in bowls with a large dollop of sour cream on top.

Recipe Notes

The ingredients listed as ‘optional’ can be added or not according to your preference — we always add them.  You can make the chilli less spicy by reducing the amount of mild chilli powder you use and by omitting the jalapeño peppers.

Pimp your chilli:

Want to mix it up a little?  Try these optional ingredients:

Add 25gm of finely grated dark chocolate.  This will add an extra richness to the chilli — you’ll never taste the chocolate!

Substitute an equal amount of chopped rump steak for the beef mince for a different texture.  You’ll need to add an extra hour of simmering time to make the steak fall apart tender — and stir regularly to prevent sticking.

Like things a bit smokey?  Add (or substitute) a tablespoon of chipotle or ancho chilli powder to the chilli.

And we like to serve the chilli with a batch of cornbread.  (Check out our cornbread recipe:  http://heckofadish.com/2017/03/17/cornbread/#more-70)

Fancy a curry?

Missing going to your favourite curry house? This simple curry recipe will give you a taste of that curry you’ve been missing without any fuss. It’s easy to make but delivers lots of flavour. As with all curries, you’ll find it even better the next day.

Chicken Curry

An easy to make chicken curry with a tomato base

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword curry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Author Bruce Heck


  • 3 chicken breasts cut into large cubes
  • 2 onion, medium roughly chopped
  • 4 medium tomatoes chopped
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil (or other high-heat oil)
  • 5 tbsp butter (70 gm)
  • 1 cube vegetable stock
  • 1 cup water boiling
  • 2 tbsp ginger finely diced
  • 2 clove garlic pressed
  • 5 tsp madras curry powder (or mild curry powder)
  • 3 tsp biryani seasoning (see notes below)
  • 1 tsp sumac


  1. Dissolve the vegetable stock cube or gel in the cup of boiling water. Set aside.

  2. Combine all the dry ingredients and set aside.

  3. Chop your tomatoes into 1cm cubes and set aside.

  4. Roughly chop your onions into large pieces. Set aside.

  5. Cut up your chicken breast into large (2-3cm) cubes. Lightly brown the chicken in 1 tbsp each of rapeseed oil and butter in a large, deep saute pan over medium heat. Remove from the pan and set aside.

  6. Add the remaining oil to the pan saute the ginger for about 2 minutes. Add the onions and saute until the onions until not quite translucent. Add the garlic and saute a further minute.

  7. Add the chicken back into your pan and sprinkle the dry ingredients over it and stir until well combined.

  8. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste and the vegetable stock to the pan. Stir to combine well.

  9. Simmer over a medium low heat for about 30 minutes or until the tomato begins to break down. Add the remaining butter and stir until melted and combined.

  10. Serve with basmati rice and naan bread.

Recipe Notes

This curry, like most, is best if made the day before and put into the refrigerator for the flavours to come together.

Biryani Seasoning typically contains roasted cumin seeds, dried garlic, red bell pepper flakes, coriander leaf, dried red onion, cumin seeds, cinnamon, kashmiri chilli powder, paprika, tumerica, ginger powder, black pepper, tomato flakes, cardamom, allspice, bay leaf and cloves.



If you don’t have Madras curry powder, you can use any mild curry powder.

A Perfect Burger Bun?

I’ve always found a brioche bun to be a perfect compliment to pulled pork. Getting good brioche buns has always been a problem though. An excellent recipe may well have solved that.

We came across a YouTube post mentioned by Bunch of Swines on their Facebook page. It’s a bit different than most brioche recipes. Much less butter and the addition of Tangzhong.

Tangzhong is a Japanese technique where you cook a small portion of the flour and liquid (water or milk) briefly before combining the resulting thick paste with the remaining bread ingredients.

This technique breaks down the starches in the flour allowing them to absorb more water. It can allow the flour to absorb twice as much hot water or milk as yeast dough normally does. And it is able to hold on to the extra liquid throughout the kneading and baking processes. This means:

  • The dough is less sticky and easier to knead;
  • The dough is likely to rise higher, due to more water creating more internal steam;
  • And since it retains more moisture during baking, the bread is moister and stays soft and fresh for longer.

The YouTube post is well done and very informative, but doesn’t give you an actual recipe to follow — you’ve just got to watch the post. I’ve put together this recipe from the post by Joshua Weissman :


Best Burger Buns Ever

These light, buttery buns are a perfect match for burgers, pulled pork or for the best ever bacon roll.

Course Bread
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 14 minutes
Servings 6 rolls
Author Bruce Heck



  • 2 tbsp bread flour
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 4 tbsp whole milk

Brioche dough

  • 1/2 cup whole milk at 95° F
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast 9 gm
  • 2 ½ cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 ½ tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 whole egg at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter softened

Egg wash

  • 1 egg
  • splash whole milk
  • 1 tbsp water



  1. Put the ingredients into a sauce pan and whisk together.  Put on a medium heat and whisk constantly until it reaches a thick paste. Only takes a few seconds to reach a choux pastry-like consistency. Put into a bowl for use later.

Brioche dough

  1. Heat the milk to 95° F and stir in your yeast. Let stand for about 8 minutes.

  2. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the mixer bowl and give a good mix.  Put on your dough hook and put the bowl on the mixer.  Put the mixer on a low speed and add the yeast mixture letting it mix for a few seconds.

  3. Now add the tangzhong paste followed by the egg and egg yolk (best if at room temperature, not chilled).  Increase the mixer speed slightly (remain below medium) and mix until thoroughly incorporated. Scrape down the sides as required.

  4. Add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time allowing it to incorporate before adding the next tablespoon.  Continue to let the mixer knead the dough until all of the butter is incorporated and the dough is nicely smooth. Expect this to take about 10 minutes.

  5. Take the dough from the mixer bowl put it on a lightly floured board. Gently stretch and fold it in from each edge to make a nice ball.  Pull from one edge and then rotate 90 degrees and continue for two rotations. Turn the dough over and gently pull the dough toward you keeping it in constant contact with the board to fold it into itself. Rotate 90 degrees and keep doing this until you have worked it into a nice ball shape.

  6. Put into a bowl lined with lightly greased baking parchment and cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm area for 1 to 1½ hours to rise, until doubled in size.

  7. Punch the dough down and put in on a lightly floured board.  Divide the dough into six even pieces using a scraper.  Each piece should weight about 105gm.

  8. As before, gently pull and fold each piece of dough into the center creating a ball.  Put onto the board and pull the dough across the board (keeping the dough in contact with the board always), turn 90 degrees and repeating.  Do this four times until you have a nice tight ball of dough.

  9. Place the dough on a lightly greased baking parchment in a baking tray giving plenty of distance between each ball (at least 2 – 2½ inches).

  10. Place a lightly greased piece of baking parchment over the top and cover with a damp, warm towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm location for 1-2 hours until doubled in size again. 

  11. Brush the dough lightly with the egg wash. Bake at 350° F for 16-18 minutes until a deep golden brown. If the tops start to become too brown, then covert with foil.

  12. Place on a wire rack to until completely cool and then wrap in cling film or foil to keep fresh. Use within two days or freeze immediately.

Recipe Notes

In my first effort with this recipe I found the buns browned too quickly.  I’ve watered down the egg wash slightly and reduced the oven temperature by 25 degrees.  I covered them with foil at 11 minutes to stop them browning further.

I also found the buns to be a little bit dense.  Now you want a certain level of density to handle the juicy burger and sauces, but this could be a bit lighter.  I believe the key to this will be to do use smaller portions and let them rise longer to the desired size.  The extra rise should ensure a lighter texture.

But how did it come out? Was it a perfect burger bun? Despite the recipe notes above, they were still really good. Have a look:

Potatas Bravas

A native dish to Spain, potatas bravas are one of the most common tapas dishes. This dish dates back to the mid-16th century but no one knows the exact date. They were popularised in Madrid but are found in virtually every bar in every corner of Spain.

They are simply potatoes cut into irregular pieces about 2 cm across and deep fried with spicy tomato sauce called ‘bravas’ sauce poured over them as they are served. The sauce is made from tomatoes, vinegar and chilli and from there every recipe is different.

The key to this dish is the sauce, so we are going to start with that so the sauce has time to develop its full flavour.

Potatas Bravas

The quintessential tapas dish.  Easy to make and equally tasty. For best results, use a fluffy potato — same as you would use for chips (fries) like maris piper, king edwards and russet.

Course Side Dish, Tapas
Servings 4 people
Author Bruce Heck


Bravas Sauce

  • 2 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 4 cloves garlic pressed
  • 1 sm onion finely grated
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (more for sprinkling when serving)
  • 2 tbsp Frank’s hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 500 ml passata
  • 125 ml chicken stock double concentrated (1 cube in 250ml water)
  • 1 tsp potato starch (or other thickener)


  • 1 kg potatoes
  • 1500 ml sunflower oil (or any frying oil, not olive oil)


Bravas sauce

  1. Pour half of the olive oil in a small pan over medium heat.  Once the oil has heated, add the garlic and grated onion.  Saute for about five minutes.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients except for the passata and chicken stock.  Bring together and simmer for a couple of minutes.

  3. Whisk in the passata.  Once fully incorporated, whisk in the chicken stock.

  4. Simmer for 30 minutes.  Stir the potato starch into 1 tbsp of cold water. Slowly add the starch to the sauce while whisking constantly.  Simmer for a few minutes until the desired thickness is reach. 

  5. Pour the sauce through a fine sieve over a heat-proof bowl.  You’ll need to do this a bit at a time, stirring the sauce in the sieve to push it through.  Empty the sieve of any bits with each filling.

  6. Set the sauce aside — on to the potatoes!


  1. Cut your potatoes into large chunks — it's easier to cook them this way and cut them smaller after the pre-cook.

  2. Put the potatoes in a pan with cold water and a few pinches of salt.  Bring to a boil and cook until a fork goes into the potato with a bit of resistence – usually around 10 minutes.  You don't want to over cook them as you will be frying them later and they will fall apart if overcooked.

  3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and run them under cold water to stop them cooking.  Set aside to cool.

  4. Once cooled (and just before you’re ready to fry them, chop into 2 cm pieces.  (cut small ones into four pieces — larger once chop up more)

  5. Put your oil into a deep pan or wok (mine was 28cm across) and bring up to temperature – that's 325° F or 160° C.  Add your potatoes in small batches and fry until golden brown and crispy.

  6. Drain on a cooling rack set over a baking sheet lined with kitchen roll (paper towels).

  7. When ready to serve, put into a tapas bowl and drizzle with warm bravas sauce.  Sprinkle with a bit of smoked paprika and serve.

Recipe Notes

This recipe makes more sauce than you will need for the potatoes.  How much extra will depend upon how much sauce you like!  But this sauce keeps well and is great on smoked sausage, pork chops and more.

A Weekend in Spain

a night in spain

Since we can’t travel this Spring we’re travelling virtually. The last trip was to Turkey. This week we’re headed to Spain for some tapas.

Angela has put together the decorations complete with traverna sign, flamenco dancer and a string of decorative garland — we do need to work on the pictures as they didn’t do the look justice.

We’ve got a full menu planned: gazpacho, croquetas, patatas bravas, albondigas, courgette con queso and gambas al ajillo…and of course, a pitcher (or two) of sangria!

spanish tapas
One night in Spain…tapas and sangria

One of our favourite tapas are Albondigas or Spanish meatballs. These meatballs are covered in a luscious, spicy sauce that is a classic taste of Spain. For us, this is the centerpiece of a great tapas meal.

These take a bit of time, but are really easy to make. And you can do much of the prep the day before.

Spanish Meatballs (Albondigas)

One of our favourite tapas dishes. The pork and beef meatballs in a smokey, spicing tomato sauce are a great part of any tapas meal

Course Tapas
Cuisine Spanish
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 8 persons
Author Bruce Heck



  • 500 gm beef mince (10-15% fat)
  • 500 gm pork mince (15-25% fat)
  • 4 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 2 sm onions coarsely grated
  • 2 tbsp coriander, fresh finely chopped
  • 3 slices stale white or sourdough bread blitzed
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Smokey sauce

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes (400gm cans)
  • 170 gm tomato paste (small 6 oz can or most of a tube)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 3 cloved garlic finely minced or pressed
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar packed
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sm onion grated
  • 100 ml water
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper


Meatball mixture

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix by hand until combined. Don't over mix it or the meatballs will become dense.

  2. Wrap the meatball mixture in cling film and put in the refrigerator for at least one hour – overnight is fine.

Smokey sauce

  1. Using half of the oil, saute the onion and garlic in a large saucepan over medium heat until the onion is soft.

  2. Add the dry ingredients to the onions and saute for 2 minutes.

  3. Add remaining oil and the tomato paste and saute for 5 minutes.

  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, honey, brown sugar, thyme and water. Stir the sauce to combine the ingredients and simmer over a medium low heat for 30 minutes.

Cooking the meatballs

  1. Take the meatball mixture out of the refrigerator. Take about 50 grams (about 1 ½ tablespoons) of the mince mixture and roll it into ball. Do not work the meat any more than is required to keep the meatballs light. Continue until all of the mixture is made into balls.

  2. Being sure not to crowd the pan too much, brown the meatballs on all sides in a large skillet. Set each batch aside once browned.

  3. Put the browned meatballs into a baking dish and cover with the sauce. Put into an oven at 350° F for about 20 minutes.

  4. Serve in traditional tapas dishes with a sprinkle of paprika and a side of toasted garlic bread.

Recipe Notes

This recipe will serve 8 persons as a main or 15-20 persons as a tapas dish.

¡Arriba, Arriba! Tacos Tonight!

It seems that tacos have become the new burgers in London. From a growing number Mexican restaurants to street food pop-up sites, tacos are more popular than ever. And have they changed!

Gone are the Tex-Mex favourites of old. Now it’s all about gourmet tacos that meet the definition of taco only by being wrapped in a tortilla! Smoked bavette with chimichurri, beer-battered sea bream with salsa veracruz, pig’s head cochinita pibil (what is that?) and even buttermilk fried chicken are the toppings at the best rated taco joints in London.

And that is all good. I love the new flavours, but I still enjoy the old Tex-Mex version too. Crispy shells, spicy mince, cheese, lettuce, salsa and sour cream — Yum!

Continue reading “¡Arriba, Arriba! Tacos Tonight!”

Warning! Never take this dish to a party!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.  Take this to a party and it may be the only dish you ever get asked for. This dish is a fiesta of fresh flavours — it’s like a taco in a bowl.

I can’t have a party (or go to one) without this dish now.  It is absolutely everyone’s favourite.  The good news it is it may be one of the easiest dishes you ever make.  And if you do take it to a party you can count on more party invites.

Continue reading “Warning! Never take this dish to a party!”

Breakfast on the Go

jalapeno cheddar muffin image

A full English breakfast is nice, but sometimes you just don’t have the time.  You need something you can grab and eat on the go.  These savoury muffins are not your average muffin.

A bit of spice, crunchy crust and soft centre — these deliver flavour in a small package.

Delicious straight out of the oven, but you can also freeze them and reheat in the microwave for a quick, but surprisingly filling breakfast at any time.

Even better with a bit of chipotle ketchup for dipping.

Continue reading “Breakfast on the Go”

Best bread in the world?

cornbread image

Mark Twain famously said, “Perhaps no bread in the world is quite as good as Southern corn bread.” That might be a bit of a stretch, but this versatile bread certainly has a following. There are even annual competitions and national festivals for this simple bread. There are lots of recipes but if you’re after proper Southern-style cornbread, it has to include coarse ground cornmeal and buttermilk.

This recipe is one of the easiest and comes from Quaker Oats (one the larger cornmeal producers in the USA). It uses a mix of cornmeal and flour so purists will argue this isn’t a proper Southern recipe, but it’s what I grew up with and I still love it.

Continue reading “Best bread in the world?”