Roasted Jalapeno and Lime Cream Cheese

We love bagels with plain cream cheese in my house, but I’m always looking for ways to be a little more creative and add other ingredients.

Roasted jalapeno cream cheese

You can buy flavoured cream cheese, but I am always a little disappointed by the flavour. Perhaps it’s because it has sat on the shelf of the supermarket for a while. Using fresh ingredients is always going to taste better and the options are endless.

This is a spicy recipe and so quick to make if you use a gas hob. I have been burning the skins off peppers over gas flames since I saw Jamie Oliver do it many, many years ago, but they can always be roasted under a hot grill or in the oven. So much quicker over the flame though!

Burnt chilli

I have used jalapeno peppers which aren’t super spicy, but it’s always best to taste the chilli to find out just how hot it is first. I used two for this recipe and they add a lovely spicy, smoky flavour that works well with the zesty, fresh lime. An additional 60 grams of cheddar cheese also works well in this too, but I would have cucumber or salad leaves rather than smoked salmon if I added extra cheese.

Ingredients:
1-2 fat fresh jalapeno chilli peppers – depending on how spicy you like it
1 lime
280g pack of good quality cream cheese – I used Philadelphia full fat
2tbs fresh dill – chopped
Freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of salt

Method:
Prick the chillies all over and using metal tongs, place directly onto a gas flame and burn the skin until it is black all over. If you don’t prick the skin, the chillies can explode!

When the chillies are completely black, place in a plastic bag or a bowl covered with plastic and leave to cool down and steam.

When they are cool enough to handle, rub off the skins, remove the seeds and finely chop.

Roasted jalapeno cream cheese1

Add the peppers and seasonings to the cream cheese. Stir in the zest of the lime and then add the juice of half of it. Stir to thoroughly combine and refrigerate until needed.

Roasted jalapeno cream cheese2

The perfect way to serve this is on a warm, fresh bagel, but equally delicious spread on savoury scones, crackers and oatcakes. It’s good with the traditional pairing of smoked salmon too!

Roasted jalapeno cream cheese3

Smoky and Spicy Cheese Ball

Since I made my very first cheese ball here, it was so good, I have been needing an excuse to create new ones.

cheeseball2b

With the festive season upon us, a cheese ball is the perfect make-ahead addition to a any party or buffet table. Served with cruditiés or crackers, they are really good for feeding a crowd and delicious to eat.

This one is all about smoky and spicy flavours. Smoky cheese, smoked paprika, smoky and spicy chipotle chillies and the crust has chopped smoky almonds, smoked paprika and lots of crispy shards of smoky bacon goodness. Like my first cheese ball recipe, I haven’t used any extra salt in this at all.

cheeseball2

Ingredients:
8oz/226g room temperature cream cheese
8oz/226g room temperature Applewood smoked cheddar, grated
Small bunch of chives, very finely chopped
1-2tbs of chipotle chilli paste.
1 roasted red pepper, skinned and finely chopped. You can easily cheat and use one from a jar for this.
2tsp smoked paprika – sweet or spicy, the choice is yours
Freshly ground black pepper

Crust:
1 pack of salted smoked almonds, very finely chopped
6 thin slices of smoked streaky bacon, cooked until crisp – then cool and finely chop
Freshly ground black pepper
2tsp smoked paprika
Crackers for serving

cheeseball slice

Method:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the room temperature cheeses, peppers, paprika and chilli and mix on low speed until well mixed.  Add the chives and mix until just combined.

Place onto cling film and form into a ball. Refrigerate for at least two hours in order for it to firm up and be rolled in the crust ingredients.

On a plate, spread out the chopped almonds and bacon. Season the plate all over with freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle over the paprika so you have an even coating.

cheeseball slice2

Then just roll the cheese ball around in the crust ingredients, until fully coated. This is ready to serve immediately but will only get better if left to come up to room temperature. Otherwise you can refrigerate for up to 3 days.

cracker1

This could easily be made vegetarian by leaving out the bacon and using more of the other ingredients to coat the outside.

Chilli and Cucumber Salad

This is based on a salad I had at the School of Artisan Food in Welbeck, Nottingham. It was a summer side dish that I thought was so fresh and refreshing and made from the simplest of ingredients. I knew I had to make it at home.

Chilli cucumber salad

I couldn’t get the taste quite the same, so the next time I went I asked what was in the dressing. They didn’t give me the exact recipe, but they did tell me it contained white balsamic vinegar, something I hadn’t tried before. I went home and tried various dressings until I came up with the one below.

I’ve used fresh and zingy mint and coriander here, but it works just as well with dill.

For extra crisp cucumbers, I have tried salting and using ice water but I normally just make this and eat straightaway.

I have all the ingredients chilled ready in the fridge as it tastes best eaten cold on a hot day.

Ingredients:
1 large cucumber
1-2 red chillies – depending on heat
10 mint leaves, rolled and very finely shredded, plus a little extra for the top
Small bunch of coriander/cilantro, leaving some aside

Dressing:
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
2 tbs white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Chilli cucumber salad1

Method:
Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl.

Slice the cucumber lengthways and using a spoon, remove the seeds slice into semicircles.

Slice the chillies lengthways and carefully remove the seeds and white membrane and very finely chop.

Toss everything in a bowl and add enough dressing to moisten. Place in your serving bowl or platter and scatter over additional herbs.

This is a lovely salad to serve with grilled fish, chicken tikka or lamb kebabs and flatbreads.

Cucumber salad close up 2