I recently judged a cooking competition for the first time. It was slightly different from your usual culinary contest. Entrants communicated only via Twitter, finalising their dishes in the comfort of their own homes and then tweeting photos to share their creations, using the hashtag #capsicanacookoff. This spur of the moment virtual cook-off, started on Twitter by some local foodies to mark Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution Day 2013, involved entrants creating a two course meal which celebrated home cooking, the humble vegetable, and, of course, the feisty chilli. Read Ben of Capsicana Chilli Co's winning recipe for Ratatouille and Chilli Bombs here...
Ratatouille (adapted from a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) with Scotch Bonnet Chilli Bombs
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
1 aubergine, cubed
1 aubergine, cubed
300g courgettes, cut into discs
300g red onions, thick cut
250g baby plum tomatoes, left whole
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
4-6 scotch bonnet peppers, cut lids off and remove seeds and pith without puncturing the sides of the fruits ~ Ben added a warning to use gloves whilst handling the peppers!
100g of Norwegian Jarlsberg (or another cheese if you prefer, maybe cheddar, Edam or Emmental)
1. Preheat oven to 180C and get a saucepan each for the aubergine, courgettes, onions and tomatoes and place on a medium heat with a tablespoon of olive oil in each. You will cook them separately and then combine at the end.
2. Stuff your scotch bonnets with cheese. Cram as much in as you can without breaking the fruits and make sure you can place the lids back on.
3. Divide the garlic into 4 and add to each saucepan. When the garlic begins to sizzle add the aubergine, courgettes, onions and tomatoes to their pans and cook over a medium heat.
4. Place scotch bonnets into the oven for 10-12 minutes. Remove when fruit has softened and cheese completely melted.
5. Remove the pans from the heat when you see the following: Aubergines fall apart and inside pulp goes very soft, courgettes soften and brown slightly, tomatoes soft but not broken, onions softened and smelling sweet. When all four are ready, combine in one pan and gently stir together, seasoning as required.
I loved the wow-factor of the Chilli Bombs and could see how well executed the ratatouille was from the photos Ben tweeted; no soggy mess often associated with letting the juices of the vegetables all mingle together or overcooking until they resemble a vegetable soup. Most of all, Ben's plate of food looked so appetising and colourful that I instantly wanted to eat it! The next #capsicanacookoff will take place on Thursday 4 July and the theme is Classic American... get cooking!
*UPDATE: The #capsicanacookoff page is now live on The Capsicana Chilli Co website. The next cook-off is planned for Thursday 4 July: North American theme, must involve chillies! Tweet your two courses by 10pm and I will pick the winning dishes!*