Queso Fundido

Queso Fundido Collage

Queso Fundido is essentially a Mexican version of a cheese fondue, bringing together wonderfully oozy, gooey cheese with a fabulously spicy and very, very moreish cooked chorizo.

It’s a great dish to serve to a hungry family or perhaps when you have a few friends over for drinks. Serve it in the middle of the table with plenty of tortilla chips and hunks of crusty bread and people will come running, elbowing each other way to load up their next scoopful and laughing as everyone ends up with cheese all down their chins.

You could use a good shop bought chorizo meat for this dish but I made my own, using minced pork from my favourite butcher and the Cool Chile Co’s new Mexican Chorizo Seasoning, which I can highly recommend.

Mexican oaxaca or queso quesadilla would be the traditional cheeses to use in this dish but as I couldn’t get hold of these I experimented with Mozzarella and good old Cheddar, which I thought worked a treat.

queso fundido

Queso Fundido

Serves 4 to 6

200g uncooked Mexican chorizo meat (shop bought or make your own – see below for the Cool Chile Co recipe)
150g Mozzarella cheese, grated
200g Cheddar cheese, grated
2 large tomatoes, chopped
bag of tortilla chips
crusty bread – baguette is perfect

Preheat the oven to gas mark 6 / 200° Celsius.

In a large frying pan, cook the chorizo over a medium heat for about five minutes. Drain off the excess oil and set aside.

Mix the two cheeses together in a cast iron skillet or ceramic ovenproof dish and place in the oven until just melted. This takes around five minutes but keep an eye on it as you don’t want the cheese to burn.

Give the cheese a good mix before topping with the chorizo and chopped tomatoes.

Serve at once with tortilla chips and bread. It will be gone in seconds.

queso fundido

It’s incredibly easy to prepare your own chorizo meat using the seasoning kit from Cool Chile Co.

The contents of the kit include traditional chorizo spices (achieote powder, Mexican oregano, thyme, cinnamon, bay and clove) along with dried ancho, guajillo and chipotle chillies, , and the resulting chorizo is full of rich and beautifully smoky flavours, which I was surprised to find aren’t completely overpowered by all that chilli. It’s actually quite mild in terms of chilli heat, and both my daughters enjoyed it lots and weren’t at all phased by the spiciness.

Mexican Chorizo

This recipe created double the amount of chorizo I needed for my queso fundido so I froze the rest and plan to use with tacos very soon.

1 Cool Chile Co Mexican chorizo seasoning kit
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
50ml cider vinegar
500g minced pork or beef (I used pork)
4 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil

Roast the chillies from the seasoning kit, and soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Blitz these in a food processor with the rest of the herbs and spices from the kit, as well as the garlic and cider vinegar, to create a dark red puree. Chill in the fridge.

Place the minced meat in a large bowl and add the chilled puree. Mix together thoroughly.

The chorizo meat is now ready to be used in your chosen dish, whether a queso fundido as here, or perhaps fry and crumble over fried or scrambled eggs, or mixed with diced onion and potato for a tortilla topping or taco filling.

queso fundido

I’m entering my queso fundido into this month’s Spice Trail challenge, where the theme for April is Destination Mexico.

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Disclosure: The Cool Chile Co provided me with a complementary Mexican Chorizo Seasoning kit for review purposes. All views expressed are completely my own and are 100% honest.

Thumbs up for…

April Collage

With only a few days left until Easter, here’s a quick round-up of some of the top products my family have been taste-testing recently, in case you’re on the look out for a few last minute shopping ideas.

M&S Easter Cracking Dessert

MS egg dessertThis ‘Cracking Dessert’ from M&S received a very definite thumbs up from my two girls. It’s a crunchy crumb layered with milk chocolate cheesecake and vanilla mousse, topped with orange and lemon curd.

Usually I find these types of pudding too sickly sweet but this is just the right combination of fruity tang and creamy sweetness.

£1.30 for a 95g single pot.

Hotel Chocolat You Crack Me Up Extra Thick Egg

your-crack-me-up-extra-thick-easter-eggAnother sweet treat that really made my children smile was this luxurious extra thick chocolate egg with its assortment of humorous mini chocolate creations from that wonderful British chocolatier, Hotel Chocolat.

At £28 you might argue this is simply too good for little people but I’d definitely recommend buying them just this one egg and  it’ll keep them going for quite a while. My girls wrote their own review, which you can read here.

thorntons eggThornton’s Masterpiece Easter Egg

If you want good chocolate but Hotel Chocolat is a little out of your price range, then how about this 70% dark chocolate Masterpiece egg from Thornton’s?

The seductively rich and dark chocolate egg comes surrounded by pretty mini masterpieces – chocolate art creations in delicious flavours including toffee, fudge, orange and raspberry. £9.99 for 270g.

Waitrose Ginger Truffle Mini Eggs

ginger eggsGinger and dark chocolate is one of my all-time favourite combinations and when I saw these ginger truffle mini eggs on the shelves at my local Waitrose I couldn’t resist picking up a box. At £3.50 for a 100g they make for an affordable naughty treat.

The truffle centre is gorgeously soft and smooth with a warming hint of soft ginger spice, covered in deep dark chocolate. Perfect as an after dinner chocolate with a cup of strong espresso.

Heston from Waitrose Acacia Honey and Ginger Hot Cross Buns

heston hot cross bunsAnother recent impulse buy from a lunchtime jaunt to Waitrose were these acacia honey and ginger hot cross buns from their Heston Blumenthal range. Beautifully spiced and not too sweet, I think I might be copying this flavour combination the next time I bake my own.

At £1.69 for two, they are much more than I’d normally pay for hot cross buns but they are very good, although possibly more of cake than a tea cake and just fabulous served with thickly spread with butter and a strong cup of tea.

Unearthed Chorizo de Leon

chorizo de leonAuthentically produced in the mountains of northern Spain, with an earthy, spicy and smoky flavour, Chorizo de Leon from Unearthed is great served as part of a selection of Spanish meats and cheeses for cold tapas.

It is also equally good as a cooking ingredient, as in the fantastic chorizo stuffing my husband prepared recently to serve with roast chicken for my Mother’s Day feast.

Available from Waitrose and Ocado, £3.79 for 220g.

Cool Chile Co Mexican Chorizo Seasoning

cool chileThis seasoning pack from the Cool Chile Co is a simple way to create your own wonderfully spicy, tangy Mexican chorizo meat. The kit provides you with chile ancho, chile guajillo, chile chipotle as well as a Mexican chorizo spice mix containing achiote powder, Mexican oregano, thyme, cinnamon, bay leaf and clove. £2.60 for 46g.

I was sent a kit recently to review and was a little dubious as to why I’d bother making my own chorizo meat rather than just buying it ready-made. But I am now completely sold.

I used the seasoning to create a beautifully flavoursome spiced pork mince which I then served as part of a queso fundido – essentially a Mexican take on a cheese fondu – and it was one of the most moreishly delicious dishes I’ve tasted recently.

I’ll bring you the full recipe on the blog very soon, I promise.

Loyd Grossman Lasagne Sauces

grossmanI don’t use packed or jars of sauces very often but this offering from Loyd Grossman is one I think I’ll use again.

My family loves lasagne but while it’s particularly not difficult, it’s not the quickest dish in the world to make either, and so if you’re looking to cut corners but still achieve that proper homemade taste, these sauces are the way to go.

The tomato sauce is rich and full of herbs, while the white sauce is creamy, with a lovely hint of nutmeg, and it isn’t too sweet, which is so often the case with these ready-made sauces. £1.69 per pack.

Bart Mediterranean Mixed Herbs in Sunflower Oil

bart herbsI actually first bought these Bart herbs in oil by accident when I was doing an online supermarket shop. I thought I was buying dried mixed herbs but these arrived instead. And I’ve been a fan ever since.

It’s delicious spooned onto homemade pizzas, stirred into pasta sauces and roast vegetables, and I also rather like mixing it through boiled rice. £1.79 for 85g.

Disclosure: I was sent complimentary samples of Hotel Chocolat and Thornton’s Easter eggs, M&S Easter Cracking Dessert, Unearthed Chorizo de Leon, Cool Chile Co Mexican Chorizo Seasoning and Loyd Grossman’s lasagne sauces for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.

The Spice Trail: cooking with paprika


Share your paprika recipes to win a Cool Chile Co gift box

Here we are in a brand new year, and so The Spice Trail is taking us to a brand new spice destination. In January our challenge is to cook with paprika. Hopefully though it won’t prove too much of a challenge. I for one use paprika quite a bit in my cooking. It’s a favourite ingredient in warming sausage casseroles or for adding a spicy kick to a simple tomato sauce for pasta. It’s also great sprinkled over potato wedges and other root vegetables before roasting. But I want to know how you use paprika in your cooking? We had such a fantastic response to the chilli and cinnamon recipes at the end of last year, I can’t wait to see what paprika dishes you come up with.

A little bit about paprika

Paprika is a ground powder of dried sweet red peppers (seeds out first), which were said to have been taken to their spiritual home (Hungary) by the Turks, though as with all peppers they came originally from the New World. True Hungarian paprika is divided into different echelons of quality: noble sweet, semi-sweet, rose, strong and commercial. The Spanish make a wood-smoked (pimenton) that you can buy either sweet or hot. Indispensable in goulash, chorizo, devilling and fish dishes. Taken from Leon: Ingredient & Recipes by Allegra McEvedy

Win a Cool Chile Co gift box

At the end of the paprika challenge, one lucky winner will receive a super cool  gift box from the Cool Chile Co, featuring a range of Mexican herbs and spices, including their delicious smoked paprika from Spain and of course a selection of fantastic Mexican chillies. Cool Chile Co

The Cool Chile Co started in 1993, and the idea was simple: to import a wide variety of the best dried chillies, direct from Mexico, providing the UK with an exciting new range of flavours and heat sensations for real Mexican and home cooking. They have gone on to produce their own salsas, sauces and pastes, faithfully using traditional Mexican recipes and their delicious imported chillies. Personally, I’m a massive fan of their dried Ancho chilli and Mexican oregano.

How to enter The Spice Trail

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Display the The Spice Trail badge on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they feature this month’s key ingredient, paprika. Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 28 January 2014. If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and The Spice Trail badge. As entries come in, links to these will be added to the bottom of this page. At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a tasty gift box from the Cool Chile Co. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board. I can’t wait to see what paprika dishes you come up with this month for The Spice Trail. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

January’s entries

  1. Easy Paprika Pork Fricassee from The Hedge Combers
  2. Smoked Paprika Beans & Chorizo from Julie’s Family Kitchen
  3. Vegetable Burgers from The Crazy Kitchen
  4. Chorizo and Vegetable Stromboli from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families
  5. Dark Chocolate and Paprika Cookies from The Garden Deli
  6. Spicy Potatoes, Chorizo and Peppers with Pan Fried Sea Bass from Julie’s Family Kitchen
  7. Veggie Sausageless Rolls from The Crazy Kitchen
  8. Chicken Paprika from My Golden Pear
  9. Couscous Salad with Chermoula Dressing from Spices Galore
  10. Pan-fried Creole Cauliflower Fritters from Food to Glow
  11. Paprika and Cocoa Roasted Cauliflower from Chocolate Log Blog
  12. Savoury Cheese and Paprika Biscuits from Searching for Spice
  13. Roast Cauliflower Cheese Soup from Bangers & Mash
  14. Chipotle Black Bean Soup with Orange & Red Onion Salsa from Spices Galore
  15. Chermoula Marinated Halloumi from Deena Kakaya
  16. Sausage Stroganoff from My Golden Pear

  17. Vegetarian Lasagne from Nomsies Kitchen
  18. Deep Paprika Mushroom and Butter Bean Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  19. Venison Goulash with Herb Dumplings from Mrs Portly’s Kitchen
  20. Pulled Pork with a Spicy Rub from Lavender & Lovage
  21. Paprika Schnitzel from The Lass in the Apron
  22. Jacki’s Hungarian Goulash from Jacki Harrison-Stanley
  23. Pork Stroganoff Kinda Thingy from Spurs Cook
  24. Vegan Cheesy Chickpea Dip with Coconut Bacon from The Tasty Space
  25. Eggs and Paprika from Lapin d’Or and More
  26. Roasted Broccoli with Toasted Almonds and a Smoky Paprika Dressing from Selma’s Table
  27. Sausage and Apple Casserole from JibberJabberUK
  28. Sweet Paprika and Walnut Swirls from Tales from the Kitchen Shed
  29. Paprika and Parmesan Popcorn from Eat Your Veg
  30. Spicy Sausage Pasta from Bangers & Mash

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Thumbs up for…

Here’s a round-up of some of the tasty titbits I’ve been sent recently and marvellous morsels I’ve discovered for myself.

Mr Trotters Collage

Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling

I’m prone to tutting when we’re down our local and my husband buys a bag of pork scratchings. While I might surreptitiously steal one or two, they’re not usually the most pleasant experience – unless munching on deep-fried hunks of grease is your thing. However the pork crackling from Mr Trotter’s is in quite a different league and unlike anything you’d find on offer in your average pub.

Mr Trotter’s ‘revolutionary’ British pork snack was the brainchild of food writer Tom Parker Bowles, Great British Menu judge Matthew Fort, and Cotswold farmer Rupert Ponsonby. Unlike most scratchings made from imported Danish rind, it is cooked from 100% British pork, and uses no added MSG. Mr Trotter’s are triple-cooked for a fantastic crunch, and seasoned with natural yeast and sea salt. The Original variety is pretty good, but it’s the Jalapeno Chilli version that really floated my boat and I reckon it’s the perfect accompaniment to a pint of lager. Not too greasy, they’re light and crunchy, and very, very tasty. Not the healthiest snack in the world either but ruddy lovely nonetheless.

Gran Luchito Honey

gran luchito honey

You might have gathered I’m something of a chilli-head and so I was rather intrigued and quite excited to discover this pot of Gran Luchito Honey flavoured with smoked Mexican chillies in my latest recipe box from Kitchen Nomad.

I only had a small pot and all of it was used in a Chilli Honey Crumble, which was absolutely delicious, but I do wish I had some more as I think it would be wonderful simply spread on hot buttered toast. Fellow blogger Kelly Anderson mentioned recently on Instagram that she likes hers “drizzled over chocolate croissants” and I can imagine that working too.

It has a heavenly smoky sweet flavour, spiked with occasional bursts of intense chilli heat.

I must get my hands on more of this stuff. And soon.

Tomato Paste Collage

Olive Branch – Sun Dried Tomato Paste

I received a pot of this sun dried tomato paste from Olive Branch in my goody bag at Food Bloggers Connect back in the summer. Featuring sun dried tomatoes mixed with garlic, fresh basil and oregano, the paste packs a tasty punch and is bursting with flavour. We’ve been enjoying it smeared on bruschetta and it’s the perfect way to create a simple pasta bake, with the addition of black olives and mozzarella, for a quick and easy supper.

French’s & Frank’s RedHot recipe books


While I’ve yet to buy a single Christmas present (and I plan to spend as little as I can this year by making as many gifts as possible), I think these neat little cookbooks would make fun stocking fillers for the fellow foodie in your life.

I haven’t tried the BBQ sauce, but I am rather partial to Frank’s RedHot sauce and, although French’s Classic Yellow Mustard isn’t a patch on our own very fine English mustard, it is a must when you’re enjoying American-style hot dogs.

Available from newsagents and most supermarkets, these pocket-sized cookbooks are just £2.99 each and provide a wide range of recipe ideas based on these three sauce brands. The recipes are pretty simple and while they won’t revolutionise your cooking, there are some good ideas for spicing up everyday meals. In particular I’m looking forward to trying Frank’s spicy cheese toasts and French’s easy peasy ribs.

Cool Chile Co – Diced Chile Ancho

Cool chile co - chile ancho

I think I might be addicted to this ancho chilli from the Cool Chile Co. It is a fairly mild chilli but one that gives a full-flavoured, smoky and fruity intensity to your Mexican dishes.

Apparently it’s an indispensable ingredient in Mole Poblano (a rich chilli, nut and cocoa sauce), although I’ve been using it in black bean soup and rajas tacos, two more recipes from this month’s Mexican Kitchen Nomad box.

But to be honest I think I could eat practically any dish if it comes with a handful of toasted ancho chillies sprinkled on top!

Disclosure: I was sent Mr Trotter’s Great British Pork Crackling and French’s & Frank’s Red Hot recipe books for review purposes. No money exchanged hands and all opinions expressed are my own.