Chilli Jam

Hot and spicy but like no other chilli sauce, this delightful condiment is curiously both sweet and savoury. Amazing with meat, cheese, whatever; I’ll admit to eating it on toast for a punchy breakfast and even straight from the spoon..

I literally love the stuff.

A glut of red chillies brings a naughty smile to my face as I know what’s coming next. Here’s my quick and easy recipe for a kicking chilli jam.

Ingredients:

  • 8 red chillies
  • 4 Romano red peppers (deseeded)
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger (peeled)
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 750g caster sugar
  • 200ml red wine vinegar
  • 400g passata or finely chopped tomatoes (you could just blend a tin of tomatoes)

Method:

  1. Roughly chop the chillies, peppers, ginger and garlic and then blitz in a food processor.
  2. Pop all of the ingredients into a heavy pan (or jam pan if you have one), stir and bring it up to the boil.
  3. Skim any scum that rises to the surface and then simmer for about an hour and a half, stirring frequently to stop it catching on the bottom of the pan. making chilli jam
  4. Once you’re happy with the consistency, pour into sterilised* jars.

Refrigerate after opening.

chilli jam

As always, recipes are only guides – if you like it hotter, pump up the chilli, garlic and ginger. I like to use a mix of chillies to create a depth of flavour and include a birdseye chilli for a nice kick.

 

* to sterilise jars, give them a good wash in hot soapy water and then pop them into a hot oven for 10 minutes (lids too). Alternatively, just run them through a dishwasher cycle.

red chilli

Kimchi

This is by far my favourite Kimchi recipe to date. I say to date, as I have no intention of getting off the experimentation bus, and neither should you.

Kimchi is the national dish of Korea and consists of vegetables which are salted and fermented with garlic, ginger and chilli etc. It’s eaten as a side dish or used as a condiment. I can’t get enough of its umami goodness, smug in the knowledge that every bite is ridiculously good for me has a significant effect on gut health.

Ingredients:

  • 2 chinese leaf cabbages
  • 4 tbsp salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced
  • 5 cm fresh ginger, peeled & sliced
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp chilli powder (mild to medium heat)
  • 10 spring onions, finely sliced

Method:

I use a large kilner jar with a water trap that prevents pressure building up during the lacto-fermentation process. If you don’t have one yourself, you may want to pop open the lid on your jar every now and again until it’s ready to go in the fridge.

  1. Chop your cabbages into 5cm chunks and discard the tough core. Place in a large bowl with the salt and give it all a good scrunch up.
  2. Pour in enough cold water to cover the cabbage and leave to stand for 2 hours with a plate over the top to keep it all submerged in the brine.
  3. Rinse the salt from the cabbage in a colander. Leave it to stand for half an hour to drain thoroughly.
  4. In a mortar and pestle (or small food processor), mash the ginger, garlic, chilli and sugar together into a paste.
  5. Squeeze any excess water from the cabbage and then thoroughly mix all of the ingredients together.
  6. Pack the mixture into your glass jar, pushing it all down until the juices rise up. You need to make sure that you leave a reasonable air gap at the top.
  7. Seal your jar and leave to ferment for 3 to 5 days before transferring to the fridge, where it will last for up to three months.

 

Boulangère Potatoes

I adore Gratin Dauphinoise for the luxurious, comforting satisfaction it brings to the table, but sometimes, just sometimes, the calorific creaminess of this French potato dish is too much.

Step forward Boulangère.

Named after the baker’s oven in which it would have traditionally been cooked, this is an absolute classic which transports me to France at the first taste.

Ingredients:

(30cm x 20cm x 5cm ovenproof dish)

  • 1.5kg potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Thyme leaves
  • 400ml vegetable or chicken stock
  • salt & pepper
  • 25g butter
  • 25g parmesan

Method:

The size of your ovenproof dish is quite important, much like when making a lasagna.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan).
  2. Slice your potatoes as thinly as possible using a mandolin or food processor.
  3. Finely slice the onions.
  4. Place a layer of potato slices in the dish, top with a layer of onions and season.
  5. Repeat the layers in order, placing a bay leaf in the middle layer.
  6. Finish with a nice even layer of potatoes and pour over the stock.
  7. Season, sprinkle with thyme leaves and place a bay leaf on top.
  8. Dust with parmesan cheese.
  9. Dot with butter.
  10. Bake for around 1 hour until the potatoes are cooked through and the top is beautifully golden.

 

boulangere potatoes

 

baked boulangere potatoes

Rosehip Syrup

October has brought a distinctive change in the weather, and with it, an influx of sniffles, coughs and colds. We flick the switch on the central heating and the onslaught from the invisible invaders begins; are our immune systems caught off-guard in the ambush?

Our go-to remedy is hot Elderberry Cordial, but I’m not entirely sure what happened to the elderberries this year – whether it was a short season, a poor crop, an influx of birds (or foragers) or just my poor timing, I missed out and had little opportunity to bottle up any of their medicinal goodness.

So here’s another of nature’s hedgerow miracles, the humble rosehip.

wild rose bush

Packed with an insane amount of vitamin C, the little red fruits of the rose family have been used by man for centuries. Commonly used to make tea, I personally recall the bright red hips from my days at primary school in Cheshire, where little hands reached through the fence to harvest them as a remarkably potent source of ‘itching powder’. Every hip is packed full of seeds, each covered in tiny irritant hairs that you really want to avoid. Kids can be pretty cruel to each other at times.

Take care when foraging rosehips as it’s all too easy to shred your hands on the thorny bushes – wear gloves or snip the hips off with secateurs.

Ingredients:

  • 1kg Rosehips, washed
  • 1 ltr Water
  • 500g Granulated sugar

You’ll also need muslin cloth for straining and sterilised jars or bottles for storing.

Method:

I like to trim the hips but it’s not essential.

  1. Roughly chop the rosehips in a food processor and pop them in a large pan with the water.
  2. Bring it to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes.
  3. Strain the hips and their pesky hairs through a double layer of muslin cloth, squeezing out as much liquid as you can.
  4. Strain the liquid again through a couple of layers of muslin cloth into a clean pan and add the sugar.
  5. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and bring the mix back to the boil for 3-4 minutes.

It’s advisable to bottle the syrup in small quantities as it will need refrigerating once opened.

homemade rosehip syrup

Watermelon Canapés

Have a poke around on Pinterest and you’ll find a raft of great ideas for canapés and appetizers (I put on an American accent to type that word).

watermelon canapes

I have no idea where I stole the idea for Watermelon Canapes from as it’s been in the repertoire for a long time, but if were to hazard a guess, it was probably the above-mentioned site. Super-easy and suitably impressive, this combination of flavours balances beautifully and never fails to deliver. In fact, they’re so easy we’ve even made them in a field whilst camping with friends.

Watermelon Feta bites

There’s sweetness from the watermelon, saltiness from the cheese, fragrance from the coriander and heat from the chilli.

Ingredients:

  • Watermelon
  • Feta cheese
  • Coriander leaves
  • Jalapeno peppers

Method:

This is more a list of tips than a method. The basic principle is to cut the watermelon and feta cheese into even squares and stack them up with a fresh coriander leaf and a slice of chilli. Ta-daaa!

So here’s what I think is important:

  • Size – I tend to cut them to about 25mm square so they’re a nice mouthful.
  • Ratio – you’ll need the cheese to be roughly half the thickness of the watermelon.
  • Shape – keep them all neat and uniform in size and shape as it will give the best visual impact.
  • Drizzle – I like to give the finished plate or board a splash of extra virgin olive oil to finish it off, but I’ve recently found a nice sticky chilli balsamic glaze that works really well too.
  • Heat – check you’re chilli peppers first – if there’s no heat in your Jalapeno it won’t balance out the canapé. You can use other varieties of pepper if the combo works for you.
  • Fresh – don’t prepare these morsels too far in advance as you’ll want them to be nice and fresh.

Have fun entertaining folks!

watermelon appetizers

Watermelon Appetizers