A handy preserve that goes well with stir-fries, curries, cheeses, creamy pasta sauces. Brings colour & life to many dishes. The trick is don’t overcook it. As there is no pectin, use your judgment & keep tasting as it cooks & reduces.
Makes about 4 cups.
- 125g garlic cloves, crushed
- 125g ginger, grated
- 60g medium-hot red chillies, stems & seeds removed
- 1.25kg tomatoes (I prefer red capsicums)
- 825g sugar
- 30ml red wine vinegar
- pinch salt
1. Blitz the chillies with the tomatoes/capsicums in food processor til smooth. Scoop mixture into saucepan with all other ingredients & bring slowly to boil, stir to dissolve sugar.
2. Cook for about an hour, stirring often at later stages, until chilli jam has thickened & is a good colour.
3. Decant into sterilised jars (mine goes into takaway containers, label & freeze.) Or store in a cool dry spot & use within six months.
Holy Hotness…for lovers of Chilli, beer & milk.
We learnt a lesson on Saturday….don’t drink beer to take the sting out of a chilli-burning mouth. Calm the fire with milk instead. It’s a competition strategy apparently. (And keep your hands away from your eyes & your privates for a couple of days :))
So it’s off the the inaugural Chinderah Chilli Festival in northern NSW…a little something different, support the local SES & our foodie fore-runners, gather a few condiments, (some with very humorous names,) & pick up some new ideas.
A day out with family, 3 generations. It’s hot, humid, overcast, thank goodness for a little breeze.
There’s a good turn-out, with about 50 stalls & food vans to work our way around. Tasting, sharing samples & learning about the different strengths of chilli varieties, & what can be done with them.
Interestingly enough, supposedly the worlds hottest chilli, the Carolina Reaper, was the first pot plant sold out. There sure is a current trend towards all things chilli…& who can eat the hottest!
It seems to be a fun, frivolous challenge, an unspoken right-of-passage among the brave contenders, a pecking order within the initiated….
For me personally, I love a bit of spice, & am not afraid of a bit of hotness. But I can’t see the point of that burn over-riding all the other flavours it accompanies.
I like it more as an enhancer rather than the main event.
Pretty plants, products a-plenty, petting zoo & pony rides. As well as live music, beer tent, a chilli eating contest & competitions for the kids.
My little mate loved getting his big boy boat on with the SES volunteers, but didn’t seem so keen when the time came to get up close & personal with the storm troopers…lol.
Great to see our Sunshine Coast producers well represented, some being Suncoast Limes, The Chilli Effect, as well as Kastavilla Trading Co. where you can get these fabulous products.
I loaded up with dried chillies, sauces, ciders, smoked garlic, speck & of course, chilli chocolate.
Now to get this haul home & create something with a bit of gentle heat…..
Spiced Apple Jam:
- 1.5kg green apples (I used Pink Lady’s because our local fruit shop had a great special on)
- 2 cups apple juice
- 3 lemons, zest & juice (I used limes because our tree produces prolifically)
- 1 kg sugar
- 1 tspn cinnamon
- 1/4 tspn cloves
- 1/2 tspn each nutmeg & allspice
Peel, core & slice apples (I didn’t peel them, thinking the pectin content would be greater. I also put the cores in a muslin cloth (brand new Chux works just as well) tied it loosely & popped it on top of apples while they cooked, more pectin.)
Place in heavy-based saucepan over low heat. Add zest, lemon & apple juice. Cook until apples are soft, about 30 mins.
Add sugar & stir until dissolved. Add spices. Increase temperature to high & bring to the boil. Cook rapidly for 20 mins, or until setting point is reached.
Remove from heat & let cool a little. Remove cloth of cores & discard. Ladle into warm sterilised jars, filling to the very top. Seal and label. (I put mine in t/a containers to stack & freeze.)
I slow-cooked mine, using the confit method, which prevents diluting the flavour. It was so easy, put it all in, close it up & walk away. The smells wafting though all day were tantalizing…..
- 2 kg pork shoulder, skinned & boned & cut into chunks (ask your butcher)
- 1 cup vegetable oil (or duck fat)
- 8 bay leaves
- 12 fresh thyme sprigs
- 4 large shallots, roughly chopped
- 8 medium cloves garlic, split in half
- 1 tspn ground nutmeg
Season pork with salt & pack into roasting pan (or slow cooker) in a layer about 2 inches deep. Pour oil over the pork. Nestle bay leaves, thyme sprigs, shallots & garlic into the pork.
Cover pan tightly with foil & cook until pork is completely tender, about 3 hours (in slow cooker, overnight or all day).
Remove from oven, discard bay leaves & thyme. Carefully pour pork mixture into large strainer, reserving drained fat & juices.
Transfer pork to mixer fitted with paddle attachment (I used a hand held beater, worked perfectly). Use mixer on low speed, allowing pork to break down & shred. Slowly drizzle in fat & juices a little at a time, until mixture is loose.
Season aggressively with salt (mixture will get more bland as it chills, so add salt until it tastes almost too salty).
Pack mixture into jars, making sure to remove all air bubbles. Smooth tops of mixture with back of spoon, wipe rims of jars with clean cloth, cover with fat on top of each one. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. (If freezing, defrost in the fridge overnight before serving).
All in a days work! Happy little worker ants…..
Bring on that crusty bread!! Happy, hearty days of old!!
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup p flour (or gluten free flour)
- 1/2 tspn salt
- 1 1/4 cups milk (alternative if dairy free, like almond & coconut)
- 2 tblspns oil
Mix with stick blender (mixture will be fairly thin, experiment a little.)
Heat pan til oil just bubbles when drop of mix is added.
Pour in ladle-fulls, swirling mixture to cover bottom. Keep an eye on the colour by having a little peek after lifting a corner.
Flip over (I use an egg lifter :)) Cook another minute or so & then tip pan onto plate or board.
Repeat, adding a tiny splash of oil between each crepe. This batter behaves beautifully.
- Make a thick white sauce… about 50g butter. 1/3 cup flour. maybe 3 cups milk. (Use oil, gf flour & dairy alternative milk if preferred.)
- Poach 2-3 chicken breasts, cool, slice.
- Cut 2 rashers of bacon into strips & fry.
- Drain tin of asparagus (or poach fresh asparagus)
Add all this to sauce with a handful of grated cheese, s&p (or chicken stock) & some chopped parsley.
When mixture is cool (or cold) spoon generous amount on each crepe skin & roll up. Spread a little on top of each & sprinkle with a little extra cheese (we use parmesan.)
Pop into a mod oven for 10-15 mins. to heat through & enjoy!
Tip: I always make the filling before the crepe skins & stick it in the freezer to cool as much as possible before assembling.
Raspberry & White Chocolate Blondie…
- 125g. butter
- 200g. white chocolate
- 1/2 cup castor sugar
- 2 beaten eggs
- 3/4 cup plain flour (or gluten free)
- 1/2 cup S.R. flour (or gluten free)
- 100g. extra white chocolate
- 1/2 cup toasted macadamias, chopped small
- 150g. raspberries (frozen is fine)
- 1 tblspn, icing sugar (to dust)
Gently melt butter & chocolate. Cool to room temp.
Stir in eggs, sugar, flours, extra choc. & nuts.
Lastly, fold raspberries through carefully (so the colour won’t stain the batter.)
Put into greased tray. Bake in mod. oven 40-50 mins.
When cold, dust with icing sugar & cut into desired size.
Tonight we need something hearty & substantial, healthy & scrumptious. Something quick & easy, comforting & warm.
And besides, it’s the birthday boys favourite, requested.
So here we have the secrets to awesome lasagne!
With a bit of prep work done before hand, you can just pop it in the oven when the time comes, make a little salad & have a glass of red.
There’s a squillion variations of this dish that we all know & love. It’s highly flexible with regard to adding you own spin, like your families favourite ingredients. It can be vegetarian, turkey or chicken lasagne, traditional beef, or even veal.
We always use fresh lasagne sheets…it’s one of the key secrets of a lasagne people talk about. Another is top-shelf mince!
But today we are making ours gluten-free…you can have a packet of pre-made sheets handy in the pantry.
Cook off your garlic & onion as you would for a Bolognese sauce, add mince, brown it off, stirring until all broken up. In goes tomatoes, tomato paste,(tomato sauce works well here instead if you prefer) & seasoning, adjust to suit your palette. You may like fresh herbs or mushrooms.
We like ours to taste big & bold, so add a generous splash of red & let it simmer for as long as possible.
Eggplants are plentiful at the moment, so I’m going to throw some thick slices onto the sandwich press for a quick grilling. And maybe some zucchinis too! (It’s such a handy little kitchen gadget, one of my preferred few.)
If making yours vegetarian, you can treat all of your vegetables in this way. It keeps them all flatish, & gives them a more robust flavour. Saves using pans & washing up as well… a sandwich press rules!
You can leave your meat sauce & the pasta sheets out altogether if you wish, & just use grilled eggplant slices as the layer-alternative. It then becomes a g/f vegetable stack :))
Now make your white sauce (keeping thin, like pouring cream) & toss in a handful of grated cheese if you like…we use parmesan, pepper, salt.
Put it altogether, layer upon layer, in your baking dish.
A little sauce on the bottom helps the pasta sheets absorb & swell so it doesn’t remain as firm after cooking. (We use white sauce ’cause it costs less to produce & is easier to lift out upon serving.)
Whichever sauce you have the most of will do the job nicely, & then build from there, repeating your layers until you run out.
Finish with white sauce & then grate a sprinkling of parmesan, tasty cheese, or both, over the top.
Let’s recap…the 3 top secrets to awesome lasagne…
- Use quality mince.
- Use fresh pasta sheets.
- Keep both sauces wet.
A few more tips: As it’s all to your personal taste you can be quite free. In general though, approximately 1 kg. of mince for every 1 litre of white sauce & 1 litre of passata (tomato sauce mixture.) That’s also about 1 onion, 1 tin of tomatoes, 1/4 cup wine & 1/4 cup tomato sauce.
Makes one large baking dish.