Cottage Delight – Very Hot Cajun Sauce

22 05 2011

Cottage Delight are a UK-based speciality foods company manufacturing a range of snacks, preserves and sauces including several different hot sauces. Our local supermarket is stocking 4 of their hot sauces at the moment but as I have quite a few sauces on the go and even more on order I decided to limit myself to just one.

The sauce that I have sat in front of me is their Very Hot Cajun Sauce which is a scotch bonnet and habanero based concoction, according to Cottage Delight’s website this is the second hottest sauce that they manufacture; second only to their Seriously Hot Carribean Sauce.

I have never tried any of Cottage Delight’s products before and I will be interested to see what exactly about this sauce makes it in any way Cajun.

The sauce is a really attractive yellow/orange colour with a liberal smattering of bright red flecks of chilli, some chilli seeds and a few specks of spice. There is a really good medium consistency that allows ease of pouring yet is still thick enough to coat food well.

The aroma of the sauce is really appealing, there is a really a great fruity kick from the Habaneros and Scotch Bonnets, there is a slight hint of spice and a nice tartness that just balances everything out…my attention has been well and truly grabbed!

In terms of the level of heat I would have to say it is actually pretty good. Sure for most chile heads it wont be Earth shattering but there is more than enough kick to make you sit up and take notice.

In comparison to most other sauces that you would find in your local supermarket this is a real cracker, great taste and a decent heat level that will leave you wanting more.

4/5





Jamaican Jerk Marinade

22 05 2011

Well it has been far too long since I last posted a recipe so I thought I would get back into the saddle with something nice and simple.

 Jerk is a style of cooking that originated in Jamaican and involves the use of a delicious hot and spicy rub or marinade to give a really great flavour to meat, fish and chicken, it is also equally good vegetables, Tofu or even just poured over some plain white rice (a favourite snack of mine)

Now I know not everyone enjoys a lot of heat in their food but I would argue that making any sort of Jerk sauce or rub without using Scotch Bonnet peppers is like trying to drive a car with no suspension, sure you can do it but it just isn’t any good. You really need the delicious fruity taste of the scotch bonnets to make the marinade stand out.

If you are concerned about the level of heat in the peppers then make sure that you remove all of the seeds and the little ribs off the inside and maybe use a mix of half scotch bonnet and half jalapeno but trust me you will be missing out if you don’t add any

Most supermarkets will sell you a jar of jerk sauce or little packets of jerk seasoning but as I have said loudly and often unless you are able to pop into a specialist food shop or deli and pick up something truly authentic then don’t bother, the mass-produced products are inferior in literally every sense

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks spring onion
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Jamaican pimento (allspice)
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ tsp  cinnamon
  • 4 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar

Method:
Put all of the ingredients into a food processor with a steel blade attached and blitz until you have the correct consistency – a slightly thick paste
Store leftover marinade in the refrigerator in a tightly closed jar for about a month.





Thai fish soup

21 04 2011

I love Thai flavours and think that they work absolutely brilliantly with fish and seafood.

This Thai soup recipe has delicate spicing that allows the fish to really stand out coupled with a subtle kick of background heat that you will love.

I have used a combination of scallops and salmon in my recipe but it works just as well with prawns, cod, squid in fact any fish or seafood that you can think of.


Ingredients:

2 sticks of celery

1″ piece of ginger

5 shallots

4 garlic cloves

2 sticks lemon grass

handful of lime leaves

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce

1/2 tbsp mustard seeds

6 red chillies

25g coconut cream

2 pints vegetable stock

1/2 tbsp tomato puree

75g red lentils

250g fresh salmon

250g fresh scallops

sesame oil

Method:

chop the onions and garlic and lightly brown in a little sesame oil over a medium flame

roughly chop the celery and add to the pan along with the mustard seeds and the ginger, allow the celery to start to soften

Chop the red chillies (I use a mix of thai birds eye and jalapeno) and pop into the pan

remove the tough outer layer from the lemon grass and add to the pan along with the lime leaves which can be shredded up and added along with the vegetable stock, tomato puree, fish sauce and light soy.

Give everything a good stir, add the red lentils and coconut cream and allow to simmer for about 15/20 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and allow the soup to cool.

Once cooled ladle the soup into a blender and blend until you are left with what resembles a thick puree.

Force the puree through a fine sieve into a sauce pan and then return what is left in the sieve to the blender along with a further pint of water. Repeat the process of forcing the puree through the sieve and once you are sure you have extracted all the liquid discard the solids that are left behind.

At this point you should have a lovely rich, smooth Thai soup that is perfect by itself but even better with some fish or seafood added in.

Return the pan to a low heat and allow it to simmer, chop you salmon into small chunks and added to the soup to cook through gently.

You will now lightly pan sear the scallops to make sure they are cooked through perfectly. If you have large scallops you can chop them up a little but otherwise add them as is to a small pan with a little olive oil. They only need 1 minute each side to ensure that they are just right.

Once the scallops have cooked add them to the soup and allow to simmer for another 3/5 minutes before serving.





BBQ pork ribs

12 04 2011


This is a really great recipe for quick and easy  pork ribs in a delicious sweet and smokey BBQ sauce that works great with pretty much anything.

It is really easy to tweak the sauce to suit your own personal tastes, a little more sugar or some honey if you want it sweeter, a little more chilli powder or some dried chili flakes if you want a bit more heat.

If for some bizarre reason you don’t like pork you can just as easily use beef ribs and they will still taste delicious.

Ingredients:

2-3lbs back or spare ribs

1 cup ketchup

1 cup water

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp smokey paprika

1 cup  onion

1 clove garlic

 

Method:

Mix together all of the ingredients for the bbq sauce in a large saucepan, and simmer 20 minutes.

Allow the sauce to cool and baste the ribs liberally before placing into a low oven, cook for approx 4/5 hours or until the meat is really tender and nearly falling off the bone.

Every hour or so re-baste with a little bit of the sauce to keep the ribs nice and juicy.

Serve with the remaining sauce.





Nando’s extra extra hot peri peri sauce

23 02 2011

I was doing the rounds in the shops the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find that my local Spar has started to stock a selection of hot sauces from Nando’s.

For those of you who don’t know Nando’s are a South African chain of restaurants serving up Portuguese inspired cuisine; in particular they serve a lot of chicken dishes –  so much so that in the US they call themselves “Nando’s Chickenland”.

The other distinguishing thing about Nando’s is their use of Peri – Peri / Piri – Piri sauce which takes its name from the key ingredient Peri-Peri Chillies – which translates quite literally as hot hot chillies….mmm chicken and hot sauce.

A number of years back Nando’s decided to cash in on the following they have amassed and started producing their various sauces for retail sale; historically the main range consisted of regular, hot and extra hot versions all with one thing in common: they taste great.

The heat in Nando’s sauces isn’t going to melt your face off but the flavour is to die for – (click here to read Scott Roberts review of the other sauces in the range) and even if you are a hardcore chilli head you will find yourself coming back for more as a result.

So enough waffling let’s get onto the sauce itself….

Ingredients:

Water, Vinegar, salt, lemon, African Bird’s eye Chilli (Peri Peri chilli), Onion, Cayenne Pepper, Vegetable Oil, Dehydrated Green Pepper, Paprika, Garlic, Thickner (Modified food starch), Stabilisers (Xanthan Gum, Propylene Glycol Alginate).

On checking out the ingredients list I was pleased to see that Nando’s took the effort of actually listing the type of chillies used – African Bird’s Eye to be precise.

I say this because Peri-Peri isn’t always used as an exact name and can often be used to cover a whole different range of chillies of varying different levels of heat. In this case the African Bird’s Eye should be somewhere in the region of 50 – 70, 000  SHU although there have been instances of some African Bird’s Eyes hitting as high as 175k  – Just a little bit of difference there…

Appearance:

The sauce is a nice vibrant red/orange colour with a good smattering of seeds and small flecks of chillies running throughout. I think that the consistency of this sauce is pretty much spot on, it is just thin enough to pour without issue but is thick enough to really coat food well.

Aroma:

The aroma is ok but there are certainly more enticing sauces out there; you can pick out the smell of the chillies and some of the spices but mostly you get the smell of the lemons and vinegar making it a little on the tart side.

Taste:

I tried this straight up and had slightly mixed feelings about it to be honest. The core Nando’s taste was there and came through quite clearly which was obviously a plus and you could clear pick out the flavour of the chillies as well which was also good.

Unfortunately though the first flavour that you really get is the lemon and the vinegar and whilst a little bit of citrus is really quite nice this was just way too much to take by itself.

Now I realise that very few people eat hot sauce straight out the bottle and as such most mainstream manufacturers haven’t really got their sights set on pleasing us few weirdos that do, as such it was time to add this bad boy to some food and see how things went together.

Seeing as this is a sauce from Nando’s it would be lunacy not to try this with some chicken and so when I was cooking dinner that evening I kept back a little plain grilled chicken and gave it a good smothering of sauce.

Instant redemption.

The flavours worked perfectly to compliment the food without taking over and that citrus and acidity that had seemed so raw and full on previously now seemed fresh and zingy and really just helped give a nice lift.

Next up I had a little salsa from the local supermarket and decided to try to pep it up with a couple of tablespoons of the extra-extra hot sauce.

Again the sauce handled the job admirably, it added a good bit of zip to what was otherwise a lacklustre mass-produced salsa and imparted just enough heat to give you a bit of warmth without having anyone reaching for the milk.

The level of heat here is pretty good actually; granted it didn’t set my mouth aflame with scorching fury but there was enough of a kick from the chillies to give a bit of warmth that lingered well.

All in all I would recommend Nando’s extra extra hot sauce as being a great choice with chicken and can really see it going well with prawns or maybe some  good meaty fish but there is just a slight lack of balance that stops it from really standing out in my eyes.

Heat – 2.5 /5

Taste – 2/5 straight up

4/5 on food





Cheesy Megadeath Wings

3 02 2011

 With my love of all things hot and spicy chicken wings are the perfect vehicle for trying out sauces and just generally making a mess of myself.

 I found a recipe a while back for garlic and cheese wings and really liked the flavour that the parmesan gave, as such next time I was knocking up a batch of hot wings I decided to drop some in…. Let me just say I am never going back to regular hot wings.

It might sound like a  weird combination but try them I guarantee you wont be let down.

If you find Blair’s Megadeath to be a bit hot for your tastes then you can always go with something a little milder, I would stay away from anything with extract though, unless you like your wings to have that odd chemical taste to them.

Ingredients:

4 lbs chicken wings, halved

1 bottle of Blair’s Megadeath

1/4 lb melted butter

250g parmesan cheese

Method:

Deep fry the chicken wings until they are golden and slightly crisp, set aside on a piece of kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.

Melt the butter and mix in the parmesan cheese and the bottle of Megadeath sauce ensuring that everything is well combined.

Coat all of the wings liberally with the cheesy Megadeath sauce and serve on a bed of crisp lettuce with soem blue cheese dressing and a good beer.





ABC Sambal Extra Pedas

1 02 2011

A friend from work came back from Holland this week and knowing that I am a sucker for all things hot and spicy grabbed a bottle of hot sauce for me on her way back.

The sauce in question is from ABC, an Indonesian company who manufacture a range of different sauces;  this particular offering is their Sambal Extra Pedas which simply means extra hot.

Sambal being a Southern Asian sauce is often lumped in alongside Thai sauces such as Sriracha, now I cannot stand Sriracha and not just because of all the hype surrounding it at the moment, there is just a flavour to most store bought varieties that doesn’t appeal to me. Luckily for me though I have always quite enjoyed Sambal and I am keen to see how this particular brand measures up.

Ingredients: chile, sugar, water, salt, garlic, starch, acetic acid, sodium benzoate

Smell:

Upon opening the bottle I was hit straight away with a good big hit of chillies and garlic with just the slightest hint of sugary sweetness and vinegar coming through in the background.

Appearance:

This sambal looks an awful look like an orange slightly translucent tomato ketchup, it is completely smooth with not the slightest shred of seed or skin and has a medium viscosity that means you might have to give the bottle a bit of a whack to get things moving initially.

Taste:

I had a sneaking suspicion that I might like this sauce; it looked good it smelt good and I am known to enjoy sambal, even so I was really really pleasantly surprised by just how good this sauce was.

The main flavours that come through straight away are the chillies and the garlic, the vinegar is there but you really have to be looking for it to find it and the sweetness seems just right. There is enough to offset the chillies and the garlic but not so much that it seems overly sweet or cloying.

Since opening the bottle I have tried this sauce on a whole bunch of different foods; sausages, prawns, cod, egg fried rice, wanton rolls…. the list is really quite exhaustive.

The foods have all been really quite different but one thing has been static across the board – the sambal has worked well with pretty much all of them!

Obviously it has faired best with the more Asian items like the fried rice and the wanton rolls but that delicious mix of chillies, garlic and sweetness also worked brillantly with the seafood. The prawns were lifted to another dimension and it really worked well with the big meaty cod steaks.

Heat:

There is a decent bit of heat to this sauce, whilst it wont be breaking any records it is certainly hotter than a lot of other “sweet chilli sauces” that you would typically find in a supermarket which often are just sickly sweet concoctions with just enough chilli for you to notice it.

The burn, such as it is, stays very forward in your mouth and builds nicely whilst never really threatening to overwhelm.  If you think that tap water has a kick to it then I would steer clear but otherwise you shouldn’t be in for any shocks.

Heat 2/5

Overall 3.5/5








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