The Moruga Scorpion

28 01 2011

I wrote recently about one of the handful of contenders to the throne of world’s hottest chilli – the Naga Viper.

Following up on that post I want to bring to your attention the Moruga Scorpion which has been developed by Jim Duffy from Refining Fire and is closely related to the Trinidad 7 pot which might I add is already a stupidly hot pepper.

The Moruga is reportedly hitting the scales at a mighty 1.46 million SHU – now that is just mental quite frankly, nearly 50% hotter than the Bhut Jolokia…

Until official tests are carried out and results are announced the Bhut Jolokia is still officially top dog but it will be interesting to see which of its heirs apparent will take the crown.

Now to get an idea of just how hot the Moruga is I have included a quick video of Buddah from I Love it spicy.com tackling one of these fiery little beggars.

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Naga Viper – The World’s Hottest Chilli Pepper?

15 12 2010

There has been a lot of buzz for a while now that the fearsome Bhut Jolokia has been knocked off its top spot as the world’s hottest chilli pepper.

It was announced back in October that Gerald Fowler from the Chilli Pepper Company had grown a new chilli that had not just beaten the Bhut but had destroyed it…. not only that but it has been developed and grown in the UK of all unlikely places.

The name of this deadly little beauty, the Naga Viper and here it is:

Rather unassuming for something that would melt your face and having you rushing for the chilled toilet paper.

The Viper is the result of selective cross breeding of the Bhut Jolokia, Naga Morich and the Trinidad Scorpion all of which are so hot it is not even funny.

Warwick University HRI have carried out HPLC testing on the Viper and have returned some pretty impressive numbers, it seems this bad boy has a LOT of heat 1,349,000 SHU to be precise.

Now numbers by themselves don’t always mean a lot to people so here is a quick comparison:

Bhut Jolokia – 1,001,304

Red Savina Habanero – 350,000 – 577,000

Jalapeno – 2500-8000

So we are looking at a chilli that is over 250 times the heat of a jalapeno, now that is hot!

There is an awful lot of dispute going on as to the veracity of the results, in particular there are claims that NMSU  are the only real authority in terms of accurately measuring the heat of a chilli, whether NMSU are the be all or not one thing is certain further verification will be required before Guinness start handing out world record certificates.

As of the end of October Gerald Fowler was in the process of sending pods away for DNA testing so before too much longer it will be official one way or the other.

Personally I think that whether or not the Viper is crowned top dog it is only a matter of time before someone in the UK turns out a world-beating variety and it says a lot about the skill and dedication  of chilli growers in the UK that they are turning out chilli peppers that are even in contention considering the huge climatic disadvantages we suffer from in this part of the world.

Picture credit – cascade news




Make your own Mulled Wine

15 12 2010

What is more festive than a warming glass of hot mulled wine?  With its heady mix of fruit and spices it is quite literally Christmas in a glass.

I know that a lot of people buy those prepared bags of spice mix that you can get in the supermarket and they are all very well and good but once you have made your own mulled wine from scratch you will never even think of going back to the pre-made sachets or bags.

Ingredients:

75 cl bottle cabernet sauvignon red wine

75 cl bottle of port

25 cl apple cider

1 orange

12 cloves

2 clementines

3 lemons

6 tbsp honey

1 cinnamon stick

2 tsp ground ginger

3 fresh bay leaves

1 vanilla pod

2 star anise

1 whole nutmeg

2 measures of brandy/cognac – optional

Method:

This really couldn’t be any easier to make;

Take the orange and stud it with the cloves and chop the clementines and two of the lemons into slices, this can be done in advance

Add the port and the wine to a large saucepan and pour in the honey, cider and brandy, if you are using it, along with 2 pints of water. Give everything a good stir and pop the saucepan over a low heat to simmer.

Zest the remaining lemon and squeeze in half of the juice

Grate approx 1/3 of the nutmeg into the pan

Split the vanilla pod in two and  add to the pan along with the sliced fruit and the rest of the dry ingredients.

Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not let the mulled wine boil or you will cook off all of the alcohol.

Serve warm in 1/2 pint mugs





Fuller’s London Porter 5.4%

5 12 2010

Fairly recently I wrote a review on Fuller’s London Pride (here) today I turn my attention to another beer from the London based brewery; Fuller’s London Porter.

I’m not going to prattle on at length about the history and origins of porter – trust me I can if you want 😉 but it is great to see a London brewery still leads the way in producing what I and many others deem to be the gold standard of porters.

Ok so where to begin, well it pours very dark brown, not black close enough, there is a slight ruby sheen to a pint if held up directly to the light. The head is egg-shell white and settles out at around 2 fingers, the head fades away a fair bit but leaves a load of lacing on the glass.

In terms of aroma you can quite clearly make out roasted malt, some bitter coffee notes and a hint of toffee or caramel, there is also a slight nuttiness and a hint of hops.

Taste is where Fuller’s have really won through on this one; everything you can pick up in the aroma of the porter is present and more.  The deep roasted malts come to the fore along with the coffee note and that toffee/caramel sweetness.

The chocolate from the roasted malt comes through in the after taste but in a subtle way, it is very much a supporting character in this porter as is the slightly nutty taste. There is a hint of fruitiness that you just about pick up in the background as well, if I had to try and pin it down I would go with raisins or sultanas with a tiny hit of vanilla creeping in as well.

All in all you come away with a rich complex taste that for me ticks all the right boxes, it is rich and malty, slightly sweet and fruity with an underlying bitterness that is refreshing and cuts through the richness which otherwise might be a tad cloying.

In terms of mouthfeel there is only really one word to describe this porter: smooth. In face we are going beyond smooth we are talking baby’s bottoms or the finest velvet gliding across your tongue  – ok well maybe not baby’s bottoms but you get the picture.

A lot of people far more worthy than I have waxed lyrical about Fuller’s London Porter and have even gone so far as to vote it the World’s best porter on several occasions. I don’t often like to follow crowds or ride along with popular opinion but on this occasion I can’t really disagree with any degree of conviction.

There might be better porters out there but if there are I certainly haven’t found them.

5/5





Make your own chili powder

23 11 2010

A number of years ago I found myself getting increasingly fed up with shop bought chili powder.

Unless you go to a specialist shop it is just not a particularly good product; some chili powders have no heat what so ever even if they are labelled as being hot, some have no flavour to them at all and many of them are adulterated with colourants and additives which are just unneccessary.

So I started making my own, now I am able to have different blends or mixes made up ready for certain recipes and have complete control over what goes into my chili powders, their flavours and levels of heat.

You can also make rubs and seasoning blends in advance by mixing in the required herbs and seeds.

Because I tend to get through quite a lot of chili powder I make fairly large batches at any one point but you can make as much or as little as you wish.

You will need to ensure that you are using dried chilies or if not you are going to end up with a paste as opposed to a powder.

If you aren’t able to find the variety of chili that you want in a dried form you can but them fresh and dry them yourself, or even better grow your own chilies.

In order to dry your chilies you will need to remove the stems and the seeds from the chili and flatten out the pieces.

Place these onto a dry baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 5 or 6 minutes before checking them. Smaller less fleshy pieces will dry out quicker and can be removed before returning the larger pieces to the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Once all of the pieces of chili are nice and crisp break them into  smaller section and pop them in a blender or better yet a spice grinder, pulse the chilies for afew seconds until you are left with a powder.

Hopefully you will notice that the colour of your chili powder is far deeper and that the aroma and flavour are far stronger and less artificial.

Store your chili powder  out of direct sunlight in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.





Homemade Harissa Paste

18 11 2010

Harissa is a hot and spicy paste from North Africa, the key ingredient in it is red chillies and it’s use is prevalent in Moroccan, Tunisian and Algerian cuisine.

Harissa is hot I won’t deny it but don’t let that put you off, there is more than just heat! There is a lovely rich fruitiness from the tomatoes and indeed from the chillies themselves and the kick of spice just transports you a million miles away from a wet and windy November afternoon.

I know that some recipes will disagree with me on this but the chillies that you use really should be dried, in my opinion this gives the best flavour to the sauce.

Depending on how hot you want the harissa you can vary which type of chillies are used and can remove the pith and seeds if you wish, personally I use a mix of dried habanero and scoth bonnets  and leave all seeds and pith intact.

To make your own harissa you will need:

250g tomatoes

100g Dried Chillies – I use a mix of habanero and scotch bonnet

1 onion

4 cloves of garlic

1tbsp cumin seeds

1tbsp coriander seeds

1tbsp mustard seeds

1/2tsp sea salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

2tbsp vinegar

olive oil

Add the chillies and the spices to a food processor and blitz until the chillies have started to break down

At this point add the garlic cloves and the onion and blitz until these are combined

You can now add the tomatoes and the 2 tbsp of vinegar and continue to blitz.

Once everything has reached a paste consistency you can add in the salt and pepper adjusting to taste.

Pour everything into a saucepan and bring to the boil, leave to cool completely and then pop into jars. Add enough olive oil into each jar to completely cover the harissa





Sloe Gin

21 10 2010

I love sloe gin.

That isn’t really a trendy statement for a 20 something man to say but I say two fingers to what is and isn’t trendy, sloe gin is great.

To me it looks and tastes like Christmas in a bottle, not that it can’t be enjoyed at other times of the year as well.

For those who don’t know the sloe is the fruit of the Blackthorn, a lovely spikey hedgerow tree that grows like a weed. Sloes are roughly marble sized bluey/purple berries that are at their very best in October/November ideally just after the first frost.

Seeing as Blackthorn is so prolific in hedgerows throughout the UK and Ireland you can very easily bag yourself several pounds of delicious, sweet and most importantly free berries whilst still leaving ample for birds and fellow humans.

To give an example at the beginning of October 2009 we picked 8 3/4 lb of sloes from the hedges and bushes at the side of the River Lea between Springfield Marina and Stonebridge Lock.

As well as being one of my favourite tipples; Sloe gin also makes a great Christmas present, especially in the present economic climate.

Here is how to make your own Sloe Gin:

Buy several litres of cheap gin, we are talking the sort of stuff that they sell as own brand in Tesco or Asda.

You could waste your money buying the very best gin possible but the sloes will be completely changing the flavour of it and you really don’t need to

You will also need to get your hands on some extra 1 litre spirits bottles or ideally a nice glass demijohn.

First things first wash your sloes and get rid of any stray leaves and twigs that might be caught up with them, not to mention any unwanted visitors such as bugs or flies.

In order to get the best results out of your sloes you need to release the juices that are locked inside them. You can do this a number of ways, you can prick them with a pin/fork, gently squish them between your fingers or pop them in the freezer until they split.

Once you have prepared your sloes you are ready to begin, empty the gin from one bottle to the other/the demijohn so that each bottle is only half full.

Fill each bottle with sloes until the gin has been displaced enough that it is nearly at the top of the bottle.

Using a funnel add approx 150g of white sugar to each bottle.

*If you are using a demijohn then adjust the amount of sugar accordingly, for example if there are 2 litres of gin in the demijohn you will need 4 times the amount of sugar(600g)*

Once all of the bottles are filled and ready pop the caps on them and tip them upside down, be very careful if you are trying to do this with a demijohn.

Each bottle will need to be upended in this fashion once a day for the first week, after this point you will need to upend each bottle once a week for the next two months.

After two months your sloe gin will be ready to drink, I would advise though that you leave your sloe gin for longer. The gin that I will be drinking this year was made last year, the difference that the extra ten months or so makes is very noticeable.








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