PIco de Gallo / Salsa Fresca

11 07 2011

 Quite simply Pico de Gallo is the freshest, cleanest, most delicious condiment you could wish for to accompany Mexican food or indeed anything that could do with something light and zingy alongside.

   Ingredients:

2x  Tomatoes

2x White onions

1x Red Chilli – I use Habanero or Scotch bonnet but its completely up to you and the level of heat would desire

a good handful of fresh coriander leaves

the juice of 1 lime

sea salt to season

Method:

Chop the onion and chilli into fine dice and place into a bowl.

De-seed the tomatoes and dice the flesh.

Finely chop the coriander and combine together with the onions, chilli and tomatoes. ensure that everything is well worked together and squeeze over the juice of 1 lime.

Season to taste with a little sea salt.

 

 

 

 

 

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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





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




Spontaneous Combustion Hot Sauce

13 12 2010

I decided to buy an early Christmas present for my uncle who loves chillies and all things chilli related; needless to say he was pleased as punch upon opening the completely over the top packaging and finding a bottle of Spontaneous Combustion Hot Sauce.

So pleased was he with this unexpected gift that he decided to call me up and taste it over the phone, we are a strange strange family. Well I listened to him describe the box and the label to me – they both feature the same set of lips and teeth with a raging inferno on the tongue.

Next up I got to hear him open the seal on the bottle and tell me he was going to have a sniff of it, I heard him take a big big sniff and then proclaim that it smelt vaguely like something Satan had excreted…

Having come this far he couldn’t back out now and decided to try a drop direct onto his tongue, the first thing he said was mmm I can taste fruity peppers and garlic, the next thing he said was OUCH and heard the phone drop whilst he retreated for a stiff drink of milk.

Once he had recovered sufficiently to speak I was informed that too much more of this and he would need to start refrigerating toilet paper.

Boy oh boy did I laugh…

Well that was 3 weeks ago and since that point I have made the arduous journey across the Irish Sea and been to visit said uncle for some much needed R&R. After hearing his amateur dramatics over the phone I had to see for my self just what this bad boy was like….

On looking down the short list of ingredients I see that we are dealing with a predominately Habanero based sauce with some always welcome capsicum extract making an appearance as well, this certainly adds some weight to the advertised Scoville rating of about 400/500,000 – not too shabby.

After having the aroma of this sauce described to me in such a colourful fashion I decided to follow in my uncle’s footsteps and took a honking great snoutfull, you can smell the Habanero, the garlic and a bit of vinegar quite clearly, there is a certain element of heat that you can pick up but nothing to warrant previous histrionics.

Well the time has come to move onto having a taste, now bearing in mind that I heard a grown man reduced to tears I was expecting to have the skin peeled off my face with atomic fury.

I started off by trying a small amount on a teaspoon, much like my uncle I could taste nice fruity habs and some garlic without too much initial heat, after a few seconds I could start to feel some heating coming in and their was a nice kick to it but not really enough to get the blood pumping.

So  I decided to up the ante a little, I made myself one of my favourite treats cheese on toast with chilli sauce, each slice was given a good 7/8 drops of fiery red sauce and I chowed down; the flavour was beautiful, so much so that I will be buying several bottles of this for myself at home. The heat however was still lacklustre, it was there and you could feel it but I just want more bang for my buck.

In terms of an everyday table sauce I think I would be hard pressed to find anything with a better taste; in my opinion this kicks Tabasco straight out of the cupboard and jumps up and down on it in hobnailed boots, it doesn’t just take its place it builds a little fort and sits there looking smug.

Oh and my uncle is a cry baby…





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





Big Tom’s Secret Hot Sauce

10 04 2010

I realized yesterday that something terrible had happened…I had run out of hot sauce. This might sounds like a rather minor inconvenience to most people but unfortunately for me I am a chili addict.

I simply can’t get enough of that sweet, intoxicating chili heat and the store-bought sauces just don’t cut the mustard anymore, they tend to be too sweet, with an unnatural taste and certainly they are lacking that much-needed kick of heat.

There are some amazingly good hot sauces out there such as NagaSoreAss by CA Johns or a recent discovery Louisiana Gold Wasabi Hot Sauce but these aren’t the sort of hot sauces you would want to use everyday.

So of course I make my own.

My hot sauce of choice is loosely based on a Trinidadian hot sauce that I tried a few years back but I have played around with it until it has a little more heat but still keeps a great flavour.

So here it is for the first time ever

Big Tom’s Secret Hot Sauce:

15 Habanero or Scotch bonnet chilis

15 Chipotle chilis

15 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

15 spring onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large carrot, coarsely chopped

1 cup pure fresh orange juice

3/4 cup distilled white vinegar

1/2 cup yellow mustard hot English mustard – I use Colemans but any strong mustard would work

1/2 tick of celery, roughly chopped

2 large handfuls of chopped coriander leaves

2 tablespoons thyme

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 bay leaves

tablespoon of crushed black pepper

Salt
Cut the stems off of the chilis and discard, you will however want to keep all of the seeds in the chili as if not you will lose a lot of the heat

In a blender or food processor, pulse the chilis with the garlic, spring onions, celery and carrot until finely chopped.

Now add the black pepper, vinegar, orange juice, mustard, coriander, thyme, crushed bay leaves and  lime juice and pulse just until combined.

Season with salt.

Once the sauce has been made you will need to transfer it into jars or bottles in order for it to keep. The vinegar acts as a preservative for the sauce and I have kept this in the fridge for up to a year without sterilising the jars.








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