Recipe

Capsicum Collapse

aka Suicide Stew

I make this chili pepper sauce with Thai, serrano and habenero chili peppers. I use carrots as the base and add onions, garlic and citrus too. It is intended to be a *pouring* sauce—like a spicy catsup. However, be advised, it can come out exceedingly spicy.

This bounty will provide for all your tongue burning, sinus sizzling and endorphin pumping needs.
This bounty will provide for all your tongue burning, sinus sizzling and endorphin pumping needs.
  • Wash the chili peppers and take the stems off
  • I use a couple serrano chili peppers, several Thai chili peppers and three habanero chili peppers
  • You will need to chop 2–4 *large* carrots per habanero chili pepper (leave the carrots in relatively large pieces: see minute 0:30)
  • Prepare a large, chopped onion
  • Peel a bulb of garlic, give it a brief chop (use as much as you like)
  • Add a table spoon of salt
  • Place all of this into a large pot and bring to the boil while stirring
  • Turn the heat down so that everything is simmering
  • Put the lid on and leave for 45 minutes

Then test the carrots with a fork (see minute 1:36). The carrots should not be mushy, but tender and offer a little resistance.

Then take off the heat and allow to cool for at least 45 minutes.

I use an immersion blender next, but you can also put everything into a table-top blender or food processor.

  • Blend until smooth
  • Add grated lime rind and the juice of that lime (adding the juice and rind of an orange works really well too)
  • Stir, pour into jars, and allow to cool (several hours)
  • Place in the refrigerator overnight

The longer you leave it the better it will taste. I made this batch over Christmas and have been sampling it since. The day after making it, I burnt my tongue—it was insanely hot. But it mellows over time and soon the onion, garlic and citrus flavours start to come through.

Recipe

Allium Stallion

… aka Chili Garlic Grease

Garlic is a thing of wonder. This blend of dry chili peppers, spice and vegetable oil will put garlic right where your taste buds want it.

Garlic cloves and chili peppers sitting in a tree ...
Garlic cloves and chili peppers sitting in a tree …

 

  • Take a dozen whole dry chili peppers (the number of chilies will depend on how hot they are and how spicy you like it).
  • Wipe and clean chili peppers with a dry cloth, break open and remove seeds.
  • Place chili peppers in a bowl of boiled water for at least 30 minutes.
  • Peel two to four cloves of garlic.

  • Prepare your food processor or blender and put a teaspoon of cumin in.
  • Now put a teaspoon of salt in.
  • Drain the chili peppers and add them too. (Retain the liquid for another day ;-)
  • Now add 1/3 of a cup vegetable oil (try sesame oil for a Korean/Thai/Asian flavour).
  • Add the two to four cloves of garlic and a couple tsp. of the water leftover from rehydrating the chili peppers.
  • Now blend/process until everything smooth.

Put in jars and refrigerate overnight. Now, unless you have an über blender, the sauce will separate. The oil will collect at the top and the chili pepper and garlic puree will sink to the bottom. This is fine. Just shake the jar, with the lid still on, and after a few seconds you’ll be able to pour it onto your food.

I will often just stir it with a spoon and ladle it into small saucers for dipping.

Recipe

Blister Twister …

… aka Roasted Chunky Chili

Blister Twister is an old favourite of mine. Though very spicy, the vinegar and salt really bring out the roasted pepper flavours. I typically don’t use the habanero chili as it demands I use extreme caution when eating the final result.

  • Wash all the chili peppers and dry thoroughly
  • I use green serrano and red Thai chili peppers in a ratio of 2:1
  • And one habanero chili ;->
Dry Roasted Chili Peppers Taste Great
Dry Roasted Chili Peppers Taste Great

In a dry pan on medium heat with no oil, heat the chili peppers until they begin to blister. (See minute 1:20 in the below clip.)

  • Allow to cool and then dice in a food processor, chop roughly or mash with a pestle and mortar
  • Place in a jar and add one tablespoon of salt
  • Add white vinegar and mix

Place the resulting mixture in the refrigerator overnight.

This is a sauce that will mellow over time and become more flavourful too. As I’m a big fan of pickles, the application of vinegar here is very pleasing to me. I like salt too and I typically use more than a table spoon.

Recipe

Hot Sauce Heaven, aka Three Ways to Make It!

Now it’s time for the only thing I love as much as sugar—spice ;-)

Spicy food, much like sweet food, gets me very excited.

Below are three methods and video clips for the three hot sauces that I regularly make for myself. I call them:

Over the coming weeks I will post more details for making them.

Why make your own hot sauce?

I started making hot sauces for myself mainly because of the many, many, many ingredients (most seem unnecessary) in the commercial hot sauces I would buy at the store.

Don’t get me wrong, I still have some faves that I buy. One in particular typically comes in a very small bottle and is delicious. Another one I buy (only the extra hot version mind you ;-) is marvelously salty. The third is an “Asian style” hot sauce that is relatively mild, of Chinese-Vietnamese origin and made in California.

These three commercial hot sauces have three things in common:

  • Many, many, many other commercial hot sauces try and emulate them
  • They are often the base for many restaurants’ “house sauces”
  • None of these three commercial hot sauces taste like the three hot sauces I make ;-)

Precautions when making hot sauce

I recommend you wear gloves when making hot sauce.

  • Depending on your sensitivity level, you may find your skin very easily irritated after handling/cleaning/chopping chili peppers

Keep a clean, cool and damp cloth at hand.

  • In the event that you inadvertently scratch your neck/nose/face (or, gulp, wipe a teary eye), a clean, cool and damp cloth will be your first step in first aid, then go to the washroom sink (not the kitchen sink), take off your gloves and rinse the area with lukewarm water

Make sure your kitchen is well ventilated.

  • Merely chopping up chili peppers will release potential irritants into the air (two of these recipes also call for pan roasting and boiling, so keeping the area well ventilated will help you stay comfortable)

The next few posts will be about how to make the sauces above (Capsicum Collapse, aka Suicide Stew, Allium Stallion, aka Chili Garlic Grease and Blister Twister, aka Roasted Chunky Chili), so until then I leave you with a picture of some kimchi, it is quickly becoming a fave of mine.

Kimchi can brighten any meal.
Kimchi can brighten any meal.

 

Recipe

Blackberry Pancake Badness (aka how to make blackberry pancake syrup :-)

Making Blackberry Pancake Syrup

If you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with blackberries everywhere, you’re very lucky! Find a spot that allows for 1–2 hours of blackberry picking, and you will have more than enough for this recipe. I would also allow for 1–2 hours for preparing and making the syrup.

The ingredients you will need to make blackberry syrup

  • Three pounds (1.4 kg) of blackberries
  • Three pounds (1.4 kg) of sugar
  • Three tablespoons (45 ml) of honey
  • One or two limes (optional)
  • Hot boiled water (25 oz/750 ml)

The equipment you will need to make blackberry syrup

  • Large saucepan (the heavier the better)
  • Heat diffusers (the more, the thicker, the better)
  • Whisk/spoon
  • Large sieve
  • Heat proof rubber gloves
  • Three to four large jars with lids (sterilized or put through the dishwasher)
  • Candy thermometer or a couple refrigerated plates

How to make blackberry pancake syrup

Wash/rinse the blackberries in cold running tap water for at least five minutes – leave to drain in a colander for at least five minutes – don’t shake or stir the berries too aggressively.

Place blackberries into a very large (heavy) saucepan or pot.

Add the boiling water to blackberries, stir gently and bring to a brief boil.

Turn down to a simmer and leave for 20 minutes with the lid off.

Add the sugar gradually while stirring and DO NOT bring to the boil at all during this process.

After all the sugar has gone in, continue stirring for 10 minutes – or until you are absolutely sure all the sugar has dissolved.

Add the honey and stir for a couple minutes.

Then cover and bring to the boil – should only take a minute or two.

Once boiling, turn the heat down a touch and try to maintain a consistent rolling boil – a thick bottomed saucepan and/or heat diffusers will help.

If you have a thermometer, boil until the temperature reaches 220 ⁰F (105 ⁰C).

If you do not have a thermometer: place a couple plates in the fridge ahead of time.

  • Boil the mixture for ten minutes
  • Take a plate out of the fridge
  • Dribble some of the mixture onto the plate (hold the plate close to vertical and make a steep slope)
  • If the drips that roll down the plate solidify before they reach the end, then it is ready
  • If not, then boil for a further 5–10 minutes and repeat

DO NOT leave the room – keep an eye on it – and skim off any scum that collects on the surface while you are waiting.

Then sieve.

Add lime juice while sieving (it will act as a preservative and bring out more of the blackberry flavor).

Pour your sieved syrup into sterilized (or dishwasher washed ;-) jars, cover them with a clean tea towel/cloth and leave to cool.

After a couple of hours, put the lids on the jars and place them in the fridge.

Leave for 24 hours and then enjoy.

 

 

Blackberry Sauce
This is a wonderful way to enjoy blackberries, and all you need is an afternoon.

 

 

Delectable

Chocolate Smothered Fudge

Good fudge on its own can be outstanding, but smothered in good chocolate it becomes truly decadent. Many regions across the world lay claim to having the best fudge: several places in the UK, mainland Europe and all over North America too. I haven’t come across it much in Asia, the Far East and Africa – perhaps it’s being made in South America too?

From what I can tell, it seems to date back to Lady Grisell Baille’s Household Book (apparently written in the late 1600s and early 1700s) was printed by the Publications of the Scottish History Society in 1911. You can find a PDF of this online if you do a Web search.

It supposedly refers to “tablet” which is a Scottish sweet that is harder and more brittle than fudge. And by many accounts “fudge” was an accident. Maybe a richer dairy product was used by mistake – as the fat helps to keep the sugar crystals smaller and hence produces a smoother product. This also possibly where the phrase, “he/she has fudged it” came from, this means to do something accidentally.

Chocolate and Fudge
Chocolate covered fudge - not chocolate fudge :-)

 

Lady Grisell Baille’s Household Book is a fascinating read, but I could find no mention of tablet, or any dessert approximating it.

It is interesting to note that by the time fudge was being made in the Americas, sometime in the late 1800s, it had become chocolate fudge. I don’t mean coated in chocolate, I mean that chocolate was melted in during the fudge making and became the standard flavor in North America.

Recipe

How to Make Lemon Jellies

Lemon jellies are very similar to Turkish delight. The method for making them is slightly different, and I do hope to try making Turkish delight soon. What you need to make lemon jellies can be found in most kitchens. Extra details regarding the equipment can be found in this previous Candybreath post. I had to make special trips for the gelatin, and a second medium sized saucepan. If you cook regularly, you probably have everything you need.

Allow at least an hour to make these. You need to work carefully and methodically when dealing with the high temperatures needed for making candy.

 

Precautions

I will emphasise that rubber gloves are a really good idea. And I don’t mean just regular catering gloves for mixing food and so on. I mean gloves that will protect your hands from heat and potential spillages. You might feel that protective eye wear is a good idea too.

It is important to appreciate that you will be working with very high temperatures – in one part you need to heat a sugar solution to 300 °F (150 °C). The best thing about a good pair of gloves is that you will be able to work calmly, without the need to rush because your hands are above a pot of boiling sugar. Of course, if a splash of sugar solution comes out of the saucepan, or worse still there’s a spillage, then the gloves will help protect you.

Also, I would not do this with young children or animals about – at all.

Mixing gelatin and juice together
The result of mixing gelatin and juice does not look so appealing ... yet :-)

 

Procedure

Start by ensuring you have everything you need: bowls, utensils and ingredients. When the sugar boils is *not* the time to search your kitchen for a spatula.

Mix the gelatin with your 1 ¼ cup (300 ml) water/juice solution in a saucepan without heat. It will turn into a mushy mess.

In a second saucepan add 1 cup (250 ml) of sugar to a ¾ cup (180 ml) of water and place over a heat diffuser on HIGH HEAT and stir gently until the sugar dissolves. (Try to avoid splashing the sides of the saucepan as this encourages crystal formation among the sugar molecules – we do not want this to happen.)

The solution will boil in 5 to 10 minutes. Then put the lid on for 2 to 3 minutes (this helps any splashes that did go up the inside of the saucepan to condense back into the solution and further discourage the formation of crystals).

Then apply your candy thermometer and wait until your sugar solution reaches 300 °F (150 °C). Do not shake the saucepan. This might take up to 20 minutes.

Once you hit that temperature, remove the thermometer and pour this sugar solution into the saucepan with the gelatin mixture. Place this saucepan on to the heat diffuser, turn the heat down to low, and stir until the gelatin mixture dissolves.

Add the lemon and lime zest. Pour into a square baking tray. Let it cool for at least 4 hours.

Once solid, turn out and cut into bite size cubes. Let them dry in the open air overnight, and then let them dry in an airtight container overnight.

Then cover with sugar and serve.

Tart, tasty and terrific
... See, they come out great in the end :-)

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups (apx 300 ml) water

½ cup (apx 125 ml) lemon juice

¼ cup (apx 60 ml) lime juice

Up to ¼ cup (apx 60 ml) of lime and lemon zest

1 ¼ cups (apx 290 ml) sugar

8 envelopes (64 grams or 2.25 oz) plain gelatin

Recipe

To Make Lemon Jellies …

What you need to make lemon jellies

The equipment you need to make lemon jellies can be found in your “average” kitchen – if, on average, you cook a lot. There are a few exceptions, and I will get into those later.

The basics are as follows: two saucepans, both with lids and preferably not non-stick (so steel, copper cast-iron, steel etc.); one heat diffuser; a candy thermometer; a pair of protective rubber gloves (not merely vinyl food-gloves); a 9 by 9”, or 23 by 23 cm baking tray lined with foil, unless you have one that is non-stick (yes, it’s ok if the baking tray is non-stick); measuring jug; scales (maybe); zester; various bowls, utensils and tea towels.

So what is exceptional to a well-stocked kitchen? Possibly the heat diffuser, candy thermometer or non-non-stick saucepans? (The latter two I just recently purchased for these very jellies, and the square baking tray too.)

Heat diffusers come in many varieties. The best one I have ever used is a cast-iron fry-pan. This will essentially stabilize the heat and ensure and even transfer of heat to your saucepan.

Candy thermometers are not cheap, but pretty important for most candy-prep applications due to the high temperatures involved and the need for relative accuracy.

Not non-stick saucepans: this is more of a personal preference than anything else. Non-stick coatings on pans don’t do very well when subjected to high heat for long periods of time. Ok, really high heat for really long periods of time. But I often have cheaper dollar-store style non-stick cookware, which I’m guessing doesn’t hold up as well as the celebrity-chef endorsed variety – you have to make up your own mind.

The Zest of Life
Get ready to zest as many lemons and limes as your puckered-up-lips can bear

I’ll post a full description of how to make the lemon jellies soon.

Ciao

Event

Liquorice and Licorice

#NationalLicoriceDay

 

The liquorice plant is at the root of this confection, literally, as it is an extract from the root that flavours the candy. See Wikipedia’s entry for my favourite variety – Liquorice Allsorts – first made in Sheffield, England by Bassett.

There are so many types, flavours and textures of liquorice that it’s impossible to do justice to them all, however, they all deserve a place in Candyland … even the ones that don’t even use liquorice as a flavouring any more (the red ones are perhaps the best well known like Twizzlers and Red Vines and so on).

Bassett's Liquorice Allsorts
Lots of liquorice please ...

 

Speaking of Red Vines, it has a National Liquorice Day Competition. It’s a sweepstakes where you could win $5,000, and all you have to do is put your email address in. Another company, Licorice International, is also celebrating National Licorice Day.

I’m still investigating if National Licorice Day goes beyond North America’s borders. I don’t have anything conclusive yet, but please feel free to share your celebrations me wherever you are. I do believe the Europeans, namely the Dutch and the Norwegians, are also tremendously fond of liquorice; so much so, that they even eat salty varieties.

All the best, have a happy, and cavity free, National Licorice day aaand National Liquorice Day too :-)))

Delectable

Gummi Bears

 

Gummi Bears Catch Up
Four of the tastiest Gummi Bears you are ever likely to suck, chew and swallow.

 

Yes, some might say a predictable post after the cola bottle nod, but these Gummi Bear gems are a wonder for your mouth to behold. Gelatin based, as with the majority of the gummy sweets, so they share the super power of infinite consumability. And as far as I know, these don’t come in a “fizzy” variety, but I’d give them a go if I ever found some.

Gummi Bears are on my “to make” list. I’ve been researching these for a while, and they’re pretty straight forward. It’s a fussy process as so many can be made from one batch of mixture, meaning you need lots of tiny little bear moulds – and also because if you wanted a variety of colours and flavours, you would have to repeat the process several times of course. I figure you’d need a week to ten days, but you would have sooo many (-: nom nom nom :-), you probably wouldn’t have to make any more for … hmm, a week or ten days ;-)