11 November, 2013

Salted caramel sauce (caramel au fleur de sel)

Salted caramel sauce

Many competent cooks seem to be terrified of making caramel. Why? It’s a doddle. There are only two things that can go wrong: burning it (due to inattention) and crystallising the sugar. The first problem is easily solved: don’t take your eyes off the caramel while it is cooking, and remove from the heat as soon as it is the right colour. As for the second problem, I discovered long ago that using sugar cubes instead of granulated sugar ensures that the sugar will melt smoothly and evenly without crystals forming. So give it a go! This sauce is excellent with ice cream, but useful for all sorts of other things as well — try it with apple slices fried in butter for example.
Recipe for Salted caramel sauce (caramel au fleur de sel) »

23 September, 2008

Chilli jelly

chillis

I managed to buy a jar of chilli jelly on a recent trip to the UK, but I’ve long fancied trying Fiona’s recipe and making my own; this stuff is too tasty and versatile to be reserved for special occasions. So I bought a couple of kilos of apples and eventually tracked down a selection of chillis in Carrefour (they can be difficult to find, since the French don’t do hot as in chilli).

The first lot didn’t look much like chillis I’ve seen before; they were relatively large and bell-shaped. “Do you think I should use one or two?” I asked Steve. He looked at them and scoffed. “Pah! They’re so big they can’t be hot, and they are French after all. Those small pointy ones will be hotter.” Boldly, he cut a bit off one of the bell-shaped ones and chewed it. A moment’s silence, then: “AAAAARGH!” Quickly, I handed him the antidote, a spoonful of yoghurt, and he swallowed it gratefully. “OK,” he croaked after a minute, “I’ll try the small ones.” Bravely he nibbled one: “Humph! Not hot at all!” Armed with this information I added one cut-up bell-shaped pepper, seeds and all, to my simmering apples.

The next day, I tried the disappointingly scanty juice that had dripped through the cloth. ‘Phwoarhhhh!” Luckily there was some yoghurt left. Well, maybe the sugar will tone it down. Hmm, only 400 ml of juice from 1.5 kg of apples? I did the maths in my head with difficulty, added the requisite sugar, and boiled it up — result, half a jar of jelly, admittedly a beautiful colour. This didn’t seem like good value, so I tipped the pulp back into the pan with more water and managed to get two more jars of pale, translucent jelly from it. Their innocent looks belie their ferocity though; I think I’ll have to put health warnings on them.

jelly

Later, a bit of googling suggests that Steve might have inadvertently scored a further point in the Omnivore’s Hundred: raw Scotch Bonnet pepper … if you try this recipe, I recommend you use less virulent chillis than I did, or at least remove the seeds!

12 July, 2007

Marquise du Midi

This is a wonderfully refreshing summer punch, to be drunk chilled outdoors on a hot day, as an aperitif. Prepare it in a very large earthenware bowl and ladle into wine glasses. Warning, it doesn’t taste at all alcoholic!

Recipe for Marquise du Midi »

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