food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘dips & sauces & condiments’ Category

fermented hot sauce

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The technique of fermentation preserves food that might otherwise spoil and in the past all hot chilli sauces were fermented. Many of the world’s most popular sauces, like Tabasco and sriracha, are still prepared using this method. The bacteria that grows during fermentation is not only good for you but it also gives the hot sauce its unique and vibrant flavour.

Thomas made this hot sauce with his home-grown Scotch Bonnet chillies, garlic, carrot, bay leaf and pepper.

Remove the tops from the chillies and split them in half lengthwise. Pack them tightly into a large clean jar along with garlic cloves (about 6 per 1kg or 2 lbs), slices of carrot and bay leaves (perhaps 2 for the same amount of chillies) and leave some space at the top. To make the brine dissolve 3 tablespoons of fine sea salt in 4 cups warm water. When the salt is dissolved, pour the brine into the jar and weigh the ingredients down to make sure they’re submerged (a Ziploc bag filled with more brine works well). Ideally you need to allow the carbon dioxide that builds up during fermentation to escape without letting oxygen in (this can foster the growth of mould). If you don’t have a jar with an airlock make sure to open the jar regularly. The chillies will need to ferment for at least two weeks or until they smell and taste pleasantly sour. Strain the brine and reserve it. Discard the bay leaves and transfer the rest to a high-speed blender with a little of the brine. Process to a smooth, fine consistency, adding extra brine as needed. Strain the pulp through a fine-mesh sieve and bottle. At this stage you can add extra flavouring – Thomas added some ground allspice and thyme (traditional spices in Jerk seasoning).  

The sauce is now ready to use but will continue to ferment. Keep it refrigerated to slow this process down and it should keep for up to a year.

*Thomas used this as a guide.

Written by michelle picker

October 16, 2019 at 12:12 am

home-made hummus salad

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Hummus is such a universally recognised Middle Eastern dip and is widely available ready-made. It’s not so difficult to make from scratch, though, and well worth the effort. It makes an excellent quick lunch when topped with salad and served with flat bread.

To make the hummus, first soak 250g (8¾ oz) of dried chick peas in 1 litre (1 quart) of water overnight. If you’re in a hurry you can achieve this in less time by boiling the chick peas for 4 minutes and allowing them to sit for an hour. Next, cook the chick peas in 1½ litres of fresh water until they are very tender (this might take up to an hour or if you have a pressure cooker only 10-12 minutes). Drain the chickpeas, place them in a food processor with 250g (8¾ oz) of tahini paste, ⅓ of a cup of lemon juice, 1 large crushed clove of garlic and 1½ teaspoons of salt, and process to a smooth paste, thinning with cold water to achieve a consistency you like.

For the salad combine tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, parsley, feta and pickles of some kind, dress it all with a good olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with a little cayenne pepper and sumac.

Written by michelle picker

May 15, 2019 at 12:16 am

beetroot and yoghurt dip

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Although this fresh beetroot dip requires some forward planning, it’s well worth the effort.

The day before you need this dip place a clean cotton or linen tea-towel into a bowl and empty 3 cups of plain Greek style yoghurt into it. Bring the ends together, tie securely and hang over a bowl or basin, allowing it to drip overnight. In the morning the yoghurt will be the consistency of cream cheese. Meanwhile boil 2 medium fresh beetroots, leaving some stem and the skin on, until tender. Allow to cool and refrigerate.

When ready to make the dip, rub the skin and stems off the beetroots and chop roughly. Place into a food processor with the yoghurt, a large finely diced clove of garlic, 2 teaspoons (or more to taste) of ground cumin and a little salt to taste. Serve with your favourite bread.

Written by michelle picker

February 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm

beetroot + dip

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Beetroots are a delicious and versatile vegetable, especially when roasted. Serve them with roast beef, steak or on a burger, use them later in sandwiches or make a moreish dip. Preheat the oven to 200C (400F) then wash and trim the fresh beetroots (without peeling) and pat them dry. Combine 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar with the juice of one orange, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the beetroots in this mixture in a baking dish and cover with foil, allowing them to bake until tender (1-2 hours depending on size). Serve hot, drizzled with the pan juices or serve them cold as a salad, sliced and dressed with olive oil, lemon juice and fresh mint. To make this dip, take approximately two large roasted beetroots, 100g of cream cheese, a tablespoon of horseradish, 1 cup of walnuts, 2 tablespoons of good quality mayonnaise and 1-2 teaspoons of pomegranate syrup (this is available from Middle Eastern stores and adds sourness). Blend to the desired consistency in a food processor.

Written by michelle picker

December 8, 2010 at 1:23 pm