Chilli and tomato relish with goji berries

tomato, chilli and goji berry chutney

When you’re of the foraging persuasion, you find yourself constantly on the lookout for new produce to plunder. It’s surprising what you see growing right under your nose if you keep your eyes peeled. Just round the corner from us, someone has hops growing in their front garden. On the shortcut we take to our local Aldi, there are grapevines, elder and goji berries. All this, within just a few hundred metres of our house.

I was vaguely aware that goji berries can sometimes be found growing wild in the UK, but this was the first time I’d found them and was curious to see what I could use them in.

Despite the more familiar dried berries being thought of as a sweet snack food, fresh goji berries are apparently often used in savoury dishes, and I decided to put them in this relish. (Or is it a chutney? After a bit of Googling I’m still none the wiser.)

Goji berries 3

Ingredients

  • 12 ripe, normal sized tomatoes
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 onions, peeled and chopped roughly into large chunks
  • 6 or 7 red chillies (deseeded or not, depending on your preference)
  • Fresh (not dried) goji berries, washed (I picked about 70g, but as many as you can get your hands on)
  • 200ml white wine vinegar
  • 200g caster sugar

Cut the tomatoes in half and place cut side up in a roasting tray (without adding oil). Cut the tips off the garlic, brush them with oil and nestle them among the tomatoes. Roast in the oven at about 180°C for half an hour to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes look nicely softened and are starting to colour a bit. Remove and leave to cool.

Once the garlic cloves are cool enough to handle, slip off their skins.

Whizz the garlic, onions, chillies and goji berries in a food processor until they form a fine mush. Scrape out into a large pan, then thoroughly whizz the tomatoes as well and add these to the pan too (you might need to do this in batches).

Add the vinegar and sugar to the pan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, stirring constantly. You want this to get to a nice sticky chutney consistency, which could take a while so be patient. When you can scrape a spoon over the bottom of the pan and leave a clear line, you’re pretty much there.

Divide into hot sterilized jars and seal.

This made 4 small-ish jars. It can be eaten as you would any chutney or relish – I think it’d be ideal dolloped in a burger.

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Chilli jam

Chilli Jam

This goes with loads of things – cheese, curry, smeared on a bit of fish before grilling – whatever you fancy. I have a tendency to add more chilli to this each time I make it, and obviously you could adjust the amount and variety of chilli and whether you leave the seeds in depending on personal preference or who you’re giving it away to.

You can double the ingredients for this if you like, but I don’t recommend it as it’s much more manageable with these quantities – even if it does only make two and a bit jars.

I have plans to develop a less faffy, more ‘everyday’ recipe for this, perhaps using whole roasted tomatoes in order to reduce waste and save time. If and when I do, I’ll post it here for comparison and bump the recipe given here up to ‘deluxe’ status…

Ingredients

  • 6 Average sized tomatoes, as red as you can get them
  • 1 normal red pepper and 1 red Romero pepper (or 2 normal red peppers)
  • 3 fresh red chillies, halved and de-seeded
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • A piece of fresh ginger, about a large ‘thumb’s worth, peeled and finely grated
  • 50g balsamic vinegar
  • 100g white granulated or caster sugar
  • 100g jam sugar (the one with added pectin)

Halve and de-seed/ de-stalk the red peppers. Place in a roasting tray as they are, with no oil, and roast at about gas mark 6 for 30-45 minutes, or until they look nicely roasted. Don’t worry if the edges become slightly charred- this adds to the flavour.

While the peppers are roasting, you can peel your tomatoes. The easiest way to do this is to cut a small cross in the skin of each tomato, and place them in a large bowl of boiling water. After a few minutes, you should find the skin peels away easily from them (if doubling the ingredients, it’s best to do this in two batches and replenish the water in between). This is also easier if you start with the tomatoes at room temperature, rather than straight from the fridge.

Once you’ve peeled your tomatoes, cut them in half and scoop out and discard the seeds and pulp, leaving the firm tomato flesh. A metal ice cream scoop is ideal for doing this.

Once your peppers are roasted, add the peppers, tomatoes, chillies, garlic, ginger and balsamic vinegar to a food processor and whizz everything until it’s a consistent texture, with no large chunks.

Add the mixture to a large pan and add the sugar. Bring to the boil and then simmer, stirring regularly until the overall texture becomes nice and syrupy. If you scrape the spoon over the bottom of the pan and can see a clear line in the mixture, it’s pretty much done.

Chilli jam

Decant into hot, sterilised jars and seal.

Makes about 2 jars of jam.

Hot lemon, ginger and chilli drink for when you’ve got the lurg

I’ve just got back from holiday (more on which later), hence the lack of blog posts over the last week or so. For most of our time away, Owen and I had rotten colds which are still refusing to budge. So, one of the first things I did when we got home was to make a batch of this drink in the hope it’ll sort us out.

I’ve been making this for years and the recipe has gradually evolved over time (not that it’s terribly complicated). I can’t make any scientific claims to this potion’s medicinal properties, but it always seems to help clear my chest, throat and head and make me feel better. I automatically make it every time I’ve got a cold- it’s especially helpful in getting me through work (transported in a Thermos) when I’m feeling snuffly. Imagine, if you will, me sitting at my desk, surrounded by a fug of lemon and ginger aroma and a scattering of snotty tissues, while my colleagues look on with disgust as I cough and splutter my way through the day. Sexy.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 lemons
  • A medium sized hand of root ginger
  • 2 red chillies
  • A stick of cinnamon
  • A few star anise
  • Sugar (white, brown, whatever)
  • Manuka honey

Start with a big pot. A stock pot of some sort would be ideal- I use a big oval cast iron one. You’ll need to put lots of water in this. I have two fridge jugs- one big, one small, that I fill with water and pour in, as then I know the mixture will be the right amount to fill them and store in the fridge. If you need an exact amount, this is about three litres, but you can make slightly more or less according to your own fridge storage receptacles.

Once you’ve got the water in the pot, put it on to boil while you zest the lemons. Add the zest to the water, then cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice straight into the pot. Then chop the remaining lemon bits up a bit more and throw those in the pot as well.

Next, grate the ginger and add to the pot. I don’t bother peeling the ginger for this, as it’s all going to be sieved at the end anyway.

Halve and de-seed the chillies and add those to the mixture. I tried this without de-seeding once and it found the heat a bit too overpowering, but leave the seeds in if that’s your thing.

Break up the cinnamon stick and chuck that in along with the star anise. Once everything’s boiling nicely, give it a good stir, put the lid on (if you have one), turn the heat down and simmer for a while. There isn’t an exact timing to this- I usually just leave it there while I get on with other stuff, like washing up all the bits from its preparation. When it’s been simmered for a while, add some sugar until the edge is taken off the sharp sourness, but it isn’t too sweet (as you’re going to add honey later).

When it’s cooled, sieve the mixture (I usually do this in batches into a large Pyrex jug) and decant into your chosen jugs/ bottles to be stored in the fridge. When you want to drink it, heat up enough in a pan or microwave to fill a mug, and stir in some manuka honey to sweeten. As manuka honey is ridiculously expensive, I sometimes use eucalyptus honey instead if I’m feeling skint. Any other honey would also be just as nice, I’m sure.

Another bloody recipe for chilli con carne

I know, I know- the last thing the internet needs is another recipe for chilli con carne. On top of this, I went through all my cook books today and counted up eleven different recipes for chilli (and that was just the basic ones, not including vegetarian ones and what not). Despite this apparent saturation of the market, I’m going to go ahead and post my contribution anyway.

I often find myself making this when we have people visiting, as I can just plonk the pot from the slow cooker on the table and let people help themselves. It’s also a bit of an indulgent Saturday night favourite in our household- ideally washed down with a cold beer (perhaps Sol or Desperado) or a nice glass or three of red wine. We enjoyed this earlier tonight while watching the new series of Doctor Who (Geronimo!) and followed it with Nigella’s glitzy chocolate puddings.

Ingredients

  • 60g dried kidney beans
  • 500g lean beef mince or turkey mince
  • About 125g chorizo, cut into small half moons/ chunks
  • 1 large brown onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • Fresh red chillies- as many as you like, finely chopped
  • A handful of cumin seeds
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A tablespoon of cornflour
  • A generous glug of red wine
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 6 (ish) sun-dried tomatoes- I use the ones that come in jars of oil, chopped into small bits
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • A few drops of Angostura Bitters (optional)
  • 2 squares of dark chocolate (the darkest you can get but at least 70% cocoa solids)

Soak the dried beans overnight or for at least 8 hours in plenty of water with a bit of bicarbonate of soda added to it. When they’re soaked, drain them well and add to a pan with enough water to cover. Bring them to the boil, then let them simmer with the lid on for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside. (Don’t be tempted to miss out this step- The beans need to be soaked and boiled in order to get rid of toxins in their skins that can apparently cause severe stomach cramps.)

Fry the mince until cooked and drain off any excess fat or liquid. Add the chorizo, onion, red pepper and fresh chilli to the pan and fry for a bit. Some fat should come out of the chorizo but add a bit of oil if it looks a bit dry. Add the cumin seeds and garlic and fry for a bit longer to get them nice and fragrant. Add the cornflour and stir until it is coated by the oil and juices. Turn up the heat, then add the red wine, allowing it to bubble away for a bit. Add the chopped tomatoes (I like to whizz these in a food processor first but don’t worry if you can’t be bothered with this), sun-dried tomatoes, cumin powder, smoked paprika, Angostura Bitters (if using) and the drained red kidney beans.

You can add chilli powder or flakes to adjust the heat to how you like it.

Put the whole lot into a slow cooker and cook on low for 4-8 hours. (If you don’t have a slow cooker, I’d suggest cooking this on a low heat on the hob for about an hour or until the kidney beans are cooked through) Shortly before serving, pop in the squares of dark chocolate and stir in thoroughly until melted. Serve with basmati rice with sour cream dolloped on top.

Serves four (or two with another two portions for the freezer).

Cooking away in the slow cooker.

One of Nigella’s glitzy chocolate puddings.