It's getting rather chilli


My young children seem to have become increasingly averse to tastiness, spice and flavour (the boy used to eat Dijon mustard with a spoon and suck on limes for goodness sake). But why ? Perhaps I'm through the baby tunnel and sleeping regularly so I’ve only just noticed that dingus (boy) and doofus (girl) or collectively ‘the dingii’ won’t eat my food. More likely I'm actually not a very child compromising cook. Despite my protestions [e.g. whats wrong with Burmese cabbage ? its probably just called cabbage in Myanmar and I presume it's what Burmese children eat!] I have been steered towards a plainer style of cooking in return a quieter life.

This leaves me with a problem; my dinner doesn’t taste of enough. On top of this I’m fasting 2 days in 7 so I need savoury assistance to mitigate the calorie shortfall. As a result I’m chasing the capsaicin dragon with a vengeance, from sauces through to oil and flakes via the rainbow of dried and finally to fresh.
It’s not as easy as it sounds to find a pure chilli sauce, many commercial varieties including some of the trendy chef recommendations e.g. Sriracha contain gums (thickeners), -ates (preservatives) or other weirdities. I try and never eat ingredients my grandmother wouldn’t recognise or that I wouldnt find in my cupboard.

Through extensive filtering (and obsessive reading of back labels), I’m now the proud consumer of;
1. Sauces of Choice Sweet Chilli Sauce - far too mild even with the addition of flakes, a camomile tea of a sauce. noy my sauce of choice, one for lovely wife.
2. Linghams - brilliant colour, nice and sweet. A little mild for my taste even with the addition of flakes and crushed chipotles. Added benefit of pronouncing it as per Gangnam.
3. Franks Red Hot Extra Hot - very savoury and delicious, currently average 1 bottle every 3 days with no side effects. Needs more heat, a lot more heat.
4. “Fires of Hell” homemade chilli oil - approx. 1kg dried birds eye boiled in vinegar (health and safety gone mad but dont want botulism), roasted in the oven then blended with olive oil. A few drops induce tears and mucus and if sprinkled on something warm you must time your breathing correctly or the fumes can catch in your throat and you can choke at which point the food and chilli oil get up your nose and you are done for. Sadly and thankfully its nearly finished (I can see Dr. Evil hiding behind the sediment)


5. Pickled chillies - historically found these boring even the surprising spikes in excellent takeaway kebabs.
6. Fresh - after playing around with habaneros I’ve been picking up mixed bags from my old pals at the Unicorn. They look great, there is the element of surprise and I’d almost forgotten how wonderful fresh chillies can be. And finally and most pertinently fresh chilli and olives are splendid bedfellows.

This classic and brilliant Jamie Oliver (it seems odd to be categorising early recipes as classic but he has been around for a while) stuffed chilli recipe has been a favourite for years (with a little diced olive to play with the capers) as has this stuffed pepper recipe which only really works for me with fresh chillies, 'good' olives [I prefer yielding natural black such as Gaeta but Leccino, Nostrano, Taggiasca, Cuquillo even smoky black Beldi provide lovely variation] and the dish is truly exalted by salted pantelleria capers. I missed the point of this J.O. mozzarella salad until I mistakenly added a few large green olives (Chalkidiki are some of the best value) once agin proving that all food is a matter of taste; de gustibus non est disputandum.
Having amazon’d Modernist Cuisine at Home (and considered asking Santa but remembering austerity) I’m preparing to turn 6. into 5. by pickling and preserving using le Parfait jars and my pressure cooker. I sense triumph and disaster.

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Mediterranean, Recipes, Lifestyle