My tries at growing things this year were going better than last year. Especially the Chilis grew like crazy and I found myself wondering what to do with them… I came across a recipe for Chili Chutney in one of my Jamie Oliver Cookbooks (Jamie at Home; highly recommended, the book is great!) and amended it slightly. What can I say – soon, I’ll have to make more of it because it’s so very good!
- 6-8 bell peppers, red
- 3 red onions
- 1 sprig Rosemary
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 3 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
- 100g brown sugar
- 150ml balsamic vinegar
- some olive oil, salt, pepper
- clean preserving jars to store the chutney
Step one: Roast the Chilis and Bell Peppers. Pre-heat oven to high heat and grill if you can. Half the Bell Peppers and remove the stem and seeds, place on baking sheet. I’ve put the chilis wholly on the sheet and in the oven and learned the hard way that they actually explode. 🙂 So you might want to cut a small opening lenghtwise so they won’t explode. 🙂
Bake/grill until the skin turns black and bubbly. You will have to remove the Chilis before the bell pepper, because they won’t take as long. Put the grilled Chilis into a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. While they cool, the steam will make it really easy to remove the skin. Remove the stem and seeds and skin from the chilis. (you probably won’t be able to remove every single bit of skin, but that’s ok). Careful – DO NOT touch your eyes after that task, it burns! If you’re sensitive, you might want considering wearing rubber gloves. Repeat the skinning for the bell peppers.
Afterwards, you’ll have a nice heap of soft, grilled chili and bell pepper pulp. Chop with a knife or the help of a food processor.
Next, finely chop the onions and the rosemary leaves. Heat some olive oil in a pan, add the onions, rosemary, bay leaves and cinnamon and slowly brown for approx. 20 minutes. The onions will caramelize and almost fall apart. Add the chopped chilis and bell pepper, sugar, some salt and pepper and the balsamic vinegar and cook over low heat. Don’t forget to stir occassionally. Let cook until the liquid has vaporized and the consistency of the chutney is thick and sirupy. Have a taste to see if it needs some more salt and pepper. Remove the cinnamon stick and the bay leaves and fill into sterilized preserving jars.
The Chutney is great with cold cuts, Fondue Chinoise or any other kind of meat. It’s also fantastic with cheese or warm cheese bread. The mister even incorporated it into a sauce for venison.
I also thought that next time, I try to add some figs instead of bell pepper to make it even fruitier and more exotic. 🙂
My love for cooking evolved over time. My Mom is a chef and I always watched her when she cooked when I was little. She would get too impatient with me, though, when I attempted to cook myself; so for the longest time I was happy enough with assisting and watching.
Eventually, when I started to live by myself, I started to bake and cook and experiment. I was never skinny, so a couple of years back food was always somehow related to diets and losing weight. Even back then I always tried to make the best out of the various diet dishes.
Nowadays, I look at food in a way more relaxed way. I love good food and I love it even more to share or cook it with someone I love. I like watching cooking shows and get some inspiration from there – Rachael Ray got me hooked (I will forever call Olive Oil EVOO..) and inspired when I was in States. Nowadays I love Jamie Oliver. I adore the way he cooks and improvises. I myself improvise loads in the kitchen. Often I would look into my fridge, the pantry, the freezer and improvise something. I seldom follow recipes to the letter, I rather use them as guidelines and inspiration.
I got Jamie’s Cookbook 30 Minute Meals a week or so ago, because when watching the show I absolutely loved the ideas in it. For me, it was crystal clear that I won’t be able to prepare that stuff in 30 Minutes. I have neither the space, equipment or practice to manage that. But who cares! The whole point is not to serve something within that time, but to pick out new ideas and adapt them to our needs. (Made a fantastic Spinach-Feta-Tarte yesterday – freely adapted from Jamies’ recipe.)
In some of the reviews about the book the people complained that it’s impossible to prepare the described meals in that time and that they needed to buy all sorts of equipment. However, in my opinion they haven’t understood the purpose of cooking.
Preparing food is not only to feed the body. It’s so much more.
Joy, Pleasure, Art, Fun, Creativity.
It’s messy and wild and punk.
In Switzerland, the cost for certain foods is very high. For example meat and fish. In our little family, we eat meat very consciously and not every day. If we decide to prepare a dish with meat, we choose very carefully. This is one of the reasons I’m always on the lookout for inspiration and new ideas to keep our foods interesting.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t always feel like cooking every night. Sometimes I’ll just have a sandwich. But I think the trick is to find a healthy balance for everything.
And I intend to share my ideas and favourites with whoever fancies to read my musings.