Monthly Archives: April 2017

Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers

I’m a sucker for eye catching produce and in particular am often unable to resist the colourful pepper section at one of my favourite Asian markets in town. They have a vast array, ranging from mild to really hot, including many you simply wouldn’t find in a regular grocery store.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comLast time I was tempted by the red poblanos, which I turned into pepper jelly, but this time a pile of sweet, mini, multi-coloured bell peppers caught my eye. They were the perfect subject for the quick pickle treatment for this month’s Food In Jars Mastery Challenge.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comAs the name suggest, quick pickles are fast and easy. You simply make a brine with vinegar, water, sugar (or another sweetener of your choice) and spices. As they are kept in the fridge they do not need any sort of water bath processing or special equipment. Just prep your vegetable of choice, stick it in a jar, pour over the hot brine and you will soon be enjoying crisp, tasty pickles.

The taste of your final product will be heavily influenced by your choice of pickling spice. Of course, you can just go out and buy a jar of ready made pickling spice but where is the fun in that? Make your own and you can customise the flavour and spice level to your own liking.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comFor my quick pickles I loosely followed a recipe from Cathy Barrow’s “Mrs.Wheelbarrow’s Practical Pantry”. I started with her basic spice mix but cut back on the cinnamon, which I often find overpowering, and made it a little spicier.

This was a quick and fairly simple recipe and the peppers were ready to eat within a day of making them. I’ve already enjoyed them on veggie tacos and added to sandwiches and salads. They may not have the shelf life of water bath processed pickles but they don’t look like lasting long anyway.

Quick Pickled Sweet Peppers

12oz mixed sweet mini peppers

1 cup water

1 cup white or apple cider vinegar

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tbs salt

1 tbs granulated sugar

1.5 tsp pickling spice (recipe below)

Pickling Spice

3 tbs yellow mustard seeds

1 tbs coriander seeds

1 tbs whole allspice berries

1.5 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp ground ginger

2 inch cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 bay leaves

Make the pickling spice mix, Lightly crush the mustard seeds, coriander seeds, allspice berries and cloves using a pestle and mortar. Break the cinnamon into small pieces and rip up the bay leaves. Add to the mix along with the red pepper flakes and ground ginger. Mix well to combine.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comPrep the peppers by washing them and cutting them into thin slices. As I used small peppers they were the perfect size to fit in a jar. Larger bell peppers will work but might need cutting down to smaller strips. Pack the peppers into a sterilised quart jar.

quick pickled sweet peppers from britinthesouth.comIn a nonreactive pan combine the water, vinegar, garlic, salt, sugar and pickling spice. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour the brine into the jar, ensuring the peppers are covered. Once the jar has cooled down pop a lid on.

Leave for about 24 hours before trying. Store in the refrigerator and use within a month.





Golden Salted Caramel Chocolate Eggs

The shops were full of the usual array of seasonal chocolate goodies for Easter, but I fancied the fun of making my own, and what better than a dark chocolate egg, with a luscious home made salted caramel filling finished with a dusting of shiny edible gold dust for a final sparkle.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comI have to admit they were rather good. Although tempted to eat them all myself I did share some with friends and got an unanimous positive response.

In reality they were half eggs. I used a mold to make them and didn’t have time to stick the two halves together. Something to work on for next year.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comThe whole project was useful to practice a number of chocolate and candy making techniques, such as tempering chocolate, using molds and making caramel.

Tempering chocolate is heating and cooling it in a controlled way that ensures the crystals of cocoa butter that are produced are of a consistent size. This results in chocolate with a shiny finish and a snap when you break it, rather than a dull appearance with a white bloom and a crumbly texture. There are different ways of doing it, which include splashing out a few hundred dollars on a tempering machine to do it for you, spreading melted chocolate around on a marble slab or using what is known as the seeding method as I do below.

If you want an extra shiny finish you can spray the finished eggs with edible luster dust. Look for FDA approved edible dust which is available in a wide range of colours from cake and candy making supply stores or online.

Golden Salted Caramel Chocolate Eggs

15oz Dark Chocolate (I used 60% Ghiradelli): chips, pistoles or chopped into small even pieces

I cup granulated sugar

3oz unsalted butter, cut in pieces

0.5 cup heavy whipping cream, at room temperature

2 tsp flaky sea salt

Gold edible luster dust (optional)

Place a heatproof bowl over a pan of water over medium heat. The water should not be simmering or boiling. The aim is to melt the chocolate slowly and gently. Place 10oz of the chocolate in the bowl and leave to melt slowly (around an hour).

As you wait for the chocolate to melt you can make your caramel sauce. Put the granulated sugar in a heavy bottomed pan over medium high heat. Swirl the pan occasionally as the sugar slowly starts to melt but do not stir it at this stage. Like the chocolate, patience is the key. Keep a close eye on it and when the sugar has melted and starts to turn golden in colour add the butter and stir well to incorporate it. The sugar mix will bubble a lot but just keep stirring and make sure you don’t spill any of the hot mixture on yourself.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comRemove from the heat and add the cream, again stirring briskly as you do so to incorporate the cream. Make sure the cream is at least at room temperature. It could even be slightly warmed. I once made the mistake of adding cream which was too cold and the contents of the pan almost immediately seized into one solid lump of caramel.

Once the cream is mixed in add the sea salt. Set the sauce aside to cool.

Once the chocolate has melted and is smooth, remove from the heat and add the remaining 5oz of chocolate, stirring until it melts. Keep stirring until the chocolate cools down to around 88-89 F.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comPour the melted chocolate into the egg molds. Fill the molds, and then invert the mold over the bowl to allow the excess chocolate to drip out. Place the mold into the fridge for 10-15 minutes for the chocolate to harden.

Remove the tray from the fridge and use an offset spatula to scrape the excess chocolate from the bottom of the mold leaving you with neat chocolate egg shells.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comCarefully spoon some of the caramel filling into each egg, ensuring you leave room at the top for the final layer of chocolate. Return to the fridge for another 10-15 minutes to set once more.

Remove from the fridge, and add the final layer of chocolate to each mold, ensuring the caramel is completely covered. Use the offset spatula to wipe the excess chocolate from the mold.

Return to the fridge for another 15-20 minutes before gently releasing the chocolates from the mold. Lay the mold flat over a sheet of parchment paper and with just a little pressure the chocolates should pop out. If needed you can tidy any rough edges with a small sharp knife.

golden salted caramel chocolate eggs from britinthesouth.comFor extra sparkle, lightly spray the finished chocolates with edible luster dust.

Yield: 24 chocolates.