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Green Olive Tapenade (Italian)

29 Jun
Green olive pate is the perfect Mediterranean summer food, it does not spoil, travels well and tastes divine when its hot making it a great picnic or lunch item. Salty and sour with capers and anchovies ground to a paste with garlic and lemon juice, delicious! Serve on bread or crackers as an aperitif or snack.

Makes enough to fill a 1 pint (1 quart) kilner Jar. 

  • 500g green olives, pitted
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp pickled capers
  • 4 anchovy fillets (optional)
  • 1/4 cup oilive oil
  • zest  and juice of half a lemon

Simply pound or grind all the ingredients together adding more or less of each ingredient to your own taste and to get a good consistency. Ready to eat immediately and will keep in the fridge for about 18 months.

Variations i sometimes add coriander leaf for a change and do not always add anchovies particularly when cooking for friends who are vegetarian.


Tamarind Chutney

20 Mar

If you have never tried tamarind chutney before give it a go; it is a quick with no cooking involved and absolutely delicious. If you can get your hands on fresh Tamarind pods by all means use those otherwise tamarind can be bought in blocks shelled and compressed.

  • 200g tamarind block
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 cups half litre hot water
  • 1-2 tsp cumin roasted and ground
  • 1-2 tsp ground red chilli (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp Indian black salt (optional if you can get it)
  • ½ tsp grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Soak the tamarind block in the hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. Push it through a sieve along with the soaking liquid, make a few passes to get a thick puree. Stir all the remaining ingredients into the tamarind puree, taste and adjust the quantities to get a good balance. As simple as that. It will keep for 2 months in the fridge.

VariationI also make a version of this with black plum puree instead of tamarind which is really delicious.

Yogurt and Walnut Relish

19 Mar

This Indian raita comes from Madhur Jaffrey who has several versions of a yogurt and walnut relish. In her book Madhur Jaffry’s Indian Cookery 1982, Kheere ka raita includes yogurt, chilli, salt, walnuts, green coriander, green chilli, spring onion and black pepper while the Kashmiri version in A Taste of India 1985 has simply yogurt, chilli, salt and walnuts. This version is based on the kashmiri recipe but with the addition of coriander and green chilli.

  • yogurt
  • 15-20 walnuts (shelled)
  • black salt or sea salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp coriander, minced
  • 1 fresh green chilli
  • ground dried chilli to taste

Bash the shelled walnuts with the coarse salt then stir into yogurt add sliced green chillis and ground dried chillis to taste add coriander stir well and serve.

Chickpea Spread [Hummus]

21 Sep
Hummus simply means chickpea in Arabic and that is the main ingredient in this delicious spread. A super fast nutritious food that is versatile and easy to make, particularly if you have a blender. 
Prep+Cook 10 mins
  • 300-500g cooked and cooled chickpeas or tinned chick peas
  • 2 fat cloves garlic crushed
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt

  • Paprika or cayenne pepper if you like it spicy.
  • Lemon zest

Drain and rinse the chickpeas if using tinned but keep the cooking liquid if you have freshly cooked chickpeas. Put everything into a blender and give it a wiz until you have a smooth paste, adding a little water or cooking liquor if necessary to get a good consistency. Pour into a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle a little more paprika on top and the grated zest of a lemon. Hummus will keep for about 1 week in the fridge.
Cook’s TIP To use dried chickpeas, which do taste better, soak in water overnight then simmer for about 1 hour until they are tender, use the cooking liquor to thin the hummus.
Variations you can add fresh coriander, crushed cumin, preserved lemon, tahini or sesame seeds to the blend for extra flavour or variation.
Nutrition Hummus is also high in fibre and said to help reduce cholesterol.
This recipe was originally posted on on 15/6/2006, I’ve just harvested our first crop of chickpeas which remonded me to update this recipe with a new picture and text.

Walnut & Parsley Pesto

28 Sep
In late September the walnuts start to drop and can be gathered throughout October. This is one of the sauces I make with our walnuts.

*1 part shelled nuts
*1-2 parts parsley (to taste)
*Orange or lemon zest
*1 part garlic Salt
*Olive oil
Pound the pesto ingredients together very finely and add enough oil to make a smooth paste. Use fresh on pasta and in soups.

Walnut & Parsley Pesto Preserve

This recipe comes from the excellent book on old world techniques of preserving garden produce Keeping Food Fresh by Terre Vivante. Use it as you would pesto for seasoning pastas and soups.
*1 part shelled nuts
*1-2 parts parsley (to taste)
*1 part garlic & onion (mix to taste)
*a little vinegar
*A few anchovies (optional)
*Olive oil

Grind all the non liquid ingredients together very finely. Add the vinegar, put the mixture in jars and seal with oil before capping.

Turkish Red Pepper Paste

28 Sep

Red pepper paste is a Turkish speciality one of the most useful ingredients in my pantry, great for adding a dash of colour and flavour to any dish. I make plenty of it and usually several versions in the autumn ready for the dark days of winter. Traditionally the peppers are pounded with only salt and laid out in the sun to dry to form a thick paste. But as we can’t always rely on a hot dry sun in autumn which is our rainy season I usually make this paste on top of a stove or slowly roasted in the oven.

Mild Sweet

This recipe makes a sweet pepper paste with only a hint of heat but you can easily make a hotter version by adding more chilli.

*2.5 kg Sweet red peppers
*2 fresh cayenne chilli peppers
*3 tbsp sea salt

Spicy Paprika

This is a mildly hot and spicy version made using paprika peppers, sweet peppers and chillis.

*2.5 kg red paprika and sweet peppers
*3-6 red chilli peppers
*3 tbsp sea salt
*1 tbsp cumin seeds, freshly ground
*1 tbsp coriander seeds, freshly ground
*4 tsp black peppercorns, freshly ground
*olive oil

Wash and dry the peppers, remove the core and seeds and roughly chop. Put into a food processor and mince along with the seasonings.

Cooking Method 1
Tip the whole lot into a large preserving pan and bring to the boil lower the heat and cook slowly for 35-45 mins if the peppers are quite dry. It can take up to 2 hours depending on how juicy the peppers are. The paste is ready when you have a paste consistency with no thin liquid surfacing.
Cooking Method 2
Alternatively pour the paste into a wide oven dish, stir in a dash of olive oil and bake slowly at 150c for 40-60 minutes or until the paste darkens and becomes thick. Spoon the hot paste into warm sterilised jars, cover with 1cm of olive oil to form an inner seal then screw on the lids. This paste will keep for several years that I know of.

My x-partners mum used to make huge batches of pepper paste each summer and the stuff was like gold when she sent it over from Turkey, hers was quite hot and had a complex flavour which included cumin and mint.
Gardener’s Tip
If you grow a variety of peppers you can make all kinds of pastes with varying intensities.
This recipe was originally posted on  10/10/2007 revised to include new versions

Aubergine Dip (Arabic)

23 Sep

Aubergine caviar or baba ghanoush is a classic Arabic dip of roasted, mashed aubergine flesh seasoned with spices and lemon juice. Served with flat breads it is a lovely appetizer or makes a fine contribution to a meal of little dishes or meze (mezze).

Seasoned mashed aubergine flesh, is a divine way to eat aubergines. I first encountered Baba ghanoush in Edinburgh, when I used to visit a friend who had a lovely little deli on the corner of her road. They made their own baba ghanoush and I always bought a tub of it on my way to visit her. The secret to a good Aubergine Caviar is the quality of the aubergines so use only the freshest, best tasting aubergines.

Serves 6 approximately
basic recipe

  • 4 medium aubergines
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of one lemon (a little zest too if you like)
  • sea salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

The aubergines need to be cooked first by baking in an oven or roasting over a charcoal flame. The charcoal will add more flavour but so long as the skin blackens a little in the oven the smoky flavour, that makes this dish so delightful, will come through. Prick the aubergines several times with a fork then cook until the flesh is soft.
Allow to cool then scrape the aubergine flesh into a bowl and discard the skin. Add the lemon juice seasoning, garlic and half the oil. Mash with a fork or use a blender to make a smooth puree, depending on the texture you like. Adjust seasoning and serve drizzled with the remaining oil. You can vary the seasoning and add your favourite herbs or spices, see the variations for ideas. My personal preference is to add lightly crushed green coriander seeds or mustard seeds, a little cumin and coriander leaf. The version pictured has yogurt, a little ground cumin seed and is dusted with powdered cayenne chilli, but you could also add grated onion, mint, parsley, or coriander. I never seem to make it the same way twice.

Variations from around the world
There are many versions of mashed or pureed aubergine flesh to be found around the world; from the southern Mediterranean, throughout the middle east and into India, so there must be something to it,
In Turkey thick sheep’s yogurt is sometimes added, about 5-6 tablespoons for this quantity of aubergine puree but use less oil.
In Armenia chopped coriander and onion might be added
In Morocco harrissa might be added
In Syria and Lebanon pomegranate molasses may be used instead of lemon as the souring agent
In Egypt and other parts of the middle east Tahini may be added
In Italy agresto and basil might be added
In IndiaBaingan Bartha is a cooked dish where the aubergine flesh is fried with spices and tomato and onions.

Black Olive Tapenade (French)

6 Sep

This Provencal specialty of black olives, anchovies, tuna and capers pounded into a delicious spread is an absolute classic. Tapenade is often served, as a tit-bit to dip bread or raw vegetables into in restaurants or in bars on rounds of toated bread with drinks. It also makes an excellent picnic food and sandwich filler.

* 50 or so stoned black olives
* 6-8 anchovy fillets
* 1 tbsp capers
* 50-100g tinned tuna
* Olive Oil (espresso cup full)
* Juice of half a Lemon or orange
* Flat leaf parsley, finely minced (optional)
* 1 tbsp brandy (optional)

Pound the olives, anchovies, tuna and capers together into a thick puree, in a pestle and mortar or in a food processor, gradually adding the olive oil and lemon juice as you go. When you have a consistency you are happy with, I like it quite coarse. Stir in the parsley and brandy if using. Serve spread on rounds of bread or as a dip to accompany crudités or bread sticks. Store in a jar in the fridge where it will keep for several months.

Note the quality of the olives determines the end result I prefer strong oily dark olives but use the ones you like.

This recipe was originally posted on on 6/9/2006.

Tomato & Basil Chutney

30 Aug

Once all the passata, dried tomatoes and tomato sauces are made I generally make some chutnies. This one is a bit of a gem, a slightly spicy, chunky tomato chutney excellent with barbecued food or anything else for that matter.

*2 kg ripe tomatoes peeled and chopped
*400g strong onions finely chopped
*20 cloves garlic
*100ml olive oil
*1 tsp cracked black pepper
*1 tsp sea salt
*4 tsp black mustard seeds
*1tsp wild fennel seeds
*1-3 fresh red chills de-seeded and finely chopped
*1 tsp Spanish smoked paprika
*150ml Balsamic vinegar
*100g sugar
*Basil, finely shredded

Fry onion with salt and pepper until soft, add garlic add tomatoes spices and vinegar and cook for one hour until pulpy adding more water if necessary to keep a good consistency. This chutney should not be too dry, add sugar bring to the boil and cook a further 30mins until thick but not dry, stir in fresh basil. Ladle into warm sterilized jars and seal. It stores for at least 2 years in a cool dark place. Once opened keep in the fridge.

Tomato & Chilli Salsa (Mexican)

23 Aug

This is the salsa I make with our summer bounty of peppers, chillis, onion and tomatoes. It is a cooked salsa, bottled and heat processed, so it has a long shelf-life right through the winter.

A rich red tomato, chilli and onion relish perfect with home made corn chips or as a base for many Mexican dishes. I wanted to make this salsa for preserving so my starting point was the encyclopedic book on preserving Putting Food By 4th edition from which I took the basic ingredients and method.

Makes about 4 x 300g jars

  • 1 kilo of tomatoes
  • 4 hot onions
  • 10-20 green & red fleshy hot chillis peppers (preferably Jalapeno)
  • 1 large sweet green pepper
  • 1 large sweet red pepper
  • 1 tbsp ground mulatto chilli pepper (optional)
  • 50ml cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1-2 tsp salt

Peel the onions and core and seed the chillis and peppers. Throw them into a food processor and grind to a fine chop. Peel the tomatoes and throw those in give the mix another quick wizz to pulp the tomatoes. Tip the whole lot into a large pan, add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20-40 minutes or until the salsa turners a dark red and has a rich thick consistency. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Heat process for 15 minutes. See How to Make Passata for instructions on how to heat process in a hot water bath.

Cook’s Note Be careful with the chillis, if they are very hot use only a small number but if they are mild use 20 or more. Also the quantity of vinegar, sugar and salt required will vary depending on the variety of tomatoes used. If I’ve used beefsteak tomatoes like cuostralle, which are low in acidity I add the vinegar you may not need to just taste the sauce and adjust to taste.