Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's Jelly Time - WARNING!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I recently took time out from my busy rehearsal schedule to meet British Celebrity Chef Nigella Lawson.

Well I was browsing through her new Christmas Cookbook when I saw a recipe for Chile Jam (Jelly for all the American Readers). Now I had tasted Jalapeno Jelly a couple of years previously, served over cream cheese with crackers, and it was awesome, so I decided to make some Chile Jam of my own.

Here is Nigella's Recipe, along with some stern warnings!!!

1 cup seeded and roughly chopped Chiles
(I used Jalapeno the first time and Red Serrano the second time)

1 cup cored, seeded and roughly chopped bell pepper
(Same color as the peppers)

5 cups of sugar

1 box (1.75 oz) powdered fruit pectin
(normally with the canning supplies, in my store near the saran wrap and foil!)

Small 8oz sealable jars -the recipe makes 5-6 cups worth
(I normally run these through the dishwasher on hot to sterilize them!)

2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar

A few drops of gel food coloring the same color as the peppers.

Put the chopped up chiles in the food processor and then pulse until they are finely diced.

Add the chunks of bell pepper and pulse until you have a finely chopped bowl full.

Dissolve the sugar and the pectin in the vinegar in a LARGE, I repeat LARGE pan over low heat.

Scrape the chile pepper mixture out of the bowl and into the pan. Bring to a boil and leave it at full rollicking boil for 15 minutes. DO NOT TURN YOUR BACK ON IT OR TAKE YOUR EYES OFF IT!!!!!

Take the pan off the heat and stir in a few drops of food coloring to get the desired color. Leave for about 40 minutes to cool.

After 40 minutes give it a stir and then ladle it into jars - a jelly funnel is really helpful here if you have one :)

So why all the stern warnings??? Well as you can see from the picture below, even though the amount of jelly before it boils looks rather feeble in the bottom of the pan, it increases in volume rapidly.

The first time I was making the jelly I was making a double amount in a pan that size, which at first glance seemed plenty big enough - bad mistake. I turned my back and walked away from the stove. From the other side of the kitchen I saw hot bubbling Jam, overflow the pan, flow over the oven, down the kitchen counters and onto the tile floor. I couldn't reach the burner to turn it off straight away as I was barefoot and didn't want to get burns on the soles of my feet. If you make this please be very careful, it is hot and sticky, so if it gets on your skin it burns and is tricky to wash off.

I had to wait until the jelly cooled down and then take the stove top apart and clean EVERYTHING.

Well here are the two jellies I made, sorry about the dim lighting. One is a very festive green (made from Jalapeno) and the other is a christmassy red (made from Red Serrano).

The jalapeno has a gentle warmth, whereas the Serrano has some fire to it!!!

The second time I made the Jelly it actually was a very simple process, although the fumes from the Serrano peppers both while seeding and then while cooking were very very potent - open some windows and turn the vents on!!!

The jellies look festive and they taste great with cold ham.

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