|A view on the drive to my Aunt's home in the New England and a pot of red pepper and chilli jam|
For as long as I can remember, my country Aunty who hails from New Zealand, has been making an amazing chilli jam which is absolutely heavenly. It's not the sort of thing that you would slather on toast for breakfast, but it is divine with charcuterie and cheese platters - or a fiery twist on a ploughman's lunch.
|Red pepper and chilli jam, perfect with figs, a fresh baguette and a selection of cheeses|
My Aunt is a phenomenal cook, her kitchen is very much the centre of her home. I am fairly sure my Aunt's talents are genetic as my cousin clearly inherited this gourmet gift. On visits to the country, you can always find members of the family gathered around the kitchen table devouring a freshly made scones, pikelets, slices or biscuits. I can recall one Christmas spent in the country at my Aunt and Uncles property - my Aunt and cousin were chief cooks in residence and we had truly, the most amazing feast with turkey, ham, chickens, duck with summer cherries, every imaginable side dish and beautiful bottles of local pinot noir. Unlike the usual blisteringly hot Australian Christmas, there was an unseasonal burst of cold weather, so much so that the fire place had to be put on in the afternoon. The frosty air made that feast even more delicious, I think.
|An afternoon's harvest from my Aunt's garden and a detail of the farm shed|
When it comes time to leave my lovely Aunt will always delve into her bountiful pantry and stock you up with jars of chilli jam, sweet breakfast jams with fruit from the property and spicy chutneys and relishes. On my last visit, which seems like it was far, far, far too long ago, I was also given the recipe for the prized chilli jam! This recipe has taken out a number of Country Women's Association Prizes and I felt very lucky indeed to be given a copy. Since making a number of batches of the jam, I have tweaked the recipe slightly. The original recipe itself it absolute perfection - my twist is more about the colour saturation and slightly more savoury notes that come with adding red peppers. The recipe goes along way, making about 6 small jars - and you can easily double the recipe. I like making a large batch to keep on hand as a little hostess gift along with cheeses and fresh seasonal fruits. It is also great to add to any hampers you might be making around Christmas time. The glowing red colour of the jam is right on theme for Christmas time.
200g red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped (go for the long chilli's for a medium heat)
200g red peppers / capsicums, deseeded and roughly chopped
1kg jam sugar
600ml cider vinegar
About 6 small to medium sealable jars, which have been sterilized.
1. Add chilli and pepper pieces to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Don't over process, as you want fine pieces in the jam - not a puree.
2. Add jam sugar and vinegar to a large heavy based pan and allow to dissolve over a low heat.
3. Add the chilli and pepper mix to the pan and bring to the boil. Allow it to boil for around 10 mins. You may need to stir once or twice to avoid it sticking or catching on the base of the pan.
4. When cool enough to handle, ladle the jam into your sterilized jars and then seal tightly.
This jam is particularly delicious smeared on a toasted sandwich with shaved Parmesan, crisp bacon, roasted cherry tomatoes and torn fresh basil leaves. For a country style twist, best washed down with a cup of strongly brewed tea.