Month: September 2014

Thai Chili Pepper & Lemon Pepper Jelly

Pepper JellyIn anticipation (and maybe a little dread) of making jelly with our Ghost Peppers (Scoville scale: One MILLION units)—we experimented with two other very hot peppers from the garden. Don’t ask us why we grew so many of these. Because, like Mount Everest, they’re there? We do like heat—but some of these, especially the Ghost Peppers, are lethal weapons.

We began with the Thai Chili Peppers—Scoville scale: about 100,000 units—looking to figure out what ratio of pepper to sugar would be hot enough, not too hot, and not too sweet. And it’s always a little bit of a guessing game with pectin, so it got messed with, too.

Start by preparing your jars according to the canner manufacturer’s directions. This will include washing the jars and sterilizing the lids. Have everything clean and ready to go, with a hot water bath on the simmer—this recipe doesn’t take long to put together, and you want to be able to plunge the jars into boiling water right away. (Note—it’s worth it to buy a real canner and accessories—they’re not very expensive and will last a lifetime.)

For the Thai Chili Pepper jelly:


  • 10 ripe peppers (they’re small but potent), washed, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 large red bell peppers, washed, seeds and stems removed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 1 packet (3 oz) liquid pectin


  • Puree peppers and 1 cup vinegar in blender. Be smart, wear protective gloves when handling the peppers, and a facemask from the hardware store is a good idea too—the fumes can sting.
  • Combine the puree, 1 cup vinegar and the sugar in a saucepan.
  • Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Be careful, this mixture can easily boil over.
  • Stir in pectin and return to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
  • Remove from stove and skim foam, if any. Adding the pectin seemed to eliminate the foam in our test.
  • Ladle the hot jelly into clean hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. We used 4 oz jars and filled 12 of them, with some jelly mixture left over.
  • Adjust the caps and process 10 minutes in boiling water in your canner—make sure that jars don’t touch, and if you live at higher elevations, follow adjusted directions.
  • Let set at room temperature for 24 hours out of drafts. If a jar doesn’t vacuum seal, pop it in the fridge to use right away.
  • Store for up to 1 year.

This jelly is good, even delicious, but a bit too sweet and not really as spicy as we’d like. It’s a little bland. Next time, we’ll use more peppers, less sugar, and perhaps a little something else, like orange zest or grated ginger. We worried that this jelly was a bit thin—we might have been a bit light on pectin.

We tried to amp things up with the lemon peppers. Although they rank lower on the Scoville scale, at about 50,000 units, they release a lot of choke-worthy peppery essence into the air, and their taste is distinctively, well, yellow. The directions are the same—just the ingredients changed, slightly.


  • 8 ripe peppers (they’re larger than the Thai Chilis), washed, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 large yellow bell peppers, washed, seeds and stems removed, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar, divided
  • 6 cups sugar
  • 2 packets (6 oz) liquid pectin

Otherwise, proceed as with the Thai Chili recipe. This batch was also a success—but again, too sweet and a little bland. Next time we’ll be bolder in the number of hot peppers used in both recipes—and will perhaps increase the number of bell peppers, too, so that the essence of pepper is what comes through, not so much the sugar.

Still, no complaints from family and friends on these—they complement just about anything, from a breakfast frittata to chicken, steak, lamb—and we’re happy to have them.  Plus, they look like jewels when the sun shines through the jars.

Pepper prep

Slow Roasted Salmon with Lemon Green Beans, Tomato Water and Basil Quinoa

Slow Roasted SalmonWith this meal, I was trying to think of inventive ways to use the fantastic heirloom tomatoes that we have from the garden.

I was making Canadian bacon and tomato sandwiches with fennel pollen mayo for lunch (that’s another post.) One of the tomatoes was so juicy it fell apart while I was trying to slice it. It still tasted amazing so I put the tomato and all the juice in a container and started pondering what could be done with it.

Tomato Water and Basil Quinoa

1/2 cup tomato water (I used the liquid left on the plate after slicing several tomatoes.)
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup chopped heirloom tomatoes
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
3 pinches fleur de sel
5 grinds penja pepper

Put tomato water, vegetable stock and quinoa in a sauce pan and bring to a vigorous boil.  Reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes until quinoa is tender but not mushy and the liquid is mostly absorbed.  Remove from heat and add the tomato, basil and seasoning.  Give it a stir and serve.

Lemon Green Beans

1 tbsp good butter
2 tbsp good olive oil
2 tsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 large garlic clove finely chopped
1 small shallot finely chopped
2 lbs fresh green beans
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp grains of paradise

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for 3-4 minutes then put in an ice bath to stop the cooking.  Drain and set aside.  Put the butter and oil in a large deep skillet over medium high heat.  When the butter melts stir it together with the oil and add the garlic and shallots.  Cook for 3 minutes or until they become fragrant and soft.  Add the green beans, brown sugar, lemon juice, then the salt, pepper and grains of paradise.  Toss together for a few minutes then keep warm on low heat until ready to serve.

Slow Roasted Salmon

1 2lb salmon fillet, skin on, scaled, pin bones removed
olive oil
gray salt
cayenne pepper
penja pepper (also known as “Pearl of Cameroon”)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Coat a shallow baking dish with olive oil and place the salmon in the dish, skin side down.  Season with salt, cayenne, and penja pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.  Place in the middle rack of the oven for 12 minutes; the salmon will be just cooked through and medium rare–cook it a few more minutes if you like it medium.  Peel off the skin, which should come off easily.  Transfer to a serving plate and cover until serving.

All three of these dishes have about the same cooking time, so it’s pretty easy to have everything ready together.  Kate and Jack said these were the best green beans they had ever tasted.  I must admit, this whole meal was really delicious.  Try it and tell us about it.