HOT, MILD, SWEET AND SAVOURY sauces & dress­ings

Some­times a good sauce or dress­ing is all you need to take a plain dish to new, ex­otic heights.

NZ Gardener - Gifts from the Gardens - - Preserves -

Next time you’re head­ing to a pot luck or bar­be­cue, take a bot­tle of your finest pre­serve for the hosts. Like this sweet chilli sauce. The recipe makes about 6 cups.

In­gre­di­ents • 150g long red chill­ies (fresh or frozen from last year’s crop), de­seeded and roughly chopped • 150g red cap­sicums, de­seeded and chopped • 1 ta­ble­spoon grated fresh gin­ger

• 2 gar­lic cloves, crushed • 600ml ap­ple cider vine­gar • 1kg jam-set­ting sugar

Whiz the chill­ies, cap­sicums, gin­ger and gar­lic in a food pro­ces­sor un­til finely chopped. Add the sugar to the vine­gar in a jam pan or wide heavy-based pan and heat gen­tly till the sugar is dis­solved. Add the chilli mix­ture and bring to the boil, then cook at a rolling boil for 10 min­utes. Take off the heat and cool for 20-30 min­utes; stir gen­tly as it sets to en­sure the flecks of chilli are evenly sus­pended in the syrupy liq­uid. Pour into warm ster­ile jars and seal.

Pre­served lemons are a sta­ple in­gre­di­ent in Mid­dle East­ern cook­ing, used in savoury dishes.

Scrub five ‘Lis­bon’, ‘Yen Ben’, ‘Villa Franca’ or ‘Le­mon­ade’ lemons and dry them with kitchen pa­per. Do not use ‘Meyer’ lemons as their skin is not firm enough; they'll turn to mush. Slice each le­mon length­ways into quar­ters, with­out cut­ting all the way through so they re­main at­tached at the bot­tom. Pack each le­mon with coarse sea salt, then trans­fer to a jar. Pour over enough le­mon juice to com­pletely cover and soak the lemons. Add a sprin­kle more salt over the top and seal. Store in a dark place for 3-4 weeks to al­low them to cure.

To use, re­move the amount of le­mon you need and run un­der a cold tap to wash off the salt. Us­ing a sharp par­ing knife, scrape the pith off the skin, and dis­card. Finely slice or chop skin and use.

Smoked gar­lic lends a del­i­cate, sub­tle flavour to sim­ple dishes, es­pe­cially pasta, risotto, sauces and dips. It’s easy to smoke gar­lic if you have a smoker.

Take whole bulbs and re­move the pa­pery skin, leav­ing the thicker skin on so the bulbs stay in­tact. Set the smoker up for a 10-minute smoke time. Place bulbs on the rack inside the smoker tip down so the smoke can pen­e­trate the in­sides. Leave the bulbs to smoke gen­tly.

Al­low the bulbs to cool on the rack inside the smoker be­fore re­mov­ing them. Dur­ing the smok­ing process the oils inside the gar­lic will have con­verted to sugar, which some­times sticks as it runs. Squeeze the smoked, soft­ened, cloves from their skins and store in an air­tight con­tainer in the fridge. Keeps for 1 month if cov­ered with oil in a jar.

When mak­ing a sauce, add a bal­ance of sweet, acid, salt and spice. So, an Asian-style sauce might have or­ange juice (sweet, acid), brown sugar (sweet), rice vine­gar (acid), soy sauce (salt) and chill­ies (spice).

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