Chilli Oil

I know we only have a very small balcony and it is incredibly windy up at the top of our building,but I have managed to grow things up here.

This year the chillies have been fantastic and even though it is now getting towards the end of November there were still chillies ripening

Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 042

Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 043

It really was time I did something with them before they spoiled on the plant.

I have a whole load of them ready to be stuffed with cheese and wrapped with bacon but even I, with my chilli addiction, can’t eat that many.

One of the other things I do is make chilli oil, using vegetable oil, so that I can cook with it. It just gives a little nip of something to whatever I am frying. And, oh, the difference it makes to a fried egg!

Of course, it also means that you have chillies available to cook with – softened, admittedly, due to their immersion in oil, but at least you have some.


Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 045

So, harvest the chillies…..

Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 048

Aren’t they beautiful? On a cold and wet November day they really are a bright spot.

Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 049

Put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them and squoosh them about for a few seconds then drain them

It helps to slash them so they will sink in the oil…. just remember if you do this that you must be careful with your fingers afterwards.

I know everyone always says this… and I know that everyone usually forgets and then gets a shock when they stick their fingers somewhere. Well, I have said it so don’t complain when you rub your eyes.

Put your chillies in a jar and pour oil over them

Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 050

And that’s it.

You’ll be surprised how quickly the oil takes on the essence of chilli and very pleased with how many things you can add use the oil in…..a spoonful when you are making mayonnaise, for example, really sparks it up.  And it is, you’ll probably agree, a particularly pretty jar to have in your kitchen.

What more can you ask for – a multitasking end product? Useful AND pretty.

Mayo… mmmmmmmayo

It’s always handy to have the makings of mayonnaise in the house. In just a few minutes you can have a lovely thick, tasty dressing that you can modify in all sorts of ways to match whatever you want to use it with.

 I made fish and couscous and wanted something to tie it all together. I know that Bear would have been happy with tomato sauce but I wanted something nice. Lemon mayo, I thought, would be just the thing. So….

Mayo, fish and crisps, lamb shanks and spurtle 018

Two eggs were separated (the whites can go into something else tomorrow) and the yolks put into a jug.

Stir a sparse teaspoon of mustard (very, very sparse if you are using English mustard as that is hot, maybe just a touch… but I was using Dijon which is mild) into the yolk and blend it. Add a pinch of salt and then, if you are feeling energetic, whisk it fiercely. I stuck the balloon whisk on the end of my blender and whizzed away.

Mayo, fish and crisps, lamb shanks and spurtle 019

You can see it start to thicken slightly and change colour a bit

Mayo, fish and crisps, lamb shanks and spurtle 020

And then you trickle in some oil. Use a flavourless oil, like sunflower, rather than olive oil as that can make it taste just a bit too strong. I have saved the oil from jars of roasted peppers or sunblush tomatoes (you know how there’s always loads left and it seems such a waste to bin it) and used that before as an addition to the sunflower oil. That just gives it an extra taste dimension – useful if you are making it for a specific dish.

Mayo, fish and crisps, lamb shanks and spurtle 021

Suddenly it thickens even more and the colour lightens…

I wanted a lemony mayonnaise to go with the fish so I added the juice of a lemon

Mayo, fish and crisps, lamb shanks and spurtle 022

Whisk, whisk, whisk! Add more oil and maybe a couple of teaspoons of white wine vinegar. Taste it to see if you have the flaovouring right.

Mayo, fish and crisps, lamb shanks and spurtle 023

You’d be surprised how much mayonnaise you can make if you keep adding the oil. In one of my favourite books, ‘ The Curious Cook’ Harold McGee experiments with just how much oil can be emulsified with just one yolk. Make as much as you need.. just keep whisking and adding the oil slowly.

You end up with a wonderfully thick, unctuous, deliciously flavoured mayonnaise. Less than ten minutes (I made it while the fish cooked) and you have something to be proud of. This was lemony and savoury and oh-so-right for that fish.

Lamb shank, pumpkin soup, bread, mayo 022

In fact, it was so nice that the Bear went and got an extra spoonful and he’s not a mayonnaise lover. Mmmmmmmm…