This is the first recipe that we post into the new Monster’s Mouth menu above, where we shall ( in the best of our own established traditions) make posting of those many and varied recipes in which we use the Monster’s annual bounty; jams, chutneys, sauces and salsas and a wholesome lot more besides to come.
One of the Monster’s favourite culinary condiments is the hot and spicy North African paste Harissa. We use our own red chilli peppers, garlic, tomatoes and coriander leaves to make this wonderfully pungent addition to our larder. We use it as a marinade for pork and chicken, and Mrs. Dirtdigger will often swirl a loving spoonful into beef casseroles and stews. Loosen a spoonful with some quality virgin olive oil and it more than serves as a bread dip, a hot salad dressing, or as a drizzle for vegetables to be roasted. It adds heat and punch to rice dishes and couscous and it works wonderfully and surprisingly well with hard-boiled eggs while transforming mackerel, salmon and tuna when used sparingly as a cooking rub or as a flavour dress for open sandwiches. We make a couple of small jars each year while our fresh ingredients allow and this hot aromatic accompaniment to our cooking reminds us of the heady summer days on our allotment and sees us through the darker days of the year.
• 8-10 medium-hot red chilli peppers Cayenne/Serrano/Sunblush
• 1 heaped tablespoon of purée tomato
• 1 good-sized bulb (whole bulb) or 8 cloves of garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
• 1heaped tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted, ground,
• 1 heaped tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted, ground
• 80-100 ml (6-8 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
• Splash red wine vinegar
• 1 cup freshly chopped coriander leaves
• Sea salt, and freshly ground black and red pepper for taste
• Pinch of caster sugar (optional), if needed
• Preheat oven to 200c/gas mark 7.
• Place the chilli peppers on a small tray and roast for 18- 20 minutes. The skins will blacken and begin to come away from the flesh.
• Removing from the oven place the roasted chillies in a bowl and seal completely with cling film. Allow to cool. When peppers have cooled peel off the skins and remove the seeds leaving just the roasted pepper flesh.
• Put peppers into a mortar and using a pestle work to a paste (a food processor can be used). Now add the purée tomato , garlic and ground spices and grind/pound to a paste. Add the freshly chopped coriander leaves and season for taste.
• Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and red wine vinegar splash.
• Add a full fingers pinch of sugar if you feel the flavour needs a lift.
• Put into sterilized jars, and store in a refrigerator. It should store for up to 4 months.