Just Sous Just Me

Musicians, inspired recipes, songs and food adventures.


Leave a comment

All-Green Broad Bean Salad; Pre-Xmas Detox

Image

December is absolutely upon us, the finale to a lightning-speed elapsed year of 2013 and all of the celebratory carry-on and over-indulgence that will accompany the season right up to the New Year and beyond. There’s no easy escape for anyone, best just to go with it. Musicians particularly will most likely be following a hectic schedule right now playing at Xmas parties and participating in Candlelight Carol events around the country. This can mean hours of rehearsal then being placed on a stage to read endless charts of Xmas songs, like Mariah Carey’s epic arrangement of Joy to the World including three key changes, multiple chord-subsitutions and references to the ‘Three Dog Night’ song thrown in as well just to keep us on our toes. To keep up the level of concentration needed in these situations, being well-nourished is vital. Take a bag of almonds and some bananas  to the rehearsal.

I have decided this year to be well armed for the onslaught figuring a few weeks of healthy eating will put the body in ship-shape preparedness for the upcoming weeks and damage-control can be enforced prior to excessive consumption.  For this task am thinking along the lines of Green.

IMG_8708There are no limitations to an All-Green Salad, truly fresh being the most important element. Make sure every green ingredient of your choice (or follow list below) is fresh and clean by washing all leaves/herbs free from residues – organic included. Even if you’ve grown it all yourself  it still must be rinsed thoroughly. If you have cultivated your own greens you’ll be aware of the freshness and taste sensation as opposed to you know what. If you are purchasing from markets or grocers, go for the most vibrant looking and use that very same day.  The French approach – shop seasonally and if you are good with time-management, daily for optimum zest.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABroad Beans are the stars of this salad and are in season now, but really anything green and lush will work. Don’t be afraid of Broad Beans. Yes they are fussy and time-consuming to prepare but the results, both nutritionally loaded with protein and fibre also taste wise are worth it if you set aside the time to prepare them. Based on top of an all-green salad and served with Green Tea for the ultimate de-fox, this is a nice early Xmas present for your body. You could also serve this up with some cooked prawns and basil oil tossed through as a Turkey alternative on The Day itself.  You’ll have yourself a very merry little Christmas indeed.

All-Green Broad Bean (Pre-Xmas Detox) Salad

Ingredients:

1 Cup prepared Broad Beans

1 Bunch of Rocket Lettuce

1/2 Cup of Green Peas

Mint Leaves, shredded

Basil leaves, torn

Bunch of Chives, chopped

Lime Juice

Sea Salt

Method:

* To prepare Broad beans – Split the pods and remove the beans, discard pods. Blanch beans in boiling water for a few minutes, drain then place into ice water. Slip the skins off simply with your finger, or make a small incision with a knife and pop the inner bean out (this is the time-consuming part)

* Place the rest of the salad ingredients in a bowl with the beans, toss gently.

* Sprinkle with Sea Salt and Lime Juice

For a bit more of a zing, try the salad with this Basil Oil Recipe (which also is delicious with prawns)

Basil Oil

1/2 Cup Basil Leaves

1 Garlic Clove

1 TBS Lemon Juice

1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 Cup good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt and ground Black Pepper

Method:

* Place all ingredients in a food-processor and blend well.

* Pour what you don’t use straight away into a jar and store in the fridge, it will keep for a week. (Just bring it to room temperature before next use as the oil solidifies).  Once you try this oil, you’ll find you want to put it on everything – it’s spectacularly good on poached eggs for breakfast 🙂

Advertisements


1 Comment

Baking Bad Scrambled Eggplant

Image

Sometimes you need to look outside the proverbial circle to source food and recipe inspiration, or maybe it just occurs naturally if you trust your instincts in certain situations. Usually I find green-grocery shopping nothing short of a rejuvenating sensory experience with display after display of fresh, multi-coloured fruit and vegetables beautifully presented like paint on an artist’s palette. They haven’t just been dumped randomly, serious thought has gone into these displays for maximum visual appeal which turns into enticement and ultimately (in my case) more purchases than needed at the time – like the four inviting artichokes I bought yesterday just because they looked so content nestling happily next to the eggplants, not because I was going to be using them in my recipe but solely for decorational purposes in my kitchen.

Thyme from the Wall Garden

Thyme from the Wall Garden

Right now it appears the planet is collectively obsessed with, either just starting, completely finished or half-way through that ubiquitary TV series Breaking Bad which has presented me with an inspiration for a dish. How is this be possible you ask? If you are familiar with this completely compelling piece of Television excellence you’d be familiar with the character Marie who, as the series goes on you eventually notice is constantly surrounded by the colour purple. Not only is she wearing purple (contrasted with yellow or other complimenting purple colour-matches) the kitchen is also full of purple appliances, the crockery, shopping bags, curtains, the bedroom theme, furniture and even a purple cork-screw makes an appearance.  I also wonder if she she eats eggplant every night for dinner? It’s entirely possible she does.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe more I watch this series and am blasted with visions of purple the more thoughts I have about eggplant and other assorted purple coloured vegetables to the point of Marie Schrader’s obsessive behaviour. Red Onions (which are really purple and should be called purple onions), Raddichio, Beetroot, Purple Garlic, Purple Carrots, Purple Chillis and the King of them all, Eggplant. Traditionally serving sliced, drenched with olive oil, grilled and consumed just like that is sensational but there are other ways to incorporate eggplant in your cooking if you like to experiment. This recipe is based on an Iranian dish ‘Mirza Ghassemi’ plus a few additions and omissions. Baked with thyme the night before, then folded through scrambled eggs the following morning the sweet, smokey flavour intensifies over night. Baking has to be one of the easiest and tastiest ways to prepare eggplant.  Chop the skin and flesh up, fold through the scrambled egg and serve on a bed of rocket topped with dollops of dill yoghurt. and a squeeze of lemon. For the Chilli freaks, throw some chopped fresh purple chillis over the final result.

Baked Eggplant Scramble

1 Large Eggplant; Cut in half lengthways criss-cross scored without piercing skin

2 tsp Sea Salt

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Few sprigs of fresh Thyme

* Sprinkle salt in the slits of the eggplant and set aside for 30 mins

* Squeeze all liquid from eggplant (like a sponge)

* Pre-heat oven to 200 C

* Brush flesh sides with Olive Oil

* Place flesh side down on top of Thyme sprigs in a roasting tin and bake for 1 hour or till skin starts crisping up.

Creamy Scrambled Eggs

4 – 6 Free Range Eggs

1/4 Cup of cream or Milk (or if dairy issues, just plain old water)

50 gms Butter

Salt and Pepper

Smokey Paprika for dusting

* Crack eggs into a bowl and whisk with a fork

* Add milk then use an electric beater to whip them up till well mixed, light and aerated

* Melt butter in pan till sizzling, pour in egg mixture and let settle for around a minute before moving it all with a spoon.

* Do not over stir, just gently fold cooked parts over each other till barely cooked; just slightly un-cooked as off the flame it is still setting. (Over-cooked scrambled eggs become watery rather than what you want light and fluffy)

* Chop the eggplant at this stage and gently mix through the scrambled eggs.

* Serve on a bed of Rocket drenched with lemon with the dill yoghurt sauce and a sprinkle of smokey paprika

Dill and Yoghurt Sauce

1/2 cup of Greek Yoghurt

2 Tbs finely chopped fresh dill

* Mix together till well combined

Note*

For the full ‘purple explosion’, grate some purple carrot over the rocket and add some caramelised red-onions before the eggs go on top, sprinkled with some edible purple flowers. (Sorry there is no picture, am only imagining this but am sure would look great)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy cute little Artichoke 🙂


2 Comments

Yellow Polka-Dot Zucchini Linguine

Zucchini Linguine

Judging by warmer temperatures and Christmas decorations now appearing in department stores, Winter is officially over in Sydney. As a cold weather lover always happy to embrace the commencement of Winter I actually look forward to the oncoming months of slow cooked roasts and stews brewed up all day to be consumed in my kitchen next to the glowing  Jøtul cast iron wood stove. If I could afford the luxury of regularly travelling to any destination in the world I’d be pursuing the Winter climates over basting in sunny-hot, humid and balmy conditions any day. There’s just something about rugging-up, slipping on Ugg Boots and sipping a nice glass of spicy-sweet mulled wine that is much more appealing than enduring a sun-burnt sweat-fest.

Suffering a mild case of denial and not yet ready to put away the Ugg Boots or my cast-iron Chasseur pot, inevitably it’s time to start thinking about culinary choices that will suit the warmer weather approaching. And unlike Eggplant, there are countless songs written about Summer and all things Sunshine to get a bit of kitchen inspiration. Mostly positive, happy and upbeat songs like Heat Wave, Summer in the City, The Boys Of Summer, California Dreamin’, Surfin Safari, Under the Boardwalk, Summer of ’69 and that’s just the tip of the equatorial iceberg. Conversely Cruel Summer by Bananarama paints Summer in a darker light as does Summertime originally sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers

The most quintessential summer song I can think of has to be the Brian Hyland recording of Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka dot Bikini. Mostly because I had to sing this song for the Bushwackers Beach Party in Tamworth a few years ago so is the song used as inspiration for Zucchini Linguine. How can this song inspire a recipe you say? Easily. Apart from the obvious rhyme of Zuchini and Bikini, think yellow with polka dots and the possibilities are endless. My thoughts straightaway leaned towards yellow capsicum, capers, preserved lemon and black sesame seeds. And Zucchini sliced thinly into lengthways strips I have recently discovered, surprisingly is an excellent and far healthier alternative to pasta. If you want your Bolognese sauce to stand out next time both visually and textually, try serving on a bed of Zucchini Linguine.

Slashed of high carbohydrate content and also gluten-free, who knows you might just be able to squeeze into that teeny weeny bikini this summer, or at least not be afraid to come out of the water wearing one 🙂

Yellow Polka-Dot Zucchini Linguine with Crunchy Parmesan:

Ingredients:

4 Zucchini, topped and tailed, sliced into thin strips lengthways, then again into linguine style strips like this:

Zucchini Shredded

1 Yellow Capsicum, sliced thinly in strips

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

2 Tbs Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic, minced

1 Birds-eye Chilli, de-seeded and chopped finely

1/4 Piece of Preserved lemon, chopped finely

1 Tbs Baby Capers, rinsed

1 Tbs toasted Black Sesame Seeds

Coriander Leaves chopped roughly

Method:

1) Melt coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat

2) Add Zucchini and Capsicum and sauté for a few minutes until just tender

3) In a new saucepan, add Olive Oil, Garlic, Chilli and Preserved Lemon and gently simmer over medium heat till fragrant, one minute tops

4) Pour Olive Oil mixture over Zucchini Linguine and stir till well combined

5) Scatter with toasted Sesame Seeds and Coriander

Crunchy Parmesan:

Ingredients:

Handful of Raw Almonds, ground up in a processor

3 Tbs finely grated Parmesan Cheese

4 Zucchini Flowers with baby zucchini attached

Splash of Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Method:

1) Preheat Oven to 180 C

2) Mix Almonds and Parmesan together in a bowl

3) Place Zucchini Flowers in roasting pan, splash with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

4) Bake for 15 Minutes, remove and let rest

5) Detach flowers from baby Zucchini, crush up with fingers and add to the Parmesan mixture

6) Either eat the roasted baby Zucchini now, or throw into main dish

6) Sprinkle on-top of Zucchini Linguine


Leave a comment

Imam Bayildi and the Eggplant Song

Image

In the world today it’s doubtful any more than one song exists where the subject and title is Eggplant. A quick Google search reveals that yes there is indeed more than one song with Eggplant in the title like ‘The Eggplant That Ate Chicago’. The band Train also has a song called Eggplant and there are a band-names like ‘My Eggplant Died Yesterday’ and ‘Kenny Young and the Eggplants’.  The search also indicates resoundingly by far and above the most well-known Eggplant song of all is ‘Eggplant’ by Michael Franks from the album Art Of Tea.

I heard this song in remix form recently after not hearing it for years, then quite annoyingly remained in my head for a few days afterwards. Anyone familiar with the lyrics  would know the chorus suggesting his girlfriend cooks it up ‘about nine-teen different ways and he sometimes has it raw with Mayonnaise’? More Googling reveals indeed this is a way some people consume it, raw with mayonnaise on a sandwich. (Perhaps they got the idea from the song?) Eggplant, whether it be roasted, fried or Baba Ganoushed is a vegetable unsurpassed with its sweet, cooked flavours and melt-in-your-mouth texture. Raw is just not an option.

Imam Bayildi

Imam Bayildi

I recently performed in Yamba with the Bushwackers, where we were fortunate enough to experience the cooking of Sevtap Yüce. Turkish born, she now owns her own restaurant in Yamba where the menu is a creative mix and modern slant on traditional Turkish recipes. Being so impressed with the food I buy her cookbook full of treasures ‘Turkish Flavours’ and there she was in the open kitchen to sign it for me too with a smile to match as big as her flavoursome, generous cooking.

Blanched Tomatoes Chopped

Blanched Tomatoes Chopped

I consult Sevtaps’ cookbook for Eggplant dishes and discover Imam Bayildi – which translates to ‘The Priest Fainted’. Some say he fainted because the dish tasted so good and others because of the amount of expensive olive oil used. I’ve never fainted because a dish tasted so good, quite the opposite. And with no shortage of Olive Oil thanks to Adina Vineyard decide to attempt this dish.

There appears to be more than one way of approach with many variables of ingredients right down to the initial preparation of the Eggplant. Being a bit trepidatious as to peeling Eggplant correctly I consult YouTube to find out how to, someone must know. And there I find ‘The Imam’ with his recipe and how-to. It’s in Turkish with no sub-titles, but make a note of it all just the same, hoping that I haven’t added salt instead of sugar. There is a green vegetable added, and I can’t recognise it so go with Septavs addition of green capsicum at this point.

Here is the Imam at work himself and the secondary inspiration for this recipe combined with Sevtaps, and a few of my own additions.

Imam Bayildi – Stuffed Roasted Eggplants

1 Large Eggplant (or 3 smaller aubergines) trimmed, peeled, scored, halved and salted in a colander

1 Cup Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic, sliced thinly

Sea Salt

1 Brown Onion, chopped

1 Green Capsicum, diced

2 Ripe Tomatoes, scored, blanched, peeled and chopped

1/2 Litre Water

Bunch of Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped

Juice of 1/2 Lemon

1 Clove Garlic, minced

2 Large Green Chillis split lengthways, de-seeded and de-membraned

Method:

1) Pre-heat Oven to 170 Degrees C. Fry onions in half the oil over medium heat for a few minutes

2) Add Capsicum and Tomato. Sprinkle liberally with Salt, let sizzle a bit then add water

3) Let boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for twenty minutes

4) Push slivers of garlic inside scored eggplant

5) Fry eggplant in rest of oil till golden on all sides, remove and drain on paper towels till cool then place in a roasting tin

6) Add parsley, minced garlic and lemon juice to tomato mixture, turn off heat

7) Drain veg mix through a colander, reserving liquid.

8) Dig a well in each cooled eggplant, making sure the skin below is left intact and evenly scoop in veg mixture

9) Top with half a large green chilli (pictured) secured with a toothpick and a sprinkle of slithered almonds

10) Pour reserved liquid around (not over) eggplants, cover and bake 40 minutes.

Garlic Yoghurt

1 Clove Garlic

Sea Salt

1 Cup Greek Yoghurt

Method:

Ground Garlic and Sea Salt in a Mortar and Pestle to paste consistency

Fold into the Greek Yoghurt

I served this on top of prepared red quinoa, Garlic yoghurt (also by Sevtap) a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a squeeze of lemon juice. It tasted so good I nearly fainted 🙂


Leave a comment

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb Baby :-)

Rhubarb

When it comes to fruit and vegetable selection, I like to follow their seasonal habits so they are at their absolute best. This way you are getting them in their full glory, they taste better and are also cheaper. For instance, I wouldn’t attempt a Jamie Oliver Thai Mango Salad in the middle of winter, firstly because you won’t find a mango then (unless you’ve been diligent enough to freeze some pulp from the previous Summers’ abundant supply, who does that anyhow?) And secondly, it’s not really a Winter dish, it’s more appropriate to be slicing up mango and cucumber into slithers while wearing Havaianas in the kitchen rather than Ugg Boots – that just doesn’t seem right.

There are a few perennial vegetables and lucky for us, one of them is Rhubarb. While having a chat with my neighbour the other day about food, she mentioned Rhubarb and the fact that she had always thought it to be a fruit but had recently discovered it is actually a vegetable. This got me thinking about Rhubarb and the fact that I had never really considered making a dish with it. I’ve certainly sampled some lovely baked apple and rhubarb crumble with cream from country cafes during my travels but never thought to do something with it in my kitchen. That same day, I spotted a huge bunch of it in my local IGA and promptly purchased it. It was meant to be.

Now, what to make with it. After trimming the leaves and roots off as these contain poisonous oxalic acid and leaving only the edible stalks, I try a piece, raw.  This is a mistake as Raw Rhubarb is definitely an acquired taste, not something I could get used to or have any desire to either. It won’t hurt you to eat it like this and is certainly loaded with many vitamins and minerals this way, but the good news is that apparently these are retained in cooked form, a much wiser choice 🙂

Quinoa, Rhubarb and Apple

Quinoa, Rhubarb and Apple

Stewing Rhubarb seems to be the tried and tested way of preparing this vegetable, so I cook it up with some apple, coconut sugar, a few spices and serve it on a bed of white Quinoa (the new black) with Greek Yoghurt, strawberries, toasted sesame seeds and a splash of Maple Syrup. Turns out to be a wonderful dessert, as well as a great alternative to rolled oats for breakfast if you are trying to take it easy on the grains. If you are also trying to take it easy on the sugar, leave it out along with the Maple syrup and use a bit more cinnamon instead, but it won’t be anywhere near as delectable 🙂

Quinoa with Stewed Apple and Rhubarb:

4 Rhubarb Stalks, washed, trimmed and cut into 2cm diagonal slices

1 Large Red Apple, peeled, cored and sliced (get yourself one of those super-duper apple-peeler corer machines – gets this job done in seconds)

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

1/4 Cup Coconut Sugar

1/4 Cup Water

1 Tsp of Cinnamon

1 Star Anise

Pinch of Nutmeg

Prepared Quinoa

Toasted Sesame Seeds

Method:

1) In a fry-pan over medium heat, melt coconut oil

2) Add rhubarb, apple, sugar, water and all spices.

3) Fry gently, stirring often till rhubarb breaks down and apples are softened. About 20 mins.

4) Top Quinoa with stewed rhubarb mixture, Greek Yoghurt, sliced strawberries, sesame seeds then drizzle the Maple Syrup over.

Oh yes, thank you Rhubarb.


2 Comments

Broccoli Flammkuchen

Broccoli

My quest to find bread and dough substitutes continues and when you start delving into this realm, the possibilities are endless. You are only limited by your imagination and I am discovering new ways all the time. The boundaries of bread are definitely being pushed, mostly by Vegetables.

Of course there are plenty of gluten-free bread/pizza base products available, however these products generally contain a cocktail of ingredients such as Xanthum Gum, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose or the dreaded Corn Starch which help the bread to retain a soft texture and nice attractive look. They are usually also high in sugar and fat to make them tastier. When it comes to a pizza base, nothing and absolutely nothing substituted is ever truly going to ‘taste’ like the classic traditional Italian, melt in your mouth dough consistency they have been masters of for decades. But it doesn’t hurt to try something new in the kitchen and experiment just to see what you can create. And in the case of a Broccoli Base Pizza, it won’t hurt your waistline either, you can eat as much as you want without the guilt factor. Win. (Unless it’s loaded with cheese of course).

Perhaps we should refer to this as something other than a pizza as am sure this concept would seem completely unethical to any fans of a great pizza, which would have to be the majority of us. I’ve decided on a Broccoli ‘Flammkuchen’ – a German name which is the translation of the French ‘Tarte Flambee’. Fancy I know but it in generic terms basically just means pizza made of very thinly rolled bread dough, cooked in a wood-fired oven, traditionally topped with Creme Fraiche, thinly sliced onions and bacon.

Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen

I sampled my first Flammkuchen in Switzerland recently after my musical European friends dismissed my plight of eating no-dough as a bit of a no-go. They weren’t wrong, it was incredibly delicious, as was the accompanying crisp white wine.

You can put whatever toppings you like on this, up to you. In this recipe I have substituted Creme Fraiche with a Blanched Almond, Tahini and Garlic spread, then topped with Caramelised Onions cooked in Organic Coconut Oil. So, no-gluten and no-dairy and you could eliminate the coconut sugar from the onions and it would be no-sugar as well, but they wouldn’t caramelise nicely. Some might say ‘no-fun’ either but it tastes good and is good for you. You’ve saved yourself a few high carbs and calories and earned yourself a nice glass or two of Cab Sav to go with it 🙂

Broccoli Base Pizza

 

Broccoli Flammkuchen: *

1 Head of Broccoli

3 Tbs Ground Almonds

1 Tbs Sesame Seeds

1 Egg

Method:

1) Break Broccoli into florets, whizz them all up in a food processor till in tiny bits (do this in batches)

2) Place in a steamer or in the microwave and steam for five minutes, let cool

3) Put steamed broccoli in a tea towel, gather the sides up, scrunch into a ball and squeeze out all the moisture

4) Put in a bowl and mix together with almonds, sesame seeds and egg till well combined

5) Place a piece of baking paper on top of a pizza tray or stone and mould the mix out with your hands to flatten so it resembles a pizza base like this:

Broccoli Base

Broccoli Base

6) Bake in 180 C oven for fifteen minutes

7) Remove from oven and spread with almond paste and caramelised onions (recipe below) or whatever toppings you like.

8) Bake for another 15 minutes

 

Almond, Tahini and Garlic Paste:*

1 Cup of Blanched Almonds

2 Cloves Garlic

1/4 Cup of Olive Oil

1 Tbs Tahini

Juice of one Lemon

Dash of Paprika

Salt and Pepper

Method:

1) Place all ingredients in a food processor and grind up to a paste

 

Caramelised Onions: (Quick Version)

1 Red Onion, cut in to quarters lengthwise and then into slithers

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

1 Tbs Coconut Sugar (or Brown Sugar)

Splash of Water

Method:

1) Melt coconut oil over medium heat, then add onions and let sizzle for a few minutes

2) Add sugar and water, fry gently stirring often till the onions start to soften and get a bit syrupy, about 15 minutes or so.

 

* Note:

Here is the inspiration for the pizza base (where you will find many other great recipes and restaurant reviews by the very talented Not Quite Nigella) originally made with Cauliflower  Low Carb Gluten Free Cauliflower Base Pizza

I wanted to see if it also worked with Broccoli after making the Cauliflower version. It’s a different texture but still tasty.

The recipe for the Almond Paste is originally from here Eat Drink Paleo another wonderful site full of excellent recipes and nutritional information.


2 Comments

Chillies and Love Affairs

Chilli Oil

Chilli Oil

I am addicted to chillies.  Did I mention that I love chillies? This love affair has been going on for around twenty-five years now.  A bit of background here, this relationship did not start harmoniously or gently feeling our way by any means.  Our introduction to each other was rather hurtful and very painful, and almost set us on the path never to be reunited again as I really did bite off more than I could chew and didn’t see the point of pursuing connections any further, the memory still resounds firmly.

I persisted though, and had no choice as the musicians and people I was associating with at the time were all big chilli freaks and was surrounded by all things chilli, constantly.  If it wasn’t in the cooked dishes, it was on the side as sauces, in marinades, salads and even fried up till they were black and used as sandwich filler.  (I never actually tried this, but an old flatmate used to cook this up from time to time, you had to vacate the premises because of the associated breathing difficulties).

Eventually, I started to introduce my taste buds with chilli correctly, in small doses and gradually. A resistance level to the pain must be built up with this fiery fruit, you need to feel your way with it.  The pain threshold is now no barrier, I have reached the point where it’s no problem to consume large amounts and am no longer fearful, I am in love.

You see, chillies are actually physically addictive. They contain a compound called ‘capsaicin’ which is a natural chemical sending the burning sensation from the nerve endings in the mouth directly to the brain. Endorphins, natural painkillers in the body are then secreted causing a physical ‘rush’. This natural ‘high’ is what keeps us coming back for more, and just like any other addiction, you start craving higher doses the more you use it and your tolerance level builds. However, there is no evidence that eating too much chilli is unhealthy or ulcer causing and capsaicin is actually used in anti-inflammatory creams to treat arthritis and shingles.

Although, on the other extreme I would advise against entering into a chilli-eating competition any time soon.  A greatly talented musician friend I have worked with over the years has recounted a story of this to me. The contestants were made to eat chillies during a few rounds, where after each had to open their mouths to show the chillies had been chewed up firstly, then swallowed and no water in between. The overall winner had to be hospitalised!

I think best to just stick with the Chilli Sauce for now. Or try this recipe for Chilli Oil, a great way of using them when you have a chilli bush loaded with fruit and not sure what to do with them all.

Chilli Oil

1 cup of Birds Eye Chillies (or more depending on your heat threshold)

3 cups of good quality olive oil

1) Pre-heat oven to 180 C

2) Spread chillies evenly in a roasting tin

3) Roast chillies for approximately fifteen minutes or until well roasted, but not completely black, cool slightly

4) Place chillies in a jar, pour in olive oil

5) Cover with glad-wrap and place in a dark cupboard for three days

6) Strain oil into a bottle and discard chillies.  If it’s too hot, pour in some more olive oil to dilute.