Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Vinegar porn

Complete coincidence that there were apples in the background but they work rather well I think.
I make a special trip to big Waitrose (the East Finchley branch, as Ming asked) for one main reason: a few bottles of L'Olivier fruit vinegar. I'd only ever seen the red pepper and the raspberry before. The red pepper variety is the base of a glaze that I use so often to coat roast vegetables and as an essential zizz in tomato sauce. The raspberry adds a fruity depth to a vinaigrette  I've even drunk the raspberry vinegar with vodka, sugar syrup and lime juice. THAT's how good it is. Don't mistake them for the pretty bottles of insipid sour that sit in some slick cardboard packaging at the back of your least used kitchen cabinet; probably a 'gift' at Christmas from someone who either doesn't care or doesn't really love you, or both. These are fruit vinegars of depth and character.


Soft focus vinegar porn
Anyway, imagine my dismay when I was told Waitrose no longer stocked the red pepper variety. A quick Google revealed a whole range: fig, tomato, grapefruit... none of which was available in the UK. You know that feeling when you find EXACTLY the scroggit you've been looking for only to the see the '$' next to it. Damn! But then I saw the Upton Smokery website and a screenful of exquisite, acetic temptation. New varieties! I ordered the Red Pepper, Grapefruit, Fig, Tomato and the Tomato and Basil. would have bought the whole range but I can neither afford it nor need it. The cassis would be great with duck, if I ever cooked it. Passion fruit sounds wonderful too, if only I could think of a recipe.

The first use will be on Friday. I'm serving goats cheese soufflĂ©s and normally I accompany this with a roast onion confit but the host has a mortal dread of everything allium so it will be a rocket and walnut salad with a walnut and grapefruit dressing.


They arrived today with a hand written note from Chris at Upton. The Tomato has been discontinued so he'd included two of the Tomato & Basil; hoped that was OK and to compensate had added three varieties of their own smoked sea salt. Normally  smoked salt is a waste of shelf space, like someone walking a box of Maldon past a bonfire,  but their stuff smell like a night in an arsonist's sleeping bag (in a good way). I'll be trying it on my tomato crisps this week. I think this will be a regular in my kitchen. And I hope this is the start of something significant with Upton Smokery.

This is my recipe for the glaze. I say recipe but I add stuff in rough ratios until I like the flavour.

New River Restaurant House Glaze.
In a glass, mix a tablespoon of oil with one of red pepper vinegar. Add a half tablespoon of (ideally) sugar syrup or failing that, castor sugar. Add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice. Fish out any pips if using lemon. Whisk with a fork. Taste and adjust. Add a knife tip of smoked paprika, less of cayenne, a good pinch of sea salt, black pepper and at least a half teaspoon of ground coriander. Taste again. Add more of everything probably, until something tingles. The flavour should be intense. Remember that this will be spread thin. Toss in some chopped herbs, maybe chives, lemon thyme, coriander leaf. Pour over roast veg.

This works very well with butternut squash that's been cubed and roasted at 180°C for about 25 mins. Check after 20. Depends how small your cubes are. Add some roast peppers too.

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