Another one of the vegetables I love is red pepper…It is so versatile both in flavour & texture! Roasted whole with that amazing smoked flavour, or puréed to make dips like muhammara or to be added to soups. Juiced to make a sweet and sour clear soup, semidried to concentrate the flavour, added to sooo many dishes to impart personality…I love it.
This unusual spread I learnt from a friend’s mom. Funny that I was helping her with a catering and she had prepared this herself. When I tried it I was blown, I didn’t even know what it was I was eating! It doesn’t taste like pepper, it has this mild sweet & sour flavour with the texture of a thick jam and with any soft cream or goat cheese it is out of this world! Plus it is soooo beautiful, I find.
She shared the recipe with me, which surprisingly is dead easy and since I’ve prepared it sooo many times, at home, at caterings, it is always a success! We even prepared it for a coke advertisement for Madrid Fusion at a Catering I worked for at the time and it was a big hit as we served it on small round crostinis as a red “tapa” (bottle cap) on the coke itself (that is thought to be the origin of the word “tapa” as we use it now for an appetiser).
So, here it is for you to try. I hope you like it as much as I do as it is a really simple & convenient spread to have, as it keeps well for ages! (due to both the sugar and vinegar added)…so you’ll always have something to surprise your guests with for an appetiser!
Ruby red sweet & sour pepper spread
(enough for a small jar…but you can make more!)
For the sweet & sour red pepper spread:
1 large red pepper
1/3 of its weight of sugar
1/3 of its weight of white wine vinegar
1/3 of its weight of water*
* If you macerate the chopped pepper overnight with the sugar no water is needed as it exudes water itself.
For the goat cheese creamy spread:
50g cream cheese
50g of soft goat cheese
~20g of fresh cream (or as needed to get a creamy texture)
pinch of salt
-For the red pepper spread, wash & pat dry the pepper, and remove the seeds by cutting around the stem of the pepper to pull them out whole. Then, cut the pepper in 3 or 4 segments running the knife through the “sides” of the pepper to get flat pieces to make chopping in brunoise easier.
Remove the white bits attached to the inner side of the flesh which run along the entire length.
Cut each segment into a thin julienne and then in brunoise (small even squares). In this particular spread, it makes a big difference if the pepper is evenly cut into equal size pieces, so keep your patience to do your best.
Weigh the clean, cut pepper on the pan you’ll use to reduce the vinegar syrup and add the same weights of sugar, water and vinegar you’ve calculated.
Like I noted under the list of ingredients, you can as for jams, macerate the cut pepper with sugar and leave it to sweat it’s water. In that case you don’t need to add the water (which really is there to give the peppers time to cook & soften as they caramelise), but still calculate the amount of sugar and vinegar as 1/3.
And…just reduce over medium heat. It will take a while…About half an hour or so. Ah, also be prepared, this is the only “problem” about making this, for the kitchen to smell like vinegar! I had to warn you. To me it’s not a problem, but if you are concerned about the smell, be sure to close the door so the smell doesn’t get to the rest of the house!
When most of the liquid has evaporated and only a bit thicker syrup is left behind, BE CAREFUL! Lower the heat to minimum to control the reduction. This is really the only tricky part about this spread. If you are not attentive, it can easily burn! So, keep it on low reducing until it gets thicker and most of the liquid has evaporated. If you like it more spreadable, not to dry out too much, remove it before it gets too thick, as it will get denser as it cools down. If you are still left with some thick syrup, you could strain it a bit, to just leave the ruby squares behind. That’s entirely up to you!
So this is the result already in my “keep indefinately tupper”:
For the easy peasy creamed goat cheese…if you like you can simply serve over cream cheese, but I adore goat cheese, to I like to twitch it, just place all ingredients in a processor (or you could do it with a fork, just mashing up the goat cheese, after removing the rind) and blend together.
This is how soft & creamy it gets…
Time to serve! I didn’t have any sourdough or any fresh bread for that matter and I’ve always liked it with the ultra thin crisp toasts for a greater contrast…
One last tip, if you plan to serve this to guests, do not spread the cheese too long before it will be presented, as it may dry up a bit, causing uggly looking cracks (this happens more with cream cheese alone than with this softer goat cheese spread, but still it’s best to not plan too much ahead!).
I’m still not particularly good with photography, but I find this spread so beautiful that I’ve taken enough photos to bore you with! I guess it’s best I keep them for myself!;)