RECIPE: Yotam Ottolenghi's quick chilli sauce
Before our world was turned on its head so abruptly only a few (very long) weeks ago, the centre of my universe outside home was my test kitchen.
A modest space underneath a railway arch in Camden, north London, it doubles as a cooking hub and an office. Six of us spend most of our time there, thinking up ideas, testing dishes repeatedly and talking about them ad infinitum.
It’s where concepts take shape and plans for future projects — recipes, articles, books and restaurant dishes, bagged products, cakes and treats of any shape or form — are developed. The general spirit of things to come is dreamed up in the test kitchen.
So what happens when, one day, everything grinds to a halt and we are told to keep away? What is the test kitchen without, well, a test kitchen?
I find myself making tons of chilli sauce. My husband, Karl, and I have been in self-isolation for nine weeks now, and are still trying to find a routine with our two boys, Max, seven, and Flynn, four. No day looks like another in our slightly hectic household.
Feeding the children is a real joy and a way to break up the day nicely. It’s a chance for us to cook and share on social media some crowd-pleasing hits in our home, like cauliflower fritters, jacket potatoes and a meatball toad-in-the-hole, which delights the boys for its name as much as for the crispy crust around the edges of the batter.
The chilli sauce, though, is the moment for Karl and me to finally assert our rights by upgrading our child-friendly meals with a spoonful of an adult-friendly kick. Our jars of chilli, constantly replenished, are symbols of our sanity and, hopefully, of normalcy soon to return.
Quick Chilli Sauce
This sauce is a fridge staple you can spoon over anything savoury, from cooked vegetables or eggs, to salads, grains, meat and fish. It’s spicy but not overtly so. You can bolster the heat by adding dried chilli flakes or reduce it by using fewer fresh chillies. (Look for fresh red chillies as they amplify the colour of the sauce.) You can add half a teaspoon of sugar, if you like, or make it your own by adding chopped garlic or ginger, and a handful of your favourite herb.
- 9 Fresno chillies (about 140g) or other medium-heat chillies, preferably red, such as jalapeño or serrano, destemmed and roughly chopped
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 85g cherry tomatoes (about 12) or 1 small vine tomato, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or other light vinegar
- 60ml extra-virgin olive oil
Place the chillies and salt in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse a few times until chillies are chopped. (You don’t want to go too far and turn them into paste.) Add the tomatoes and vinegar, and pulse again in two or three short bursts, just enough to break down the tomatoes. Transfer to a lidded container and top with the oil. Cover and keep in the fridge up to one week.
The New York Times