pickled peppers on pastry with sauce

It’s party season people, so open the tube of crisps, get that frozen prawn ring out to defrost and take the foil off the cheese triangles….whoa…stop right there. Rewind. Play.

It’s party season people and if you love cooking for your nearest and dearest, then this is quite simply the best time of the year.
Who wants effortless cooking? No, we want amazing food, cooked from scratch that doesn’t break the bank and doesn’t mean you need the classic cooking skills of a triple-starred Michelen chef.

So I was tasked by our friends at Peppadew to come up with four lip-smacking recipes, ready for the party table. Some quick, some slow, but all using the peppers and all of them with a bit of a twist.

If you haven’t come across these peppers before, they are sweet and fruity (mild or hot) peppers in a jar with pickling vinegar.
I’ve always enjoyed the three elements of a great pickled pepper – hot, sweet, fruity – but rather than just sticking a fork in the jar, why not have a go at these. Remember though, these are my recipes as a blogger, not Jamie’s.

My first dish was the most time-consuming, a pork hock terrine, not ham hock, I used uncured cuts from our beautiful butchers Barbecoa. I put a pig’s trotter in a big stock pot with the two hocks, a carrot and an onion, topped it up with water and let simmer for four hours. I took the meat off the bone and put aside. I reduced a litre of the cooking stock to about one third. I lined a terrine (loaf) tin with clingfilm and layered the meat, mild, drained Peppadews, pickled cucumber and seasoning. Topped it up with the reduced stock and put in the fridge to set – about three hours.

Beautiful with a dollop of piccalilli. The peppers gave it a lovely vinegary twang. You can even put it in a jar, or keep it in a sealed container. It would make a nice pressie that!

Next up were the palmiers, little puff pastry whirls filled with salted anchovies, minced Peppadew and parmesan. Put a sheet of ready-made puff pastry on your board, line salted anchovies – the best you can afford – down four rows. In between put the chopped up peppers and grate the cheese finely over the lot.

Roll from both ends to meet in the middle and pop in fridge.

After an hour, take them out, brush with a little beaten egg yolk, slice into inch-thick pieces, put on a baking tray and whack into an oven pre-heated to 220C (200C for fan-assisted). Cook for 12-14 minutes and eat straightaway. Perfect for handing out at your New Year’s knees up.

Salads are easy, and this was so simple – no cooking, just a little love.

Take chicory leaves – red and green – and inside each one pop some folded salami (I used my favourite Jesus a l’Ancienne) a hot pepper and some ewe’s milk cheese (Manchego or something stronger). Then grate a very fine amount of clementine zest over the top, a thumbed drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil and use the stalk of the chicory like a handle – avoid the tough stalk furthest from the leaf tip as it tends to be a touch on the bitter side.

Last up, piperade. It’s fancy scrambled eggs really. Fry 2 cloves of garlic and a red onion until soft, add three de-seeded peeled tomatoes and a jar of chopped Peppadew. Cook until juice has disappeared, then add four beaten, good free-range eggs and stir until cooked. Lovely on a slab of griddled sourdough bread.

These aren’t difficult recipes, and the piquant nip of the peppers really sets all three above the bland.

This isn’t hardcore cooking for pros, this is simple, make-it-up-as-you-go party food for the people you love at a time of year which brings the best out of even the most inexperienced cook. Let me know what you think….


How to, Party