For this month’s Random Recipe Challenge Dom of Belleau Kitchen has asked us to select a recipe (randomly, of course) from our favourite cookbook. Well, I’ve got a fair number of favourites, mostly made up of books that remind me of good times. It’s difficult to choose just one among those, so instead I’ve gone for my favourite practical cookbook. This is the one I reach for whenever I need to remind myself how to do something or when I need a reliable recipe in a hurry. That used to be Delia, but recently it’s been Darina Allen’s ‘Ballymaloe Cookery Course’. (Not that I’ve got anything against Delia, I hasten to add).
On opening this weighty tome I was faced with a page of chutney and relish recipes and, since I’m currently blessed with a generous harvest of chillies from the plants on my windowsills, I seized on a Tomato and Chilli Jam recipe. Once I started to make the jam, though, I felt a bit of a fraud since it’s very similar to the recipe that I usually use for chilli jam. So, a little less random than I intended but still a really good tomato and chilli jam that’s extremely useful in marinades, on bruschettas or burgers, alongside cold meats etc etc.
Ms Allen reckons that this should make 3 pots, but she must be talking about pretty small pots. I reckon it’s about 1½ standard jam jars.
500 g very ripe tomatoes
4 red chillies
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2.5 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
30 ml fish sauce (nam pla)
275 g golden caster sugar (actually I used soft brown sugar, just because I usually do)
100 ml red wine vinegar
Peel the tomatoes and cut them into 1 cm dice. Put them into a blender along with the chillies, garlic, ginger and fish sauce and whizz. Put the purée, sugar and vinegar into a stainless steel saucepan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. Cook gently for 30 - 40 minutes stirring every now and then to prevent sticking.
Pour into warmed, sterilised glass jars and seal. Allow to cool and store in the fridge.
From past experience it can be a little difficult to know when this jam is thick enough. If you’re unsure, you can do a standard wrinkle test, even though it has a different consistency to a fruit jam. Chill a saucer in the freezer, put a small dollop of the jam on the saucer, wait a moment or two and if the jam wrinkles when you push it, then it’s ready.
Just between us, if you’re pressed for time you can make this with drained, tinned tomatoes, but lengthen the cooking time a little since you’re likely to be adding more liquid. Don’t tell Ms Allen I said that, though; she might not approve.