Pickled Peppers and Labneh

Normally I have no problem finding stacks of things I want to cook but of course, having to actually do it totally wiped my brain of all ideas. So having left it to the very last possible moment, I suddenly had a brainwave.

My sibs had been, last weekend, to a Middle Eastern food shop in London, and brought me back some magnificent chili peppers. I had all kinds of plans for these peppers, but as usual I was distracted by shiny things and realised this evening that they were starting to look as though life was tiring. I panicked. Glorious peppers! No! Must not waste! And then, as luck would have it, my eye fell on a recipe for pickled chili peppers, and so…

Pickled Peppers

As with most things I make, I took a general idea and messed with it. Typically, pickling things involves boiling up some vinegar and water with Stuff In It and then pouring over the things to be pickled, and sealing the jar. Here’s my take…

Mise en place: pickled peppers Behold my glorious kitchen counter.

Sorry folks, no glamorous food porn shots – at least not until I figure out how to light my dank cave of a tiny kitchen and / or acquire some kind of photographic rig (unlikely). So, the mise en place; not that there is much, this is a ridiculously easy recipe – one reason I like it! Ingredients basically consist of vinegar, sugar, salt, water and some spices. You will observe in the background, the plain but capacious jar I was thinking of using. I did have a small Kilner but given the size of the peppers…. and then I tried to fit them into ANY jar. No. So I chopped them.

Chopped chilisChopped them roughly. Chunky, like.

Pickled PeppersAnd then I pickled them.

 

It’s not the prettiest jar of peppers you ever saw, but it certainly smells heavenly and I can’t wait to try them out. In theory you can try them as soon as they’re cool, but I think I’ll let them percolate for a week or two in the fridge šŸ™‚

Here’s the ingredient list (I list what I used – feel free to vary the spices) and my usual, low-control cooking method… Enjoy!

Pickled Peppers

Some peppers (I didn’t weigh them, sorry. About 2 cups?)
1.5 cups cider vinegar
1.5 cups water
2 tbls sugar
2 tbls salt
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbls black pepper (whole)
10 allspice berries (whole)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seed (whole)

Put everything except the peppers into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Let it simmer gently for about 5 – 10 minutes.

Put the peppers in a jar (rough chop them if they won’t fit in whole).

Take the vinegar mixture off the boil and let it cool enough that it won’t explode the jar when it’s poured in. Pour it in over the peppers.

Seal. Done.

Should keep for weeks in the fridge – if they last that long.

Tip!
I made too much pickling juice and ended up having to fish around for the spices to stuff them in the jar. A good idea is to jar the peppers, cover with water, then pour out the water into a measuring jug. See how much you have, then pour out half and replace with vinegar. For every 1.5 cups of liquid, use 1 tbl sugar and 1 tbl salt. The spices are up to you šŸ™‚

Since the pickled peppers were so easy, and the labneh recipe is as well, I thought I would go ahead and make that too. Bonus! Two posts for one… Special this month only…

Labneh

Labneh is Middle Eastern strained yoghurt (sometimes also known as labneh cheese or Lebanese cream cheese – I suppose one could think of it as curd cheese, too). It’s the basis of lots of different dips, is good on its own and is used all sorts of different delicious ways. I plan to use it in a particularly yummy dip which my brother makes, involving garlic, dill and cucumber (sort of tzaziki with a kick) and also to munch with things like kibbeh and toasted pita. It’s very versatile and keeps well. Also, maximum bonus factor, it could not be easier to make. It’s embarrassingly easy – which is why I’ve added this here as an afterthought.

Requirements:
1 sieve
1 straining material (I used butter muslin as I have it already. Some people use paper kitchen towels, a clean cloth, a coffee filter…)
1 jug (to prop the sieve over)
1 carton plain yoghurt

The ingredients.

Scoop. Twist. Done.

That’s it. Seriously. Line the sieve with the straining material. Scoop the yoghurt in. Cover it somehow so it doesn’t go manky in the fridge (I gave my muslin a quick twist). Leave it in the fridge overnight. (Tip! It drains better if you can somehow lift the muslin – ie tie it up so it dangles – but I had no easy way to do that.)

LabnehIn the morning – labneh.

Scoop into a container and keep refrigerated; it should last a week or two.

It should roll easily out of the straining material; soft to very soft cheese consistency. Some people insist you should keep the whey (the stuff that’s dripped into the jug) and Do Worthy Things with it – but I’m really not the type, sorry. If you are that type, hurrah! Go ahead. Enjoy!

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