Jams, Jellies And Sauces From The Sweet Beet
Lizzy Hodcroft is a jolly nice young lady it has to be said. Not only is she gorgeous, and a dab hand in the kitchen (more of that later), she has that silky smooth Texan drawl that mesmerises you; seriously, I could’ve listened to her talk all day. I haven’t been to Texas for many years, but hearing her voice took me straight back to the Lone Star state :) Lizzy was born in Texas but has grown up mainly in Scotland, and currently spends most of her time at her Newcastle premises.
Anyhow, less of that, and more of the delicious food that Lizzy makes. As a firm believer that food should be anything except bland and flavourless, Lizzy set about developing a range of jams, jellies and sauces that could be used a variety of ways. Her range currently comprises of five products: Oak Smoked Apple Butter, Strawberry Chipotle BBQ, Texas Beer Jelly, Habanero Lime Jelly, and Maple Bacon Jam.
Whilst I was yapping to Lizzy at the Fine Food North Show at Harrogate I was sampling a bit of each of the products, and they were all super; each was different in terms of spiciness, sweetness and texture. Very kindly, Lizzy gave me a jar of each to bring back to the nest and sample at leisure.
The Man Bird and I were snuggling up watching a film when the munchies struck; I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with an acute attack of snackitis - resistance is futile! The Maple Bacon jam came charging to the rescue, along with a box of Rakusens crackers (who we also met at the food show). Not only is the Maple Bacon jam sweet and full-on meaty tasting, it also has a very satisfying chunky texture to it; as you’re snacking it gives a great chomp-ability to proceedings. The crackers also have a fab crunchiness to them, so it was a win-win on the snack front.
For our family meal the next evening I had made chicken Fajitas, so to go with the side dish of nachos I cracked open the Habanero Lime jelly. This little monkey has a quite delicious bite to it thanks to the Habanero peppers in it, and the citrus kick of the Lime lifts it brilliantly. Its thin consistency makes it perfect for dunking into or for pouring over things. Lizzy has got a recipe card for Habanero Lime Salmon, so I might try that at a later date.
Lizzy makes her products versatile, so as well as cooking with the Texas Beer Jelly you can also make a rather nifty interpretation of a Margarita cocktail too! I chucked 100ml Tequila, 50 ml Cointreau, 50ml fresh Lime juice, and 2 tablespoons of the Texas Beer Jelly in a cocktail shaker, added ice to fill it, and wanged it around vigorously. I poured the liquid into salt rimmed glasses and toasted His Nibs’ good health. It sounds weird, and to be honest, it tasted totally different to how I imagined. Sometimes it’s the oddest combinations that work well, and this is a case in point!
Now, you all (or should that be y’all?) know that I have a serious lack of will-power so you won’t be surprised when I tell you that I had originally intended to save the Strawberry Chipotle BBQ sauce to use with the Pork Belly at the weekend. Well, I was feeling peckish (again) so I opened the jar and dunked some plain tortilla chips in, naughty me! I did show some restraint though, so there is still some left which I might use with Chicken breasts. This has a great taste of Strawberry to it with the added depth of smoky Chipotle, so the palate is hit with two taste sensations simultaneously. Lizzy has got the balance just right so that it isn’t overly sweet, and it is incredibly moreish.
My lovely local butcher, Percy Dawes, had prepared a lovely Pork Belly for me (rib free) and I lovingly marinated it overnight in the Oak Smoked Apple Butter sauce. Next morning I popped it in the oven and cooked it low ‘n’ slow for 10 hours; the result was tender, juicy, melt-in-the-mouth Pork shreds that had everyone in raptures. The pork was lovely and creamy in flavour which was intensified by the sauce, and Pork and Apple is a classic partnership. The skin made fantastic crackling, which I am rather partial to, so I chewed away on that quite happily! His Nibs was happy as it kept me quiet and occupied!!
I did get round to making Strawberry Chipotle Chicken breasts for the family meal one night, which we paired with Sweet Potato fries and Onion rings. After being baked in the oven, the sauce thickens and gets sticky on the chicken, which really intensifies the flavour. The Strawberry comes shining through, and then you get that wonderful smoky note too from the Chipotle.
It has been known on occasion that I throw a curve ball in to family meals, and I had a random urge to dip the Onion rings into a Gin, Lemon and Cucumber jelly marmalade from Seren’s Kitchen. Now, this isn’t going to be to everybody’s liking but His Nibs and I liked it. Sometimes, you just have to try something different - I blame my hormones!
The Sticky Beak nest have turned renegade and joined Lizzys campaign to declare war on the mundane, and fight back with flavour. Yee - haw cowgirl; Hot Wings to you and your cracking condiments :)