Not that I would ever want to be one, but it is now clear to me that I could not be a heart surgeon. I cannot do knots. I can’t tie my shoes. Heck, I can barely tie candied jalapeno strips.
From Cocktails for the Four Seasons, by Jenny Park and Teri Lyn Fisher, there comes this wonderfully clever idea [actually two ideas, but that become evident below]. To dress up a cocktail, add a tiny candied jalapeno knot. These are barely a half inch across, but I think they have multiple uses. You could dot a cocktail cheese plate with these, top off some gazpacho, … The possibilities are quite diverse.
Tomorrow, you’ll see a cocktail picture with one knot hard at work. Today, it’s all about how to prepare the knots.
There is a side benefit to making the candied strips. You have left over simply syrup in which the jalapeno strips have cooked for an hour. SAVE THE SYRUP. It goes in tomorrow’s drink. It goes in Margaritas [where I was using sugar syrup anyway but now …].
The jalapeno knots have, what else, sweet heat. They are fun. The jalapeno syrup is stronger, hearty, smoky and not to be treated lightly. Any stronger and I suspect you could use it to blast open a safe. But, that’s another post.
Candied Jalapeno Knots
Yield: around 20
- 2 large jalapeno peppers [the longer the better]
- 1 cup of water
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
Cut off the ends of the jalapenos, then open them up and removed the ribs and seeds. Thinly slice the strips as best you can. You do want them thin because, ultimately, you are going to have to tie each one in a knot.
Use a shallow pan and pour in the water and sugar. Place over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Lower the heat to medium-low and add the jalapeno strips. Cook for 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Remove the strips from the pan with a slotted spoon, allowing to drip dry. Immediately tie each one into a knot. [Note, I found this to be difficult. The strips are hot and sticky, and mine were not terribly long. Do the best you can. I compromised by “folding” instead of actually knotting in many cases.]
Place the knots on the aluminum foil and put them in the oven. All the knots to dry out with oven door slightly ajar for 4 to 6 hours. When dry, really dry, they are not sticky to the touch. And, yes, they will have whitish sugar crystals attached.
Source: Cocktails for the Four Seasons, by Jenny Park and Teri Lyn Fisher
Photo Information [top]: Canon T2i, EFS 60mm Macro Lens, F/2.8, 1/100th second, ISO-800
Have you ever made something so pretty you did not want to eat it? Or open it?
These refrigerator-style pickles, make with jalapenos instead of cucumbers, are as lovely to look at as an Impressionist still life. And so much cheaper to possess.
Feeling grumpy in the morning? Open the fridge door and look at what you did! A thing of beauty with powerful flavor.
Actually, along that line, if you are grumpy, I would wait until lunch to bite into one of these flavor bombs. How to use them? You can just eat one. Or use them in burgers or Mexican food. They go exceptionally well with pork.
And the juice? For God ’s sake, don’t waste that precious pickling juice. You can use it in guacamole substituting for lime juice or add some to that salsa you wanted to make today.
For the very adventurous, you can mix some of the juice with tequila and rebottle for future use when “spicy” tequila is called for. On this front, Suzen and I are experimenting and searching for recipes to determine exact quantities. A little juice goes a long way.
Now, go practice your food art.
Bread and Butter Jalapenos
Yield: about 3 quarts
- ¾ pound fresh jalapenos, about 20-30
- 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 20 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 3 (3-inch) sprigs
- Fresh thyme, chopped
- 4 cups apple cider vinegar
- 4 cups light brown sugar
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
Select a large glass jar about 3 quarts to 1 gallon in size. Wash it well and rinse with boiling water to sterilize. Pour the water out. Set the jar aside.
Wish the peppers and make sure they are clean, especially at the stem end. Dry thoroughly. Pack the peppers, carrots, onion, garlic, and thyme into the jar, mixing or shaking to distribute the vegetables evenly.
Heat the vinegar in a large nonreactive saucepan until boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the brown sugar and olive oil. Stir well until the sugar has dissolved.
Return the mixture to heat if necessary to help dissolve the sugar.
Pour the hot liquid over the peppers and stir again. Place a small plate, sterilized with boiling water, over the peppers if necessary, to keep them submerged. Set the peppers aside to cool. When cool, cover tightly and place the jar in the refrigerator for at least one day before serving.
Source: Texas Cowboy Kitchen by Grady Spears with June Naylor