I have a large number of very hot west African red peppers, and I'm thinking of boiling them with vinegar and bottling my own version of Tabasco sauce. What's the best way to do this?
Well, I can tell you how Tabasco make theirs. They mash up hot peppers with a little salt, pack them into old bourbon barrels, leave them for three years, decant the fermented mush into vats, add vinegar, stir it around for 30 days, strain off the juice, bottle it and sell it at a not inconsiderable profit. Obviously this isn't practical for your average home producer, so I suggest you pop your peppers in a food processor and whizz them to a coarse mush. Add salt (15g to 500g pepper mush, or a ratio of 1:30), then put into a jar or crock, cover and leave in a cool place for a month, or even longer, until the peppers have stopped fermenting. Decant into a sterilised container, and add vinegar to your taste – the amount and variety will affect the end result, so the more neutral the vinegar, the better (ie not malt). Leave for another week, then filter through a sieve lined with muslin and chuck the pulp, or use the whole lot to flavour stews, etc.
For many years I had a Moulinex blender/mill with a compact base for which you could buy all manner of attachments. Mine had a blender and mills for coffee, spices, etc. Sadly the motor died, and I believe Moulinex is defunct. Can you help?
The demise of Moulinex has been greatly exaggerated. You can get its products, including the Optiblend with mill (which sounds the thing you're looking for), from moulinex.co.uk. The site also lists other stockists, including Argos, Comet, Currys, John Lewis and Lakeland.
I'm mildly allergic to wheat, and would like an alternative to breadcrumbs in things such as nut roasts or lentil burgers.
Try Orgran All-Purpose Crumbs (about £2.50/300g, from goodnessdirect.co.uk), or make your own out of gluten-free bread. Finally, some people suggest using polenta, which is corn, rice bran or whizzed-up oat flakes. They won't taste quite the same, but they should do the trick.
Last year there was a lovely Yotam Ottolenghi recipe in Weekend for pasta with broad beans and lemon. The pasta he recommended, sagnarelli, became a family favourite, but recently Waitrose, which was the only place we could find that had it, stopped selling it. Any idea where I can get "offbeat" pasta shapes?
For the pasta-philes out there, sagnarelli is a flat pasta about 5cm long with fluted edges. In spite of my best efforts, I couldn't track it down anywhere, so I'd suggest pappardelle instead. If you want to explore the pasta diaspora, take a look at mediterraneandirect.co.uk, nimeislife.com, natoora.co.uk or valvonacrolla-online.co.uk.
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