Up The Mountain Spicy Tomato Ketchup

Getting Saucy In The Garden

When you have lots of tomatoes growing, or you can buy them cheaply, it´s fun to play around with recipes and see what you can come up with.  An excellent book for anyone interested in growing their own (or who just dreams about doing it) and cooking with the “bounty” is The River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

One of his recipes that I´ve played around with over the years is the one he gives for tomato ketchup.  The beauty of it is that you can adjust spices and flavourings to suit what you and your loved ones enjoy.  I like my ketchup spicy, so I go heavy on the chili.  Some of the things he mentions in his recipe I don´t always have to hand (like mace or celery seeds) so I have changed things round just a little.

This is the Up the Mountain version, and I can highly recommend it.

3kg ripe tomatoes roughly chopped

3 sliced onions

1 large red pepper, chopped

¼ cup of celery leaves

100g brown sugar

200ml white wine vinegar (he uses cider vinegar)

¼ teaspoon of mustard powder

A stick of cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons of allspice

1 ½ teaspoons whole cloves

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

Some freshly grated nutmeg

4 small hot chilis, roughly chopped

1 bay leaf

1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed

1 teaspoon of hot smoked pimentón (or paprika)

Sea salt to taste

You´ll need a very sturdy heavy based saucepan for this as you´ll be reducing and reducing the sauce until it gets to the right consistency.

Put tomatoes, onions, peppers, chillis and celery leaves into the pot and simmer until very soft.  Put through a mouli or fine sieve and then back into the pot with the sugar, mustard powder and vinegar.  Put the remaining spices apart from the salt, nutmeg and pimentón into a cloth and tie securely then drop this into the mixture.  Grate a little nutmeg over and if you want more later you can add it nearer the end. 

Cook the sauce slowly until it has reduced to the thickness you require.  If you like you can give it a whizz with the hand blender (don´t forget to remove the spice bag first though!), then season with the salt and pimentón.  You can either put it into sterilised bottles or jars (I use the small juice bottles we get here in Spain) or it will keep well in the fridge for a month or you can freeze it.

Delicious with chips (or French fries for my US pals), burgers, fish, veggies…well, pretty much anything in fact!  And mixed with mayonnaise it makes a wonderful Marie Rose style sauce with a bit of a kick.

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Pork Ribs in Barbecue Sauce

Wait for them to cool down...!

Once of the nicest things about doing a blog is that you get to “meet” new people from all over the world and share a special little piece of their lives.  In this case it´s a lot of delicious recipes and talk about gardens and food and drink – all my favourite things!

We barbecue a lot here up our mountain, and finally invested in a gas barbecue last year.  I know, to the purists, it´s not exactly the same as using wood or carbon (although we do sometimes use this method too) but it´s so quick and easy and works well for us.  Mostly we keep things simple – a sprinkle of salt, some herbs, a dash of olive oil if the food needs it and we´re off!

I personally adore barbecue sauce, but rarely make it.  Big Man always insists he´s not a big fan of sauces, but whenever I make them he seems to enjoy them greatly.  I saw Greg´s delicious barbecue sauce over on his blog Rufus´ Food and Spirits Guide and thought I´d adapt it a little to make my own.  I only adapted it as we can´t get hold of all the ingredients here!  I only made a small batch and regretted it.  Big Man said on tasting the ribs and sauce “Ay, ¡que buena es esta salsa Americana!” which roughly translates to “Wow, this American sauce is so good!”.  Approval all round….

This was my version

  • A cup of chopped, peeled tomatoes
  • Half a cup of ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons of tomato purée
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of hot chili powder plus one dried chili
  • 1 teaspoon of English mustard powder
  • 4 tablespoons of molasses (miel de caña)
  • A few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper
  • Quarter cup of water

All I did was put all the ingredients together in a pot and simmer for about 10 minutes.  I kept some back and with about two thirds of the sauce I marinated my ribs.  It was meant to be overnight but we ended up eating them 2 days later.  I don´t think they suffered from the experience. 

There´s nothing like a good long soak in the bath!

When we barbecued the ribs, I heated the remaining sauce and we dipped our ribs into it, licked our fingers and had very messy but happy faces.