While at the farmers market a couple weeks ago, I stumbled upon some inspiration. Granted, I didn’t get to the farmers market nearly as often as I had intended to this summer, I am certainly glad I decided to go that day. I came upon a new vendor who was selling a variety of homemade pepper jellies. Between my love for all things spicy, and the fact that she had at least 8 jars to sample from, I was already excited. She, Sandra Dwight-Barris, owner of “Grey Goose Gourmet” explained to me that the original pepper jelly was her mother’s recipe and that the remaining flavors were her own creations. Sandra makes these jellies from scratch, in her kitchen, as well as jars and labels them for sale. She grows or buys all of her ingredients, save the mango (duh!) from local farmers. Most of the peppers come right out of her own garden.
My affinity for local business and fresh local produce had me gabbing with Sandra in no time. I was very impressed with not only her knowledge of the product, her labels and packaging, right down to the cute brown bag they came in. Then I got to sampling. Let me break down the flavor options for you first. Original, Apricot, Ginger-Pear, Pineapple Mango, Hot, Wicked Hot (my personal favorite), and two seasonal flavors, Strawberry-Mint, and Rhubarb.
For my first taste, I went straight for the “Wicked Hot”, as I love all things spicy and tend to doubt labels that say something is hot, let alone “wicked hot”. I am usually left feeling disappointed and quite frankly freakish for being let down by the lack of spiciness. The “Wicked Hot” did not disappoint. Now, to be clear, this isn’t the “blow your face off” make you cry fire kind of heat. It is a slow-burning persistent heat, that paired with the sweetness of the jelly is an exquisite flavor with endless culinary possibilities. I thought of ideas ranging from meat to cocktails upon tasting the wicked hot pepper jelly. The pineapple mango was another favorite, as it had a tart zing to it. Oh and the rhubarb!! Oh my. All that mouth puckering sour flavor you expect and love from rhubarb, paired with the sweet peppery jelly. If I could have had one of each, I would have. The Strawberry-Mint jelly was the second runner-up, as I could imagine many many delicious cocktails made with it, and let’s be honest…a bevy of cocktail potentials makes me giddy. So I settled on the “Wicked Hot” and “Strawberry-Mint”…for now!! I intend on having them all in my pantry.
So…how to use the pepper jelly?? Don’t most people just serve it on crackers with cream cheese?? Not this lady!! I wanted to come up with new and unique ways to use such a wonderful product. Could you smear it on a hunk of grilling meat and leave it at that? Of course! YUM! But you know me…I wanted to work a little harder than that for you. So after
deep meditation a cocktail, I settled upon three splendid ideas. The first is a spin on fried rice, which I am already obsessed with making at home. It is SO much better than from a restaurant, and I cannot stress that enough. In this particular recipe, I combine soy sauce with the “Wicked Hot” jelly to create a complex and spicy sauce for the rice, and threw in some Brussels Sprouts just to keep you on your toes. This fried rice is spectacular and the marriage of the pepper jelly and Brussels sprouts is perfection. I might just toss the sprouts in some pepper jelly next time I roast them and see what happens. My guess is something magical. Okay, so the next idea was to make a glaze for salmon by mixing the “Wicked Hot” with some soy sauce, lime juice, white wine, and olive oil and then pouring that over fillets of salmon and tossing them in the oven for a few minutes. What comes out is this delicious slightly syrupy sauce that pairs so well with fish and chicken. It’s just so easy! Oh, and for those who are wondering, yes, the salmon DOES go fantastically with the fried rice! Make them together!! As for the “Strawberry-Mint” jelly, that was hands-down going in a cocktail. Shaken up with some vodka (Grey Goose, duh!!) and some lime juice and ice and you have yourself some sass in a glass. Hey, maybe I should name the drink “Sass in a Glass”!! Alas, I digress. Now, you are more than welcome to serve these jellies up with some crackers and cheese, and I plan to for the holidays, but if you think just a tiny bit out of the box, you can use these pepper jellies in so many interesting ways. I highly recommend Grey Goose Gourmet pepper jellies and urge you to be creative with them. Here are the recipes:
Strawberry-Mint Cooler (Sass in a glass): http://mysaltykitchen.com/recipe/strawberry-mint-pepper-jelly-cooler/
Now, for the important part: Where can you get your grubby little hands on some Grey Goose Gourmet pepper jelly? Sandra sells her jellies at the Hallowell Farmers Market on Tuesday evenings, as well as the Wayne Farmers Market on Saturdays. Her jelly is also for sale out of the family barn at 536 Main Street in Wayne, ME. For those of you farther away, you can purchase products online at https://www.etsy.com/market/grey_goose_gourmet or visit Sandra’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/greygoosegourmet?fref=photo. The Grey Goose Gourmet will also have a table at the Maine Harvest Festival November 7-8th. For more information go to http://www.maineharvestfestival.com/.