Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Kids Tomatoey Paella or Fishy Rice

Dad made a delicious fish stew over the summer holidays which the kids loved, so I thought I'd try to make a paella/risotto version of it to get some fish into my kids.

Today is the second time of making it.  They still like it and I took better note of the ingredients this time!

Serves 5-6

300g paella or risotto rice
1 large onion
1 red pepper
1 large clove of garlic
Half a glass of white wine or sherry (optional)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3 fillets frozen white fish
Large handful frozen prawns
Large handful of chopped green beans or frozen peas
1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
2 bay leaves (optional)
1 tbsp olive oil

Blitz the onion, garlic and red pepper in the food processor to make an unidentifiable rubble.  Fry gently in the olive oil until it starts to brown.  Add the rice and stir around to coat with oil.  Add the wine/sherry if using, then add the tomatoes, a crumbled stock cube, and a can full of boiling water.  Bring to the boil.  If using frozen fish add it whole together with the prawns.  Simmer gently with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time - this will break the fish up into small pieces.  If the pan starts to catch or dry out, add a little boiling water.  Add the peas/beans 10 minutes for the end of the cooking time, scattering them across the surface and stirring them when the rice is cooked.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Rhubarb Glut Ideas

Due to popular demand I'm listing all the rhubarb recipes in my preserve making bible '500 Recipes Jams Pickles Chutneys' by Marguerite Patten.  Price 2/6 in 1964!

I quote Marguerite Patten "Rhubarb in Jam Making: The best flavoured rhubarb for jam is the second crop in the autumn.  You can use spring rhubarb, but the flavour is not so good".

Rhubarb Conserve - Definition: with "additional ingredients to give a more unusual flavour."
Rhubarb Preserve - Definition: Preserves are more 'lightly cooked to "retain pieces of the fruit"

Rhubarb Jam
Rhubarb & Apple Jam
Rhubarb & Blackcurrant Jam
Rhubarb & Ginger Jam
Rhubarb & Gooseberry Jam
Rhubarb & Dried Fig Jam
Rhubarb & Strawberry Jam

Rhubarb Chutney (a different recipe to the one I made here)

Rhubarb Marmalade - just about to make it!

Rhubarb Syrup

I'm afraid I haven't time all the recipes out now.  But as they are short and sweet, I'm sure if you ask me very nicely I can send you one or two at a time!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Rhubarb Chutney

10 years ago, when we moved to this house, we inherited a 2m square rhubarb patch.  In the years since it has been dug up, rehoused, divided and yet still it sprouts luxuriously.  I do make the odd crumble but we were really at a loss what to do with it until I googled and discovered Rhubarb Chutney.  With that and Rhubarb, Orange, & Ginger Marmalade from one of my mum's 1960s recipe books we are set up for the winter.

1kg rhubarb, washed and diced
500g onions, peeled and chopped
500g sultanas or raisins
500g sugar
600g malt vinegar
1-3 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp salt
Spice bag; 1 thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger roughly chopped, 12 cloves, 12 black peppercorns, 1 heaped tsp coriander seeds, a few blades of mace

Put everything into a large heavy bottomed pan.  Heat gently to dissolve the sugar and then slowly bring to the boil.  The recipe I loosely based this on said simmer for 2-3 hours until so thick that you can see the base of the pan when you draw a wooded spoon through it.  But I couldn't be bothered and bottled mine after an hour so it has a looser consistency.

When ready, seal in sterilised jars with vinegar proof screw lids (plastic coated on the inside to stop the vinegar corroding the metal!).  Leave to mature for 6-8 weeks!

Retro Damson Chutney

I've only ever made Damson Chutney once before, 8 years ago, and have dreamed of it ever since.  Now waiting 6-8 weeks for it to mature before tasting.

The recipe, as ever when it comes to jams and chutneys, is from Marguerite Patten's 500 Recipes - Jams Pickles Chutneys

3lb damsons
2 pints vinegar
1.5lbs cooking apples (after peeling and coring), chopped
1lb onions, peeled and chopped
2 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp salt NB I found this too much so start with 1 tsp
1lb sugar
1oz pickling spices

1. Simmer damsons in 1 pint vinegar until tender enough to remove the stones.
2. Add chopped apples, onions, ginger, pickling spices (tied in a piece of muslin), and salt
3. Continue cooking until the fruit is completely soft.
4. Add the rest of the vinegar and sugar.
5. Boil steadily until thick (NB take care it does not catch on the bottom of the pan)
6.  Put into hot jars and seal down. 

Leave for 6-8 weeks to mature.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Roast Chicken Stir Fry

With a leftover chicken leg and the carcass, I had intended to repeat one of my earlier Chinese stir fry recipes but my eldest daughter was engrossed on an app on my phone. I did have a quick look at my previous recipes on my pc and pulled the most commonly used Chinese ingredients out of the cupboard and fridge and kind of made up as I went along. The kids loved it and are asking for it again so I best write down what I can remember that I did!

Serves 4

2 large handfuls of shredded chicken from the carcass
2 large carrots, grated
10 runner beans, finely sliced
1 large or 2 small place of garlic crushed
Small knob ginger, finely chopped
Leftover gravy if any
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2-4 tbsp Sherry or white wine
4 tbsp oyster sauce
4 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbps tomato ketchup (I used the remaining pickling sauce from my Sweet Runner Bean Pickle)

In a large wok stir fry the onion and garlic in the sunflower oil. Add the green beans and carrots and stir fry for a few minutes. Add the shredded chicken and stir around again for another few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, adding any left over gravy last. You may need to add a little more sherry/wine/water if the stir fry is quite dry. I was aiming for a kind of sloppy chop suey consistency as I served this tossed through noodles for the children.

Sweet Runner Bean Pickle

My partner returned from rugby training last week with a carrier bag full of runner beans, 1.5kg/3lb to be exact. One of the players works on a country estate where they are cooked lunches by a chef (very nice too) and was given these 'leftover' beans by the chef. OH seemed not to know that the only thing I have managed to grow in the veg patch this year is runner beans.

A straw poll of the old dears at the WI inspired Country Market simply resulted in Runner Bean Chutney.  I googled it and turned up several recipes but they all seem to boil down (pardon the pun) to the same thing, so I largely followed Delia's recipe for Spiced Pickled Runner Beans in the hope that hers has been tried and tested.

The time of writing it is approximately 5 hours since bottling this pickle and it is not supposed to be eaten for another 4 to 6 weeks.  So I do not know how well it will work out, but I am hopeful.  My  only criticism so far is that it does not taste very mustardy and I had quite a lot of sauce left over after bottling but I found a home for that as a ketchup substitute in today's stir fry.  And as the stir fry seemed very successful I will be freezing the remainder for another stir fry another day.


900g runner beans (after trimming & slicing)
700g onions, chopped
850ml malt vinegar
4 tbsp cornflour
1.5 tbsp mustard powder
1 tbsp turmeric
700g brown sugar

Makes about six 0.5 litre jars (To sterilise the jars, wash them thoroughly in warm soapy water, rinse and heat in a moderate oven for 5 minutes).

In your largest saucepan, simmer the onions with 275ml of the vinegar for 20 minutes until the onions are soft.  Meanwhile boil the sliced beans in salted water for 5 minutes, then strain and add the beans to the onions.

In a small bowl mix the cornflour, mustard and turmeric with a little of the remaining vinegar – enough to make a smooth paste – then add this paste to the onion mixture.

Pour in the rest of the vinegar and simmer everything for 10 minutes. After that stir in the sugar until  dissolved and continue to simmer for a further 15 minutes.

Pot the pickle in warmed, sterilised jars, and seal and label when cold.

Keep for 4-6 weeks before eating.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Damson Brandy

And wait...
Having had a bad experience with gin in my youth, I usually make Sloe Brandy at this time of year.  But my secret sloe hunting ground seems a bit bare this year so I decided to make Damson Brandy.

The recipe I use is from Richard Mabey's Food for Free, and is the sketchiest of recipes.  I simply take one bottle of cheap/value brandy and pour it over about 1lb of fruit (I slit the damsons with a sharp knife) and 1/2lb of sugar in a large kilner jar.  Store the jar in a dark cupboard and turn from time to time to dissolve the sugar.  Richard Mabey then says this will be ready by Christmas.  But I'll be starting it as soon as the liquid has turned ruby red and the sugar appears to be dissolved.

In a similar vein, I made Blackberry Whiskey last year...