Wednesday, 29 June 2016

St Clements Marmalade with Elderflower

I'm not sure as I peer through the rain covered window whether any elderflowers are left out there, but if there are and you are making Elderflower Cordial I highly recommend making marmalade with the orange and lemon soaked with the elderflowers overnight.

Makes about 3x 450g jars
2 oranges
2 lemons
Sugar
Water

Remove the sliced oranges and lemons from the discarded elderflowers.  Don't worry if any odd elderflowers are attached to the slices, that is part of this marmalade's charm.  Finely shred the slices including the rind, ensuring you remove all the pips as this can make the marmalade unpleasantly bitter.

Once shredded, weigh the chopped mass.  Write this weight down then and add the same weight of water to a heavy bottomed pan and bring to the boil.  Simmer very gently with the lid off until the rind is soft enough to squash between your fingers.  My marmalade recipe says 2 hours but it is for Seville marmalade the rinds of which are apparently tougher than most citrus fruit.  I think it took about 30-60 minutes to be soft enough.

When you think the rind is soft enough add double the weight of the shredded fruit in sugar.  Stir to dissolve and bring to a rolling boil and keep it boiling for 10 minutes.  Test for set on a saucer that has been placed in the freezer.  The marmalade is set when about a teaspoon of marmalade wrinkles when cooled as you push the edge of it towards the middle.  Turn off the heat once the marmalade has reached setting point and leave for about 10 minutes before pouring into sterlised jars (see below).  The reason for leaving it to cool a little is to stop start the jam setting and stop all the rind floating to top.

How to sterilise jars:-  Soak the labels off in warm soapy water and clean thoroughly inside and out.  Drain then place into cold oven.  Heat the oven and jars to 150C.  The jars are sterilised once the oven reaches temperature.  I sterilise lids (both old and new) by simmering them in boiling water whilst the jars are sterilising in the oven.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Warming Spring Greens Soup with Paprika

It's the 20th June and I'm wearing a fleece.

It's not as cold outside as it looks, but I've got a sore throat, feel like I'm going down with something, and I've got a surfeit of spring greens.  I need soup.  Spring green soup.

This soup is loosely based on a Portuguese Kale & Potato Soup, Caldo Verde.

Serves 4 (makes 1.5l)

1 medium onion, peeled & roughly chopped
1 large clove of garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1/2 a head of spring greens, roughly chopped (or cabbage)
1 medium potato, roughly chopped
2 vegetable stock cubes
1 tsp smoked paprika
1l recently boiled water

Place all the ingredients in a deep lidded saucepan.  Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes.  Liquidise and tuck in!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Can't Be Bothered to Stir Fry Noodles


I needed to make a quick tea for the kids yesterday, in the midst of baking 14 loaves and a million other things for market day.

I couldn't be bothered with all the grating and fine chopping I do for the kids usual stir fry tea so I just boiled 2 noodle nests (for 3 kids) with half a mug of sweetcorn.  Once cooked I tossed the noodles in 1 tbsp sesame oil and stirred in a large handful of cooked chicken from a carcass, a couple of finely chopped spring onions, 2 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp oyster sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce.  I never heard any complaints.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Red Onion Confit or Marmalade

I first had Red Onion Marmalade on New Years Eve 1999.

Travelling from Dublin, where we lived at the time, via London to Brussels we enjoyed a long drawn out alcoholic dinner with each multinational couple creating a national dish from scratch. 

To be honest I do not recall much of the evening, other than watching the New Years Even fireworks from all round the globe on BBC News and Brussels' fireworks going off around 23.30 reputedly because the King of Belgium wanted to go to bed early.  I don't remember the food, apart from being introduced to Confit d'Oignon and that it goes with pâté.  I am not being a fan of sweet chutney, and I was very dubious but the sweet vinegariness of this confit was a perfect accompaniment to the rich liver pate.

15 years on and our 12 year old asked for a meal out at a gastro pub for her birthday.  I think she had fish & chips, but I opted for a starter of smoked smoked duck, served with a pot of what now appears to be called 'onion marmalade'.  There was just something about this marmalade, sweet and salty with a little hit of spice.  I think there was cumin in it but it will only ever remain a guess as the inn never replied to my request for the recipe.

Since then, I have googled high and low looking for an enticing sounding recipe. I have saved a few and will be making and tasting them in turn.

I have made the first two but have yet to taste them, although the smell of smoked paprika in the Saga Magazine recipe smelt delicious.  I will be making the third when the others have gone.

Sticky Onion Marmalade by Riverford
This sticky onion marmalade adds a little extra tang to any cheese and biscuit occasion, or great to tie a ribbon around and present as a gift to friends or family. Makes about 2 jars.
3 tbsp olive oil 
1kg red or white onions, finely sliced  
150g light brown sugar 
150ml red wine vinegar 
125ml port (or red wine) 
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
Salt & pepper
 
Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan. Add the onions and cook very gently for 30 minutes, stirring now and then, until very soft and caramelising. Add a third of the sugar and cook for another 15 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients. 
 
Simmer for about 45 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and the onions are dark and sticky. You should be able to run a wooden spoon through and leave the pan clean underneath.  
 
Pot while hot into warm sterilised jars and seal with vinegar-proof lids. Store in a cool dry place and use within 3 months. Keep in the fridge once opened and use within a couple of weeks. 
 

Caramelised Onion Marmalade from Saga Magazine 
by Mary Tregellas

Despite its name, this is not one for your breakfast toast, but a fabulous accompaniment to sausages, burgers and strong cheeses. Use it as a cooking ingredient too – a spoonful or two in gravy or casseroles adds a real depth of flavour. Use white sugar or a mixture of white and muscovado sugars for a darker, more treacly result.

Makes about 6–7 x 340g (12 oz) jars
Keeps for 6–9 months

4 tbsp olive oil
2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) red or white onions, thinly sliced
300 g (10½ oz) sugar (white granulated,muscovado or a mixture)
300 ml (10 fl oz) red wine vinegar
250 ml (9 fl oz) red wine
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of dried chillies
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan and fry the onions for 10 minutes over a moderate heat.

Add 100 g (3½ oz) of the sugar and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Make sure it does not burn.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer for 25–30 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, then pot into hot sterilized jars.

TIP All that onion-chopping makes your hands smell.To remove the whiff, rub a few drops of lemon juice onto your hands (or rub the inside of a used lemon shell over your hands).
French Onion Marmalade by A French Girl Cuisine
 600g sliced onions
50ml Olive Oil
30ml Red Wine
80g Sugar
Salt
Pepper

Chop onions. Heat olive oil in a casserole dish. Cover and cook onions on low heat until they become translucent about 30 minutes. (Tip: If I want to save time and not stay in my kitchen I also add 2 tbsp of water).

When they are well done, add red wine, white sugar as well as salt and pepper. (Tip: Don't add the red wine before the onions are translucent as they will not cook anymore afterwards.)

Leave to cook until no more red wine about 1 hour.

Caramelised Onion Marmalade from Saga Magazine 
by Mary Tregellas

Despite its name, this is not one for your breakfast toast, but a fabulous accompaniment to sausages, burgers and strong cheeses. Use it as a cooking ingredient too – a spoonful or two in gravy or casseroles adds a real depth of flavour. Use white sugar or a mixture of white and muscovado sugars for a darker, more treacly result.

Makes about 6–7 x 340g (12 oz) jars
Keeps for 6–9 months

4 tbsp olive oil
2 kg (4 lb 8 oz) red or white onions, thinly sliced
300 g (10½ oz) sugar (white granulated,muscovado or a mixture)
300 ml (10 fl oz) red wine vinegar
250 ml (9 fl oz) red wine
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of dried chillies
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan and fry the onions for 10 minutes over a moderate heat.

Add 100 g (3½ oz) of the sugar and cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Make sure it does not burn.

Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and simmer for 25–30 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, then pot into hot sterilized jars.

TIP All that onion-chopping makes your hands smell.To remove the whiff, rub a few drops of lemon juice onto your hands (or rub the inside of a used lemon shell over your hands).

Monday, 8 February 2016

Bottom of the Fridge Greens Soup

Storm Imogen is blowing in and it is most definitely soup weather.  To warm myself up with the front door wide open all day as we are having the hall and landing painted I have rustled up a soup to enjoy in a draughtfree corner.

As I remind my mother-in-law, who has just bought a soup maker, soup can pretty much be made with any vegetable however bendy!  Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall talks about the holy trinity of soup bases being onion, carrot, & celery.  I do aim for this, but at the end of the day it comes down to what I have left, and a handsized potato to stretch it all a little further.

Today's soup, with smokey paprika, is loosely based on a Portuguese Soup, Caldo Verde

1/4 cabbage
Broccoli stalks
1 large onion
1 large celery stick
1 large potato
1 large garlic clove
2 vegetable or chicken stock cubes
1 litre boiling water (or half milk for a creamier soup)
1tsp smoked paprika

Roughly chop all the vegetables and fry gently in the oil for a few minutes.  If using broccoli stalk, I find I need to quarter it length ways and cut out the softer inside otherwise the soup can be too fibrous.  Add the crumbled stock cubes, paprika, and top up with boiling water so the vegetables are covered by about 2cm of water.  Simmer for 20 minutes then blitz in a liquidiser or with a stick blender.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

I am trying to remember to use my slow cooker at least once a week, so here is last week's recipe.  This week's is still WIP.

Chicken Cacciatore or Italian Hunter's Chicken (as opposed to Chicken Chasseur which is French Hunter's Chicken!)

Serves 4
8 chicken thighs
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500ml red wine
4 anchovy fillets (optional)
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped or crushed
2 large bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
Handful black olives
1 tbsp olive oil

Turn the slow cooker on, with the lid on, to high to warm up.

Fry the chicken in the olive oil until lightly brown.  When brown, lift out leaving the oil in the frying pan and place in the slow cooker. 

Fry the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and anchovies (if using) in pan you just fried the chicken in.  When the garlic begins to brown, add the tomatoes, olives and the red wine.  Bring to the boil then pour over the chicken. 

Poke the chicken under the liquid as much as you can, put the lid on and leave to cook for 5 hours on high.  Check for seasoning just before serving.  I guess this would probably be served with polenta in Italy, but I serve it with mashed potato, pasta, rice, garlic bread...

I am entering this into the Farmersgirl Kitchen and Baking Queen 74's Slow Cooked Challenge 
The Slow Cooked Challenge


Thursday, 31 December 2015

Kipper Pate

Knocking up kipper pate for New Year's Day.  Sadly our overnight guests had to cancel first thing this morning as their young son is ill, so I'm making one portion for our family lunch tomorrow and one for the freezer.

1 pack boil in the bag kippers
125g soft cheese
1 medium garlic clove
Lemon zest (optional)

Boil the kippers according to the instructions on the packet.  The pack I bought did say microwave but this tends to dry them out too much in my opinion so I prefer to boil them.

When cooked/heated through (about 15 minutes) cut open the bag and tip into a food processor along with the soft cheese, garlic and lemon zest if using.  Puree, spoon into a pot, pop on a lid and place in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to chill.

Serve on toast or as a pasta sauce.  Beware that there are little flexible bones in kippers.  These are fine to be eaten but may put off fussy eaters.