Tag Archives: preserves

May Bank Holiday Marmalade

4 May

So, I’m here in Galloway for 24 hours again. I love it here, especially in Spring. I probably say ‘especially in…’ every season, but it really is particularly gorgeous in Spring with the zingy lime green of the newly opened leaves on the trees, the wee calves and lambs boinging about in fields and everything just beginning to sprout. The whole countryside is full of hope, just bursting to get going. It’s almost as though it’s written itself the best list ever and now it’s ticking them off one by one: lambs – done; daffodils – done; primroses – done; magnolias – done; surprising late frost – done!

Yes, we had some lovely warm days a couple of weeks ago, fooling us into believing that we might have seen the last of the cold weather until the Autumn and then BANG! Several nights of relatively hard frost. A few of Mum’s shrubs were just beginning to poke their wee leaves out and now look as though they just might not bother at all  this year. And her magnolias had just flowered and now the flowers on them are all smooshy and ick, and the leaves haven’t appeared. So, despite it being beautiful, not everything is being ticked off on the list as it should.

So, we got here for lunchtime, which is always the best time in this house. The legendary Wolffe Lunch never disappoints. Today there was soup (of course) – a vegetable broth with barley – and then home-made bread with a choice of pates (smoked salmon, brussels or a ham hock terrine). There was green salad, olives, fresh beetroot in a delicate sweet vinegar, smoked salmon, cheese. And then coffee with madeira cake or mini pear cakes with white chocolate and gin frosting. Yes, I might have been responsible for that last element. They’re delicious. But more on them later.

After lunch I made some rhubarb marmalade. I think it’s really orangey rhubarb jam, but the recipe calls it rhubarb marmalade, so perhaps I should go with that.

The recipe is from my go-to preserves book: Jellies, Jams and Chutneys by Thane Prince. Trust me, she knows her preserves. Having said that, I often find myself boiling things for much longer than she recommends in her recipes in order to reach a set, so perhaps I just don’t boil things hard enough?

So this recipe is only slightly adapted from Thane’s original.

Rhubarb orangey jam (or rhubarb marmalade in her world)

  • 2lb 4oz rhubarb, wiped clean and cut into 1cm chunks
  • 1lb 12oz jam sugar
  • finely grated zest and the juice of the most enormous orange I have ever seen
  • about 2cm fresh ginger, grated
  • about 50ml liquid pectin
  1. Put the rhubarb, sugar, zest, juice and ginger into a heavy saucepan. Put it on a low heat and bring gently to a boil. I put mine on the low side of the rayburn and then went and put the bedding on to wash. Then I came back and stirred it a bit and put it on the hotter side of the rayburn. Then I remembered I hadn’t sterilised any jars, so I went to look for some nice jars in Mum’s cupboard under the stairs (she now lives in a bungalow, but the larder has always been called the cupboard under the stairs, so it still is). I washed the jars and then popped them on a tray and put them in the rayburn. Then I remembered I hadn’t yet put the saucer in the fridge, for testing for jamminess later. So I did that. And then I went to see what Mum was potting on: dahlias mostly. Then I went back and the pot was just about near boiling, with the sugar all dissolved and at least three times the juice there was last time I’d looked at it.
  2. Once it’s boiling, allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes. The fruit should be soft, the sugar all dissolved.
  3. Now take the pot off the heat for a minute and add the pectin and stir it all in gently. Return to the heat and boil properly for another few minutes. Thane suggested two minutes might do it. But then she didn’t use jam sugar, and used more pectin. Anyway, keep testing for a jamminess, by putting a wee teeny wee spoonful onto the cold plate from the fridge. If it wrinkles when you push it with your finger it’s ready. If it’s still runny, it’s not. Don’t do what I did. Don’t jar it up anyway, in the hope it might really be ready when it’s not. You’ll realise after a couple of jars that it wasn’t ready and that you need to boil it all up a bit further.
  4. Anyway, once it’s boiled enough and you’re sure it will set when cool, take it off the heat, and pour it into the sterilised jars. If you’re at my mother’s house you might not have a jam funnel, but you’ll find that a jug dipped into the pot of jam works almost as well. And anyway, if you don’t like sticky stuff, don’t make jam.
  5. Now, remember to put a label on the jars. It’s like sowing seeds – at the time you can’t imagine that you’ll ever forget what you planted in those wee pots on that shelf in the greenhouse. But in 4 weeks time you won’t know if it’s asters or arctotis; if it’s basque chillies or ohnivecs. And it’s better to know which is rhubarb jam and which is rhubarb chutney. I guess.

If you want the real Thane Prince recipe, with her considerably less wordy instructions buy her book. If you like making preserves you’ll be glad you did. And it’s got other delicious sounding things like spicy plum ketchup, and frozen cranberry vodka. Surprisingly, I’ve never made either so can’t vouch for them.

If you want to know what else I’ve been making, go here: Shewolffe recipes. You’ll find another version of this same recipe, which I should have checked before I started writing this one out. And rhubarb chutney. And various cheese scones, each one tastier and easier than the last. And a scrumptious millionaire’s shortbread. And so much more.

There isn’t yet a recipe for that wee pear cake with white chocolate and gin frosting. But there will be soon, so keep looking back.

Let me know what else you’d like to see here. What ingredients should I cook with next?

Image

Wordless Wednesday

12 Jan
Jars of home preserves

Jars of home preserves

Find a recipe…

9 Nov

Scroll down below this post if you want to get straight to the blether and the recipes. This is an attempt at creating an index of my recipes. I have created some categories, which may only really make sense to me. They are:

  • Preserves
  • Homebaking
  • Drinkies and other strange things
  • Supper and sides

Basically if it doesn’t fit in any of the other categories, it will be in the Drinkies one. Anyway, have a browse, find something that sounds intriguing and take a look. I’m not promising that all the recipes are perfect, but I’ve only included ones that work for me. Oh, and because of a recent comment, I should add that where recipes are by others, I have credited them, usually with a link so you can see more of what they cook. Where I wasn’t following someone else’s recipe there is no credit. If you think I’ve forgotten to credit you (or anyone else) in any recipe, my huge apologies, and do get in touch and I’ll sort it out.

Preserves

Apple chutney

Cinnamon apple jelly

Hot tomato chutney

Lemon curd

Orange and ginger marmalade

Plumbrillo

Rhubarb chutney

Rhubarb marmalade

Homebaking

Apple spice muffin

Apricot upside down cake

Bacon maple brownies

Banana chocolate nut cake

Beetroot cheesy muffins

Boozy BozzyFest Cakes aka mini pear cakes with white choc and gin frosting 

Bread – your basic white loaf, no-kneading required

Brown soda bread

Buttery butteries

Caraway biscuits

Cardamom chocolate brownies

Cheese scones

Cheesy sesame biscuits

Chilli chocolate tart

Chocolate spiced gingerbread

Christmas muffins (cranberry and clementine)

Energy bars

Filled meringue coffee cake

5 seed loaf

Florentine cookies

Gin and tonic muffins

Ginger chocolate hearts

Langues de chat

Lemon kisses

Lemony almondy cake

Lemony fudge cake

Light Christmas cake

Macarons / Macaroons

Melting moments

Millionaire’s shortbread

Nutty ginger bisuits

Orange, almond and chocolate cake

Parmesan and courgette herby muffins

Shiny cake

Spiced parsnip cake

Spicy cheese scones

Springtime apple cake

Sweet scones

Sweet and salty nutty bars

Sugar biscuits

Tattie scones

Tollhouse cookies

Triple chocolate ginger brownies

Tropical muffins

White cob loaf

White soda bread

Drinkies and other strange things..

Blackcurrant cordial

Blackcurrant hooch

Cranberry vanilla vodka

Cranberry sauce

Desert island bites (aka coconut truffles)

Elderflower vinegar

Granola

Hilda Gerber’s rich chocolate sauce

Lemonade

Mango salsa

Mayonnaise

Mint sugar

Plum brandy

Roasted spicy nuts

Roasted tomato sauce

Salty nut brittle

Strawberry sugar

Sweet chilli dipping sauce

Tartare sauce

White chocolate and cardamom tablet

Supper and sides

Autumn sausage supper

Beef stew

Beetroot and goats cheese jalousie

Beetroot and orange salad

Blackcurrant ripple icecream

Boiled egg

And another boiled egg

Borscht

Broccoli and stilton soup

Brown stew

Brussels sprouts with chestnuts

Carrot soup

Cheese and caramelised onion tart

Chicken chasseur

Chicken gumbo

Chicken liver pate

Chilli sweetcorn fritters with prawns

Chocolate panna cotta

Creamy brussels sprouts

Croutons

Fish gratin

Gingered beef stew

Janssens Temptation

Lentil soup

Marmalade-y sausages

Mushroom stuffed chicken breasts

Panzanella

Patatas a la Extremena

Poached eggs

Pork with apple and sage

Pork with orange and thyme

Scotch eggs

Slow roasted peppers in a jar

Spicy turmeric chicken

Spinach soup

Spring quiche

Throw it in the oven chicken dinner

Vegetable broth

Winter salad

More delicious things to do with blackcurrants

14 Aug

Blackcurrants.

When you have a glut of them you REALLY have a glut of them.

I have a couple of wee blackcurrant bushes which are ignored for most of the year and this year were surrounded by chest high grass, nettles and dock leaves. I was sure there would be nothing to harvest. But of course I was wrong. Deliciously wrong.

I cropped the whole branches, placed them in my wicker trug and carried them upstairs to our terrace one evening, and spent a gentle hour picking the fruit, topping and tailing it ready for cooking. The swallows were swooping and swooshing around our heads, sometimes below us, sometimes so close we could feel the rush of air as they changed course just before their wings brushed our faces. It’s a glorious way to spend a summer evening, and the memory of it keeps me warm through the winter.

The blackcurrants this year were destined to be drinks, one alcoholic and one not.

My Mum has made blackcurrant cordial for years and I feel that in my late 40s perhaps it is time for me to give it a go. I have no children to turn their noses up at it, as it isn’t their usual brand (I always wished we had REAL Ribena when I was a child, not this wannabe pretender. Little did I know how lucky I was).

So, I searched for the perfect blackcurrant cordial recipe and settled for one by Henry Dimbleby, who started the Leon chain of fabulous eateries. I have four Leon books, but of course found this recipe online on the Guardian website. You can read the original here if you want to.  The recipe is pretty simple, but does include the addition of citric acid, which is a natural preservative, but also adds a zesty acidic zing to the juice. Citric acid is a natural compound, found in citrus fruit (of course!) but these days it is mass-produced as a chemical compound, and is more commonly known as E330 on food labels.

Blackcurrant cordial

  • 500g blackcurrants, topped and tailed
  • 275g sugar
  • 250ml water
  • 1/2 tsp citric acid
  1. Put the blackcurrants, sugar and water into a heavy-based pan, and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 5 minutes
  2. Get your potato masher out and bash the fruity smoosh, breaking up as much of the fruit as you can
  3. Add the citric acid and boil for another 2 minutes
  4. Place a muslin cloth in a sieve (preferably a plastic one) and pour the fruity mixture into the sieve and leave to drip through .Don’t bother squishing it with a spoon or anything. Just leave it. Go pour yourself a gin and tonic, you probably deserve one
  5. Once it’s stopped dripping (I left mine overnight) throw out the detritus in the muslin cloth; keep the muslin and wash it, ready for another day.
  6. Decant the thick silky juice into a clean bottle and label it up, so you know this is the BC cordial and not the hooch. You don’t want to get that wrong, trust me!
  7. Dilute with water or sparkling water fora  refreshing summery drink. Or with prosecco if it’s cocktail hour already, which it must be somewhere.

But I also wanted to make a blackcurrant liqueur. And wouldn’t you know, there was a handy recipe in this month’s Good Food magazine.  Well, the recipe was for a Bramble liqueur, but it can be adapted for blackcurrants when I have a glut of blackcurrants and the brambles aren’t ripe yet.

So here you go:

Blackcurrant hooch (or boozy ‘bena)

  • 600g blackcurrants, topped and tailed (you could use frozen if that is all you can get hold of)
  • a bottle of good red wine
  • 500g sugar
  • some vodka or gin (the original recipe I now notice only asked for a large glass of vodka/gin but I poured in ahem a whole bottle)
  1. Put the currants into a large plastic or glass bowl and pour over the wine. Get that trusty potato masher out again and crush the fruit as much as you can. Cover the bowl with a tea towel (this keeps it dark-ish and keeps out all the flies we are plagued with this summer) and leave for a few days. Give it another smoosh with the potato masher every 24 hours or so.
  2. Pour the mixture through a plastic sieve lined with a piece of muslin.
  3. Tip the juice into a heavy-based pan and add the sugar. Actually it probably doesn’t really matter if your pan isn’t a heavy-based one – don’t avoid making this hooch just for the sake of an expensive pan.
  4. Heat up slowly, stirring occasionally. Once the sugar has dissolved bring toa boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool and then pour in the vodka or gin. As much as you think is appropriate. I suspect my version with the large volume of vodka is not entirely appropriate, but we’ll see.
  6. Use a small jug, or a funnel and pour into clean dry bottles.
  7. Seal and label.
  8. It’s ready for drinking straight away, or you can put a ribbon round it and feel proud that you’ve made some Christmas presents already.

My blackcurrant ripple ice-cream recipe is here if this isn’t what tickles your sweet fancy today.

Rhubarb marmalade

30 Apr
Rhubarb marmalade

Rhubarb marmalade

I love my local farm shop. Let me give it a shout out.. it’s at Overton Farm in the Clyde Valley. Given the choice between spending a wee bit more per item at the farm shop, or spending a whole lot more in total (because I go off-list and end up buying things I don’t really need at the supermarket) I now always choose the farm shop. This means I more regularly run out of stuff like dry cat food, or domestos, but that’s ok. We have a car, and most things can wait till the weekend.

The farmshop isn’t exclusively local, so year round it’s possible to get those things that were seasonal treats in my childhood – peppers, mangoes, and even pears. But I like seasonal, and I have an urge to put things in jars when they are in season. Some time soon I am going to write a list of all the things I have in jars, so that I’m more likely to use them… they live in a drawer in a filing cabinet in a cupboard under the stairs. Yup, not really in an obvious place so I see a jar of, say spiced damsons, and think ‘that will go perfectly with the smoked mackerel I’ve just bought impulsively at the supermarket because we needed dishwasher tabs’. In fact I might just do that later this afternoon – I have the day off, and had planned to garden, but it’s grizzly grey weather and I’m something of a fairweather gardener, shaming though it is to admit that.

Anyway, back to seasonal and local and all that jazz. My seasonal treat at the farmshop on Saturday was a big bunch of rhubarb. I LOVE rhubarb; it’s that tart sharpness that just zings for me.

Thane Prince is one of my go to writers for any sort of a preserve. She currently can be seen in the BBC’s Great Allotment Challenge programme, but honestly I wouldn’t recommend that as your first experience of her. Watching someone, anyone, spooning out 10 globs of chutney from a jar and then tasting it, and diluting ten lots of cordial in water and sipping it is not my idea of good TV, no matter how lovely she may be, or how erudite her comments and criticisms are. Please BBC, try harder.

But of course she has a lovely recipe for Rhubarb Marmalade, with or without ginger. And that is what I settled on. Fortuitously I had just the right quantities of everything: rhubarb, sugar, oranges, pectin. And ginger. Why would I make it without ginger?

Rhubarb marmalade

From Thane Prince’s Jellies, Jams and Chutneys.

  • 1kg rhubarb, washed and cut into even 1cm wee chunks
  • 800g sugar
  • 2 large oranges
  • 125g liquid pectin
  • about 3cm fresh root ginger, grated. You do have a ginger grater don’t you?
  1. Get prepared. Put a large plate into the fridge, so you can check for a set when the time comes
  2. Clean your jars in hot water, and pop them in a low oven to sterilise them
  3. Zest your oranges, and then juice them
  4. Put the rhubarb, sugar, orange zest and juice into a heavy non-reactive pot. Bring the mixture slowly to the boil and then simmer over a low heat for 5-8 minutes. The rhubarb should be soft and the sugar dissolved.
  5. Turn off the heat for a minute. Add the pectin. Stir gently so it’s all mixed in and then turn the heat back up. Bring to a good boil and cook for a further 2 minutes before testing if it’s set. At this stage my marmalade was still incredibly runny and it took a further 25 minutes before it started looking properly jammy and was anything near a set. And then of course it went just too far and my marmalade is just slightly more solid than I would like – I like it still squelchy.
  6. Once the marmalade has reached setting point, ladle it into the hot sterilised jars, seal and label.

You do know how to test for a set don’t you? I wouldn’t recommend using a sugar thermometer for this recipe – when my marmalade had reached setting point it was still far off the ‘jam’ stage on my thermometer, which is no doubt to do with the levels of pectin in the mix. Anyway, I test for a set by dropping a wee gob of the hot marmalade onto a cold plate (yes, that one you put in the fridge right at the beginning); leave it a wee second or two, and then push it with your finger. If it wrinkles it’s ready (or even over-ready); if it is just liquid and runs back into a puddle it needs more boiling.

So, why would anyone spend their Sunday afternoon making Rhubarb Marmalade? Easy… just try it, still warm on hot buttered toast. You will forget that anything else exists, and you’ll wish that you could do this every afternoon, and if you’re feeling special match it with a wee glass of fizz. My accompaniment was a perfect cup of Earl Grey tea, out of a fine china tea cup. Deliciousness.

 

Rhubarb chutney

8 Jun

So, it’s been a bit of a rubbish year for the rhubarb harvest this year I’ve heard. Something to do with late frosts, which decimated some of my early sowings too.

However, I saw some British rhubarb in the shop the other day and couldn’t resist. But since I’m trying to eat less pudding and G doesn’t really like rhubarb anyway, it clearly wasn’t a well thought through purchase. I thought about a rhubarb tart, rhubarb crumble, a rhubarb cake, or just stewed rhubarb. Surely we would call that a compote these days? I love the astringent sharpness you get with rhubarb … perhaps the answer was to just stew some with some honey and vanilla and then have it with plain yoghurt. I’m a bit addicted to plain yoghurt (preferably greek style, fat free) and think I might have to try my hand again at making my own yoghurt. Mum used to do it when I was wee, but I suspect that it was helped by the fact we always had the rayburn on, so it had a good warm place to ferment. Ah well, that will be next week’s mission.

Anyway, after all that deliberating, I decided that rhubarb chutney was today’s cooking challenge. Not much of a challenge really, chutney is an easy peasy thing to make. The tricky bit is getting the mix of spices and flavours right – so only make a wee bit the first time you make a recipe, so you can try it for flavour and then tweak the next batch.

Rhubarb chutney

  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 1cm ginger, chopped finely
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100ml white wine vinegar, or elderflower vinegar if you have any
  • 1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt
  • 1″ cinnamon stick
  • a couple of star anise
  • 500g rhubarb, chopped into fairly thin slices
  1. Put the star anise and cinnamon stick into a spice cage if you have one. Alternatively, put them in a wee square of muslin tied up with string. Or you could just chuck the whole spices into the pan, if you don’t mind having bits in your final product.
  2. Place all the ingredients, except the rhubarb in a heavy duty pan and bring to the boil. Boil on a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the rhubarb to the pan and bring to the boil again. Turn down, and simmer for about 15 minutes when the chutney should be slightly thickened.
  4. Pour into sterilised jars while still hot. Use a 500ml jar, or a 340ml jar plus one of those wee pesto jars. But make sure they have been properly sterilised before you pour the chutney in, or it won’t keep properly.
  5. Remember to label the jar – I’d say it should keep for 12 months, but should be eaten within 8 weeks of opening and kept in a fridge, or other cool place once opened.

My verdict is that it is slightly too sweet on first tasting, but the flavours will develop and it will taste better in a week or two. I hope.

As ever it will be delicious with a good farmhouse cheddar but will probably also be good with cold pork, or with mackerel.

Lemons, beetroot and cheese

13 Feb

Some of my favourite flavours, and such is the stuff of the perfect Valentine’s feast.

I call it a feast, but actually it’s a series of feasts really.

Yesterday (Saturday) we indulged in some exquisite stilton from Mellis the cheesemonger (a special trip into the west end of Glasgow specifically to buy Valentines cheese!). We had it with freshly baked rolls, sliced relatively thinly like a wee loaf.

For lunch today I made a warm beetroot and goats cheese tart.  And later we’ll be having more beetroot, lightly pickled in a sweet vinegar, with salmon and fresh linguine.

Afterwards we’ll have vanilla panna cotta, which looks delicious, but the coffee gelee on top seems to be liquid coffee, and not a gelee at all.  And for real afters there’ll be a cheeseboard.  Yum.

Lemons.  Where do the lemons come into all of this?

I made a batch of Lemon Kisses – in an assortment of heart, flower and helicopter shapes.  The helicopters will of course be the most popular.  And, I prefer biscuits on their own, not squidged together with cream or icing, or whatever. But the recipe calls for squidging them together with Lemon Curd, so I’ve just made a batch of Lemon Curd, one of my favourtie things to make, and absolute favourite flavours.  I love that sharp lemoniness.  I must experiment with lime and orange curds in the coming months.  Blood oranges are in season right now (and I have three in the fruit bowl ) – I suspect they would make a pretty spectacular curd.

Large jar of lemon curd - store in fridge

Lemon curd

Makes one relatively small jar

60g unsalted butter
130g caster sugar
Zest and juice of 1½ large unwaxed lemons
2 large eggs, beaten

  1. Chop the butter into a heavy-based saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar, lemon juice and zest
  3. Warm over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves
  4. Pour the beaten eggs into the pan, stirring rapidly as you pour
  5. Keep stirring over a low heat until the mixture thickens.  This will take 5-10 minutes.
  6. Once it is thickened, pour into a sterilised jar.  DO NOT allow it to boil as it will curdle.
  7. Once cool, seal the jar and keep in the fridge.
  8. Use within 4 weeks.

Delicious on hot buttered toast, stirred into yoghurt, sandwiching biscuits or sponge cakes.

Beetroot and goats cheese jalousie

Earthy beetroot and horseradish, goaty goats cheese all encased in buttery flaky puffy pastry

  • 1 1/2 medium beetroot, cooked
  • a few slices of goats cheese
  • 2 Tbs yoghurt / creme fraiche
  • 3 tsp grated horseradish
  • 1pkt all butter puff pastry

Grease a baking tray. 

  1. Cut a third of the pastry and roll out into an oblong.  Cook in a GM 7 oven for 10 minutes.
  2. Grate the beetroot and mix with the yoghurt or creme fraiche and horseradish. Season
  3. Cut into the pastry base, squishing down the pastry in the middle, creating a ‘wall’ round the edge and an oblong hole in the middle.
  4. Place the beetroot mixture into the hole in the pastry
  5. Put slices of goats cheese on top
  6. Roll the remainder of the pastry into a larger oblong.  Cut slashes into this pastry, to create diagonals on the pastry lid
  7. Brush the edges of the pastry base with beaten egg
  8. Carefully place the pastry lid over the top of the tart (do this by carefully rolling the whole lid round the rolling pin and then unrolling it back on top of the tart base)
  9. Brush the pastry lid with egg wash
  10. Bake in the hot oven for about 20 minutes, or until the pastry is risen and cooked
  11. Eat while warm, served with a watercress salad

The lemon kisses recipe will follow.  Eventually

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