Monday, 31 August 2009

Tomato and Apple Chutney

The Holly Grove tomato harvest is in and another use for the apple glut - Tomato and Apple chutney. I know, another chutney recipe, but it's that time of year and I need to do something with all this produce.

Most of these chutneys and jams I'll give to friends and colleagues, a few jars will make their way into Christmas hampers for neighbours and the rest the Handyman and I will munch our way through between Bonfire Night and next Summer. The most important thing is that I love making preserves...seeing lots of lovely fruit and vegetables turned into pretty jars of colourful and tasty goodness - no artificial preservatives, colours or other chemicals, just good HG produce, sugar and vinegar and...a great sense of satisfaction.

This is a dark and rich chutney, a spoonful of this on top of a baked potato filled with a mature Cheddar cheese - food heaven!

Tomato and Apple Chutney

Makes about 5lbs

3lbs HG tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3lbs HG apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2 large onions (or 4 small HG onions), chopped
2 HG garlic cloves, crushed
9ozs pitted dates, chopped
2 red peppers, seeds removed and cut into chunky pieces
2 dried red chillies
1tbsp black peppercorns
4 cardamom pods
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
1 pint distilled malt vinegar
2lbs 4ozs granulated sugar (I used unrefined granulated)

Put the prepared tomatoes, apples, dates, onion and garlic into a preserving pan. Slit the chillies lengthwise and add to the pan. Put the peppercorns and remaining spices into a grinder (or mortar and grind with a pestle, if you need the exercise) and roughly crush. Add the spices and salt to the pan.

Pour in the vinegar and the sugar and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the red pepper and cook for a further 30 minutes - you may need to turn the heat up to reach a faster simmer - stir more frequently as the chutney becomes thick and pulpy.

Spoon the chutney into warmed, sterilised jars. Seal the jars , label and store in a cool, dark place. The chutney will be ready to eat in 1 to 2 months time.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Plums Galore!

The Handyman spent a precarious hour plucking fruit from our knarled old plum tree. When we first came to Holly Grove we almost cut it down as we thought by the state of the trunk that it was diseased or dead or both. Thanksfully we were distracted by everything else that needed attention and left the plum tree alone.

Low and behold our first August here the tree provided a bumper crop of delicious and juicy Victoria plums (at least we think they are Victorias?). This year the wee tree has worked its magic again and I've had a tub of plums to preserve.

I've made about 7lbs of jam, 3lbs of hot plum chutney and 3lbs of stewed plums for the freezer; plus we've eaten rather a lot of fresh plums over the past week, oh, and a plum custard tart - yummy!

So here follows the recipe for Hot Plum Chutney:

Makes 3lbs

2lbs HG plums, halved and stoned
1 HG onion, finely chopped

3 inch piece fesh root ginger, peeled and grated
3 whole star anise
12 fl ozs white wine vinegar
8ozs soft light brown sugar
5 celery stick, thinly sliced

3 green chillies, seeded and finely sliced
2 HG garlic cloves, crushed

Put the plums, onion, ginger and star anise in a preserving pan ans pour over half the white wine vinegar. Bring to the boil then simmer gently over a low heat forabout 30 minutes, or until the plums have softened.

Stir the remaining white wine vinegar, sugar, sliced celery, chillies and crushed garlic into the plum mixture. Cook very gently over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.

Bring the mixture to the boil then simmer for about 45 minutes, or until thick with no excess liquid. Stir frequently as the mixture thickens to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Spoon the chutney into warmed and sterlised jars. Cover with greasproof circles and seal immediately. Store the chutney in a cool, dark place and allow to mature for at least one month - use within 2 years.

Delicious with cold cuts and cheeses on Boxing Day - if you can resist temptation for that long!

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Busy in the Kitchen

Well, it's a lovely sunshiny day outside but I am too busy in the kitchen to venture into the garden. Little JM's birthday party tomorrow so I'm making a few things as my contribution to the event. Homemade vegetarian 'sausage' rolls from Delia's Christmas cookbook, some little bite-sized iced fairy cakes and a couple of cheesecakes from a Nigel Slater recipe and of course the Cheese Fingers recipe from a previous post.

I have made the strawberry cheesecake a few times, on each occasion it was well received. The most traumatic part of the making is removing the cheesecake from the baking tin, the 'baking' of the cake is by far the easiest part, so here's Nigel's recipe with my variation at the end.

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart

For the biscuit base
75g/3oz butter
250g/9oz almond, orange or sweet oat biscuits

For the filling
1 large free-range egg, separated
1 tbsp caster sugar
250g/9oz mascarpone cheese
2 drops vanilla essence
250g/9oz fresh strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced

1.For the crumb case, melt the butter in a small saucepan.
2. Place the biscuits in a food processor and process to fine crumbs (alternatively, place in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin, taking care not to split the bag).
3. Mix the crumbs thoroughly with the melted butter and spoon into a 25cm/10in diameter loose-bottomed flan tin. Press the crumbs firmly over the base and up the sides of the tin to cover completely. Transfer to the fridge to chill until firm.
4. For the filling, place the egg yolk into a bowl with the caster sugar and whisk together.
5. Add the mascarpone and beat until thoroughly combined. Stir in the vanilla essence.
6. In a separate bowl, beat the egg white with a clean whisk until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed from the bowl. Gently fold the egg white into the mascarpone mixture.
7. Remove the biscuit case from the fridge. Spoon the mascarpone mixture into the biscuit case and gently smooth the top with a spatula. Arrange the sliced strawberries on top of the mascarpone.
8. Transfer to the fridge and chill. Remove the tart from the fridge 20 minutes before serving

Variation: Mandarin Mascarpone Tart - Use tinned mandarin orange segments in place of the strawberries and add a little orange zest to the mascarpone mixture in place of the vanilla extract. I also added 2 heaped tablespoons of thick double cream to the mascarpone mixture for an even more decadent treat!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Party Fare

My adorable grandson JM has his first birthday in a few days time and he and I are looking through recipe books for some ideas for his party food - nothing grand, just traditional children's party fare. In our search we've come across one of the first cookery books added to my library - Make More of Milk from the Scottish Milk Marketing Board circa 1975. Not the greatest of books but interesting as it seems to be of its era, and really quite 'Scottish' e.g. spring onions referred to as cyboes, oh and one of the oft-used ingredients in the desserts is 'Angel Delight'.

Anyway a couple of ideas from within it for JM's party including:

Cheese Fingers
Makes 10-12 fingers
185g puff pastry (the ready made fresh or frozen will be fine)
50g Cheddar cheese, grated
25g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
salt and pepper
a little milk for brushing the pastry

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/220C. Roll out pastry and divide into two squares. Lay one square on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Mix the cheese, melted butter, and and seasoning for the filling and spread evenly on the pastry leaving about 1cm around the edge clear of filling. Wet the edges and lay the second pastry square on top pressing down the edges to seal. Brush lightly with milk and place in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 20 to 30 minutes until golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before cutting into fingers. The fingers may be served warm or cold.

You can vary the filling by adding 2 chopped or sliced hard boiled eggs or a can of flaked tuna or in fact anything you might like to eat sandwiched in puff pastry - let your imagination run riot!

Friday, 14 August 2009

Technical Hitch

I've been off-line for about a week, problems with the PC which the Handyman is addressing - bless him for his many and varied skills! So no photos on this blog at the moment but some to follow the meantime you'll just have to use your imagination...

Ladies Who Lunch

My friend and colleague, G, came over for lunch last Friday. Her first visit to HG, so I thought I'd make use of some kitchen garden produce to provide us with a light but lovely lunch.
We started with Carrot and Coriander soup then followed up with Roasted Beetroot and Stilton salad with locally made crusty brown bread. The salad was simple to make, especially as I had prepared the beetroot the previous evening, and just right for an August lunch.

When trimming the beetroot for cooking twist the leafy stalks off rather than cutting them. This will ensure that you don't damage the skin of the beetroot and they don't 'bleed' into the water whilst cooking. I wash the beetroot thoroughly and leave the long tail of the root in place whilst cooking (for the same reason as twisting the stalks), then remove it with the skin once the beetroot is cooked and cool enough to handle. You do end up with pretty pink fingers, but by the time you've washed up the cooking pot (no dishwasher in this house) your hand-colour will have returned to normal.

So here's the way to make enough for two...

Roasted Beetroot and Stilton Salad
I bunch freshly pulled HG beetroot, about 300g

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp
crème fraiche
1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon creamed horseradish sauce (I added a bit more after tasting)
salad leaves - whatever you've got in the fridge or in the garden
75g Stilton cheese, crumbled

Preheat the oven to gas mark 7, 220
oC. In a pan, cover the beetroot in cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, then drain and peel the beetroot. Toss the beetroot in 1 tbsp of olive oil and season.

Place the beetroot in a small roasting tin and cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, make the dressing: whisk together the remaining olive oil, crème fraiche, wine vinegar and horseradish. Season to taste. This makes about twice the amount of dressing you will need for two people - so you can reserve some of the dressing for use next day. (I added the left over dressing to a couscous salad next day - delicious!)

Toss the salad leaves and crumbled Stilton in the dressing. Arrange salad on 2 serving plates.

Remove the beetroot from the oven and cut into wedges/quarters. Arrange the beetroot on top of the salad, drizzle with a little more of the dressing and serve with brown crusty bread. (You can use the beetroot cold, as I did, having prepared it beforehand. Whatever you do don't use pickled beetroot).

G and I had a lovely afternoon, the weather was kind to us and we spent the whole time in the garden, much more like a Summer event. I'm sure sitting in the sunshine in the garden with the bees buzzing away contentedly made the food taste even better. Good food, good company and sunshine - what more could, or should, a person ask for!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Tomatoes and Herbs

I was searching for inspiration tonight to use some pepperoni sausages bought on impulse at the weekend. I also had a craving to eat pasta, so the following recipe was the result. A simple and tasty meal for two...

Pasta Bake with Pepperoni, HG Tomatoes and HG Garden Herbs

(other tomatoes and herbs may be used but I can't guarantee the flavour!)
100g pasta (penne or similar)
75g pancetta, cubed
80g pepperoni or other spicy sausage, cut into chunky slices
400g chopped, deseeded and skinned HG tomatoes (or tinned chopped tomatoes)
1 generous tablespoon HG parsley, finely chopped
1 generous teaspoon HG rosemary, finely chopped
Pinch of crushed chillies
1/3 cup double cream
25g fresh breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons parmesan, grated

Dry fry the pancetta and pepperoni until the pancetta is quite crisp (a pinch of crushed chillies may be added at this point). Remove the pancetta and pepperoni from the pan and pour away the oil. Add the tomatoes, parsley and rosemary to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in boiling water for 7 minutes.

Add the cream to the tomato and stir well to combine. Add the pancetta and pepperoni to the tomato sauce and simmer for 3-4 minutes to slightly reduce the sauce. Add the drained
pasta to the sauce and mix well.

Pour the pasta mixture into a ovenproof dish (lasagne or gratin dish). Cover with the breadcrumbs and then with the grated parmesan. Place under a preheated grill for 5 minutes until parmesan is golden.

Serve with a green salad and garlic bread - yum, yum!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Carrot and Coriander Soup

August and the weather is the same as most of July; wet and too cool for summer. So thoughts turn from gardening to cooking and what to do with the carrot crop.

My coriander didn't fair too well this year so I bought a bunch from our local market and with the Holly Grove carrots and tomatoes I thought a Carrot and Coriander soup would fit the bill.

Carrot and Coriander Soup

1 large onion, sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable or rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1lb HG carrots, sliced
8ozs HG ripe tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped (or a tin of chopped tomatoes)
2 pints vegetable stock
1 large bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped (unfortunately not HG)
Several shakes of Tabasco sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the onion and fry gently to soften, do not allow to brown. This will take about 5-10 minutes. Add the coriander powder to the onion and heat through. Transfer the onion mix to a soup pot and add the carrots, tomatoes and vegetable stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the carrots are tender, about 30-40 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat and liquidise. Return soup to pot and add Tabasco sauce, salt, pepper and the chopped coriander, reserving a little for a garnish. Heat through and then serve in bowls topped with a swirl of Greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of the reserved chopped coriander and good crusty brown bread. Enjoy!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Rhubarb Ginger Muffins

Today just became a baking day...comforting to be in the kitchen when the weather isn't fine enough for the jobs I have to do in the garden. I found this recipe in one of J's cookery books when I visited last weekend and it gives me a chance to use some HG rhubarb in a slightly different way from the usual pies and crumbles. The muffins turned out light and retained some of the rhubarb's tartness alongside the ginger spice - give them a try and you won't be disappointed.

Rhubarb and Ginger Muffins

300g self-raising flour

2 tsps ground ginger
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt
140g castor sugar

150g fresh rhubarb, finely diced

1 egg, lightly beaten
150ml semi-skimmed milk
150ml crème fraiche
4 tblsps vegetable oil
1 tblsp demerara sugar

Heat the oven to
gas mark 5/190oC/375oF/fan oven 170oC. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper muffin cases. Mix together all of the dry ingredients (except the demerara sugar) in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the diced rhubarb.

In a separate bowl mix together the egg, milk, crème fraiche and vegetable oil. Add this to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix briefly until just combined. Spoon the batter into the muffin cases and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.

These muffins freeze well for up to one month.
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