Archive for the ‘cookery’ Category

Preserved plums

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

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washed plums in an aluminium colander

Justin’s parents’ neighbours have a few different fruit trees in their garden. In the past couple of years, we’ve had some of the harvest. Last year we made spiced apple chutney, the year before apple cheese. This year, we picked almost 5 kilos of plums – the sweetest, ripest plums we’d ever tasted!

spiced plum chutney ingredients

We both ate half a dozen each in a couple of days but we would never be able to work our way through many before before they began to get over-ripe. I’d already made jars upon jars of fruit jam & jelly this year, so I turned half into spiced plum chutney and half into plum jam.

bottled spiced plum chutney

I used recipes from the good old Cordon Bleu Preserving recipe book for both.

stoning plums

The job of stoning was a monotonous, boring job but the resulting preserves were well worth the toil!

plums with spice mixture

When the chutney was cooking the house was filled with the most delicious smell – I wish I could bottle that alone!

Here’s the spiced plum chutney recipe:

1⅓kg/3lb plums
1tbs ground ginger
1tbs ground allspice
2tbs ground mustard seeds
2tbs dried chilli flakes
10 cloves
30g/1oz salt
425ml/¾pt white malt or white wine vinegar
450g/1lb soft brown sugar

  1. Wash & stone the plums and put them in a pan with the ginger, allspice, mustard seeds and chilli flakes
  2. Tie the cloves in a muslin bag and add to the pan
  3. Add the salt and 300ml/½pt of the vinegar
  4. Simmer gently until the plums are soft (about 3 hours)
  5. Put the sugar into a large measuring jug/basin with the remaining vinegar and leave to dissolve. Add to the plums when cooked
  6. Bring to the boil and allow to boil gently until thick (about another 2 hours)
  7. Pour into warm, sterilised jars and screw down immediately
  8. Leave for 4-5 weeks before using

softened plums in a saucepan

And here’s the jam recipe

2.75kg/6lb plums
300ml/½pt water
3kg/6½lb granulated or preserving sugar

  1. Wash the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones
  2. Tie half the stones in muslin
  3. Place the fruit in a preserving pan with the water and cook gently until tender
  4. Add the sugar and heat gently until dissolved
  5. Add the bag of stones
  6. Boil rapidly for about 25 minutes or until the jam sets when tested
  7. Remove the bag of stones and pour the jam into warm, dry sterilised jars. Cover and tie down

plum jam boiling in a saucepan

It’s a deliciously sweet accompaniment to morning croissants.

croissant with plum jam

Mushroom pâté

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

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Home made mushroom pâté being decanted into jars

A few weeks ago on Instagram, I was singing the praises of a delicious porcini mushroom pâté that I’d discovered in Lidl. We had a punnet of mushrooms that needed to be used up so I thought I might try my hand at making my own pâté.

I flipped through a few of our cookbooks for a recipe and soon found one in a little booklet supplement that came with the Guardian weekend newspaper, many moons ago. It was a taster from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Mushrooms: River Cottage Handbook No.1.

I altered the recipe slightly, substituting the butter and garlic for 50 grams of wild garlic butter that I whipped up the previous week. A very simple and easy to make recipe. You can use foraged wild mushrooms (so long as you’re absolutely sure they’re not a poisonous variety); dried mushrooms such as porcini, chanterelle, morel or a mixture; chestnut or just plain ol’ closed cup white mushrooms.

Mushroom pâté

Yield: makes 350g/12oz

Mushroom pâté

Ingredients

  • 250g/9oz mushrooms
  • 30g/1oz butter
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
  • 250g/9oz cream cheese
  • sea salt & cracked black pepper to season
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Instructions

  1. Clean and trim the mushrooms before slicing thinly
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat
  3. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until softened stirring to stop it sticking to the bottom of the pan
  4. Cook until the liquid released by the mushrooms all but evaporates (10-15 minutes)
  5. Allow to cool before spooning into a mini-food processor and blitzing for 20-30 seconds
  6. Add the cream cheese to the food processor and blitz again until well combined
  7. Season with sea salt & cracked black pepper to taste
  8. Decant into sterilised jars and refrigerate. Once opened, consume within 7 days

Notes

Delicious slathered over freshly-baked ciabatta!

http://hisforhomeblog.com/cookery/mushroom-pate/

Fudge two ways

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

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squares of plain fudge and rum & raisin fudge | H is for Home

The first & last time I made fudge I was about 12 years old. The only way I could get it to set was to stick it in the freezer for a few hours. It wasn’t exactly inedible, but it was bad enough to put me off attempting it again until now.

Just like our taste in ice cream, Justin & I differ in our taste in fudge. He likes it plain, I like mine stuffed full of fruit, nuts, chocolate and alcohol! To please us both, I made a normal portion of basic mix, divided it into two and made one half into rum & raisin fudge.

I used the basic recipe I found on the Carnation website. I’m already thinking of folding some of this fudge into some of my home-made vanilla ice cream – what do you think?

Fudge two ways

Yield: 24 squares

Fudge two ways

Ingredients

  • 115g/4oz raisins
  • 2 tbs dark rum
  • 397g/14oz can condensed milk
  • 150ml/5¼ fl oz milk
  • 450g/16oz Demerara sugar
  • 115g/4oz butter
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Instructions

  1. Soak the raisins in the dark rum for at least an hour
  2. Line the base & sides of two 18cm/7inch square cake tins with baking/parchment paper
  3. Put all the remaining ingredients into a large non-stick, heavy-bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and stir with a wooden spoon until all the sugar dissolves
  4. Bring to a boil and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring continuously and scraping the base of the pan
  5. Using a food thermometer, make sure the mixture reaches 118°C/240ºF
  6. Remove from the heat and beat with the wooden spoon until it thickens & begins to set ( this should take about 10 minutes )
  7. Put half of the mixture into one of the lined tins, using the back of a metal tablespoon to get it into the corners and levelled out
  8. Add the rum and raisins to the other half of the mixture and put back over a medium heat for another 5 minutes or until it begins to thicken up again
  9. Put the mixture into the other lined tin, again using the back of a metal tablespoon
  10. Allow to cool completely before turning out on to a chopping board and cutting into squares
  11. You can store the fudge for up to a week in (separate) airtight containers
http://hisforhomeblog.com/cookery/fudge-two-ways/

A short break for shortbread!

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

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plate of shortbread tails with mug of tea and vintage shortbread tin

You only need a short break to make this shortbread as it takes about 15 minutes preparation and a mere twenty minutes or so in the oven – delicious, homemade buttery biscuits in less than an hour. It also gives us the opportunity to use some of our favourite household objects.

vintage wooden shortbread mould

 The first is this lovely vintage wooden biscuit mould. It makes the perfect-sized shortbread to last a couple of days with just a nice touch of decoration around the edge.

homemade shortbread round

The second object is this gorgeous vintage 1960s Jacob’s biscuit tin. We really love the stylised thistle decoration made up of various Scottish tartans – and the biscuit round fits perfectly inside.

vintage shortbread tin

And last but not least, a favourite spotty mug – filled with strong afternoon tea of course – the perfect accompaniment!

plate of shortbread tails with mug of tea and vintage shortbread tin

Here’s the Scottish shortbread recipe we published last year.

Go wild for ramsons!

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

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handful of ramson leaves in a aluminium colander

The bright green, spear-shaped leaves of ramsons start poking through the earth in early spring. They’re often found in ancient woodland, thickly carpeting the floor and exuding a pungent garlicky odour into the air.

ramson butter in a mini food processor and small glass bowl

There’s a small patch near our house from where we occasionally pick a handful leaves. After a quick rinse under a cold tap and a pat on some kitchen roll, a couple of thinly sliced leaves add an extra zing to a plain omelette or a warm, grilled cheese croissant.

slices of crusty bread grilled with ramson butter

Try whizzing half a pack of softened butter (125gms) with about a dozen or so leaves in a mini food processor. It’s really quick and is perfect for adding to sauces, pan fried mushrooms or spreading on slices of a crusty loaf to make an alternative version of garlic bread!

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