Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

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

Blackberry jelly

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

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Homemade blackberry jelly in jars

Wild fruit has been bountiful this year. During the month of August we foraged over 4 kilos of blackberries. We could have had much, much more; but it was all we could fit in our freezer. Besides, we didn’t want to be greedy – we left lots for other people and hungry birds.

We make blackberry jelly and mixed berry jelly every year; along with a few jars of wild raspberry jelly if we harvest enough of those. Blackberry jelly isn’t the kind of thing you can normally pick jars up of in the supermarkets. I’ve no idea why, it’s dark and delicious and doesn’t cost much to make. All you have to fork out for is some white sugar and a few lemons!

I normally use a recipe in my old Cordon Bleu Preserving recipe book, but this time I found the dead easy Quick Bramble Jelly recipe in Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course.

Next week Thursday, our Cakes & Bakes post will be about what we’ve been eating our jelly with. Stay tuned! :-)

Blackberry jelly

Blackberry jelly


  • 1 kilo blackberries
  • 1 kilo granulated sugar
  • 3 lemons, un-waxed


  1. Rinse & drain the blackberries in a colander in the sink
  2. Put the berries into a heavy-based saucepan or preserving pan with 400ml/14 fl oz of water and cook on a low heat with a lid on for 20-25 minutes
  3. Occasionally give them a mash to reduce them to pulp and squeeze as much juice out of them as possible
  4. Still on a low heat, add the sugar and squeezed lemons (the entire lemon - seeds, juice and actual lemon!) to the pan and stir until all the sugar has dissolved completely (about 10-15 minutes)
  5. Turn the heat right up and boil fairly rapidly for 8-10 minutes, stirring now and then to prevent it from sticking to the base of the pan
  6. Carefully pour or ladle the blackberry mixture into a jelly strainer set over a large heat-proof bowl or saucepan (you could also use a square of muslin set into a strainer over the bowl/saucepan)
  7. Using a wooden spoon, get all the liquid through as quickly as possible, squeezing the remaining pulp as much as you can - but do be quick, as the jelly sets if you take too long (if it does begin to set before you've had a chance to put it into the jar, just gently reheat it)
  8. Decant the jelly into sterilised jars, cover with waxed discs and allow to cool before screwing the lids down tightly
  9. They should store for a year or more

Cakes & Bakes: Skillet cornbread

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

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sliced skillet cornbread

When I was researching skillet cornbread recipes online, I learned that there are some strong beliefs about what is and isn’t ‘proper’ skillet cornbread. There are lots of heated debates going on on some food blogs!

Some people are purists, saying that it’s made with just cornmeal, buttermilk and egg in a smoking skillet with bacon grease; no wheat flour and no ‘extras’! Others see nothing wrong with adding sugar, corn kernels, jalapeños, avocado, bacon, cheese, honey…

Maybe it’s because I’m not an American from the Deep South, I’m not averse to adding a few extras. I also like slicing it horizontally while it’s still warm and slathering it with butter. Is that wrong or do they do that in Louisiana too?

Cakes & Bakes: Skillet cornbread

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: Serves 6-8

Cakes & Bakes: Skillet cornbread


  • 1 fresh jalapeño chilli
  • 2tbs vegetable oil
  • 225g/8oz fine cornmeal (polenta)
  • 50g/2oz plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • ½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1 corn cob
  • 1 egg
  • 250g/9oz buttermilk


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/
  2. Finely slice the chilli - do not remove the seeds
  3. In the skillet, using 1 tbs of the vegetable oil, fry the chopped chilli over a low heat until softened. Remove from the skillet and set aside
  4. Sift together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl
  5. Slice the kernels from the cob and add to the dry mixture
  6. Add the cooked chilli
  7. Gently whisk the egg with the buttermilk before adding it to the mixture
  8. Stir the mixture until well combined
  9. Heat the skillet with the remaining 1tbs vegetable oil on the stove-top over a high heat
  10. Add the mixture, using a spatula to spread it evenly in the skillet
  11. Put the skillet into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the top begins to lightly brown
  12. Allow to cool slightly before slicing & serving

Cakes & Bakes: Paratha

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

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Paratha with curry & rice

When we order an Indian takeaway we always include a portion of breads to go with our curries. Our favourite is paratha – an unleavened, fried flatbread made with wholemeal flour. The name originates from the words parat and atta which means layers of cooked dough.

They can sometimes be made stuffed with vegetables, paneer or potatoes (aloo). We prefer them plain – and this time I’ve made half the batch studded with pan fried cumin seeds (geera).

Traditionally they’re cooked on a tawa but a large, cast iron frying pan will do. If you don’t want to eat all the parathas in one go, you can prepare the dough up to stage 10 and freeze the extra. Just place each circle between 2 pieces of parchment paper, stack them one on top of the other, wrap in cling film or zip-lock bag and store flat.

Cakes & Bakes: Paratha

Yield: Serves 8

Cakes & Bakes: Paratha


  • 450g plain flour (I used an equal amount of chapatti flour) + a little extra for dusting
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt
  • 350ml water (approx)
  • 45g ghee, clarified butter or vegetable oil
  • 1tsp cumin seeds (geera)
  • 55g vegetable oil for brushing


  1. Sift together the flour, baking powder & salt
  2. Add enough of the water to form a smooth, soft dough
  3. Knead well and leave to relax for ½ hour covered with a damp cloth
  4. In a small frying pan over a medium heat, dry fry the cumin seeds for about 3 minutes, shaking continuously to stop burning. Set aside
  5. After the dough has relaxed, re-knead and divide into four balls (loyah)
  6. Flour surface and roll out each dough ball into 20-23cm/8-9inch circle
  7. Sprinkle half the dough with the cumin seeds
  8. Spread with some ghee and sprinkle with a little flour
  9. Cut rolled dough circles from centre to edge. Roll each tightly into a cone. Press the peak of the cone into the centre and flatten. Leave to rest for 30 minutes
  10. Flour the surface again and roll out the dough very thinly with a rolling pin
  11. Cook on a moderately hot, greased tawa/frying pan for 1 minute
  12. Turn over, brush with ghee/oil and cook for another minute
  13. As each one is cooked, stack on top of each other, wrap them in a clean tea towel and move on to the next
  14. Eat immediately

Simple home made paneer

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

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Cubed home made paneer | H is for Home

I’m a regular stalker of the discounted shelves and fridges in our local supermarket. I’m very strict though, I only ever pick something up that I would have bought anyway. On a recent late evening trip to Morrisons, I saw a 4-pint bottle of whole organic milk for 89p down from £1.84. We don’t generally use full fat milk, and we never buy it in such large quantities, but I knew that I wanted to try making home made paneer.

Paneer is a simple curd cheese – similar to cottage cheese, mascarpone and quark – that relies on acid rather than rennet to form. From earlier research I knew that only full fat milk really works – and you need a fair amount of milk to make a big enough portion of paneer worth the process. You also need the acid which separates the curds from the whey. This can be in the form of natural yoghurt, citric acid, lemon juice or vinegar.

The process was like a doing a school science experiment. Heat the milk in a big saucepan, add the acid, stir and the alchemy of the separating liquid from solid happened instantaneously! I knew it was simple to do – but didn’t realise it was that simple. Why hadn’t I done it before? Paneer costs about £7 per kilo in the shops – when you can actually get hold of it that is!

We used some of it when making a curry and some of it like you would ricotta, in a spinach & paneer lasagne. We saved the whey and used it in place of the water when making a dhal. It made the dish slightly sweeter, creamier and tastier.

Here’s how I made it…

Simple home made paneer

Simple home made paneer


  • 4 pints/2 litres full cream milk
  • 150g plain natural yoghurt
  • 2tsp white wine vinegar
  • or 1½tsp powdered citric acid
  • or 1½tsp lemon juice
  • ½tsp salt


  1. Sterilise a large piece of muslin, cheesecloth (or a lint-free glass cloth like I used) by putting it into a pan/heatproof bowl and covering it completely with boiling water from a kettle
  2. Using tongs, remove the cloth from the water and spread it over a metal colander
  3. If you plan on using the whey, put the colander into a large mixing bowl so that all the liquid can be collected
  4. Put the milk into a heavy-bottomed pan and heat to boiling stirring regularly to prevent it burning
  5. When it begins to bubble, add the yoghurt and vinegar turn off the heat and stir. The curds should separate from the whey
  6. Set aside until cool enough to handle
  7. Pour the contents of the saucepan into the cloth covered colander
  8. Remove the colander from the mixing bowl, put the colander into the kitchen sink and carefully rinse the curds
  9. Sprinkle evenly with salt
  10. Take up the corners of the cloth into your hands and twist & squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible
  11. Form the cloth into a block shape - ( I put the cloth into a DIY 'mould', a plastic container that some mushrooms came in that I punched holes in the bottom of )
  12. Weigh it down with something heavy ( I put a jar of dried split peas into an identical mushroom container and popped that on top )
  13. Put the paneer on to an under-plate and refrigerate with the weight still on top for about half an hour
  14. The paneer is ready to cut into cubes to be used or can be removed from the cloth, covered in clingfilm/saran wrap and left in the fridge for up to 5 days