Do you get to feeling nibbly late afternoon? Does your mouth start watering as you fantasise about stuffing large handfuls of salt and vinegar chips into your mouth alongside stacks of delicious lovely cheese? Well, friends, have I got a deal for you. Because while […]
I am busy looking after my garden, or is it looking after me? It’s working hard, growing many of my favourite treats, including raspberries, zucchinis and cucumbers. My rangy, imperfect little beginner’s garden is very restorative. I can nurture my plants and enjoy some success, […]
Cheese is pretty much my number one indulgence when it comes to Christmas. I don’t say indulgence with the purpose of getting all judgmental about food (far from it – one of my main approaches in my blog is to enjoy all food without fads or fashion). I say it because at Christmas I indulge my culinary curiosity by selecting a cheese or two to share with my family and loved ones, something special or unusual that I wouldn’t have just any old day. I’ve found some true favourites over the years, including Kingsmeade Blue and Over the Moon Goat Cheese.
Not that this post is about cheese, but rather one of my favourite condiments, the mighty chutney. I don’t know about you but I find it hard to think about chutney without thoughts of a lovely great slab of cheese, preferably something strong or sharp.
I used to be terrified of making chutney. The dire warnings of my childhood about boiling sugar, coupled with the fact that you had to sterilise jars, made me think it was way out of my league. Slowly but surely however I have grown my chutney confidence.
This recipe is a good one for Christmas because it is just that little bit special to go with little-bit-special cheese. It’s quite sweet and the brandy gives it a touch of something festive. Red currants, combined with peaches, makes it appropriately festive for our Antipodean Summer Christmas, and I am very lucky to have a batch of currants to hand from my sister’s beautiful garden.
Believe me, making chutney is out of nobody’s league. Need a gift at the last minute? Chutney. Have to contribute something for a holiday season dinner? Chutney. If you can make sauce you can make chutney – just put all of the ingredients in a pan and boil.
Happy Christmas everyone, I hope it’s restful and fun.
1kg peaches, stones removed and cut into chunks
1/2 C red currants (dried are perfectly fine if you can’t get hold of fresh ones)
1 C brown sugar
1 C malt vinegar
100 mls brandy
2 t chilli powder
2 t five spice powder
1 t yellow mustard seeds
1 cinnamon stick
5 cardamom pods, squashed so the seeds can escape during cooking
Place all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for approximately one hour, stirring from time to time, until the mixture thickens.
Remove from the heat, spoon into sterilised jars and seal.
I’m in excellent company – Wallace, Gromit and I all love Wensleydale cheese. Crumbly, dense and savoury, Wensleydale originates from Wensleydale, Yorkshire, where it began life as a ewes milk cheese made by French Cistercian monks. It’s now made across the UK from cow’s milk, […]
Sometimes you just need some gently savoury food in your life, for comfort’s sake. I have felt this way recently. Freshly-baked bread, cheese scones, pulses and hot drinks are the order of the day. Infused oils are an excellent way to pep up most of the above (with the obvious exclusion of hot drinks. Tea and garlic oil? Thanks, but no thanks).
I always love having a stash of nice oils in my pantry. They look pretty and give me a happy little pang of satisfaction to see them all lined up as I scan the cupboard waiting for inspiration. I really love infusing oils – your house fills with a lovely aroma of chilli, garlic, basil, rosemary, or whatever other delights you are preparing for your oil. It’s an excellent way to use up old bottles rather than consign them to the recycling, and a bottle of infused oil makes a lovely gift.
I chose garlic most recently because a number of after-work meals on high rotation in our kitchen benefit from some garlic. I am, thankfully and mercifully, very tolerant of garlic and other members of the allium family. My beloved husband, however, needs more FODMAP-y fare. Garlic oil is an excellent helper in this regard.
When reading about infusing oils, there is some excitement out there about about the low risk of botulism. So please keep this in the fridge – I swear it will be fine, but I would hate to be responsible for an outbreak of botulism amongst WordPress readers!
To make this I used:
250ml rice bran oil – olive oil is completely lush with garlic too, but as this batch was largely to accompany other flavours, I used a lighter oil
1 head of garlic
1 glass bottle, sterilised (freaked me out the first time I sterilised bottles and jars but actually really truly simple and you will feel like a domestic goddess
Also on hand – a fry pan and a sieve
Cut the bottom off your garlic head, remove each clove and peel it. Squash each clove with the flat part of a large knife, so some of the flavour can be released when cooking in the oil.
Place your pan over a medium heat. Once warm, add approximately two tablespoons of the oil. Allow to heat.
Add the garlic to the oil and stir to coat. Once it is bubbling add the rest of the oil.
Allow to heat gently, stirring from time to time, for about half an hour. Try not to let the garlic colour.
Take off the heat and cool. When cool, strain through a sieve into a jug and then bottle. You can leave the garlic cloves in and indeed I love it like this – you just have to use it up a little quicker, and it’s not so good for those who can’t tolerate garlic.
Store in your fridge. It is goes a bit cloudy and viscous due to the cold, simply stand in some hot water to return to pourability.
One of the delightful things about days off, along with gleefully sitting around in your pants for as long as you fancy and not removing your slippers EVER, is ample amounts of time to whip up special treats for favourite people. My lovely Mum’s birthday fell during my recent holiday between jobs. I took some time out of my busy slippers-wearing schedule to make a special salad for a shared birthday lunch.
I’ll admit I was slow to the chargrilled vegetable trend. Burnt, I thought. And a lot of fiddling around just to achieve something that’s usually an accident. What’s wrong with a little light steaming or boiling and some butter? Vegetables are getting ahead of themselves.
But then one night I spent a decent amount of time making Ottolenghi’s roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon. And alongside this recipe in his book ‘Ottolenghi: The Cookbook‘ (a gloriously red, weighty tome) he casually mentions it might go well with some of his chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic. And so I came to be a chargrilled vegetable convert.
Chargrilling veges gets a little smokey sure, but it well makes up for it with the lovely flavour. I am lucky enough to have a huge ridged cast iron pan, a beast of a thing that could no doubt deliver quite the wallop to any burglar, given that I don’t keep any other weaponry to hand, and this is very good for chargrilling the veges. I have used a non-stick pan for chargrilling too however and it works fine, so don’t worry if you don’t have any cast iron to hand.
My humble little salad cannot claim to even touch the sides of the hallowed Ottolenghi, but I do hope you’ll give it a try. The chargrilled broccoli spreads its lovely smokiness throughout, which makes it perfect for Autumn and Winter, and the addition of the butter beans means it’s substantial enough for by itself if you wish. It’s really not hard to do – I promise you’ll have most of the ingredients to hand. We had it for my Mum’s birthday with thick slices of fresh bread and hummus, but it’s equally tasty with a little grilled meat.
1 head of broccoli cut into florets
Olive oil for the pan, plus another 2T
1 tin of butter beans
Juice of half a lemon
Flaky sea salt
Pinch of chilli flakes
2 handfuls of mixed salad leaves, for example spinach and rocket
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, broken into pieces
Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil. Add the broccoli and cook for three minutes. Drain thoroughly and allow to dry, using a tea towel to speed things up if necessary. It needs to get nice and dry or it will pop and fizz badly when you chargrill it.
While you wait for the broccoli to dry off, open the tin of butter beans, drain and rinse thoroughly. Set aside.
Lightly grease the frypan with a little oil – just a little, mind. Keeping the pan quite dry is what enables the chargrilled effect. Put over a high heat and let it get really hot.
Using tongs, lay out the broccoli (you may need to do this in several batches depending on the size of your fry pan). Use tongs to turn each floret, allowing it to get chargrill marks.
Whisk together the remaining 2T of olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt and chilli flakes. Add the salad leaves, drained beans, toasted walnut halves and broccoli to your serving bowl. Tip over the dressing and toss to combine.