Monday, 12 October 2009

Bottling Green Sunshine

My sister has given me 11 lbs of green tomatoes - a casualty of our deeply rubbish and very grey summer here in the North West. However, all is not lost because green tomatoes make the most wonderful chutney! So am chopping and stirring madly to turn it all into green sunshine in a jar. If you have some tomatoes of your own that haven't quite ripened - have a go at this recipe:

4lbs green tomatoes, 2lbs cooking apples, 1/2 lb onions, 3 garlic cloves, 1lb sultanas, 2 oz ginger, 2 tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp crushed chillis, 2lbs demerara sugar, 1 tbsp salt, 1 & 1/2 pints vinegar.

Heat a frying pan and add mustard seeds to toast gently for 1 minute. Transfer to a pestle & mortar and crush lightly. Chop tomatoes, onions and apples roughly. Crush garlic with salt and grate ginger. Put everything into a big preserving pan and slowly bring to simmering point. Leave to cook gently for 3 hours - stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. It will become thick and soft. Don't let it completely dry out - it will be ready when you can draw a spoon through the mixture and it leaves a clear channel with no vinegar in it. Boil the kettle and pour hot water into your jars to sterilise. Upend, pouring out the water and put into a low oven to dry out. Pot up your chutney and seal. Put away for 1 month before eating. Will keep for a year unopened.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Farmers Market Woolton

Shopping for food in a farmers market is a marvellous thing - even better when you get to sample stuff before you buy. Today's booty included peanut butter fudge (wrong but so right - if you like salted caramels and a sweet & savoury flavour mix - you'd love it); organic beef burgers; natural smoked haddock; farmhouse butter and more of Sandra Dee's lovely rye bread. Wasn't just there to shop my friend Emma and I run our own stall selling our handmade jams, curds & chutneys. Today's bestsellers - pumpkin & ginger chutney, apple & chilli jelly, lime curd & very berry jam.

Friday, 9 October 2009

let them eat cake

Been a bit miserable of late (as my friends will know - sorry everyone!) but the one thing that always makes me more chirpy and helps me forget the world is cooking. It's cold and grey outside and I am on my last day of my two week break from work. So there's nothing for it but to head into the (half painted kitchen - I can't reach the top bit - any offers from tall people gladly accepted) and bake a cake. I'm not sure what it says about me that I always have the ingredients to hand to bake a cake - I'd like to think it's because I'm nurturing and motherly but I think it's probably more to do with greed! My favourite cake recipe is a drizzle cake by Nigel Slater. I've made this cake so much I know the recipe off by heart - give it a go and let your home fill with the scent of delicious cakeyness (not a word but you know what I mean).

200g butter, 200g caster sugar - cream together well until light and fluffy. Add the zest of either 1 orange or 2 large lemons. Add 3 eggs. Stir well. Fold in 200g self raising flour. Spoon into either an 8 inch round cake tin or a 2lb loaf tin that you've buttered and lined with greaseproof paper. Put in a preheated oven at 180C (or 160 fan) for 40 - 50 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Meantime measure out 125g demerara sugar or granulated sugar and add the juice of whichever citrus fruit you've used. Stir well til the sugar crystals dissolve. Stab cake with a fork or skewer all over and pour over citrus & sugar mix. Leave to cook before you remove from the tin or it might fall apart. Eat as a teatime treat or a delicious dessert with cream.... and then feel a whole lot more cheerful!

Autumnal Feasts

Mushrooms on Toast - using delicious dark rye bread from Sandra Dee's bakery. Chop a small onion finely and cook gently with one clove of garlic (also finely chopped) with a knob of butter. Add a few torn sage leaves, or rosemary needles or thyme (whatever you have to hand). Slice mushrooms roughly (use a mix if you can - about 100 - 150g depending upon how hungry you are). Saute with onion & garlic and season well with salt and white pepper. Add a splash of sherry, brandy or madeira and bubble up to cook off alcohol. Add a tbsp of flour and stir well. Cook for a couple of minutes to cook out the starch and add cream or creme fraiche. Stir well till thickened and then spoon generously over toast. Eat!