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Archive for October, 2010

October ’Meanderings’ …

October was a month of plenty in the garden and on our local market and I now have a well stocked cupboard with jars of chutney, relishes, pickles and a few jams for the winter months.  Here are just a few of the new additions to my repertoire, including the ever popular Tomato Relish (which is usually gone almost as soon as it is made), plus a few more recipes to be added in November and December (Pickled Pears, Pickled Prunes and Suet Free Mincemeat).  I have also made more stocks of our favourites: Beetroot Chutney, Red Pepper Chutney, Cucumber ‘Bread & Butter Pickle, and just before Christmas, Cranberry & Orange Relish.   A couple of additional seasonal recipes too using apples, one savoury and one sweet.

Recipes this month

Tomato Relish                       Spiced Rhubarb Orange Chutney

Sloe & Apple Jelly                                Fennel & Apple Chutney

Surprise Lemon & Ginger Jam                               Crab Apple Jelly

Crab Apple Cheese

Somerset Chicken                                              Apple Mousse

All images ©’Meanderings through my Cookbook’ http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com/

Bookshelf Meanderings: One book I turn to time and time again when making preserves, pickles and similar is The Penguin Book of Jams, Pickles & Chutneys by David & Rose Mabey, which comes from the mid 1970’s but is no longer published, as far as I can see.  I was fortunate enough to pick my copy up for a very small outlay, less than £1 I seem to remember, so I recommend you keep a lookout in charity shops and on sales stalls.  The content of the book is wide ranging giving fascinating historical background information for anyone interested in more than just recipes.  The first part covers storing, drying, salting and preserving fruit and vegetables.  The second part gives recipes for pickles, flavoured vinegars, chutneys, ketchups, sauces, jams, jellies, butters, cheeses, marmalades and a final chapter containing unusual items such as candied fruit and flowers, flavoured honeys and fruit curds.  There are a number of recipes on this site which originated in the book including the Basic Recipe for Fruit Curds, Sloe & Apple Jelly, Crab Apple Jelly, Crab Apple Cheese and Pickled Prunes.  Other recipes I am keen to try are: Pickled Red Cabbage, Pickled Plums, Piccalilli (from this or another recipe – or perhaps a combination) and Mushroom Ketchup.

Blogosphere Meanderings: I cannot remember where I first came across Tinyinc, which has a mixture of cooking and crafts, but I think it must have been a link or recommendation from another site.  I was drawn to the jam recipe for Marrow & Ginger Jam, which is absolutely delicious.  You would never guess that the secret ingredient is marrow or courgette so I renamed it Surprise Lemon & Ginger Jam.  If you are knitter you will love the knitted hot water bottle covers, like little sweaters and the ruched checkerboard tea cosies, just like the one my Grandma used to have on her teapot.  The writer is based in North East England and mentions places I remember from when I lived in Durham, with the occasional familiar looking photo.

Entertaining Meanderings: For a family Sunday lunch to celebrate a birthday I served Gingered Glazed Ham with a selection of roast vegetables, followed by fresh figs baked in filo pastry parcels.  This last recipe is a work in progress: although the little parcels of baked fig with their twisted pastry tops looked pretty, I felt the flavour of the figs inside needed improving. A little later I baked figs using a different recipe, which included rose water and honey which would make a much better filling.  I will be trying this again, but the fresh fig season is now over so it will have to wait for another year.

Restaurant Meanderings: Stoke Bruerne on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire is a peaceful place to wander with cottages, cafes and restaurants, including two pubs, plus The Stoke Bruerne Canal Museum.  There are always brightly painted canal boats, some waiting to go through the locks or the long Blisworth Tunnel at the end of the canalside walk.  We ate a very enjoyable and reasonably priced meal at The Navigation Inn, a typical busy pub restaurant beside the canal.

——

‘For what we are about to receive…’ November 2010

Coming in November … recipes for vegetable side dishes plus, thinking towards Christmas, Pickled Pears to accompany cold cuts at tea time and a wonderful recipe for a boozy and Suet Free Mincemeat.
Happy Cooking & Eating! 
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A few weeks ago we went to a church shared lunch.  I took Le Far Breton which was much enjoyed.  Gwyn, one of the church members took this delicious and refreshing Apple Mousse.  She said it was very simple, so we exchanged recipes.  When she emailed me the instructions Gwyn wrote:

“My recipe was cut out of a magazine many years ago.  As a young keen housewife, I used to find easy good recipes which I cut out of magazines and stuck into an old school exercise book. I still dig it out of the archives occasionally, but it is a bit dilapidated now!  Of course, times have changed, and I sometimes get recipes from the internet now.” 

Actually I confess that I have a file of cut outs from old magazines as well – and also now get recipes from the internet.  I expect we are both not alone.  Gwyn said she got the recipe from a magazine and I discovered I had something that looks identical in my own cuttings file.  In my case the recipe seems to come from a leaflet advertising British apples.  I wonder … it may even be the same source!

This is my own slight variation of Gwyn’s recipe.  Her original used a lemon block type jelly and for a double quantity Gwyn recommended using one lemon and one lime jelly, mainly for the apple-green colouring.  (I suppose two half jellies could be used, reserving the two remaining halves for another occasion.)   I discovered that Hartleys make sachets of Lemon & Lime sugar free jelly and found these to be ideal.  If I make jelly I mostly use sachets rather than blocks.  These need no extra sweetener as they contain a sugar substitute but most block jellies contain sugar so no extra should be needed.  The original recipe does add sugar though we found it unnecessary, however I suppose a little added sugar could be added to suit a very sweet tooth.   It really depends on the tartness of the apples you use so I advise you taste well and add carefully.  Do be generous with the apples and if using windfalls, allow some extra weight to compensate for the unusable parts of the fruit.  I also substituted half fat Elmlea single cream for the full fat double cream of the original.  Serve the apple jelly with blackberries (fresh or from the freezer) mascerated with a little sugar, then lightly cooked and cooled plus some fresh apple slices.  Gwyn also notes that if she is making the mousse for a party or special occasion she decorates it with whipped cream and apple slices, which should be coated well in lemon juice to prevent them from browning.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Apple Mousse
(Serves 4-6)

1lb/454g Bramley Cooking Apples – be generous
3 tbsp/45ml cold water
1 sachet Lemon & Lime sugar free jelly 
   or
1 block Lemon jelly (& 1 block Lime if doubling)
¼ pint/5fl ozs/150ml Elmlea single cream (original recipe used double cream)
(Only if really needed – up to 2oz/60g granulated sugar)

1.  Peel, core and slice the apples.

2.  Cook the apples in the 3 tbsp water until they are soft.  If the apples are very tart then add a little sugar but I found any extra sweetness unnecessary.

3. The apples need to become a smoothish pulp.  I simply used a whisk in the saucepan as the apples were very soft.  The original recipe suggests this is done either by pushing the fruit through a sieve or by blending in a liquidiser. 

4.  Dissolve the jelly in ½ pint boiling water.  (The instructions are usually that the jelly – powder or block type – should be dissolved in 1pint water.)

5.  Leave the apple pulp and jelly until they are cool, but watch that the jelly does not set.  If using double cream then whip until it is just beginning to firm – single cream should not be whipped.

6.  Whisk the apple mixture, jelly and cream together.

7.  Pour into one large bowl or mould or individual dishes.

8.  Leave in refrigerator to set before serving.

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Actually, I ought to start with a small confession…..  We ate Breton Chicken rather than Somerset Chicken, as I used a small bottle of cider from Brittany (it was what was in the cupboard and needed to be used).  I promise though that next time (and there will definitely be a next time) I will be authentic and put in the correct cider!  This chicken recipe is one of the best I have come across: with a delicious onion, apple and mushroom sauce including cider, cream and the piquancy of a very small amount of mustard.  One product that Somerset, a country in the West Country of England, is famed for is its cider.  Apart from being a popular and refreshing drink it can also be cooked into recipes in much the same way as wine or beer (think Coq au Vin or Steak & Ale Pie, for example) adding a delicious appley flavour.  I have previously posted a recipe for Sausage & Apple Cassoulet, with Pork Sausages cooked with a cider based sauce: Somerset chicken would I think also be good reinvented as Somerset pork.  This recipe also features a second product from Somerset.  Cheddar type cheeses are made widely across the world in places as far apart as Scotland, Ireland, Canada and New Zealand (and more besides) but Somerset is the home of real Cheddar cheese which originated in the town of the same name in the famous Cheddar Gorge.

The Hairy Bikers Somerset Chicken was one of the recipes that appealed to my whole family as soon as they saw it on the Hairy Bikers Food Tour of Britain television series.  I was very pleased to find the recipe at Good to Know.  It took me a while to get round to making it, partly because I hadn’t realised how easy it was, however having done it once and discovered its simplicity I shall make it more often.  It would be a good meal to serve visitors either for a simple midweek supper or for a more special meal.  My only comment is that this rich dish is unnecessarily enriched by the amount of butter and oil used especially as the recipe also includes cream and cheese.  I have reduced both of these, however the link to the original recipe is above for anyone who want to consult the original.  As usual, I also removed the skins from the chicken, because we prefer it and substituted reduced fat Elmlea single cream for the double cream, none of which I felt detracted from the finished dish.  As for the cider, I used half a small bottle of Breton cider and the other half is in the freezer for next time: I find that leftover alcoholic drinks store well in the freezer and are fine for use in cooking, though I’m sure they would be no good to drink.  (I’m sure that others would find fault with this but it works well for us and is a great way to have wine or cider to hand when there are small amounts left after a party.  You don’t always have to drink it up!)

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Somerset Chicken
(Serves 6)

6 large chicken thighs, boned or left whole, with or without skin
   or
6 chicken breasts, with or without skin (as per original recipe – skin left on)
2-3tbsp olive oil
5g butter
2 onions, sliced
4tbsp plain flour
2tbsp grain mustard
2 dessert apples, peeled & chopped small
125g/4ozs button mushrooms, sliced
250ml/9fl ozs chicken stock
300ml/10fl ozs cider
250ml/9fl ozs single cream
1tbsp finely chopped fresh sage leaves – be generous
300g/10½ozs Cheddar cheese, grated
6 baked potatoes

1.  Preheat the oven to 200oC/400oF/Gas 6. 

2.  Skin the chicken breasts or thighs, removing the bone and skin if you wish.  Season with salt and black pepper and set to one side.

3.  Place 2tbsp of oil and 10g of butter in a large frying pan and fry the chicken thighs or breasts for 1-2 mins on each side until they start to turn golden brown.

4.  Put them into a deep-sided oven tray and roast for 25 mins until the chicken is cooked through.

5.  Add the remaining oil to the pan, if necessary.  Cook the onions for about 5 mins until they have softened but are not coloured.  

6.  Stir the flour and mustard into the onions and cook gently for another 2 minutes.  Add the chopped apples and mushrooms.  Cook gently for 1 min. 

7.  Add the stock, blend in and bring to the boil stirring until thick before adding the cider.  Bring the sauce back to the boil, lower the heat and gently cook for 5 mins. 

8.  Add the cream and chopped sage.  Continue to cook the sauce for about 5 mins more before checking the seasoning, adding salt and black pepper as necessary.

9.  Preheat the grill to high. 

10.  Remove the chicken from the oven and place in a serving dish, pouring over the sauce so the meat is covered.

11.  Grate the cheese and sprinkle over the chicken.  Grill for 5 mins or until the cheese has melted and is golden and bubbling. 

12.  Serve with jacket potatoes and a green vegetable or salad.

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Having made Crab Apple Jelly my recipe recommended that the remaining pulp in the jelly bag be made into Crab Apple cheese, a thick sweet puree, so never one to be wasteful I gave it a go.   Fruit cheeses can be so thick that they can be turned out with slices cut from them and were a feature of Victorian dinner tables.  Crab Apple cheese was eaten at Christmas time as a dessert, studded with hazelnuts and decorated with whipped cream, alongside a second dark coloured cheese made from Damsons.  As with apple sauce, it can also be served with cold meats.   The instruction was to sieve the apple pulp to remove the peel, cores and seeds.  These had not been removed as they were necessary to give a high pectin content to the jelly.  There was a sizeable amount of pulp but sieving the pulp was very time consuming and in the end I gave up.  I think an old fashioned mouli blender may have been more successful (the sort that used to be used before the advent of liquidisers and food processors.  In the end I opted to remove the pieces of peel, which thankfully were quite large, by hand, taking out any large pieces of core and seeds as well.  Then I used my metal potato masher to turn the whole mixture into a puree. 

The recipe, as with the one for Crab Apple Jelly, was from The Penguin Book of Jams, Pickles & Chutneys by David & Rose Mabey.  The resulting puree was very sweet indeed.  We ate it with pork but we have also found it is equally as good eaten as jam.  I think it would be good spread on slices of bread and made into a Bread & Butter Pudding.  This version is simply apple and sugar, with no other flavourings as recommended by the original recipe which said the wonderful flavour of the apples would speak for themselves. I have seen other versions which are flavoured with cinnamon or ginger.  Would I make this again?  Probably, just because I don’t like to see waste, however I would have to think of a way of making it less time consuming, perhaps by removing the peels, cores and seeds but still cooking them in a small bag within the jelly bag, possibly.  I wonder if anyone reading this has had a similar experience and how they solved the lengthy sieving process?  Your comments and thoughts would be welcomed!

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Crab Apple Cheese

Puree left over from Crab Apple Jelly
Sugar (amount equal to weight of sieved puree)
Straight sided jars, or similar, so that the cheese can be turned out.

1.  After making the Crab Apple Jelly, turn out the puree in the jelly bag and sieve to remove pips and skins.  These are laborious to remove but it is important that they are included in the mixture as they add to the flavour. 

2.  For each 1lb/545g of pulp weigh out 1lb/545g of sugar.

3.  Discard the peels and pips and place the pulp in a saucepan.  Stir in the sugar and cook until it is dissolved.  Cook until very thick. 

4.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.  Shake as much water from them as possible before filling.
Alternatively put the jars in an oven set to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 for 10 minutes.  Be careful to put them on a dry surface when removing or they could crack.  Lids can be placed in a small pan of boiling water.  Shake as much water from the lids as possible before filling.

9.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.  The cheese should be kept for several months and may shrink slightly in storage, which is normal.  Serve as a dessert or with cold meats.

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On a bright and sunny mid September day my eye was drawn to a small tree of what I thought were probably crab apples, but not a variety I had ever seen before.  They were the size of small plums but the colour of pale red cherries, the tree thick and the ground carpeted with the fallen fruit.  This same day we had made our annual trip to Plum Corner, this year sadly (and literally) unfruitful, so there were containers in the car which I filled instead with the fallen crab apples.  Some research when I arrived home indicated that this was a variety of  Crab Apple (or Malus) called ‘John Downie’.  I don’t remember seeing such pretty crab apples before, usually the ones I see are yellow ( a variety called ‘Golden Hornet’).  I also read that the best place to gather the fruit was, as I had done, from the ground.  My initial intention was to extract the pectin to help with jam making, however I also planted some of the fruit.  Eventually I wouldn’t mind my own little tree, though I’m not worried about growing one that would yield enough fruit for cooking purposes!

 

Expecting the liquid to be very sour I was pleasantly surprised at its sweetness, with just a slight sharpness, once it was strained through the jelly bag so I wondered if I could use it for something other than just pectin.  In The Penguin Book of Jams, Pickles & Chutneys by David & Rose Mabey there was a recipe for Crab Apple Jelly where the resulting fruit pulp could then be turned into Crab Apple Cheese.  As I love the idea of wasting nothing I had to give it a go, retaining just a little juice for pectin for my jam, which I froze.   This variety of Crab Apple gives a jelly that is fiery red in colour and other varieties will give different shades, but all are delicious with pork.  My only complaint about the jelly is the inevitable small yield from what seems a good quantity of apples, but this is the case with any fruit jelly product.  Under no circumstances should you be tempted to squeeze the jelly bag to extract more juice, as you are aiming for a clear jelly and the squeezing will make the juice cloudy.  In the end be thankful for the small amount you get.  Just enjoy its wonderful colour and clarity.

Crab Apple Jelly (Malus ‘John Downie’ or another variety)

Crab Apples
A small amount of water
Sugar

1.   Collect a good amount of apples and wash them well.

2.  Chop them up without peeling or coring and put them in a large saucepan with a very small amount of water (just enough to stop the apples from burning and sticking to the pan).  Cook over a gentl heat until they are soft, stirring occasionally.

3.  Stretch a jelly bag over a jug and spoon in the apple mixture.  Suspend the jelly bag above the jug and allow to drip at least overnight, but preferably for 24hours.  Do not squeeze the contents of the bag at any point or the juice will become cloudy.

4.  Reserve the apple pulp for crab apple cheese, if you wish.

5.  Measure the strained liquid and weigh out 1lb sugar for each pint of strained juice.

6.  Dissolve the sugar in the juice in a medium sized saucepan and bring to the boil.  (If you have obtained a large quantity of juice then it may be appropriate to use a larger saucepan.)

7.  Turn the heat down a little and, stirring regularly, reduce the liquid until it starts to set.  (I small amount dripped onto a saucer than has been in the freezer will wrinkle when pushed if it is ready.)

8.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.  Shake as much water from them as possible before filling.
Alternatively put the jars in an oven set to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 for 10 minutes.  Be careful to put them on a dry surface when removing or they could crack.  Lids can be placed in a small pan of boiling water.  Shake as much water from the lids as possible before filling.

9.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.

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This jam contains a surprise – a secret ingredient: secret because it is there but you cannot taste it (at least we could not) but essential for bulking up the other ingredients so you can make a good quantity.   It is a perfect recipe for using up a glut of courgettes, or for when you find one hiding under a leaf which has reached marrow sized proportions – or are the recipient of post Harvest Festival bounty!  The secret ingredient is, as you have probably guessed, courgette or marrow…

I came across this at Tinyinc where it was called Marrow & Ginger Jam, but I have renamed it: the jam was very gingery and very lemony (but so ‘un-marrowy’)!   I made just a few small tweaks to the original recipe. Firstly, I weighed the marrow and used this as a measure for the other ingredients using 1 lemon and 30g root ginger for each 40-45g unpeeled marrow/courgette and sugar equalling the weight of the marrow/courgette).  Secondly, as with Tinyinc’s recipe, I did not want lumps of vegetable in my jam so I liquidised the marrow down to a puree, which made it silky smooth, apart from the ginger and lemon shreds.   Thirdly, I grated the ginger and added the outer peelings to the bag containing the lemon pips and shells.  I find a bag made from the (clean!) knotted foot of a pair of old tights makes a really good alternative to my muslin bag which would have been far too big for this. Fourthly, I used ordinary sugar without added pectin with no setting problems. I did wonder if it needed some apple to help the set, but risked a batch without finding it set easily.  This is a wonderful jam, with a translucent yellow colouring not dissimilar to lemon curd, which I know will become a family favourite and I can see myself making again and again.  Tinyinc advised that the flavour matures and intensifies if the jam is stored first (which may prove difficult).  As for uses, apart from spreading on bread or toast, (a good alternative to ginger marmalade), tonight I stirred some into yoghurt with some lightly poached figs (apple, pear or plum would be good too) – it would also be delicious as a cake filling.  When you have made this jam, don’t tell people the secret – see if they can guess – surprise them!

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Surprise Lemon & Ginger Jam
(Makes about 3 x 1lb jars)
Weigh the marrow/courgette first and adjust the recipe proportionately: 1 lemon and 30g unpeeled ginger to 40-45g vegetable.  The weight of sugar should be the same as unpeeled marrow/courgette.  The quantities below are those specified in the original recipe.

1.25kg marrow or courgette (peeled, deseeded and in small dice)
1.25kg white sugar
3 lemons
90g fresh root ginger (peeled and grated)

1.   Put two or three saucers in the freezer.  (These will be used to test to see if the jam is cooked enough to set.)  Peel the marrow, remove the seeds and cut into small dice.  Place in a large saucepan.

2.  Remove the lemon zest using a zester, if available, or the large holes of a grater (being careful not to remove any white pith) and set aside.  Cut the lemon in half and squeeze into a jug.  Place the empty lemon shells and pips into a small muslin bag (or foot section of a clean pair of tights).

3.  Add a small amount of the lemon juice to the pan, cover with a lid and gently cook the marrow until transparent.  If necessary add some more lemon juice to stop the marrow sticking.  Spoon the marrow and any collected liquids into a blender and liquidise until smooth.  Alternatively the mixture can be mashed for a slightly coarser texture or, providing the dice are very small, left as it is.

4.  Peel the ginger, grate using the large holes of the grater and add to the lemon zest.  Add the ginger peelings and any very fibrous pieces to the small bag with the leftover lemon pieces.

5.  Return the marrow mixture to the same pan, add the remaining lemon juice, the lemon and ginger.  Stir in and dissolve the sugar.  Knot the bag of bits and add it to the pan.

6.  Bring the mixture to the boil and then turn down to a rolling simmer.  Stir regularly, pressing down on the bag of bits occasionally and reduce until the mixture has reached setting point.  Test for a set by putting a half teaspoon of jam on a saucer from the freezer.  If, once it has cooled a little, it wrinkles when pushed with a finger, it should be ready to pot.  If not ready then leave for 5 minutes and try again.  (This took about 25 minutes for two-thirds of the full amount above.)

7.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.  Shake as much water from them as possible before filling.
Alternatively put the jars in an oven set to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 for 10 minutes.  Be careful to put them on a dry surface when removing or they could crack.  Lids can be placed in a small pan of boiling water.  Shake as much water from the lids as possible before filling.

8.  Remove the small bag of bits, scraping the jam from the outside and squeezing it with tongs and place it on a saucer.  Any extra juices that collect on the saucer should be stirred back into the jam before you start potting.

9.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.

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The English Lake District holds many happy childhood memories for me.  Each summer we visited my grandparents who lived at Arnside on Morecambe Bay, in what was then called Westmorland (a county name that is sadly no longer used, being part of Cumbria since 1974).  We had many day trips to the lakes and fells for picnics and walking.  A few weeks ago I happened upon a daytime programme on Channel 4 called Lakes on a Plate, which promised good scenery with food and recipes.  I am currently working my way through what turned out to be a series of about 20 half hour programmes. 

One early Lakes on a Plate programme included a sausage roll recipe, but with a twist: Peter Sidwell, a chef who is also the presenter, added home made Fennel & Apple Chutney.  I was intrigued as this was a chutney I had not heard of before.  Fennel has, of course, a mild aniseed flavour.  The flavour can be found in flavoured alcoholic drinks such as the French Pastis, Greek Ouzo and other similar drinks, although these are usually made from distilled Star Anise, which is an asian spice unrelated to fennel.  In the UK you can buy boiled hard sweets such as aniseed balls and aniseed cough candy or twist where the flavouring comes from oil of Aniseed, a border herb with an umbrella shaped flowerhead but also sometimes from Fennel seeds.  Both seeds can also be used as part of a spice mixture or in cooked dishes and breads.   This recipe uses Fennel, sometimes called Florence Fennel, a white bulb often topped with green feathery fronds, which can be sliced or finely chopped into savoury dishes, or baked and is often used in fish dishes, although not exclusively.  (Find more recipes and mentions of Fennel  on this site.)  As I have mixed feelings about aniseed flavour (disliking the drink, but loving aniseed sweets and fennel in food) I decided to make just a half quantity of the recipe, but I wish now I had made more!  The flavour is delicate and sweet rather than overpowering and it is delicious and unusual spread on toast: a sort of Fennel & Apple Marmalade.  I am still deciding how I might incorporate this chutney in recipes and other than the sausage rolls of the original recipe, what else it could be used in.  I am not a great sausage roll fan, probably because when they appear on buffets they tend to be greasy apologies with fatty pastry and poor quality sausage.  I think, however, that these sausage rolls containing fennel and apple chutney would be in a different league altogether.  I fully intend to use this to make a Sausagemeat Plait in the very near future, just as soon as I have found and bought the good quality sausagement it deserves.  The quantities of apple and onion are a little unclear in the original recipe: I used aproximately the same weight of each as the fennel bulb and I chose to finely chop rather than follow the original instruction to roughly chop them.  I also used my usual method of adding the sugar later, once the vinegar has mostly gone, to lessen the risk of burning the chutney.  This recipe does not make a large quantity, so watch out for when fennel is being sold off on your market at the end of the summer or early autumn and stock up.  I find uncooked fennel bulbs, quartered, freeze reasonably well.

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Fennel & Apple Chutney
(Makes aprox 2 x 1lb jars)

2 fennel bulbs
1 onion (weighing the same as the fennel)
1 apple (weighing the same as the fennel)
100ml white wine vinegar
350g white sugar
1tsp fennel seeds
Salt & pepper

1. Finely chop the fennel and onion.  Place in a medium sized heavy pan with a drizzle of olive oil.  Cook on a medium heat until soft, making sure they do not start to brown. 

2.  Meanwhile peel, core and finely chop the apple.  Add to the pan and continue to cook the mixture for a few more minutes. 

3.  Add the white wine vinegarand fennel seeds. Continue to cook for a further 20 minutes until the liquid has reduced by half and is thick. 

4.  Add the sugar and reduce until thick once more. Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool.

5.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.  Shake as much water from them as possible before filling.
Alternatively put the jars in an oven set to 180oC/350oF/Gas 4 for 10minutes.  Be careful to put them on a dry surface when removing or they could crack.  Lids can be placed in a small pan of boiling water.  Shake as much water from the lids as possible before filling.

6.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.  I find that chutneys are best stored for about four weeks to mature before eating.

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Last year I wrote about our chance find of damsons in a hedgerow on a lane in rural Oxfordshire and subsequently turning them into Spiced Damson Chutney.  We determined to return to the spot this year in the hope of picking them again but were disappointed to find, as we were a week or two later, they had all been either eaten by birds or taken by someone else – or possibly it was just not a very good harvest this year.  Some you win, some you lose!  However, all was not completely lost as, wandering along the hedgerow, I discovered a good crop of sloes and filled several boxes.  Last year I made Sloe Gin in time for Christmas (now is the time, by the way – there may just be some left in your area and they can be frozen).  I picked some Sloes for my parents and then wondered what to do with the remainder as, having some in the freezer already, I didn’t really have space for any more.

This recipe from The Penguin Book of Jams, Pickles & Chutneys by David & Rose Mabey for Sloe & Apple Jelly attracted me.  It is recommended for serving with mutton, rabbit or jugged hare  and although we don’t eat hare, I do like both lamb and rabbit so it seemed worth a go.  I think it would also complement duck, in a Chinese influenced dish with some added oriental spices.  Duck in Plum Sauce is a favourite dish from the Chinese takeaway!  On reflection, I probably should have used a smaller saucepan in the final stage.  My only disappointment was that the jelly thickened quickly and was ready before I had prepared the jars.  By the time the jars were ready it had cooled slightly and started to set.  The texture would not win it any prizes, however the taste is delicious, which is what really matters.  I would make this again, although using a smaller pan for the final stage and hope one day to post a better picture.  The apple is needed as sloes are low in pectin so need it to set successfully.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Sloe & Apple Jelly
(not very much – a small jar)

1lb/454g sloes
1lb/454g apples
water
sugar

1.  Wash the sloes and if picked before the frost, prick them with a needle.  I successfully crushed them in the pan with a potato masher.

2.  Wash the apples and remove any bad bits and then roughly chop them.  They do not need to be peeled or cored.  Add them to the pan with sufficient water to just cover them.

3.  Simmer gently until the fruit is quite soft, stirring occasionally and pressing more with a wooden spoon to encourage juice to come out of the sloes.

4.  Strain the juice through a jelly bag suspended over a measuring jug.  Do not squeeze the bag as this will cause the jelly to be cloudy.  Leave for 24hours or at the very least overnight.

5.  Dispose of the pulp in the bag. 

6.  This stage needs to be done before finishing the jelly which will reduce quickly.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on. 

7.  Measure the strained liquid into a medium sized saucepan adding 1lb/454g sugar for each pint of liquid and bring to the boil. 

8.  Boil fast to set – a little placed on a saucer that has chilled in the freezer will wrinkle slightly when pushed with your finger.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.  Serve with mutton or lamb, rabbit or jugged hare, or with duck prepared with Chinese spice flavours.

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I recently bought some late rhubarb on our market, put it in the fridge and promptly forgot about it!  A week or so later I discovered it in a rather floppy state and not really fit for stewing and eating in the usual way.  In ancient times food that was past its best was disguised with spices so I turned to my recipe books and eventually found this chutney recipe.  The acidity of the rhubarb along with the citrus sourness of the orange means that, in spite of the sugar, this is still rather a tart flavoured chutney and would go well with a rich or oily meat such as duck or pork, or possibly even with an oily fish such as mackerel (I once saw a recipe for mackerel with a rhubarb sauce).   My only comment – one which I actually made out loud as I spooned this chutney into jars – is that this is yet another muddy coloured chutney.  A commercially produced version would have some added food colouring to make it a pretty pinky-peach, I would imagine.  Colour aside, though, this is definitely worth making.

The recipe comes from Home Preserves by Jackie Burrow which has been on my shelf for some years and contains a wealth of good recipes.  I have slightly adapted the original recipe for Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Chutney: I was a little short of rhubarb to make a half quantity so I added some chopped apple and I used grated fresh (but frozen) ginger in place of ginger powder.  I also zested the orange rather than peeling the zest off in larger chunks with a potato peeler (just the zest, but no pith).  I have added these alternatives to the recipe below.  My only other comment would be that the ginger could be slightly increased (although we do like a strong ginger flavour, so be careful).

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spiced Rhubarb & Orange Chutney
(Makes about 5 x 1lb)

1½kg/3lb rhubarb, chopped
   (replace up to 375g/12ozs rhubarb with peeled & finely chopped apple)
500g/1lb onion, peeled & finely chopped
4 large oranges, zested & squeezed
1tbsp mixed spice
2tbsp finely grated fresh root ginger (slightly defrosted grates easier)
   or
1tbsp ground ginger
1tsp salt
600ml/1pint white wine vinegar
500g/1lb white sugar (or brown)

1.  Place the rhubarb and onion in a large saucepan, plus apple if using, along with the zest and juice, mixed spice, ginger, salt and vinegar.

2.  Bring to the boil on a medium heat, then reduce the heat.  Allow the mixture to slowly reduce, stirring regularly, until it is thick enough to leave a channel (that gradually disappears again) in the bottom of the pan when a spoon is drawn across.

3.  Add the sugar and stir well.  Cook on a medium heat to allow the chutney to reduce as quickly as possible without burning, stirring regularly to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.  When the channel can be drawn on the bottom of the pan once more it is ready to pot.

4.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

5.  Pot into the prepared jars.  Cool and label.  Ideally, store for about four weeks to mature before eating.

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The original title of this recipe was ‘Bea Turner’s Tomato Relish’.  I never knew Bea Turner, a long gone member of one of our churches, or where she got the original recipe.  However she passed on her recipe to a friend who regularly makes jams and chutneys, who passed it to another friend when she moved away, when it was passed to me.  (Some of the best recipes come like this, I think, as hand-me-downs!)  There are a couple of occasions recently when I have promised this recipe to readers who have left comments: here it is … enjoy!

I have made tomato chutney recipes in the past (I know this is called relish, but what’s the difference – very little actually) however this is by far the best I have come across.  I think it is the addition of the tomato purée which adds a sweet richness to the mix. Rather conveniently, it does not use a large quantity of tomatoes so, though it is worth making several batches when tomatoes are cheap, is also handy for the winter months when tomatoes are more expensive.  The pepper, onion and apples should be chopped according to the size that they will be in the finished relish.  I find it better to chop them finely, so small pieces are visible but do not be tempted to use a food processor unless you want a uniform coloured relish.  You must use clear vinegar though using a brown one would mean dulling down the lovely rich red colouring.  The spices below are as the original recipe, which is a little on the hot side for some (but not all) members of our family.  The second time I made it I halved the chilli, cayenne and mustard, but then it was not spicy enough for some (but not all).  You can’t please everyone …   I now usually make it half way in between.   I have put both these adaptations in brackets after the recipe.  There are so many uses for this wonderful chutney, apart from simply serving it on the side with meats or cheeses: a mildly spiced topping for Welsh RarebitPizza or Pitta Pizzas, as an ingredient in Mexican Style Chicken & Pepper Salad or Cheese & Tomato Tortilla Bake and many more …

Warning: Do not try to make a double batch in one pan.  Reducing the extra liquid will be difficult and leaving it to cook down for a long time could lead to the sugars burning.  I speak from experience!  I apply this rule to all home made jams and chutneys: nothing worse than a bitter burnt flavour lurking in the background.  I find using the widest saucepan I have gives the biggest surface area for the quick evaporation of liquid.

Tomato Relish
(Makes about 5 x 1lb jars)

1lb/500g tomatoes
1 green pepper (I like to use a large one)
1lb/500g onions
1lb/500g apples (cooking or eating)
3 cloves garlic
½pint/10 fl ozs/300ml white malt vinegar
¾lb/375g white sugar
6ozs/170g tomato purée
1 level tbsp salt
1 level tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper (medium=¾tsp – mild=½tsp)
½tsp mixed spice
½tbsp mustard powder (medium=scant 1tsp – mild=¼tbsp)
   or
1tbsp mixed English mustard (reduce for medium or mild strength)

1.  Skin the tomatoes by making cross cuts in the skins, pouring over boiling water and after 30 seconds plunging them into cold water.  This helps the skin to come off easier.  Prepare frozen tomatoes in the same way.  (If using very small tomatoes then add an extra one or two depending on size to compensate for the extra skins that are removed.) .

2.  Chop the tomatoes, pepper, onions,  apples and garlic.

3.  Put them all in a large pan with the vinegar and simmer until tender and thick, stirring regularly to check it does not stick and burn. 

4.  When a spoon run across the mixture leaves a channel that does not fill up with liquid. 

5.  Add the sugar and spices and stir well.

6.  Boil for 3 minutes.

7.  Wash the jars well and sterilise.  I usually do this by filling the jars with boiling water and putting the lids in a bowl of boiling water.  I pour away the water just before filling each jar and immediately take the lid from the bowl and screw it on.

8.  Pot while still hot into pre-prepared sterilised jars.  Cool and label.  This can be eaten immediately but also keeps well.

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