Monday, 11 September 2017

Piccalilli (Hot Mustard Bean, Cauliflower & Courgette Pickle)

Been meaning to try this recipe for quite a while.  Some friends made it last year and it was delicious.

I've followed the Hairy Biker's Hot Mustard Pickle recipe to the letter.  Yes, it does seem a lot of salt but I have to say I can't taste it in the remnants in the pan.  And maybe do not cook the vegetables so long? My cauliflower has lost it's crunch. But there is another month before I am supposed try it.

250g green beans, sliced into 1cm pieces
500g cauliflower, cut into 1cm cubes
250g courgette, cut into 1cm cubes
100g fine sea salt
3 onions, finely chopped
300ml malt vinegar
300ml white wine vinegar (I only used malt vinegar)
1 heaped tbsp English mustard powder powder
1 heaped tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
25g cornflour
250g sugar

Mix the salt thoroughly into the beans, cauliflower, and courgette in a non metallic bowl, cover, and leave for 24 hours. After 24 hours, rinse the vegetables thoroughly in several changes of water.

Simmer the onions in the malt vinegar for 15 minutes whilst you mix the dried spices and cornflour into 5tbsp of the remaining 300ml of vinegar.  Add the sugar and left over vinegar to the pan with the onions, and the drained vegetables.  Simmer for 10 minutes (I might try 5 minutes next time).

Add the spice paste and stir through until it thickens.  Here the Hairy Bikers cook the vegetables for a further 10 minutes, but I would take the pickle of the heat once the sauce has thickened and bottle it straight away.  After all, the heat of the sauce will continue cooking the vegetables for a while longer anyway.

Seal in sterilised jars and leave for a month before using.  I, however, had a little bit leftover from my 5 jars made at the weekend and used it in a ham sandwich yesterday.  It was fantastic!

Post Script: A quick google has turned up River Cottage's Pam Corbin's recipe for Piccalilli.  I note she does not cook the vegetables at all, but instead just stirs them into the hot sauce.  Next time...

Greengage Jam

Sadly the shop bought greengages I bought here in the UK aren't a patch on the super sweet Reine Claude greengages bought in France.  So maybe making them into jam will make them sweeter?

Makes 3x 340g jars + 1x 180g jar

1kg greengages
850g granulated sugar, approximately
Juice of 1 lemon

Stone the greengages, weighing the greengage flesh as you want the same amount of sugar as the weight of the stoned fruit.

Chop the fruit fairly small (the skins don't break up during the cooking so bear this in mind with the size of fruit chunks you settle on).  Simmer the diced fruit with an expresso cup (50ml) of water with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring from time to time until the fruit pulp has broken down.

Add the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a rapid boil.  Boil for 5 minutes whilst you sterilise the jars in the oven.  Test for a set on a cold saucer.  If not set continue boiling for another 5 minutes then test again.  Having made two batches of this jam in as many weeks I find it tends to reach setting point after about 5-10 minutes of boiling.  If you leave it too long you risk the jam becoming positively rubbery!

Pour into sterilised jars and seal with sterilised lids.

Courgette Curry (Zucchini Sabzi)

My daughter's Indian born SEN escort on her school bus shouted out 'Courgette Sabzi ' to me one day as she drove off after I told her I had a courgette glut.  With a couple of overgrown courgettes from the allotment last week, this seemed to ideal opportunity to try it out.  It is a mild curry, ideal for curryphobics?

4 medium courgettes, halfed lengthways and finely sliced
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion, quartered and finely sliced
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp brown mustard seeds (optional)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala 
1/4tsp hot chilli flakes
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1tbsp tomato puree
Juice of 1 small lemon
1 tsp salt

In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, fry the cumin & mustard seeds in the sunflower oil until they start to pop.

Add the onion and garlic and continue frying for about 5 minutes then add the remaining dry spices for a couple more minutes until you can smell them.

Stir in the courgette and fry for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to make sure it doesn't catch.

Add the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, 1 can of recently boiled water, lemon juice and salt.

Bring to the boil then simmer for about 10 minutes if you want the courgette still to be slightly crunchy, or longer if you want it softer.

As with all curries, it will be better if cooked the day before and reheated the next day.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Sloe Gin Jelly

Searching for damsons in my mother's garden I came across a large crop of ripe sloes, so many in fact that I had enough for Sloe Gin (500g of sloes are currently waiting in the freezer for me to buy some cheap gin), and for me to experiment making Sloe Gin Jelly.

My recipe below has 1 shot of gin in.  I'm not sure I can taste it.  But it is a wonderfully tart jelly that would go well in a gravy, with red meat, game, strong cheddar, as much as on toast.  Apparently I have a long wait until my new damson tree fruits, but sloes turn out to be a good alternative.

500g sloes
500ml water
1kg bramley apples
500g sugar
1 shot gin (optional)

Simmer the sloes in the water, covered for about 20 minutes until the fruit is all pulpy.  Roughly chop the apples and add to the sloes, skin, cores and all.  Simmer for another 20 minutes until the apple has disintegrated.

Strain the fruit pulp through a jelly bag overnight.

Measure the collected fruit juice (mine came to 500g/500ml) and add the same weight in sugar to a clean pan.  Bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes before checking to see if the jam is set.  Seal in sterilised jars.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Vegetarian Noodles with Szechuan Pepper & Peanut Butter

We are having a vegetarian week, so I've take an old recipe of mine and quite simply left out the meat.

I also finally got round to grinding some Szechuan peppercorns, which even the kids agreed is a great addition.

Serves 2 adults or 3 children
2 layers Sharwood medium egg noodles
1 clove of garlic, grated
1 tsp grated ginger
1/4  cabbage, finely sliced
1 medium carrot, grated
1 tbsp sunflower oil


2 tbsp sherry or white wine
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
1 tbsp  balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2-1 tsp hot chilli flakes
1 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns

125ml chicken stock or water (I used the noodle water)

Cook the noodles according to the packet's instructions.  Rinse with cold water to stop them cooking, then drain.  Rinsing with cold water also stops them sticking together, but you can also toss them in a little sesame oil if you have no faith.

Whilst all the noodles are cooking, fry the garlic and ginger in a frying pan.  This can be done in a wok or a large frying pan.

Add the cabbage and carrot and fry for a few minutes.  Splash about half the water in and cover if at all possible to soften the veg to a child friendly texture.  Add the cooked noodles and sauce and mix thoroughly.  I often cut the noodles with scissors whilst sitting in the colander before adding to make it easier to mix, as well as for the kids to eat with a fork or spoon.  Cover with a lid again if possible until the sauce and noodles are piping hot.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Courgette & Cheese Quiche

I 'found' an abandoned courgette at the allotment earlier this week.  Someone had obviously decided that it was too big and ugly to eat and thrown it out into the communal compost pile.

I hate throwing food away, and my courgettes aren't ready yet, so I salvaged it to make a quiche for Alresford Country Market.

Makes 4x 6in quiche

100g cold butter
175g plain flour

2 large courgettes or 4 little ones
120g strong cheese ie cheddar, parmesan, feta...
4 eggs
3/4 pint whole milk

Start by making pastry (or buy ready made short crust).  Cube the butter and place it in a food processor with the flour.  Add 1tbsp cold water and pulse for about 5-10 seconds.  Keep pulsing and adding water, a tablespoon at a time until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  You should not need to add more than 4tbsp of water.

Tip the crumbs out on to a clean surface and squish together into a block.  Place in a clean plastic bag and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Whilst chilling the pastry, prepare the courgette filling.  If using small courgettes, just thinly slice them and fry gently in 1tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan until they begin to colour.  My courgette was pretty much marrow sized so I had to peel off some hard skin, scrape out some seeds, and then grated the courgette in the food processor before frying it.  Leave the courgette to cool whilst you roll out the pastry.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Divide the pastry into 4 or how ever many quiches you are making.  I use 6" foils and know that this amount of pastry will make four.  Roll out on a floured surface to just slightly thinner than a £1 coin and fold into the foils.  Don't worry if it doesn't quite fit as any holes can be simply patched with off cuts from this or the next one you roll out.

Place the foils on a flat oven tray.  Share the courgette mixture between the quiches, sprinkle 30g cheese over each 6" quiche, and season each quiche with a pinch of salt and pepper.  In a pint jug, beat the 4 eggs with a fork then top up with milk all the way to the very top of the jug beating gently as you add the milk.  You will need just over a pint of egg & milk.  Share this out equally between your quiches.  Gently mix the courgette and cheese in the eggy milk without poking any holes in your pastry.

Bake the quiche for 40 minutes at 180C.  Cheese alway browns quickly so keep an eye on them, watching out for hot spots in your oven, and turning the tray and even the quiche during the cooking to ensure they all brown evenly.

Serve hot or cold.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Wagamama's Edamame Soya Beans

I bought a bag of frozen soya beans from the supermarket a few months ago on a whim, and still have not remembered the meal I had in mind to put them in.  So today, googling what to do with soya beans, I turned up a simple snack from Wagamana's website - Homemade Edamame

Serves 1

100g frozen soya beans
1 very small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1 pinch hot chilli flakes
1 pinch sea salt

Cook the soya beans according to the instructions on the packet.  Mine were boil for 5 minutes from frozen.  Mix through all the other ingredients.  Eat.