It will soon be time to think about jam making with summer fruit. My tips are from my 'Food for Keeps' course and will help you make perfect jam every time. Try making this delicious Fresh Apricot Jam.
- Never make more than 10lb (10 standard jars) at any time. The less time spent in cooking the jam, the better the final colour and flavour.
- Choose firmly ripe, fresh fruit, picked dry. Wet fruit will affect the set and flavour of the jam.
- Prepare the fruit removing any stalks and bruised flesh, only wash if necessary.
- Use a large, heavy based saucepan. The pan should never be more than half full.
- Add water only of the recipe says so.
- Bring fruit to the boil, then simmer gently to break down any skin and to extract the pectin.
- Pectin is a substance in fruit that reacts with acid when heated, creating the setting agent. Fruits vary in their pectin and acid content.
- Jam sugar has added pectin and is ideal for fruits that are low in pectin helping jam to set.
- Do not cover the pan as water evaporation is essential.
- Underboiling causes jam to be too runny and overboiling makes it sticky.
- Test the set by dropping a spoonful of jam onto a refrigerated saucer and seeing if the top crinkles when you run your finger or a spoon across it.
- Warming the sugar in a low oven (110C) will shorten the cooking time. Preserving sugar consists of large crystals of sugar which dissolve evenly producing less froth when boiling.
- Remove any scum with a slotted spoon once the jam is ready to pot. A nut sized piece of butter at the end of the cooking will help reduce the scum.
- Cool the jam for 5 to 10 mins before potting, then stir again to help evenly distribute the fruit and stop it from rising to the top of the jars.
- Always warm jars in a low oven to sterilise and prevent cracking from the hot jam.
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- choose firm, ripe fruit
- preserving sugar has bigger crystals which dissolve more evenly
- test for set by seeing if a skin forms when dropping some jam onto a chilled saucer
- always warm the jars in the oven
Landing on my door mat this week was a copy of the recently published Suffolk Cook Book. Featuring over forty five recipes, all submitted by some of the many Suffolk businesses and personalities working within the local food scene. Recipes are diverse, with varying levels of cooking competence required. From a very simple, very do-able and delicious Suffolk Gold rarebit with caramelised red onions (Suffolk Farmhouse Cheeses) to a ... drum roll ...Confit pork belly and pan fried mackerel fillet with carrot buttercream, candied bacon almonds, gin spiked blue berries, marzipan and pork jus, which is more challenging. (Executive Head Chef Alan Paton at Stoke by Nayland Hotel). Tempting my own taste buds and with an inspirational story and a recipe as far away from Suffolk as you could imagine is a Prawn, Pork and Cucumber Salad (Red Chilli Kitchen). The book showcases the fine Suffolk produce and ingredients that are available on our doorstep. I set my 19 yr old niece the challenge to cook anything that she would fancy from the book and she chose the Elveden Gluten-free sticky toffee pudding (Elveden Courtyard Restaurant) which was absolutely delicious. The Suffolk Cook Book is £14.95 and is available from the businesses featured in the book, from Waterstones and online at www.amazon.co.uk.
This rice pudding is a little healthier and lower in fat than our other full cream recipe. You bake it in the oven - it takes minutes to prepare and two hours to cook. Well worth the wait.
- 100g short grain/ pudding rice
- 50g caster sugar
- 700ml semi-skimmed milk
- freshly grated nutmeg
- (1 bay leaf, or strip lemon zest for a different flavour)
- Heat oven to 130C/Gas 2.
Butter an 850ml heatproof ovenproof dish.
Pour the rice and sugar into the dish and stir in the milk.
Sprinkle the freshly grated nutmeg over and top.
(Add lemon zest or bay leaf into the milk if using)
Cook for 2 hrs or until the pudding has a brown skin and the rice is slightly wobbly.
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Delicious Indian snacks which are vegan/vegetarian and gluten free.
6 tbs cold water
- large pinch ground cumin
- large pinch of ground coriander
- 1 small onion finely sliced
- 4 handfuls of spinach leaves roughly chopped
- 1 handful fresh coriander chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp chopped green chilli ( optional)
- good pinch salt
- vegetable oil for frying
- Prepare all of the vegetables. Substitute any vegetables that you don't have with an alternative of your choice. Just about all types of vegetable work.
- Starting at the top of the list of ingredients add all to a large mixing bowl, everything except the oil which is required for frying.
- Mix very well making sure that the vegetables are all coated with a thin layer of batter.
Heat oil in a wok or use a deep fat fryer and drop spoonfools of the vegetables (coated in batter)into the hot oil.
- Cook until browned and the pakora holds its' shape.
- Turn to cook the other side.
- Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
A perfect way to use up all those leftover pieces of cheese in your fridge. All types of cheese can be used. It will keep for a week in the fridge and is a good vegetarian recipe.
225g grated cheese ( chop up cheeses that are hard to grate i.e Brie/Camembert
170g (small tin) evaporated milk
1 very small onion or 3 spring onions finely diced
1 tsp chopped chives
pinch of mustard powder
a little oil or butter for fying the onion
Heat a small knob of butter or splash of oil in a saucepan and soften the chopped onion
Pour in the evaporated milk
Add the grated cheese, mustard powder and a little ground pepper
Stir well until the cheese has melted
Stir in the chopped chives
Pour into ramekins and leave to set in the fridge
Eat spread on toast or with a baked potato
A favourite Winter soup which is vegetarian. Serves 6 - 8 people
- 1kg g (2 lb) Jerusalem Artichokes
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 450 g (1 lb) carrots ( peeled and sliced)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 75 g (3 oz) butter
- 1.5 L (3 pints) vegetable stock
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Peel and slice artichokes then put them into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from discolouring. ( add a slice of lemon)
Melt the butter in a cooking pot and soften the onion, celery, carrots and artichokes.
Put the lid on the pan and let the vegetables sweat for 5 minutes on a low heat.
Stir from time to time.
Pour in the stock, stir well, put the lid back on and simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Liquidise the soup and season to taste.
This hot weather has proved to be the perfect moment to crack open the new bottle of Rhubarbe Liqueur. We were offered this at the recent Thos Peatling summer wine tasting, along with a Barbados Rum Sixty Six and Taylor's Velvet Falernum... more of that later! The liqueur is quite simply like drinking sweet, liquid rhubarb. It's made by macerating (in alcohol) both green and pink rhubarb for two months. Delicate, light pink colour and with the smell of freshly cut rhubarb, it's sweet and sherberty and reminiscent of those childhood rhubarb and custard boiled sweets. Delicious over cracked ice, or try one of these cocktails below - all measures used are 1 oz, or use your own friendly measures, but remember, drink responsibly!
Gin and Rhubarbe
1 measure Rhubarbe Liqueur
1/2 measure lime juice
1 1/2 measures gin
1 measure soda water
lime slices, for garnish
Combine rhubarb syrup, lime juice, and gin in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a glass. Top with the soda water. Serve with lime slice.
Rhubarb n’ Rye
1 1/2 measures Rye Whiskey
1/4 measure Rhubarb Liqueur
1/4 measure Fresh Lemon Juice
1/4 measure Sweet Vermouth
Stir, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a curl of orange rind.
2 measures Cachaca Cane Spirit
1 measure Rhubarb Liqueur
½ measure Gomme syrup
1 full lime ( quartered, squeezed and muddled into the liquid)
Shake vigorously with ice and strain into glass.
4 measures Rhubarb Liqueur
3 measures Tequila
1 measure Lemon Juice
half measure of Gomme syrup
Muddle the strawberries in a cocktail shaker, add ice followed by all the other ingredients. Shake, filter and pour and serve.
A quick and easy crab recipe which serves eight as a starter, or four as a large main course.
2 dressed crabs ( I use brown and white meat, some prefer just the white meat)
10 tbsp very good olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp finely chopped fresh red chilli
75ml dry white wine
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil
Juice and grated zest of ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the linguine for 9-11 minutes, or according to packet instructions, until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan and add the garlic and chilli.
Fry lightly without colouring for about one minute.
Stir in the crabmeat and heat through for another minute.
Add the wine to the pan and let it bubble and reduce a little.
Drain the linguine and add to the crab mixture.
Stir in the parsley and basil and toss everything together to coat evenly.
Finish with the lemon juice and grated zest.
Season to taste and serve immediately
Allow three hours to include rising time. Makes 16 buns.
1.5 tsp dried yeast
5 fl oz warm milk
1 oz caster sugar
12 oz strong white flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground or grated cinnamon
1 tsp ground or grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3 oz currants or mixed fruit – chopped a bit finer
Grated zest of one lemon
2 oz butter, diced
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp flour and 1 tsp water mixed to form a paste - for the cross
1 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp boiling water mixed - to glaze
Stir together the warmed milk, the sugar and yeast in a small jug or bowl.
Warm a large metal bowl gently for a few minutes on a low heat or in the oven, then put in the flour. Mix in the other dry ingredients – the spices, fruit, salt and lemon zest and rub in the butter.
Create a well in the flour and add the milk mixture, then the beaten egg. Mix the ingredients until well incorporated. Knead for ten minutes until a good smooth dough is formed. Cover with greased cling film or a clean damp cloth and leave until double in size (usually about two hours depending on room temperature)
When risen knock back the dough and knead for a further two minutes. Cut into sixteen equal pieces and roll into bun shapes. Put on baking parchment on a metal baking sheet a few cm apart and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife. Leave covered to double in size.
Preheat oven to 375/190 Gas Mark 5. Just before cooking dribble the flour and water paste across the cut. Cook in centre of oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the buns are golden brown. Remove from oven and glaze immediately with the sugar water glaze.