Cranberry sauce for veggies!

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I vividly remember going to a Christmas market in Poland in minus 12 degree weather, and eating these amazing, steaming street snacks of smoked Polish cheese with cranberry sauce.  They were a warming, smokey, sweet delight.

So last week I found a really simple 3-ingredient cranberry sauce recipe that had (deservedly) great reviews and can be made 1 week ahead.   I thought about/experimented with what it can be enjoyed with apart from meat and concluded: it is lovely dolloped on top of yoghurt or swirled through porridge; great with pancakes; yummy in a cheese toastie; or alongside a cheese board (particularly with warm smoked cheese or with baked brie/camembert).  Here is the recipe, which takes just 15 minutes!  You could add extra flavours like orange/satsuma zest or ginger if you like.

Cranberry sauce (serves 8)

100g muscavado sugar/soft brown sugar

100ml orange juice, fresh or from a carton

250g fresh or frozen cranberries

Tip the sugar and orange juice into a pan, then bring to the boil. Stir in the cranberries, then simmer until tender but still holding their shape – this will take about 5-10 mins if using frozen cranberries or 10-15 mins if using fresh. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Will keep in the fridge for 1 week. On the day, bring to room temperature before serving (or warmer if you fancy).

Recipe from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com

 

 

Blue cheese and poppy seed biscuits

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These scrummy blue cheese and poppy seed biscuits can be eaten straight away, kept in a container for several days, or made ahead and then frozen.  They are really simple to make and look impressive so are great to have handy if you are expecting people (or need an edible gift idea).  They were also wolfed down by my kids as an after school snack!

The biscuits are from a recipe in Jane Lovett’s new ‘Make It Easy’ cookbook and she often serves them after meals instead of cheese (although I reckon they would be even better WITH cheese!)  We ate half and froze half so we could have some over Christmas.  You need clingfilm. Allow about 15 mins prep, 1 hour chilling and 10 mins baking.

Blue cheese and poppy seed biscuits (makes approx 25)

110g self-raising flour

110g butter

Large pinch mustard powder

50g blue cheese, crumbled (any is fine – I opted for the cheapest!)

50g cheddar cheese, grated

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.  Process the flour and butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (if the mixture seems too wet, gradually add flour until it is thicker).  Add the mustard powder, cheeses, poppy seeds and salt and pepper and process until well mixed.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the mixture in to two fat sausages and wrap tightly in clingfilm.  Chill for at least an hour (it will firm up).  Unwrap and slice into discs about the thickness of a pound coin.  Place on baking paper and bake for at least 5-7 minutes, turning halfway through when golden.  They should expand a little.  Cool slightly then eat!

If you want to freeze any then do so, either after baking OR after you have sliced in to discs, but before baking.  Put the biscuits spread out in freezer bags.  Cooked frozen biscuits can be briefly heated in the oven to take the frozen ‘edge’ off them and uncooked frozen biscuits can be baked as above.

 

 

Blackberry jam (and more ideas) for the blackberry season!

It’s August, and slowly but surely blackberries are appearing, plump and ready for picking. People have been picking them on our local marshes in London for a few weeks, but in some areas they are still ripening. It’s very satisfying (and cheap!) making something out of foraged fruit.

blackberry jam

Last year me and the kids made blackberry jam – it was our first attempt and it turned out great (see recipe below)!  It’s surprisingly straightforward to make and you can recycle old glass jam jars to store it in. It’s great on toast and swirled through porridge or yoghurt.  For instant cheesecakes, top digestive biscuits with soft cheese mixed with sugar, and a dollop of blackberry jam.

Alternatively, leftover blackberries can be frozen in freezer bags then whizzed in a food processor with apple juice and a banana to make an instant smoothie, or the mixture can be poured in to ice lolly moulds to have later. Frozen blackberries can also be whizzed with some yoghurt and honey to make quick ice cream.

Check out http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/blackberry for lots more blackberry recipe ideas, including cakes, crumbles and drinks.

Blackberry jam (makes 2-3 jars)

800g blackberries

Juice of 1 lemon

500g jam sugar with pectin (readily available)

Finely chop half the blackberries and mash the rest in to a pulp. Mix together then add the lemon juice and sugar. Mix again then leave to stand for 1 hour to draw out the juices.

Put in a saucepan and boil on a high bubbling heat for 8 minutes, skimming any foam off the surface.  The mixture will be a little runny but don’t worry as it will thicken overnight as it cools in the jar.

Meanwhile, sterilise your jam jars by washing them then putting the jars and lids in the oven at 140 degrees/gas mark 1 for 10 minutes (or a dishwasher cycle).

Leave the jam to cool for 10 minutes then fill the jam jar.  Stored in a cool, dark place for up to one year. Once opened refrigerate and use within 3 weeks.

Moroccan preserved lemons (20 mins prep and only £1 per jar – great chopped up in salads and stews)

I have been wanting to make preserved lemons for ages since coming across them in salad, tagine, stew and dressing recipes.  They are really easy and quick to make, make a great gift and the ingredients work out as about £1 per jar – you simply chop some lemons in to quarters, put them in a jar with some lemon juice, coriander seeds, bay leaves and lots of salt and leave them to preserve and marinate for at least 4 weeks.  They are finely chopped and used lots in Moroccan and Mediterranean cooking to add a ‘mellow, sweet and salty undertone’ apparently.  Once mine are ready I will try them out and report back here! easy preserved lemons You can use old jam/olive jars to store the lemons.  Just wash them first then sterilise the jars and lids by placing them on a tray in an oven at 150 degrees/gas mark 2 for 10 minutes (or a dishwasher cycle will do the trick).  Fill the jars while still warm (be careful as they will be very hot at first but don’t take long to cool down). This recipe makes about 4 jam jars worth (or 1-2 large jars).  You should be able to find the coriander seeds and bay leaves in large supermarkets and international shops. Preserved lemons (makes 4 small jars) 20 lemons (8 for squeezing and 12 for cutting in to quarters) 4 tsp coriander seeds 12 bay leaves 100g salt Cut 12 of the lemons in to quarters and rub them with plenty of salt.  Divide them in to 4 jam jars.  Separately squeeze 8 lemons and add 100g salt.  Give the mixture a vigorous stir and divide it between the jars (you want it to cover all of the lemons – I had to top mine up after the photo was taken).  Add 1 tsp of coriander seeds and 3 bay leaves to each jar.  Put the lids on and shake.  Leave them for at least 4 weeks, turning often.  They will keep for up to 12 months.  When using, discard the flesh and chop the rind finely.

Cooking with kids – Strawberry fridge jam

strawberry fridge jam cooking with kids

My son told me he would like some ‘red’ jam so we agreed to make our own! He enjoyed mashing up the strawberries (we pretended we were angry with them) while his little brother squeezed the lemon, then we added the sugar, stirred it all up and preperation was almost complete!

strawberry fridge jam cooking with kids

cooking with kids strawberry fridge jam

The kids were really proud to have made their own jam and gave a jar to nana.

strawberry fridge jam cooking with kids

cooking with kids strawberry fridge jam

I would advise against getting the kids to stir the jam as it gets VERY hot. Don’t worry if the consistency is a bit thin after it is heated as it will thicken over the next day. The jars will keep in a cool, dark place for up to a year or in the fridge for 3 weeks once opened.

You can recycle old jam jars by washing them then sterilising them in the oven – put the jars and lids on a tray on gas mark 1/140 degrees for 10 minutes (or a dishwasher cycle) and fill while still warm.

Ingredients – strawberry fridge jam (makes 2 – 3 jars)

800g strawberries
Juice of 1 lemon
500g jam sugar with pectin

Finely chop half the strawberries and mash the rest in to a pulp. Mix together then add the lemon juice and sugar. Mix again then leave to stand for 1 hour to draw out the juices.

Put in a saucepan and heat on a high heat. Boil on a high bubbling heat for 8 minutes, skimming any foam off the surface.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes then fill the jam jars.

Seasonal rhubarb and vanilla jam (10 mins prep/30 mins stirring)

easy rhubarb vanilla jam

I wanted to make an unusual seasonal jam so was instantly keen to try out this fuss free recipe from http://www.bbcgoodfood.com . The subtlety of the vanilla alongside the sharp sweetness of the rhubarb, lemon juice and sugar is delicious. Have it on toast or spoon it on to yoghurt and welcome in the spring!

You can recycle old jam jars but make sure you sterilise them first by washing them in soapy water then popping the jars and lids in the oven for approx. 10 mins at gas mark 1/140 degrees (or a dishwasher cycle should do it).

The jam takes 10 mins to prepare and 20-30 mins to cook. Don’t worry if it all looks dry when you put it in the pan – after a few minutes it will become wet and sticky.

easy rhubarb vanilla jam

For alternative preserves recipes (marmalade, spiced apple chutney and chilli jam) click here https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/category/preserves/.

Rhubarb and vanilla jam (makes 5-6 jars)

1kg rhubarb, weighed after trimming, cut in to 3cm chunks
1kg jam sugar (or 1kg caster sugar plus 1 x 8g sachet pectin)
2 vanilla pods, halved lengthways
Juice of 1 lemon

Put the rhubarb in to a large saucepan along with the sugar and halved vanilla pods. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the lemon juice. Keep the lid off to help the mixture reduce down, and boil for 10-20 mins, until the jam is sticky. Don’t worry if it seems a little thinner than normal as it thickens as it cools.

Once the jam is ready let it cool for 15 mins before ladling it in to the warm sterilised jars and sealing. Will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place.

Spiced apple chutney

easy spiced apple chutney

Here is a straightforward chutney recipe full of lovely gentle spice flavour.  It is my first go at chutney (courtesy of www.bbc.co.uk/food) and is very easy.  I love having it in the fridge to add to cheese (especially cheddar, cheshire or stilton) or anything I decide it will go with e.g. a pasty/quiche/a picnic.  And if I ate meat I would recommend it alongside meat of course!

Allow about 20 mins preparation plus approx 1.5 – 2 hours to occasionally stir it until it is ready.  Don’t be tempted to add extra raisons/sultanas as they plump up when cooking.  This recipe makes 4-6 jars of chutney and you can re-use old olive/jam jars (see below recipe for simple sterilising instructions).  Your friends will love you if you give them a jar!

easy spiced apple chutney

For further preserves recipes that make excellent edible gifts (or just for you) try this sweet chilli jam recipe https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/easy-sweet-chilli-jam-recipe-plus-rocky-roads-good-to-make-with-kids-9/ or this mega quick marmalade recipe https://katielovescooking.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/easy-quick-delicious-marmalade/.

Ingredients for spiced apple chutney

225g/8oz onions, chopped

900g/2lb apples, cored and chopped

110g/4oz sultanas, raisins or chopped dates

15g/½oz ground coriander

15g/½oz paprika

15g/½oz mixed spice or a good pinch of ground cloves

15g/½oz salt

340g/12oz granulated sugar

425ml/¾ pints malt vinegar

Put all the ingredients into a big saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil until the sugar has dissolved.  Gently simmer for 1½-2 hours, stirring from time to time to stop the chutney sticking to the pan.  When it is very thick and you can draw a wooden spoon across the base of the pan so that it leaves a channel behind it that does not immediately fill with liquid, the chutney is ready.

Turn into sterilised jars, seal and cool.

To sterilise jars: ‘Wash them well in hot, soapy water, rinse well with hot, clean water and dry with a clean cloth. Then put the jars in an oven preheated to 140c/Gas Mk 1/275F for 10 minutes. Put the contents into the warm jars’ (from www.nigella.com).