• Lockdown Larder: Jams

    Many moons ago, I picked up a book from Lakeland, entitled “Preserves”, with every intention of exploring the world of jam making.  I even bought a number of small jam jars for this purpose.  I had a vision of becoming a jam making domestic goddess, who would present lovely jars of homemade jam to family and friends for Christmas and other key holidays.  Like with so many things, I didn’t make the time  to make the jam as intended.  My book sat on the shelf, collecting dust while my jam jars remained forgotten in a box somewhere.

    While lockdown has been difficult for a number of reasons, it has also given me the time to do things which I have not made the time for in the past.  While having time has helped me get into jam making, I have to given credit to Lynwood & Co in this regard too.  With the generous fruit boxes, I have been purchasing from Lynwood & Co on a one to two week basis, I have had an abundance of fruit to use in my baking and jam making.  To be honest, what started as a way of using up excess fruit has now become a bit of a passion on mine.  I can’t say I have perfected the art of jam making, but I am learning as I go.  I have learnt that relying on my thermometer to get to 105 degrees Celsius is not necessarily reliable to get setting point and that the frozen plate/fridge test is possibly better for checking this.

    So far, I have made the following jams:

    • Apple and Pear
    • Grape Jelly (I have not included the recipe here, as the end result was a little on the thin side and as I am not sure whether this is down to the recipe or my jam-making skills, I felt that it was best not to included the recipe here), as if you ar
    • Rhubarb and Ginger
    • Marmalade
    • Pear and Ginger

    I should mention, that a couple of essential purchases made during lockdown, have included a six-pack of Kilner jars (all currently in use) and some food grade muslin.  Maybe, I shouldn’t have said essential as I could have made do with empty jam jars and the ones I bought from Lakeland way back when (in retrospect, a little on the small side for general jam making – okay for a small gift) and you can use a clean drying up cloth instead of muslin, but all I can say is that these purchases have been very helpful indeed.

    Now, without further ado, let me share the recipes that I have used with you are reading this  post, this is most probably what you are here for.

    Apple and Pear (Tales from a Well-Stocked Larder)

    Ingredients

    • 1 kg of prepared pears and apples (peel, core, then dice pears and grate apples)
    • Juice of 1 lemon
    • Small amounts of water
    • 1 kg of sugar

    Method

    • Simmer pears, apples and lemon juice until soft (about 30 min).  Add water if it becomes too dry.
    • Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
    • Simmer until setting point is reached (approximately 20 – 30 minutes of 105 degrees Celsius)
    • Transfer to sterilised jars, ensuring any chunks of fruit are well-distributed.  Seal, label and store.
    • The jam lasts approximately one year in sealed sterilised containers.
    • Transfer to the fridge once opened.

    Marmalade (Source: Nigel Slater in The Guardian)

    Ingredients

    • 12 Seville oranges ( I used regular oranges, which made a very flavoursome marmalade)
    • 2 lemons
    • 1.25kg unrefined golden granulated sugar

    Method

    • Using a small, particularly sharp kitchen knife, score four lines down each fruit from top to bottom, as if you were cutting the fruit into quarters. Let the knife cut through the peel but without piercing the fruit.
    • Cut each quarter of peel into fine shreds (or thicker slices if you like a chunkier texture). Squeeze each of the peeled oranges and lemons into a jug, removing and reserving all the pulp and pips.
    • Make the juice up to 4 litres with cold water, pouring it into the bowl with the shredded peel. You may need more than one bowl here.  Tie the reserved pith, squeezed-out orange and lemon pulp and the pips in muslin bag and push into the peel and juice.  Set aside in a cold place and leave overnight.
    • The next day, tip the juice and shredded peel into a large stainless steel or enamelled pan (or a preserving pan for those lucky enough to have one) and push the muslin bag down under the juice. Bring to the boil then lower the heat so that the liquid continues to simmer merrily. It is ready when the peel is totally soft and translucent. This can take anything from 40 minutes to a good hour-and-a-half, depending purely on how thick you have cut your peel.
    • Once the fruit is ready, lift out the muslin bag and leave it in a bowl until it is cool enough to handle. Add the sugar to the peel and juice and turn up the heat, bringing the marmalade to a rolling boil.  Squeeze every last bit of juice from the reserved muslin bag into the pan.  Skim off any froth that rises to the surface. (If you don’t your preserve will be cloudy.)  Leave at a fast boil for 15 minutes.  Remove a tablespoon of the preserve, put it on a plate, and pop it into the fridge for a few minutes.  If a thick skin forms on the surface of the refrigerated marmalade, then it is ready and you can switch the pan off.  If the tester is still liquid, then let the marmalade boil for longer.  Test every 10 to 15 minutes.  Some mixtures can take up to 50 minutes to reach setting consistency.
    • Ladle into the sterilised pots and seal immediately.

    I made a half batch of the recipe and it yielded just over two Kilner Jars of marmalade. with a little to spare

    Pear and Ginger Jam (Domestic Gothess)

    Ingredients

    • 400g (prepared weight) peeled and cored pears chopped into small dice
    • 150 g (prepared weight) peeled and cored cooking apple very finely minced
    • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 small lemon
    • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
    • 100 ml water
    • 400g granulated sugar
    • 2 balls stem ginger finely chopped

    Method

    • Place a couple of saucers into the freezer and sterilise your jars.
    • Place the pears, apples, lemon zest and juice, ginger and water into a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring up to a simmer and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, until the fruit is tender.
    • Stir in the sugar and stem ginger and heat gently until the sugar has completely dissolved.
    • Turn up the heat and cook at a rapid boil for about 10 minutes, or until it reaches 105 degrees Celsius; stir regularly to prevent it from catching on the bottom.
    • Remove from the heat and place a teaspoonful of the jam on one of the cold saucers; pop it in the fridge for a minute then push at it with a finger, if the surface of the jam wrinkles then it is ready; if not then return the pan to a rapid boil for another five minutes then remove from the heat and check again.
    • Allow the jam to cool for 5-10 minutes, then ladle it into hot sterilised jars, seal and allow to cool. Once opened keep refrigerated

    Rhubarb and Ginger Jam (Source: BBC Good Food)

    Ingredients

    • 1kg rhubarb, trimmed weight
    • 1kg jam sugar (which has added pectin)
    • Zest and juice 1 lemon
    • 50g stem or crystallised ginger, finely chopped
    • 4cm piece ginger, peeled

    Method

    • Wash the rhubarb under cold running water and slice into 2cm pieces. Tip into a large ceramic or plastic bowl and add the jam sugar, lemon zest and juice, and chnd opped stem ginger. Finely grate the peeled ginger directly over the rhubarb.
    •   Stir the mixture thoroughly, cover loosely with cling film and leave to one side for about 2 hours to allow the sugar to dissolve into the rhubarb juices. You may need to stir the mixture occasionally to encourage this process along.
    • Pop a few saucers in the freezer. Scoop the fruit and all the sugary juices into a preserving pan and set over a medium heat.  Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved, and bring to the boil.  Continue to cook at a fairly swift pace until the rhubarb is really tender and the conserve has reached setting point – this should take about 10-15 mins.
    • To test for a set, drop ½ tsp of the jam onto a cold saucer, leave it for 30 secs, then gently push it with the tip of your finger. If the jam wrinkles the setting point has been reached. If not, continue to cook for a further couple of minutes and test again.
    • Remove the pan from the heat and leave to one side for 2-3 mins before pouring into sterilised jars. Seal immediately and label with the date once completely cold.

    To sterilise jars, I heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius.  Wash the jars in warm soapy water and then rinse them thoroughly before placing them in heated oven for 15 minutes.  I then turn off the oven, but leave the jars in the oven until I need them.

    I have enjoyed making jam so much during lockdown that if I ever got the opportunity to do so for a living (or part thereof), I would jump at the opportunity.

    What next, you might ask.  Well, as we speak, I have the recipe for an overnight three-citrus processor marmalade open in from of me (from my “Preserve” book.  As soon as a Kilner jar becomes available, I will be making this.  Lets hope my grapefruits, lemons and oranges will still be okay by then.  Who am I kidding, the way we are devouring jam and marmalade on sourdough toast for breakfast, a Kilner jar will be free in a blink of an eye.

     Happy preserving!

  • Lockdown larder: South African bakes

    I don’t often reminisce about my childhood in Cape Town, South Africa.  It has been many years since I left – I have just realised that next month it will be 30 years.   I was just about to say that I can’t remember why I started thinking about the bakes of my childhood, but then I remembered that I have recently joined The Lekker Old Days Facebook page, which harks back to the good old days in South Africa.  They often post pictures of sweets and biscuits and enquire whether we can remember anything that far back.  It’s a bit of harmless nostalgia, but it does give rise to a few oohs and aahs of remembrance.  Anyway, someone in the group posted a recipe for Romany Creams and I decided to give the recipe a go.

    The recipe is as follows:

    Ingredients

    • 500g butter (room temperature)
    • 200g caster sugar
    • 25g icing sugar
    • ¼ cup oil
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tbsp vanilla essence
    • 480g plain flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 125g of cocoa powder
    • 2 cups desiccated coconut
    • 450g plain chocolate, melted in a bowl in a microwave for 2 minutes or over a Bain Marie

    Method

    • Beat the butter, oil, icing sugar and caster sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.
    • Add the egg and the vanilla essence and mix for a minute.
    • Add all the dry ingredients and mix by hand to form a soft dough.
    • Cling wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
    • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius.
    • Roll out dough on a well-floured surface and ensure that your rolling pin is floured as well.
    • Take a fork and run it lightly over dough, scraping to form the rugged look.
    • Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter and place on a greased or non-stick baking tray.
    • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
    • When cooled, turn the biscuits upside down, so if you baked 50 biscuits, only turn around 25 biscuits.
    • Allow the melted chocolate to cool down for 10 to 15 minutes.
    • Spoon the chocolate on top of the biscuits and wait for the chocolate to half set a bit before lightly placing the top biscuit. Press gently.
    • Allow the chocolate to set and pack away in an air tight container.

    I made half the recipe.  This was more than enough for two of us for a week.

    Although the Romany Cream were absolutely delicious, it reminded me of another favourite biscuit of mine growing up, the Choc Crust.  It was inevitably therefore that these were next on my list.

    Choc Crust Biscuits (Source: Cape Malay Cooking with Fatima Sydow)

    Ingredients

    • 150 grams of soft butter
    • 1 large egg
    • 100g caster sugar
    • 180g muscovado sugar
    • 1 tsp of vanilla essence
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 tbsp fine ginger or freshly grated ginger
    • 2 tbsp golden syrup
    • 330g plain flour
    • ¼ cup of oil
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 1 cup of desiccated coconut
    • 1 large slab of chocolate melted to fill in between the biscuits

    Method

    • Cream the butter and sugar together.
    • Add the egg, vanilla, ginger, salt, oil and golden syrup and mix until combined.
    • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until a soft dough is formed.
    • Place in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
    • Roll out your dough on a floured surface, scrape with a fork lightly up and down to create the rugged look and with a round or oval cookie cutter cut out shapes (not too large as the dough spreads).
    • Take a butter knife and make a 5mm wide rectangle hole in centre of cookie.
    • Transfer to tray lined with baking paper and bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 10-12 minutes or until its golden brown. Remove and cool.
    • Melt the chocolate and spread with a butter knife some melted chocolate on to the base of biscuit and join this side with another biscuit
    • Store in an airtight container

    You would have thought that I might have stopped at this point, but I didn’t.  The choc crusts made me think of nutty crust biscuits, so thank to a recipe from Halaal Recipes, I made these as well.  The recipe is as follows:

    Nutty Crust Biscuits

    • 250g butter
    • 135g brown sugar
    • 1 cup oats (grind it a bit and roast in the oven for 5 minutes)
    • 1 cup coconut
    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
    • 2 tbsp golden syrup
    • 2 tbsp boiling water
    • 240g to 360g flour (or enough to make a soft dough – I used about 300g)

    Method

    • Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy
    • Add the roasted oats and coconut and mix well
    • Add golden syrup to the boiling water with the bicarbonate of soda and mix and then add to the butter mixture
    • Add the tbsp of oil and mix
    • Add enough flour to make a soft dough
    • Separate dough into 3 portions and make into logs and refrigerate for 30 minutes
    • Slice with the back of a knife and place on a baking sheet with enough space in between
    • Bake 180 degrees Celsius for 12-15 minutes
    • Switch off the oven and leave the biscuits to dry out a bit
    • Store in an air tight container

    I have one more South African biscuit type bake that I would like to do.  A very simple crunchie (flapjack).  Watch this space.

    Happy Baking!

  • Lockdown Larder: Tarts

    I love a savoury tart.  I love a sweet one too,but this post is about savoury tarts.  Just as soups are a good way to use up vegetables, so too are tarts (or quiches).  I have made three tarts/quiches during lockdown:

    • Leek
    • Leek and mushroom
    • Parsnip and leek

    Have you spotted the common denominator?  Yes, the good old leek.  I know there are many things you can do with a leek, but sauteeing them off in some butter or oil and then placing them in a tart creates a great tasting tart.

    I am not a huge fan of tarts/quiches containing cream at the best of times so with lockdown and the absence of cream in my fridge, I went on the hunt for a non-cream containing quiche filling.  I came across a very versatile recipe from the House of Yumm, entitled “How to make a quiche (using any filling of your choice)”.  This has now become my staple quiche recipe.

    Ingredients

    • 1 portion shortcrust pastry (I made my first quiche using a simple BBC Good Food recipe for short-crust pastry but now use Jamie Oliver’s recipe as it makes for a flakier pastry – see recipe below)
    • 5 eggs
    • 1 ¼ cup of milk of choice (I only had skimmed milk, which worked very well, so use whatever milk you prefer or have to hand)
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • ¼ tsp pepper
    • Fillings of choice (e.g. sautéed leeks, leeks and mushrooms with added cheese)

    Method

    • Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Roll the shortcrust pastry out and fit into 23cm pie dish. Trim any excess crust.
    • Line the inside of the shortcrust pastry with baking paper and fill with baking beans – make sure that they are up against the sides of the pie crust.  Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes. Remove the baking beans and then bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. The crust should be golden in colour.
    • Prepare the egg mixture by adding the eggs to a bowl. Add the milk. Add the salt and pepper.
    • Mix with a whisk or hand mixer to ensure the egg and milk mixture is completely mixed.
    • Spread the desired fillings on the bottom of the pie crust. Pour the egg mixture on top. Bake at 170 degrees for about 30-40 minutes or until the quiche filling is set with a slight wobble in the middle.
    • Allow to cool for about 20 minutes to room temperature.  The quiche can be served warm, cold, or room temperature.

    Short Crust Pasty (Source: Jamie Oliver)

    Ingredients

    • 250g plain flour
    • 125g cold butter
    • Pinch of salt
    • 100ml cold water

    Method

    • Tip the flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt, then chop and rub in the butter.
    • Make a well in the middle, slowly pour in 100ml of cold water, then mix, pat and bring it together.
    • Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 1 hour.

    Parsnip and Onion Tart (Source: Waitrose and Partners)

    Ingredients

    • 1 portion shortcrust pastry
    • 3 onions or 3 leeks, sliced
    • 500g parsnips, peeled and quartered lengthways
    • 3 large eggs
    • 300ml milk
    • 100g mature cheddar cheese, grated

    Method

    • Preheat the oven to 190°C.
    • Prepare and blind bake a pastry base as above.
    • Heat the 25g butter in a non-stick frying pan and add the onions/leeks and season. Cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes, until golden and caramelised. Meanwhile, cook the parsnips in boiling water for 7-10 minutes or until tender. Drain well and tip into a bowl. Mash until smooth.
    • Beat together the eggs and milk. Stir in half the cheese, the onions/leeks and parsnips. Season. Pour the mix into the tin and scatter over the remaining cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes, till just set in the middle. Remove from the tin and serve warm.

    Happy cooking.