Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Sometimes things just don't go right

Sometimes I try a recipe and it doesn't turn out how I thought it would. Most of the time its something I did or didn't but sometimes it just happens.

Last night I made Delia's pasta with pepper relish. But the chilli I added was very very hot. The dish was fine but would have been a better with a milder chilli. I only used one instead of the two I was supposed to. I have to say I love the recipe and knew that I was going to make it as soon as I saw the two peppers in last weeks box. Its dead simple.

Pasta with pepper relish

  • 450g peppers, sliced
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 dessertspoon olive oil
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 medium sized chillies
  • 4 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
Dry roast the cumin seeds for a minute then add the oil, peppers, chilli and garlic. Turn the heat down to low and cover. Cook for 40 mins until peppers are soft, stir occasionally.

Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, season and cook for 5 mins until the moisture has reduced.

Stir pasta into sauce and serve.

I'm entering into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights. Which is being hosted by Melissa at The Cooking Diva. Make sure you have a look at the round up.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Roast pork and crab apple jelly

With the weather being atrocious this weekend we needed a roast dinner. We decided to have pork which we got from Puddledub at the Farmers Market. We had it with roast potatoes, mashed swede, carrots, cabbage and Yorkshire puddings. I have to say that the Yorkshire puddings rose really well. This is thanks to Andrew's mum giving me a great and easy to remember 2 cups of eggs, 2 cups of flour and 2 cups of milk. With this meal we had a lovely perry from Oliver's

With the Pork we had crab apple jelly as an apple sauce substitute. How we came about the crab apples is due to Andrew. He had gone to university to submit his thesis and noticed that the trees around the university were laden with crab apples. When he came back and he put his bag down it made a suspicious rustling. He had picked about 5 kilos of crab apples. We used the recipe found in the River Cottage Preserves Book. It was so easy to make and gave a jelly with a fantastic colour.

Crab apple jelly

  • 2 kg Crab apples
  • 2 Cinnamon sticks
  • 3 Cloves
  • Granulated sugar
Chop apples and simmer them and spices with 1.2 litres of water until soft

Strain in jelly bag overnight

Measure the juice and heat. When the juice is about to come to the boil, add sugar (450 g for every 600 ml of juice).

Boil rapidly for 10 mins until setting point is reached.

Pot in warm sterilised jars and seal.

Weekend breakfasts

Last week Andrew and I decided that we would make more of an effort with our breakfasts on the weekend. So on Saturday we had kippers for breakfast. We had never had kippers and the thought of fish for breakfast was a bit weird. Saying that I do like smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. We bought the kippers at the Organic Food Festival a few weeks ago from Inverawe. We just grilled it with some butter and served it with a dash of lemon squeezed over and some wholemeal toast. I really enjoyed the kippers and they will definitely be returning for another breakfast.

On Sunday we had a bit of a classic, boiled egg and soldiers. We have a family tradition on my side of the family its something called extra yolk, its the butter on the right. I have to state right now that Andrew does not part take in the extra yolk, he just doesn't get it. All you do is when you have nearly finished your yolk you add the extra yolk. Its a way of extending the yolk. I don't think it will catch on. Andrew is evidence of that, but hey I love it!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

So what did we do with all that fruit? Part 4 - Blackcurrant wine

Well now, where to begin. Serena has been on at me to write this post for ages and I have finally run out of excuses. Its not that I haven't wanted to write it - I just haven't found the time. Well my blogging laziness is another story. Way back in August we pick a whole load of fruit, from which we've made jams, jellies, vinegar and liqueurs. What Serena hasn't mentioned in her previous post was my little side project.

As I think I mentioned before, I'm very interested in drinks and have wanted to have a go at home brewing (both wine and beers) for a while. In our flat we didn't really have the space to store a load of demijohns and fermenting buckets. As soon as we moved in early August I was off down the local brew shop hatching plans like a for future concoctions.

Seeing as it was still summer, I decided to start by making some country wines instead of beers. The first was a blackcurrant wine. This used about 1.5 kg of the blackcurrants that we picked. The fruit was roughly crushed in a bucket with a potato masher, over which 4.5L of boiling water (into which 1.75 kg of sugar had been dissolved) was poured. When this had cooled to room temperature a tsp of pectic enzyme was added followed by wine yeast the next day. The must was left for 5 days before being strained into a demijohn.

It being the first time that I've done this, I was a little unsure at which point to rack the wine. After a lot of uncertainty I racked the wine after 1.5/2 months. Maybe I could have left it longer but I figured racking too much couldn't be too bad.

We have also been out picking as much fruit from the hedgerows this summer/autumn as we could. I think Serena is going to post about that soon so I will say no more, except that I also have a blackberry and elderberry wine on the go. This time I merged the recipes from three different books as I couldn't find an individual one that I liked the look of. I used 1kg of blackberries, 1kg elderberries and 1.5 kg of sugar dissolved in 4.5 L of boiling water. This wine is the most amazing purple colour. Really hope that they both turn out ok......

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Beef ragu and homemade pasta

When Andrew's parents visited for the weekend they brought some goodies with them, these included a pasta machine. I have told Andrew that I really wanted a pasta machine but he has never been very convinced that I would use it that much. So as a compromise we borrowed Andrew's parents one.

Last weekend seemed to really signal the beginning of autumnal eating which means the start of stews and toad in the hole! For Sundays dinner I decided to make my version of a ragu. I knew somewhere in my vast collection of books I had a recipe for a ragu and pasta but I couldn't find it. So I had an idea of what I wanted it have in it. It was a bit of a cross of beef bourginon with some of the ingredients I would use to make spag bol.

  • Olive oil

  • 500g of stewing beef, cubed

  • 3-4 tbsps of seasoned flour

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed

  • 1 swede, chopped

  • 3 carrots, chopped

  • 250g of pumpkin chopped

  • Tomato paste

  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes

  • 1/2 bottle of red wine

  • Handful of olives
Preheat oven to 150 degree c.Toss the beef in the seasoned flour. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish and brown the beef in batches.

Fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic, swede and carrots stir for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes. Return the meat to the pan. Add the olives.

Add the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan to make sure that the crusty bits a incorporated. Then add the tin of tomatoes. If this doesn't cover the meat and veg top up with water.

Put in the oven and cook for 1 hour then stir in the pumpkin. Then cook for another 1-1 and a half hours until meat is tender and sauce has reduced.

Serve with pasta.

Whilst the ragu was cooking, I made my pasta. I used Jamie's 100g and 1 large egg per person recipe.

I think my pasta making will be a bit like bread making at first it took me while to get to grips with but now I can knock up the dough in five minutes. As this is my first attempt it took a while.

Once it had combined into a dough I kneaded it for a few minutes before starting the rolling!

This part was quite tricky but I think that's because I tried to roll too much of the dough at once. This meant we had long pieces of pasta which made it hard to handle. Also the dough likes to stick to itself so you really need to dust it with quite a bit of flour.

We did get the hang of it at the end it was great to see the sheets of pasta gradually getting thinner and thinner. I wanted to make pappardelle, so we rolled up the pasta and cut it into wide strips.I have to say that it was great to make are own pasta. I know that I will get better at it with time. I think that I rolled the pasta a bit too thin as well. But I will know better next time.

The ragu/stew was great the meat was tender and the liquid had reduced to make a wonderful sauce. I'm entering this recipe into this weeks Presto Pasta Nights roundup which this week is hosted by Ruth at Once Upon A Feast. Make sure you check out the roundup.

So what did we do with all that fruit? Part 3 - raspberry vinegar

Once I had made the raspberry jam and vodka, I had a few hundred grams leftover. I remember seeing in my River Cottage Preserves Book a recipe for raspberry vinegar. I have seen these in delis but are they are quite expensive. So we gave it a go. For the first part soak the raspberries (slightly crushed) in cider vinegar for 4-5 days. For every 1 kg of raspberries you use 600 ml of vinegar.

I then deviated from this recipe, as I had been told by Andrew's when they made their raspberry vinegar it was very sweet. I then followed Maguerite Patten's recipe which uses less sugar. To 600 ml of juice you add 225 g of sugar. This is dissolved by heating and then tipped into a sterilised bottle.

So far we have only used it to dress green salads as part of our meals. It does make a great alternative to the usual balsamic or wine vinegars. But I am currently searching for some specific recipes.

So what did we do with all that fruit? Part 2 Fruit flavoured vodkas

In August we picked a whole lot of berries from a PYO. The main reason for this was that I wanted to make some jams. But we picked ALOT of fruit. So we had lots leftover for other uses. So we made some flavoured vodkas. We have made strawberry, raspberry and blackcurrant vodkas. The recipes for the raspberry and strawberry vodka were based on recipes from the Cottage Smallholder Blog. For the blackcurrant vodka I used 500g of blackcurrants, 250g sugar and 1 litre of vodka. These were started in August and I think I might strain the fruit in November, so they would have 3 months of steeping.

Its quite funny to think that as part of my PhD I have been extracting fruits (mainly apples) for analysis and at home I am using that same principles at home!

We have made both raspberry and blackcurrant vodka before. The blackcurrant was our favourite before we made the rhubarb vodka, which is now my favourite. The raspberry was a little bitter but I think this was because we added lemon peel which still had some pith attached. Strawberry is new for us.

We had a few people over to the flat for a celebration of the theses being submitted and I have to say that the rhubarb vodka was well received. We will definitely be making more next year.