Sunday, 27 July 2014
Blackcurrant is quite the headiest of summer flavours, almost musky, a touch tart, the scent of the leaves alone risks intoxicating. I long to make cakes and sorbets and all sorts, but, better still, to capture this flavour in a jar.
The winds brought down the first Windfall Apples, and I used these to add body, texture, pectin and tartness to the Blackcurrant Jam.
2 1/2 lb ripest Blackcurrants
1/2 lb grated Windfalls
3 lb Sugar
1/2 Lemon juice of
Macerate these overnight in a bowl. Bring to boil in a jam pan, then simmer quickly until reaches setting point. Pot in sterilised jars.*
I wondered a moment how to capture the raw Blackcurrant flavour, besides freezing, and remembered a recipe, again from Clare Island, for Raw Blackcurrant Jam. This recipe uses far less sugar and has to be eaten immediately (or frozen) :
Mash Blackcurrants without crushing pips. Beat until light. Add sugar to 1/3 of the weight of the currants. Beat again until light. Pot in clean jars. Use as jam - not just on toast, but with yoghurt, pancakes, cakes, smoothies, on a spoon...
*To test for setting point, put a plate in the fridge. Put a teaspoon of the jam on the cold plate, return to fridge. Setting point is reached if wrinkles when cool. Sterilise clean jars by putting in oven at 100 C for 20 minutes.
Thursday, 24 July 2014
Ideally for this simplest of summer recipes, you have an ice-cream maker, and a freezer. If this is the case, you coarsely blend 500g Redcurrants (or, even better, Blackcurrants) with 100g Sugar and one pot of Yoghurt, put this in the ice-cream machine, and when ready pot and freeze, for the most fragrant and fruit-filled of summer ices.
In my case I blitzed the Redcurrants, Yoghurt, a tablespoon of Sugar and same of Elderflower Cordial, dropped in a few Blackcurrants and we ate it as it was, tart and not frozen.
This recipe comes from Clare Island Yoga Retreat Centre, where they make yoghurt of their own Sheep's milk and are likely gathering their heavenly Blackcurrants as I write...
On the sugar front - need I say that in this and all sugary recipes those of you who prefer to use alternative sugars (agave/maple/date/fructose &c.) replace as you wish. Note however, I do cut down on sugar, use unrefined varieties and bake on the tart side. At the same time, I don't hesitate to express my sympathy for the too-oft villified sugarbeet.
Those of you that have followed this blog from the start will remember tales of Gardener's Cottage, where kitchen pottered into garden, and forage and firewood gathering were the order of the day, all against a backdrop of frosty winter fields. Most of these, my former ventures, are still gathered here on the blog, please scrawl down, use the search button or refer to "best posts" and "archive".
I have since accumulated a husband, that baking boy of once-upon-a-time, a child, dear charming girl child, now nearly walking and expert at podding peas, a dilapidated townhouse and an allotment. Today, nearly a year since I last posted I am relaunching this blog, to once again regale you with tales of la bonne bouffe - good food. My angle will have no doubt changed since those romantic early years - now all a-fluster with feeding a family, holding together a tumbledown home, and struggling to grow vegetables in a bramble strewn patch of ground...
Despite the ramshackle nature of the abode, Tom, husband, baker and (more to the point) joiner, has hewn a magnificent kitchen (shown), great ash work surfaces, deep drawers, shelves galore, these a woodburning stove, and giant gleaned sink, make cooking at Dow House utter joy.
For now news is: there is Blackcurrant and Windfall Jam in the making, and we are planning a foray to the local poultry auction.
Monday, 29 July 2013
Yellow and orange Carrots roast with Honey and Lemon. Piled on top of large grain wholemeal Couscous and Rocket. Glamourised with Nasturtiums, Calendula Petals and Feta. A super Sunday evening feast of allotment pickings.
Fry Chorizo and Onion in Olive Oil, add blanched Broad Beans, heat through until hot, smother in Olive Oil, fresh Garlic and Spring Onions... Roast yesterday's leftover New Potatoes in Olive Oil with Rosemary. A sort-of-Spanish feast from the allotment.
And for quite the best in Olive Oils: I have just had a new delivery from Spain of Mother's Garden Olive Oil, it is so fresh it is buttery, almost drinkable.
Tuesday, 23 July 2013
Other Pestos :
Wild Garlic Pesto
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
I made pasties to take into the woods, as the coppicing season starts again. These are filled with a mixture of Roasted Pumpkin, Carrot and Shallots, Steamed Leeks, Ginger, Chilli, Tomatoes, Apricots and Raisins... The pastry is Wholewheat Flour, Butter, one Egg and a splash of Milk.
The ultimate autumnal pocketable sandwich!
Saturday, 13 October 2012
This morning, with the leftover pastry I made an Apple and Pear Tart. Glazed only with Brown Sugar.
Monday, 30 April 2012
Thursday, 29 March 2012
Friday, 17 February 2012
The snow melted, this morning I set out to see what edible greens could be found and foraged for a raw Garden Pesto.
I was hoping for Wild Garlic, but it doesn't seem to be coming up yet. There was however a little bit of wild green: Dandelion, Nettle, Comfrey. And in the cultivated garden: Land Cress, Chard, Beetroot Tops, Curly Kale, baby Leeks, Mustard, Poached Egg Plant, Red Veined Sorrel, Fennel, Parsley, Marjoram...
I pinched the smaller leaves of all of the above and chopped the lot very finely indeed. Toasted and ground some Cashew Nuts that were sitting around, these and some Pumpkin Seeds and Hemp seeds. Stirred the lot into a mixture of Olive and Rapeseed Oils, added a squeeze of Garlic, some French coarse Sea Salt...
Oh! The joy of a raw vegan Pesto from the scrapings of a winter's garden. We ate it for lunch on some hot pasta, to pre-empt Spring.
If this is covered in a lot of oil it should store six months or so. But it's so delicious immediately - why not feast on it these next days awaiting the first Spring Shoots...
For when those Ramsons do appear, a recipe for Wild Garlic Pesto.
Thursday, 9 February 2012
This is a recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi. It is a soup for Tomato season, but if you happen to have bottled Summer's Tomatoes, or made Passata, these can be used. I followed his recipe, which can be found here, skipping the Sugar and the tinned Tomatoes, and using half a pint of Tomato Passata made in Summer, extra Cumin, and Parsley instead of Coriander. This soup brings a wonderful ray of Summer in the winter's durge.
Wednesday, 8 February 2012
Spring, Summer, Autumn, were spent, you might remember, madly concocting inifinite beverages, that the winter might be spent hunkered down by the fire, a glass of some sweet form of hedgerow inebriation in the hand. And, thank goodness! For now, winter is ripe, and the cupboards overspilling with tipple.
First then, the infused liquers. Gin left to mull with Bullace from the garden, Whisky full of wild Blackberries, Vodka with Elderflowers and Gooseberries. I have learnt a lot about these. Often the tendency, and the recipes I have found, have doused the alcohol full of sugar, as well as fruit. As, it appears, the alcohol alone preserves the fruit and is quite palatable with only the barest brush of sugar, the amount of sugar often reccomended is really for those with a sweet tooth. I prefer a sharper, dryer and often bitterer drink, so for next year, I will use the following quantities:
Secondly, as I am not a drinker of summer cocktails with ice, shaken in tall glasses, I have found the lighter Vodkas and Gins (Gooseberry, floral etc) harder to drink, too sweet mixed with tonic, and not quite my thing on their own. I have found these best as gifts. The darker, winter brews, are wonderful alone, warm by the fire, and I will make these again by the bucketful next year.
The Quince Brandy was long awaited, hoping to capture that wondrous floral perfume and tart flavour. I tried two versions, one raw, and one cooked. I have to say that having left the both three months in bottles with a variety of spices, the Quince sadly hadn't given much of its inimitable flavour to the Brandy, it instead tasted mainly of the spices, of which too much Star Anise for my palate was evident! The cooked version did have a slight fruitiness. Next year I shall attempt with grated Quince, as one friend suggested, no spices and leave it longer, perhaps even with a dash of Quince Juice. However, it made a wonderful spiced warming drink, and another great Christmas present...
2011 Recipes for infused Alcohols:
Gooseberry and Elderflower Vodka
Gooseberry and Whitecurrant Gin
As for the brews, the Elderflower Champagne was a dream, drunk young, aged well to a sharper wine, and I shall be making much in the future - despite the explosions in the shed!
Otherwise, I still have to perfect my brewing. My tactic seems to be: mix it all up, forget about it... and in one case mice had found my muslin bottle tops rather tasty, another had turned to vinegar. The experts on home-made wines are Carl Legge - see his wonderful blog. And, Christophe, on Clare Island. I spent November there racking, bottling, and tasting a variety of brews. My memory is still sharp with the sweet sour and perfectly musty Rhubarb and Apple Wine, the two years aged Vin de Cassis, which was sweet and rich and drank like a good Port.
The Hedgerow Syrup has been a favourite. Pasteurised as it was in bottles, it has kept well, and serves as a hot and heartwarming winter drink, to fend off flu, to ward off the weather. I also made a Quince Syrup, along similar lines, which i drink as a cordial, a lovely flavour, and great quencher of the thirst after a stint in the garden. Both can also be used in crumbles, compotes and wintry puds...
So... with the coming of Spring, and first the Elderflowers, I look forward to a new spell of concocting drinks to fill the cabinet, for yet another winter hunkered down by the fire.
Monday, 30 January 2012
A Pot-Roast Partridge
Saturday, 14 January 2012
Thursday, 12 January 2012
Winter Feasting (iii) A Feast Indeed! or How to eat Terrine: with lashings of Bread & Butter, Pickles, the like...
Besides the Terrines, how to satiate the stomachs of twenty-odd banqueters?
An enormous Pumpkin
...chopped in big, beautiful chunks, sat in marinade
Great sloshing bowls of Pickled Apples, Pickled Crabapples, Bar-Le-Duc Redcurrant Jelly and Rosemary Jelly were lain between bowls full of Butter.
Apples baked in Gin-soaked Bullace
...breakfasting on leftovers
Tuesday, 3 January 2012
In a moment of over-zealous Christmas jollity, a last-minute festive feast was planned, friends were invited, crockery searched out, rugs shook, candles borrowed, firewood cut, a Christmas Tree erected. Long debates necessarily ensued over the menu, how to seat and feed such numbers, more to the point, on what… So it was that we settled on a variety of cold Terrines, and on Boxing Day, while others slept off their Christmas indulgence, banqueted languorously on cold cuts, on Tongue and the previous day’s Plum Pudding, or set themselves up for a serious bout of telly-watching, we mopped our brows and set to concocting Terrines.
Chop the Pheasant Livers; Roast the Chestnuts;
Soak the chopped Figs and Apricots
...to follow: the entire feast.