Beetroot & Ginger Relish:

Beetroot & Ginger Relish:

This recipe uses pre-cooked beetroot.

The Balsamic vinegar adds depth and sweetness.  Fills about 3 x 1lb jars.

Find:

  • 1kg Beetroot, pre-cooked and in those plastic packets/bags
  • 1kg onion, chopped
  • 2 tbs capers, chopped
  • 5 small (UK) cloves of garlic, according to taste.  Go on…. use more!
  • 2 apples, cored & diced
  • 1tbsp Olive Oil
  • 100g Golden Castor Sugar
  • 50g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
  • 50ml Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 pinch (at least) ground cinnamon
  • 2 pinch (at least) ground cloves
  • 100ml Balsamic Vinegar

Method

  • Coarsely grate/dice the onions, apple and chop the cooked beetroot, keeping it separate.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently sweat the onion & apple for around 20+ minutes before adding all of the remaining ingredients except the chopped beetroot
  • Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, adding the chopped beetroot when the mixture is at boiling point.
  • Stir well until back to boiling point.
  • Turn the heat down and simmer gently for 2 hours, stirring quite often – don’t abandon it and piss off down t’pub………
  • After 2 hours, the relish/chutney should be very thick, perhaps resembling pickled red cabbage, but without too much liquid content. If it is too liquid, leave it to simmer on a very low heat  with the lid off until it is as you want it – it won’t hurt at all so long as you don’t allow it to burn (so you STILL can’t piss off down t’pub!).
  • Spoon into sterilized jars, top with a paper preserving disc and seal.
  • It needs to mature/season/improve/fester for 6 months. Definitely a top shelf chutney.
  • Should keep well for several months (even a couple of years) in a dark cupboard. Once opened, store in the fridge.
  • Make it in November one year and use it for Xmas the following year, as it perks up tired turkey a treat when it has matured!

Yellow Bell Pepper (Capsicum) Relish

Yellow Bell Pepper (Capsicum) Relish

This is a similar recipe to the red one, but as it’s yellow, there is a good amount of attention needed to retain the colour and not let it dull down to a dull camel-poo colour.

Prep:           20 mins

Cooking:      About an hour

Course:        Relish accompaniment.

Serves:

Rating:         2:  dead easy.

Find:

  • 1 kilo yellow bell peppers
  • 350g white onions
  • 3 big cloves garlic
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon

METHOD:

  • Halve the peppers, cut round the stalk stem and take out the seed head, then slap it onto the chopping board to knock out the remaining seeds, and then cut each half into quarters.
  • Use a food processor and blitz ‘em. If you don’t have a food processor, then stand there and chop them into the smallest pieces that you can.  Put them into a colander, sitting on a bowl to sit for a while.  Let the excess moisture drain into the bottom of the bowl.
  • Peel and quarter the onions together with the garlic and then process them in the same way, into small chippings. Put those in the colander with the peppers.  Leave them to sit for half an hour if possible (the more moisture drains away, the less runny your finished relish will be).
  • Pop the drained peppers, onions, garlic and vinegar into the saucepan and put it onto the heat. Cut the lemon into quarters and pop that into the saucepan as well.
  • Keep stirring because you do not want it to catch, overheat and spoil the colour. When it comes to the boil, turn it down to minimum, pop a lid half on and let it sit there happily bubbling away to itself for 30 mins.
  • When the 30 mins is up, remove each bit of lemon, scraping the flesh into the saucepan and discarding just the peel; the pips will cook down. (I made 4kg batch as my first trial of this recipe, so I had to count out 16 bits of lemon peel – and the 16th was not easy to locate!)
  • Weigh out the sugar and add it to the saucepan.
  • Put the sugar into the mixture and stir very well to let the sugar dissolve.
  • Bring it back to the boil and put it on the smallest ring at the lowest setting. Put the lid half on and let it do its stuff.  About every 10 mins give it a good stir and see how it’s doing.  Most of the liquid needs to evaporate.  The colour will darken with the time it is on the cooker, so go for the combination you want.  Colour, dryness of the mixture and taste.
  • Remove it from the heat and spoon it into sterilised jars (see Tricks’n’Tips) whilst it is still hot. Fill to within 2mm of the rim of the jar.  Put a preserving disc of greaseproof paper in the neck of the jar before screwing on the lid.  It’ll keep for months, unopened.
  • Once opened, this relish will be ok in the fridge for a month or so, but it isn’t something that will hang about for long simply because it tastes so nice!

Red Bell Pepper (Capsicum) Relish

Red Bell Pepper (Capsicum) Relish:

Makes about two medium-sized jars of finished relish.

Prep:           20 mins

Cooking:      About an hour

Course:        relish – used for pepping up cold meats, etc.

Serves:

Rating:         2:  Easy.

Find:

  • 1 kg red bell peppers (or any other type of red capsicum pepper)
  • 330g onions
  • 3 big cloves garlic
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • Ground chilli flakes to taste.  I don’t like too much!

 

METHOD:

  • Halve the peppers, cut round the stalk stem and take out the seed head, then slap it onto the chopping board to knock out the remaining seeds, and then cut each half into quarters.
  • Use a food processor and blitz ‘em. If you don’t have a food processor, then stand there and chop them into the smallest pieces that you can.
  • Put the resulting chopped mess into a colander, sitting on a bowl to let the excess moisture drain off.
  • Peel and quarter the onions together with the garlic and then process them in the same way, into small chippings. Put those in the colander with the peppers.  Leave them to sit for half an hour if possible (the more moisture drains away, the less runny your finished relish will be).
  • Pop the drained peppers, onions, garlic and vinegar into the saucepan and put it onto the heat.
  • Cut the lemon into quarters and pop that into the saucepan as well. Keep stirring because you do not want it to catch, overheat and spoil the colour.
  • When it comes to the boil, turn it down to minimum, pop a lid half on and let it sit there happily bubbling away to itself for 30 mins.
  • When the 30 mins is up, remove each bit of lemon, scraping the flesh into the saucepan and discarding just the peel (the pips will cook down).
  • Weigh out the sugar and add it to the saucepan.
  • Bring it back to the boil and put it on the smallest ring at the lowest setting. Put the lid half on and let it do its stuff.  About every 10 mins give it a good stir and see how it’s doing.  Most of the liquid needs to evaporate.  The colour will darken with the time it is on the cooker, so go for the combination you want.  Colour, dryness of the mixture and taste.
  • Remove it from the heat and spoon it into sterilised jars (see Tricks’n’Tips) whilst it is still hot. Fill to within 2mm of the rim of the jar.  Put a preserving disc of greaseproof paper in the neck of the jar before screwing on the lid.  It’ll keep for months in a coolish cupboard, unopened.
  • Once opened, this relish will be ok in the fridge for a month or so, but it isn’t something that will hang about for long simply because it tastes so nice!

Caramelised Onion & Mushroom Tarts:

Caramelised Onion & Mushroom Tarts:

Prep:           20 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Veg starter/snack

Serves:         Depends how many you can eat!

Rating:         2:  Easy

To make 12 rather scrummy tarts, find:

  • 1 pack ready-made puff pastry – why bother making it?  Life’s too short!
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 3 large onions
  • 300g mixed mushrooms –field mushrooms as a base, but also shitake & other tasty ones etc.
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic
  • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1tbsp sugar
  • 125ml single cream (250ml for large 8″ tart)
  • 1 egg, large (2 eggs for large 8″ tart)
  • salt and pepper

Makes 12 mini tarts or 1 x 8″ Tart.

  • Grease a 12 hole tart pan.
  • Roll the pastry out onto a well-floured surface and cut out circles large enough to line each hole. It would be good to chill these for a while.
  • Preheat the oven to 180c Fan/200c/Gas Mark 5.
  • Slice then fry the onions until nicely softened. 10 mins?
  • Slice then add the mushrooms to the frying pan. Cook until softened.
  • Put in the balsamic vinegar, sugar and garlic (crushed or finely chopped) and turn the heat up somewhat.
  • Fry until the majority of the vinegar is evaporated and the onions start to caramelise and go sticky. 5 mins?  10?
  • Remove from the heat.
  • Mix the egg, cream and seasonings together in a large jug.
  • Plop a dollop of the mushroom and onion mixture into each case, and then carefully top up the tarts with the cream mixture. It will need time to settle and filter through the mixture – they may need topping up a couple of times. Patience!  We don’t want them to overflow or to have retained air.
  • Oven bake for 25-30 mins until a lovely golden brown.
  • Take them out the oven when puffy’n’brown, allowing them to cool in the tin. They may have splurged a bit so just run a sharp knife around the tops of the tarts to release them from the tops of the tin!
  • Scoff! (But leave some for me).

Cindy’s Grand Columbier Carrots:

Cindy’s Grand Columbier Carrots:

(Because Cindy, one of our gorgeous French daughters,  lives in Culoz, Ain, France, in the shadow of The Grand Columbier, a friggin’ great  big mountain and a famous ascent of the Tour de France, where the Jura meet the Alps, very near to Geneva, and this is her way with carrots; hence…….)

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      25 + 20 mins.  Re-heating in the oven when you want them.

Course:        Veg side dish

Serves:         As many as…..

Rating:         2:  Easy

Find:

  • Fresh carrots
  • Butter
  • Thyme
  • Chicken/Veggie stock (use a stock cube!)
  • Oven dish
  • Foil

 

Method:

  • Peel and cut the carrots into good-sized chunks. Big enough to be ‘rustic’ but not too big t’get into your mouth.  They won’t need to be peeled if they are nice, small-ish carrots with thin skins.  If they are like this, just clean them.
  • Put them into the oven dish and spread them with soft butter. Chuck some dried thyme over them – enough that you can see it’s there…… just experiment!
  • Mix it up and make it nice.
  • Pour in about a cup/mug of hot water with a chicken stock cube crumbled into it and stirred up. Use a veggie stock cube if you are not a carnivore.
  • Cover with foil (or use a Pyrex type glass dish with a lid) and stuff it into the oven for about 25 mins on 180 degs C. Turn out the oven.  They are ready to be reheated when you need them.
  • About 20 mins or so before you need to serve them, re-light the oven to 180 again for 20 mins. Pour the liquid into your gravy or make it into a sauce, or use it as it is.
  • Thank you Cindy!

Saffron rice:

Saffron rice:

Follow Delia’s Perfect Rice, but put a good pinch of saffron  stems (available from health food shops, town markets, ethnically diverse shops) into the water & rice at the start of the cooking, giving just a gentle stir before putting the lid on the pan.

Varying the amount of saffron will give you different grades of colour.  I have to say that I think it looks great to serve Saffron rice with a light sauced meat or fish dish.  Saffron is generally regarded to be more valuable, weight for weight, than gold.  The strands are individual bits from the middle of the crocus flower and there are about 250,000 strands to a kilogram.  No wonder it’s expensive.  However, it can be bought in very small quantities for not too much.

Well worth the outlay and effort, I can tell you.

Spanish Spinach with Pine Nuts:

Spanish Spinach with Pine Nuts:

Description

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Starter, lunch or snack

Serves:        4

Rating:         2:  Easy

Find:

  • 500g bag of young spinach leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Sultanas or dried prunes
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely shredded
  • 50g pine nuts
  • Seasoning

Method:

  • Wash the spinach and pop it into a covered pan with just the water it has after being rinsed and cook for about 5 mins, stirring and turning over the leaves quite often.
  • Heat the olive oil in a pan then gently fry the pine nuts with the sultanas/prunes.
  • Pop the shredded garlic in the pan just for a very short while to take the harshness away – it must not burn!
  • Squeeze out the spinach as much as you can – it will lose a great deal of moisture. (You can retain the squeezed out spinach water for other uses later, should you wish…… you’ve paid for the green colour, you might just as well make use of it…..somehow).
  • Add the squeezed out spinach to the pan, turn up the heat to maximum and mix well. Add seasoning to taste and serve.

A really nice veggie breakfast pan…..

A really nice veggie breakfast pan…..

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      10 mins.

Course:        Breakfast/Snack

Serves:        As many as…..

Rating:         1:  Very easy

A variation of a Mexican-ish anti-hangover breakfast of Jamie’s, this is a lovely way to have an almost English breakfast fry-up without the bacon & sausages (and we won’t even MENTION the black puddin’!)

Find:

  • As many eggs as you want to use
  • Red & yellow peppers
  • Mushrooms of whatever description
  • Onions (make yer own mind up how many)
  • Garlic – you make the decision how many cloves!
  • Tins of plum tomatoes – halve the number of people; that’s how many.
  • Oil, seasoning, chillies if you would like, Tabasco or Worcester sauce if you don’t.

Method:

  • Snip up the peppers, mushrooms – perhaps even a few pre-cooked chestnuts as well – and pop ‘em into a large, well-oiled frying pan over a high-ish heat. Get ‘em all going and cook ‘em well.
  • Chuck in a bit of water to take the bits of flavour from the surface of the pan (Jamie used a paella pan – you can use whatever pan you like; or, more to the point, whatever pan you have).
  • Now do the calculation:

How many people (say 4); now half of 4….. duh….

Ah yes, two cans of plum tomatoes.

  • Open the cans, pour in the juice and then take a table knife to the tomatoes to just cut them roughly & randomly whilst still in the can – you don’t want to use chopped tomatoes (otherwise I would have specified chopped tomatoes…..) and pour them in. Keep the heat up.
  • Chuck in a few dried herbs, or fresh if you have them (torn-up basil leaves would be especially good), and get it up to boiling. You can put the garlic in now as well. Season, mix in your flavourings, taste, etc.  Turn down the heat a bit.
  • When you are happy with the gorgeous taste, make as many holes in the surface of the mixture as you have eggs, cracking one into each hollow. Don’t hang about though or they’ll be cooked at different times – so get a wiggle on!
  • Pop a lid on top (if you have one) or some foil if you haven’t and in about 3 minutes you should have a lovely breakfast suitable for your veggie friends.
  • Serve it up onto toast, or pop some onto flatbreads of some sort. Just scoff it!

With many thanks to Jamie – it is based on his idea and I think that anyone with a good idea should be credited with it, even if it has been ‘Muddified’..

Katie’s FROACHED Eggs:

Poached eggs:

………or to be more exact: Katie’s FROACHED Eggs:

Prep:           2 mins.

Cooking:      keep watchin’ it.

Course:        Breakfast/Snack

Serves:

Rating:         1:  Very easy – but very clever!

Our beautiful friend, Katie Compson, had a very short life.  She lived only 31 years before she succumbed to cancer.  Every death due to cancer is sad.  Every young death from cancer is a tragedy, but as Katie was so talented, intelligent and successful – as well as just plain gorgeous – it was a disaster like no other to everyone; her unfair death hit so many people so hard. 

Katie was very well educated and she used that quality education to such good effect.  She achieved such an incredible amount both before and after her degree.  She’d worked in Italy for six months, had been an intern for Bill Clinton and his team in the USA for 6 months and was working in Japan in a law firm, having learned several languages and the systems of law in each country, when she suddenly fell ill.  I’ve no idea how it all fitted into that beautiful head! 

My wife and I first encountered Katie in our local theatre when we were playing in a Christmas pantomime.  Katie was 16 and very nervous, but she had such obviously high intelligence and such a great stage potential.  My wife and I loved her immediately and we became firm friends of her and her family straight away.  Her sister, Sarah, is equally gorgeous and they both get all of their good qualities from their similarly gorgeous mother, Jenny. 

Katie, at this point a late teenager, showed me this method of poaching eggs one morning (well, it was morning to Katie – she’d actually just got up…. The ‘adults’ were already on the wine…….)

“You don’t need a big saucepan of boiling water or to do all this swirling crap” she told me.  Katie was never backward in coming forward, if you see what I mean.

  • Frying pan.
  • Boiling water.
  • 2 drops vinegar.
  • Egg in.
  • Wait.

And that’s precisely what she did.  If your frying pan is a bit on the iffy side, like mine, just oil the pan a little and spread it with a clean finger (you can just wash your hands, y’know…. no need to just choose one finger to wash – and do it before you put the pan on the heat ……obviously!).

  • Pour boiling water into the pan to about a half of an inch depth (1-2 cm) or so
  • Break as many eggs as you want into the same cup
  • Bring back to a vigorous boil
  • Add a few drops of vinegar; quite literally just a couple of drops. I don’t like to use malt vinegar, but you can if that’s all you have; the effect is the same. Just bring the water back to a good boil and turn out the heat.
  • Carefully tip the eggs into the pan, dropping them where you want them to cook, pop on a glass lid or an anti-spit mesh cover, then wait. The egg white will set as you watch.  I suppose just about 5 or 6 minutes?
  • Occasionally give it a bit of a poke to see if the white has set.
  • Gently pour away the majority of the water and lift out the eggs with a suitable spatula or fish slice. And scoff.  And think about the gorgeous young lass who showed me what to do.  I certainly do.   Every single time.
  • Of course, if you do some toast  whilst the whites are setting, you can have froached eggs on toast.

If you’d like to find out more about Katie and the foundation set up in her name, go to: http://www.katiecompsonfoundation.com/     I am certain that they’d welcome a contribution or two as well, if you find her story as fascinating as mine.

‘Scromblette’

Colin’s famous ‘Scromblette’:

(AKA Moved-about-a-bit-less-eggs):

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      2 mins.

Course:        Breakfast/Snack

Serves:

Rating:         1:  Very easy

Method:

  • As Scrambled eggs, but don’t beat the eggs at all, and move the eggs about much less than when doing scrambled eggs. I prefer this method as I get bigger bits of yolk.    It’s like a cross between an omelette and scrambled eggs…. A ‘scromblette’, so to speak.

Of course, if you separate eggs to use the whites for meringues, the yolks can be bunged to a scromblette to make it even richer and more…. more….. more SCROMBLESOME!