This year I harvested over 1.2kg of fruit from one Red Currant bush! That’s the most I’ve ever had I think. I’ve made Red Currant Jelly before but I wanted a simpler recipe because I knew that I wouldn’t be keeping the jam for very long as it would probably get eaten in a matter of weeks.
The bush was so laden with fruit that I even had to cut off some of the branches as they had bent over with the weight.
The recipe was a simple one. Just pick the fruit (which took about half an hour) wash and weigh the fruit. I had 1.2kg of fruit. Put these, stalks and all, into a preserving pan. Cook the fruit for about 10 mins squashing the fruit to release the juice. Add the same quantity of sugar (1.2kg)
and bring to the boil. Boil for eight minutes then strain through a muslin. I bought this stand for the job. And it worked well.
Sterlize some jars in the oven and when the mixture is strained pour it into the waiting jars.
Regarding the amount of sugar – it is alot. Certainly when you weigh it out it looks like an excessive amount. Now that I’ve tasted the jam I think you could get away with putting less sugar in. Maybe even two or three hundred grams less. The resulting jam I’m guessing will be a little more tart but personally I’d prefer that so I’ll be reducing the sugar next time. If you like your jam sweet then go for equal proportions.
I was going to bake Lemon cake today but I ran out of Lemons (essential ingredient in Lemon cake) so I made Banana cake instead. Bananas – now I have lots of those!
I used the very simple recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook which includes lots of ginger, cinnamon and melted butter. The boys seemed to like it even though it was quite gingery. Here’s the recipe from the book, which if you like cakes, I really do recommend you buy.
270g soft light brown sugar
200g peeled bananas, mashed
280g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
140g unsalted, melted
23 x 13cm loaf tin, greased and dusted with flour
Preheat the oven to 170°C (or 160°C fan)
Put the sugar and eggs in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a handheld electric whisk) and beat until well incorporated. Beat in the mashed bananas.
Add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger to the sugar mixture. Mix it thoroughly until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated into the egg mixture. Pour in the melted butter and beat until all the ingredients are well mixed.
Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth over with a palette knife. Bake in the preheated oven for about 1 hour, or until firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Not exactly cake but baking at least. I decided to use up the Blueberries from the freezer since there is precious little in the garden right now. A pie seemed the sensible option and a good excuse to get my pie dish out.
I made the pastry in the usual basic pie crust way – with a little help of course. We even made an err.. sort of, pastry snowman out of the left over bits.
I blind baked the base, weighted down with kidney beans and parchment.
The filling is so simple. Just Blueberries (550g), juice from one Lemon, lemon rind, 100g of caster sugar and a spoonful of cornflour to thicken. Then you let the oven do the work and cook it for 50 minutes at 170 degrees C. I think I’ll use more cornflour next time as the water from the frozen blueberries meant that the filling wasn’t as gloopy as I’d like.
But warm Blueberry pie with ice-cream? Wow! The boys had never had that before and by the end they were practically bribing me for more.
We are really lucky to have a Sweet Chestnut tree at the end of our driveway. It’s not strictly our tree but the tree is so big that there is a carpet of chestnuts there every year and you can almost hear the squirrels rubbing their hands.
So when my friend came around the other day and the kids needed some ‘outdoor play’ we decided to go do a little ‘cleaning up’ under the tree.
Having foraged enough for both of us we brought them home to roast. I’ve never done it before so I looked it up and here’s how:
Oven on 200c/400f/gas6. Score a cross into the skin of each chestnut, put into a roasting tin and roast for 30mins.
Preferably from a brown paper bag, while taking a walk on a blustery Autumn day. Or… infront of the TV. Your choice.
I just managed to get my Borlotti Beans in before the weather turned all wet and soggy (it’s tipping it down outside as I type). I harvested the lot, probably about 25 – 30 pods from one wigwam and only four plants. Apparently, that’s not bad in Borlotti terms as they tend to yield less than the same number of Runner Bean plants.
About 75% of these were perfect for fresh eating (the best way to save that lovely, Potatoey-and-yet-also-Beany flavour). You can dry them, of course, and use them over winter but I wanted to use them fresh in order to ‘really’ taste them, if you know what I mean.
The only problem was that, since I’ve never grown Borlotti Beans before my stash of recipes for this type of vegetable amounted to, erm, none. So I was stuck with a beautiful crop of Beans but not a clue what to do with them. I went on the hunt for some recipes and found such a lovely selection that I thought I’d share them here – in case you were wondering what to do with yours too. Oh and also, don’t forget to cook your beans before using them in a recipe. Simply boil them for 20 minutes until they are soft.
- Fresh Borlotti Bean, Tiger Prawn and Chorizo Horneado – I’m not a big fan of Chorizo so might replace this with sausage or similar but this just looked gorgeous and very hearty on an Autumn’s day too.
- Borlotti Beans braised with Onion, Tomato and Cime di Rapa – for those of you at a loss to know what Cime di Rapa is (me included) it is described here as being a Brassica a little like the leaves of Turnip. You could maybe substitue Chard or Cabbage leaves but this would give the dish a different flavour.
- Borlotti Bean Mole with Roast Winter Squash – one thing I like about this recipe is that it includes chocolate. Beans – good, Squash – good, Chocolate – good!
- Sausages with Fresh Borlotti Beans – As I suspected Borlotti Beans go well with sausages. Delicious magazine confirms all my suspicions.
- Borlotti Beans in Tomato Sauce with Creamy Polenta – ooh creamy polenta sounds like a good accompaniment to my Beans. This recipe is from a book called Heirloom Beans which looks pretty darn good too.
- Cranberry Bean “Fool Mudammas” – apparently Borlotti Beans are called Cranberry Beans in certain parts of the world – I did not know that! This recipe looks so fresh and crispy with its layer of Radish on top. Great to go with something warm and spicy.
- Cowboy Beans – one for the kids. These pot beans can be cooked the day before and warmed up on the day. You could even make them on a camping trip over the fire.
- Borlotti Bean, Chilli and Pine Nut Bake – A good bake is always a winner in our house. And with the added benefit of pine nuts this is guaranteed to go down well.
- Italian Bean and Tuna Salad – this uses a mix of Italian Beans but I bet you could use all Borlotti Beans and it would taste almost the same.
- Borlotti Bean and Courgette Hummus – wow! a recipe that uses up two end-of-the-summer gluts? Can it really be true?
So there you have it, my favourite Fresh Borlotti Bean recipes. I think I’ll be making the Bean and Courgette Hummus.
While on my knicker-making course the other week (I know, weird) I had a great idea what to do with my ripening black Grapes. One of the other attendees was drinking grape juice and I thought, ‘yes! that’s it, a great way to use up my Grapes.’
Why not just eat them, you say? Well, unfortunately the vine I have was already in my garden when I moved into the house and as it turns out the Grapes are small and very sweet but they have quite large pips in them. Which, if you’ve ever eaten non-seedless Grapes, is a bit of a pain in the booty.
So, here’s how to make your own Grape juice. Firstly, harvest and de-stem the Grapes making sure to pick out any damaged or rotted ones.
Next, give them a good wash to get rid of any nasties.
Then put them into a sturdy pan and mash them with a masher. The idea is to burst as many Grapes as possible. Heat them to a slow simmer for about 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally to ensure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Lastly, pass the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. I used a sieve and pushed it through twice just to make sure all the bits were gone. Then bottle, chill and serve. You don’t need to process the jars if you plan on drinking it quickly. And if you have matching nail polish then apply now – the juice tastes so much better :)
I know this is weird but I have a Raspberry glut. My Autumn Raspberries are producing at such a rate that the three of us can’t keep up with them. Infact, we’re a little bit sick of eating Raspberries (when I say we, I don’t mean a certain 2-year-old who is happy to eat them for breakfast, dinner and tea!).
So, I decided to make some Raspberry milk with the surplus. Just a cup full of milk in the blender with a handful of Raspberries. That’s all. No sugar needed.
Then serve to your waiting customers.
It’s Chriiiiiistmas! And in the spirit I made these Super-Easy Mini Yule Logs for a kids Christmas party that Jackson went to. They are so easy but look quite the part. Simply buy some ready made mini chocolate rolls, then cover each one with chocolate icing (bought or made whichever you have time for). Then dust with icing sugar and don’t forget the ornamental snow-covered trees! Et voilà – the easiest yule logs you’ll ever make.
What else can be done on a damp and rainy Saturday but go the Farmer’s Market, buy some nice food, come home and cook it. I don’t grow Mushrooms (maybe I should) so having a guy at the market who grows nothing but Mushrooms is very handy. The Mushrooms he sells are always amazing he cooks some on his stall, so you can eat while you browse. Mmmmm…
So I bought some large Portabello, a handful of Oyster and some Shiitake Mushrooms chopped them and put them in a pan with some butter.
The recipe I used was ameded from the one in Jamie Oliver’s book, At Home. I think he calls it Mushroom Bruschetta. But you basically fry up the Mushrooms with some chopped Garlic, Parsley, Thyme and Chilli Pepper. Then add some Lemon juice and a tablespoon of water to make a sauce. It’s super easy.
But tastes amazing. Saturday lunch done. Now I can get on with some more leaf clearing!
My Gherkins are going crazy – as usual. So it’s time to get out the pickling jars. I did make Dill Pickles last year, following recipe that I found online. While they tasted great (very Dill-like and everything) they weren’t crunchy. Call me old-fashioned but I like my pickles to have a bit of crunch. That’s the whole point isn’t it.
So, I went on the hunt for a new recipe. Blimey! What a can of worms that is? There are literally thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of recipes available. And, I’m sure it’s not just me, but they all seemed to be slightly different. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive ‘right way’ to make Dill Pickles.
So, what’s a girl to do? Make one up of course! The recipe below is a half-way house between what most recipes suggest you do and what actually worked for me last year. Some recipes tell you to boil the cucumbers before bottling but some say use them raw. I’ve opted to use them raw because that seemed the most likely way to conserve the elusive crunch.
I’m using mostly Gherkins but I also threw in some of my Crystal Apple Cucumbers that are ready now (seeds courtesy of Victoriana Nursery. Thanks!)
My Dill Pickle Recipe
This roughly makes one jar. If you want to increase the amounts just remember that you need double the amount of water to vinegar.
- 1 cup of pickling vinega
- 2 cups of water
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
- 1 clove of garlic
- Dill (heads will do)
- Pickling jar
- 2 tablespoons of salt dissolved in 400ml of water
Soak the Gherkins overnight in a salt-water solution. Make sure the water covers them.
Boil your jar or run through the dishwasher on sterilise.
Put in one teaspoon of mustard seeds, a peeled clove of garlic and the Dill. Pack in your Gherkins.
Put the vinegar and water in a pan and bring to the boil. Pour into the jar until the Gherkins are covered. Seal and process (boil the jar upright in water) for 30 mins.